Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997)

Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997)

Original Theatrical Release: November 21, 1997
Director: Clint Eastwood

This film was based on a novel by John Berendt , of the same name.

A New York journalist, John Kelso (John Cusack) travels to the slower-paced Savannah, Georgia to write a feature for Town And Country Magazine on the massive annual Christmas party that Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey) throws. After the party, Williams kills his violent and childish lover, Billy Hanson (Jude Law) and claims it was self defense. Sensing a hit-story and novel, Kelso stays in Savannah to cover the trial and ends up meeting all sorts of wacky characters including an African-American transvestite night club performer named Lady Chablis (Who plays herself) and a vocalist named Mandy Nichols (Alison Eastwood) whom John has a romantic interest in.

PHEW.

With a crazy cast of characters and a long-winded, potentially boring story…certain things have to come together for the film to be successful. Clint Eastwood’s direction seems to capture the essence of the slow, down-to-earth southern lifestyle of Savannah, Georgia. The movie sometimes follows too closely to that pacing and seems to lead down roads that go nowhere, blissfully taking its time in its own atmospheric qualities, which thankfully are good more often than not (the graveyard scene, anyone?).

I’m a huge fan of Spacey and Cusack, so I admittedly would watch almost anything either of them are in (probably even porn, if it existed…JUDGE ME NOT), but I think Spacey’s performance in this film almost borders on being a parody, which actually works. The man’s a genius, I’m telling you.

Cusack, while I love the guy, didn’t really turn in too much more than we usually get from him. The character in this movie is almost the same one from 1408 (which obviously came out later on), but you can’t help but watch the man work.

I think whether you like the book or not, the movie is a different animal. The atmosphere of the movie is the star and Eastwood did a good job with it.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil

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The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980)

Original Theatrical Release: May 23, 1980
Director: Stanley Kubrick

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) become the winter caretakers of a massive seasonal hotel in the mountains. At first, everything is ideal. Jack has all the space he needs in order to write his next novel while Wendy enjoys the beautiful scenery and time with their son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who seems to have a form of autism. However, it’s not long before the Torrance family discovers that maybe they’re not alone in that big hotel, and that maybe it has dark secrets. The family begins to unravel and soon it becomes a fight for survival.

The Shining is scary even by today’s standards because it not only has the supernatural element of the haunted hotel ( who doesn’t think a massive old hotel is creepy in the first place?) but also a writer haunted by his own demons; alcoholism and anger among them. Seeing a family slowly unravel is scary enough but when there’s a little kid involved, most of us become extra-invested. Children are often defenseless against an adult in real life, let alone ghosts, and when your parents don’t believe that ghosts exist? Well, then, you’re outta’ luck, kid.

Jack Nicholson’s performance is right up there for me among the best I’ve witnessed because I’ve SEEN Jack Torrance before. I KNOW guys like that, who get drunk and take out their frustrations on the world around them. I immediately identify and sympathize with the kiddo and his mom. On top of that, we have Stephen King at his best writing the story that the screenplay was adapted from…and you have Stanley Kubrick, an amazing director with all those long, ominous shots (who doesn’t remember the camera going over the car as it’s winding through the mountain roads? Or the long shot of the hallway as Danny rides his Big-Wheel in hesitant fear?) It’s a horror masterpiece, where lots of amazing talent converged. None of the remakes have touched on its original terror.

JOE Rating:

Movie Trailer For The Shining