28 Weeks Later (Fox)
I suppose it’s a minority opinion that this rather more cacophonous, action-oriented sequel is better than the low-key original (28 Days Later), but damned if this isn’t the spiritual heir to George A. Romero’s socio-politically charged forbears. Its release coincident with the thickening quagmire in Iraq, the military solution to infestation it depicts — firebombing a city to take out the human survivors alongside the uncontainable zombie insurgents — qualifies as a ghoulishly modest proposal. With contemporary horror lacking much in the way of ideology beyond torture-porn’s implicit sidelong critique of Abu Ghraib etc., it’s reassuring to see a thrill ride that tries to get its hooks into the social zeitgeist. The action isn’t bad either, with a few supremely disquieting set pieces (the first one is illustrated above) and a genuinely distressing tone. One of the year’s best for sure.
Mala Noche (Criterion)
American indie icon Gus Van Sant is one of those directors who went to Hollywood and came out alive. Several times during his roller-coaster career I feared he had burned out, but he never lost his way and is now enjoying a vigorous second wind (or third, depending on how you count) that’s included Gerry, Elephant, Last Days and this year’s festival fave Paranoid Park. Here’s where it all began: Mala Noche, his 1985 unrequited-love story. It’s based on an autobiographical novel by Walt Curtis. I haven’t seen it. At the time, Vincent Canby called it “as steadfastly, honetly grim as the Portland, Oregon, skid row where most of it takes place” but singled out Van Sant for his “sardonic humor.” Good call, Canby.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Mala Noche – Criterion Collection
Buy it from Amazon.com: Night Of The Living Dead 3D