Reviews written by registered user
|55 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Imperfect gems are the joy of the Hollywood mine, this one I found by accident on cable during a flu ridden autumn day home from work. It certainly made me feel better, reminding me of the old youthful heart which yearned for connections and answers desperately, which the two central characters Danielle and Clark, beautifully struck by Juno Temple and Jeremy Dozier, embody in a film rollicking somewhere between John Waters Polyester, John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and The Angry Inch and Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. A relatively simple framework of a road trip movie set in 1987 sees two high school outsiders embark on an escape from the trials of teenage struggles towards adult life and answers only to find they come with their own pain. It's a fun ride with lots of great 1980s stylings and a popping soundtrack with great tracks like Strut by Sheena Easton and more from the likes of Melissa Manchester, Pat Bentar, Rita Coolidge, Belinda Carlisle and Nu Shooz.The support cast is fun with Mary Steenburgen and Milla Jovovich in fine form. It's a very 1980s film and while it's imperfect it's so much fun it transcends it's own limitations to be a delight.
A companion film to Come and See and The Guard, 100 Days Before The Command offers a very different rhythm and style to the war training film. Where films like Full Meal Jacket and Jarhead present the behavioural disintegration of their subjects, this film offers a more subconscious vision of where the personality goes when fragmented by the rigours of a depersonalising military command. This is not a film for viewers after a coherent narrative or a dialogue-driven journey, but for those brave enough to surrender their militant devotion to narrative film boundaries and spoon-fed cinematic experiences there is plenty here to explore. If films such as Father and Son excited your urge to introspection, this film will be a worthwhile venture. If a slowly evolving, visually commanding exploration of the male psyche and body in the Russian military and the relationship between men in such circumstances isn't where you are at I would settle for something less challenging.
Expectations were heavy when I first saw the trailer for Superman
Returns and desperately wished that the film could deliver some of the
magic of the original Superman and its excellent sequel. Superman 3 and
4 were somewhat enjoyable but disconnected films which I couldn't
embrace with the joy of the first two films which I saw at ages 5 and
7. I feared maybe I was too old for Superman. With Superman Returns, I
discovered the magic was not gone.
Bryan Singer has done a wonderful job putting Superman back in the emotional and visual context of the superior first two Christopher Reeve led Superman films. He is faithful and genuinely careful to reinvigorate the Superman legend but not without a super-twist which I won't spoil for impending viewers and which I would avoid seeking out as not knowing what was to come made this film a much better experience for me.
What also made this film work for me was the careful balance of characterization and action which made the earlier films so magnificent in tone and pace. Kate Bosworth is no Margot Kidder and lacks the vibrant intensity of her predecessor, but she and Brandon Routh have chemistry and she does well to make the role her own in a slightly less edgy way. Its the only slight disappointment but it didn't hurt the film for me.
Kevin Spacey runs riot with Lex Luthor in a way not dissimilar to Gene Hackman but with a more sadistic edge.
I enjoyed and was thrilled by Superman Returns which offers all the fun and excitement of the films which I loved as a kid. Although I am older,it was nice to be roused and moved by the music, characters and skillful direction once again. Can't wait for more. Excellent.
In the fine tradition of "Heathers", "Welcome To The Dollhouse", and
"Donnie Darko", "The Chumscrubber" provides compelling and essential
At first this film appeared from early advertisements to be a possible sequel to "Thumbsucker". It also features Lou Taylor Pucci who played the title role in the earlier film but "The Chumscrubber" is a different beast. While also supporting a knockout cast of mature actors to complement its teen stars, this current film has a strong design theme and a sure sense of momentum which drives the film relentlessly on from the somewhat absurd to the outright wacky. The final shot is a masterful touch not worth missing.
The film spends a few days in the life of Dean Stiffle, a young man getting by on the happy pills which dominate so many of the lives in the planned, homogenous town where he lives a rather solitary life with his game-addicted brother, vitamin obsessed mother, and self-help espousing and desperately exploitative writer/father. When a young man in the town dies, the links between surrounding strangers, acquaintances and friends are thrown into disarray and the dependence of the townsfolk on their various drugs and relationships of choice are revealed in new lights. The results include kidnapping, blackmail, and dark, dark humour highlighted by the film's new media superstar "The Chumscrubber" character itself.
Jamie Bell, so striking in Billy Elliot, plays the subdued Dean with an intensity that promises to glow ever brighter. The supporting company of especially fine performers such as Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes, William Fichtner, Rita Wilson, Carrie Ann Moss, Allison Janney, Jason Isaacs, Lauren Holly and John Heard amongst others all get their moments to shine in a script which maintains the right blend of character development, absurdist humour and frightening parallels with the world outside the film.
"The Chumscrubber" is all things a good film should be; entertaining, provocative, intelligent and insightful. As painful as the journey may be, in truth we are all freed. Even the Chumscrubber. But not everyone, not even us personally, always wants the truth. In which case, there are many coloured pills and potions to hide behind and within.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Boogeyman was a refreshing horror film which explored the depth of male fear - which may or may not be a fear of what is inside oneself. Barry Watson carries the film with an intuitive performance which capably envelopes the film in the torment and terror of childhood abandonment and having to face an ever darkening past he has tried hard to abandon. After the death of his mother, a young man returns to his empty childhood home to overcome the horror which haunts him. Exactly what this horror is drives the film successfully for quite a way until faltering in its final third when terror predictably gets an embodiment reducing the devastating expectation of the unseen, ominous darkness which makes the first two-thirds of the film so creepily unnerving. As with the Butterfly Effect, its a film that shirks the irritating comedic-horror-style that practically diseased horror films from the success of Scream onwards. There are no cheap moments of light-relief here which makes the thrills so much more startling. Here is the tale of a disturbed young man having to face up to the demons he's tried to ignore. A successful, unusual blast from the past genre piece. Refreshing, mostly, because its subject is male and his fear is destroying him.
Of the ways to capture the sadness and melancholy of the loss of
self through a cataclysmic event, this film chooses a meditative
path. Cronenberg's films have become increasingly focussed on
the complex nature of identity with this being the most dissociative
and yet oddly engaging. With a topline cast of Miranda Richardson,
Gabriel Byrne, Ralph Fiennes and Lynn Redgrave, these quiet and
quaint performances are filled with frailty and a lurking unease.
These characters - as channelled through the disturbed Spider
(Fiennes) - are both oddly aware of their possession by the central
character and yet remain rebellious and ultimately uncontrollable.
Spider's dilemma throughout is his inability to reconcile his identity
with his actions and his warped mindscape. He remains dispersed between experience, perception, outer expectation and
his own web-spinning. Reality in the film is represented by the
objects that Spider weaves into his various mental states - the
ropes, his journal, his cigarettes, his clothes, his parents - while
the events in the film are inseparable from Spider's sexual
obsession and emotional withdrawal. Its a film which relies upon
a patient and gentle viewer who can accept the various levels of
operation - cinematic, literary, philosophical, psychological and
emotional. Its a rewarding experience for viewers willing to engage
with the implications and intimations but may be too subtle and
gradual for some viewers.
A rarely seen small, unambitious Australian film about obsession in the "Hand That Rocks The Cradle" mode which fits neatly into the tv movie mould except for the sexy, brazen performance of Steve Bisley (from Mad Max) as the cut-off-denim-shorts wearing stud-muffin pursued by a desperate, psychotic misty-wannabe determined to ruin his sweet marriage to her best friend. She also wants to get rid of the child (the little feller) to have her dream man all to her trampy, saucy self. Its a very upper middle class Brisane (more sydney like at times) depicted in the film with a very early 80s Australian filmic style both very naturalistic and breezy. The melodramatic grand finale is worth the wait for camp value (the swinging, hanging potplant as instrument of fear!!!).
There are films about loss and films and learning and "Heaven"
unites the two in a subtle but painful union. Maybe the distance
between these two opposites is not ever as measurable as when
united and Heaven may be the place.
Based upon a "screenplay" by Krystof Kieslowski and his writing
partner, Tom Twyker has created from these ashes a film
necessarily different but maybe closer to its source. In uniting
difficult partners - dead and living, criminal and police, innocent
and guilty, honest and dishonest, alive and dead - Twyker
manages a film so impossibly, absurdly beautiful it threatens to
cave in upon itself but never does. Rarely does a film so
provocative and yet gentle leave me so still and yet moved. I
haven't the desire nor passion to tear apart the odd feelings this
film left me with...except to say maybe this is heaven.
Larry Clark's films are like snapshots, very much photographs in
motion or action. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the character is in the
detail. Rather than layered with characterisation, this film reveals
characters in still moments (a couples' naked embrace, a family at
a table, a naked mother embracing her baby).
Being a photographer before a director - and before that the son of
a baby photographer - Clark's artistic form hits a peak in Bully.
Visually, the film is a voyeuristic intervention by Clark. He gets
inside the intimate moments and doesn't flinch - the casual
violence and drug abuse are survival tools for these wasted,
suffocating youths. Its filmed very much inside the teen world of
these kids who lack not only purpose but an identity of their own. At
their age, some may argue this is ordinary but these characters
require some base which is sadly beyond them and their families.
The essentially vacant children here are dominated by parents
whose concerns translate as demands rather than any active
relationship. A blind eye is turned at every event, the young
adolescents worlds become increasingly sadistic as they often
mimic their parents. The Bully of the title, Bobby, is his father's son
and the hint of a darker side to their relationship simmers beneath
the surface. The father's constant verbal degrading of Marty -
Bobby's best friend and target - and intense expectations of his
son create the bully. Bobby enjoys the power but only because of
Marty's powerlessness - within his own family, in his friendship
with Bobby, and romantically. Marty's revenge is the result of
built-up, repressed anger easily teased out by a young woman,
Lisa, desperately in love with him and seeking a more concrete
place in his life. Her painful need for Marty - she calls him her
"dream" with an obssessive, dangerous glint in her eye -
motivates but doesn't cause the tragic turn of events. The group's
mindset is like a snapshot - frozen in a moment without foresight -
and their lack of any feeling bar self-protection is coherent in the
context of the surrounding film.
The background to these young peoples lives is entangled in the
blankness of their families whose shocked faces at the end of the
film carry a - too late - burden of guilt.
The performances are suitably shell-shocked and sadisitic, and
the feeling that this is all a game for the teens continues till the
last. This is a film where sex and nudity are all about power - be it
monetary, emotional or physical. Clark's camera is itself complicit
in this world at times, intoxicated by it and his handsome subjects,
but finally this gives us access to the teens world in a way a more
controversy-shy director may have missed. Like Kids, this is a film
colliding with reality with raw, confronting results.
Hedwig puts the glamour into glam rock with a delicious wildcat
comic touch. What makes this film even better is the Plato-derived
mythology which posits a whole different spin on our strange little
globe. In the end though, the truth Hedwig finds is the simplest of
all. Its a movie which grows more attractive with each viewing and
requires just a little romantic attachment from the viewer at first but
once the love affair is underway you're swept up.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch are a band, and Hedwig is the
acid-tongued leader who unsuccessfully stalks a young man -
Tommy Gnossis - who stole not only Hedwig's heart but most of
the back catalogue. Hedwig's story is told in flashback mixing the
stoushes with megastar Tommy's security with the tale of a young
German boy who "put on some make-up" and lost himself in
The film is a classic "journey to the centre of the self", "my life is a
song" and "love the one you are" musical explosion with energetic
performances and a touching, endearing creation of character
from director/star John Cameron Mitchell. If there is any criticism
its that the deleted scenes you can find on the DVD should have
been left in there. The beauty contest is a gem.
There's not a false note in the performances and the streamlined
film buzzes by with stinging one-liners, cute comic jabs, and a
dynamic visual sense on what was a pretty tightly budgeted effort. I saw the film first almost a year ago and now with the DVD have a
weekly Hedwig fix. This is a cult film waiting to explode. Get to it.
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