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Filmism.net Dispatch November 6, 2011

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What do we want to see on movie screens? Something we've never seen before. And for movies to do that outside straight drama, genres have to evolve.

It seems easy in horror, which has reinvented itself through one fad after another during the last 50 years. Movies like The House on Haunted Hill (1959) only needed a skeleton walking by itself and a crazy old lady with wild hair skulking around. In the 70s and 80s somebody thought up films like Zombie Flesh Eaters and Driller Killer. More recently the Saw guys thought up torture porn movement.

I'm not sure if it's as easy to do in action movies. Once upon a time two guys having a swordfight was action enough, which is why we think of Captain Blood as a swashbuckler. The 80s was the birth of the modern action genre thanks to the Stallones and Schwarzeneggers of the world, but the style couldn't stay forever. John McTiernan wiped the slate clean with Die Hard (1988), a bombastic film with an audacious sense of spectacle.

After that we saw a hundred 'terrorists take over a...' movies and (like the career Steven Seagal made out of the movement, Under Siege et al) it got old quickly. There doesn't seem many more directions action can go without getting too big and descending into self-satire, but it looks like Brad Bird, JJ Abrams and Tom Cruise have it right with Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. Watch the trailer here.

I looks like it's full of the sort of thrills that made Die Hard so cool and such a hit, a real sense of scope and daring and most importantly of all, ideas we've never seen before.

If you're in the mod for something a little slower that gets under your skin, don't go past the skin crawling power of Australia's recent serial killer drama, Snowtown. Just like with Wolf Creek, you'll need a shower soon after.

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