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|Index||32 reviews in total|
Cudos to Archer, Stumpf, cast and crew! I saw this film at Sundance
'06, and it was a very powerful experience. After leaving the theater,
the movie stayed in my head for days in a way that most of the other
films I saw at the festival didn't. This is a very beautiful, sensitive
and intelligent film that fills a gap desperately in need of filling.
From the opening shot until the end, this film has real style - style
adeptly tempered to serve the film's meaning. The amazing audiotrack
and moody cinematography juxtapose marvelously together into that
haunting feeling that everyone can relate to - that terrible obsession
that dominates everyone's youth experience: the Crush. But what made
this film so memorable is the way in which that crush is conveyed. The
film succeeds to frankly and respectfully navigate the subject of teen
sexuality without ever feeling obscene. The movie comes off not so much
"sexy" as it is simply beautiful, intimate and scary. The director lets
each scene unfold slowly; the shots are methodical, precise and
poignant; the film is lovely with an undercurrent of dread. Logan
(played by the eminently watchable Malcolm Stumpf) to his credit never
seems to be acting, but rather the primary characters are allowed to
simply exist naturally on screen, allowing the story, cinematography
and soundtrack convey the message. There are no monologues, no
exaggerated displays of emotion or angst - except for one positively
soaring performance by Fairuza Balk playing Logan's self-absorbed
mother. There is teen drama without melodrama. Logan's just a normal
small quiet boy thrust into adolescence, outcast, uncool and powerless,
searching for a personal identity that will enable him to satisfy the
feelings he cannot admit to having.
The heartbreak and trauma we all experience during our awkward youth stays with us and defines our lives forever. Being a gay adolescent is even more confusing. There are no role models to look up to. No compass to guide. No gay professional athletes in sports, no gay marquee actors on the silver screen, no gay politicians, no gay teachers. The majority of "queer cinema" yields only stereotypes and caricatures. The violence this lack of role models imposes upon the self image of gay teens is an abominable disgrace that future enlightened generations will look back upon in shame. This is the conflict that Logan must endure. And this is perhaps what writer-director Cam Archer is looking to rectify. In a world fixated on the fetish of youth, the young are exploited and sold empty style by a media machine that doesn't care about substance. Perhaps one day when movies like this wonderful film are shown in the multiplexes of mid-America as the normal faire de jour (and that day will most likely never come), film historians will look back to Wild Tigers as a seminal piece that had the courage to openly, realistically and artfully look at love as it is. Until that day, I will proudly display my ticket stub on my wall next to my autographed poster (thanks guys) and proclaim, "I was there when it all happened. I saw a film that had the guts to matter."
Ebert said something a while back that caught me...
"If you understand why the new 'Texas Chainsaw' was bad, but 'Kill Bill' was good; why 'Cat in the Hat' was bad, but 'Bad Santa' was good... Then you have freed yourself from the belief that subject matters. You instinctively understand that a film is not about WHAT it is about, but HOW it is about it." That said, it's not that gay teens haven't been done. They actually seem to be the latest trend. It's not even that there's much of a shock value to the film (a boy in lipstick? see 'L.I.E.' or 'The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things'). And I've seen this compared to 'Mysterious Skin' as well, a likening I wholeheartedly reject. Skin left me nauseous (I thought it was brilliant, but quite difficult to see). Tigers left me somewhat dumbstruck.
The entire film plays out like a haunting music video. Low rumbling, chimes, bells fill in the silence so there really isn't any. Each song seems it's own plot revelation, and if I see it again, I'm sure I'll find they are. In between the intentionally 'tape playback' narration, which reminded me in style of 'Gummo', and the music scenes, there are vignettes, almost, of moments in Logan's life.
I think this film tells it's story, not so much through dialogue and plot (though I don't discredit the story at all), but rather in tone. Sitting alone on my couch in the dark with the music and eerie noise and occasionally psychedelic visuals... I got lost for while. It's like a guided tour through how Logan FEELS, instead of what he does.
A must-see. (MAR '07 - See it in theaters or rent from Digital Cable's On Demand)
A sensitive story about boys discovering their sexuality. The primary
character, Logan, gradually comes to realize his homosexuality. The
film follows Logan to a final coming out. The story telling is enhanced
by clever devices such as the times when Logan writes short sentences
about his feelings on his naked chest and belly. The one where Logan
moves his hand to cover the lower half of a heart shape is a nice way
to give words a miss. Dialogues are sensible and honest. The young
actors do a good job of delivering their lines with naturalness.
The mood through the film is of quiet determination. Alone and with almost no one to share his feelings, Logan has not had and will not have an easy time in school. The risible attempt by the principal for a show of tolerance by the rest of the students is well portrayed. Kids can be a cruel lot.
The use of primary colors, especially red and blue, often exclusive of any other hues feels at first like a whim. The heavy saturation of colors suggests the film spent too much time being digitally processed. In time it becomes apparent that the color scheme serves the purpose of creating a surreal environment that prepares us for the use of metaphorical visual and vocal devices. The voice of Leah is an example. It's an elegant solution that would have been harder to achieve through conventional means.
A fine directorial debut for Cam Archer.
I really don't understand some of the reviews here when it comes to
this film. It's not so much that people dislike Wild Tigers I Have
Known, it's how some have justified it.
I've seen the comparison to Mysterious Skin, and could only think 'God, why on Earth...?', because the movies are nothing alike. Mysterious Skin is quite straightforward in the way it delivers its story - the telling itself is pretty conventional.
Wild Tigers is not within a country mile of resembling mainstream movie. It does not hand you a nice and clear plot, it doesn't make everything easy to understand or have a definitive answer to the questions it might make you ask, it doesn't have an obvious meaning to every shot. Some people have described it as glacial and it is slow to be sure, but to me that's like looking at a painting by Caravaggio and complaining that it doesn't move: being impatient with a film such as this is pointless.
Certain films you don't watch so much as tune into; I think of Wild Tigers as being like mood music ... you can drift along with it if you choose and see where it will take you, but if you demand things of it, then you've already missed its purpose.
On top of that, I didn't think the plot was either obscure or confusing. Sure, there were elements where I was unsure of the meaning - that's the stuff for me to think about - but the gist of a boy drifting through the currents of confusion that surround the awakening of a different sexuality was quietly simple.
Random shots of the object of his infatuation looking into the camera, or the lead wandering through undergrowth may seem surreal, but they build into a mosaic of the thoughts and daydreams that add to the character development that some people don't seem to have seen/understood.
And amidst the more difficult and questioning parts of the film, you have the moments of startling clarity and simplicity, beautiful moments, such as a scene where the protagonist reveals some of his inner self to his friend that he had been keeping at arm's length. It's not a loud moment, it's not an overly dramatic moment - and it sparkles for it.
I wouldn't say I loved this movie. I'm not entirely sure it's a type of movie that I could love, and thus I feel that 7 is the highest rating I can give it. What I can say though is that it captivated me, it made me think, and will doubtlessly stay with me for a long time to come.
Wild Tigers I Have Known is a challenging film, and whilst it may not contain the kind of defined story that many viewers may expect, for those that take the time to view it as an experience and as something to think about, it can be very rewarding indeed.
A very delicate and sensitive but powerful film, depicting the
struggles of a young boy encountering his feelings.
The loneliness and isolation we feel surrounded by a heteronormic environment when growing up is beautifully depicted. Nothing is rushed through in this film. The parallel between us and the unwanted and feared tigers is stunning.
This movie is not about romance or lust, it is about inner feelings. These grow slowly when you realise that you are (considered) different from the rest, as if you were the only one in the midst of a totally different species.
If you do not have the patience to sit and absorb (as some commentators have expressed here) just go watch Batman and Robin, this film is not for you. But if you can feel with us what we have been through, this is one for you.
Instead of making a fascinating film about the development of a "crush"
in adolescence, the filmmaker has managed to create a hollow story that
goes nowhere, develops none of the characters, and is apparently
attempting to be poetic and arty about the subject of sex involving a
boy's obsessive love for a fellow classmate.
The dullness begins with the opening credits which are so blurry that you're left wondering just what it is we're supposed to be observing. Unfortunately, that feeling never lets up even as the slim story moves forward, never letting us see or feel what the main characters are thinking or even doing. Instead, we get a series of close-ups, dull conversations, and it becomes painfully obvious that the abstract subtleties will continue in the same vein throughout without ever giving any real glimpse into the childhood fantasies gnawing at the central character. The attempt is made but it fails to involve the viewer.
None of the performances are worth commenting on--not the mother (whom we never understand or get to know), nor the boy playing the maladjusted youth. Only PATRICK WHITE shows some semblance of understanding his role as the handsome, open minded youth who doesn't mind being the target of infatuation and is open to an approach by the most unpopular kid in class. He registers the correct mixture of surprise and rejection in the cave sequence where he has been led to believe that a girl wants a sexual liaison with him. Other than his one note performance, all the others are even less impressive. The doting mother is a character that is never fleshed out by the script or the performer.
The self-conscious artistry of the whole work is wasted because there is no real story, nor is there a satisfying ending.
Summing up: A total waste of time on a subject that should be explored in a more serious, detailed and sensitive light by a good independent filmmaker.
After watching this movie on DVD, I watched the trailer. The voice-over
describes the movie as surreal. Well, there's surreal, and there's
There was really only one part of the film that seemed surreal to me, but frankly, it was more confusing than surreal. The other unusual imagery, particularly the lunchroom scene where everybody is on the floor, were so nonsensical they had no meaning. I don't mind imagery that doesn't mean anything, but these scenes just seemed irrelevant.
My impression is that the director was trying to convey Logan's inner monologue. I don't know what else would explain what was going on. Unfortunately, nothing I saw gave me any clue what Logan was thinking about, what his perspective was, or even his emotional state. All I could tell was that he wasn't particularly happy with his physical appearance, and that he had a crush on an older boy.
I thought the ending signaled what the relationship between the boys had become, but not much else did. Purposely juxtaposing ambiguous scenes with those that were more straightforward seemed more like a cop out than an artistic decision.
Still, as tiresome and as content-free the movie was for me, it was a definite change of pace. I very much liked Madagascar Skin, and I had the feeling this movie aspired to that kind of narrative, and perhaps even style. It didn't even come close. For me there's no question about it: this movie deserves an A for effort, but a D for execution.
Keep in mind, this film had a budget of about $50,000. That is peanuts
relative to movie making. Consider how many names are in the end
credits, then film processing, assuming it wasn't shot in digital, then
distribution cost. I'm sure there are 50 people listed in the end
credits, that's about $1,000 apiece, except given permits, insurance,
cameras, sound equipment, lighting, and countless other details, it is
probably more like $250 apiece. How do you hire people to make a movie
for only $250, if even that? Plus, yes, the movie was 'stylized'. It
was intended to be haunting and mysterious. I thought some of the
Subplots could have held together better, and I though the editing
could have been smoother, and more clear relative to the story, but for
the minuscule budget they had, they did a pretty good job.
The movie was made in 2006 and we are still talking about it. I watched in last night on Netflix, it did what it was intended to do within its tiny budget. That is, I could see the Directors underlying intent, even if he didn't have the budget to do the best possible job. Many of these low budget films are really film exercises for young directors, writers, actors, etc.... They all need a starting point. They all need to do some low budget 'concept' films to prove their worth for larger films.
Because I love Independent Film, I can excuse some imperfections and take the budget into consideration when I judge a film. I judge this film to be pretty good within the proper context.
The above is a copy of a post I made in the "Wild Tigers I Have Known" IMDb discussion, but I think it serves as a worthy review. This movie is worth watching to see actors and directors trying to make a movie out of a starvation budget, and I think they did a pretty good job given what they had to work with. I say it is worth seeing.
I watched Wild Tigers again today (May 12, 2013). This is probably the 3rd or 4th time I have watched it, and it still holds together as a look into the haunting mind-scape of a 13 year old boy coming to grips with who he is. Malcolm Stumpf (Logan) is truly haunting in this role, and given how little he had to work with, I think he did an outstanding job. This is a highly stylized movie with journeys into the dreams and fantasies of this boy. But I think it is a movie anyone who tries can relate to. I repeat, if you love indy film, then you will like this movie.
I watch Wild Tigers again (2015) and it still stands up. In fact, I'm thinking of watching it again (still 2015). But admittedly anyone looking for standard Hollywood Blockbuster fair is not going to get this movie. That's OK, not everyone is required to like every movie.
In another review someone (Sammy) quoted Roger Ebert, and I think that quote best characterizes this film - "You instinctively understand that a film is not about WHAT it is about, but HOW it is about it." This is not a linear PLOT movie. Character A doesn't go to Place B and say thing C. This is a journey through the internal Dreamscapes and Emotions of an isolated and alienated 13 year old boy. It is an abstract film. I think my total viewing has now reach about 5 or 6 times, and I have the urge to watch it again.
You have to take this movie for what it is, not for what you want it to be. But ... if you simply don't get it ... that's OK, not everybody has to get everything.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cam Archer's "Wild Tigers I have known" is a story about Logan, an
unpopular, awkward and insecure kid that gets bullied every now and
then. He takes it all in and he lives in a world of his own, in some
sort of ill-induced stupor state. Until one day he meets an older boy
named Rodeo. He is rebellious, rough-edged and scruffy. Of course Logan
falls in love with him. They're both marginal figures at moments but
for different motives. Rodeo decides to ditch his girlfriend to spend
more time with his younger friend, while Logan has no choice but to be
rejected by everybody except Rodeo.
Despite the initial happiness rush, Logan starts fantasizing about death. Neglected by his mother, the only true conversation she has with her is about ghosts and reincarnation. He wants to know if she would hug him if he were a ghost.
There are instances in which Logan doesn't seem to be aware of his body. The only way in which he can inscribe himself into the world is by marking his chest and stomach. Writing, thus, creates the object. Writing creates or recreates him. But it's only symptomatic to witness Logan's fascination with women's clothes, lipsticks and long, blonde wigs. He's constantly dressing up as a girl or pretending to be a girl in order to obtain the love of a boy. It would be interesting, then, to contrast Hélène Cixous views on women writing that breaks the linear logic of male counterparts. Certainly, the entire film seems to defy this linear logic either from a cinematographic or a narrative perspective. In writing his own body with a red lipstick Logan makes us think of Ann Rosalind Jones "Writing the Body: Toward an Understanding of l'Ecriture feminine" because, ultimately, there is an unresolved sexual charge in Cam Archer's characters.
From the very beginning of the story Logan is interested in mountain lions. These felines are beautifully designed animals, almost as gorgeous as the tangle-lined tiger. Logan's high school is constantly threatened by these animals that the principal considers very dangerous. Students are told to run as soon as they see a mountain lion. Logan, nonetheless, feels compelled to approach them. He goes into the woods with Rodeo trying to find them to no avail. Only unaccompanied will he be able to fulfill this wish. The mountain lion is beauty, it's beauty in an Apollonian way as Nietzsche would understand it. It's the beauty of light, of appearance, that covers the horror within. Fear of death can only be overcome by Apollonian beauty. But it's also through this beauty that Logan summons death. He will put his life at risk partly obeying Freud's Thanatos urge, and partly because the only way to face live is to uncover the horror of existence. Because facing life is also accepting one's own mortality. And by reaching out to this wild animal Logan is only unveiling what lies beneath.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
About the only thing I liked about this film is that there was JUST
enough in it to keep me in my seat to the end... I kept thinking that
maybe in the NEXT scene things would gel... Alas...
Those who like Gus Van Sant's films - especially his later ones - will probably like this. Personally, I find van Sant's films to be dull, pretentious and facile. Well, he was an executive producer for this film, so it is no surprise that the film could almost have been made by him - although personally I actually liked this better than van Sant's latest efforts (e.g. Elephant).
Contrary to many here, I did not think the film was difficult to understand or disjointed, I thought that above all it is a film that wishes to portray a certain mood - the mood of an adolescent moving slowly into the adult world - but so slowly that the changes are barely visible if at all. But I feel that the problem with the film is that "mood" is not enough... and not only that, but that the mood painted here is, to my mind, incorrectly chosen for the story that is supposedly happening. The dream-like quality, so closely linked to nature, is beautifully captured here, but it is a mood which belongs much more to a much younger child, one who really still does get totally caught up in watching nature unfold (waves on a beach, grasses and flowers, spiders etc). The rhythm of the film reminds me of my summers when I was about eight or nine. There is a LANGUOR to the film that is in opposition to what SHOULD be a very tense time in an adolescent life. When you are caught up in a crush on someone - or being the object of bullying at school - you are anything BUT languorous! There are only two moments that truly worked for me in the film...SPOILERS HERE - first when Logan drops the groceries and his mother throws a bit of a fit. The frustrations of an adult dealing with a klutzy kid - especially with no father present - seemed real to me.
The second, and ONLY part of the film with any tension to it, were the scenes where "Leah" (Logan's re-creation of himself) phones Rodeo and tries to seduce him into phone-sex. The first reason I liked it is because the person who did the voice-over of "Leah" was the most convincing actor in the entire film. (It made me think of Claire Danes from My So-Called Life ...the voice even sounded like Claire.) She and Rodeo had the only scenes that seemed totally believable between the kids. And what I especially liked was the fact that Rodeo only pretended to play along... it was perhaps the best moment in the film as - finally! - we got some character development.
All in all, a somewhat misplaced effort... we will have to see what he does in his next film before we can really say much about the director's possible talents. In the meantime, if he can get away from van Sant's influence, it might do him a world of good. Who is this director anyhow - one of van Sant's boy toys?
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