Lita On Film

Posts Tagged ‘Brad Anderson’

What’s On Your Queue?

In Netflix Recommendations on June 13, 2011 at 10:53 am

This weeks’ Netflix recommendations:

Unstoppable


A surprisingly taut little action thriller about a runaway train, full of dangerous chemicals of course, bearing down on an innocent town.  Denzel Washington stars.  Not to be confused with the recent remake of “The Taking of Pelham 123,” which also involved a train (hijacked, in this case) and also starred Denzel Washington.  Tony Scott directs, which becomes obvious after about 5 minutes.  Available on DVD only.

The Vanishing on 7th Street

Though I was ultimately disappointed by this existential ghost story by Brad Anderson (see my review here), it’s still worth a look.  Fun special effects and great performances by the child actors.  Available on streaming and disc.

Black Death

While this Middle Ages horror flick wasn’t quite what it purported to be (see my full grievances here), it was still fun and definitely will fit the bill for a satisfying night in.  Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne really get into it, even if the script leaves a bit to be desired.  Available on streaming and disc.

What’s at the top of your Netflix queue?  What should I be recommending this week?  Let me know in the comments!

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Vanishing on 7th Street (2010)

In Film Reviews on December 15, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Find this review on ScreenComment.com!

I would’ve expected more from Brad Anderson.  The director of the overrated but effective “Session 9” (2001), and “The Machinist” (2004), Christian Bale’s most impressive vehicle since “American Psycho,” knows how to create a creepy mood and ratchet up the tension bit by bit.  But the premise of his new film, “Vanishing on 7th Street,” doesn’t lend itself well to subtlety or sophistication: people suddenly begin disappearing as soon as they become engulfed by the dark—which is unfortunate, since the city the film is set in (Detroit, in real life) has just lost power.

Hayden Christensen stars as Luke (no, really) in an attempt to recast himself as a hardened, manly sort, which isn’t terribly successful.  Soon after the city loses power and everyone disappears, Luke finds his way to Sonny’s bar, where somehow the neon lights are still flashing—an oasis in an ocean of blackness.  Once inside, we meet the other protagonists: James (newcomer Jacob Latimore, the best of the lot), Rosemary (Thandie Newton), and Paul (John Leguizamo).  We get flashbacks of everyone’s lives, and get to witness their devastation at the loss of parents, children, lovers and friends.  These parts of the story are bleak to be sure but, like the characters, not very inventive.

Once the players are in place the film turns from a melodrama into a straight survival story, at which point it begins steadily losing momentum.  Eventually almost all the characters are dispatched by the monstrous darkness, and the film devolves into a mildly evangelistic, existential passion play.  The film’s failing is a common one: it doesn’t really know what it wants to be.  It’s not really a horror film, because it’s not terribly scary; the thing we’re supposed to be afraid of—the wandering souls in the darkness—aren’t well-defined enough to really chill us.  The film’s philosophical message, which somehow involves a centuries-old conspiracy theory, is similarly bungled.  It seems that Anderson is longing to either confront God and the afterlife head-on, or debunk those concepts all together.  The problem is, you can’t tell which.

Christensen gives this new, adult type of role a good try.  It’s refreshing to see him lash out and curse at people while he’s not in outer space, but he’s unconvincing as a hardened survivalist.  Newton is similarly disappointing in her ultra-stereotyped role of the bereft mother.  The children in “Vanishing” are by far the most compelling—and perhaps that’s a good way to tell when you’ve wandered into a film that is aiming for an adult audience, but not really getting there.  If you’re looking for an end-of-days type of film to escape the holiday cheer—and who isn’t, really?—check out “The Walking Dead” on AMC.  It’s not great, but at least there are zombies.  Pass the eggnog!

“Vanishing on 7th Street” will be available on demand starting January 7th, and in theaters on February 18th.