A man discovers that he’s a wolf. Hey, it happens.
But The Wolfman’s first problem is how long it takes him to discover it. Lawrence Talbot, a 19th-century American stage actor, returns to his troubled family life in England after his brother goes missing. Relations are strained further with his father and brother’s fiancée after Talbot contracts lycanthropy. “Never look back, Lawrence,” his father advises. “The past is a wilderness of horrors.” So is the present, it turns out.
Of the few good choices a rotating production team made in The Wolfman, the best was casting Benicio Del Toro in the title role.
The same reasonable principle that’s driven so many movies applies to The Wolfman: Certain actors just ought to get the chance to play werewolves. Henry Hull more or less blew his in 1935’s Werewolf in London, but Lon Chaney Jr. nailed it so well in 1941’s The Wolf Man that an archetype, not to mention a perennially merchandisable Universal Studios property, was born. So now there’s The Wolfman. Now the archetype, not to mention the perennially merchandisable Universal Studios property, is in Benicio Del Toro’s grotesque, furry hands.
The rest of the casting is good in theory, with Anthony Hopkins as the distant father, Emily Blunt the brother’s fiancée, and Hugo Weaving as the determined Scotland Yard inspector on Talbot’s tail. (Does he have a tail?) But then again, good casting may have come to mind when Mike Nichols cast Jack Nicholson in 1994’s Wolf. Or maybe you hadn’t thought about Nicholson in ’94 at all, because that episode had gone quietly from memory, which should tell you how well it went over in the first place.
Director Joe Johnston doesn’t necessarily know about the things that have made other werewolf movies great—namely, men and their urges—because he’s used to making films like Jurassic Park III and Jumanji. And because he wasn’t even The Wolfman’s original director. Yes, it was a troubled production, with crew replacements, release postponements, redesigns, reshoots, and now a real air of resignation.
As Talbot, Del Toro is best in the wordless close-ups, when peering out from under those eyebrows or otherwise going through the Wolfman motions: brooding, morphing, hurting, howling. He’s less convincing when speaking, partly because the lines aren’t so convincing either. Screenwriters Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self have paid their respects to Curt Siodmak’s 1941 original, The Wolf Man, but apparently haven’t decided whether go with camp or reverence—whether men and their urges even matter anymore.
All that’s left are a sooty old England apparently on loan from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, a few cheap thrills lurking within Shelly Johnson’s underlit cinematography and Danny Elfman’s overbearing score, and the sad fact that the archetype has been reduced to the wrong kind of howler.
Nashville singer-songwriter Guy Gilchrist has enjoyed a very colorful career—literally. An accomplished illustrator, Gilchrist got his first big break when Jim Henson hired him (along with brother Brad) onto The Muppets comic strip creative team. In 1995, he took over the popular American
For Lily Erb, art mirrors life—but only to a certain extent. The Charlottesville-born and -based artist creates large steel sculptures, most lately composed of numerous steel rods bent into gentle, repetitive curves, then spray-painted in bright, jovial colors. She calls her style “abstract
There are two types of people who will find something of value in the EDM apologia We Are Your Friends: GoPro oversharers who post hours of vapid, slow-motion footage to Vimeo, and sad bros who lament that “Entourage” never had a Coachella episode. Certainly, there is a worthy story somewhere
En plein air, a French expression meaning open air, is used to describe the act of painting outdoors. Artist Meg West prefers the form, the environmental immersion and challenge that comes with it. Living in Virginia, she says she benefits from being able to “breathe, see and experience the
High quality music gets local exposure for the 16th year at the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival. Co-founding musicians Timothy Summers and Raphael Bell bring familiar names and rising stars from across the globe to perform around town in a broad program of modern and classical works
As the school year gets underway, a group of artists from the McGuffey Art Center is hitting the books. Or rather, they’re cutting, sewing, painting and otherwise transforming books as part of a new exhibition at UVA’s Arthur J. Morris Law Library. Titled “Discarded,” the show draws its name
Hospitals aren’t exactly known as hubs of creative engagement. Yet the trend of visual art in hospitals is on the rise thanks to studies that show scientific links between patients, art and lowered stress levels. While Charlottesville may have yet to see the type of full-fledged contemporary
She writes about it, she teaches it and more importantly she lives it. Jazz pianist and educator Monika Herzig leads an all-female lineup featuring veteran flutist Jamie Baum, along with Israeli-American musicians Reut Regev on trombone and Adi Myerson on bass, and Nashville-based drummer
As if there were any doubt, the age of the comic book movie is here to stay, having embedded its logic and narrative rhythms so deeply in our psyche that even a wholly original, self-contained story like American Ultra cannot help but play like an attempt to introduce yet another franchise.
With the 2013 hit single “Chillin’ It,” Cole Swindell went from a tiny town celebrity to a growing star. He got his first break in Nashville by writing tracks for his Sigma Chi brother Luke Bryan and went on to pen tunes for Thomas Rhett and Scotty McCreery. When Swindell began to write and
Ann Gordon recognized that it was pretty sketchy downtown after hours. Her children later came to call it “wino safari-land.” She walked there with them sometimes during the 1970s. “There were strange derelict people,” she recalls, “and a men-only bar at The Brass Rail. There was a flop house,
Last weekend marked the annual ritual of the UVA undergraduates move-in, when students and parents haul semester survival gear from SUVs to dorm rooms. This year, the weekend also celebrated a move of a different kind—one with less heavy lifting but far more gusto. On Saturday, New City Arts
When Fräulein Maria was assigned as the governess to the seven von Trapp children she transformed the entire family through song, managing to unfreeze the coldest of hearts. At The Sound of Music sing-along, attendees are encouraged to use their complimentary fun pack containing props for use
Noah Gundersen Carry the Ghost/Dualtone Records Carry the Ghost is an apt title for Noah Gundersen’s latest collection of songs: Some would give up the ghost, but he’d rather figure out why it’s there in the first place. And while this does not make for an overly pleasant record, there is
Named after a bar in Florida that inspired Jimmy Buffet to write his songs, local cover band Full Moon Saloon is gaining notoriety and stacking up the gigs, including a recent Fridays After Five appearance. Since forming in 2000, FMS has had Parrotheads and reggae fans alike eating out of its
Inspired, electric and full of the same rawly honed talent that drove its subjects to their creative heights, if Straight Outta Compton were the last musical biopic ever made, it would have been worth suffering through all of the perfunctory crap the genre has produced in the past. Where most
It took Victor Captain more than 12 months, a brand new birth certificate and his first flight on an airplane to bring his artwork to Charlottesville. “When I got to New York, my nose was like stuff, stuff, stuff. There was no clean air to breathe,” says Captain. He says it with a smile and
If you only know one thing about the Virginia Arts of the Book Center, it’s probably that its tagline is “Beneath The Art Box.” This hints at the rich history of underground presses but also provides a literal reminder to help geolocate the community printmaking studio in its off-the-radar
Briana Marela All Around Us/ Jagjaguwar This is a beauty of a record. Abstract, ambient and guided by a first-rate vocalist and songwriter who makes All Around Us a stunner. Deliciously paradoxical, the album manages to sound explosive and subtle all at once, its exploration of relationships in
Alt-country singer-songwriter Drew Gibson proves that home is where his heart is on the new album, 1532. Drawing on family history, the finger-picking guitarist proves his talent as a storyteller though a mosaic of memorable events turned into song. The tracks convey the hardships in Gibson’s