Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman Revealed
The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
Guardians Of The Galaxy Review
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Promotion: Destiny Awaits
Win a limited edition PS4 and a copy of Destiny
Empire Blogs
Under The Radar

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Night Visions 2012: The Paperboy & The ABCs of Death

Posted on Friday November 2, 2012, 11:38 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar



In context, the biggest mystery in the slow burning, slightly mental literary crime tale The Paperboy is why it's playing at this festival. Lee Daniel's directorial follow-up to Precious, starring Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and John Cusack, isn't an obvious fit for its horror surroundings, but by the end, in all its deep-south, swamp-gothic murder melodrama, it just about starts to make sense.

Regardless of where it's playing, it's a more-or-less worthwhile, atmospheric film. It feels self-consciously 'quality', but it's not as hammer-blow heavy-handed as Precious, its sultry southern atmosphere is effectively oppressive, and the performances are all-round pretty good, although it's hard to quite take Kidman as white-trash intent on marrying her prison-inmate penpal. Efron takes his shirt off a lot (and, at one point, gets bitten by jellyfish and then peed on by Kidman), McConaughey and David Oyelowo are fractious as the journalist team investigating the possibly wrongful imprisonment of Cusack (horrifying - his best role for ages), and there's support from Macy Gray, playing the housekeeper who also provides a redundant voiceover.

It's a film where everyone has secrets: Oyelowo's background, McConaughey's sexual proclivities, Cusack's guilt or innocence. Not all of them quite cohere, and some plot threads fall by the wayside, but the dark ending is certainly a surprise for those unfamiliar with the source novel. The adaptation is co-written with Daniels by original author Pete Dexter, who also penned the excellent Deadwood (not explicitly anything to do with the HBO series, but not unconnected either) and the extraordinary Paris Trout, with which The Paperboy has much in common. For years this was being developed as a movie by Pedro Almodovar. That makes perfect sense, and you can't help but think it would have been less anonymous in his hands. Ah well.
More obvious as a Night Vision is The ABCs of Death, a bold experiment by the Alamo Drafthouse, comprising 26 short films by 26 international directors, each given $5k and a letter of the alphabet to do with as they wilt. Some are violent, some are eerie, some are surreal, some are abstruse, a surprising number are scatological, and more than one is unpleasantly cruel to animals. Frustratingly though, there are more misses than hits, although with 26 instalments at least the odds dictate that some must stand out.

You can immediately peg the excellent U-For-Unearthed as Ben Wheatley's, given that it shares its cast and its fire-lit woodland setting with Kill List. No complaints there. Xavier Gens' X-For-XXL, about an obese woman taking extreme measures to find her thin inner self, is also great, as are Adrian Garcia Bogliano's B-For-Bigfoot, Adam Wingard's funny Q-For-Quack, and Jake West's S-For-Speed, which starts out like Faster Pussycat-era Russ Meyer and ends as something else entirely.

Kaare Andrews' V-For-Vagitus is curious too, in that it's an immense, FX-heavy dystopian sci-fi. Part of the pleasure of the film is seeing how each director spent their cash. With Vagitus, it's all on the screen. Wingard, it seems possible, went and had some fun in the desert for a day and took the rest of the money down the pub. Still, whatever works.

Most mind-boggling are the appropriately-named W-For-WTF (John Schnepp), which sees its director and producer thrashing out disparate ideas before using them all at once - and the equally mental H-For-Hydro-Electric Diffusion (Thomas Malling) which is like a berserk WWII version of Blacksad. Among the worst are Noboro Iguchi's F-For-Fart and Lee Hardcastle's stop-motion (pun possibly intended) T-For-Toilet: although bizarrely they were the only ones that got applause from the Helsinki audience. Probably most disappointing, given it came from House of the Devil and The Innkeepers director Ti West, is the egregious M-For-Miscarriage.

Good, bad and ugly then. Something for everyone? Possibly. But too many of the entries are just forgettable, and perhaps that's the most damning criticism of them all.

Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (439)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Screen To Stage: Shakespeare In Love
By Helen O'Hara

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
By Ali Plumb

Pete Docter And Jonas Rivera Talk Pixar's Inside Out
By James White

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
By Dan Jolin

H. R. Giger: An Empire Tribute
By Ian Nathan

How Edible Cinema Finally Allows You To Eat A Movie
By Ali Plumb

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
By Helen O'Hara

Are iPads And Smartphones Changing The Face Of Filmmaking?
By Ben Kirby

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In
By Helen O'Hara

My Encounter With Shia LaBeouf
By James White


RECENT COMMENTS

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"This looks unbelievably good... wish I could afford to go!"  Roo
Read comment

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
"Nice to know Martin enlisted another author to help in his world-building. Time to get acquainted wi"  Imperion
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"@Y2Nield.com The original Hogwarts section and what was duelling dragons (has now"  Sexual Harassment Panda
Read comment

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
"Actually i recomend The Foucault Pendulum for several reasons, in the first place it explores the es"  andresfelipeurb
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"A great sneak peek, Ali. Aside from your confusion as to where Diagon Alley/King's Cross and Hogsmea"  bruciebonus
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"im due to go in October this year and having been before, i can honestly say i cannot wait. I agree "  kopite
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"still think it's a shame that they didn't make this in England. imagine getting the Hogwarts Express"  RX78
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"Were you actually there Ali? If so, surely you know that Marvel Land is Islands of Adventure and not"  Y2Neildotcom
Read comment

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
"I did the exact same thing with the books after season 1(even though I'd promissed myself to just re"  manufan
Read comment

H. R. Giger: An Empire Tribute
"Giger was such a major influence and I was such a major fan! I just wish I possessed more of his inc"  Courtland
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Movies’ Most Quotable Lines
566 comments

'It's Just A Bit Of Fun': Why Defensive Fans Are Bad News For Movies
361 comments

Competitive Geek Baiting: Or, How To Start A Fanboy Fight
338 comments

The Avatar Backlash: Evaluatin' The Hater-atin'
303 comments

The Complete List Of Tired Movie Cliches
286 comments

Your Favourite Animated Film
217 comments

Note To Hollywood: How To Get People To Switch To Blu-Ray
192 comments

Food For Thought
132 comments

The Ten Moviegoing Commandments
127 comments

Just The Facts, Ma’am
127 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (167)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Michel Gondry Talks Mood Indigo
Gondry on Bjork, erections and Mark Ruffalo in his pants

Everything You Need To Know About The Dragonriders Of Pern
The lowdown on Warner Bros. new fantasy sci-fi

A Pocket Guide To Game Of Thrones’ New Cast Members
Know your Doran Martell from your Nym Sand

Empire's The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Covers Are Here
Bard The Bowman or Smaug The Magnificent?

Directors Special: Peter Hyams Goes Film-By-Film
The veteran director on Timecop, Outland, 2010, Enemies Closer and more

The 10 Biggest Stories Of Comic-Con 2014
The shocks to emerge from this year's geek-fest. Avengers! Max! Mann!

Models Inc.: The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
How the likes of Batman, Superman and Luke Skywalker become collectible figures

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)