THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF (2008) is an indie road-trip film in which Louisiana ex-con William Hurt’s meandering journey across the state forces him to keep stepping into his flashback booth to remember his romance with Maria Bello and wonder if she’s still waiting for him. Kristen Stewart plays a restless teen who becomes a fellow traveler just for the sake of getting out of her small town. Well done and nicely performed; Stewart does better than I expected. This would double-bill well with The Cooler (where Bello also plays a man’s last shot at love) or Detective Story, where Eleanor Parker has a similar dark secret to Bello’s here. “You said you could tell everything about me from my face.”
PREMIUM RUSH (2012) stars Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as a bike messenger unaware that the scrap of paper he’s carrying is a chit for $50,000, which is more than enough reason for a desperate psycho-cop to hunt him down. Basic, but effective, certainly better than the other bike-messenger film I know of, Kevin Baker’s Quicksilver. Curiously, both films present the characters as white-collar professionals in the messenger game by choice—would someone of lower class not be an acceptable protagonist, or is it just a fluke of a small statistical sample. “I don’t like the way the word ‘douchebag’—or the fact everyone saying it is supposed to make it okay.”
Courtesy of the local Retrofantasma film series—EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1962) is the eerily stylish French horror film that established the Face Transplant subgenre (also represented by Peter Cushing’s Atom-Age Vampire) as a French surgeon tries and tries and tries to fix his hideously scarred daughter, who in her turns worries whether she’s anything more than a guinea pig to him. It shows the vagaries of memory that I came to this absolutely convinced I’d seen it before and no, I haven’t, so I’m glad I finally did: The visuals here are really striking (though more on mood than horror). I do wonder if my friend is right and transplant progress won’t eventually date this as much as the horror over Boris Karloff’s heart transplants in The Man They Could Not Hang. “I’m frightened of my face—even more of my mask.”
NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1962) is the British adaptation of M.R. James’ Casting the Runes in which Rational Psychologist Dana Andrews arrives in England to help debunk a cult leader’s claims of genuine supernatural power only to realize as things continue to darken that maybe the man isn’t just a crackpot … This suffers from the producer insisting on including a visible monster instead of the hints and atmosphere director Jacques Tourneur (Leopard Man, Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie) usually employed. Even so, this is a well-done adaptation that would double-bill well with the similar rationalist vs. sorcerer Burn, Witch Burn. “When all the other kids would walk around a ladder, I’d walk under it.”
The first season of the animated GREEN LANTERN has Hal Jordan and fellow GL Kilowog investigating mysterious goings-on in space only to discover a rival corps of rage-fueled Red Lanterns out for revenge on Atrocitus. Not up to the level of Young Justice, but entertaining.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES wraps up its multi-year run following up on the murder the women committed at the end of last season (Gaby’s abusive stepfather) which leaves all of them grappling with guilt and doubt, plus the usual romantic and comic problems. A good finish (and I liked the touch of showing that this isn’t the last mystery to happen on Wisteria Lane) but perhaps not a great one: I found the Tom/Lynette break-up particularly forced (and I’ve never found Tom quite as nice and decent as he’s supposed to be).