The story of the Arkansas murder trials of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley — the men known as the "West Memphis Three" — has already been the topic of the three well-known documentaries in the Paradise Lost series made for HBO by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. Those films, in fact, helped the case come to the attention of many of the people whose work ultimately resulted in the three defendants' release from prison in 2011.
Cannibalism and comedy are strange but remarkably compatible bedfellows. Paul Bartel's cult classic Eating Raoul (1982) set the standard, lampooning prudish post-sexual-revolution values with a chaste couple whose repression leads them to murder — and eventually to serving human flesh. Bob Balaban's considerably darker 1989 Parents used it to examine the underbelly of 1950s wholesome prosperity, with wickedly funny results.
Film adaptations of TV shows long off the air have proven hit-or-miss at the box office. But in recent years, the practice of continuing the story of a popular, recently concluded TV series in a feature film has made for easier business — even when the results are mixed creatively. There's a lot to get wrong in translating a successful series, and therefore a lot to consider: How much of an introduction will a wide audience need to a show's world and characters?
Hot-weather Hollywood blockbusters have now cooled off, so the cineplex will be a quieter place for the next few months. But there can be intensity even in intimate films, as evidenced by the relationship drama Keep the Lights On.
The three protagonists of Bachelorette do some pretty terrible things: They talk trash behind a fourth friend's back, kvetching bitterly about having to be bridesmaids at her wedding. They publicly leak her old high school nickname, which happens to be "Pigface."
And just hours before the wedding, as the bride-to-be is getting her beauty sleep, two of them try to cram into her wedding gown as a gag — she's a plus-sized cupcake of a woman — and rip it seemingly beyond repair.
Bradley Cooper has the wolfish grin and raffish charm of a cardsharp — or a baby hedge-fund manager. So at first you may find him a tough sell as a writer of prose so sensitive and "interior" that even an admiring old-school editor tells him it's unpublishable.
Hold on, though. The writer has moral flaws, and a name, Rory Jansen, that's better suited to a designer of racy swimwear than a crafter of lambent sentences about the inner workings of the psyche.
The centerpiece of For Ellen is the long-postponed meeting between a rock-band singer, Joby Taylor, and the 6-year-old daughter whose name is in the title. But writer-director So Yong Kim's wintry character study is primarily a solo act, punctuated by the occasional duet.
Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 5:50 pm
Credit Matt Nettheim / Sycamore Entertainment
Fred Schepisi knows how to make the kinds of movies almost no one makes anymore. The tragedy is that they don't make audiences like they used to — and Schepisi's latest, The Eye of the Storm, will feel to many viewers like a movie lost in time and space.
That's no reflection on its craftsmanship, which is superb, or on its performances, which are sterling. But this multigenerational character study, based on a novel by Patrick White, requires a little patience: Its rhythms are slack in places, and its pace is definitely leisurely.
At the end of July, when NPR's Robert Siegel set off on the longest vacation since his honeymoon 39 years ago, he packed a few books, including the new book The Art of Procrastination by John Perry, emeritus professor of philosophy at Stanford.
After two weeks in Delaware, two weeks in Iberia and a week of work in Tampa, Fla., Siegel finally finished it Wednesday night. He says his timing is fitting: The book is 92 small, double-spaced pages.
It expands on a short confessional essay Perry wrote in 1996 called "Structured Procrastination."