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Her Name Is Carla (2005)
Effective Low-Budget Thriller
Normally I don't write reviews, however, considering that at this time there are only two user reviews for this film, one over-rating it, and one atrociously under-rating it, I thought for the sake of any interested readers out there I might take a moment...
The coverbox on this DVD is intriguing; A portion of a detailed babydoll's head with blue eyes adorned against a white background. So effective is this coverbox that I rented the sucker. Unfortunately, the attractive coverbox has very little to do with the contents of the actual film on the DVD. Fortunately, although the cover misrepresents the film, the film is watchable. It is not so much a character study as a study in motives.
The entire movie takes place in a 24 hour period. The story concerns a lonely married couple, Bill and Carla, who despite living in what seems to be a prosperous vacation town next to the ocean, are isolated from neighbors, friends, and anything but one another. Into their vacant lives walk another mysterious couple who rather believably manipulate their way into Bill and Carla's forlorn day. What follows is a series of conversations mixing sexual tension and well-founded distrust and suspicion, particularly on the part of the husband, Bill.
The film uses its meager budget creatively, relying on the actors to convey most of it, but also slipping into effective slo-mo shots of their faces which reveal their isolation, phoniness, or unhappiness at the given moment. Early in the film there are some jarring close-ups of the principals that could have been left out and served to remind me that I was watching a film, but as the film progresses it finds its pace and begins to absorb the viewer in its plot and characters.
The characters and plot start out like the beginning of a Penthouse letter, but quickly spiral into the reality of what might happen if those letters took a more sinister turn. There are unresolved questions left for the viewer at the end of the film; Whether the past between two of the characters was innocent, or less than innocent, or whether there was any past at all? Regardless, it does become clear as the movie flows that one of the characters is completely nuts.
The film is a sort of poor man's Talented Mr. Ripley, and is carried by a talented cast who know that the weight of the film is on their backs, and use their skills and their charisma to the hilt to pull it off. Be forewarned, because of its melancholy atmosphere and moodiness, one should be in that sort of mood to fully appreciate it.
Also, it is worth mentioning that the last 4 or 5 minutes of the film seem tacked on as an afterthought to try to increase the drama or intrigue. Personally, I think these last few minutes should have been cut. There is a moment where the screen goes black and there is what feels like the true ending of the film. And then there is a slow fade in and the film comes back for a few minutes of expository business, some voice-over, and a telephone call that do nothing but dispel some of the queasy discomfort the filmmakers had strived for throughout the entire previous hour and 20 minutes.
Raging Sharks (2005)
Ed Wood Lives!
Watch it. Love it. Regret It.
Wonderful stock footage of sharks, of people of the beach, of submarines, sewn together with bad acting and an even worse script. A must see for bad movie fans. In particular this is worth a watch just for the one shot of the tug-boat hand pulling off his hat and crinkling his face as he responds to the tragedy of a diver's sudden choppily-edited, stock-footaged death in the mouth of a Raging Shark. Even the credits are hilarious as you read the names which all seem to end in 'ovo' or 'vala' as this film was some sort of Bulgarian production. And remember as you come to the conclusion that there is a lesson here: There are literal Raging Sharks, but there are also metaphorical Raging Sharks: Humans.