Inspired by The Scarlett Letter, and the beloved teenage movies of John Hughes, this high-school-set comedy is a very pleasant surprise. The script, about a girl called Olive (Emma Stone) adopting an image as the school floozy (yet never committing any of the acts she is wildly rumoured to have done), has a fresh feel about it. It's self-aware, but never in a way that beats you over the head. The side characters are written with wit and memorably punctuate the focused plot, and Stone makes for a captivating lead, combining smarts, charm and sexual allure with aplomb. Smart, funny, and kind-at-heart, it's highly recommended you check it out.
Continuing The Horror Channel's brief season of modern Argento movies, this 2000 murder mystery sees the oft-termed Master of Horror return to his giallo roots (giallo meaning "yellow", which was the colour of the book covers for pulp murder mystery novels). Dario Argento's films have always been a case of a relatively twisty plot, told simply, with a unique visual flourish. The reason to watch an Argento movie is his particular vision - a vision that was sorely lacking in the interesting, but lacklustre, The Stendhal Syndrome ... and to a lesser extent here too.
That said, the first portion of the movie exhibits much of Argento's famous skill at crafting a tense chase sequence (the train murder is particularly impressive, and harks right back to his heyday), but beyond that the wheels slowly begin to wobble in between the crimson-drenched set pieces. However, the presence of the experienced and gentlemanly Max von Sydow is consistently welcome throughout, and his teaming with the young male lead has a particular charm to it. It's a welcome return to Argento's roots, but an uneven visual impression (the camera work lacks the classic confidence and intricacy of earlier work) and a pace that could have used more judicious editing leaves it lacking in comparison to the likes of The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Tenebrae, and Terror At The Opera.
Oh and by the way, this is blog post #650.