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The Bang Bang Club (2010)
"You're one of those photographers, who takes the pictures!"
This is super-duper spoilery, but it's "based on real events," so suck it if you didn't want to know!
-- Groupie: I know you! -- Carter: That's funny...my own mother doesn't know me. -- Groupie: You're one of those photographers, who takes the pictures.
-- Robin: Maybe you have to be like that to do what you do.
Those little exchanges pretty much sum up the movie--it's about rock star photographers and the rocket scientists who sex them up. It's well meaning, but feels very hollow.
There are some disturbing scenes which feel so staged, that it's like the offenders are performing Kabuki theater for the photographers rather than committing actual atrocities. In one scene, there are two groups fighting in the streets with a good 100 feet between them, with the four photogs positioned to get comfortable shots of both sides. When snipers begin attacking, few people run, no one acknowledges the fallen, it's not even apparent which side is shooting which.
Once they've been christened "The Bang Bang Club" (after rejecting "The Bang Bang Paparazzi"), a Colored guy (yes, still a racial descriptor in SA) asks to join the group, to which Greg reluctantly says yes, lest they be deemed "The White Boy Club." Of course, he is shot and killed within minutes. THIS, of course, pushes Greg over the edge. Greg...the guy who fairly calmly photographed a Black man get stabbed four times with machetes BEFORE suggesting the attackers stop, then continued to photograph the man as he was set aflame and running around until he was finally stabbed to death. Fortunately, throughout these ordeals Greg's editor is willing to ease his pain with her naked body.
When two members of the BBC are inevitably shot during one harrowing standoff between the military and some snipers, the immediate and dramatic response of those around them was in stark contrast to their reaction to the felling of just about everyone else, ever. They are swiftly dragged out and taken to the hospital. And of course, the one who dies is also the one given the least attention, although his model girlfriend is given lots of crying scenes afterward.
Taylor Kitsch's performance has been given a lot of attention, both because of his commendable transformation into a crazy South African and because of his character's real-life tragic ending. That said, I got a better sense of his drug addiction and how he was affected by his Pulitzer-winning photo from the Time Magazine article on his death than from this movie. They paid enough attention to Carter inviting a nameless groupie/teacher to a party, that I have to assume she's the mother of the child he mentions in his suicide note. Who knows, because this guy just popped in and out of the story like a bipolar ghost.
April Fool's Day (2008)
I've finally seen Dawson Leery's Filmmaking in Action
I hadn't planned on watching, but it was a quiet Saturday night on Halloween weekend and it was a featured film on Crackle.com. I loved the original as a girl and even watched it a fairly recently with my cousin who loved it more. I never considered it a serious thriller, always a black comedy. BTW, not only was no one actually killed in the original, it was all a trial run for a mystery weekend (wholesome fun, people).
This movie was a shallow, tacky, cheap rip-off of the original meets Dallas. The acting and cinematography reminded me of Skinamax late-night softcore porn, except the only topless shots were of a dancing, fat man. Most of the actors behaved like they were in a melodrama, although Senator Pete was consistently funny. I also have to assume the dog was meant to be a repetitive sight-gag, and I'm girly enough to admit that Josh Henderson with the pup gave me the giggles.
On a side note, there was a shocking number of black actors used in small parts and as extras. I don't think there's any particular reason for it, but it stood out because it's rare to see that when it doesn't relate to the plot.
I can't speak for others, but I thought it was a very good finale (season or series). I'm not a special effects freak, but there was certainly a lot of drama and a little bit of humor. I could have done without the explosion in the end, since it adds nothing to the story. Cameron IS indestructible, so why bother blowing her up except for flash? Even though I knew that Derek was going to show John is father, I actually got chills and a little bit teary (which rarely happens to me) as Derek gave John his birthday gift and confessed that he saw his little brother in him and that Sarah was Kyle's "type." I honestly think they should have put the Sarkassian reveal and FBI raid before that scene and ended the episode there. But people like flash over drama, so what can you do...
Greg Araki Rules!
So far I have yet to be disappointed with Araki's bizzare view on romance. I always want to watch his movies again immediately after I've finished. He makes me laugh, cry, and wish I had 2+ beautiful men willing to share me.
"Splendor" is very different from his other "mainstream" fair, like "Nowhere" and "The Doom Generation" in that the story is very coherent and focused, there is minimal drug use, and no randomly placed existential messages (at least that I noticed after my first viewing). "Splendor" proves that Araki doesn't need flashing lights, fast camera work, and excessive use of adolescent slang to make an interesting and young movie. My mom might even like this one!