“Big Sur” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. R, 1:21, three stars out of four.
Think of “Big Sur” as the counterpoint to Walter Salles’ fevered, rapturous adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” that came earlier this year. Salles’ movie mythologizes Kerouac’s book (and the real-life characters and events that inspired it), as much about the book’s impact on the world as the book itself.
In 1994, director Neil Jordan adapted Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire” for the screen. It was elegant and clever, if a little overwrought and overburdened with star power (Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise). But one thing it definitely wasn’t was a horror film. There were no jumps or jolts to be had, but rather a moody, mordant take on the pluses and minuses of immortality.
I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to horror movies, which makes me that much more susceptible and appreciative when a good one comes along. In honor of Halloween, here are five recent horror films that did the trick for me.
“Mr. Nobody” is now available on video-on-demand and for rent on Amazon and iTunes. It opens theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, November 1. A Madison date has not yet been set. R, 2:28, two and a half stars out of four.
Think of “Mr. Nobody” as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book for grown-ups, but read straight through as if it were any other book, so the reader keeps skipping across alternate storylines. On Page 28, the hero gets eaten by a dragon; on Page 29, he’s alive again, having decided not to go into the dragon’s cave after all.
“The Counselor” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema, Sundance, Cinema Cafe) — It’s no country for young men, either, as Cormac McCarthy writes this bleak thriller about a lawyer (Michael Fassbender) who gets entangled in a Mexican drug cartel.
“Museum Hours” screens at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Free for members; $7 at the door for everyone else. Not rated, 1:46, three and a half stars out of four.
It’s fitting, of course, that a film called “Museum Hours” would screen at a museum, although the classical paintings in Jem Cohen’s film would stick out like a sore thumb among MMoCA’s more contemporary pieces. Still, the film captures the contemplative feeling of whiling away a couple of hours among some of the world’s great works of art, especially in the company of a couple of engaging, droll guides.
Pick of the week: “Dirty Wars”: My full review is here, and my interview with Jeremy Scahill is here. Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill (a Wauwatosa native) looks into America’s secret war on terror, including targeted assassinations and drone strikes, and ponders the blowback that we may be unleashing.
Classic of the week: “Wake in Fright”: My full review is here. A cultured schoolteacher is waylaid in a rough Australian town in this 1971 film, and a dark night of drinking, carousing and kangaroo slaughter unleashes his inner beast.
Documentary of the week: “Ai Weiwei Never Sorry”: My full review is here. The combative Chinese artist Ai Weiwei mixes art and activism to crusade against his government’s abuses.
Thriller of the week: “In Bruges”: My full review is here. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are hitmen on furlough in a picturesque Belgian town in this very funny and very violent film.
Western of the week: “Two Mules for Sister Sara“: Not my favorite Clint Eastwood Western, as Clint reluctantly takes on a prostitute masquerading as a nun (Shirley MacLaine). But still, a Clint Eastwood Western.