The Neon Demon is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us sinister models, shark attacks, goofy horror flicks, critically acclaimed Polish films and so much more.
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I used to say that the best part of going to the movies was watching the movie trailers before the show started.  That wasn’t really true of course (unless the film was bad), but in those days that was about the only place I could find out what movies were coming up.  It wasn’t like today where there are a hundred million sites dedicated to giving us every scrap of information about every upcoming movie from here to eternity.  Truth be told, I don’t really pay that much attention to those things anyway.  My Facebook and Twitter feeds get filled up with that stuff but it's rare that I click.  It's too much information.  Of course I can still get the trailers streamed right into my living room and sometimes I do that, but mostly I forget.

Now I listen to podcasts to get my movie information.  I listen to several entertainment-based podcasts every week and they fill my mind with not only what's new, but what's good.  It's like a perfect filter that weeds out all the nonsense and gives me the good stuff.  One of my favorites is The Next Picture Show.  In that podcast, they line up a new film with an older one.  The idea is that no film exists in a vacuum, that everything is influenced by something.  It's a really enjoyable listen and they often not only get me excited about new movies but dig deep into an older one that I’ve not thought about in a long time.

Recently they teamed up Dario Argento’s classic Italian horror Suspiria with this week's Pick of the Week The Neon Demon.  Though I’d already heard of The Neon Demon I likely would have not thought anything of it were it not for this podcast. In it, Elle Fanning plays a beautiful young woman who moves to Los Angeles and is devoured by the modeling scene.  It was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn who directed the excellent Ryan Gosling drama Drive.

His other films have received mixed reviews, and in fact so has The Neon Demon, which is why I’d likely have skipped it were it not for the podcast.  Which is exactly why I love podcasts.  The Internet is so full of buzzing opinions on everything that it's hard to find any thoughts that you can believe in.  That’s why it's so nice to find a critic's voice that mostly lines up with yours.  And in the case of this podcast, it's four different critical voices that don’t always agree but tend to balance each other out.

I don’t even know if The Neon Demon will be any good, but I’m excited to have discovered it through voices I trust.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Valley of the Dolls (Criterion Collection):  Based upon the best-selling book of the same name.  It stars Patty Duke, Lee Grant, Susan Hayward, and Sharon Tate, and tells the story of three women trying to make it in show business, and the pills, booze, and sex they leave in their wake.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Criterion Collection):  Roger Ebert wrote the screenplay for this Russ Meyer satire. It was originally planned to be a sequel to Valley of the Dolls but wound up being more of a wild parody.  I’ve always wanted to see both of these films and now Criterion has given me an excellent way to view them.

Dekalog (Criterion Collection):  In 1989, Krzystof Kieslowski made a series of 10 television episodes that were inspired by The Ten Commandments.  Each short film explores these ethical issues faced by a character living in a single apartment block.  It's been well praised since its release and Criterion is giving it their full due. [Read Shawn Bourdo's review of the series.]

Slugs:  If you only see one movie this year about killer gastropods, make it this one.  Arrow Video continues to put out deluxe editions of really terrible-looking genre films.  God bless them for it.

Blood Diner:  Speaking of Arrow Video putting out great releases of terrible-looking genre movies, this one’s about two brothers who start killing young women so they can serve them up at their cannibal diner and awaken a dormant Egyptian goddess.  Make it a double feature with Slugs and you’ve got your self a great dinner date.

Cell:  John Cusack and Samuel L. Johnson star in this based on a Stephen King thriller about a cell phone signal causing the apocalypse.

An American Werewolf in London (35th Anniversary Edition):  John Landis’ film is mostly remembered for its excellent special effects work (we see the full transformation of a man into a werewolf), but the rest of the film is really a lot of fun.  This anniversary edition comes with lots of extras including commentaries, interviews and several documentaries. [Read Gordon S. Miller's review of the (Full Moon Edition).]

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates:  Terrible-looking comedy about two brothers (Adam DeVine and Zac Efron) who place an online ad to find wedding dates.  I wouldn’t mention it here except the dates turn out to be Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, and well I kind of adore them (even when they appear in terrible-looking films).

Ripper Street: Season Four:  Inspector Reid is back to Whitechapel where more murders are to be solved.

Warcraft:  Because movies based upon video games have always been successful.  You can read Luigi Bastardo’s thrashing of it here.

Temple of the Dog - Super Deluxe Edition:  Andrew Wood fronted the Seattle rock band Mother Love Bone.  Just before their first album came out, Wood died of an overdose.  His friend and Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell wrote a couple of songs in Wood’s honor.  To record the songs, he got Matt Cameron from his band and Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament from Mother Love Bone plus future Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.  They enjoyed making music so much they wrote a bunch more (and even got Eddie Vedder to lend vocals to “Hunger Strike”).  They called themselves Temple of the Dog, released that album, did a small tour, and then went on their merry ways.  Twenty-five years later, they are releasing a special edition of the album with loads of new songs (technically old songs that were never released) alt-cuts, etc.  It's a four-disk set with 2 CDS, 1 DVD. and 1 Blu-ray.  I was a huge fan of the album as a teenager and I’m definitely looking forward to this.

The Innocents: This French/Polish film is set in 1945 when a young intern for the Red Cross is sent to help survivors of some German camps.  She is stunned to find several nuns in an advanced state of pregnancy.  I know very little about this film but its received a lot of good reviews.

The Shallows: Blake Lively stars in this shark-versus-woman drama.

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