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Mama: Whenever Guillermo del Toro "presents" a new horror movie, they feel a little outsourced: like he's discovered new talent to make all of the del Toro-ish genre movies he doesn't have time for. But in terms of del Toro-ish (but not super del Toro-ish; no one has eyeballs on hands) thrillers, the well-made Mama is more The Orphanage than Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.
Broken City: Brian Tucker's screenplay for Broken City made the Black List in 2008. For those of you not familiar with general Hollywood bullshit, the Black List is an annual poll asking industry people to name the unproduced but circulating screenplays they like the most. The general idea seems to be that it's a way to showcase smart, strong work by screenwriters working outside of the preferred toys-and-capes genres; also, though, it's an instructive look at what people in Hollywood think makes for awesome writing, which is to say: often pretty hacky bullshit. If you take a look at the other movies on the 2008 list, for example, the top three vote-getters are the screenplays for The Beaver, The Oranges, and Butter, all filmed and fucking terrible. They're also eerily similar (in fact, I wrote about the last two together when they slipped into theaters last October) in that all three movies have a kind of quasi-literary, irreverent voice that probably seems especially literary to people who don't read many books and especially irreverent to people who revere stupid shit. To be fair, Inglourious Basterds was on the 2008 list too (one of Tarantino's best movies: not as well-liked as the script for Butter!), and sometimes screenplays get ruined by producers or directors, but flipping through Black List descriptions is pretty disheartening anyway. I haven't seen Broken City, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, and in fact it seems like a throwback that fits well with this weekend's other movies, the neo-Western and the more classically creepy, gore-light horror story. At very least, it seems like a throwback to the 1996 mayor-and-buddy thriller City Hall, starring Al Pacino and John Cusack.