“Ten years from now, it will be the 1968 version that people are still renting.” So predicted Roger Ebert, after Tim Burton’s scattershot Planet of the Apes remake, released a decade ago this summer, did more to discredit primates than Charlton Heston ever could.
Whether the stench of that earlier experiment still lingers could help determine the future of a still-vital franchise, confidently revived this week in Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
As children, we are taught to turn the other cheek, but who can deny the visceral thrill of richly deserved revenge, presented in Steven R. Monroe’s I Spit on Your Grave remake as a dish served well past the freezing point?
Anyone familiar with Meir Zarchi’s 1980 original – famously dismissed by Roger Ebert as “a film without a shred of artistic distinction” but hailed by others as a crude testament to feminist fortitude – should recognize the story of Jennifer, the big-city girl beaten and raped by five merciless hillbillies during a retreat in the Louisiana backwoods.
Bloody but Never Broken, Sarah Butler Relives the Infamous Day of the Woman with 'I Spit on Your Grave'
The first time Sarah Butler read the script for I Spit on Your Grave, Steven R. Monroe’s tense, unrelenting remake of the notorious 1980 rape-and-revenge thriller Roger Ebert deemed “a vile bag of garbage, reprehensible and contemptible,” she made an urgent call to her manager.
“I’d auditioned for it, but when I saw the script I decided to skip the callback,” says Butler, 25, best known for one-off appearances on CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. “All the nudity, violence, graphic rape scenes – normally, my manager is very protective of me, but he asked me to read it again, so I did. He said it could be the role of a lifetime, and I tried to look at it from that perspective.”
It is the dawn of a new decade, a time for reflection and self-improvement. In that spirit, I humbly submit my list of movie-related resolutions, complete with links. If you'd like to suggest any New Year's resolutions for me, yourself or anyone else, feel free to drop me a line.
For almost any other filmmaker, Inglourious Basterds – yes, it’s really spelled that way – would represent a career-defining achievement, an audacious spaghetti western-style World War II fantasy that dares to rewrite history and give the Nazis their due. For Quentin Tarantino, it’s just par for an elevated course.
Ladies and gentlemen, set your DVRs. At the Movies, the beacon of televised film criticism founded by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel in 1975, is about to undergo a much-needed makeover.
For those who have followed the syndicated weekly show since Ebert and latter-day partner Richard Roeper left Disney-ABC Domestic Television last summer, the introduction of Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott as the latest pair of critics to occupy the vaunted balcony should come as welcome news.
Judd Apatow is no stranger to labels.
Roger Ebert, Variety and ABC’s Nightline have independently declared him Hollywood’s new King of Comedy. The editors of Vanity Fair and the Los Angeles Times downgraded him to Mayor, though their praise was otherwise no less effusive. And Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton, never one to withhold a compliment, recently branded Apatow a “genius.”
But believe it or not, there was a time when the Syosset, New York, native, then in his early 20s, struggled to sustain a career as a stand-up comedian. Although he conceded that battle, choosing instead to write for fellow stand-ups like Roseanne Barr, his passion for the craft remained undiminished.
Who is Henry Jaglom?
The answer is complicated enough to have inspired a 1995 documentary, in which conflicting portraits of the London-born director are offered. Is he “the worst filmmaker in America,” as one magazine editor suggested then? Or is he the daring auteur whose work has been described by Roger Ebert as “smart” and “sophisticated”? Do his films suggest a subconscious hatred of women, as a female sociologist once alleged, or do they reflect the “feminine, observant nature” some of his leading ladies profess to admire?
If Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left was, as Roger Ebert put it, “a tough, bitter little sleeper of a movie that's about four times as good as you'd expect,” Dennis Iliadis’ no-frills remake is roughly the same – slicker, perhaps, but no less brutally effective. There are those who will find it repugnant, and others who will be stunned silent by its raw graphic violence. Nobody ever said going to the movies has to be fun.
While the low-budget original, which has become something of a cult favorite among hardened horror fans, has an air of disquieting authenticity thanks to its grainy, home movie-style footage and its shockingly intimate portrayals of depravity, this latest version is a far handsomer production. Is it more sanitized? Yes and no.