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West of Memphis (2012)
First of all, if you have seen the 3 Paradise Lost films or the 48 Hours coverage there is nothing new here. The film explains yet again why the WM3 are innocents - which is difficult to doubt - and tries to find another suspect, like Paradise Lost 3 did with Byer. Even if the man in question is guilty, it should not be up to a film to make accusations and substitute itself to a court of law. Paradise Lost 3 proved you can easily be wrong, even if all the evidences seems to be there. A lot of questions about he film itself are left unanswered, like why we see almost exclusively Damien and so few of Jason and Jessie. Did they refuse to participate? Were they left aside by the production? The implication of Peter Jackson and his wife is weird too; listening to him we have the impression he financed and directed all the process leading to the liberation of the 3. Moreover, a lot of things are pointless, especially the part with Stevie Branch sister's. What are we to make of her ordeal? She had a difficult life, but it doesn't prove anything. Last but not least, the film is incredibly badly filmed and edited. I don't remember having seen so many useless images in a documentary in a long time. It is like every time she doesn't have an image that goes with the sound, the filmmaker turns to meaningless images of cars, chairs or whatever. There is no visual imagination here, which is kind of frustrating giving the power of the subject.
If you know nothing about the case, this film can work as a summary, but nothing more.
Messy but entertaining
I knew nothing of the film when I saw it and it was a good surprise. Sure the storyline is messy and full of holes, and it is difficult to understand what is going on and why, especially in the first part. But the film is full of energy, action and the actors are great. Krisada Sukosol Clapp makes a great action hero ; he is both scary and touching, making his character deeply human. Apart from being a gangster movie, it is too a historical film of epic proportion; a lot of work went into the recreation of the 1950s and 1960s. I don't know if the depiction of Bangkok in the fifties is historically accurate, but it a interesting to see those gangsters with Elvis, James Dean as heroes and rock and roll everywhere. True or not we believe this vision of the past and of Thailand's history. Not to be missed if you are a fan of gangster films!
As far as contemporary western goes, this one is very good. The obvious influence of There will be Blood and Terrence Malick can be annoying, especially in the opening sequences. But then the film find is own identity in a very dark, even macabre, humor and a very nihilistic view of human nature. It give some real piece of anthology, as when the pastor wake up to find the sheriff sitting at his kitchen table with two dead bodies he just digged out; or when Sarah shot a voyeuristic shop owner up the ass. The plot, as the title points out, is one of revenge, but it is not that important. Obviously, the director is more interested in characters and actors then storytelling. All the actors are fantastic, and are allowed to give creative, over the top performances. The result is both fun and unsettling to watch, even if it is sometime frustrating.
Avoid at all cost
I am very very very patient with horror movies, but this one was just unbearable. It is a big mess of ideas stolen from many films : a survivalist twist from Deliverance, the monster from Creep, a bit of torture porn from, well, anywhere. And, ho! a reference to our troubled times of wars and fears - which is just plain shocking because it exploits a real tragedy to pretend the film has a meaning. Add disposable actors, ridiculous hunters-with-big-trucks-and-dog, maybe haunted forest lost very far from civilization and you have a headache. The end doesn't explain anything, it just justify the lack of coherence and originality of the scenario.
That kind of films give to the horror genre its bad reputation!
Broke Sky (2007)
A good surprise
I knew nothing about this film when I saw it, but it turned out to be a good surprise. The atmosphere is weirdly sympathetic, the humor very twisted, the best is made of the idea of the two characters being roadkill cleaners and the actors are fantastic. Joe Unger is very good, going from a nice looser to a very creepy and haunted man.
Unfortunately, the big "secret" in the characters past is rather disappointing. It is like if the filmmaker had lost confidence in his story of the 2 guys' jobs being menaced by technology and decided to add a big dark "punch" out of the blue.
Still, it is a great little film for lovers of the macabre.