Thursday, July 31, 2008

Friday the 13th Remake: First Official Posters



Most of you have probably seen these already as the Internet has been flooded with them but, just in case you haven't, here are the first official teaser posters for the upcoming remake of Friday the 13th. I must admit that even though I hated the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a passion, and it is indeed the same team handling the new Friday, I know I'll be in the theater opening day for this. Regardless of how the film comes out, I quite like these minimal but very effective designs for the posters.
It's a bit odd seeing these, even though I have known for quite awhile it was coming, as the original series made up such a big part of my childhood and teenage years. Perhaps the remake will at least cause Paramount to revisit the original series on DVD again, although I have learned to not hold my breath for quality uncut releases of the films...but oh what I would not give for the uncensored version of Steve Miner's Part 2.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fire Will Walk With It

X-files
At the end of August of 1992 I had one of the most memorable film experiences of my life, and it took place in a completely vacant and I must admit very lonely movie theater in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It was actually audience wise the most desolate opening night I have ever attended, and the film was none other than David Lynch’s masterful Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. I still remember the isolated awe I felt in that deserted theater that night and the absolute confusion as to why no one else was there to feel it with me.
Lynch’s controversial big screen prequel to his celebrated television series is now rightly viewed by many as one of his major works…a disturbing and powerful masterpiece that is among the most memorable and distinctive films of the nineties. Of course this wasn’t the case in 1992 as Fire Walk with Me was subjected to the most pulverizing critical and popular reception David Lynch had ever received, it even made the reception Dune got look positively glowing. It was viewed by many as the last unnecessary chapter of a series that had run its course, and was considered beyond passé before it briefly appeared and vanished in that late summer of 92.
Of course time has shown Twin Peaks to be one of the great television series and it’s arguably more beloved now than it was when it was originally on the air. Anyone who was around when it originally aired can attest to the baffled and angry reaction many people had to the series second season, a season which is now rightfully viewed as one of the most important in television history.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that first viewing of Fire Walk with Me lately…specifically that empty feeling I had for a month or so after, as I watched people who gleefully celebrated the end of something I had held so dear. It was a frustrating thing because I couldn’t even argue for the film because so few had bothered to see it…and I must admit that it was as depressing as hell.
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I’ve had that same exact feeling again recently due to the reception that The X-Files: I Want To Belive has received. Now I’m not arguing that Carter’s new film is in the same league as Lynch’s…it isn’t and it doesn’t try to be, but the two do share some remarkable characteristics though that are more than worth noting.

They are both challenging and extremely personal works from filmmakers attempting to continue two of their most iconic works, both of which coincidentally started out life as small screen productions. They are also two works not afraid to deliver exactly what WASN’T wanted by many of show’s core fans. Imagine Fire Walk With Me as the quirky dark comedy or I Want to Believe as the big budget monster movie many fans wanted but neither Lynch nor Carter were interested in delivering what was expected, even if a possible career set-back was a real possibility.
The films were also both treated with disdain by the studio’s obvious non-belief in them. If you think I Want to Believe has been handled badly, go back and check on the non-campaign for Fire Walk with Me. The fact that I even managed to catch it in a theater is nothing short of miraculous. There is also the feeling with both that many people who weren’t fans of the series’ were gunning for them, and nothing Lynch or Carter could have delivered would have been good enough.

Finally, the main thing that perhaps connects Fire Walk with Me and I Want to Believe is that they were delivered to a time period that simply didn’t want them. The X-Files is as irrelevant to as many people in 2008 as Twin Peaks was back in 1992 and it took guts for Lynch and Carter to make their respective films in the first place. Time has thankfully caught up with Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me now, so much so that it might be hard for a lot of younger fans to imagine there was ever a time when people thought Lynch’s show was anything less than a classic, but trust me that time did occur.

I’ve been extremely depressed by the reaction granted to I Want to Believe and especially by a lot of people’s callous dismissal of The X-Files in general, a series that meant a lot of things to a lot of different people and had a huge impact on our popular culture in general. I can only harbor the hope that the film and series will one day find its audience again much like Lynch’s show and film did…in fact I am counting on it. 2008 might not be a good year for The X-Files popularity wise, but I am willing to wager money that ten or fifteen years from now many of its most vocal opponents will be lining up to and singing its praises.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and The X-Files: I Want To Believe are two vastly different works, but they are both extremely personal and uncompromising films made by two very genuine filmmakers who clearly had something meaningful they wanted to say. To paraphrase something I once read on Lou Reed’s Berlin, these simply aren’t works made for their time but are more importantly works for all time…so perhaps I shouldn’t be depressed after all.

Wenders on Faraway, So Close

From The Cinema of Wim Wenders and The Celluloid Highway:

"The hesitancy to say something rests on the inability to form an opinion. Everybody wants to stay out of things. But with the present situation, one cannot stay out of things. Today, films are evaluated exclusively by their entertainment value, and it bothered many people that Faraway, So Close had a message, especially if they saw it as a Christian message."

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"Stories are impossible, but it's impossible to live without them. That's the mess I'm in."

Interviewed by Daly and Waugh at Film West:

"I think every film is a new exploration of that equation, and that each film defines its own time and its own space, and each film does so from scratch. Faraway, so Close certainly defined a different time to Wings of Desire which is after all what the title of its sequel is referring back to."

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"Faraway so Close was the first script that Ulrich ever wrote. He’s a young German poet. He wrote two stage plays and basically a collection of poems and his poems were the only thing I knew when I contacted him. Maybe it’s also because I know so well the structure and the story of what I want to do, or even if I don’t know it I feel it’s something that has to come from myself. Because the one thing that I really can’t find for myself, and that other people are so much better at is to invent characters, and to have different people speak differently, which is an incredible gift I think, to write a script and achieve this phenomenon that one person speaks according to his character and he sits at a table with somebody else who speaks differently. Whatever I did in my life, whenever I was writing dialogue, everybody was speaking with my voice and that’s boring. I really think it’s a fantastic gift to be able to write dialogue, but of course nobody just writes dialogue. Whenever you sit and write with somebody they are getting involved with the story, the structure and with the various scenes. I was never really looking for somebody who was a screenwriter in the sense that he was responsible for the ‘screen-play’. I was looking for somebody who was just a good writer."

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From John Wilson's The Best Christian Writing 2004.

"Far Away, So Close! was a film that was clearly made with religious intent. I mean, it even starts with a quotation from the Gospel of Matthew: 'The eye is the lap of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness'."

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"In Far Away, So Close! there's an entire film happening just on an audio level, and it's filled with all sorts of quotes, many from the Old and New Testaments. From the beginning, I felt that if we ever made a second film with these angel characters, I couldn't pretend that nothing had happened to me in between. I couldn't make another film in which the angels were metaphors, because they were no longer metaphors to me. If I made another film about angels, they would have to be messengers of God, the go-betweens. They could refer only to God, because as messengers, they were nothing in themselves -- the message was everything. So the film had to be filled with their message. To do anything else with these characters would have been to betray my entire experience. The film would have to be with God from beginning to end, because that would be the angels' only intention. Unlike Wings of Desire, where their metaphorical choice was to become human, in Far Away, So Close! that was no longer an option. It does happen that the angel Cassiel becomes a man, but only so that he then can return to being an angel. In a strange way, in Wings of Desire the spiritual world was a metaphor, but in Far Away, So Close! life is the metaphor for something spiritual.
In hindsight, I must say, I was too didactic. The film was way too cerebral. In the first year you become a missionary or a priest, you probably, make nothing but mistakes because you're too upfront about things. You're too filled with a certain desire, and that kills everything you want to achieve. When I see the film now, and I hear all those quotes, I must say that I was filled with too much missionary fervor."

My Dream New Beverly Cinema Film Festival (The Twelve Movies Meme)

Femme Fatale
Ibetolis at the terrific Film for the Soul blog has tagged me with a twelve movies meme and I am more than happy to participate. For those who are unaware, this meme was started by Piper at Lazy Eye Theater and its concept is basically creating your own ideal week-long film festival for the New Beverly Cinema.

Here are the rules:
1) Choose 12 Films to be featured. They could be random selections or part of a greater theme. Whatever you want.

2) Explain why you chose the films.

3) Link back to Lazy Eye Theatre so I can have hundreds of links and I can take those links and spread them all out on the bed and then roll around in them.

4) The people selected then have to turn around and select 5 more people.

Here are my selections. I will of course change my mind on some of these immediately after posting but such is the way it goes with these sorts of lists….

Monday:

My week will kick off with a director’s night honoring the late Gordon Parks Jr. with showings of his genre busting western Thomasine and Bushrod (1974) starring Max Julien and Vonetta McGee along with his moving final feature Aaron Loves Angela (1975).

Tuesday:


My second night will feature probably my favorite double feature of Peter Weir’s hypnotic Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and Sofia Coppola’s masterful debut The Virgin Suicides (1999).

Wednesday:

To kick off those inevitable mid-week blues let’s have a showing of Julia St. Vincent’s strange but engrossing documentary on John Holmes, Exhausted (1981), followed by a screening of the film it helped inspire, Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic Boogie Nights (1997).

Thursday:


Another one of my favorite double features is up for grabs this night with Mario Bava's audacious and chilling final feature Shock (1977) with Daria Nicolodi followed by Richard Loncraine’s stunning and woefully undervalued Full Circle (1977) starring Mia Farrow.

Friday:


Another director’s night follows with a double does of Walerian Borowczyk featuring La Marge(1976) with Sylvia Kristel and Joe Dallensandro and his ferocious masterpiece Dr Jekyll and his Women (1981) with Marina Pierro and Udo Kier.

Saturday:

Because it’s always good to close with a little confrontation, my final night features two of my favorite films of the decade, from two of my favorite directors, that I feel have been unjustly maligned by both the critics and public. I offer for my closing night, Dario Argento’s controversial and audience dividing Sleepless (2001) and then close the festival with Brian De Palma’s jaw dropping return to his roots, Femme Fatale (2002).

Wish I could have found room for a hundred others but twelve was the limit.

I’m tagging these following fellow bloggers:

1. Steve Langton at The Last Picture Show.
2. Brandon Colvin or James Hansen at Out 1.
3. Mr. Peel at Mr. Peel’s Sardine Liquer.
4. Joe Valdez at This Distracted Globe.
5. Keith at Coolness is Timeless.

My apologies if any of these fine bloggers have already been tagged in this and I only ask that they participate if they care to.

Beineix's The Moon In the Gutter is Coming to Berkeley

Nastassja Kinski, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Moon in the Gutter
A kind reader has informed me that the Berkley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will be hosting a rare screening of Jean-Jacques Beineix's The Moon in the Gutter as part of a David Goodis retrospective on Saturday, August 23rd. The screening will be hosted by noir aficionado and former film programmer for the Roxie Cinema, Elliot Lavine, and information on this welcome event can be found here.
I'm thrilled to see that the film is not only being screened but is also closing the festival, which also includes the terrific Bogart and Bacall film Dark Passage, Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player and half a dozen others. I wish I had the means to get to the screening but even though I can't I thought some interested readers here might...and if anyone does a full report would be most appreciated! Who knows, with Nastassja Kinski recently making a surprising appearance at The New Beverly Cinema's screening of Exposed, perhaps she might revisit this one as well.

Beineix's The Moon in the Gutter Coming to Berkeley

Nastassja Kinski, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Moon in the Gutter
A kind reader has informed me that the Berkley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will be hosting a rare screening of Jean-Jacques Beineix's The Moon in the Gutter as part of a David Goodis retrospective on Saturday, August 23rd. The screening will be hosted by noir aficionado and former film programmer for the Roxie Cinema, Elliot Lavine, and information on this welcome event can be found here.
I'm thrilled to see that the film is not only being screened but is also closing the festival, which also includes the terrific Bogart and Bacall film Dark Passage, Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player and half a dozen others. I wish I had the means to get to the screening but even though I can't I thought some interested readers here might...and if anyone does a full report would be most appreciated! Who knows, with Nastassja Kinski recently making a surprising appearance at The New Beverly Cinema's screening of Exposed, perhaps she might revisit this one as well.

Adventures In Modern French Music: elodieO (Stubborn)

elodie
One of the most intriguing debut albums of the year is courtesy of Parisian born elodieO, a talented up and coming artist formerly of the terrific and acclaimed band Elm.
The album, entitled Stubborn, streets in America in mid August and it’s an interesting mixture of Nicoesque vocals (Nico is not surprisingly among elodieO’s biggest influences), electronica, and trip hop with hints of sixties Samba thrown in for good measure.
Made up of eleven tracks almost entirely written and produced by elodieO herself (with some help from The Brazilian Girls and a talented band of studio musicians who give what could have been an overtly electronic album a nice acoustic and organic feel), Stubborn is quite a striking work.
Making the album an even more well rounded affair are elodieO’s choices of cover versions. Nestled alongside her own songs are the terrific “L’Attente”, a lovely track taken from a Rilke poem, a strong cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “l’eau a la bouche” and a moving mostly spoken version of The Cure’s “Home”.
Among elodieO’s own songs, highlights include the hypnotic opener, “La Mer”, the infectious single “Milk and Honey” (co-written by Yuriy Gavrilenko) and the mesmerizing “Unexpected So”, a track that recalls some of Bjork’s finest early work.
Stubborn continues Elm’s streak of marking elodieO as one of the more striking experimental French artists on the scene and it would fit nicely on a shelf with Camille’s Le Fil or Emilie Simon’s The Flower Book.
The album, courtesy of New York’s Mulatta Records, makes its American debut on August 19th. More information on elodieO can be found at her MySpace or her official page which is currently being updated. The original old official page can also be viewed here and contains quite a bit of information about this very promising young artist.

Nastassja on Faraway, So Close

Faraway So Close 1
"I'm truly lucky that Wenders saw and believed in me, and truly lucky to have worked with him three times."
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"I often feel with God and humans and angels that it's up to us to make something or to break it, to do things or not to do them. The angels in Faraway, So Close are observers, and they are frustrated because they can't do anything: they can be there, they can soothe, they can speak to people's souls and hearts, but they can't prevent things from happening unless they become human. So their role is kind of a sad one. They say to humans, 'You think we're far away but we're really close. We are nothing, and you are everything to us, and everything's in your power.' I could really understand this-I've always thought it was that way. Faith is important, and yet it's here on earth with each other that we have to do our best."
-to Sheila Benson in Interview, 1993-
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"Wenders was always nice, very calm, steady. He created a family atmosphere, everything I wanted."
-To Suzie MacKenzie in The Guardian, 1999-
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Blaxploitation Operation: Hammer (1972)

Hammer 1
Some films survive just based on the strength of the personalities starring in them. Take 1972’s Hammer for instance, a film that is flawed in nearly every aspect of its production from the script to the direction and yet it remains immensely watchable, thanks to the aura of its stars Fred Williamson and Vonetta McGee. Hammer is not a good film, hell it’s not even a particularly good exploitation film, but every time Williamson and McGee are on screen all of its faults and flaws just fall away.
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The Al Adamson produced Hammer came out in the late summer of 72 and it is mostly remembered as one of the film’s that gave the mighty Fred Williamson one of his first starring roles. Directed with very little finesse by Bruce D. Clark, a filmmaker with only one other credit to his name after this (1981’s Galaxy of Terror) and featuring a good if very spare score by legendary Philadelphia soul man Solomon Burke, Hammer tells the rather tired and routine story of a struggling boxer under the thumb of a corrupt and savagely unfair system.
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Producer Adamson is of course best known as the director of such horror exploitation titles such as Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) and Blood of Ghastly Horror (1972) but he didn’t limit himself to any one genre and he tried his hand at Blaxploitation several times, with Hammer being the first. He would later go onto produce and direct such titles as Black Heat (1976), Black Samurai (1977) and perhaps most memorably the infamous Nurse Sherri (1978). I’ve often wondered how involved Adamson was with Hammer’s production and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had his hand in some of its direction although I can’t say for sure.
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With a killer cast surrounding Williamson and McGee, including the awesome William Smith (one of the cinema’s great bad guys), Bernie Hamilton, Mel Smith and D’Urville Martin, and some surprisingly stylish nice photography from first time cinematographer Robert Steadman, the biggest problem that plagues Hammer is its by the number script by Charles Johnson. Johnson, who would later write the much stronger Blaxploitation productions Slaughter’s Big Rip Off and That Man Bolt (both 1973), was also making his debut with Hammer and there is nothing to separate the film from any other exploitable product of the early seventies with the exceptions of Williamson and McGee, but trust me brother they are two potent exceptions.
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I’ve praised McGee here before for her performance in Gordon Parks Jr’s stunning Thomasine and Bushrod and she is impressive here as well. One of the seventies most stunning looking women, McGee radiates a real intelligence and more than holds her own with the imposing Williamson. The two are quite a team and Hammer really comes alive in their scenes together. A smarter crew would have abandoned Johnson’s predictable script and just made a complete love story for Williamson and McGee.
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Williamson is incredible in the film. Cool, unbelievably handsome and projecting the kind of casual but ferocious charisma most actors can’t even dream of, Williamson is unforgettable in Hammer and he’s great even though the material isn’t. Williamson is also a good actor and, even in this early role, that is obvious even though both he and McGee are so much better than the material they are given here.
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I don’t mean to be too hard on Hammer as it is an entertaining picture (with some fairly striking boxing sequences and one solid chase sequence) but it ultimately isn’t among the more memorable productions of the seventies most distinctive and prolific genre.
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MGM’s DVD is a full-frame disappointment that makes the film seem even less than it is, with boom mike shadows creeping in constantly due to the inaccurate framing. The print itself is nice and it’s a shame MGM made the odd decision to not release this widescreen as most of their Soul Cinema series features at least that courtesy. A trailer is the only extra on hand and the reasonably priced disc is fairly easy to find as it is still in print.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Welcome Return of Exposed?

exposed
A kind reader alerted me to the fact that The New Beverly Theater is currently having the remarkable double feature of James Toback's Fingers and Exposed. According to this readers report, in attendance opening night was Nastassja Kinski herself. Toback was also there presenting the film and apparently introduced Nastassja, which no doubt made for an extraordinarily memorable evening all the way around. I really hope this current and surprising news leads to Exposed finally getting a DVD release sometime in the near future.

A fellow blogger has posted a nice report on this event that can be read here.

Schatzberg's Scarecrow: Seven Stories, Seven Shots

Part of my Scarecrow tribute week at Harry Moseby Confidential.
Scarecrow 1
Bronx born director Jerry Schatzberg came to fame in the sixties as a photographer whose work graced the pages of Vogue, Esquire and many other of the period’s most respected and famed publications. He also found time to photograph some of the decade’s greatest album covers including the legendary Blonde on Blonde sleeve for Bob Dylan.
In the late sixties he began dating up and coming Hollywood legend Faye Dunaway and it would indeed be the Bonnie and Clyde star who would be the leading lady of Schatzberg’s first film, 1970’s Puzzle of a Downfall Child. The film would generate quite a bit of controversy and received a vastly mixed critical reaction when it was released, although many agreed that Schatzberg was a talent to watch.
Schatzberg would follow up Puzzle of a Downfall Child with the acclaimed junkie drama Panic in Needle Park, a film which starred a young actor named Al Pacino. The harrowing film would lead to Scarecrow, a picture that would see the director and the future Oscar winning actor collaborating for the second and final time.
Schatzberg has never received the credit he has deserved as being one of the key American directors of the early seventies. Scarecrow remains arguably the greatest achievement of an often overlooked career behind the camera.
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Schatzberg’s film would mark the first screen credit for award winning and revered playwright Garry Michael White. Pacino would call White’s original script as the best he had ever read and Scarecrow does indeed stand as one of the most challenging and moving scripts of the seventies, a poignant work that would work as an entirely personal project while securing itself as an insightful look at an America that was becoming more and more distrustful of authority. Is there a more knowing and chilling acknowledgement of what was happening to America in the midst of Vietnam and Watergate than when Hackman’s Max says towards the end of the film, “Who Can I trust now”?
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Gene Hackman has called Scarecrow the favorite of all of the films he worked on in his career, impressive considering the number of classics that have appeared among the 100 or so titles he has starred in. Hackman had just won the Oscar for William Friedkin’s searing The French Connection when he shot Scarecrow, and his performance as Max for Schatzberg is the equal of his work as the famed Popeye Doyle that had won him so much acclaim. Incredibly neither Hackman nor Pacino were nominated for Oscars for Scarecrow.
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The film would become a sensation in Europe when it was initially released in 1973 and it won the coveted Golden Palm at that year’s Cannes Festival. Schatzberg and his film would also win several other top European prizes, a fact that makes the initial relative failure of the film in America all the more surprising. The film would open to poor box office and mixed reviews in the Spring of 1973 causing a disillusioned Hackman to announce he would only work on commercial projects afterwards, a promise thankfully he didn’t keep. It would take years for the film to really find its audience in America, even though it is still not held perhaps in the esteem that it should be.
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There was some reported tension between Hackman and Pacino on the set as the two had vastly different ways of approaching the material. The two would have the up most respect for each other though and have spoken highly of the experience since. Hackman would recall on Larry King that he loved and admired Pacino, a factor that went into him naming Scarecrow as his favorite film. Scarecrow marks the only time these two giants would work together.
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Behind the scenes players included legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, and his work combined with Scatzbergs marks Scarecrow as a photography lover’s dream and one of the most striking looking features of the seventies. The film’s intriguing editing which melds some surprising jump cuts into Schatzberg’s celebrated long takes is courtesy of none other than Evan A. Lottman, the man who would cut The Exorcist in the same year as Scarecrow. The film’s off kilter but effective score is credited to Fred Myrow, an interesting composer who would later provide the very effective music for the influential shocker Phantasm in 1979.
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Scarecrow came out just a month before I was born in 1973. I first saw it when I was around 15 courtesy of a censored TV print and I immediately fell in love with it. I consider it one of the key American films of the seventies and more than a dozen viewings of it over the years have only increased my admiration and love for the film.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The X-Files: I Want To Believe (An Ambitious and Personal Final Chapter)

***Some Minor Spoilers Follow***

Chris Carter’s The X-Files: I Want to Believe is one of the most personal American films of the decade; a flawed but ambitious work that is surprisingly poignant and haunting in several unexpected ways. It is also a film that dares to not be what many long time fans of the show will want or expect. I Want to Believe is clearly the film Chris Carter wanted to make, a cold and somber work that bravely risks alienating fans of the show who were wanting another fun creature filled ride into the unknown.
Coming over five years after the series finale of The X-Files, I Want to Believe is remarkably chilly production that finds its iconic lead characters Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in an iced over snowy winter investigating the disappearance of a missing FBI agent. Carter’s film trades in the show’s celebrated paranormal aspects for a subtle and very human mystery centering on ideas of stem cell research and black-market organ donations. The film isn’t entirely missing elements of the supernatural as there is a visionary psychic helping on the case, but Carter is more interested here in the idea of faith and the nature of science’s place in spiritual issues rather than things that just go bump in the night.

Considering the film is a relatively low budget affair, I Want to Believe is an exceptionally striking looking production thanks to cinematographer Bill Roe, a man who shot dozens upon dozens of the original show throughout the later seasons. The snow and ice covered plains are shot beautifully by Roe and Carter handles filming the landscapes equally well, bringing an intelligent sense of how to fill his often wide-open frames in nearly every shot of the film. Direction wise, I Want To Believe is an obviously well-thought and lovingly compiled film and visually it is nothing short of exceptional. The legendary main theme by Mark Snow is also used to great effect for the most part in the film and his new score as whole works exceedingly well. Kudos to both Carter and Snow though for knowing when to supply the film with just the right amount of silence though, a smart move that allows the score to become even more effective than perhaps it would have been.

Cast wise, Duchovny and Anderson both shine in the roles they both made so famous. Duchovny is especially moving in essaying the transition from the bearded and frozen over Mulder at the beginning of the film to the rejuvenated and believing figure at the end. It’s probably the swan song to one of the great characters of the past couple of decades and Duchovny gives a beautifully wearied and poetic performance that ranks along with the best work he has ever done. The always reliable Anderson is just as good, especially in a moving scene between her and the fallen priest that is as chilling as it is profound.

New to Carter’s world are an excellent Amanda Peet as the younger FBI agent Whitney who calls Mulder back to the bureau and a disappointingly one-dimensional Xzibit as her partner, who is one of the film’s weakest links. Peet and Duchovny share a couple of extremely effective scenes and she delivers her most confident and assured work since her undervalued turn in Igby Goes Down several years back. The best co-starring performance of the film though is given by Billy Connolly as the pedophile priest Crissman. Connolly is frankly astonishing in the part and his performance is among the most effective and eerie of the decade as he projects a damaged and at times sinister vulnerability that is hard to shake.
While Carter indeed doesn’t deliver the film many of the show’s fans have been asking for he does at least fill it with affectionate nods to the series, including a number of quick cameos and visual references. He also adds a late period appearance by one of the show’s most notable characters that allows for probably the film’s most emotional moment.

I Want to Believe isn’t a perfect film by any means. At times the main mystery seems a bit too telegraphed and tired and it’s debatable as to whether a side plot involving one of Scully’s patient is necessary as it is underwritten and at times uninvolving. Carter also missteps a couple of times in his attempts to lighten the mood, especially in a what could have been a clever scene involving photos of George W. Bush and J. Edgar Hoover, a moment spoiled by an unnecessary music queue. The film also fails to hit some of the expected emotional notes it goes for involving the relationship between Mulder and Scully, as though Carter had trouble knowing exactly where to take them as a couple. I actually found Carter’s often maligned direction here to be more effective than his usually more celebrated screenwriting. The co-written with Frank Spotnitz screenplay finally just feels a little under-developed and it hurts the film.

Still, problems aside I Want to Believe is a successful production that works as both a fine finale to the series and a hopeful attempt at restarting it. It is perhaps not what many of the show’s original series fans will want but it is what its creator wanted to deliver, marking it is as one of the most surprising and bravest films of the decade even though it isn’t always completely successful.
Even though everyone involved wants to continue the series with more films, Fox has effectively killed it. Releasing it with a zero ad campaign a week after one of the most successful films of all time, I Want to Believe barely scraped the five million mark on its opening day. Ironically the little cult series with a small but dedicated audience that became an international phenomenon is now back to where it started, which is perhaps the way it should be but for those of us who wanted many more of these it is a bitter disappointment.
Chris Carter marks himself as an exceptionally brave and personal filmmaker with The X-Files: I Want to Believe. It would have been easy for him to have made the fantastical monster movie that many fans expected but instead with I Want to Believe he delivers a heavily symbolic film ripe with religious imagery that suggests the ideas of faith and belief at the core of The X-Files were much deeper than just accepting the possibility of aliens and the paranormal.
I have seen several message boards postings lately asking that Carter apologize for not delivering the film many fans of the show wanted, I would say that for making a brave film obviously very close to the heart, Chris Carter and the cast and crew of I Want to Believe have absolutely nothing to apologize for.