Monday, September 04, 2006

When Things Go Awry at the Renn Faire (Otherwise Known as "The Wicker Man" remake)...

From the creepy promotional poster to a talented director (Neil LaBute) and cast (Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker, Frances Conroy), "The Wicker Man" gave every appearance of having potential. After the gale-force storm of Friday, it seemed the perfect scary-movie hibernation actitivy.

The first half was good, in a Children of the Corn/Twilight Zone kind of way, as Nicolas Cage's character travels to a womyn-ruled island commune to find a missing girl. There are plenty of admirably surreal images a la "Picnic at Hanging Rock" - ominous bee-keepers in Amish garb, children in animal masks popping up out of the shrubbery.

But this movie committed things to film that just shouldn't be:

1. We first see the commune leader (Burstyn), the whispered-about and feared Sister Summersisle, floating around the place in Chico's separates with all the scary gravitas of a writers' workshop facilitator.

2. And Sister Summersisle? What's up with that name anyway? Sounds like an (ahem) *feminine* product produced in a collective where neither plants nor animals (or their auras) were harmed in the process.

3. "Get me some mead, womyn!" The commune has a pub! With actual serving wenches! Seems a little odd that such a feminist place would still have barmaids when there are man-servants on the island.

4. Yet these man are mute. Their tongues have been cut out. Subtle.

5. Nicolas Cage karate-chops the pub workers. Yes, our hero is in danger. Yes, they are taller than he is. But guys just shouldn't be punching out women in 2006.

6. The waif love interest has no brain. Literally, she does not even complete her sentences. A new low in girlfriend roles.

7. Every cliche from cop and pagan cult films seems to be employed here - from the haunted, burnt-out officer to the abundance of ribboned braids, harvest references and bucolic cottages.

8. A maypole appears.

9. A bear suit appears.

10. There is a grand finale a la Burning Man, with robed throngs shouting, "The drone must die! The drone must die!"

Just as entertaining, the reviews on, including:

"Maybe it serves as a cautionary tale of what America may look like if Hilary Clinton ever becomes president. I guess LaBute, Cage and I better get ready for a trip to the re-education camp."

Will Oscar snub this masterpiece? Hmmmm....

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At 11:13 AM, Anonymous KCinDC said...

Having seen the original, I was wondering how they'd handle the remake, especially the idea of setting it in the US, where a centuries-old isolated community of druids (or whatever) ruled over by the local weirdo aristocrat wouldn't exactly fit well. Not interested enough to actually see it, of course, and your review further confirms that decision.

The 1973 original had Edward "The Equalizer" Woodward as the cop and Christopher "Saruman/Count Dooku" Lee as Lord Summerisle (no matriarchy).


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