The formula of using a Philip K. Dick short story as a foundation for an action film had been established by the time director John Woo got around to making “Paycheck” (2003). It’s the earliest PKD story – written in 1952, published in 1953 — to be turned into a film. Writer Dean Georgaris (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider — The Cradle of Life”) takes the hookiest part of the story – a person sends clues to his future self before his mind-wipe – and builds a fairly engaging mystery-actioner around it.
In Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s co-authored debut “Relic” (1995), Agent Pendergast is already established in his career. The same goes for Lt. D’Agosta and other staples of their quarter century of novels. What’s particularly neat about “Old Bones” (August, hardcover) is we see the very first case of FBI Agent Corrie Swanson, whom we first met as a punkish Kansas teen in “Still Life with Crows” (2003).
The Outsider” (Sundays, HBO) is written, directed and paced with such slow-burn confidence that a viewer can almost fool themselves into thinking this isn’t just another Stephen King novel adaptation. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of King’s catalog; I count some of his books and their movie versions as masterpieces. But it’s hard to disguise the Kingian cliches on display in this adaptation of his 2018 novel.
David Robert Mitchell proved he could deliver an original vision within the parameters of genre rules with 2015’s “It Follows.” Now, with “Under the Silver Lake” (2019), he lets loose with a passion project. At 2 hours and 19 minutes, it’s long and slow, but it’s also mesmerizingly strange and creepy. Similar to my favorite horror film of the year, “Midsommar,” this one remains fathomable even as it gets weirder.
Lethal Weapon” (1987) introduced the masses to writer Shane Black (and his penchant for setting his films at Christmastime) and gave director Richard Donner a fresh franchise after being rudely booted off “Superman II” (1981). And while it didn’t launch the buddy cop trope (1982’s “48 Hrs.” often gets credit for that), it’s perhaps the most shining example.
Halloween” (1978) is often cited as the first modern slasher movie, but it didn’t emerge out of nowhere, with no influences. One of its most notable progenitors, well regarded among horror fans but not given enough credit in the wider world of film criticism, is “Black Christmas” (1974). Written by Roy Moore and directed by Bob Clark (“A Christmas Story”), it does everything “Halloween” would later do, but better.
Director Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report” (2002) isn’t the most by-the-book adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story (most agree that’s “A Scanner Darkly”). But it respects the themes and messages of the 1956 short story and it’s ultimately one of the best movies inspired by his work. In addition to being a propulsive blockbuster actioner starring Tom Cruise, it’s also an irresistibly detailed vision of 2054 that lets us mull the pros and cons of precrime even as Cruise’s John Anderton tries to solve a tangled mystery.
For Spooky Month here at Cold Bananas, we’re looking at the four movies of the “Scream” saga over four Thursdays. Wrapping up the series is “Scream 4” (2011):
For Spooky Month here at Cold Bananas, we’re looking at the four movies of the “Scream” saga over four Thursdays. Next up is “Scream 3” (2000):
Watchmen” (2009) completes a spiritual trilogy of standout graphic novel adaptations in the Aughts – along with “Sin City” (2005) and “V for Vendetta” (2006) – in which we feel like we’re watching comic panels come alive on the screen. By a slight margin, “Watchmen” is the least effective of the three because it juggles so many big ideas and it lends itself to an “Ending Explained” video more than the others. But it’s never anything less than engrossing as it adapts the 1986-87 comic series by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins.