Robin Hardy's British horror classic The Wicker Man is well-known for its iconic imagery, particularly involving an ending that's got way too much cultural penetration to be able to be spoiled. While the ending doesn't surprise, what does is how much the grandiosity of the titular structure comes as less of a sharp left turn and more as a culmination of all the weird, out-of-place customs that Hardy has spent the previous 75 minutes exhibiting. From the minute the protagonist's seaplane has touched down in the village of Summerisle, the eye painted on the dinghy that will bring him the rest of the way to land indicates how off these people are. Nude dances of an evening only put the dot on the exclamation point. The Wicker Man immediately creates a sense of dread and keeps it thrumming through the film before erupting in its timeless conflagration.
Early in Sleeping With Other People, Jason Sudeikis' Jake is running after his pseudo-girlfriend, who has furiously stormed out of his apartment after finding out about his infidelity. He catches up to her, and lays out a series of condescending talking points, implying that this is a practiced pose that he's finding himself in yet again. She softens a bit, implying that these arguments might be working and she's going to take him back, but instead, she pushes him into traffic. His attempts to make the emotional into the intellectual end with bruises and lacerations, a theme that writer/director Leslye Headland returns to in her light, sexy two-hander.
The underrated 50/50 was one of the best films of 2011, and The Night Before reunites many of the primary players, including director Jonathan Levine, stars Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and producers Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Befitting a bigger, less-personal film, The Night Before adds bells and whistles amongst its core, with plenty of stunt-casting and drug-induced effects. The result is a step down from 50/50, but a film that retains the mix of earnestness and irreverence that Levine adds to most of his work.
Random projects from the MMC Universe.