Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Worth a watch, but pay attention
This is the best-made gay film I've seen for years: the editing, acting, writing, creative camera angles, sound effects, mixed film stock, etc all had the sheen of a glossy blockbuster despite the tiny budget.
I think the reason this has received rubbish reviews is because the trailer portrays this as a nonstop bonkfest. In fact it's a complicated psychological drama with elements of horror told in three separate but interlocked stories.
The main thing to keep in mind is that it's about dreams and film and other virtual realities, so although it may not make perfect sense, like a dream it does have its own internal logic. Stop craving continuity. You even have to stop thinking all the characters are real, doing realistic things.
I admit being confused by the end, but the movie was so well done I watched it again with the commentary and sussed some things that hadn't occurred to me. Ask yourself for instance whether the boyfriend in the second part actually exists and you'll start appreciating the complexities of the film.
What I've decided is that the first act is the nearest thing to reality in the entire movie, showing the humdrum existence of being a sex worker, explaining the reasons why people find themselves in the industry and showing what it takes to join the 'real world'.
Next, you've got a consumer of pornography who passes off his voyeurism as research. He starts off as an ordinary Joe with a perfect life and perfect boyfriend, but the key to his scenes is that little of what he says, sees or does can be relied upon.
Finally, you've got a character living in the real world, but whose dreams are real as well. This enables him to experience the lives of other people, which initially he thinks is his own creative imagination and something he can exploit for profit, but later he sees the underbelly of the industry and recognises the intrusiveness of cameras.
It requires concentration, so kudos to the team behind this for daring to arouse an audience's curiosity for a change.
Tune in Tomorrow... (1990)
Keanu Reeves given paper bag. Hilarity ensures as he tries to act his way out of it.
'The Year's Best Comedy!' it said on the box. A review from the Village Voice, no less, although perhaps on the day when the director's mother was the guest reviewer.
'The Best Comedy of 1990'. This review on the box came from the Lake County News Herald, serving Northern Ohio. Note the lack of an exclamation point.
I'm glad I only paid a dollar for this and that the money went to the Salvation Army. That's the only good thing to come out of this.
Keanu Reeves and Barbara Hershey (woeful actors, the pair of them) fall in love simply because she's bored and he's horny. They are aunt and nephew (in name only, not by blood) and this tinge of incest is incorporated into the soap opera which plays on the radio station where Keanu's character works.
This 'scandal' is milked by the shady scriptwriter played by Peter Falk who has survived a terrorist attack on his previous place of employment and risks the same at this other radio station because of his nonsensical, baseless hatred of Albanians that works its way into every insulting line of his scripts.
I hope the above paragraphs make sense or sound halfway interesting, unlike the movie itself. It's a wildly uneven movie, with incomprehensible and disconnected scenes featuring an assemblage of low-rent talents you may half-recognise from cancelled TV shows.
None of it makes any sense. Despite wanting to be a writer, Keanu's character is never seen with a pen in hand or sat at a typewriter. He neglects his character's Southern accent in several scenes. The incest storyline features in the soap opera well before the aunt and nephew actually begin their affair. Oddball characters (like the Sid/Sam radio boss) are just irritating, not funny.
The only thing I enjoyed about the movie (aside from the closing credits) was the brilliant music from Wynton Marsalis.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
We all know comedies have their unbelievable moments, but if they are done well there is an internal logic that papers over the cracks or a cheery momentum that plugs up the plot holes. Not here, unfortunately.
If the girl had been in pageants before, why were they so surprised at what the competition involved or what the other competitors were like? Why had they not taken any interest in the girl's talent routine? Why had the boy not noticed his colour blindness earlier, had he never used crayons at school?
Then you've got the uninteresting, unsympathetic characters like the grouchy old man, depressive gay man, sullen teen...all stereotypes who grate quickly. You can't knock the fact the film is well-made, with a strong cast and some amusing lines...but Oscar-worthy?? No way.
Red Road (2006)
Decent enough but highly over-rated
Maybe it was the dearth of good movies coming out at the time, but I think the UK critics went overboard heaping praise on this movie. Some reviews sold this to me as a high-tension thriller when in fact it is a quiet and slow character piece with a (very slight) whiff of mystery about it.
It was well done, but rather dull. It really crawls along in places. Maybe the future instalments will flesh out the overall story as this 'episode' suffers from poorly developed characters.
Also, I thought the 'twist' was signposted better than a motorway.
***SPOILERS*** She recognises someone fresh out of prison, someone she happens to keep clippings about. She learns that he has been released early and is told 'sorry about it, but one mistake and he will be thrown back in' (hmmm, wonder what she's going to do...). Every time she goes near him she picks up a rock (big clue). She hops under the duvet with a couple of funeral urns (BIG clue). Everything else comes through her conversations with the father-in-law, so by the time the thug breaks in (in a scene where the dialogue was particularly hard to understand), I don't think there were many people in the cinema slapping their foreheads in sudden realisation. It was well done, but ultimately dull and not one I could sit through again.
As for the 'icky' bit. Reviews mentioning 'frank depictions of female sexuality' and an 18 rating rather set me up for their encounter, so no surprises there. I really only cringed because I'm not that way inclined ;) but to hear some people talk it was more like a horror movie. Why, because she wasn't attractive in a traditional sense, neatly groomed and blessed with a big rack? I thought the most shocking thing of all about the film is that the city of Glasgow itself helped pay for this production, seeing how Glasgow comes across as a hell hole.
Hammer House of Horror (1980)
Some TV shows deserve to remain obscure
My boyfriend was happy to see these available to rent through Amazon. He remembered many a late night as a boy under the blanket in front of the telly watching these. Some childhood memories don't deserve to be revisited though and he said the original thrill of watching these was long gone.
We sat through about six episodes in all, cringing at the cheap effects, crap acting and lame pacing. Most episodes had no suspense or intrigue to them whatsoever (some were downright boring) and every twist makes itself known well in advance. Some episodes are nonsensical, even in the 'anything can happen' genres of horror and sci-fi. Doppelgangers in East Anglia? Must be 'normal for Norfolk.' Hospital porters being groomed by Satanists to eat babies? Again, normal for Norfolk, I guess.
The acting was hammy to the extreme, like the time travelling witch who does nothing but bare her breasts and cackle (as witches do). The actress who played the American woman suffering from a nervous breakdown deserves a BAFTA, honest. 'I...will be...AVENGED!!!' If you're a unsophisticated teenager or some ironic uni students wanting some cheap entertainment, here's your series. Anyone with a serious interest in creepy thrillers should stay well away.
Richard E Grant cashes in some favours and assembles a top-notch cast of luvvies. Julie Walters, Emily Watson, Celia Imrie and Miranda Richardson were all very strong in their roles (although Miranda occasionally reminded me too much of the stressed mum she played in an episode of AbFab).
Unfortunately the male cast members were nowhere near as good (I was SO glad when the younger Ralphie was sent packing). I also found the family drama element to be poorly written, especially at the beginning, which was almost unwatchable.
At points the script and camera were amateurish and unoriginal. There was far too much use of cloying music as a counterpoint to the tiresome proceedings (Dad slams door, boy flinches and strings swell, etc). Most of the time you have no clue why these people are in the relationships they are in, especially Ruby and the girl Ralphie has a crush on.
Perhaps it was a reflection on colonial perceptions at the time, but aside from the singing gardener and the local doctor all the Africans do nothing but smile or run around with spears.
The colonial bickering and the preparations for the royal visit were far more entertaining. If only this had been an ensemble piece looking at the lives of the colonials in the dying days of the Empire, with none of the dreary family squabbles!
Mysterious Skin (2004)
Disturbing but realistic
Creepy pedos in baseball-playing, mom-loving, apple pie-eating small town America? You bet. And because it is devoid of an "after school special" sentimentality or Spielberg gloss, it feels that more chilling and bold and real.
An uncomfortable film to watch, but resonant for me as someone who grew up gay in 1980s Kansas. Details like the Little League games, the Halloween spook house and the shady characters cruising the park were all spot on, though I doubt the film will be championed by the Kansas Travel & Tourism Division.
I've not read Scott Heim's book on which this film is based, but on reading his background you realise each of the youths in the film is a manifestation of himself. He claims to have seen a UFO with his family, excelled in school and lived with his single mom after a divorce (like Brian), he announced baseball games (like Neil) and his infatuation with cosmetics and British goth pop made him the subject of death threats (like Eric).
Altogether that means there's a lot of truth to what's being depicted, no matter how dangerous or taboo some may consider the subject matter. I think Araki should be praised for making a mockery of the American movie ratings by filming such an explicit movie that doesn't show a thing. I've seen European art-house films with twice as much flesh which were half as frank. I think what disturbs people most is there is no moralising, no revenge against the coach and no happy ending where learning the truth frees the tortured characters from their shattered lives.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the stand-out from the cast, with Michelle Trachtenberg failing to bring any weight to the film's more poignant scenes because her dialogue is too 'writerly', saying things that people may think but rarely voice.
The Corporation (2003)
Well intentioned, but not well executed
This would have played very well as maybe a series of 6 hour-long TV documentaries, each with a theme. Instead, you get a book's worth of information in a wide-ranging and ill-defined format, little of which is new or illuminating unless you're young or just naive.
I want to read the book on which it was based, especially to learn more about how to stay informed and become more involved. This production didn't fire me up much and didn't offer many ideas or alternatives to offset the all-consuming power of corporate greed and industrial production.
If you're expecting a Michael Moore expose with witty set-ups, character assassinations and the like...forget it. The doco is largely humourless and suffers from not having an on-camera narrator to liven up the proceedings. It's preaching to the choir and won't win over many new supporters to the cause.
If you've read Klein's No Logo or Chomsky's Hegemony Or Survival, or have seen excellent docos on the BBC like Travels of a Gringo, then you might find this a bit tedious.
what was THIS all about?
Lord, but this was boring!
This was a messy movie, veering from one style to another. It crammed in product endorsements by the second, then going into an stylised montage in a homage to the swinging 60s, before ending up sentimental and weepy the next scene. TOO many scenes were stopped short or faded out and felt unfinished.
The cliché-ridden songs whining in the background were DIRE ('like the blind leading the blind...old soldiers never die...etc'). You're left gasping to hear the original theme tune, Joss Stone's capable version of which is BURIED at the END of the closing credits.
Can someone please explain why they bothered filming in England? I remember them spending so much time and money turning Manchester's Northern Quarter into Greenwich Village, which ended up being used in maybe 5 minutes of footage (the coffee shop and restaurant scenes with Marisa Tomei).
What WERE the fat florist and the German doctor DOING in this movie??? It was like something from the Carry On films and another indication of the unevenness of the whole production.
And just think of poor Sadie Frost, having to watch Sienna's nips wiggling around in Jude's face!
A woman sat behind me sobbed through the second half (feeling sorry for Jude, which I'm not sure was the POINT), while a bloke sat next to me snickered. So much for being the perfect 'date' movie...but I'm sure it will do okay business for a bit.
The Village (2004)
So many problems!
If you've not seen it, I can't recommend it (it's one to rent). Read on only if you want the plot spoilt or, like me, had lots of questions about how the plot bears scrutiny.
I knew going into the movie there had to be a twist and knowing that the villagers couldn't leave the village made my mind race with possibilities. It turns out the village is NOT a human zoo aboard a spaceship. Maybe that would have made the film more interesting.
You can tell from the opening scene that the cemetery looks old. The fence is skewiff and has not been painted for awhile. This seems very uncharacteristic for such fastidious people.
The village seemed far too prosperous for being a backwoods type of place. In that era even glass windows were a luxury, so to see a widow living alone with her son in a huge rambling house seemed very unlikely.
Their stories of 'the towns' seemed horribly over the top. Those boxes of secrets in their homes were casually left in full view. And does this village never get anyone passing by, or any hunters or trappers going through their woods?
So we have a bunch of emotionally scarred people playing at being Victorian re-enactors thanks to a billionaire's fortunes. How did these city folk take to living off the land so easily? Wouldn't the killing of their livestock mean a huge threat to their livelihood (who WAS killing the livestock and WHY?). And just how many children did these handful of people manage to have?
You can see why I found it so unsatisfying with all these questions. Plus the leaden dialogue. Plus seeing the blind girl run through the woods at full pelt. Plus the convenience of having all the bad and inexplicable things being done by the village idiot. It prevented me from enjoying the symbolism the story is obviously trying to represent about America's position in the world.