The Blues and The Grey

Shit...just when Liam Neeson thought things couldn't get any worse...he crash lands into the den of Sarah Palin's Alaska.

Man, Liam Neeson has the blues something fierce.  The poor guy has completed one of the oddest transitions of recent memory by going from Oskar Schindler to “Total Bad Ass” in films both criminally overrated (Taken) and glumly forgettable (Unknown).  Now in Joe Carnahan’s transcendent survivalist thriller, The Grey, Neeson plays a man named Ottway who is reeling from the kind of blues that lead men to self-inflicted gun shot wounds to the head.  The film opens grimly enough with Ottway working on an oil refinery as a wolf sniper in the remote Alaskan wilderness amongst men “not fit for civilization.”  He waxes mournfully in voice-over about being separated from his wife (presented to the audience in smartly lit, intimate Nolan-esque slivers of memory) and working “a job at the end of the world.” 

One night he walks out from the rowdy violence of the camp bar into the snow to blow his brains out – but then he hears the ghostly howl of those beasts he’s been paid to study and control.  He can’t help but wonder if maybe he belongs out there – like the wolves – a stalker – a survivor.  He posits himself as much against Mother Nature as he is against his own nature.  These opening moments offer the viewer the type of emotional and philosophical trappings not usually found in your typical Hollywood product – especially thrillers of this sort.  With the help of his resurrected from the doldrums director, Carnahan (who finally fulfills the promise he showed in Narc after years of wallowing in the mediocrity of La La Land), Neeson completes his evolution as an actor through Ottway.  Here we finally have a character who marries the gravity of an Oskar Schindler with the gruff bad-assery of Neeson’s more recent commercial incarnations. 

Of course the bulk the of the film concerns Ottway and his motley crew of cohorts surviving a horrific airplane crash on their way to Anchorage only to be stalked through the frozen wilderness by a pack of ravaging and unmerciful wolves.  But it returns from time to time to those small moments and to the epic human pondering on live and death.  Continue reading

Vice Presidential Debate Drinking Game

Attention Readers: For the 2012 edition, CLICK HERE!

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BIDEN VS. PALIN

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday!

He’s a train-riding hothead with a Donald Trump comb-over from the second smallest state of Delaware.

She’s a moose-hunting redneck, tongue-tied, Tina Fey look-a-like from the biggest state of Alaska.

And they’re going head-to-head for one night only from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

THE DATE:  Thursday, October 2, 2008

THE MODERATOR:  Gwen Ifill from PBS

THE FOCUS:  A no holds-barred VP smack-down.

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And here it is, for all you Debate Party maniacs —

Your official Drinking Game Initiative: Continue reading

A Review of David Slade’s “30 Days of Night”

Best Vampire Movie in Over a Decade, 23 October 2007
8/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

As night begins to fall for a thirty day spell over a small Alaskan outpost village, a motley crew of vampires comes waltzing in for a feast in David Slade’s adaptation of the graphic novel, “30 Days of Night.” Ever since “Interview with the Vampire” vampires have been depicted in films as something hip, cool, and sexy. Recently the idea of becoming a vampire is like making a fashion statement or becoming a Scientologist. In “30 Days of Night” the vampires are nameless, cunning, animal-like bloodsuckers and far from mindless zombies (which have been more popular of late). Finally, vampires are restored to film as monsters to be feared and not as some sympathetic and alluring subculture.

 

The film grabs you from its opening shot of a man walking through a desolate snow covered landscape away from an ominous boat docked in the ice and never lets go. Director Slade wisely avoids many of the seizure-inducing trappings of recent horror films. Sure, there are the prerequisite quick-cuts in the intimate scenes of carnage, but there are also haunting wide-angled shots and one expertly staged bird’s-eye-view crane shot when the vampires first begin dragging people out of their houses into the street. While successfully adapting some of the great imagery from the graphic novel, Slade is fully aware that this is still a film and shies away from CGI and overly-stylized lighting and effects that would detract from the sense of realism necessary in a far-fetched horror film such as this.

Slade also makes good use of his cast. Danny Huston is perfectly creepy as the vampires’ leader. Josh Hartnett, who is typically miscast and emotionless, actually fits well the role of a wooden Sheriff of a remote Alaskan town. Ben Foster, who always overacts, is used effectively here in a bit role as an over-the-top Reinfield-like character who ushers the vampires’ arrival in town. Melissa George is pretty and sympathetic as Hartnett’s estranged wife. Like many serious horror films of recent memory (“Dawn of the Dead” or “The Descent”) the film attempts some character development that is often “emo” but never overplays its hand.

Aside from being better directed and better acted than your run-of-the-mill horror flick, “30 Days of Night” is also fantastically gory. Decaptation aficionados will especially rejoice. Refreshing, too, is the way it takes its gore and action dead seriously. There are no silly one-liners or graphic sight gags. The characters are deeply affected by what they witness and what they have to do to survive. This is pure horror, and it’s relentless.

Yes, there are some missteps with the film’s pacing and some huge leaps of logic in the amount of time that passes between events. However, for the shear originality of its central conceit, the intensity of the gore, and the haunting quality of many of its signature shots, David Slade’s “30 Days of Night” is the most exhilarating horror film since Danny Boyle’s original “28 Days Later” and the best vampire film since Francis Ford Coppola delivered “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” back in 1992.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database:

http://imdb.com/title/tt0389722/usercomments-107