by D.W. Lundberg

Friday, February 27, 2015


UPDATE: Via this report from, MGM and 20th Century Fox have moved up the release date for Poltergeist to May 22, 2015. The article that follows remains unaltered from its original post.

Excuse me for sounding a little churlish, but the newly-released trailer for 20th Century Fox's Poltergeist remake has my stomach in knots, and I don't mean in a good way. The film, which opens July 24th, has been touted as "a revisionist take" on Tobe Hooper's 1982 horror classic, with "modern" updates including cell phones and flat-screen TVs. Which is fine, I guess - I mean, this is Hollywood, after all, where people aren't truly happy unless they're busy ripping off someone else's work or exploiting the latest adventures of the world's greatest superheroes. And this is hardly the first time Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures label has tried rejiggering a modern classic, with remakes of The Grudge and The Evil Dead burning up theater screens in 2004 and 2013, respectively. My question, though: what's the point in remaking something if you don't have anything new to bring to the table? Why reproduce the same thrills and chills if you can't be bothered to give a fresh spin on old material?

Despite the change in cast (Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt make fine replacements for Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams from the original movie), the new Poltergeist looks to be a rehash of the same exact plot - close-knit family moves into suburban home and is immediately beset by supernatural forces. Again, this is nothing new. Remakes have been a part of our cinematic diet since the days of the earliest films, when Cecil B. DeMille remade his 1914 silent The Squaw Man in 1918 and again in 1931. (Trivia bit: DeMille also directed a silent version of The Ten Commandments in 1923, then later reused some of the same props and sets for his 1956 remake.) True, the marketing gurus behind Poltergeist 2015 could be deliberately trying to goad us into seeing the new movie by plumbing our nostalgia for the previous one. And yes, the final film as released could be entirely different from what the trailer lets on. But the fact that so many elements come directly from Hooper's version suggests a paucity of imagination on the filmmakers' part.

Friday, February 20, 2015


UPDATE: Well, it seems Cracked was absolutely right. In a move that should surprise absolutely no one in retrospect, Oscar bestowed Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore with Best Actor/Actress honors at last night's 87th Annual Academy Awards, for playing disease-ridden screen characters and/or historical figures. Moore's win is especially grating, not because she didn't deserve it, but because she's already given at least a half dozen worthwhile performances, and since this year she happened to play a Columbia University professor suffering from Alzheimer's, the Academy finally decided to give her her due. (Like Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, Moore was awarded for a film people respected but didn't particularly enjoy.)

As for the rest, I guess I really shouldn't be too upset that Birdman took home top honors for Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay. It is, after all, a terrific entertaiment, with stellar performances and knockout cinematography. But its meta-tale of artists under pressure is as old as Fellini's , and the illusion that it's all shot in one long, uninterrupted camera take has been pulled off before, in Sokurov's Russian Ark and Hitchcock's Rope. I'm convinced more than ever that every film today is a copy of something else, and that the only thing "original" about them is the way their stories are told.

So why didn't Boyhood win the Oscar for Best Picture? As far as I'm concerned, it was the only film released last year that broke ground in any way, this 12-year odyssey, shot with the same actors, of a boy growing up and the "moments" that make up his life. The movie may seem uneventful to the average viewer, but then again that isn't the point. (The point is: What do you do with the moments that make up your life? Do the curve balls steer you in the right direction or hold you back?) Boyhood was a labor of love for its director and actors and everyone else involved, and no other film aimed higher or accomplished more by saying so little. And that will be cherished and remembered decades from now while everything else fades into oblivion.

As for the show itself, we were attending a family function so I really didn't get to see much of it. But I managed to stick around long enough to hear host Neil Patrick Harris say of the Oscars, "Or, as I like to call them, the Dependent Spirit Awards." That pretty much summed it all up for me.

A (relatively) short one today, since you've no doubt already formed an opinion of what the Academy Awards do or do not mean to you at this point. To sum up the blog's annual stance on the subject, the Oscars a) are really nothing more than a glorified high school popularity contest, b) pride themselves on celebrating that old "independent spirit," c) sometimes rally around a unified theme, d) try to seem "edgy" and "of the moment" only to revel in time-worn clichés in the end, and e) celebrate everything that's mediocre about American film. And yet, without fail, something will compel me to tune in, at least for a bit, to see if all the tried-and-true traditions still hold. If you can resist the temptation to check out even a part of the telecast for yourself (and, let's be honest, who couldn't use a little Neil Patrick Harris fix every now and then?), then congratulations, you're a better person than I am.

Friday, February 13, 2015


There are good movies and there are bad movies. There are bad movies with pieces you admire and good movies with scenes you'd be happy to do without. And it's hard to tell which is worse. I vote the former, because any stinker that seems to get so much wrong from the outset is only that much more frustrating when you catch glimpses of its greatness - those moments, however fleeting, where its makers have an absolute grasp of their material. It's scenes like these which we'll highlight for the purposes of this series.

I apologize if I've been harping on Sony Pictures' rebooted Amazing Spider-Man series a little too much as of late. I don't mean to sound like some disgruntled fanboy, unhappy with even the slightest attempt at "modernizing" everyone's favorite web-slinging superhero for the silver screen. Watching them mishandle the property so spectacularly for so long, however (I'm talking about 2007's woebegotten Spider-Man 3 and onward), it's only natural that the reboot became the proverbial punching bag among comic book-to-movie franchises, especially in lieu of Marvel Studios' continued dominance at the box office. (Which is what makes Sony's recent decision to "loan" Spider-Man out to Marvel such an exciting prospect - if you're going to reboot the character, you might as well give it to people who know what they're doing.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Finding The Wrong Words celebrates an important milestone today: 5 years up and running! Hard to believe when I started this blogging adventure on February 3, 2010, that we'd still be going strong all this time later. Thanks to everyone who's given their unwavering support over the last half decade. I appreciate your comments and your readership more than I can possibly express. Now let's keep it going for another five years and beyond!