Aaron Eckhart stars as a doctor able to enter the subconscious minds of possessed patients in this week’s Incarnate, a new take on the old exorcism story. And in this week’s 24 Frames gallery, we give our take on the best and worst exorcism horror movies by Tomatometer. Before we start, some règle de jeu: there are no comedies or non-horrors listed, and only movies with at least 20 reviews qualify. Got it? Good. God help us.
Finnish director Renny Harlin has one of the most schizophrenic CVs in movie-dom. He’s directed some of the most beloved action films of the last 20 years, including Die Hard 2, Deep Blue Sea, The Long Kiss Goodnight and, of course, Cliffhanger (sample dialogue: “I must say, you’re a real piece of work.” “I must say, you’re a real piece of shit.”). His latest, the faintly-ridiculous but always-enjoyable 12 Rounds continues this tradition.
He’s also, however, responsible for two of the most reviled movies of recent times — for notorious flop Cutthroat Island and for taking a hatchet to Paul Schrader‘s The Exorcist: The Beginning. For someone with such a varied back catalogue, we had no idea what his five favourite movies would be.
“I would say that one of the most profound memories was when my mother – who was film fanatic and loved thrillers – took me to see Rosemary’s Baby when I was nine years old. The film had a huge impact on me and, of course, scared the shit out me! I certainly wouldn’t take my 10-year-old to see Rosemary’s Baby.
“It is a masterpiece in terms of the way it uses the language of movies and it directed me towards Hitchcock and that kind of visual storytelling, and thrillers in general – or maybe more psychological thrillers. So that was my first and most memorable movie. It was the psychological fear and oddness, the oddness of the characters; I remember I didn’t even understand it all when I first saw it. Visually there were so many things that I hadn’t seen before that have stayed with me.
” I don’t know what it was about that movie that was just incredible. It was something about the storytelling, the characters, and the pace of the movie, the atmosphere of it and the tragic ending that absolutely blew my mind. It made me realise movies could tell stories in a different way. That was the day – when I was 11 years old – when I decided to get involved in movies. It was when I said to myself, “I want to be a director.” It was so powerful to me. It’s really worth seeing; it’s an amazing bleak, beautiful, tragic movie.”
“It’s a typical choice maybe. I’m a huge Coppola fan – I’ve seen it many times in many different versions and formats and that movie, to me, is just fantastic storytelling, interesting characters, maybe the best war film I’ve ever seen. You are transported into his incredibly exotic world and it tells the story of something that is based on reality but the director kind of creates his own reality. He constructs this horrible place – his own interpretation of hell and he that makes me believe in it. It’s a movie that I can always watch again and never get tired of, and it always feel like I’m in the presence of a genius magician. I think I prefer the theatrical cut of the movie. The Redux, with the scene with all the French colonialist people, I didn’t feel added much.”
“Another movie that is hugely influential to me and I never get tired of watching it. The cinemascope photography is unbelievable, evolutionary and fantastic. The performances, the production design and the pacing – it’s kind of slow but it draws you into it and it makes you wish there could still be movies like that nowadays. I mean most movies these days are made for teenagers. It’s almost as if people’s brains work differently these days. Maybe its commercials and music videos and videogames and you just want more stimuli at a faster pace. Filmmakers seem to be afraid to trust the audience more. I don’t mean that movies should be slow and boring, but if you have a good enough script you should be able to use the power of the image to tell a story. It’s like if you look at Pixar movies like Wall-E, actually I do think they have a slower pace, there’s such richness in every frame.”
“Despite the kind of movies I make, I love small, little movies. I love foreign films in general, I love to see something that really moves me emotionally, and that moves me to tears. Maybe Cinema Paradiso is a little bit of a cliché, but I’m sure every cinema lover lists it as their favourite movie. There’s something so beautiful about it, I love the milieu of the little town and this boy’s story and what the whole thing says about how lives go and about our dreams and memories. When he grows up and goes to the movie theatre and sees all the bits that the priest cut out and it reminds him of his childhood… Cinema doesn’t get more beautiful. The whole film is about the incredible nostalgia of movies in general.”
That crazy Dane Cook. The kids just love the guy. And now he looks to be turning into a bona-fide movie star and whatnot. Having seen a bunch of the guy’s stand-up, my reaction to that is "Cool. Cook’s a seriously funny dude." His first starring vehicle, "Employee of the Month," hits theaters soon, and you can see the new trailer right here.
"For customers of Super Club, the largest high-volume, bulk-discount retailer in the country, membership has its privileges. For workers at the cavernous store, the most coveted honor is the "Employee of the Month" award, and having one’s photo immortalized on the wall of fame in the staff lounge. Enter Zack Bradley and Vince Downey, two ultra competitive Super Club workers whose ten years of employment have resulted in drastically different career paths. While Vince–with the aid of his trusty sidekick Jorge–has advanced to become head cashier and winner of 17 consecutive "E of M" awards, Zack is the ultimate slacker whose scruffy appearance and laid back attitude has made him popular with his colleagues, but kept him stuck in the lowly ranks of the store’s box boys.
The duo’s longtime rivalry comes to a bitter head when Amy–a beautiful new cashier with a reputation of only dating "Employee of the Month" winners–transfers to the store, immediately becoming the object of both Zack and Vince’s affection and often comical gamesmanship. While Vince instantly impresses Amy with his crowd pleasing, flamboyant style behind his checkstand register, Zack’s feeble attempts to charm his beautiful new co-worker quickly backfire against him. With the race to win Amy’s affections slipping away, Zack determines his only chance rests in winning the store’s next "Employee of the Month" award."
(Sheesh. That plot synopsis is probably longer than the actual screenplay.)
Joining Mr. Cook in his leading man debut are Dax Shepard, Andy Dick, Efren Ramirez, Harland Williams, and the very curvy Jessica Simpson. "Employee of the Month," which I’m predicting will be a big sleeper hit with the teens, opens on September 15th.
Remember all the hoopla that surrounded last year’s "Exorcist: The Beginning"? How the execs didn’t like Paul Schrader‘s cut so they hired Renny Harlin to do the whole movie pretty much from scratch? And how the movie ended up, well, pretty bad, even after all that trouble? Well now we can see how "unreleasable" Schrader’s original version actually is, because WB will be releasing it (in limited release) on May 20th.No word yet on what this version will be called, but Variety says that WB is leaning towards "Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist." (Also no word on if WB is kidding about that title or not.)
Moviehole chimes in with an exclusive scoop update on Paul Schrader‘s version of "Exorcist: The Beginning": "Why isn’t Paul Schrader’s cut of "The Exorcist: The Beginning" listed as an extras component on the soon-to-be-released DVD? Easy: His version is set to be released as a stand-alone movie all of its own. "Paul is currently in post-production on the movie, as we’re anticipating a limited theatrical release here in the United States sometime in 2005", Morgan Creek told Moviehole this morning." So Schrader’s version was so unwelcome that Morgan Creek hired Renny Harlin to shoot an entirely new film, but now it’s suddenly worthy of a limited release? Weird. But it IS Paul Schrader (writer of "Taxi Driver," director of "Auto Focus") we’re talkiing about, so don’t be surprised if this second version is actually pretty good. (Or at least noticably better than Harlin’s demonic dud.)