Scream Factory

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Legend of Hell House The Belasco House had seen its fair share of tragedy and carnality even before the man who had it built disappeared, but the years since have seen a continuation of death and terror. It’s known as Hell House, the Mt. Everest of haunted houses, and now a team consisting of a scientist, his wife and two mediums is going in to prove once and for all whether or not ghosts and the afterlife exist. Two of them are going to find out first hand before the week is out. Richard Matheson’s novel (Hell House) was adapted to the screen way back in ’73, but it remains one of the best haunted house flicks out there. There are legitimate chills throughout, some PG-rated sexiness and a wonderfully intense performance from Roddy McDowall too. Even better, at least for someone like myself who favors grounded explanations, the script gives nods to both the supernatural and the scientific. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: interviews, trailer]


Music Box Films

2011’s Headhunters is a refreshing blast of blackly comic Norwegian fun that mixes laughs and blood-soaked shenanigans into a deliriously enjoyable cinematic cocktail, and it rightfully exposed Jo Nesbø‘s fiction (on which it was based) to a wider audience. Remake rights were snapped up by Mark Wahlberg, Nesbø’s other books received attention from Hollywood (including one that attracted Martin Scorsese’s eye) and it even made our 2011 Best Foreign Films of the Year list. But it wasn’t the only movie that year to be based on the best-selling Norwegian author’s work. Jackpot features a lot of the same ingredients — dark comedy, graphic violence, inept criminals — but those similarities start and end at the surface. Oscar Svendsen (Kyrre Hellum) is the only survivor of a shootout that left eight people dead. The police are actually working the carnage-strewn crime scene when Oscar arises from beneath a corpse surprised both that he’s alive and that the cops are staring at him. Oh, he’s also a bit unsure as to why there’s a shotgun in his hands. Detective Solør (Henrik Mestad) immediately takes him in and begins the interrogation, but Oscar’s explanation as to the events leading up to the massacre repeatedly tests the veteran detective’s bullshit detector. Even so, Oscar swears it all started with a bet on a soccer match.


Jackpot Short Film

Why Watch? Jack Hoffman desperately wants to jack his hoffman, but it isn’t all that easy. He’s resigned himself to department store catalog models — guys in tight sweaters, guys in genuine Jockeys — because 1) he’s 14 and 2) it’s 1994 and the internet isn’t in every household yet. Tough break being born in 1980. When he hears about a stash of porn mags on the other side of town, he risks being caught by a trio of bullies to secure the necessary visual aids. Funny thing is, his imagination seems to already be pretty strong. Adam Baran’s Jackpot is simple and sweet. It stops just short of being schmaltzy due to a genuinely likable hero in Ethan Navarro’s Jack, and a comic relief porn-star-of-many-wardrobe-changes played by Adam Fleming. Plus, as bully-dodging stories go, this one feels a bit more honest when it comes to danger, consequences and the anticipated payoff. It’s a warm look at the complicated problem of learning about your own sexuality — which probably felt world-collapsingly insurmountable when we were all that age — that’s pulled off with a large heart and a rebellious attitude.


Jackpot Film Review

Oscar is having a bad day. When we first meet him, he’s lying underneath a massive woman clutching a shotgun at a strip club full of corpses. The police are obviously curious as to his connection with all this death and destruction. As Oscar sits in the interrogation room of the police station, he relays a bizarre tale of soccer betting winnings, of gangsters, and of murder. Is Oscar a liar, a killer, or just completely out of his mind? More and more, the collected nations of Scandinavia are proving to have an unparalleled mastery of the crime film. Whether it be a brutal descent into the depths of human ugliness like Sweden’s Millennium Trilogy or something intricately tense and darkly comedic like Norway’s Headhunters, it’s gotten to the point that the assemblage of the words Scandinavian and crime film are enough to heighten many a film geek’s excitement and expectation. Sharp as a concealed knife, and dripping with black comedy, Jackpot proudly takes it place beside the best of this budding new wave of rule-breaker cinema from the north of Europe.


Earlier this week, our own Cole Abaius announced the first wave of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival‘s film lineup. That assault was impressive enough, complete with lots of compelling picks in the World Narrative Feature Competition, World Documentary Feature Competition
, and Viewpoints sections, but today’s release of the final feature film sections is a whole other volley of firepower. With today’s announcement of their Spotlight, Cinemania, Special Screenings, and the 2012 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, the fest has completed their feature announcements – and made me start to wonder if I should try to hit Gotham for the festival, running April 18 – 29. Picks that stand out to me already include the delightful 2 Days in New York, Chicken With Plums, Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey, The Giant Mechanical Man, Headshot, Lola Versus, Take This Waltz, Your Sister’s Sister, and Sleepless Night. Check out the full list of films (along with Tribeca-provided synopses) after the break.

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published: 12.19.2014
published: 12.18.2014
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