For more than thirty five years the argument has been brewing – “Citizen Kane” vs “The Godfather,” and for most of those years the answer has been an easy one in favor of the Orson Welles classic. However, now that time has passed and both films hold a place of reverence in motion picture history, it’s easier to acknowledge “The Godfather” for the absolute, and “uber” cinematic genius that it is.
Upon its release in the fall of 1997, Curtis Hanson’s “L.A. Confidential” was instantly recognized by many critics as being one of the better movies not just of that year but of the decade.
I was not one of those people.
In 2003, filmmaker Paul Schrader found himself removed from a motion picture he spent the last year creating. Imagined as the disturbing new chapter in the long-standing “Exorcist” saga, “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist” (the eventual title) was positioned by studio Morgan Creek as a major entry in a modern horror climate, ready to scare the pants off all audiences. What Creek received from Schrader was an esoteric production that used psychological means to instill fear over simple bloodletting.
The producers were not pleased.
Very few modern films are worth watching once, let alone on any kind of regular basis. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of those rare films that truly does get better with every subsequent viewing, with the recent three dimensional remastering giving fans an excuse to go back to the theatre every year.
“Slippery Slope” recalls Trey Parker’s 1998 farce “Orgazmo,” only without the comedic vigor and frat house entertainment value. Instead, “Slope” is a wacky comedy with a foundation in intellect, asking interesting questions of feminism between scenes of thrusting and Benny Hill-style undercranking (no joke, it’s really in here). The mix is uncomfortable, but not completely unpleasant.
After creating “Dog Soldiers” and the mesmerizing horror bonanza “The Descent,” writer/director Neil Marshall has built up quite an impressive reservoir of good faith with both fans and critics. He’s a smart filmmaker; a fresh talent working the levers on genres that need every ounce of intelligence they can possibly vacuum up. However, “Doomsday” is a misfire for Marshall; a vivid production giving him a plump budget to pursue his deepest widescreen dreams, yet he loses control of this violent free-for-all immediately after takeoff.