Poster and Movie Trailer of the Day: ALEX CROSS!

Right Click and Do Save As to download the Movie Trailer

Like everyone else I was a huge fan of the first few James Patterson ALEX CROSS novels. Most notably KISS THE GIRLS. But I fell off the Patterson train relatively early (back when he was still writing his own novels), no slight against him… just other interests came up, and so I have not read anything by Patterson in probably a decade or more. But I still remember fondly those first few ALEX CROSS novels.

However film adaptations have been less than kind to Alex Cross, and this latest film, titled simply enough… ALEX CROSS, on paper does nothing to alleviate this concern. In fact, on every front it looks to be a step down from previous films, and a trainwreck in the making.

First the casting… Tyler Perry as Alex Cross. Now I give you that Morgan Freeman was possibly not the right choice for Cross, but in Freeman you have an award winning powerhouse actor, who basically can make any role work. And he did so with the character of Cross. But Tyler Perry?

He’s a decent actor. He has physically the imposing size. However it would be easier to take him seriously in a dramatic role if he hadn’t spent the last decade or so in women’s clothes. I saw the trailer, I just have a hard time seeing him as anything but Tyler Perry, about to reach for his wig. :). At no point in the trailer, do I say… this is Alex Cross. They would have been far better off with Idris Elba.

Next is the director, Rob Cohen. Nothing in his filmography (FAST AND FURIOUS I, DAYLIGHT,XXX) really interests me. And the trailer looks okay, but nothing we haven’t seen a million times before.

Which brings us to the third red flag, the writers. A pair of relatively untried writers, Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson, and all they have to their credit is another lackluster Patterson adaptation, ALONG CAME A SPIDER.

From A to Z, nothing about this project screams top-notch. It screams retread, made for cable movie… at best. I mean, serial killer movies… not really my thing, and police procedurals are a dime a dozen, so to get me interested in paying theater prices you need to bring something special to the table.

Something where the film is not about the crime but the solution (because call me strange and un-American, but I have no interest in watching people suffer, or torture porn, or serial killers… my interest in such movies is about the hero. It’s about the people who make the wrong things right. And right off looking at the poster, you see where this film’s agenda lies. In glorifying and romanticizing the sociopath. Yet another thing that puts me off the movie.)

You need to be the next MANHUNTER or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and I think it’s a pretty safe bet ALEX CROSS is nowhere near either of those. However, all that said, I give the benefit of the doubt to action/thriller/genre films with more than two characters of color, simply because Hollywood releases so few of them, and I like to support the ones it does. So I will see this if it hits a theater near me, and hopefully like RED TAILS it can exceed my low expectations. :)

I hope I’m wrong. It has been known to happen, though rarely. :). As I alluded to, I was very pessimistic about RED TAILS and much to my surprise that turned out to be a GREAT film, that I’m glad I saw in the theater.

Here’s hoping that watching ALEX CROSS is not my… cross to bear. Heh, heh, heh! See what I did there? That’s a pun, son! :)

TOP 15 FAVORITE DVD Commentaries! Part 1 of 3!


“She loved me. That’s the root of the business. But she knew… she knew I thought more of my wife’s footprint in the mud, than I did of her body and soul.”
— A fantastic performance by Ciaran Hinds as Jim Browner, telling Holmes about the sister-in-law who connived to destroy his marriage, with tragic results. From THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES adaptation of THE CARDBOARD BOX.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Collection
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series

In this age of streaming and Netflix, the DVD/Blu-ray is still the format of choice for those who want to do more than ‘see’ the movie, but explore it and enjoy it. I’m speaking of special features.

Specifically Director’s Commentaries.

As a rule I don’t purchase DVDs/Blu-rays, unless it is a movie or series I intend to watch more than once. And as such a director’s commentary is an essential part of the DVD for a film fan such as myself.

I can watch the DVD once for the program, then go back and watch it for the cast/crew insights into the film. So that said, what are the best DVD/Blu-ray commentaries?

Best is a problematic designation, so let’s go with favorite… here are my 15 favorite DVD commentaries:

Images
The Long Goodbye

Robert Altman’s IMAGES/THE LONG GOODBYE- I put these two films together as one, because they are Robert Altman at his most experimental, and to my mind, while not his biggest or most lavish or most acclaimed films, IMAGES and THE LONG GOODBYE are his most interesting and stylish and surreal films (and they also sport two of the most amazing, experimental scores).

They are my favorite Altman films. And while endlessly watchable on their own, the excellent special features push them over the top. While not really a commentary, the films instead sport brief interviews with Robert Altman, but such informative and formative interviews. Altman gives a great insight into the division of labor between Director/Writer and Actor, and how as a writer a work is 2D, and it is incumbent on the actor and others to make it 3D, to bring it to life. Between the film and the interviews, it’s a class on film-making, for the price of a DVD.

And next…

Michael Mann and Tony Scott are two of my favorite directors, they make fantastic films, and their commentaries are full-on clinics in film-making. So just about any movie they make, I purchase as much for the commentaries… as the film. So you can easily fill a top ten or twenty list with just these two directors.

But for the sake of brevity we’ll limit each director to just one:

Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER [There are numerous DVD and Blu-ray versions of this film, but the link below is the only DVD that sports the Michael Mann DVD commentary.]
Manhunter (Restored Director’s Cut Divimax Edition)

[And as honorable mention check out Michael Mann's COLLATERAL, from covering using the digital camera to the landscape of mercenaries, to the actors, it is just a riveting commentary. Collateral (Two-Disc Special Edition)]

Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE showcases two excellent commentary tracks.
Man on Fire

Another one of my favorite directors is Werner Herzog, and his commentaries are always things of high drama and art onto themselves. Everyone of his films are worth owning as much, and in some cases more for his commentary. Just a fascinating director, and a fascinating man.

Like Mann and Scott, every one of his commentaries could fill a best of list, but again for the sake of brevity we’ll narrow it to one.

AGUIRRE WRATH OF GOD- cause it’s always entertaining hearing him discuss Klaus Kinski

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski: A Film Legacy

Werner Herzog Collection

DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS- Put together a novel from one of my favorite writers, a few of my favorite actors, and one of my favorite directors in Carl Franklin, and you have a movie that makes anyone’s purchase list. Add a riveting commentary from director Carl Franklin, and you have DVD as film and film-experience.

Devil in A Blue Dress

And rounding out the first five for this list of 15 Favorite commentaries is

THE COMPLETE FARSCAPE- People who are fans of this show, a show that at its heart is this great love story, are fans because they are so connected to the characters that the actors and writers bring to life. Outside of possibly BABYLON 5, FARSCAPE is the most emotional and best acted show of the fantastic (Browder giving wrenching, award worthy performances). So the chance to reconnect with these shows, especially by listening to Ben Browder and Claudia Black, who obviously have as much chemistry off screen as they do on… is just a joy. Even lukewarm episodes of FARSCAPE, rare but they do exist, are made ‘must-haves’ by the commentary. A fantastic series, adorned with fantastic commentaries.

Farscape: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Farscape: The Complete Series

So that’s it for the first five favorite commentaries. Join me in the next installment as we cover #s 6-10! And in the interim feel free to leave comments about your favorite commentaries.

Today’s Recommended Movie Trailer: THE TEXAS KILLING FIELDS


I’m surprisingly lukewarm on most of the films announced for release for the remainder of the year.

Outside of the previously mentioned MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, nothing else is really exciting me or registering as a must see in the theater.

That said THE TEXAS KILLING FIELDS, offers a compelling looking trailer, with some solid actors. A thriller about a string of murders along the bad lands of Texas, the premise bringing to mind something between Fincher’s ZODIAC and SEVEN, which is a pretty good vibe for a trailer to leave you with.

In addition the trailer views much better than most of the big budget tent poles of the fall.

It’s directed by newcomer Ami Canaan Mann, who just so happens to be the daughter of one of my favorite directors, Michael Mann (MANHUNTER, MIAMI VICE, COLLATERAL) and if the trailer is anything to go by, she’s going to be a Director to be reckoned with.

Check out the trailer for it here.

On Sex, Savagery and Cinema. Horror films in the 21st century!

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As any frequent sampler of this blog knows, I like movies. I also tend to listen to my share of podcasts.

And a few of those podcasts, are about movies. One in particular recently had an episode devoted at least partially to Nudity in Horror films.

I was going to reply to them specifically, but it kicked off a train of thought about horror, and sex, and cinema in general, that I wanted to share… with you. Plus it’s not just their show, seemingly many people put forward this stance that sex and nudity is… uncomfortable or uncalled for, and violence is cool.

The belief that sex and nudity, particularly in genre films… is gratuitous.

Are you guys joking?

Genre/Horror films by definition are gratuitous.

I’m going to get up on my soap box now… :)

To say a film “by showing a woman’s boob” or “having a sex scene” is gratuitous, while ignoring the fact the very nature of the film you’re watching be it SCREAM or FRIDAY the 13th or INSIDE is about carving up women, is to have your priorities slightly askew.

I think the argument against “gratuitous nudity” would be far more rational if it was advocating less onscreen violence against women period. (And on the phrase “gratuitous nudity”, I don’t subscribe to it. Do you think Rubens saw his nude paintings as gratuitous? He saw them as works of art. I’d be hard pressed to disagree with him. If nudity was art 400 years ago, why would it be any less art today),

But advocating less nudity, while being completely happy with the violence in a genre film, typically against women, is a suspect argument. While the anti-nude :) argument may be a prevalent mindset in movie going audiences today… I do not think it is a healthy one.

Women are beautiful, so if a filmmaker wants to shoot that beauty, and make it part of his drama, or his mystery, or his comedy, or his sci fi, or his ghost story… and an actress (or actor, don’t want to be sexist here) has no problem being nude, I don’t see the issue with nudity in films.

American cinema (and increasingly World cinema, as other countries adopt America’s misogynistic cinema as their own) can do with more sex and nudity, and less violence. There’s an unhealthy attitude toward sex, that I think is illustrated by conversations I’ve heard from various quarters.

Movie goers are uncomfortable watching nudity or healthy sexual situations on screen, but give them a movie about a rape or a serial killing and somehow, “that’s just good horror fun”.

It’s a bizarre stance to me. The violence should feel like the aberration, the uncomfortable part of a horror film, not the nudity, not the sex.

I like a good thriller as much as the next guy, but I think you have to be cautious about blurring the lines between hero and villain, between sympathizing with victims, and salivating over them.

The word morality is out of fashion, but I think there’s a morality inherent in everything, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Even in genre fiction. And the morality you are prepared to accept from your fictions and your facts, says much about you. It says how you came up, and for what you are prepared to fall down.

One of my favorite Thrillers is Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER. It’s everything I want a thriller to be, and at the end of the day, the monster is put down, and the damsel is rescued. And yes I read the book RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris, and Mann’s film is far superior because of the changes he made, because of its… simplistic morality.

MANHUNTER superior in every way, because it believes… in heroes.

Contrast that to the morality of these early 21st century Thrillers/Horror films, such as DEVILS REJECTS.

DEVILS REJECTS is everything I don’t want in a movie. I mean it is stunningly shot, fantastically constructed, Rob Zombie is a talented filmmaker no doubt. And I really, really wanted to like the movie, but I couldn’t. Because its morality is fundamentally at odds with my own. I do not want to see a woman get raped in real life, and I don’t want to see one get raped on the screen. In DEVILS REJECTS no one comes to save the damsel. No one comes to stop the violations. The films purpose IS the violations, it is to glorify the monsters, and for you to silently participate and condone and revel… in the crimes.

That is the reality of horror cinema in the young years of the 21st century.

And it is not for me.

And I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t seen SAW or IRREVERSIBLE or INSIDE. After seeing DEVIL’S REJECTS and the new HILLS HAVE EYES, I don’t need to see anymore of those movies.

I want there always to be someone arriving in the nick of time to save the damsel. And yes it’s an old-fashioned morality, but it’s the one that I grew up with, it’s the one that leaves me feeling good, and it’s the only one I’m willing to accept.

Horror movies for me, have always been about heroism.

And you take heroism out of the mix, and I have no interest in horror movies.

Today’s films and video games increasingly sublimate the desire for sex, with the desire for savagery. And I fear for the type of children it breeds. As if all of America and Canada and the world, is young serial killers in training.

Increasingly desensitized monkeys, being bred for the mill.

So cinema today, genre cinema, horror cinema; is about a willingness to sublimate sex to savagery. And define the wrong one of those two things… as pornographic.

Just my 2 cents.

This installments picture is from one of my favorite poster artists, and one of the greatest surrealist artists currently working, Wieslaw Walkuski. Quite similar, though not as evocative as the work of another favorite of mine, and another Polish Artist, the late, great Zdislaw Beksinski. If you can pick up any of the posters of Walkuski or the art book of Beksinski, do so. They are the best of the best.