Aaron Mettey’s Movie Blog

In his debut post, our film guy offers some thoughts on recently released The Wolfman, dissects the Red Riding trilogy, and wants to know: what performance did the Oscars overlook this year?

Okay, here’s the thing: I watch a lot of movies. I always have; I always will. I do it because, simply, I enjoy it. When I was growing up, our movie cabinet overflowed with all of the hand-labeled VHS tapes I had used to record movies off the TV. Even today, I still have this strong, nearly obsessive need to see almost every new release… well, any new release that gets an 80% or better rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If I don’t see it in the theater, I will immediately add it, along with all the “important” and classic films, to my NetfIix queue. (My queue has begun to look like some weird amalgamation of the MTV Movie Award and Independent Spirit Award nominees.)

In this blog, I want to have a conversation about film. I don’t want to just share my own opinions about what I’m watching, but also suggest some movies to see, and maybe some movies to revisit. Film is completely subjective. (For example, who else but me would place Rear Window and Princess Bride in his top five favorite movies?) So if you agree with me, if you think I’m way off mark, or you just want to suggest a movie, I want to hear it!

So, let’s go…

My Grading System
G — Glorious
PG — Pretty Great
R — Run of the mill
NC-17— Not a Classic
UR — Un-Rentable

The Wolfman
I love movie monsters. I love slow-walking, brain-munching zombies. I love the tragically cursed, sometimes-basketball-playing, clothes-shredding werewolves. I even love the brooding — and recently teen-hunky — vampires. I love ’em because they can be fun to watch. So, despite the negative reviews, I went to see The Wolfman anyway with high hopes. Like many recent man-wolf films (I’m looking at you Wolf and Cursed), The Wolfman does have an occasional jolt, but doesn’t quite have any bite (sorry!).

Sure, it’s got a sumptuously eerie look and some great special effects, but the performances are all over the place. Benicio Del Toro (Lawrence Talbot) simply seems out of place and uncomfortable. Emily Blunt (Gwen Conliffe) acts as though she is trapped in a tragic Bronte novel. Anthony Hopkins (Sir John Talbot) delivers an astonishingly one-note performance. Lacking any depth or rage, the performance makes it hard to remember that this is the man who created the iconic monster Hannibal Lecter. Thank god for Hugo Weaving (Aberline) — he’s the only actor who seems to be having any fun at all. His acting finds the right balance between melodrama and camp, always with a malevolent sparkle in his eye.

If you want to see some gloriously gross disembowelings, beheadings, and behandings (oh my!), The Wolfman has some good ones. But if you’re looking for a wickedly gleeful monster movie with strong performances, The Wolfman disappoints. (In theaters.)
Grade: R

Red Riding Trilogy (1974, 1980 & 1983)
Several years ago, I partook in a daylong Lord of the Rings movie marathon. Sitting in a friend’s house, I watched all three movies (the extended versions) back-to-back. It was long, yes, but made me feel nerdishly proud (that’s pronounce “nyerd-ishly”). So when a friend suggested that we watch the Red Riding Trilogy (now at the Ritz Bourse) in one sitting, my only question was, who’s bringing the Swedish Fish?

After a quick sandwich, we began our six-hour journey into corrupted Yorkshire. When we started 1974, I was immediately frustrated. The revolving door cast of characters and the thick Yorkshire brogues were nearly overwhelming. I understood some characters, but others I wished had been subtitled. (I frequently asked my friends what a character had just said — my equivalent of an English-to-English dictionary). But I pushed through, and was immensely glad that I did.

While each movie has its own gritty look (due to different directors) and lead characters, together they coalesce into a menacing noir. For six hours, you watch the self-destruction of ordinary people as serial kidnappings and murders occur over 10 years — often, in gory detail. While it never reaches Dexter levels, there are some pretty gruesome moments (let’s just say, a drill is involved). With the intimacy of the filmmaking, I not only felt like a viewer but a participant in the action. Upon completion of 1983, I was exhausted.

Even if you can’t see all three in one day, make sure that you see all three films in sequential order. Otherwise, you will have many unanswered questions. Also, I’d advise seeing them with friends. It will not only help you decipher what the characters are saying, but you’ll also be to discuss and dissect one of the most original noirs released in some time. (In theaters.)
Grade: PG


See Now: The Informant. The performance that should have garnered Matt Damon his Oscar nomination.

Queue It: Z. The 1970 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film. A brilliantly filmed political thriller that starts off with the following disclaimer in the opening credits (translated): “Any resemblance to real events, to persons living or dead, is not accidental. It is DELIBERATE.” (In French).

Often what’s overlooked is as important as what’s honored. What was the one film or performance that was completely overlooked in this year’s Academy Awards? My take: Bright Star was truly one of the best films of the year, yet its lone nomination was for costume design (which it lost to The Young Victoria).  The movie, as well as director/writer Jane Campion and star Abbie Cornish, should have received a little more love from the Academy. You?