“Insidious Chapter 2”
The creator of the “Saw” franchise, director James Wan, has been on a real roll the last few years. It started in 2010 with this film’s predecessor “Insidious.” Last year, he made the period piece, “The Conjuring,” complete with throwback scares. Then he returned to offer this sequel that begins exactly where the previous one ended. In normal situations, storylines like this get rushed and cheapened on the second-go-round. But Wan deals a curveball by keeping on the same course and building an arching plot that works. The principal cast returns, highlighted by Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. True with most horror films, there are some weak moments, but there’s also a shitload of really good moments. Wan is bringing the creep effect back. He scares you the old-school way with building suspense. And it should be recognized that Wan made his name with gore, but didn’t get bogged down in it. Instead, he evolved into a pretty menacing and diverse filmmaker – worth a watch.
At what table, at which overpriced café in Hollywood was the decision made to cast Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs? What was that conversation like? Did some movie executives read a list of 100 actors, and Kutcher was the only one available? Were there darts and a wall full of headshots involved? Did some producer owe Kutcher’s agent a favor? However it happened, Kutcher isn’t terrible…He isn’t great either. And the story of the asshole genius who changed the world is an interesting one. But the whole thing feels like a paint-by-numbers account of Jobs adult life and the production comes off like a made-for-TV movie. The other performances are decent. There are some interesting facts. Some of the scenes pop, some of the scenes fizzle. It’s not work to watch it, but it is a little flat and tedious – pass.
This is the exploration of the various conspiracy theories wrapped around “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film. This documentary is kind of like watching the director’s commentary of “The Shining,” only the commentary is done by a bunch of kooky conspiracy theorists analyzing the film’s scenes and the tactics Kubrick uses. You may find yourself saying, “Who knew?” Who knew that Kubrick hid so many clues about his involvement in the staged moon landing? Who knew the movie was really about the genocide of Native Americans or the Holocaust or about the subliminal suggestions of advertizing? Director Rodney Ascher does a good job of balancing the theories without picking sides or getting in the way. There are times when you may say, “that is strange” or “they may have something there.” Buy in or not, it’s still an interesting and entertaining analysis – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge