Movie News

Mr. Beaks And Richard Kelly Rummage Through THE BOX!

Published at: Nov. 6, 2009, 4:39 a.m. CST

When I chatted with Richard Kelly several months ago, I walked away with the impression that THE BOX was going to be a smart, but largely conventional suspense flick based on Richard Matheson's super-short story "Button, Button". I was cool with this, but what I really wanted was a return to the unsettling ambiguity of DONNIE DARKO (the theatrical cut). I wanted to return to the his subtle nightmare vision of suburbia, which dragged early-80s Spielberg into the demented zip code of Lynch's BLUE VELVET. THE BOX may not be a return to that kind of form for Kelly, but it's definitely an intriguing aesthetic push-pull in its own right. It's a little like watching a 70s-era Disney movie directed by Alan J. Pakula. Just when you think the film is setting up to be an easily-digested, desperate-times parable (in which a good-hearted family conquers the evil forces out to destroy them), Kelly veers into the realm of the paranoid thriller. Add in a Bernard Herrmann-esque score from the Arcade Fire brain trust of Win Butler and RĂ©gine Chassagne (with Owen Pallett), and the mood quickly grows darker. THE BOX is about decent people rudely confronted with a life-altering proposition (push a button, earn $1 million at the expense of a complete stranger's life) - and when they compromise (in a moment of extreme weakness), their punishment is anything but swift. As I learned in our last interview, THE BOX is a very personal film for Kelly. The mother and father characters, played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. are loosely based on his parents, while the 1970s Virginia setting is a callback to the director's youth. For reasons that he won't definitively articulate, Kelly is paying homage to his childhood with an unsettlingly dark science-fiction yarn. There's something gnawing at this prodigiously gifted filmmaker (visually, this is his most polished work to date), and I hope he never tells us what it is. The less he explains, the better. Kelly and I both arrived early for our interview, so we killed some time talking about movies and the precarious state of independent film distribution. After briefly discussing the cinema of Gaspar Noe and Lars von Trier, we moved on to the TWILIGHT series. Ergo, when the time came to start interrogatin', I led with this...

Mr. Beaks: We're living in a TWILIGHT world now, right? When are you going to throw your hat in the ring to direct one of these things?

Richard Kelly: (Laughs) How many are there going to be?

Beaks: Five? I'm not sure. The third one's got a director...

Kelly: They've wrapped, haven't they?

Beaks: I believe so. But the fourth film is still out there for the taking.

Kelly: Well... wow. I don't even know if they would ever be interested in someone like me. I'm certainly keeping an open mind. I've never had a more open mind than I do right now, having made three movies that are all very personal and straight from my bone marrow. Now, more than ever, I think I'm open to doing something that isn't an original or that's something from another script. I'm just trying to keep my mind open to any possibilities that might present themselves. (Laughs)

Beaks: Well done. Before coming here, I read Amy Taubin's review of THE BOX. And I agree with her when she says the film stays with you long after you've left the theater. A lot of this is due to your refusal to make this a simple parable ala "Button, Button". I'm honestly not sure what you want us to think by the end of the film. And this is actually true of all three of your films. You enjoy inducing cognitive dissonance.

Kelly: It's a constant, ongoing discussion. I'm always trying to be more accessible. And that was certainly a very specific agenda with this film: trying to reach a wider audience while trying to hold on to the way I like to tell stories. I wanted to make a film that, like DONNIE DARKO, knocks you for a loop and leaves you with your head spinning, but sticks in your mind and leaves you wanting to revisit it and experience it again to search for more clarity. It's trying to have the best of both worlds. The last thing I want to do is make a film that is so crystal clear that there's never any point to discussing it again. (Laughs) Like, "I got it! Delete from system and move on." It's a balancing act of trying to connect with enough people to where they're saying, "Okay. I got it, but I'm still thinking about it." It's an ongoing discussion, and I'm definitely aware of it. We certainly tried with this film to, particularly in the conclusion... it draws itself back into the emotional intimacy of what this film was ultimately about, which is this husband and wife and their child. It's a microcosm of the nuclear family. That is what has been put in the crosshairs by Mr. Steward and his employers. It was trying to find a way to make sure that we were able to hopefully create a conclusion that people will have a strong emotional connection to, one way or another. If we can succeed in doing that, the greater debate of some of the more complex science-fiction in Act Two, that can be discussed. But the hope was to make sure that we were arriving at a conclusion that had a very specific emotional statement. (Pause) It's so hard to discuss this without giving away the ending. (Laughs)

Beaks: I know. I've interviewed you three times for this film, and I was really excited for today because I've finally seen it. But then I was like, "Oh, wait. We still can't discuss the ending." I had this same problem with WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. That's not a spoiler-laden film, but I didn't want to talk about my emotional reaction to the final shot of the film. I felt like if I did, I'd be cheating our readers out of having their own emotional response. But, you know, it's rare that I get to have these kinds of discussions with people who've made a film at a studio. And I'm beginning to think it's not a coincidence that these films have been made at one particular studio: Warner Bros.

Kelly: Yeah.

Beaks: Of course, every studio is going to give you notes and try push you in a more commercial direction, but it seems that Warner Bros. is willing to take a chance on letting the artist be an artist.

Kelly: I ultimately ended up having a terrific experience at Warner Bros., and got to make exactly the movie I wanted to make. I actually figured out a way - and I say this with complete sincerity - to enjoy the notes process. You can fight it and let it drive you crazy - because you get good notes and not-so-good notes. But you can find a way to incorporate the good notes in a way that's from your own sensibility. They're suggesting, "Why don't you try this?" but you figure out a way to address their concern in a different way. It's like a tennis match, and lobbing the ball back in a constructive way that you feel good about. The good news is that the studio understood the story. They agreed on the ending. It was just about fine-tuning the path in different places - and trying to answer enough questions where we felt like we were safely in the realm of acceptability in terms of it not going too far or becoming unnatural or a betrayal of what the essence of the story was supposed to be. I'm very thankful to Mr. Matheson for coming up with this idea. It's absurd and mischevous; it almost feels like it comes from ancient myth. We had our blessing from Mr. Matheson, and I think the studio saw that and understood fundamentally that it is an idea that can be sold. I'm grateful for that.

Beaks: You say all of your films are personal. When you're going from the heart, can you still step outside and examine the film as a random audience member?

Kelly: That's a challenge that every filmmaker faces: holding on to your objectivity. It's particularly challenging with a film like this, which I have a strong attachment to. Given the personal nature of the material, and the historical references in the film, I have a responsibility to the events at NASA. I also have a responsibility to my parents. Hopefully, I've introduced fiction into the equation in a way that's respectable and not a betrayal. I definitely at times found myself so emotionally attached to the film, I almost had to take a step back and rely on my colleagues and partners - who I really trust - to make sure we were in good shape. Sometimes it's tough, also, when you have a huge amount of additional material that you've shot - because we had a three-hour rough cut with this movie. When I found out that the rough cut was three hours, I wanted to jump off a building. I was like, "How am I going to get this down to [115 minutes]?" Because I knew I had to get to 1.55; that was etched in stone. And I was just scared that I wouldn't be able to get it to 1.55 in the correct way, where we ended up losing something that we should've kept. But at the end of the day, we found ourselves there, and I think we wound up with the best possible result. It took a bit longer than we thought, just because we had so much material and the CGI on Langella's face. You can't start finishing CGI until the picture is locked, because you can't say, "Oh, we don't need this scene." It's like, "The money's been spent. It's burned. It's gone." That ended up stretching everything out. It's kind of like running a marathon. Editing a film is always the most difficult part of the process for me. I'm trying to get better at that so that it isn't so difficult - because it's supposed to be the most fun part. Everything's finished and you're hanging around in a room. But I've talked to a lot of directors [who say] it somehow becomes excruciating. The best metaphor I can use is Laurence Fishburne in [THE MATRIX] with those two electrodes attached to his head: Hugo Weaving is bitch slapping him, and he's just trying to keep his shit together. (Laughs) That's sometimes how it feels when you're editing a film. I think now, having gotten through the third film, that it'll get easier because I think I'll try to get a handle... I don't ever want to have a three-hour rough cut again. That's too much material. A lot of it was terrific stuff. We covered our bases so much - and that was good because we had no reshoots. There was not one day of additional photography on THE BOX. That's good. It means we did our job, and we had so much to choose from. It's a blessing sometimes, because we didn't have to go and spend that money and put it into CGI or something else - in your contingency, you always have that money set aside for additional photography. But it's essential for me to try to continue to get better, to try to continue to make my job... more fun. That doesn't mean I won't continue to work my ass off, but try to make yourself such a well-trained athlete so that you can really... I look at it like tennis. Like becoming a really great tennis player.

Beaks: So there's no wasted motion? Is that the idea?

Kelly: And so you can anticipate everything, all of the different balls being hit. Sometimes being a director is like hitting against one of those ball machines cranked up to ten. I'm always trying to get better as a director. For me, there's a comfort zone knowing that you're with a studio, because they're your partner. They're going to release your movie. To have a studio on board from the beginning, it makes me feel a lot more comfortable.

Beaks: This three-hour rough cut, was that due to the length of the script?

Kelly: We ended up adding a lot of additional scenes just in case. We were shooting digitally, so... there was more discussion between Arthur and Norma before they push the button - so much to the point where we'd shot way too much of it. That was the big thing: getting to the button push at minute twenty-four. That was a big discussion in the edit. Should it happen earlier? Should it happen in minute twelve? And that was too early. You need to see them vet the offer. You need to see them think about it. Otherwise, it makes them look bad; it makes them look selfish. There were also a couple of action set pieces that we cut out of the film that were really well done and effective. For the library sequence where Arthur goes through the water coffin, we shot this whole chase scene where he ends up getting teleported to this underground NASA laboratory, and these guys follow him through. It was like an endurance test they were putting him through to find the different paths of enlightenment in these towers of water. We spent a day shooting it, and it's really fun and suspenseful with jump-out-your-seat scares. Arthur's hiding sort of cat-and-mouse in this warehouse full of boxes. He finally outruns them, and then he ends up in bed with his wife drenched in water. At the same time, Norma's having this huge dream sequence, which is big and visual, where she sees her son suspended over this massive pit. It's really surreal stuff. But it had a bunch of CGI, so it was never really finished. That library sequence could be about four minutes longer, but that stuff never survived to the complete CGI pass. It kept getting put aside because a) audiences had a hard time understanding what it was without the finished CGI, and b) they didn't understand why he was being chased. We thought we needed a big action set piece in the middle of the movie - and it was really hard to cut it. But, ultimately, people were more interested in the intimate, emotional stuff; the emotional crisis for Arthur and Norma. So this expensive set piece got removed. There was another big set piece toward the end, where they end up in a padded room - it's actually still in the trailer. They wake up in this padded room, and then they walk out into this massive facility that looks like something from a James Bond movie. It's this big location we found in Boston. But, ultimately, it was more that kind of traditional action set piece, psychological-endurance-test kind of stuff that doesn't add much to the story other than more thrills and action. It just makes the film longer. If that stuff went back in the movie, it would be six to eight minutes longer. But it just wasn't necessary to tell the most important part of the story, which was [Arthur and Norma's] journey. But you do spend a lot of time having big debates about that stuff. The editorial process is very emotional and time consuming.

Beaks: Were any of these jettisoned scenes scored?

Kelly: Yes. It's funny: Win and Regine loved the chase, but it kept going in and out of the movie. So they were finally like, "You know what? We're going to score it anyway." Just in case there's ever a longer version of the movie, they scored the whole thing. [Kelly and I now go into a spoiler-heavy discussion of a cue from the end of the film. Basically, I thought a certain piece of music ended abruptly (not in a bad way), and wondered if there was more to that scene. Kelly said there wasn't.]

Beaks: That's interesting. Obviously, I love their score.

Kelly: The band pretty much had final say over how their score was edited. And I was more than comfortable allowing them that. When I cut their score in, Win had a few notes, and Regine had a few notes, but I was more than fine with their notes because they understood the story so well. It was the easiest collaboration. They actually helped keep me sane and emotionally grounded throughout the whole process. They were an extra set of eyes. The saw twelve or fourteen cuts of the movie, and they were constantly there to give me thoughts about the cut. They were really helpful.

Beaks: But if they had final say on how the music was cut, doesn't that mean they had some say on how the actual film was cut?

Kelly: That was something I promised them. I said, "Don't worry. I know you're signing contracts here, but, as a filmmaker, I promise you that you're going to be happy with how the score is cut. And if you're not, let me know." I trusted them with that. And at the end of the day, we were on the same page. We maybe had a short little debate here or there, but I trusted them. It's their music. They understand how to deliver, and they understand story. It was a very specific collaboration with people I have so much respect for as artists. This was not a traditional composer-for-hire situation. It was something where they invested a lot of their time and energy into creating this specific kind of music. They were really proud of it. And they just wanted to make sure that it was used and edited properly - and I don't blame them.

Beaks: So are they film buffs?

Kelly: Mm-hm.

Beaks: Could you, like, reference a cue from a specific Hitchcock film and know they'd pick up on it?

Kelly: When I met Win backstage after their show in September of 2007, before we'd started shooting, I handed him a script and a CD of Bernard Herrmann's VERTIGO. I was like, "If you get a chance, try to read it." I didn't expect to hear back from him; I figured it was just a long shot. But he called me the next day and said, "Regine and I read the script, and we had a really strong emotional connection to it. We think this could be really cool. Keep in touch." So when I wrapped, I sent them the rough cut. I don't think I sent them the three-hour rough cut, because... (Laughs) and that was really an assembly. I shouldn't say "rough cut".

Beaks: It was your "chaos draft".

Kelly: It was the "Talking Fox cut". The "Chaos Reigns assembly". (Laughs) But I think I sent them the two-hour, twenty-five-minute cut. Then they did twelve demos, and they were like, "If you don't like the demos, tell us you don't like them now because we're not going to keep going." And the demos were fantastic; they were so on the money. And then it was just about getting to the finish line, and making sure they were protected. At the end of the day, it was something everyone was happy with. This was not a regular composer-for-hire job. This was a massive collaboration with an additional artist that had a significant amount of power - which I helped facilitate. They had creative control.

Beaks: Without you giving up control of the film?

Kelly: Right. Normally, when you sign a deal with a studio, they can use the score to sell vacuum cleaners with CGI cartoon characters and dead people; they can score a theme-park ride with it. We wanted to make sure that was not the case ever with their music. I was more than happy to give them as much creative control as possible. And the score will get released at some point. Right now, they have a new album coming out, so their record label doesn't want to be throwing something else into the marketplace. I think they're going to put the score out in conjunction with the Blu-ray/DVD release, but I'm not sure. That's why I did the prequel music-video thing on YouAreTheExperiment.com. I just wanted to get the music out there, and give people a little taste of it. But they really want people to discover the music as part of the theatrical experience. There's something exciting about having to go to the theater to hear the score, as opposed to just having it on iTunes. You'll be able to get it on iTunes later on. That's actually a really cool philosophy that I agree with them on. Because the music score business has become such a boutique thing. I don't know of any studio or record label right now that's excited about releasing a film score. The expense of releasing it doesn't even balance out with the income. It's sad, because I love film scores. I have them on my iPod. It's some of my favorite music. I wish there were more people who felt that way.

Beaks: So did they use 70s instrumentation?

Kelly: Yes. The score was recorded over four days in Toronto. It was two days of strings, a day of brass, and a day of percussion. It was recorded at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in downtown Toronto, and all of the musicians were obviously classically trained. But there was a specific style that they were going for: they wanted it to sound very vintage and raw; they wanted the strings to sound rough around the edges. And they didn't want everything to sound all glossy and... computer smoothed-out.

Beaks: They didn't want Pro Tools.

Kelly: Right. They wanted it to sound like a vintage 1970s score. And a lot of the additional instruments that were used were very specific to the 1970s. They used a lot of Mellotron and stuff like that.

Beaks: If I were to place the score anywhere in Herrmann's oeuvre, I'd say it's definitely reflective of his 1970s collaborations with Scorsese and De Palma.

Kelly: Yes. Definitely.

Beaks: And you've also replaced the parable feel of Matheson's story with that 1970s paranoia. More than any other film, THE BOX reminds me of Philip Kaufman's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

Kelly: Yeah. That and THE PARALLAX VIEW. Any film that involved government paranoia or conspiracies, like THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, where you felt like there was someone watching you. It all comes back to an era in which surveillance was more dependent on human beings than computers. Now, it's a bunch of geeks sitting in a control room with a joystick.

Beaks: It's ENEMY OF THE STATE!

Kelly: (Laughs) Yeah. We're much more isolated by our technology. There are probably cameras on us right now. There's something about the technology in the modern era that's made us feel safer. There's obviously paranoia that still exists, but...

Beaks: We're accustomed to it.

Kelly: It's almost like that line from the "Gummy De Milo" episode from THE SIMPSONS, where Homer is accused of sexual harassment for grabbing the candy [off the rear end] of the babysitter, and perverted Groundskeeper Willie is hiding in the bushes with his video camera. At the end of the episode, Marge says, "As long as everyone's running around videotaping everyone else, justice will be served." (Laughs) It's one of the many prophetic lines of THE SIMPSONS; maybe if everything is on camera, we won't be so paranoid. But at the same time, there's an extra level of paranoia. Everything you say or do can be photographed and kept on record. So this movie, with its button unit and very simple conceit, could only work in the era in which it was written.

Beaks: As you said earlier, the nuclear family is under attack in this film. And as in DONNIE DARKO, the family in THE BOX is a good, happy family. Everyone loves each other. And, for whatever reason, there are outside forces trying to destroy that. This is a recurring theme in your work. Is there something that bothers you about the demise of the traditional nuclear family?

Kelly: It's troubling. And those forces have only gotten stronger, the forces that can tear a family apart. We're so much more fragmented as a society; there are so many technologies that pull us away from each other. In DARKO we did a late 80s family, and in THE BOX we did a 70s family. And in 1976, there is no way a young Walter would say anything as vulgar as the stuff we hear in the dinner scene from DARKO. But in the twelve years that passed between the two movies, there was a huge cultural shift. And now, in 2009, there are kids looking at porn under the table on their iPhones - and their parents probably don't even know about it. (Laughs) It just continues to shift. I could make dozens and dozens of films about the nuclear family. In THE BOX, we really tried to put it in the crosshairs. And when you get into Act Two, and the bigger conspiracy at work, with all of these people focused on the behavior of one husband and one wife... their decisions could have massive ramifications on the rest of the world. It's actually a blessing to have something that emotionally intimate to focus on at the end of the day. Because when you get to Act Three, you can let all of those other mysteries go and really focus it in on two people and a [redacted 'cuz it's a huge honkin' spoiler]. That's actually what I'm most interested in. I want to know if people think Arthur made the right choice. That's a big ethical question. And then all of the evidence to support that choice from before. Was he given enough clues? I actually think the film has a fairly optimistic conclusion.

Beaks: That's interesting. I disagree.

Kelly: But I really do. I mean, they take the [sorry, see the movie].

Beaks: Huh. I certainly had a different take on that final shot.

Kelly: That's good. It's open to interpretation.



As it should be. THE BOX opens wide on November 6th, 2009. Check it out. Faithfully submitted, Mr. Beaks

Readers Talkback

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  • Nov. 6, 2009, 4:54 a.m. CST

    Sounds good

    by jackalcack

    Up for seeing this

  • and the Dark Rooms version, and the Nighthawks version and the New Twilight Zone version, and the Outer Limits version, all of which were pretty much the same with the same "twist" ending... is it worth watching this stretched and drawn out 3 hour version of a 4 page story?

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 5:03 a.m. CST

    V'Shael

    by mrbeaks

    The rough assemblage was three hours. The theatrical cut is 115 minutes. And, yes, it's worth seeing (in my opinion) because it takes the story in a completely different direction.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 5:24 a.m. CST

    Darko: the directors cut

    by mynamesdan

    Masturbation with no limits.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 5:34 a.m. CST

    The film is cancer

    by Paulseta

    and there's no cure for that.<P> Actually, it's really fucking unbelievably awful - worst part being that Reckless Kelly here has given producer interference a good name with Darko... and we all know that's like the one guy who got net points that paid on a movie. <P> It happens, it's rare, and oh my God you don't want it to be an example for others.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 6:41 a.m. CST

    Thanks Mr. Beaks

    by V'Shael

    If I had paid to sit through just another retelling of the same story, I'd have been peeved.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 7:16 a.m. CST

    Crapola

    by Djamdjean

    That's what's in The Box. This movie is going to blow chunks.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 7:18 a.m. CST

    ENTER THE VOID

    by craaayz

    Mannn i can't wait to see that movie. Gonna be trippy. Was that what the Noe conversation was about?

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 7:39 a.m. CST

    Saw this last night...

    by LeCercleRouge

    ..and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. It certainly helps to take the bad taste of "Southland Tales" out of your mouth. There's some great atmosphere here and Langella gives a killer performance. I'd agree with Beaks and say it's worth checking out.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 8:34 a.m. CST

    The Box is great!

    by TheNorthlander

    More adult than Darko, but I miss Darko's great soundtrack, warmth and humor.<p> I'm not sure I agree with the ending of The Box though. Kinda felt like they made the wrong decision.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 9:25 a.m. CST

    What does Spielberg

    by Series7

    Have to do about Blue Velvet?

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 9:26 a.m. CST

    Damn

    by Series7

    None of the critics like anything this weekend.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Terrible

    by FUCKYOUBEAKS

    Another asskissing bore of an interview by Beaksy. Kelly is a "prodigiously gifted filmmaker"? Only a retard like you could say something like that about the asshole who wrote Domino and is responsible for Southland Tales. <p>Either this idiot sells the cheapest cocaine or he gives the best head in Hollywood, there's not many more possible reasons for him to have a career. One can only hope that this shitfest bombs so bad that he isn't allowed near a studio in any capacity any more.<p> And you seriously want us to believe that you discussed Gaspar Noe and Lars von Trier with him before him expressing his desire to direct the next Twilight movie, that whore? And that part of the interview just spontanely self-incinerated so you sadly couldn't post it? Really, Beaksy, i only want your best, so please listen to my advice: Fuck off.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 10:37 a.m. CST

    Southland Tales was fucking great!

    by Azlam Orlandu

    I'm kidding. That film almost made me disregard the love I have for Richard over Donnie Darko. I'm glad you got your film made, bro. But you used up your one turn pretty quick. Start kicking out some quality or you're donefore.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 11:18 a.m. CST

    2nd worst film I've seen this year

    by Hafsol

    When the ending of the short story happened 40 minutes into this film I knew I was in for a bad one. I would have liked it to have stayed as a morality tale but instead Kelly tried to make it fit into his world and failed. I honestly see what he was trying to do but it just didn't work for me. Maybe in years to come I'll be like those critics who hated 2001: A Space Odyssey and frankly I can live with that. But the score is amazing! Cheers to Arcade Fire!

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 11:53 a.m. CST

    does anyone want to explain how he got to make films in the firs

    by mynamesdan

    It's like a high budget student angst art school bullshit end of term project every time. <p> who wants to see this stuff? Drew Barrymore?

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 11:53 a.m. CST

    Hey Beaks, speaking of Where the Wild Things Are...

    by Midnight Thud

    I believe we've just passed the three week marker since it came out, and I was always curious to hear what you thought about the last shot of the film.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 12:02 p.m. CST

    Someone get the hammer and i'll bring the nails...

    by Zardozap2005

    Saw this shitfest last night. Langella is the only good thing in it. But I sort of expected that. The rest is more of the same Kelly drivel you would expect. Darko was a one-hit-wonder for Kelly, cult-wise. The film is a mess and very shoddily edited. Marsden's talent was a wasted in this. Diaz is still great to look at, but really not up for heavier material no matter what she's doing. Perhaps if they made it into a short film and keep the original story intact it might be better, but I doubt even heavy editing could save this one.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 12:15 p.m. CST

    The moveie was fine, quit shitting on it

    by TakeItEasyMon

    The first two thirds were great and quite suspenseful; but the third act is another case of the storytellers revealing just a little bit too much of what's going on. I would like to have known slightly less about Langella's motives, and some of the mystical water 3 paths stuff was unnecessary. If they finished the rest of the movie as tight as the first 80 minutes or so, then this would be quite good.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 12:16 p.m. CST

    "living in a twilight world"

    by Meadowe

    We must be, if seeing kristen stewart screaming like she's never been on her rag before is supposed to be her adjusting to life without her diamond shining boyfriend.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Arcade Fire Score

    by theayatollah

    Was actually a very interesting choice for the music, but it arguably makes me want to watch the film more, especially if it stands out from the Twilight Zone version, which is definitely creepy.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 12:20 p.m. CST

    "looking at porn under the table on their iPhones"

    by Meadowe

    A matrix reference and the gummi di milo reference from the simpsons along with the above quote? (Puts on tin foil hat) this motherf&%%'s looking into my brain!"

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 2:13 p.m. CST

    Please post the full interview

    by LoopyDAVE76

    I've seen the movie and would like to see what Kelly has to say about the ending...

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 2:31 p.m. CST

    Hahahah not screened for critics

    by Series7

    Or at least thats what I heard. <P> I saw the Twilight Zone for this not to long ago, its got Grey's step mom in it as Diaz. And man I wanted to smack the shit out of her like she was a character from Grey's Anatomy.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Awful ending...(minor spoilers)

    by seanny_d

    I found the majority of the movie to be entertaining, but in my opinion the ending just completes a cycle that was set up earlier. To me, the ending was really the most logical outcome of the scenario. One in which the characters were forced into a situation in which they had little choice over their own destinies. In addition to the fact that this final choice was inevitable, making the prior 45 minutes of the movie essentially pointless since they were going to end up at this place regardless of their actions.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 2:39 p.m. CST

    I have the feeling this was to be Kelly's "mainstream"

    by skimn

    film designed to capture a larger audience. I doubt that happening.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 3:02 p.m. CST

    can't wait to see this

    by whateverworks

    hopefully tonight!

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Just saw it....

    by TooWhippy

    Total crap. I didn't give a shit about any of the characters. It was also very boring. Lame movie.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 4:26 p.m. CST

    I saw it. Cameron Diaz should never be allowed on screen

    by lockesbrokenleg

    ever again.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 5:37 p.m. CST

    I'll watch it just for Miss Diaz

    by pumaman

    she's still incredibly sexy

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 6:44 p.m. CST

    What was up with (SPOILERS ahead)...

    by Rocco Curioso

    all the zombie-like people getting bloody noses? That got really tedious after awhile. The movie started OK, but(as has been mentioned)when you put the Big Reveal halfway through, there's no reason to keep your ass planted unless the movie presents some other way to hold your interest. This one didn't. Added to which, you get:<P>1.) Cameron Diaz bringing nothing to the party except a weak attempt at a Southern accent.<P>2.) James Marden, who still believes(going back to X-Men 2)that the best way to express anguish is to screw up your face like you're taking a giant dump.<P>3.) To paraphrase Wayne Campbell, I know this is a small movie... but couldn't they at least get a better child actor? That runt who played their son was annoying as fuck.<P>4.) Frank Langella's catatonic attempt at portraying the Spooky Mysterious Stranger.<P>Give me my money back, Richard Kelly. Or at least stop making movies.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 6:46 p.m. CST

    SOUTHLAND TALES=worse than MANOS

    by reflecto

    Kelly is a hack.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 8 p.m. CST

    Beaks: Any chance of posting the redacted

    by resident01

    comments about the ending a little while after the film comes out? I saw it today and would love to hear yours and Kelly's thoughts about the end.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 10:17 p.m. CST

    I really liked it (SPOILERISH)

    by CherryValance

    There were goofy teenagers talking sometimes so I might have missed a little but I thought it was really good. I don't actually get what happened at the end end. Who was that? And about the decision. I mean he had no choice. Some choices aren't choices and that wasn't one. Even the first decision wasn't really a decision. I mean think about their situation. It's like one of those damn Dancer in the Dark decisions. I like the look of it. The fake 70s thing. I dunno. I'd like to get into but this probably isn't the time. We'll wait.

  • Nov. 6, 2009, 11:22 p.m. CST

    I liked it.

    by LastOfTheV8Interceptors

    Still can't figure out how a movie that didn't hammer me over the head with needless exposition made it through the system still intact. It felt good to see something enigmatic for a change. I might just see it again before it leaves the theaters... and the score was excellent.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 12:50 a.m. CST

    This guy does't have what it take to cut it.

    by GQtaste

    In better hands it could have turned out better but w/ a hack it's a piece of shit.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Kelly's smug shit eating grin

    by TheApostle

    In every picture I see of Kelly he has a smug shit eating grin on his face... but he's never smiling. Weird.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 12:55 p.m. CST

    I think you people are forgetting one thing about Richard Kelly

    by Sick Fixx

    He made Donnie Darko. How you can jump on the 'calling him a hack bandwagon' suddenly is beyond me.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 2:29 p.m. CST

    RICHARD MOTHER-FUCKING-KELLY!

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    (spoilers fuckers!!)Hey, the film was good. Obviosuly, thanks to Kelly, it's definitely over-crammed with information and not exactly the easiest to follow(but extrmely more mainstream in it's own film logic than his prvious efforts).And,There's so many little details, i wish we (the audience) could see more of ( such as the very Donnie-Darkoish book that they revel in the 3rd act). But, I write jsut to clear something up. So, basically-the bad guy is an alien.And basically, he's just here to test the merit of mankind and determine whether or not we're worth saving.correct? And one more thing. The cop-relative...he had pushed the button too, no? Becuase when asked bout the party, he gloats that he "didn't pay for the party". Or was he possessed by the aline dude, too?

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 3:21 p.m. CST

    idrinkyourmilkshake___SPOILERS ON

    by the new transported man

    Just watched it too, I pretty much concur. The "vessel" was conducting his experiments to test mankind, yes, but the pickle is that his actions were equally just as immoral as those of the test subjects. Also, this could be just a plot contrivance, but the button-pushing of the next couple coincided perfectly with Norma & Arthur's conclusion, which kinda implies determinism. Or it could have been just symbolic. Not sure about Norma's dad, but considering how all of the dialogue serves some purpose, now I have to wonder about it. Hopefully they'll do a Donnie Darko-type expansion or Director's Cut.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 3:24 p.m. CST

    also

    by the new transported man

    The score was great, & the overall art direction ruled. That wind tunnel set was tops.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 4:22 p.m. CST

    THE BOX II! - THE BOXER!!

    by lockesbrokenleg

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 4:29 p.m. CST

    Spoil it for me. How does it end?

    by ShabbyBlue

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 5:32 p.m. CST

    ShabbyBlue

    by the new transported man

    Neo & Trinity die & the matrix is rebooted.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 6:26 p.m. CST

    god what a piece of shit movie

    by phoenixmagida5th

    I took a date to it last night. Hated donnie darko hated southland tales but id figure id give richard kelly another shot and we were both sooo bored. The premise is cool and the first half hour is captivating then it all goes to hell with the god or alines explanation of what the box is booooring.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 7:27 p.m. CST

    the new transported man

    by CherryValance

    (major spoilers) That's what I meant about the choices not being choices. Being an alien who could make people blind he also had to know their situation. Besides he could probably just find that out through normal routes. So she needs money for her operation, he's not going to be an astronaut, she also is no longer getting her tuition reimbursement stuff so they kinda had to push the button. I'll assume the couple that pushed the button on them were probably in a bad situation too. And then the end decision James Marsden's character had to make at the end was also no decision at all. It's like making people feel bad for trying to do right by their family when they probably never would have done it if you hadn't given them that option in their darkest hour. That's how God is. Just like that mean Martian.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 8:03 p.m. CST

    Good movie. Prob needed to be 90 minutes and not two hours tho.

    by knowthyself

    Still a very good movie.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 9:58 p.m. CST

    Cherry Valance

    by the new transported man

    Yeah, even though R. Kelly (!) is reliably detailed, insofar that every bit of dialogue or plot should have relevance, it's fairly possible that some of these items might just be missteps in service of the plot. Like you don't absolutely need to know the innerworkings of the Vessel to tell a story about moral dilemmas & paranormal experiments on humankind, so it takes a backseat. More insight into the Vessel & experiment would have served the story well.

  • Nov. 7, 2009, 10 p.m. CST

    Rummage through the box...

    by cheyne_stoking_DMS

    thats what she said.

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 7:40 a.m. CST

    Every time this movie tried to be chilling and atmospheric

    by CreasyBear

    it ended up being laughable. So many examples, but my favorite (and most irritatingly inept) being the slackjawed zombie sauntering across the backyard window. All the mind control people scenes were nothing but awkwardly funny. Same for the ridiculously over-the-top piano and strings score that was trying to be moody and evocative but was just plain annoying. And when the husband is so on-the-nose with his "Yes, but what is it to truly know someone?" Wow. Laughably bad. This movie ranks way down there with Funny Games.

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 7:49 a.m. CST

    Actually, if you take this movie as a parody making

    by CreasyBear

    fun of pretentious "cerebral" sci-fi, it's a classic. About an hour and ten minutes in, you realize the director's going to cop out and have no satisfying explanation for any of the previous events that demand a meaningful explanation. This movie is the perfect storm of overripe dialogue, bad music, particularly lazy scripting, bad acting, bad accents (Virginia is south of the Mason Dixon, therefore our main characters must have really thick Southern accents that, of course, fade away like Kevin Costner's Robin Hood after the first few scenes), and an inability of the director to hit the emotional tone. I'm almost fascinated by how bad this movie is, and thus, at least it's better than a bad movie that's bad for it's predictable cliche`s. I'll give it that.

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 8:19 a.m. CST

    CreasyBear

    by the new transported man

    I really liked the "know someone" exchange. An average writer wouldn't have addressed that, leaving it to the audience as yet another plot hole to discuss.

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Box is just not mainstream at all.

    by knowthyself

    Kelly continues to make movies for himself. You're either with him or your not. I'm with ya Richard, you crazy nut.

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 9:46 a.m. CST

    Is the Twilight Zone ep actually called "Button Button"

    by white_vader

    or something else? And are we talking the old series or the newer one? <p> Oh and while I loved DD to bits (the original cut, not the Director's), this movie was basically over in the first act. Enjoyed it until the end and then the big "that's IT?". I set out hoping to really love it after Darko and with the Matheson story, but - oh well...

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Another limping spectacle of torn narrative tissue

    by BillboeFett

    excellent work Beaks. And thanks for identifying yourself at the Universal IMAX screening.

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 2:55 p.m. CST

    white_vader

    by BillboeFett

    Its the 80s twilight zone, in color. I think the title is "the box".

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 5:53 p.m. CST

    That was terrible.

    by Mostholy

    Ok, it wasn't as bad as SOUTHLAND TALES, but, then again, nothing really is. It did have that SOUTHLAND TALES feeling of being scrawled on the back of a high school notebook over some bong hits, tho. As if Richard Kelly were at home watching the old Twilight Zone episode stoned. "Oh yeah, and I'll throw in INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS! And, and THE ABYSS! And Sartre's "No Exit!"<br /><br /> Which reminds me -- Sartre and (Arthur C.) Clarke are used as pretentiously here as Eliot and Frost in SOUTHLAND (or, for that matter, WATERSHIP DOWN in the (bad) director's cut of DONNIE DARKO) The movie is just a terrible, sprawling mess...it's flat out embarrassing at times.<br /><br /> Mind you, I really liked the original DONNIE DARKO, but it's gone all downhill from there, and each successive failure makes DARKO look that much worse. Only Richard Kelly can take a great little story like "Button, Button" and think it would be better with water tentacles and Trek-speak like "the altruism coefficient." Just irritatingly bad.<br /><br /> But, to be charitable, I felt bad for Marsden and Langella, both of whom seemed better the material. Diaz, maybe not so much.

  • Nov. 8, 2009, 10:36 p.m. CST

    I noticed there are no AICN reviews for this turd..............

    by IHaveSeenEveryEpisodeOfPrisonBreak

    Did Kelley not give you a free poster?

  • Nov. 9, 2009, 12:27 a.m. CST

    @ Mostholy

    by ItsaTrap

    I concur. I'm pretty sure Sartre is in there so Kelly can get into chicks pants by claiming to be deep. Kinda like: Walt Berkman: Yeah, it's very Kafkaesque. Kelly = the new Rat

  • Nov. 9, 2009, 2:52 a.m. CST

    "that said...

    by cornholiosbungholio

  • Nov. 9, 2009, 2:59 a.m. CST

    embarassingly bad. [FULL SPOILERS WITHIN!]

    by drave117

    Why adapt a short story into a feature length film if all the stuff you added is completely pointless and makes zero impact on the actual story? What was the point? The stuff with the couple and Langella was fine. The other stuff literally served no purpose. What was the point of the Employees? What was the point of their library? What was the point of the video the wife watched? What was the point of the magical blocks of water? How did the middle path lead to his salvation, when it seems to have zero impact on the plot? (A special effect, cool though it may be, is not a plot element!) What was the point of the second Deal? How could either choice be in any way construed a moral victory? Is Kelly just trying to say that women in general are evil? How can Langella's character give any pretense of being an impartial judge of humanity, when he is clearly exerting his mental influence on everybody involved? If he isn't pulling the strings, there is absolutely no way he could have timed the last death with the last button push. If he is pulling the strings, and he caused the button to be pushed and the trigger pulled at the same time, his experiment is utter bullshit. Who sent Marsden the photo, and why? Did the NSA and the CIA know what was going on? If they did, why were they allowing it? If they didn't, why were they supporting it? Why is Langella's entire experiment laid out in detail in a Human Resources Exploitation Manual? Who published it, and why is it never seen again after it is found? Why am I even thinking about any of this?

  • Nov. 9, 2009, 1:13 p.m. CST

    and furthermore ...

    by lyleblake82000

    Have to agree with everyone's objections to the gaping holes in the plot of this thing. Terribly confusing and, even when it gets some things correct, unnecessarily misleading. Langley is famous for the CIA headquarters right outside D.C. in the Va. suburbs, right? It annoyed me that they kept showing LANGLEY as the space research place where Marsden works and saying they were in Richmond. I had to go to the Internet and find out that there is also a Langley Research Center, run by NASA, in Hampton, which is down the road from Richmond in Tidewater Va. OK, so accidentally correct but terribly misleading. Anyone who is a fan of thrillers hears Langley and thinks CIA, Fairfax Co., D.C. area. Should have made the distinction clearer. Unless the director is trying to be unnecessarily cloudy everywhere he can. Diaz accent sounds more like one of the Carolinas, or even Georgia or Mississippi, than Richmond. One thing I will give Kelly is his eye for picking real lookers for his leading men: Jake Gyllenhaal in DARKO and Marsden here. Both of these guys would have to go onto anyone's top ten list of the best looking actors currently breathing.

  • Nov. 9, 2009, 2:44 p.m. CST

    CAMERON DIAZ

    by MorningStar666

    Looks like she's 50. What the hell happened to her???????????????????

  • Nov. 9, 2009, 3:45 p.m. CST

    The movie was all over the place...

    by vettebro

    For me it was interesting. However, it was more on par with a bad twilight zone, fringe or x-files episode. Not a good one. A bad one.

  • Nov. 9, 2009, 4:55 p.m. CST

    Was anyone else here reminded of Smilla's Sense of Snow?

    by CreasyBear

    Same hard-left turn into vague alien territory.

  • Nov. 10, 2009, 11:29 a.m. CST

    worst movie of all time

    by Tattooedjedi

    i'm sorry - i'm a HUGE donnie darko fan - have two movie related tattoos, I'm such a darko nerd. But i will never, ever see a Richard Kelly movie ever again. I've never seen such a bad film as the Box. The film was boring, pointless, too long, poorly acted and horribly directed - it's almost like somebody else wrote and directed Donnie Darko. Given the chance of watching paint dry or re-watching The Box, I'd obviously choose to watch the paint dry.

  • Nov. 10, 2009, 4:23 p.m. CST

    Why cut the spoilers out?

    by ThreeOranges

    And thus deprive us of his justification for his conclusion? This is a post-release interview, and the Web gives you many options for obscuring text.

  • Nov. 10, 2009, 11:23 p.m. CST

    Tattooedjedi

    by drave117

    Clearly, you did not see Southland Tales.

  • Nov. 11, 2009, 12:54 p.m. CST

    BEAKS!

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    DUDE, if you can't share here, think you can email HOW it "took the story in a different direction?" You don't have to ruin it if you don't want to give away Kelly's secrets, but please man-Tell me what the difference was

  • Nov. 11, 2009, 1:09 p.m. CST

    You won't see another movie like it this year

    by warrenE33

    This is a film cements Kelley's ability to make a compelling adult film (too bad he's being skoffed off like a wachowski instead of embraced like a Lynch). SPOILERS: Despite a couple missteps (diaz's "I love you" scene was like nails on chalkboard for me. Maybe due to acting? And the 3 water columns come off as a pointless distraction. I thought the two finger hints must have been referring to the final scenario, because the columns just had no weight). I really enjoyed the film and am still thinking about it. I wholeheartedly disagreed with the ending. It seemed clear to me that he shouldn't try to fix one murder with another. Also thought it clear the kid would be better off crippled but with two loving parents than physically whole but an orphan. Not sure the director agrees. I thought the mom's foot problem was going to be the twist that led her to accept a crippled child (but it looks that was just there so she could inexplicably profess love for a stranger. eh. hmmf.). I'm stunned that so many people are refusing to open their minds to the film's philosophies, or their eye's to it's visuals. Are hollywood PR politics squashing it? Are Americans just angered by entertainment that offers smart philosphical questions?... I dunno. I thought this was a very brave approach to adapting a short story (took it to much bigger sci fi world, then resolved with a new conundrum that mirrors the first). Mad props to Kelly for trying.

  • Nov. 11, 2009, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Wotta buncha meanies

    by bswise

    Honestly, I think y'all are trying to make Richard Kelly cry. OK, I too was scratching my head while watching Southland Tales, but, years later, I do still find myself thinking about various scenes from the film. It and DD are vivid in my mind. My main problem was that is wasn't longer. I would have loved to see more of the set-up and had a lot of the loose ends fleshed out. I think it would have made a tremendous 10-hour miniseries delivered in tasty 1-hour arcs, each ending with a cliff-hanger. Trouble, I know, but I wonder if Kelly has ever considered exploring a continuing arc on TV like that.

  • Nov. 11, 2009, 3:12 p.m. CST

    I think the people who control the lightning

    by BillboeFett

    are more like gods than aliens, especially since James Marsden said "we're in purgatory" and Frank Langella's wife said "eternal damnation" and "eternal salvation". Religious phrases and words, not alien words. I could be wrong. Perhaps Kelly doesn't even know, right?

  • Nov. 11, 2009, 4:43 p.m. CST

    bilboe

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    don't forget all the voiceovers from the president ,and the fact that a large chunk of the sotrryline involved travelling to Mars-and the possiblity of life on another planet.And,they mention how "he" hasnt figured how to get into people's minds without causing brain hehmorgging(nosebleeds)-so I'd imagine a GID wouyldn't have that issue.I see what you mean,but the fucking sad truth is...with Richard Kelly, things get so convuluted...it's hard to know...untill he says it so on the commentary.persoanlly, i think he likes that style, becuase it would require multiple viewings...meaning more box office bucks for the backers!THAT'S my REAL interpretation of why he makes such bizarre shit sometimes...(although I think the BOX was pretty cool...just too vague)

  • Nov. 11, 2009, 9:36 p.m. CST

    The Box is a BOMB

    by TheApostle

    $7.5 million opening weekend. Kelly = one hit wonder.

  • Nov. 13, 2009, 5:46 p.m. CST

    Milkshake, Bilbo

    by white_vader

    Did it occur to you it may have been intentional to invoke BOTH ideas? At the SAME time? The idea that Aliens ARE ostensibly Gods? You forgot they also make a big deal of Clarke's quote about science as magic. Bilbo, why do you use one as an argument against the other? You HAD it there for a moment, man! <p> But thanks so much Bilbo for the reply on the episode. I do appreciate that. <p> In that vein, Bswise, the "10 hours miniseries" you're thinking of is actually a hundred-plus hour T.V. Show called The Twilight Zone! <p> Getting back to it, I swear TBers are the most direct, literal thinkers in the world. God forbid anyone makes a ALLEGORICAL film! Or dares for a bit of Ambiguity - especially in the motivation of the Aliens/God - the Aliens/God are only a device, like the box. They're not important, other to be unknowable/inscrutable, and set the plot in motion so we look at the PEOPLE. The POINT is how the PEOPLE react, and whether they can evolve and break the chain. I didn't like the end either, but Jesus, pretty much EVERY Twilight Zone story is an allegorical, existential tale! How it could be considered "vague" is beyond me! God may be omnipotent and all-powerful, but people do die, Jimmy/Milkshake. <p> And Warren, yeah, they really fumbled the 'crippled' thing. Although that direction would have given us a happy ending, which doesn't seem quite right either. But "You won't see another..." and your defence implies it as original. I've been watching original Zone eps (and the movie remake) this year, so I guess I have (although I haven't watched the original of this particular one or read "Button, Button") seen another. Or were you lamenting it's the only one of this type of filmmaking (you did reference the original story)? At least you got the metaphors. Jesus, I thought a big red, candylike button (they even ram home the symbolism by showing no workings!) was pretty fucking obvious! I shake my head at TBers too. Not trying to be a bloody snob but fucking hell!

  • Nov. 13, 2009, 5:57 p.m. CST

    The end (yeah yeah, spoilers)

    by white_vader

    Speaking of the chain, I reckon we still would have got the symbolism (well not TBers but anyway) of the human daisychain if they'd saved the shooting end of one couple/pushing the button start of the next synchronising/synchronicity 'til the END and not overplayed the point of the timing in the first act. It would have been a more satisfying beat rather than what we got got with giving the game away in the first act then confirming what we all already knew at the end. It sorta seems backwards that the characters knew the significance of the timing in the first act but seemingly NOT at the end, too.

  • Nov. 13, 2009, 6:40 p.m. CST

    Instead of daisychain

    by white_vader

    I probably shoulda said chain-reaction.

  • Nov. 14, 2009, 1 p.m. CST

    white_vader

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    I obviously saw the REAL point of the film (aside from entyertaning and making $) is that we ARE flawed, and it's the whole exsistential question of the valdiity of mankind in general (given we can be capable of love and hate/ peace/destruction)...and blah blah blah.HOWEVER...when I pay $10.00 to see a film-I am buying into someone's defintive vision.I expected something, and in a way...Kelly DID deliver a very old fashioned twilight-zonish film (it being very HEAVY HANDED with it critiques in humankind and societal going-ons)...but I didn't want that only.I want a director who is secure enough to say "these are aliens, and etc." and basically connect the dots he created for us.I like when some films leave it open....but NOT when it involves extraterrsitrial life (ala science fiction).Much like he did with Darko-a tale, which seemingly was this very reality-based story, but had the slightest seasoning of the science fiction element.In The box, according to rumor-0there was ALOT edited out(for the running time the studio wanted)...so what I expected was more of the backstory that I presume Kelly filmed.And Although it wasn't important to you(or the real point)-I want MORE concrete answers on the fact that it was aliens.(I don't think he meant aliens are gods...but if you mean he was implying there is NO GOD, that perhaps aliens have been "over" us the entire time we've been in exsistance...well,KELLY-as the filmaker should say that)

  • Nov. 14, 2009, 11:25 p.m. CST

    So... this is the same as KNOWING?

    by Adelai Niska

    The whole aliens as god thing sucked in KNOWING and it sucks here. If you can't stick to reality, scifi OR fantasy, then really you're just making shit up with no rules. <p> Also, the ending (spoilers, of course) clearly undermines the movie in several ways- first in that it shows a LACK of free will because the murder happens only when placed in a brutal situation where murder is the only choice AND someone was pushing the magic button. Second- because the movie was set in the 70s and we're still alive in 2009, we know humanity passed the test despite the movie indicating that we failed. <p> Also, what was with the babysitter at the end? First they indicate that he "enters their heads" like he's possessing people, but then those same people volunteer to create even more misery? Did Steward put out a want ad for stalkers with nosebleeds? <p> At this point Kelly's record is 1 good (Darko), 2 bad (Box, Domino) and 1 unwatchable catastrophe (Southland Tales). Not a good record for someone who started so strong.

  • Nov. 14, 2009, 11:32 p.m. CST

    one more thing, the box was empty

    by Adelai Niska

    How can an advanced power actually judge anyone based on pushing a pointless button? If he's so all-knowing, he'd know that Marden ,a scientist, and Diaz, a teacher, would not actually believe the button does anything. They saw with their own eyes that the button wasn't connected to a transmitter, so in their minds it was as harmless as tapping an empty cigar box. They KNEW that Steward couldn't possibly know if they pushed it or not, so how can they be judged for not taking the thing seriously? If Kelly was punishing these characters for lack of faith, lack in faith in what? A stranger with an empty box? Who'd believe him- and more importantly who'd punish people for not believing him? <p> It's like when someone taps you on your far shoulder and you turn your head to look, except in this movie human kind is damned to hell because you fell for it.

  • Nov. 15, 2009, 2:51 a.m. CST

    Milkshake, that's fair I guess

    by white_vader

    but you're sorta arguing apples and oranges, and being outrageously demanding of a director to tailor "their vision" to your requirements, which is an anachronistic request to say the least, and certainly a bit much to ask for your lousy 10 bucks. By the way, a movie ticket down here in Oz is $17.50, and considering our dollar buys over 93 cents U.S. at the moment, imagine how pissed off I (I'd make that bold or italic if I could) must be! <p> And boy if you're so specific with your sci-fi requirements you musta hated Clarke and Kubrick's 2001, and their valid (re: Aliens and ambiguity) point of "Extraterrestrial life is probably not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we CAN imagine". I'm sure I'm paraphrasing, but they're words to that effect anyway.

  • Nov. 15, 2009, 10:41 a.m. CST

    white_vader

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    I KNEW YOU'D MENTION 2001.And Clarke.Guess what? I love them both.I love Clarke-and collect alot of his first prints, and I love 2001-the ORIGINAL version he wrote(which explains everything!!)I even loved 2001_the film(which I know practically everything about)..and I am aware Kurbick made things more open-ended and less definitive (and much more cinematic), although essentially, they are the same exact stories...just Kubrick doesn't necessarily explain it all.In fact, when I first saw 2001-I was BLOWN AWAY(i was 15??) although I FELT THE ending was SOOOOO ambiguous.So I read the book, and well-it explains things greatly.And that's what I mean.Kelly left me hungry to know the WHOLE STORY mate,not walk away with questions.Questions to a SCIENCE FICTION film are just that, questions-not some portal into a great, deep conversation about something important and relevant in mankind's mindeye that we MUST discuss.....noooo.It's a damn sci-fi film that was either edited for runnin time, or perhaps gutted by all to be more ambigious(some director's think there films are special, and begining slicing away the very plot points we are somewhat interested-untill we're left with A VERY AMBIGUOUS FILM).So I feel Kelly is on the cusp of becoming a much better story-teller, but here..sadly, he left things out which would've strengthened the overall story. And I would be doubly pissed too if Kelly made me fork out $17.50+ for a dodgy film.But, I respect your opinions amigo-you write very well.

  • Nov. 16, 2009, 4:32 a.m. CST

    Gotcha Milkshake.

    by white_vader

    I understand about wanting to know more - if you like the hard, analytical, unambiguous stuff, you must love Fall of Moondust. Gotta read that again. I haven't looked at it since I was a kid, but that was Clarke at his best I thought. Gets right down to the minutia!

  • Nov. 16, 2009, 11:46 a.m. CST

    I'm surprised there are no jokes about Cameron Diaz's box...

    by Royston Lodge

    Such restraint from the talkbackers!

  • Nov. 16, 2009, 12:14 p.m. CST

    Knowing

    by Harold-Sherbort

    Those were angels. They're not depicted as the angels we're used to seeing though. I think that threw some people off. Call me crazy, but for my dollar, that film hit me on just about every level. The only problem I had with it were minor ones (why would you leave your kids in the car in the middle of the woods?).

  • Nov. 16, 2009, 4:13 p.m. CST

    did anyone else get a FREE SAMPLE..

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    OF RICHARD KELLY'S TASTY JELLYtm after watching the box? I did,I got good-greif grape,and it was fucking awful.

  • Nov. 16, 2009, 7:41 p.m. CST

    Horrible, Horrible movie - I walked out...

    by Russman

    and I've only done that maybe 3 times before. This movie was childish.

  • Nov. 16, 2009, 9:39 p.m. CST

    This movie is a great imbecile barometer

    by Magnum Opus

    So many dullards railing against it because "it didn't make sense." I guess Kelly is at fault for assuming his audience doesn't need to be spoon-fed answers like Joe TV Viewer, and would be able to decipher metaphor and allegory on their own. Evidently even most AICN readers aren't capable of that. Brilliant film.

  • Nov. 17, 2009, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Donnie Darko

    by ufoclub1977

    Always felt like a student film with a huge budget to me... Lynch's duo of movies about alternate realities were the real deal for me (Mulholland and Lost Highway) or for suburban satire we already had American Beauty. Darko with it's monster bunny costume and Tears for Fears sequence just seemed to have a little bit of the amateur style jerkoff elements to me. I respect that he made a cool scifi movie...(Darko is like a novel scifi short story you might run into in an anthology) but I don't think the movie was great! It was great by film student standards. I am interested in seeing The Box. I think he has potential to become really good.

  • Nov. 17, 2009, 11:19 a.m. CST

    richard kelly is okay

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    but so far, SOUTHLAND TALES MASSIVLEY SUCKED...so I don't hate his films, I actually am anticipating him making a truly brilliant film ahain(Donnie Darko was pretty good).AND the box was decent too-so magnus,sucka dick for allowing people to have opinions(which you really don't have...other than how tasty rich kelly's cock is)

  • Dec. 22, 2009, 2:53 a.m. CST

    Fucking SHITE movie!

    by V'Shael

    Having taken Mr. Beaks advice, I finally watched it last night. It was so bad it made me angry. <p> Unlike what Beaks said, it's pretty much exactly the same as the short story. They just go past the ending and try to explain why. <p> And the "why" is so primitive and banal, it will blow your mind with its simplistic awfulness. <p> I wanted my money back. <p> Anyone who thought *this* piece of shit was too complicated, should go back to watching Tellytubbies. At least that won't tax what they laughingly choose to call their minds.