Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
I Think We're Alone Now (2008)
Quirky Subjects Make This Documentary About A Burnt-Out Pop Singer Quite Interesting
I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW chronicles two over-obsessed Tiffany fans, who's sole purpose in life (or one of the top three life goals, according to one fan) is to marry the burnt-out pop singer.
I saw the film several days ago and I've already heard some criticism on the Slamdance grapevine. Several fellow filmmakers seem to think the documentary does less documenting and more exploiting of these two individuals. While I agree the film doesn't necessarily portray them in a positive light, I don't think they themselves portray themselves positively either--at least in the "normal" mainstream light.
Jeff Turner, a victim of Asperger syndrome, is a likable enough guy and I'd totally hang out with him because he's a vessel of knowledge. However, most of this knowledge is dedicated to his pseudo-relationship with Tiffany. He's taken great steps and read many books in an attempt to justify his idea that Tiffany loves him as much as he "loves" her. For example, Tiffany's appearance in Playboy was apparently a silent gesture of love for Jeff.
Towards the end of the documentary, we learn that he's begun a similar fascination with Alyssa Milano. He even thinks she's gone back in time in order to prevent his relationship with Tiffany! Jeff's innocuous attitude and gentle perspective on life really persuades the viewer to fall in love. He's kooky and fascinating and I really adore him and it's the opinion of this reviewer, that he's portrayed fairly and accurately.
Kelly McCormick, however, is really where I believe all the controversy lies. A hermaphrodite, Kelly already has to deal with a great deal of persecution already. She (I say "she" because Kelly's ultimate desire is to fully become a woman) too believes she's destined to be with Tiffany, but for a very different reason. After a bicycle accident that left her in a coma, she claims she had a vision of a woman who looked just like Tiffany (even though she'd never seen the pop star, nor heard of her) surrounded by a white light and all the other normal comatose visions people claim to have. This vision has thrown her into a tailspin of mental anguish and depression every day she's not with her love. At one point she really breaks down and while I did not feel it was appropriate to laugh as some did, it did disturb me a great deal.
A documentary, in order to stay true to its form, must be unbiased and objective about its subject(s). In this case, the documentarian, Sean Donnelly (this is his first feature film), does just that. He shows these people for who they are and they're more than happy to display themselves. Whether you like them or not, or feel sorry or pity for them, the fact of the matter remains: this documentary is a) true to its form and b) interesting.
Response to Badlands screening at LSIFF
I vaguely remember watching Badlands on television when I was a kid. I don't remember my reaction much, but I'm quite sure I wouldn't have liked it back then. Of course, anything formatted for my TV, edited and chock full of commercials isn't really worth seeing anyway. What really impressed me was Martin Sheen's brief speech before the film where he mentioned he was most proud of his work in this film, above all, including Apocalypse Now. Although, the only copy available was on DVD (Sheen wasn't too happy about this), I'm really glad I caught it on the big screen. It's really one of those films that needs to be seen, so if you haven't seen it, go rent it. After seeing the film as an adult, I suddenly found myself wondering what all the fuss was about with Natural Born Killers, for after viewing this film, you just don't need the Oliver Stone film. It's entirely unnecessary and arbitrary by comparison.
Low and Behold (2007)
Barlow really captures the devastating state--both physically and mentally--of New Orleans post Katrina
I was really excited about finally seeing Barlow Jacob's Low and Behold, given its subject matter. Barlow plays a confused young man, Turner Stull, who travels to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to help his uncle adjusting hurricane claims. Working as an independent adjuster, Stull finds himself in a foreign, tragic environment full of hostile individuals who have lost all of their worldly possessions and homes, and some, even their families due to the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina.
Apparently, Barlow actually worked in Florida--not New Orleans--as an adjuster; and I've been told he really didn't like it. Due to the nature of my business--I'm in storm restoration--I quite related with the film, and although Barlow takes comedic license with his portrayal of adjusters and their practices, the responses met are probably quite true. I actually worked in Florida as well, although, I did not work in flood areas and my customer's were far better off than the ones portrayed in this film.
Okay, so now I take Fred Durst seriously
The Education of Charlie Banks marks the film debut of Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. And what a remarkable debut it is! The film's themes deal with love, change and facing one's fears. Durst really makes the characters come to life and, despite many films of the same ilk, creates a likable antagonist--albeit a brutally violent one--who proves to be human, despite all his flaws. Jason Ritter plays a fearsome character, but just as the protagonist, Charlie Banks, expressed his need to "protect" him, I too sensed something in him that was precious. Unlike Variety magazine, who said Ritter "simply lacks sufficient menace and charisma," I find Ritter to be quite right for the role. In fact, the next day, I met him at Club Embargo and asked him not to beat me up! The real star, however, is Jesse Eisenberg, who plays the lovable Charlie Banks. His sincerity and genuine concern for others rightfully took an emotional toll on me as I sat in the theater. Tom Huckabee mentioned the film ought to be up for an Oscar nomination. I think I could agree with that.
This quixotic tale will leave you wanting to see more of Paul Greene's adventures in Hollywood!
Calvin Simmons' Float is a quixotic tale of a wannabe Hollywood director, Paul Greene, and his foolish pursuit at fame, fueled by his great idea. There's only one problem, his "great idea"--creating an all female prison on a ship--is absolutely ridiculous! Greene, however, will stop at nothing to get his film made. After pitching a big studio executive, played by Joshua LeBar, Float is a go, until his sudden termination. Losing his multi-million dollar budget, Greene must now figure out how to raise the money on his own and film the movie independently.
Intermixed with a workable romantic story, Float proves more than humorous. As Simmons mentioned in the Q&A after the film, the viewer doesn't necessarily relate to or want to be Paul Greene, but is sympathetic to his plight. His character, played by the writer, Paul Kolsby, is a likable--albeit pathetic--gem. I want to see more of his adventures! Float certainly doesn't inspire the independent filmmaker--nor should it--but it does laugh at the expense of Big Hollywood.
The Good Life (2007)
An important film about one man's struggle to survive in an environment of deceit and manipulation
Given there's already quite a number of reviews of The Good Life--it did play at Sundance, after all, I'm not going to discuss the plot of the film, except to briefly say that it's a film about the suffering and isolation of one man, Jason, in a town he's trapped in for all the wrong reasons. He is surrounded by deceitful and manipulative individuals who do nothing but bring him down and pull him further and further into desolation. That is, except for his one true friend, Gus, an old man who owns a neighborhood theater. The film deals with themes and perspectives and actions viewers don't typically find appealing on screen--and it is largely depressing. Reviews are mixed for this film, as to be expected. Some find the film hopeful or inspiring at the end--I just see it as survival.
The well-fleshed out characters in this gloomy tale are all impressively played. Mark Webber's performance as Jason is incredibly riveting and believable. As for Chris Klein, I agree with some critics who believe this might be his best role yet. Zooey Deschanel manipulates me into loving her once again. Bill Paxton's character is quirky and odd and gay, and Bill pulls it off perfectly. Gus, however, is probably my favorite character. I kept looking over at Harry Dean Stanton, who gives a heartfelt performance as a dying man, wondering, as the film progressed, how he felt watching himself play this character--at his age--and how it effects him. Of course, he's far more active than Gus...
(on my blog there was a picture of Harry Dean waving his hands in the theater at the audience, announcing "I am not a crook.")
Professional skateboarder Stephen Berra has written and directed a truly important film, built on decent story and cemented together with remarkable performances from the actors. Berra's portrait of small town America manufactures a painful environment which grabs the viewer by the throat. The film doesn't necessarily say anything new or even profound for that matter, but it's certainly an emotional experience I won't soon forget.
Tijuana Makes Me Happy (2007)
A charming coming-of-age film with fantastic shots of the 'real' Mexico
Tijuana Makes Me Happy is a coming of age story shot with unprofessional actors in a quasi-documentary style. In the short span of time the film covers, fifteen year old Indio has to make decisions regarding sex, crime and friendship (with a rooster). The plot details are fairly simplistic and linear, but that certainly doesn't take away from the film in any way. That the film seemingly has no moral perspective about the dubious activities in the film, really gives the film more credit in my mind. It's light-hearted approach to activities such as cockfighting, prostitution and drug trafficking seems far more realistic and gripping when told by the amoral eye.
Perhaps I'm partial to films photographed in Mexico, however, given my love of Central America in general. Even the most ordinary scenes give me great pleasure when I see them on the screen because they are so different than America. I did appreciate the story (although, I could have lived without the spelling errors in the subtitles), but the vision of Tijuana and its inhabitants reeled me in.
Spot on performances make this film certainly worth seeing
Aside from the final sequence of Orphans, I felt Ry Russo-Young's film was a brilliant piece of cinema. The story follows two very different sisters who reunite for a birthday party and rehash their childhood. They discover how they really feel about each and justify why they moved apart in the first place. The dynamic between the two characters really makes this a great film--especially a dance sequence smack dab in the middle of the film which is utterly amazing. What I didn't like about the film was the director's choice to make something like a MADD commercial at the end of the film. And, especially, the choice to have one of the sisters actually talk to a grave. Other than that, I adored the film for its style and grace, it's zany character design and phenomenal performances by the actors, it's realistic dialogue and its gritty sense of direction.
RIP Lily Wheelwright
Quirky comedy finds humor in ordinary aspects of life
The really amazing thing about Kabluey is the celebrity cast Scott Prendergast puts together. Not only is the film made on a shoe-string budget (no trailers or amenities folks!), but this is Prendergast's first feature length film! Topping that, he writes, directs and stars in it! After the film ended, Prendergast tells us that his co-star, Lisa Kudrow, actually phoned him up one morning and told him in person she'd do the film. He'd sent her a script directly. Apparently, after she signed on, several other stars (including Teri Garr and Christine Taylor) followed suit.
Not only is the cast of characters spot on, but the film itself certainly delivers a wide spectrum of joyous emotions. I felt joy throughout the film, but that joy ranged from laugh-out-loud funny, to giddiness, to emotions that made me feel like I should cry but still made me feel happy. Either way, I was quite amused and had a smile on my face the entire time.
The quirky concept of the film is an oddball kind of guy, Salman, trying to help his sister-in-law with her two, non-stop ruckus driven brats, while her husband is away in Iraq. Salman ends up getting a seemingly useless job as a guy who dresses up in a huge blue, faceless suit and hands out flyers promoting office space for rent at a glorious expanse of a building so large and magnificent and yet, so empty. I asked the writer/director about the company during the Q&A session and he said he'd manufactured it after these grand buildings owned by bankrupt and defunct dot com companies, who'd busted.
Prendergast finds humor in so many ordinary parts of life. This, coupled with his ability to tell a story by only showing its aftermath, makes me think we'll be seeing quite a bit more of him on screen and behind the scenes. Prendergast received a round of applause when he announced Kabluey had been picked up and will be distributed, with a theatrical release, sometime next year. It's blurific!
GDMF is more concerned with the aftermath of something awful than the act itself
A shocking coincidence at a party sets an uncomfortable tone in James M. Johnston's GDMF. The film playfully begins with an exotic dancer describing an odd fetish of one of her clients. Certainly setting the awkward tone at the beginning, GDMF proves to take its uneasiness even further with an accidental act that makes her professional line of work seem just the same as any cubical jockey's. Interestingly enough, the act itself isn't enough for Johnston, as he shows us the unlikely aftermath which compels the viewer to question who really is or is not the victim of this bizarre tale. The gritty look of the film and the slamming music of Top Secret...Shhh really fits the overall design of the film as a whole. And the cinematography at the end, with a scene involving a mother and a daughter, is absolutely perfect.