There’s a tangible reality to the film that few vampire movies have: without matte paintings or CGI, it feels free of fakery. Castle Dracula consists of actual ruins, and Harker’s house is fairly normal; the peasant lodgings along the way feel actually lived-in rather than any gothic creation. The only caricature here is the vampire himself, but Kinski inhabits him as a Gollum-like addict/pervert who is as tragic as he is nonetheless evil.
Both the German and English versions are on the disc, along with a commentary track by Werner Herzog that will undoubtedly be fascinating if you can stop mimicking his accent long enough to actually listen to it.
Way of the Wicked – I don’t know which sounds more unlikely: Christian Slater as a priest or Vinnie Jones as a cop. You get both for the price of extra suspension of disbelief in this low-budget thriller about a demonic force terrorizing a small-town high school.
Grand Piano – Elijah Wood is a concert pianist – okay, maybe that’s even weirder than Christian Slater as a priest – who is threatened by a mysterious sniper (John Cusack), warning him that if he plays a single note wrong, he will die. Can he somehow play the entire piece in front of an audience, all while secretly trying to signal for help in ways nobody watching would suspect? Yeah, probably, or there’d be no movie.
Pompeii –…aaaaand unlikely casting week continues, with Kiefer Sutherland as a Roman Senator in Paul W.S. Anderson’s Gladiator Titanic (With Lava). I was marginally interested in this for the 3D, but now that that’s off the table (at least until I make friends with people who have better TVs), my meager enthusiasm has further waned.
The Zombie Horror Picture Show – Finally, a movie Rob Zombie cannot possibly screw up, because it’s a Rob Zombie concert movie. Not to be confused with the Zombie Rob movie, which of course is just Tron in a different cover.
Vampire Academy – If you need proof positive that nobody in Hollywood can guarantee a hit-making formula, here is exhibit A: a young-adult book adaptation from the writer of Heathers, the director of Mean Girls and the producer of Transformers. I’d love to express an opinion on it, but like everyone else in the world I didn’t see it.
Nikita: The Complete Fourth and Final Season – The umpteenth remake of La Femme Nikita, this time starring Maggie Q, was apparently one of the good ones.
Those are my top picks this week – what are yours? Is Monuments Men nerdier than I think it is?