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American Mary (2012)
A true 'must see'.
Hands down my favourite film of the year. AM is not a studio big budget picture. It's a beautifully shot and well structured - albeit rushed - story about a girl name Mary. I won't say anymore about the plot, that's not how I do things. Let's talk about the film.
American Mary is the second film by legends-in-the-making The Soska Sisters; a Canadian film duo (who are really twin sisters) with a big vision and a scrupulous eye for detail.
The films has many amazing qualities and only a handful of flaws. The best choice the Soska's made was with casting Katharine Isabelle as Mary. I haven't seen that much alacrity in the eyes of a lead actress in a long time. Also, a surprising treat for those with an eye for film, are the homages paid to strong women in film, particularly Michelle Pfeiffer's CatWoman.
I highly recommend the film and order anyone with an interest in independent cinema to take a gander. But don't watch it if Tom Cruise is your man and you're one of those suffering from big budget addiction (Hollywoverdose) as American Mary ISN'T a studio picture. It's an inventive second film from a pair of severely underrated (and shockingly unknown) film visionaries and a promise, if you like, of more to come. It's sexy, nuanced, deep in places, it deals well with common social issues and it's claustrophobically involving.
However, I disagree with it's classification as a Horror, (even Canadian Horror), it's gory and it's shocking but it isn't horrifying as such; it's more a revenge thriller.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Fear and Loathing seems bland in comparison. If I could only watch ten DVDs for the rest of time, this would be one of them.
Oliver Stone did something with NBK that I hadn't seen since (and still haven't since). Not only is it well made but the actors act (strange, I know). It truly is a visionary achievement (well, let's face it with a story from Tarantino it was never going to be simple), it's use of colour, opposing styles and iconography, throughout, make it impossible to ignore. Okay, granted it IS ridiculous but it's that special kind of ridiculous, the "f*ck it, we're here now, might as well" kind, and it gets me every time.
I won't spoil it or give you the story: just prepare yourselves for a masterclass in true cinema. It wouldn't suit any other style, I can't imagine it being shown in any other way. Mickey and Mallory remain one of the greatest screen pairings of all time (the same to be said for Lewis and Harrelson), badder than Beatrix and Bill, cooler than Trinity and Neo. It's fast, it's vicious but it NEVER lets your eyes wander away. A gripping story throughout.
But if you like your bones white and your coffee black and your tie in the centre of your suit; this isn't for you.
Only God Forgives (2013)
Stylish and seamless/
Beautifully shot and (in places) exquisitely told. But not much of anything happens. It's gripping, the use of colour is both inventive and cleverly suggestive of what is later to come. Having said that, movies are supposed to be poignant, they are made to make us think, to help us escape all that going on around us and take us away for 2 hours to some other reality in some other space in time. This did neither. Gosling is Gosling, if you've seen him in The Place Beyond the Pines then (minus the tattoo's) you've pretty much seen him in this movie. Kristin Scott Thomas is ridiculously good in this movie. So much so I didn't register it was her until the credits came at the end.
I just don't see the point in the film, yes Refn is a 'weirdo' director and has made a name for himself for his immersive, somewhat crooked, films - and i'm not questioning his abilities, he is an auteur of cinema - but this movie is an hour and something of nicely filmed nothing. There wasn't much of a plot, then again, perhaps that was his point. To give it to you in movie speak, it's 'Kill Bill: VOL I' (Tarantino, 2003) meets 'Drive' (Refn, 2011), with a sprinkle of 'BLOW' (Demme, 2001). But you need to see it to appreciate the way it's put together. Beautiful and seamless, just lacking in oomph.