Weekend Movies: Ghost-a-palooza

The two major releases this weekend both involve ghostly visions from beyond the grave, which are either reassuring (as in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Hereafter’) or scary-as-hell (‘Paranormal Activity 2’). Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot else going on at the multiplexes. Well, there’s the continued expansion of a documentary about the current state of America’s educational system, which might be the scariest option of them all.

My ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ review went up earlier this morning. You can check that out to hear all my thoughts and feelings on that one. If you don’t want to read all of that crap, know that it totally lives up to the clever, spooky original. You’ll have a good time.

Hereafter‘, Clint Eastwood’s latest film, could go either way. This is one of the most polarizing movies in recent memory. Critics like Eastwood stalwarts A.O. Scott and David Ansen are proclaiming it a masterpiece, a culmination of Eastwood’s life and career, the old master looking back on his life through the prism of a story about death and the afterlife (embodied by Matt Damon’s morally torn spiritualist). Others (like David Edelstein and J. Hoberman) are claiming that it’s maudlin, and that Eastwood’s jazzy, free-spirited directorial style totally betrays what could have been a crackerjack little ghost story. I haven’t seen it yet, but will try to squeeze it in this weekend. I can’t wait to weigh in!

Besides that, there isn’t a whole lot new that’s opening this weekend. ‘Waiting for Superman‘, the documentary about America’s failing educational systems, is opening wider, so it very well could be at a theater near you! I haven’t seen this one yet either (I know, for shame), but I hear that it is absolutely blistering. Can’t wait to see this either.

Next weekend, the ‘Saw’ franchise makes its three-dimensional debut. Last year, when I was at an early screening of vampire apocalypse movie ‘Daybreakers‘, I sat next to some Lionsgate flak. He told me how good this new 3-D ‘Saw’ was going to be. I just nodded and said, “Yeah, maybe.” I proposed that to really make the franchise fresh, they should set one in 1955. “Go back to the beginning!” I said. “See where Jigsaw got his ideas! Maybe there was a similar serial killer operating around the same time! Just think of all the Cold War imagery you could dig up!” One of the Lionsgate guys kind of laughed at me. The other one looked at me, nodded and, I thought, maybe figured it could be a good idea. Next Halloween, if we’re greeted with ‘Saw 1955’, you know where it came from – this idiot, right here. Scary, I know.

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