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My Suicide (2009)
A true indie with a broad appeal
I can only agree with the other comments. MY SUICIDE is a true find, and will hopefully make its way into international cinemas. Despite the fine cast, including established thesps like Joe Mantegna, Mariel Hemingway and David Carradine, it is a true independent film with a small budget, but skillfully done, and spiced with such a sharp sense of humour, a lot of energy, heart and food for thought. It doesn't play dumb for the audience, but stays easily accessible throughout without ever becoming trivial. Main actor / co-writer / co-editor / producer Gabriel Sunday (here wrongfully credited with the role Holden, rather than Archie) shows so much talent that you can almost turn envious. There'll be more to see of him in the future for sure! The wicked editing and compositing, the multi-format footage, and the congenial animation add-ons never feel contrived, but spice the film with a young look that will hit the youthful viewers especially. You can watch MY SUICIDE just for entertainment (even after the laughable scenes get replaced by the more serious themes), you can watch it for pointers and understanding - your own troubles, your friends' or your kid's. But you should watch it nonetheless! Just hope you'll get the chance. Fingers crossed this film will get the publicity it deserves!
Perfect Creature (2006)
Unfortunately boring despite good setup
First a confession: I have a weakness for vampire films. There are just a handful that really did it for me (NEAR DARK, BRAM STOKER'S Dracula, BLOOD & DOUGHNUTS, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN and a few more), but this genre still intrigues me against my better judgment. So I grabbed the opportunity to see PERFECT CREATURE that comes up with a new concept: vampires were created in genetic experiments in the Renaissance era. The new breed called themselves The Brotherhood, formed a church and put their powers into the services of mankind. They're no evil bloodsuckers - until now. Suddenly people get killed and drained. The Brotherhood sends investigator Silas (Dougray Scott) to collaborate with the local police (led by Saffron Burrows). Together they try to hunt down the killer vampire, while The Brotherhood tries to hush things up. The story takes place in a fictitious city where it always seems to rain (hello SE7EN), the aesthetics is 19th century meets the 1930s, mixed with modern technology (see: DARK CITY). All in all no bad yarn, but Dougray Scott proves again his yawn qualities, and the characters stay two-dimensional in an extend one wished it really was a comic book (where it would be told better). The ending aspires to be the beginning to sequels or a TV series, which seems doubtful. But after all there have been follow-ups to way dodgier genre films. For me it just means waiting for the next good vampire film. 5/10
Den brysomme mannen (2006)
Laconic screen gem
Imagine a world, in which everyone treats anyone nicely, no foul word is ever uttered, office bickering is nonexistent, and your boss invites the office crowd regularly to self-cooked dinners where you can chat about latest interior design styles. Everything is neat, pleasant - well, just nice. In other words: you are in hell. After being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, mid-thirties Andreas (Trond Fausa Aurvaag) starts a new job as a book-keeper in a small, clean city. From the beginning he feels foreign in this proper, impersonal world of superficial kindness, surrounded by pleasant but lifeless interior architecture and likewise colleagues. Food tastes of nothing, drinks don't get you drunk, no children anywhere; after initial steps of fitting in, Andreas searches for ways to escape the bland new world. He doesn't know where he came from anymore, but still remembers rich tastes, true feelings - anything beyond the non-committal flatline life he's leading now. THE BOTHERSOME MAN resonates ideas of Huxley and Kafka, but here the cruelty is the omnipresent noncommittal neatness. Unlike PLEASANTVILLE this is not about narrow-minded bigotry, more a fable of our urban free-world civilisation of fitting in. It mostly reminds one of the ingenious FIGHT CLUB scene, in which Edward Norton walks through a mock-IKEA catalogue. Spiced with macabre humour, this Scandinavian laconic tale convinces on every level: story, characters, and relevance. A true screen gem. 8/10
Slipp Jimmy fri (2006)
DUMBO on speed
Isn't it annoying how film reviewers describe unusual films often as (insert film title here) on drugs? So LIFE OF BRIAN is THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD on dope, MEET THE FEEBLES is MUPPETS on acid, and perhaps JAWS once was FLIPPER on steroids. Having said that, FREE JIMMY literally is DUMBO on speed. No, really: Jimmy is a circus elephant that's kept quiet with downers and pushed with uppers for the show. And that old pachyderm is wanted by many groups. Smalltime crooks want to retrieve heroin sewn under the animal's skin, the Lappland mafia wants the same, militant animal activists want to free the tortured beast, and drunk Swedish game hunters look for anything as big as a moose to shoot in the Scandinavian outbacks. Doesn't sound like your run-off-the-mill blockbuster, and it isn't. FREE JIMMY is a CG-animated Norwegian film, skillfully voiced by Woody Harrelson, Kyle McLachlan, Samantha Morton, Simon Pegg, Jim Broadbent and others. It's wickedly non-pc, with a number of hilarious scenes, and sometimes reminds one of FRITZ THE CAT with the sex and suffering animals shown. It works as a FREE WILLY spoof, not sparing any of Jimmy's pursuers from scoff and mockery. It's not as insanely funny as THE FEEBLES were, but a good nasty laugh nonetheless. 7/10
Hallam Foe (2007)
Heartfelt drama with a terrific angry young man
Since Hallam's (Jamie Bell) mother died two years ago, he has detached himself from life, watching (even spying) the people from a distance, going as far as breaking in and searching their closets. He despises his stepmother (a surprisingly matured Claire Forlani) who he suspects of having murdered his mom. So Hallam takes off from the Scottish countryside to Glasgow, where he prowls the roofs, and finds a girl eerily resembling his mother. Revealing more of the story wouldn't do it justice. Jamie Bell masterfully plays an angry young man, reminiscing of Holden Caulfield. The film creates magical sequences, sports a wry northern humour, and doesn't shy away from exploring the feeling of loss and pain. Although the plot background relies too much on textbook psychology, HALLAM FOE remains a kindhearted, lively drama beyond the streamline tearjerkers. 7/10
American Dreamz (2006)
No poignant satire, just a superficially adapted treatment
It could've been good, it could've been funny, it could've been poignant, it could've been merciless and harsh. However, American DREAMZ is nothing like it. It's a "what if" idea that seems just like an adapted treatment. I can imagine the brainstorming session: "What if we made a satire on "American Idol", or "Pop Idol"?" - "Yeah, that'd be a real blast!" - "Oh, oh, what if the candidates are a Orthodox Jew and an Arabian terrorist sleeper!" - "Great, but we need some sex appeal, how about a curvaceous white trash go-getter?" - "And for the host we have Hugh as Simon Callow, he wants to play someone nasty." "Swell!" That doesn't sound like a satire so far, just a spoof? True, but the biggie woofer idea is: "What if we make the dumb President of the United States a guest juror!" "Whoah! And he just found his conscience, and - get this - READS newspapers! And his chief of staff is worried so he tries to get the Prez back on track, where he was his puppet on a string..." American DREAMZ is mildly funny, but it ain't no WAG THE DOG, DR. STRANGELOVE, NETWORK or MASH. None of the characters gain any depth and remain farcially shallow, none of the story lines evolve, they just hit the next destined treatment milestones, whether the story lead to it or not. This film doesn't annoy you, but you sit in your seat, desperately wanting to laugh. And there is much potential for a sharp, witty comedy. But almost none of it gets fired up fully. Plainly a missed opportunity!
Insightful but overlong "Making of" docu
Whatever happened to director Richard Rush? Honestly said: he sank into the nexus of Hollywood's forgotten talents. Those who actually know his film THE STUNTMAN starring Peter O'Toole and liked it, will be interested in THE SINISTER SAGA..., a 20-years-after Making-of... that gives a refreshingly unique insight into Hollywood politics, rather than explaining for the umpteenth time how a stunt evolves. Rush himself narrates the film, meeting colleagues and cast from his film (O'Toole, B. Hershey etc.). The voice of the film is poignant but bitter. Rush has only made one more film (COLOR OF NIGHT) since battling windmills with THE STUNTMAN.
Although THE SINISTER SAGA... is highly informative and fairly entertaining, its feature length asks for a lot of patience. The film is crudely edited, obviously on semi-pro equipment. The director's comments vary from sarcastic to self-celebration, repeatedly reciting past critiques, clearly wondering WHY his talent never got the wide recognition Rush claims to deserve. Still, THE SINISTER SAGA... is a substantial eye witness comment on Hollywood that goes under the surface, thus worth a look.
The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
Laughably awful adaptation with great cast.
I rarely have laughed this much in such an awful film. Randal Wallace (screenwriter of BRAVEHEART) directs this Dumas adaptation and manages the almost impossible: he takes a great book and a great task and makes a deeply flawed film. The dialogues are unintentionally funny. The four musketeers overact badly - which yet again causes many laughs. Leo DiCaprio tries to resist the obvious overacting traps a double role offers - not always successful. And couldn't anyone have insisted on only ONE pronounciation of the name D'Artagnan? Now we hear British, French, and a couple of American versions - by people who are all supposedly French. Well, nevermind. It's a good laugh. Who cares then that it actually is supposed to be a historical action-thriller...
Sliding Doors (1998)
Highly overrated romance.
If you don't like Gwynneth Paltrow, you shouldn't watch this movie anyway. If you like Gwynneth Paltrow, you probably will like the film. You will forgive her the annoying 110 per cent wannbe real British accent. You will forgive the film that it doesn't know what to do with the set-up, which - to be fair - is rather clever. It's another "what if" premise, only this time you see two different realities unfold at the same time and the audience watches two possible chain of events parallel. But the trouble is, the filmmakers don't know how to tie both stories together again, and eventually come up with a feeble solution. Another flaw of the film is, that it is inhabited by unlikable characters. Only John Hannah stands out as Paltrows new love interest - in one of the storylines. So do yourself a favour and watch him in FOUR WEDDINGS, and her in MR RIPLEY. You'll have a better time.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Repressed view on the porno biz - highly overrated.
First I thought BOOGIE NIGHTS was supposed to be a satirical view on 70s porn film business. But slowly it dawned me that this overly long movie was a morale tale. Everyone of the characters, who all work in the blue movie biz, end up in the gutter. No-one seems to make a fortune, earn respect, or even have fun. No, they are all junkies, coke-heads, losers, and even dumb. The only world they can make it in is their sinful trade. What a hypocritical way to look at things. I assure you there are plenty of careers in Hollywood based on some involvement in the adult film market. This film tries to get the reputation of a "daring and groundbreaking film". Nonsense! Is it daring? Nope. Just take the scene in which Julianne Moore and Mark Wahlberg are filmed on 16mm. We can see the footage they shoot. It's supposed to be a hardcore flick, right? So why does the director only shoot from the waist up? Repressed. And this infamous shot of Wahlbergs Willy - it only shocked the uptight American critics. There was no need to show it that late in the film. It just wanted to gain attention in a cheap way at the end of a very long film. It is a shameful film, in more than one way. And it's another example how you can screw up a great idea.