February 1, 2011

Dangerous liaisons

Like the Swedish novel and film adaptation that inspired it, Let Me In adds much-needed bite to a largely defanged sub-genre

Also this week: Quiet Days in Clichy, A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

Let Me In (Alliance) Hollywood’s hard-on for starry-eyed vampires has paved way for sparkling schoolboys and southern beefcakes, but no amount of Twilight will capture the pathos of vampires—and those who love them—as elegantly as Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In. If you haven’t seen that little Swedish gem by now, chances are you’ll be approaching Matt Reeves’ (big ups, Felicity) remake, Let Me In, with a blank slate. 

Apart from relocating the story to wintry New Mexico, both stories are virtually identical. It’s still set in an apartment complex in the ’80s, it still involves a tender relationship between bullied boy (The Road’s Kodi Smit-McPhee) and a glum vampire girl (Kick-Ass’ ChloĆ« Grace Moretz), and it still culminates to an artfully rendered bloodbath followed by an unsettling coda. On the DVD commentary for Let Me In, Reeves even refers to the ending of The Graduate as motivation for the final shot in his film, where the upshot is uncertain. 

While it may not surpass the original, Let Me In easily holds up as its own sort of beast. To wit, by way of a single-take POV shot of a botched murder-cum-car crash, Reeves’ vision brings with it new layers of fear, empathy and bravura filmmaking. If you want to learn more about how they pulled off such a crafty sequence—and you will once you see it—there’s a nifty featurette on the subject.   

Rounding out the DVD is a solid making-of featurette, deleted scenes, a special-effects reel and a Blu-ray-exclusive picture-in-picture commentary thingamabob that runs alongside the film. Appearing only sporadically to dish out behind-the-scenes nuggets, it’s a good addition to an already great package.  

Also Available
A controversial adaptation of Henry Miller’s controversial novel about two bohemians who fuck their way though Paris, upon its theatrical release, Quiet Days in Clichy (Blue Underground) was momentarily confiscated by the US government on charges of obscenity. Since then, it hasn’t exactly been the easiest title to track down. Coming out six years before the scandalous, infinitely less ambitious Deep Throat, it comes as no surprise that the film wasn’t received with open arms. Of course, it’s far less reprehensible by today’s standards, yet possesses a certain poetic vitality that few art films achieve. As good as the feature is, ’60s folk rocker Country Joe McDonald’s smutty soundtrack is what truly stands out. Extras: interviews with Miller’s editor and publisher, Barney Rosset, and Country Joe.

Being that the Coen brothers’ recent remake of True Grit is all the rage, it only seems fair that someone should remake one of their films, right? If you’ve ever wondered what a loopy, slapstick, Chinese version of the Coens’ dark debut, Blood Simple, would look like, A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop (Sony) is your answer. Zhang Yimou's (Hero) tone-deaf tribute constantly undermines the material for the sake of crass humour and little else. But, at the very least, it contains a massive body count and some flashy visuals that are best enjoyed on Blu-ray. Extras: lotsa featurettes.