Elijah Wood

Cooties Trailer photo
Cooties Trailer

First trailer for Cooties starring Elijah Wood and zombie fourth graders


Circle, circle, dot, dot...
May 21
// Nick Valdez
I don't think I've ever talked about how much I love Elijah Wood's career. He's willing to take chances on the weirdest, and most far out projects. He doesn't always succeed, but he seems like the type of actor that's game fo...

Review: Open Windows

Nov 07 // Nick Valdez
[embed]217384:41308:0[/embed] Open WindowsDirector: Nacho VigalondoRated: RRelease Date: November 7, 2014 Open Windows stars Elijah Wood as Nick (which is one of the many reasons I found myself identifying with him), a lonely man who runs a fan website for actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). Nick won a contest to eat dinner with Goddard, but that contest was promptly canceled. As Nick finds himself in a hotel room playing with his laptop, Chord (Neil Maskell) hacks into his computer and states that Jill Goddard is a diva who selfishly always gets what he wants. As Chord walks Nick through various levels of hacking into Jill's life, Nick realizes there may be a more sinister plan at work.  First of all, Open Windows' main draw is its presentation. Presented entirely through electronic devices (mainly Nick's laptop, but later expands to camera phones, dashboard cameras and the like), Windows blends multiple threads together. The POV creates a far more intimate and interesting outing and makes it easier to find yourself in Nick's shoes. Honestly, this whole presentation would've fallen flat if not anchored by Elijah Wood. He's charming and charismatic enough that even the most "Hollywood" aspects of the film's technology were able to swallow. If I had one thing to say about the presentation, however, is sometimes not even Wood is enough to keep the logic afloat.  Windows asks for quite a bit of bent logic from the viewer as hacking takes on a more fantastical role as the film progresses. Rather than stay rooted, and believable on Nick's laptop, eventually (in order to keep the film from going visually flat) the changes in scenery notably jolt you out of perspective and force you to question how long the battery on Nick's laptop could truly last. The unfortunate thing is, however, is that you'll find yourself wanting the film to go back to the intimate beginning. As the mystery of the film slowly reveals itself and becomes cartoonish, it loses sight of that initial spark. There's a very interesting idea at play here that's unfortunately forgotten as the film tries to become a satire of other things.  You see, when the film opens, you get a lonely man sitting in front of his computer as he idolizes a famous someone he will never meet. This is where I became involved with the film. I've been there, and I know exactly what the awkward feeling of longing does to you. As Jill becomes more of a fleshed out character, the film neatly satirizes the very nature and attitude of the Internet. Grey is perfectly cast as the famed actress as I'm sure Grey knows a thing or two about idolization. There's a question of control at play during Nick and Jill's initial interactions that unfortunately aren't explored as Windows sees fit to throw those interesting ideals out the window and become a jumbled mess before concluding.  No matter how much you enjoy Open Windows, there's no way you're going to make it through the muddy finale without feeling a tad bit confused. Although there are slight hints of a greater mystery throughout the film, there aren't enough to save it from the complete derailment within its final ten minutes. Characters are introduced, thrown into weird perspectives, and odd visual choices don't necessarily help matters. But oddly enough, they don't hurt matters either.   While the conclusion is awfully jolting and makes little sense, the intentionally skewed point of view creates a great sense of suspense as you'll find yourself trying harder just to try and *see* who's who. It's neat little payoff of the original idea. Once again, it all relates back to the idea of control. When given control what would you do? Would you take advantage of another? But when you find yourself in the opposite position, and that control is taken away, what would you do then? I found myself thinking about all of things as the film went on, but unfortunately realized that the general nature of the questions were completely unrelated to the film at hand.  Open Windows is a great, stripped down narrative in the beginning, but sadly devolves into mush as it rolls on. It's got an interesting idea at play, but never quite hits its mark. 
Open Windows Review photo
You'll never want to use your computer again
Open Windows was the first film I saw during SXSW 2014. I've never covered the festival before, so I had no idea what kind of features I'd end up exposing myself to. Going in I was awkward, tense, but mostly curious. As the f...

Open Windows Trailer photo
Open Windows Trailer

Trailer for Open Windows features windows, they're possibly open


Aug 20
// Nick Valdez
Open Windows is a film that probably could've been much better. It's got a lot of promise with a talented cast (Sasha Grey and Elijah Wood) and director (Nacho Vigalondo), but it falls apart toward the finale. It was the fir...

The Wind Rises photo
The Wind Rises

Miyazaki's The Wind Rises gets English voice cast


Featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elijah Wood, and Werner F**king Herzog
Dec 17
// Nick Valdez
Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises (which could very well be his final film before retirement) has been inching closer and closer to a domestic release after it's fly through Japan. Shortly after getting the first US trailer for...

Trick or Treat: The Faculty

Oct 29 // Sean Walsh
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It's like The Breakfast Club vs. Pod People. With Usher!
Hey guys, it's October! You know what that means: Halloween is right around the corner! As such, we will be bringing you some of our favorite horror film suggestions, in the hopes that they will lead to some sleepless nights...

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Trailer for Open Windows with Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey


Wonder if there's a Blue Screen of Death at some point
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
A trailer has finally surfaced for Open Windows, the new film from Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) starring Elijah Wood and former porn starlet Sasha Grey. It brings together celebrity voyeurism, webcams and p...

Review: Maniac

Jun 21 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]215679:40274:0[/embed] ManiacDirector: Franck KhalfounRating: NRRelease Date: June 21, 2013 (limited)  The original Maniac was released in 1980. Written and directed by William Lustig, the film is brutal, ugly, and a must-see if you're a gorehound. It starred character actor Joe Spinell, whose greasy, unkempt appearance gets referenced in the remake. Whereas Wood has managed to look dapper and elvin throughout his career, Spinell looks like a dirty uncle, which served him well in a career playing interesting lowlifes. The original Maniac has one of the most famous head shots in exploitation history, in which a mold of Tom Savini's face is shot at point blank range with a shotgun. This new version of Maniac takes place in LA rather than New York. Wood plays Frank, a loner who's been scarred by childhood trauma. His mother was a prostitute who used turn tricks right in front of him. As with most cinematic killers, this trauma manifests itself thematically and inexplicably perfect: Frank prowls the night for women to murder and scalp, and he mounts the scalps on the heads of vintage mannequins that he restores. It's an unnerving mix of sublimation, substitution, and objectification all in one. Mannequins are a convenient metaphor for a lot of things in Maniac. You can dress these human analogs any way you want to suit your thematic hobby horses. For one, they help embody Frank's discomfort around actual people and his inability to forge intimate relationships with women. We watch him go out on the hunt at the beginning of the film in a sequence with shades of Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive. That first kill doesn't differ too much from a date he goes on that culminates in humiliating sex (not for her) and murder -- he's also stalking, also creepy, and during a panic attack we the first glimpse into the warped little head of Frank. Frank reduces the women around him to a series of hunts and and scalps, and through his point of view we get a general understanding about the fetishistic nature he has with his women and his murders. It's an interesting experiment with the POV form, and when it works, it works, but it still doesn't feel as natural as first-person narration in a book. This might have something to do with current conventions of film language. (I still think Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is the best killer character study ever made.) When Khalfoun swerves his camera out of Frank's POV, it tends to be during the climax of murder. This is the closest that Frank comes to an orgasm -- real deaths, brutal deaths, not those gentle and welcome little ones. The POV conceit takes a few interesting turns, one of which comes early in the film during the bad date. After the panic attack, Frank's night plays out like POV porn. Things go so easy for the person behind the camera as a nubile Suicide Girl flirts, teases, and undresses. There's a kind of sexiness to it, but it's sexy objectification. Like porn, the situation is so artificial and plays entirely into male fantasy and the male gaze. No need to be charming, no need to be kind, no need to be pleasant -- just show up. There's a Silence of the Lambs joke thrown in there with the song "Goodbye Horses," as if the film is asking the viewer "Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me." Nevermind that it's sort of like sex with a mannequin -- would you? This is how Frank's interpreting the moment, but I suspect there's something about audience expectation in there as well. When the T & A plays out in other slasher films, there's a comfort of distance. We're not necessarily viewing the situation as the killer unless the shot is done voyeuristically, obscured by curtain blinds or around the door jamb or through the slats in a closet door. Maniac forces the audience to watch as Frank watches, and since this scene is bookended by mayhem and murder, I think there's a strange confusion of sex and death in the moment that gets into Frank's worldview. There's no escape from this misogynistic worldview in the film since Maniac is filtered through Frank. It calls attention to my own act of watching and how passive it can be with other films. Maniac made me feel like an unwilling pervert, or maybe I'm not as unwilling as I wish I was. There's another moment of fantasy where Frank gets out of his head. He begins falling for Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a photographer who accidentally runs into him one day. She shows an interest in his mannequins, and like any lonely psychotic would think, a mutual interest in fetishized objects must mean the possibility of romance. We get a vision of how Frank sees himself when redeemed by love. He looks like movie star Elijah Wood and not like Elijah Wood's demented twin brother. Like the the POV porn date, this is another facet of male fantasy, but much creepier and more pathetic. This feels less attainable for Frank since it's about engaging a human being as a human being rather than as an object. Wood plays Frank mostly by voice. He sounds nervous and timid so much of the time, and yet the people he's talking to don't sense his perpetual unease. I wonder if this was a function of POV, and I also wonder what Frank's facial expressions must have looked like. To someone who's always uncomfortable in his own skin, maybe he'd think his own voice was always on edge. Wood was on set every day, with the director of photography constantly over his shoulder. Since it's a second set of eyes rather than Wood's own, the POV doesn't quite play out just like we normally observe things -- the jittery way we look back and forth isn't there, and it's hard to perfectly convey how we can look at one thing but really be paying attention to something else in the periphery. I think those slips are made up for in the way Khalfoun invests most of the shots with Frank's character. It's hard for me to give Maniac a score that really reflects the experience of watching it. The film is effectively dark from beginning to end, and it's more disturbing than it is scary. It doesn't consistently hit the same high water mark of characterization as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but that might be because it paints a much different picture than that film. This one's uglier and fueled by unending self-loathing. Maniac is probably what Frank sees every time he looks in the mirror.
Maniac Review photo
First-person psycho killer
Last year I reviewed a Romanian film called Best Intentions (Din dragoste cu cele mai bune intentii). In that film, director Adrian Sitaru told much of the story from the point of view of side characters. The problem was that...

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Trailer: Maniac (UK)


Elijah Wood could use a bloody Valentine today
Feb 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Valentine's Day can be a lonely time for many people. Maybe no one knows that better than Elijah Wood's character in Franck Khalfoun's remake of Maniac. In this UK trailer for the film, we get a glimpse into his life as a si...
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The first six minutes of Maniac starring Elijah Wood


Dec 28
// Hubert Vigilla
Here are the first six minutes to Franck Khalfoun's remake of Maniac, starring Elijah Wood. Our own Nick Valdez hasn't seen the clip but asked if Wood is dancing like he's never danced before. Well, if by "dancing" you mean ...
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International Trailer: Maniac (NSFW)


He used to be such a sweet hobbit
Nov 06
// Thor Latham
Just to reiterate the warning, this trailer is NSFW and I have also been told it spoils some of the film's best scenes by just throwing them right into your face, so if you want to see it with innocent eyes I suggest you mov...
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Red Band Trailer: Maniac


May 25
// Alex Katz
We posted a truncated, crap quality version of this trailer last week, and let me tell you something, after watching the full, heavily NSFW trailer you see above, I am definitely intrigued by this remake of Maniac ...
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Trailer: Maniac


May 17
// Hubert Vigilla
Here's a little tease of the forthcoming remake of Maniac, directed by Franck Khalfoun and starring Elijah Wood. (Alexandre Aja is also a co-writer and producer on the film.) It's NSFW due to some nudity, but giving it a wat...
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Elijah Wood gets maniacal in the Maniac remake


May 11
// Hubert Vigilla
You may remember some news from last year that Elijah Wood was starring in a remake of Maniac, the 1980 gorefest from William Lustig. We also brought you set photos from the Maniac remake, with Wood getting maniac-y. Now the ...
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I think it was called "The Piano That Couldn't Slow Down"


May 02
// Cecilia Razak
Pop quiz, hot shot. There's a bomb in a grand piano. If the concert pianist goes below an allegro, the bomb explodes. What do you do? Elijah Wood has reportedly signed onto star in a new thriller from writer Damien Chazelle a...
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Elijah Wood is the lead in the remake of Maniac


Nov 07
// Hubert Vigilla
A casting choice so crazy it just might work, Elijah Wood is set to star in a remake of the grim slasher/serial killer movie Maniac. French actress Nora Arnezeder will co-star as the object of his depraved desires. The s...

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