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Is American Psycho 2 the worst sequel of all time?

Spoiler alert: Christian Bale doesnt star in American Psycho 2. Patrick Bateman, the Huey Lewis-list..

Spoiler alert: Christian Bale doesnt star in American Psycho 2. Patrick Bateman, the Huey Lewis-listening, chainsaw-wielding yuppie he played in the first film, is instead only glimpsed from behind – portrayed by a body double with a vaguely similar hairdo. Hes also stabbed to death minutes into the film, by a knife-wielding tween who grows up to be Mila Kunis. But in a movie that features a cat named Ricky Martin and William Shatner as a campus stud, its actually one of its least ridiculous elements.

Twenty years ago this week, Mary Harrons adaptation of Bret Easton Elliss controversial novel American Psycho clawed its way out of development hell to become one of the best-reviewed films of 2000. A sharp, viciously mean satire of masculinity and Gordon Gekko capitalism, Harrons take was uncompromising and hilarious. It transformed Bale from a jobbing former child star to a fearless character actor, his performance a terrifying combination of daytime-TV enthusiasm, Equinox Gym bicep-flexing and Tom Cruise. The movie remains a classic. Its sequel, which followed two years later, does not.

American Psycho 2: All American Girl, to give it its full title, stars Kunis – then three seasons into her run as Jackie Burkhart on the sitcom That 70s Show – as an unhinged criminology student whos been fascinated by murder ever since she killed Bateman when she was 12 years old. Now 19, she plots to execute anyone who stands in her way of getting a lucrative teaching assistant job.

American Psycho 2 was a product of the early DVD boom, and the subsequent cottage industry of low-budget, direct-to-disc sequels to recent hits. A number of famed movies from the decade, often teen movies or thrillers, subsequently earned less-refined follow-ups. Among them were the Donnie Darko sequel S Darko (2009), Hollow Man 2 (2006), Starship Troopers 2 (2004), Mimic 2 (2001), Cruel Intentions 2 (2000), three additional incarnations of Wild Things, five Bring It On sequels (including one that featured both Solange and Rihanna), and Single White Female 2: The Psycho (2005) – a title which seemed to imply that the first film, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh as a deranged stalker roommate, didnt have one.

Despite bearing covers plastered in promises of footage “too extreme for cinemas”, and suggestive titles like the somewhat inevitable Wild Things: Foursome (2010), these sequels were often tamer than their big-screen counterparts. All American Girls kills are mostly offscreen, for example, and theres an odd absence of sex considering its thematic fixation on naughty college students sleeping with their professors. It also, unlike much of the DVD-sequel canon, feels entirely removed from the movie that inspired it. With its jaunty, Desperate Housewives-style score and Kuniss sitcom delivery, as if shes playing to an absent laugh-track, All American Girl resembles the spirit and premise of American Psycho about as much as it does, say, Citizen Kane.

That might be because it was a completely different project to begin with. American Psycho 2 was the result of someone at the studio “sorting through existing scripts at the company”, said The Hollywood Reporter, to find something that could potentially work as a sequel, all it had to have was a psychopath of some description. The winning script was something called The Girl Who Wouldnt Die, written by Karen Craig. The references to Patrick Bateman, which only appear in two brief scenes in the finished film, were added much later in the process.

All American Girl filmmaker Morgan J Freeman, an indie wunderkind who trained under the great weirdo visionary Todd Solondz, also saw Craigs script as a “mere starting point” to what he wanted to do with the rest of the film. Despite downplaying his involvement by calling himself a “director for hire” on the films wonderfully unenthusiastic audio commentary, Freeman told one website that “scripted dialogue matters very little to me”, while suggesting that he and the producers extensively reshaped Craigs work. She shares eventual credit on the films screenplay with Alex Sanger, a production executive at Lionsgate.

Bret Easton Ellis, himself never an enormous fan of the first American Psycho, even went so far as to suggest that Lionsgate only greenlit a sequel after the director Roger Avary stopped the studio from inserting a Patrick Bateman-esque serial killer into the 2002 film adaptation of Elliss book The Rules of Attraction. “Ive even heard that they were thinking about doing American Psycho in LA, American Psycho in Las Vegas and making a whole franchise out of it,” Ellis told the New York Post. “If theyre not careful they could end up with something like the Pink Panther movies.”

And so, American Psycho 2 became a prime example of corporate Hollywood in a microcosm: a screenwriter having her movie made but bearing little resemblance to what she first put on to the page, a film that only exists to eke more cash out of an established property, and a director fresh off two well-received indies (including the 1998 Christina Ricci vehicle Desert Blue) making his studio debut on something cheap and trashy for a nice paycheque.

Such bad faith behind the camera only adds to the undeniable oddness of the film itself. Mirroring the tone of Harrons original, there is a playful cynicism to its depiction of educational ambition and grisly murder. You could almost imagine, if everyone involved were smarter, All American Girl as a slasher spin on the Reese Witherspoon comedy Election. Theres also an appealing apathy to Kuniss crimes here, albeit played far too clumsily to be anything other than silly (“Yep, I just killed Brian,” she squeals in a voiceover). And when Shatner is pushed out of a window to the sounds of Catatonias “Dead from the Waist Down”, the extent to which American Psycho 2 is aware of its own absurdity becomes at least a question worth asking.

American Psycho 2 is a puzzle,” Freeman told a film website. “The first time you watch it, you are forced to try and put the pieces together. The second time you watch it, you should be able to see that there are little hints here and there that will give the evidence required to understand the ending … Our psycho is American, too. Thats the connection: American Psycho, Too. Youre a psycho, Im a psycho, shes a psycho, hes a psycho – wouldnt you like to be a psycho, too?”

However clever the director thought he was being, his savvy was not reflected in the films style. Despite costing at least $2m more to produce than the originals $8m budget, All American Girl looks horrendously cheap, with a “made in Canada in a rush” cloud covering every scene. The dark comedy is absent, likewise the care Harron put into her films universe – its business cards, hair combs, nail guns and CD cases. Kunis is also incredibly miscast. She would find wonderful rhythms later on, in thrillers like Black Swan (2010) and comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), but here she is perpetually shrill and irritating. The actor would come to express embarrassment over it, at least – “Please, somebody stop this!” she told MTV in 2005, when asked about the project. “Write a petition.”

Dispiritingly, its easy to find two-pack DVDs featuring both American Psychos – Bales killer cheekbones contrasted on the split cover art with Kunis holding a big scythe and a tagline describing her as “angrier, deadlier and sexier”. Patrick Bateman, ever the vain businessman with his daily herb-mint facial masks, would be outraged.


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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.

Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.

More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.

The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.

Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)

The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.

Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”

“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.

In a theater, the tendency with a movie so dependent on a central mystery might be to become antsy. At home, “Antebellum” is worth seeing, not only because of what it has to say about America’s past and present, but as a reminder of the often yawning gap between an intriguing idea and a fully realized film.

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‘Chemical Hearts’ director Richard Tanne on the film’s ‘bittersweet’ ending and what he hopes fans take away from the movie

“Chemical Hearts” director Richard Tanne spoke to Insider about the film’s “bittersweet” ending and ..

“Chemical Hearts” director Richard Tanne spoke to Insider about the film’s “bittersweet” ending and what he hopes fans take away from it.

“I think it’s gonna disappoint some people, and maybe all people on a certain level, ” the 35-year-old filmmaker told us. “It’s bittersweet. But that’s OK.”

The film, based on Krystal Sutherland’s 2016 book “Our Chemical Hearts” and now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, centers on 17-year-old high school senior Henry Page (Austin Abrams), who finds himself drawn to a mysterious and secretive new transfer student named Grace Town (Lili Reinhart).

“Chemical Hearts” is told from Henry’s perspective, chronicling his first heartbreak after he falls in love with the person he thinks Grace is.

Tanne, who wrote the screenplay, said that he was impressed by how the story goes ‘a little bit deeper than your average teen romance’

“I loved how it embraced the dark side of being young, the pain and the grief and the loss, the idea of crossing the threshold from being an adolescent to an adult for the first time,” he told us.

By the end of the movie, Henry learns about Grace’s tragic past. On their last day of senior year, the characters don’t end up together. Instead, they prepare to explore different futures, with Henry heading off to a school for writing and Grace taking a year off to continue therapy.

Even though fans might be disappointed by the love interests splitting, Tanne said that ‘not everything has to be escapist’

“Sometimes, younger people watching movies don’t know that it’s OK to have unhappy endings because they’re fed a steady stream, a steady diet of escapist happily ever after movies,” he told us. “And that’s OK.”

He added: “There’s a place for those, I’m not knocking them. But I just wanted to make something that didn’t talk down to the younger audience. I wanted to make something that either meets them at their level or asks them to reach a little bit higher or dig a little bit deeper.”

Tanne said that having to confront that ‘bittersweet ending’ could also be useful to viewers

The director described the conclusion as bittersweet because “there’s hope at the end, maybe not for their relationship, but for other aspects of their lives.”

“Maybe it will be helpful for young people to see that and walk away with the same sting that Henry has, but to know that it’s going to be OK, to know that Henry will be OK,” he said.

Abrams, who was 22 when he filmed the movie, told Insider that hopefully, audiences will empathize with Henry.

“I think in terms of I supposed how he’s navigating relationships, I feel like hopefully at least anyone can relate to that,” he said.

Abrams told Insider that Henry and Grace’s relationship status at the end speaks to the film’s realistic nature

Abrams shared similar sentiments as Tanne, telling us that they tried to “portray the characters as honestly as possible,” which ties in to the conclusion.

“I think there are some people that meet one person and that’s who they’re with for the rest of their lives, who actually are Henry’s parents in the movie,” the 23-year-old actor told us.

“But then there are other people, and I think it’s probably a larger number, that are going to be in multiple relationships and some of them, a lot of them aren’t going to go well. I hope that that’s an aspect of the movie that people are able to relate to.”

Abrams added that he’s “perfectly fine” letting fans decide for themselves what their main takeaways are from “Chemical Hearts.”

“I hope that maybe they take away things that I didn’t even think of, because everyone’s different and at a different point in their life and hopefully will be able to relate to it in different ways.”

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Julia Sawalha furious after being told she is ‘too old’

Julia Sawalha has said she has been “plucked, stuffed and roasted” after being told that she would n..

Julia Sawalha has said she has been “plucked, stuffed and roasted” after being told that she would not be cast in the forthcoming sequel to the hit Aardman Animation film Chicken Run as her voice sounded “too old”.

In the original film, released in 2000, Sawalha voiced the lead role of Ginger, the plucky hen who inspires her fellow egg-layers to escape from a farm when they are threatened with being turned into pies. News of the development of a sequel first emerged in 2018, and Netflixs involvement was announced in June. It is due to be directed by Sam Fell (ParaNorman) and start production in 2021.

Sawalha posted a statement on social media saying she was told a week ago that she was not wanted for the sequel. “The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds too old and they want a younger actress to reprise the role.”

She added: “Usually in these circumstances, an actress would be given the chance to do a voice test in order to determine the suitability of their pitch and tone, I however was not given this opportunity. I am passionate about my work and I dont go down without a fight, so I did my own voice test at home and sent it to the producers … However, they stated, We will be going ahead to recast the voice of Ginger.”

Sawalhas protest follows reports that Mel Gibson, who voiced the character of daredevil rooster Rocky, would not be involved in the sequel. While Rocky is named as a character in the official plot synopsis for Chicken Run 2, the role is due to be recast. Variety magazine reported that Gibson was told that as “the sequel will revolve around younger chickens, therefore casting younger voice actors” was necessary. The report also claimed that Gibsons history of controversial behaviour, including an accusation of antisemitic comments by actor Winona Ryder, which Gibson denies, played no part in the recasting.

Sawalha added: “I feel I have been fobbed off with the same excuse … To say I am devastated and furious would be an understatement. I feel totally powerless.”

No official announcements have been made for the Chicken Run 2 cast, but original film cast members Jane Horrocks and Lynn Ferguson have been added to the films IMDb page.

Aardman has been contacted for a response.


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