Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Female-fashioned frights

XX: A killer quartet

XX: credit sequence and enticing interstices courtesy of animator Sofia Carrillo.
XX: credit sequence and enticing interstices courtesy of animator Sofia Carrillo.

"Four deadly tales directed by four killer women.” That’s the tagline for XX, the new horror anthology opening Friday at the Digital Gym. This type of press agent math never adds up. Has there ever been an omnibus film in which each individual component contributes its fair share of the heavy lifting?

By definition, an omnibus film generally houses three or more short films under one amorphous heading. It’s difficult enough for a film to impart one story, let alone three or four. One or more of the narrative legs invariably winds up short, and even a stack of script pages stuck underneath can’t keep it from wobbling.

What is it about this pesky, frequently multi-authorial sub-genre (often associated with horror films) that never works? The lure of numerous directors united under one banner is always cause for disappointment. Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, and Woody Allen didn’t so much as collaborate on New York Stories as they provided three large pieces to a loosely fitting jigsaw puzzle. The general consensus: Scorsese dazzled, Allen amused, and Coppola fizzled.

Gender and genre are what bring and hold XX together. It’s certainly not a case of combined star power being used to lure patrons in. Of the four directors credited, only one, Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, The Invitation) rang a bell. This was Roxanne Benjamin’s (Southbound) second feature and the first for both Jovanka Vuckovic and Annie Clark. Animator and title designer Sofia Carrillo followed up on her Quay Brothers–inspired opening credits with a series of wraparound sequences that left one wondering why she didn’t merit a co-director credit.

Movie

XX ***

thumbnail

“Four deadly tales directed by four killer women.” That’s the tagline for this multiauthored horror anthology, even though this type of press agent math never adds up. The two middle tales hardly qualify as killer; they’re both efficiently apportioned one-joke premises. It’s the bookending segments (and wraparound sequences) that do most of the heavy-lifting. Jovanka Vuckovic’s <em>The Box</em> kicks things off by placing a bleak spin on that old chestnut about how children shouldn’t talk to strangers. And Karyn Kusama’s <em>Her Only Living Son</em> closes the show with a respectable continuation of <em>Rosemary’s Baby</em>, in which Junior expresses an unhealthy interest in wanting to meet his birth father. Animator and title designer Sofia Carrillo follows up on her Quay Brothers-inspired opening credits with a series of bridging sequences — her onscreen credit reads: Interstitials by — that leaves one wondering why she didn’t merit a co-director credit.

Find showtimes

XX opens strong with Jovanka Vuckovic’s The Box, by far the creepiest of the four shorts. Mom and her two children return from Christmas shopping. The young boy admires an attractive red package on the lap of the man seated next to him. The stranger obliges the lad’s request for a peek inside. “Nothing” is his response when his parents ask what he saw.

Whatever was in the package was enough to turn him off food. The overhead shots of mom’s nightly meals that act as chapter stops could have been taken from the pages of Bon Appétit. Still the boy won’t eat. After a few days, his older sister and father learn the secret, sending mom on a lifelong journey to ascertain the contents of the box. Your parents were right when they told you not to talk to strangers.

It’s also not hard to spot the weakest link in films of this kind, particularly those that include four subdivisions or fewer. Location is everything, and the segment that’s second in line never fails to disappoint. Such is the case of Annie Clark’s The Birthday Party, a one-joke premise that follows a frantic Melanie Lynskey, clad only in a diaphanous peignoir, as she tries and fails to prevent her estranged hubby’s corpse from putting in an appearance at her daughter’s 18th birthday party.

Be careful who you pick on in these PC times. When spoken in context, the cautionary title of Roxanne Benjamin’s Don’t Fall comes across with the force of a bullying jolt that has the power to turn Gretchen (Breeda Wool) into a monster. The shortest of the four, it acts as a suitable introduction to what follows.

In its own sly manner, Karyn Kusama’s Her Only Living Son is a brief continuation of sorts of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. Image Rosemary having ditched Guy early on. Renamed Cora (Christina Kirk), she ran off with their adopted son Andy (Kyle Allen). Skip ahead 18 years to find prodigious wunderkind ripping the fingernails off the class valedictorian — and the boy is so admired by his teachers the violent act of bullying will go unpunished.

Much to mom’s disgust, Andy gets around to expressing interest in getting to know his birth father. Cora fumes! Where was Satan when Andy had the chicken pox or needed help moving from school to school?

Two out of four is not a bad average, particularly when the half in question aren’t pestiferous enough to warrant a ruckus. Fans of this sort of thing won’t go hungry.

In closing, here are 10 Omnibus Films worth hopping: (1) Walt Disney’s supreme animated achievement Fantasia; (2) Lumière and Company, in which 40 directors make a short film using the original Cinematographe invented by the Lumière brothers; (3) Scan through John Landis and Spielberg (at his worst) to get to Joe Dante and George Miller, the meat of Twilight Zone: The Movie; (4) A dying philanthropist bequeaths a million bucks each to eight random names out of the phone book in If I Had a Million; (5) Elvis is the glue that binds Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train; (6) Woody Allen circumcises Dr. David Rubin’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex; (7) the Marty and Woody segments of New York Stories; (8) the Geraldine Paige and Donnie Melvin chapter titled A Christmas Memory in Truman Capote’s Trilogy; (9) Wong Kar-Wai’s pointedly melancholic short The Hand from Eros; (10) Alejandro Iñárritu’s deeply conflicted Babel.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

How San Diego school kids will ride buses

Enter from the rear
Comments
1

SMH... you forgot "Movie Maniacs" (1938)... one short, three Stooge directors...

Feb. 23, 2017

Sign in to comment

Sign in

XX: credit sequence and enticing interstices courtesy of animator Sofia Carrillo.
XX: credit sequence and enticing interstices courtesy of animator Sofia Carrillo.

"Four deadly tales directed by four killer women.” That’s the tagline for XX, the new horror anthology opening Friday at the Digital Gym. This type of press agent math never adds up. Has there ever been an omnibus film in which each individual component contributes its fair share of the heavy lifting?

By definition, an omnibus film generally houses three or more short films under one amorphous heading. It’s difficult enough for a film to impart one story, let alone three or four. One or more of the narrative legs invariably winds up short, and even a stack of script pages stuck underneath can’t keep it from wobbling.

What is it about this pesky, frequently multi-authorial sub-genre (often associated with horror films) that never works? The lure of numerous directors united under one banner is always cause for disappointment. Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, and Woody Allen didn’t so much as collaborate on New York Stories as they provided three large pieces to a loosely fitting jigsaw puzzle. The general consensus: Scorsese dazzled, Allen amused, and Coppola fizzled.

Gender and genre are what bring and hold XX together. It’s certainly not a case of combined star power being used to lure patrons in. Of the four directors credited, only one, Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, The Invitation) rang a bell. This was Roxanne Benjamin’s (Southbound) second feature and the first for both Jovanka Vuckovic and Annie Clark. Animator and title designer Sofia Carrillo followed up on her Quay Brothers–inspired opening credits with a series of wraparound sequences that left one wondering why she didn’t merit a co-director credit.

Movie

XX ***

thumbnail

“Four deadly tales directed by four killer women.” That’s the tagline for this multiauthored horror anthology, even though this type of press agent math never adds up. The two middle tales hardly qualify as killer; they’re both efficiently apportioned one-joke premises. It’s the bookending segments (and wraparound sequences) that do most of the heavy-lifting. Jovanka Vuckovic’s <em>The Box</em> kicks things off by placing a bleak spin on that old chestnut about how children shouldn’t talk to strangers. And Karyn Kusama’s <em>Her Only Living Son</em> closes the show with a respectable continuation of <em>Rosemary’s Baby</em>, in which Junior expresses an unhealthy interest in wanting to meet his birth father. Animator and title designer Sofia Carrillo follows up on her Quay Brothers-inspired opening credits with a series of bridging sequences — her onscreen credit reads: Interstitials by — that leaves one wondering why she didn’t merit a co-director credit.

Find showtimes

XX opens strong with Jovanka Vuckovic’s The Box, by far the creepiest of the four shorts. Mom and her two children return from Christmas shopping. The young boy admires an attractive red package on the lap of the man seated next to him. The stranger obliges the lad’s request for a peek inside. “Nothing” is his response when his parents ask what he saw.

Whatever was in the package was enough to turn him off food. The overhead shots of mom’s nightly meals that act as chapter stops could have been taken from the pages of Bon Appétit. Still the boy won’t eat. After a few days, his older sister and father learn the secret, sending mom on a lifelong journey to ascertain the contents of the box. Your parents were right when they told you not to talk to strangers.

It’s also not hard to spot the weakest link in films of this kind, particularly those that include four subdivisions or fewer. Location is everything, and the segment that’s second in line never fails to disappoint. Such is the case of Annie Clark’s The Birthday Party, a one-joke premise that follows a frantic Melanie Lynskey, clad only in a diaphanous peignoir, as she tries and fails to prevent her estranged hubby’s corpse from putting in an appearance at her daughter’s 18th birthday party.

Be careful who you pick on in these PC times. When spoken in context, the cautionary title of Roxanne Benjamin’s Don’t Fall comes across with the force of a bullying jolt that has the power to turn Gretchen (Breeda Wool) into a monster. The shortest of the four, it acts as a suitable introduction to what follows.

In its own sly manner, Karyn Kusama’s Her Only Living Son is a brief continuation of sorts of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. Image Rosemary having ditched Guy early on. Renamed Cora (Christina Kirk), she ran off with their adopted son Andy (Kyle Allen). Skip ahead 18 years to find prodigious wunderkind ripping the fingernails off the class valedictorian — and the boy is so admired by his teachers the violent act of bullying will go unpunished.

Much to mom’s disgust, Andy gets around to expressing interest in getting to know his birth father. Cora fumes! Where was Satan when Andy had the chicken pox or needed help moving from school to school?

Two out of four is not a bad average, particularly when the half in question aren’t pestiferous enough to warrant a ruckus. Fans of this sort of thing won’t go hungry.

In closing, here are 10 Omnibus Films worth hopping: (1) Walt Disney’s supreme animated achievement Fantasia; (2) Lumière and Company, in which 40 directors make a short film using the original Cinematographe invented by the Lumière brothers; (3) Scan through John Landis and Spielberg (at his worst) to get to Joe Dante and George Miller, the meat of Twilight Zone: The Movie; (4) A dying philanthropist bequeaths a million bucks each to eight random names out of the phone book in If I Had a Million; (5) Elvis is the glue that binds Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train; (6) Woody Allen circumcises Dr. David Rubin’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex; (7) the Marty and Woody segments of New York Stories; (8) the Geraldine Paige and Donnie Melvin chapter titled A Christmas Memory in Truman Capote’s Trilogy; (9) Wong Kar-Wai’s pointedly melancholic short The Hand from Eros; (10) Alejandro Iñárritu’s deeply conflicted Babel.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Beer bought in San Diego flows into tapped-out Tijuana

24-pack costs $31-40
Next Article

Classical music livestreams are boring

But Augustin Hadelich, Stephen Powell, Yo-Yo Ma, well....
Comments
1

SMH... you forgot "Movie Maniacs" (1938)... one short, three Stooge directors...

Feb. 23, 2017

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close