Figured I should check in on some general release films instead of just film festivals (although I know there's the Latino Film Fest and the American Indian Film Fest starting now, the San Jose Jewfest continues Sundays and Wednesdays for 2 more weeks, there's an Animation Festival and New Italian Cinema presented by the SF Film Society coming up, etc.), and try to keep the Halloween spirit around a bit longer.
"30 Days of Night" was actually pretty good. In a nutshell, vampires attack Barrow, AK during the middle of winter when the sun doesn't rise for 30 days. There are parts where the story is kinda thin, and parts where it drags on. But the vampires are actually scary, the atmosphere is effective, and I'll even defend Josh Hartnett as perhaps the most underrated young star today. I think he got harnessed with a pretty boy reputation, but he's actually a good actor. What really strikes me is how odd it is to see a vampire movie that only sympathizes with the victims. I hadn't thought about it before, but it's become so cliche to sympathize with the vampire--at least partly. These vampires are just (literally) bloodthirsty monsters who kill and feed (and do so with vigor). And now I'm racking my brains trying to think of the last vampire movie that didn't at least try to make you feel for the vampire a little bit. Vampires had become heroes, not monsters. Well, at least in "30 Days of Night" they're monsters again.
Then I saw a stupid movie that tries waaaay too hard to make you sympathize with the killer. "Saw IV" is just as ridiculous as all the rest. It must be weird being the editor on a Saw movie: 'Here, take this seemingly innocuous line and put it in the beginning. Then put this gory twist that references it at the end. Now choose three or four Rube Goldberg killings from the hundreds we shot, and call it a movie. We'll call you again next year.' I don't even believe the filmmakers cared about the bullshit 'those who don't appreciate life don't deserve it' philosophy until the third movie, and by then I couldn't care if I tried. The whole "Saw" series is a case study in how a twist does not mean clever, and even if they did clever does not mean smart. I suppose I should say something specific to this entry rather than the series as a whole, but if the filmmakers aren't going to do anything new, I'm not either. Right now, I'll only watch the fifth and sixth (they're already greenlit) just to see how Jigsaw becomes a deadlier version of Barry Convex.