Monthly Archives: September 2012

Movie Review: End Of Watch

by Dan Fields
First published September 22, 2012 by the California Literary Review

The Street King Rises

End Of Watch is a perfectly serviceable drama. It is also a bait and switch job. Writer/director David Ayer, whose chief preoccupations are Los Angeles street life and the pitfalls of upholding the law, set out to create a different kind of cop movie and succeeded. This means that the ads linking this film to Ayer’s breakout script Training Day are inappropriate. The twisted secrets and perilous standoffs promised in the trailer take up a surprisingly small percentage of the story. Advertising End Of Watch as a movie that takes its sweet time might not sell as many tickets, but it would lead to less grumbling among the fans who showed up strictly for police corruption and crack cocaine.

Officers Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Peña) are LA’s finest – a pair of patrol cops who face a sordid and dangerous world with guts and good humor. Zavala has a family, Taylor is looking to build one, and they have forged a solid kinship as partners and brothers in arms. The trouble with a cop drama is that the good guys always have so much to lose, and the most dangerous thing for a peace officer to do, especially in a David Ayer project, is crusade for justice with an untainted soul. Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: The Cabin In The Woods

by Dan Fields
First published September 19, 2012 by the California Literary Review

The Cabin In The Woods (2012) Blu-Ray disc

© 2012 Lionsgate

This super-secret brainchild of screenwriters Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon came shrouded as carefully as Super 8, surrounded by many a dark rumor but giving maddeningly little away. Goddard and Whedon began laying it out during their time working on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Then, in a blaze of energy, they cobbled the labyrinthine script together in a three-day writing session. After a close call with the bankruptcy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (their original studio), the project nearly became a lost legend. However, Lionsgate swept it up and by all accounts urged the writers to make the film exactly as they wished. Lionsgate has done a lot of good by giving such films a fighting chance, and even when they’ve turned out the odd dog, it seems that Lionsheart has been in the right place. All this took three years, and by the time the movie surfaced, some of the people involved were a lot more famous than they were while shooting this film. Chris Hemworth in particular had been picked up by Marvel for Thor, and was months away from his next Whedon-penned release, The Avengers. Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins, a very big part of this movie’s soul, had bolstered his popularity with strong supporting turns in Burn After Reading and Let Me In (still the best film of 2010, no matter what history says).

The Cabin In The Woods opened to great fanfare and a very polarized reaction. Masquerading as a standard-issue slasher (as the title suggests), it soon goes off the rails into a payoff the audience would never even think of expecting. It pays tribute to the legacy of films like Hellraiser, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween and countless others, mainly by turning the horror genre on its grisly head. This pissed a lot of people off, and to them I can only offer my condolences. For those of us who love the movie (full disclosure), we love it down to its black beating heart. Hopefully our multiple trips to the theater made up for those who warned their friends off the experience. Those sad, sad souls… Continue reading