Tuesday Releases: The Conjuring & The Way Way Back

OCTOBER 22ND, 2013

THE CONJURING // Something has to be said for a horror film that keeps you alert and edgy throughout the entire film. “The Conjuring” is a throwback to classic horror films like Poltergeist and The Exorcist, with an eerie feel from the moment you step foot into the characters’ lives. Based on a true story, director James Wan delivers an age old tale of a family moving into a haunted house, with an attention to detail and an ability to scare that is all but uncommon in horror films today. Reminiscent of last year’s “The Woman In Black”, the biggest scares come from the loud noises and creaky nature of an old house and the ghosts that lurk behind every wardrobe door or blocked off basement. Being thrown into the dark or witnessing an unexplainable occurrence is the source of the scares, keeping its crescendos at bay, remaining tight-knit and creepy. Something as simple as one of the girls seeing a ghost behind a door that we cannot see, is enough to send chills down your spine, which is the mark of a truly successful horror film. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga leading the film as paranormal investigators helps keep the film from feeling too much like “The Amityville Horror”, which focuses only on the family and their relation to demonic nature of the house. Instead, we also get an outsiders perspective and how they are effected by this haunting as well, making the story feel larger and more life threatening. With some of the most effective jump scares that I’ve ever experienced in a horror film and producing an truly eerie world where even in daylight you aren’t safe, “The Conjuring” is exactly what a horror film should be and will be remembered for exactly that.

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BEFORE MIDNIGHT // Both Hawke and Delpy continue their unbelievable streak with these characters, producing all the emotions and interesting conversations that the film has to offer. Without them, this franchise would become less enjoyable and we can only hope Linklater will rather end this series rather than recasting any of these characters. Everything about these films, especially “Before Midnight” screams passion project from everyone involved. Willing to devote such time to these characters and their situations is the sign of love from Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy, and that shines through the quality of the film and makes “Before Midnight” one of the best dramas of the year.

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THE INTERNSHIP // Although it’s not the genius that was “Wedding Crashers”, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s latest collaboration “The Internship” far exceeded my expectations. With a workplace setting, fish-out-of-water plot structure, and trailers that contained very few memorable jokes and the promise of the funniest moments being displayed well before opening night, Shawn Levy’s comedy actually hits home on a number of levels. Nowhere near matching the comedy pairing of their previous endeavor, Vaughn and Wilson still play off one another unlike almost any comedy duo today. Almost reprising their former roles, a majority of the laugh are attributed to these comedic veterans. The gimmicky nature of building a film around Google is actually quite entertaining when it’s all said and done. Balancing comedy and heart, the rag-tag team never exactly feels completely undateable and Vaughn and Wilson’s interaction with them is comes off completely authentic and natural. Bad jokes aside, like the Professor Xavier skit and Max Minghella’s dismal performance, the rest of the film works quite nicely. Topped off by the beautiful and talented Rose Byrne and cameos from Rob Riggle and Will Ferrell, “The Internship” is a slightly better version of whatever you expect it to be, for being a PG-13 comedy about two adult men vying for a dream job at Google.

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ONLY GOD FORGIVES // Unflinching. Charismatic. Surreal. All words that best describe Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to “Drive”, re-teaming with Ryan Gosling for “Only God Forgives”, a self-described neon fairy tale of heightened reality. The screenplay unfolds like a Shakespearean tragedy, with Gosling playing Julian, a brother seeking revenge on his older brother’s killers in Bangkok, all by the orders of his overbearing and uber sexual mother (Kristin Scott Thomas). Although the dialogue is sparse and the opium-infused, fever dream-nature of the film is alienating to most audiences, Ryan Gosling is a force to be reckoned with in any capacity, filling every scene he’s in with the best acted, most precise performance, never failing to grab your complete attention. Much like “Drive”, the violence gets a bit excessive, but following a very similar fashion to Korean cinema, Refn understands the dark nature of the material and produces gorgeous scene after gorgeous scene, with help creating the tone from an expert pairing with composer Cliff Martinez. Also described as a modern Western, “Only God Forgives” may not compare to the vision of Refn’s “Drive”, despite many similarities, but it still holds up on its own and produces an enigmatic showing from actor Ryan Gosling, proving yet again he’s not just a pretty face, and could easily be one of the best actors out of our generation. With a style all his own and no remorse, I continue to look forward to what Refn produces next.

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THE WAY WAY BACK // If there’s one thing we’ve learned from both “The Descendants” and now “The Way Way Back”, it’s that Nat Faxon and Jim Rash know their shit. This time writing, directing, and acting, both Nat and Jim are already at the top of their game and we’re only on film number two. Diving into the world of an awkward teen this time around, “The Way Way Back” follows 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) as he follows his mother to her new boyfriend’s beach house for the summer. Surrounded by eccentric neighbors and vapid teen females, it’s not until Duncan stumbles around Water Whiz water park and meets the overly sociable Owen (Sam Rockwell), owner of the water park, that he finally begins coming out of his shell. The performances in this film are key to making it the sleeper hit of the summer. Sam Rockwell produces one of the most entertaining and thoughtful performance not just of the year, but of his career, making this role his own and dominating the screen with every turn of phrase. You anticipate his scenes and fall in love with his character’s admirable demeanor towards everyone around him. Sure, there are lessons even for him to learn, but regardless, Owen is a fully formed character that you cannot help but cheer for. The other shining star in this film is Annasophia Robb as Susanna, who is never really allowed to shine in all her glory, but from the glimpses of her performance and the eventual culmination of her story arc, she is another character you fall in love with. Even Steve Carell transforms himself into the arrogant, immature asshole Trent, the boyfriend of Duncan’s mother. His role as the subtle villain is key to the peaks of Liam James’ performance (“who says that to somebody?”). What hinders “The Way Way Back” from being the best film of the year is that Liam James never really hits his mark, floundering in the middle ground of not really acting and trying too hard. Although his awkwardness in front of the camera is often a crutch in conveying how introverted his character is, this role could have simply been cast better. Aside from this discrepancy, do not be surprised to see Faxon and Rash’s names in the Best Original Screenplay category at the Academy Awards, with some of the best dramatic dialogue to come out of this season. Also, this coming of age depiction is so relatable that anyone who’s ever been on vacation with their parents will get a twinge of deja vu, especially an formerly awkward kid like myself. “The Way Way Back” is an example of a film you wish would just go on forever, but since it can’t, you’re forced to reminisce about these characters that you fell in love with and what could have been, the signature of a beautiful crafted dramatic film.

New Releases
Before Midnight
The Conjuring
I Give It a Year
The Internship
Only God Forgives
Paradise: Faith 2-denied2
The Way, Way Back

TV Box Set

  • Kindred The Embraced: Complete Series
  • Nikita: Season Three
  • Primeval: New World: The Complete Series
  • Transformers Rescue Bots: Griffin Rock Rescue
  • The Young Riders: Season Two

Special Editions/Other Releases

  • Almost Perfect
  • Ardeshir Mohasses
  • As Cool as I Am (2013) 
  • Bad Behavior (2012)
  • Barbie & Her Sisters in a Pony Tale
  • The Calling
  • Dead in Tombstone
  • Decisive Battles of World War II
  • Faces: Criterion
  • Girls Like Us
  • In A Town This Size
  • John Cassavetes: Five Films – Criterion
  • Just Like a Woman
  • The Killing of a Chinese Bookie: Criterion
  • La Notte: Criterion
  • Love Sex & Missed Connections
  • Molly’s Theory of Relativity 2-denied2
  • Oka!
  • Opening Night: Criterion
  • Out of the Darkness
  • Red Clover
  • Return of the Killer Shrews
  • Robert Wise: American Filmmaker
  • Shadows: Criterion
  • Snuff
  • Storm Rider
  • Thats the Way of the World
  • The Uninvited: Criterion
  • The Wall (2012) 
  • Who Needs Enemies
  • A Woman Under the Influence: Criterion

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