Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Friday the 13th! Enjoy <i>Insidious: Chapter 2</i>!

Posted By on Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Insidious Chapter Two James Wan
Insidious Chapter 2: James Wan seems to be working on David Gordon Green-style overload: bursts of activity that, due in part to the quirks of release dates, sees a bunch of his work getting released very close together. He got his major-league start with Saw in 2004; three years later, the hilariously similarly titled Dead Silence and Death Sentence were released just months apart. Another three-year break preceded and followed his horror comeback Insidious; since then, he's filmed The Conjuring, which feels like an Insidious companion piece (in that it shares a slow-burn approach to haunted house movies, and stars Patrick Wilson alongside some other respected actors) and watched it become one of the biggest horror movies ever even as he has Insidious Chapter 2 waiting in the wings (somewhat confusingly, only two months later).

Question: is it too early to market something as "from the director of The Conjuring"? Probably not, and Chapter 2 has to be considered a major win if it makes even half of The Conjuring's haul. Another question: why in the hell wasn't Insidious Chapter 2 held for Halloween? No Saw or Paranormal Activity movies are coming out for the first time in a decade, and this seems like the perfect time for Wan to recapture his first series' old October dominance. (Indeed, after this, only a misbegotten remake of Carrie remains as far as wide-release horror.) But maybe Wan is too busy prepping Fast and Furious 7 (due out NEXT SUMMER!) to lobby studios about when to release the lucrative horror movies he seems ready to set aside. Insidious Chapter 2 more or less approximates the level of craft of Wan's other recent haunted-house movies, but despite some cleverness in the story's expansion, it does feel a bit more like maintenance than a fully committed job. Insidious Chapter 3 seems all but assured; Wan's participation no longer does.

The Family Robert DeNiro Michelle Pfeiffer Luc Besson
The Family: Because his name appears on roughly 15 low-budget Eurotrash action movies per year as cowriter/producer/godfather, I had it in my head that Luc Besson directs movies pretty regularly. It turns out, though, that I have seen a whopping three (3) Besson-directed movies ever: The Professional, The Fifth Element, and The Messenger. Since his Joan of Arc semi-fiasco, he's made a barely released French comedy-drama called Angel-A, three Arthur and the Invisibles half-animated family movies, only one of which came out in the United States.

So I guess he works plenty, but The Family is his first movie to garner a wide US release since that first Arthur movie flopped out in 2006 (and that was his first big-ish movie in seven years). Headliners Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones make this look like yet another permutation of the classic-oldsters-kicking-ass formula—the kind of thing De Niro can and will do in his sleep, and will in fact do two more times before the year is up with Last Vegas and Grudge Match. Then again, in the endless recombinations of older actors who somehow haven't worked together yet, De Niro-Pfeiffer-Jones seems like a good one, and maybe Besson's still got some of his tony-trashy sensibility left. I recently rewatched The Fifth Element, and it's such a crazy mix of the inventive and the nonsensical (Besson reportedly first had the idea as a teenager, and this makes a wonderful amount of sense in the final film)—a spectacular collision of European and Hollywood sensibilities. If Besson engineers another one of those culture smashes, even on a smaller scale, I'll be simultaneously delighted and kind of suspect of myself for being delighted.

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