8MM (1999) Poster

(1999)

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8/10
Disturbing, effective film
mwpressley25 October 2000
8MM is a very dark, disturbing film that isn't for everyone. Nicolas Cage puts in an excellent performance as a private detective named Tom Welles who is hired to investigate whether a snuff film is real or acted. His journey takes him farther and farther into the realm of pornography. Every minute of this film is suspenseful and riveting. I also found Joaquin Phoenix's performance to be outstanding as well. This movie does a wonderful job of creating a dark mood and exploring the motives and drives behind its characters. One of Cage's best, and a severely under-rated film.
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8/10
A dark, graphic view into the underworld of pornography
bealer29 October 2004
Firstly, this film is hugely under-rated. For those reviewers who call this film a "waste of time" or place it in the "hall of shame", maybe they should go back to watching more obvious and simple films.

8mm focuses on "snuff" movies and follows Nicholas Cage as he ventures into the dark underworld of the pornographic industry. I'm not a great fan of Nicholas Cage (I still wonder how he ever made it as a movie star), but in 8mm felt he redeemed himself from past performances. Other actors in the film put on great performances, notably Joaquin Pheonix, and James Gandolfini (of Sopranos).

What makes the film worth watching though is the emotion, dark imagery and tense moments throughout the film. The storyline too is very well thought out although does have a few holes and untouched areas that may have helped develop the film further. There is no Hollywood ending, forced propaganda, or marketing. What you do get is graphic scenes, moderate violence, and an insight into "snuff" movies (which really is quite disturbing).

Having said that this movie is not for the faint hearted, so if you're a "puppy-dogs and ice-cream" kind of person I'd suggest watching something else. If however, you feel you will be able to stomach such a film then prepare yourself for a moving film, which will leave you feeling that little bit darker at the end.

I highly recommend this film. 8/10
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9/10
Disturbing subject matter, yet a great film!
LebowskiT100022 December 2002
I'll never forget first seeing this film in the theater. When I heard that this film was written by the same writer as "Seven", I expected a truly sick and twisted film. Now don't get me wrong, this most certainly is a sick and twisted film, but it wasn't nearly as graphic as I expected. Maybe that is due to this film having a different director, but nonetheless the film wasn't as graphic as I'd expected. With that said, and having watched this film a number of times, I still wouldn't recommend this film to everyone. If you like thrillers and can handle the subject of pornography and "snuff" films, then you should definitely give this film a chance.

I'm a little surprised that this film has such a low rating on IMDB. I can see why someone wouldn't like it, but I can't see why it would have such a low rating. I would assume that most viewers couldn't handle the subject and therefore gave the film a low rating.

All of the actors involved in this film did a very good job. Nicholas Cage was great as always (sometimes a little over-acting, but most of the time he was great). James Gandolfini, Joaquin Phoenix, Peter Storemare, Anthony Heald, Catherine Keener, and the rest of the supporting cast all pulled off solid performances.

Joel Schumacher really needs to stick with films like this. He really does a great job with thriller/drama type films (and needs to steer clear of certain super-hero films). Joel did a great job with this film and I look forward to his next work.

The only complaint I have about the film is the music. There were some times were the music was perfect or tolerable, but there were others where it was just horrible and detracted from the film. Some of the music in the film was too bizarre and didn't fit with the film.

Like I said, I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, but I thought this was an excellent film. I hope you enjoy the film. Thanks for reading,

-Chris
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Well made, but disturbing. Watch with care.
Viper227 February 1999
I walked into the movie theater last Friday not expecting at all what I was about to see. I'd heard about it, thought "Oh, another Seven". Same screenwriter, but I was way off track. I can stomach a lot, having no problem stuffing down popcorn during very graphic scenes. In 8MM, my coke had trouble going down. 8MM did not have consistent gory/violent scenes, but the way the movie was made made you fill in the blanks of what the makers of the movie could not screen. And if you pay attention and immerse yourself, you fill in more blanks than you really think you could, or want. As Max put it: "the devil changes you." The perversity and deep rottenness of the human minds displayed in 8MM is what disturbs you. Then you realize, that "snuff"-movies are real, that there are individuals twisted enough to endorse/enjoy/take part in it. And worst of all, that these individuals don't look like monsters, they're perhaps just overweight nearsighted men who look like your dad, your son, your brother, even yourself. And if you don't look out,(no matter how secluded you think you are in your suburban home, with a wife, a daughter, and a dog named Shep) you dive into the pit of perversion and rottenness as well, finding no way out. In conclusion: excellent music, acting very sufficient, the plot: a must see. Just don't bring popcorn, and prepare to walk out of the movie theatre disturbed, asking questions, and a little bit more suspicious of those walking around you, and yourself.
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8/10
An Voyeuristic Thriller About Human's Capacity For Evil
jzappa12 September 2008
There is a lot to be said about skill. Joel Schumacher is responsible for Batman & Robin, one of the most horrendously made movies in the past 15 years. One could have said upon leaving the theater in 1997 that Joel Schumacher is one of the worst directors working today. Two years later, Schumacher creates something, albeit with commercial sensibilities, that succeeds on many levels. 8mm is a murky, scuzzy passage through the miserable, dystopian criminal world of snuff films, taken on by a private investigator who is dismayed and scarred by what he unearths. It probes the resources of violent exploitation films, but not as a violent exploitation film. It would more accurately turn your stomach than amuse. Andrew Kevin Walker, who wrote Seven, and again establishes a protagonist who confronts evil and nearly loses his sanity in an effort to understand its reasons. The answer comes almost at the end of the film, from its most vicious character, but his rationale wittingly refrains from going as deep as the psychological world of his deeds. Joel Schumacher has an attraction to sinister, perhaps Gothic environments, even if his previous films that follow that pattern aren't so great, like The Lost Boys. Here, with Mychael Danna's sorrowful score and the great Robert Elswit's guilty, peeping camera, he fashions an impression of apprehension even in the few scenes where the story takes solace in Cage's home life. One director would not be wrong to shock us with a comparison to the unsuspecting atmosphere of Cage's residential street or the opening airport shot, but Schumacher perceives the looming subterranean goings-on beneath the unsuspecting.

The intent of the story is to consider a rather everyday individual and provoke him into such a troubling conflict with pure evil that he himself is pushed to torture and murder. He lives an unexciting but mostly happy life with his wife Catherine Keener and their infant daughter. He went to a good school on an academic scholarship, however while his contemporaries went through the most conventional motions to become lawyers, doctors, bankers, he chose a line of work comprised of following, shadowing, investigating, staking out, watching. For the sake of a comfortable living, he accommodates an upper crust circle of socialites and politicians. Nevertheless, this case which he almost does not take is unique. He is sent for by the attorney of a rich widow whose husband has just died. Whilst rummaging through the inside of her husband's safe, she and the lawyer find an 8 mm film of what seems to be the vicious slaying of a teenage girl by a large masked man. Cage convinces himself that the film, while horrifying, is simulation, but the widow wants him to confirm this for sure.

8mm doesn't consider the story's dilemmas merely as opportunity for money-making set pieces like action scenes. When Cage has the chance to take revenge, he doesn't have the command of his motivation because he does not have the same capacity for murder that his prospective victims have, and he essentially calls a character wounded by this person and provokes her to talk him into it. That is a novel approach the protagonist's vengeful turning point, and it elicits subliminal moral uncertainty that the audience has to take in hand.

8mm is a conventional studio thriller, but it is a real movie. It is all content and the suitable approach to that content. It is about human's aptitude for malevolence, conjecturing just deep it can go and how little we care to know of it in ourselves.
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7/10
Not for the faint of heart
moviesleuth229 June 2009
When it came out, "8mm" became notorious for its dark and perverted subject matter. Any and all warnings that are given in association with this film are warranted: this is a dark, dark, thriller, and one that revels in a lot of sordid subject matter. How this was never threatened with an NC-17 is beyond me.

Tom Welles (Nicholas Cage) is a well-respected private detective. One day, he gets a call from a recently widowed, and exceedingly wealthy woman named Mrs. Christian (Myra Carter). It seems that when Mrs. Christian was going through her husbands things, she came across a film reel that appears to be a "snuff film" (a "snuff film is where someone is actually murdered on screen, not merely acting like it). Tom is hired to find out if the film is actually real.

Andrew Kevin Walker wrote the suspense hit "Seven," and the two films bear a number of similarities. Both deal with grisly and bizarre subject matter, and take no prisoners when they show it all. But "Seven" had something that "8mm" doesn't: a sense of atmosphere. Try as he might, director Joel Schumaker can't establish an ominous atmosphere, which mutes the film's impact.

The acting varies. Nicholas Cage is effective as Tom Welles, though that's to be expected because this is a role that Cage could play in his sleep. Joaquin Phoenix shines as Max California, the porn star clerk who becomes Tom's sidekick. The rest of the cast is not so great. James Gandolfini is okay as Eddie Poole, but Peter Stormare (Dino Velvet, a mysterious hard-core porn producer), Anthony Heald as Mrs. Christian's lawyer, Daniel Longdale, (looking strikingly similar to Geraldo Rivera) and Catherine Keener (Tom's neurotic wife)are awful.

"8mm" works, but it's not masterpiece. The story is easy to follow, as long as you don't stop to think about how the film gets from one scene to the next. But the final 20 minutes are bad; they're not credible, and everyone acts like they've lost their brains.

"Seven" contained an ingenious twist ending, and while "8mm" doesn't offer that, it takes a few unexpected turns, and the story is not formulaic.

This is a good film, but not a great one. Recommended, if you can get it for cheap.
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10/10
Schumacher's best work
amapial17 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In the list of my 10 preferred films 8MM occupies the fifth place. This film is simply perfect. To begin the music is excellent, it contributes to give an at the same time sad, strange and beautiful particular environment. Then the actors whose initially Nicolas Cage are all very talented, especially Joaquin Phoenix and James Gandolfini. The scenario writer Andrew Kevin Walker who had largely proved reliable with Se7en did an extraordinary work. But what I enjoyed me the most in this film it is that there is a morals. In its investigation Nicolas Cage tests each minute more and more compassion for the wildly assassinated young girl whom it ends up making the decision not only to find all the authors of the snuff but of all to kill them.That's what I call a hero. This film is not on violence or sadomasochism but on the punishment. If in the true life each time that a snuff is carried out all passed as in 8MM,it would be a large thing.For me it is the best film of Schumacher which is at all events one of the largest realizers of the world. 10/10
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8/10
Very gritty and dark
Smells_Like_Cheese1 November 2007
When I watched 8 MM, I didn't know what to expect, but I noticed that Joel Schumacher directed it and I am a fan of his. Also it stars two other terrific actors like Nicholas Cage and Joaquin Phoenix, so usually that equals a great film. 8 MM turned out to be a terrific dark drama that I'm not so sure that I understand it's low rating. I was actually expecting it to be in the 7.0 range when I went to check it out on IMDb, but it's in the low 6.0's. I understand that it's an extremely dark movie that not too many people would wanna take a look at, but for what it was, I thought it was great. It took us into the deep dark world of porn and what some sick people get off on. It's not just about that, but also it takes us into a detective type of drama that makes it into a scary type of thriller.

Tom Welles is a detective that is given a strange short movie called a "snuff film", where a beautiful young girl is being brutally raped and then murdered on film. While it's supposed to be fake, it looks incredibly real and terrifying. Her relative asks him to find out wither it is fake or real and if she's still alive. This means he has to go deep into a world of brutal porn that is out of his league. With the help of a porn salesman, Max, they go to find out if this girl is really alive or not, but end up getting into some serious trouble when the directors and "actors" find out about them.

8 MM is in no way for the faint of heart, there are some extremely disturbing images that I really wouldn't like to see again, I'm sure most wouldn't either, but this is a great dark drama that I would recommend for a watch. Nicholas did a great job, but Joaquin really takes the show here. He made his character incredibly believable and almost sympathetic. Joel really made me believe the story, he shot it wonderfully and didn't over do anything. I would recommend this film for a watch, it's a great thriller that is impressive as well as scary.

8/10
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8/10
One of best movies I have seen
ninoguapo27 December 2005
8MM is one of best movies I have seen. Nicolas Cage plays his role very good, which I expected having seen "Lord or War "recently. The plot is interesting and so are the dialogs between characters. There are quite a few tense moments in the movie – which is probably why I liked this movie that much.

Again trough it is only a movie as someone may say – it shows you a bit of the reality out there- the one which people don't want to admit that it exists. The movie is basically a mystery with some action elements. My opinion is that its rating on IMDb should be much higher – but well I guess not everyone likes movies like this one – trough I wonder why since there are many other movies that are much harder to watch than this one.

One of the best things about 8 MM is its soundtrack honestly it is rare to find such a carefully chosen music to go with the scenes.
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8/10
Underrated and controversial, yet classic to be
rwirtz18 July 2003
As the user comments show this movie is either very much liked or very much disliked by its viewers. Although I don't want anything to do with the subject matter of the movie (snuff movies) I belong to the first category of viewers. This is an almost unprecedented movie for Hollywood, telling a very unusual and unsexy (no pun intended) story.

Together with the outstanding performances that is exactly why this movie deserves so much more credit. The plot is good and dirty, the acting is solid throughout and the score is just brilliant and haunting. Joel Schumacher deserves applause for taking on this project and for choosing Nicolas Cage for the lead character he made a very good decision: no-one can play a man torn-apart between two extremes better than him --> see Adaptation!

Because it is so dark and unconventional for Hollywood standards this movie is not getting the praise it deserves. Granted, it is not a run-of-the-mill feel-good movie, but a sinister and dark picture from the writer of Se7en. 8MM is as good as Se7en and it deserves the same treatment.
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6/10
Beware Of Brutal Topic
ccthemovieman-13 May 2006
Wow, this is a tough subject but not as sordid a film as I figured it would be, although be warned the last 30 minutes are really rough in spots. Speaking of spots, this is a bloody movie in spots, too and very profane after the first 40 minutes. Yet, despite the unpleasant nature of the story (making a "snuff film" - filming the killing of people) it's a riveting one, well-acted and doesn't overdo the violence. The characters in here are some of the most despicable you could find - killer and porn kings.

Even our hero here, played by Nicholas Cage, starts off as a clean-cut fairly straight dude, and changes for the worst, too. Joaquin Phoenix has a good line in here, with the prophetic statement, "The devil doesn't change; he changes you."

James Gandolfini and Peter Stormare play characters about as bad you'll ever find in a movie. This film is not, as they say, for all tastes. It will turn off a lot of people but it is interesting and good revenge story, if you like that sort of thing and know what you're in for before watching this.
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8/10
This underrated thriller is well made and worth a look
hu67515 November 2005
A Private Surveillance Invesgator Expert (Oscar-Winner:Nicolas Cage) is been hired by a rich old woman (Myra Carter), who discover that her late husband has an mysterious eight millimeter film that features an young girl (Jenny Powell) getting murdered, what seems to be an authentic snuff film. When he agrees to investigate to find out, if this film is a real snuff film or not.

Directed by Joel Schumacher (Falling Down, Flatliners, The Lost Boys) made an interesting but flawed thriller to a very important adult subject matter to this film. Cage gives an fine performance but he's almost outshine by a strong supporting cast like Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Anthony Heald and Peter Stormare.

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer (also in Pan & Scan) with an strong:Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an fascinating commentary track by the director, which the director comments the most controversial scenes and interesting scenes had to be deleted from the film. Which the DVD doesn't have any deleted scenes. DVD's others extras are Behind the Scenes featurette, Original Theatrical Trailer and a Collector's Booklet. Since this film was an Box Office Disappointment and Screenwriter:Andrew Kevin Walker (Brainscan, Se7en, Sleepy Hollow) disowned the film before it was released into theaters. Since the director and screenwriter:Nicolas Kazan (Bicentennial Man, Enough, Fallen) re-written Walker's actual script. This is a well made film that falls flat in certain tense scenes. Nonetheless, this film is worth a look. Super 35. (*** ½/*****).
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A Haunting and disturbing Brilliant Realistic Masterpiece!!
jeff-826 February 1999
The intensely intriguing storyline of 8MM follows the haunting search by a private investigator (played superbly by Nicolas Cage) for the makers of a grotesque and disturbing snuff film in which a young woman is murdered. Starting by looking through endless missing persons files (in an attempt to identify the victim), Cage ultimately follows leads to the world of underground seaze films and the people who are involved in making them. Throughout his creepy investigation, Cage becomes more and more disturbed by the Snuff film and stops at nothing in an attempt to track down answers to what really happened. This film is So intriguing and suspenseful, there are scenes that will leave your heart pounding in anticipation of what's to come. I don't know if I have ever seen such an intriguing and suspenseful Drama/Thriller ever before! This film is so realistic, there are times when you feel as if what is going on is real, and you begin to feel more for the characters than you usually do in a film. The last 20 minutes of the film are heart pounding and breathtaking! Director Joel Schumacher delivers one of the most mind haunting dramas you will ever see and gives us a story that won't be easy to forget. It's dark, moody, creepy, brilliant, and disturbing! And when all the pieces finally come together, you'll be glad you went along for the ride. Wow, It's a sick world we live in!! I give this movie 4 out of 4 stars!
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7/10
A solid thriller!
DJ Inferno3 February 2002
Some sensitive-minded people may surely be disturbed by the dark revenge and self-justice in this film, but "Se7en"-author Andrew Kevin Walker has done another fine work with his script! Although the storyline is obviously taken from Paul Schrader´s "Hardcore" (1974,?) the film is suspense-packed, violent and endowed with good performances of its actors, especially Peter Stormare did a brilliant job with playing the weird bondage-porn director Dino Velvet! I also was truly surprised how good director Joel Schumacher had created a morbid atmosphere, just in unhappy memory of his disastrous "Batman & Robin"-flick..! Another pleasant fact is, that "8MM" doesn´t deal with the Hollywood-typical stereotypes and clichés, so finally we´ve got something we could really call a dirty mainstream production - or at least a nice try of it!
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8/10
Fantastic!!
Rhino-130 October 2002
8MM was a very dark and powerful film featuring the seedy underground world of pornography and snuff movies. It was, to be frank, fantastic. Nic Cage, rapidly becoming one of my favourite actors, walks through with a disgusted air and even Joaquin Phoenix, who I've never been that impressed with, hit the nail as a porn shop manager

Deeply disturbing, yes. Highly compelling, yes. A good buy... you bet!
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10/10
Not A Fun Friday Night Movie, but....
personguyman9 April 2002
There are some movie's that i like to watch over and over again, with friends or by myself to relax. This is not one of those movie's, i have seen it all the way through exactly once and i don't intend on renting it any time in the near future. I still gave it a high rating though because it is such a powerful film, it screwed with my head and made me think, i don't always do that with film, most of the time i just like to relax, which is why this is not one of those movies i like to watch over and over again, still, a very well made movie and worth a look if one is in the mood for a disturbing, renching, powerful "think film".
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8/10
A similar formula....
MarieGabrielle13 October 2006
used about five to seven years ago; this film may remind you of "Se7en" in that it exposes ways of life some would rather not see, admit to or acknowledge. Also the movie "The Cell" used exactly the same soundtrack when we see the Vincent D'Onofrio character as an abused child.

The same incidental music as we are following Nicolas Cage, an esteemed private detective, attempting to find the whereabouts of Maryann Matthews, a nameless teenager, who disappeared somewhere in the trenches of L.A. There is no red light district there, but if you walk along Hollywood Boulevard it is close enough to the way NYC used to look on 42nd Street before the mayor cleaned it up.

James Gandolfini is especially sleazy as a small-time porn producer; Anthony Heald as a sleazy lawyer (sorry to be redundant) and Cage is hired by the widow of a wealthy industrialist's who wants to solve the mystery of this 8mm film. She is mystified as to why her husband would have really commissioned a "snuff" film, although the point of knowing this after he is deceased seems a slight mystery.

Cage is very good, and Catherine Keener is his wife, who is not given a significant role, but is good enough. Peter Stormare also could have been given a meatier role, his character was more interesting than Gandolfini.

The visuals seem similar to "Se7en" in that we see the seamier side of life, one scene where the nun hands Cage the victim's suitcase and asks him to give it back to her family is especially touching. There are also a few subliminal references to religion; the wealthy widow's name is "Christian", she lives in a compound, isolated from the world, but not protected from the harsh reality of her husband's perversion. Also, as Cage is chasing down Machine (well portrayed by Bauer), Bauer/Machine's mother takes a bus to her church meeting, and also has a statue of the Virgin Mary on her lawn.

All in all an interesting film that could have been more developed. I have not seen the sequel. The fact that this is a Joel Schumacher film really has no bearing on anything; The film itself represents a story, presents it well, and is worth watching. Know beforehand that this may not be for everyone's taste, however. 8/10.
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6/10
Gitty, Disturbing.....FANTASTIC
Fat_Challanger12 February 2006
Eight millimeter is a gritty and disturbing look into the world of underground illegal pornography with a wonderful performance from the supporting cast including James Gandolfini(the sopranos) who play's a sleazy porn star agent, and Peter Stormare(Fargo) a twisted pornographer with the delusion of artistic genius. the film to say the least is fantastic but certainly not for the easily offended or faint hearted. starting with the discovery of a snuff film in a deceased business mans secret safe, a private investigator portrayed by Nicholas Cage(Raising Arizona)goes on a physically and emotionally draining journey to find out the authenticity of the film and who was involved in its production definitely a film that has to be seen to be truly appreciated i suggest not watching it to late at night. i give this film a definite 8.5 out of ten.Gritty, Disturbing and fantastic, definitely take a shower after watching this.
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8/10
Disturbing
SKG-225 August 1999
Admittedly, I haven't seen a lot, if any, of the movies or read the books other people have said have covered this territory already, but I found myself caught up in the story and not bored or thinking, "Ho-hum." I haven't liked Joel Schumacher lately(his two BATMAN movies were a joke, and A TIME TO KILL was exploitation at its worst), but this one was pretty good. Admittedly, like in A TIME TO KILL, this sometimes comes close to an exploitation movie(particularly through the performances of James Gandolfini and Peter Stormare), but that's only part of the time. Most of the time you feel sadness and outrage, and like in Schumacher's very good FALLING DOWN, you aren't asked to condone Cage's actions near the end, you're just asked to understand them.

This might not be the type of part Cage is known for, but I found him compelling in the role(and if something upsets the man who ate a cockroach on film, you KNOW it's heavy-duty stuff). I do admit the film would have been a little unrelenting without the presence of Joaquin Phoenix, though; he was like a breath of fresh air, and I liked how matter-of-fact he was. I can't say I enjoyed this movie, but I'm not sorry I saw it.
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9/10
Engaging the first time round ***possible spoilers***
tripwires13 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie one and two halves times. I bought the VCD just to see Joaquin Phoenix as Max California. I said two halves because after the first viewing "8MM" is about as exciting as a Maths exam. I can't even sit through this movie for a few more times for my favourite actor (Phoenix). Having said that, "8MM" is one of my favourites. Firstly, it introduced me to the great talent that Phoenix is. Secondly, it made me think long and hard about the perversity in human beings. And what I thought about made me sad, but nevermind. Third, I truly enjoyed it when I saw it on HBO. I can't deny that. "8MM" doesn't make me feel dirty, it doesn't excite me *that* way, it *didn't* bore me...it just made me sad.

Granted, Joel Schumacher doesn't seem to know where he's heading, and the ending was kind of stupid. Nicolas Cage could have been better, but then, he could have been worse. The whole movie seems terribly messed up...but hey, isn't that what the pornographic world is? Terribly messed up?

**possible spoilers**

Amy Morton was absolutely wonderful as the stressed out mother. She had me sympathising with her, and among so many messed up characters she is the one I remember the most. Along with Max California, who was excellently portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, who seems to have a way of changing his voice for his roles. Like many other users have said Max was the only comic relief in the movie. It was quite tragic and stupid on the script writers' part what happened to him. Phoenix played Max's last scene with such terrifying realism, it was painful to watch. (According to Schumacher on the DVD though Phoenix *really* -became- Max. He wasn't acting there, he was truly terrified of the other actors.) That guy who played Dino was also good, in fact almost every cast member was good, except Catherine Keener who annoyed me terribly and, sadly, Nicolas Cage, who looked like he was sleepwalking through half of it. But then again like I've said before, he could have been worse. So now do I really need to reinforce my opinion that Joaquin Phoenix is the best thing since sliced bread, and he was the best thing in "8MM"?

"8MM" is definitely a dark movie, but on the other hand its darkness makes it realistic. Because what happens to Mary Anne is something I see happening right now. That is the sadness of it, that and the fact that normal people like you and me (like Machine) are twisted enough to want to make people suffer because "they can".
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10/10
A lovely spiral into the underworld of human desire.
pitviper32521 February 2001
I absolutely loved this movie! It is dark and spinister and dives into the outer reaches of porn where very few people feel safe to wonder. It is one of the best pictures that i have seen in years. Nicolas Cage and the Pheniux boy are very good actors and bring into the movie two very interesting and diverse characters.
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7/10
Festering
Ergens21 February 2002
"8mm" sucks you in from the moment you watch the snuff film with Nicholas Cage, not letting you go until the very end, where it spits you out encased in a cocoon of bloody phlegm.

The director successfully creates a gritty atmosphere that remains constant right up until the end, but the plot isn't so lucky. As others have pointed out, things get ridiculous towards the films finale, which if crafted with more tact could have made "8mm" a great film rather than simply an entertaining one.

Cage gives a good, rather sombre performance as the private investigator hired to determine the authenticity of a snuff film found in the late husband of a senator's safe. From there on he's plopped into the festering world of deviant pornography, forced to explore the seedy bowels of stomach-churningly filthy underground sexual practices. Amy Morton's performance as Mary Ann's mother is perfect, conveying the emotions of a distraught, depressed mother beautifully. Joaquin Pheonix steals the show as the charismatic owner of a sex-shop.

Full of suspense, this film should at least entertain you as you watch with disgust and repulsion some of the dirtiest human habits imaginable.

7 out of 10.
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8/10
Dark and disturbing, yes, but it should also be clearly noted that 8MM avoids, for the most part, the almost always destructive influence of Hollywood.
Anonymous_Maxine28 May 2002
8MM is a dark, disturbing movie. It's literally dark due to the low lighting, it has a mesmerizing but undeniably creepy score, the performances from everyone involved are subdued and sinister, and the subject matter, above all, is not exactly uplifting. It is not surprising, then, that many people are going to leave this movie with a disgusted feeling, thinking that they have been tricked into watching a movie that left them feeling badly. On the one hand, it should be noted that 8MM was never exactly advertised as light entertainment, but even more importantly, all of the dark elements above go together very smoothly, even if not very happily. 8MM, it cannot be denied, is simply a dark movie, and the way I see it, there is no reason that that alone should count against it.

Nicholas Cage takes on the role of Tom Welles, who is a loving husband and father with a comfortable family life, and is very similar to several other roles that Cage has played (see The Rock and half of The Family Man, for example), except that his ultimate fate in this movie is something that has yet to be encountered by any of the other characters in his iconography. Having taken the rather unexpected turn after law school of pursuing a career in surveillance (he was sure that it was going to be the big thing in the future), he spends much of his time as a sort of private detective, mostly for people who suspect that their spouses are unfaithful. His latest job, the one with which the films concerns itself, is the one that will Change His Life Forever, as has become the saying about this movie.

The widow of a wealthy man has hired Welles to investigate what appears to be a snuff film which was found in her late husband's private chamber, wanting only to learn that the film is a fake and let the matter rest. Whether or not snuff films are real or are simply urban legends is a subject which the film wisely chooses to avoid, for the most part. Welles explains to the woman that snuff films are made just like Hollywood movies, with special effects and make-up and the like, and that they don't really exist in real life, but the rest of the film leaves the matter up to individual interpretation. The mystery surrounding snuff films is not something that 8MM seeks to resolve, but is instead a starting point that the film uses to create an interesting story.

From there, we are taken on a wild ride through the depths of the Los Angeles underground porn world, which is by itself probably the most destructive element of the entire film, if only because it's so obviously over-exaggerated. You have the mindlessly twisted director, Dino Velvet (Peter Stormare), who makes some serious porn videos with the sick and twisted content of your choosing (and many of which star the charmingly named "Machine"). Then you have the unfortunate Max California, who went to Los Angeles with lofty goals and wound up as a smut peddler in the underground, and ultimately talks Welles into allowing him to give Welles a tour of the underworld of the sex trades, a job that would also change HIS life forever, and not necessarily for the better. And by the way, does anyone know why Joaquin Phoenix keeps getting these less than enviable roles? That poor guy gets the shaft in every movie he's in!

The tour that California gives Welles of the underworld of the sex trades is by itself the most hilariously unrealistic part of the entire film (and, by the way, the fact that this character is named `Max California'- and I'm thinking `Maximum California' – coupled with the fact that he is involved in this particular profession is clearly making a statement about The Golden State, and there's really not a whole lot of room for individual interpretation as to what that message is). I'm not exactly an expert on anything that goes on in the illegal underground of any major city, but I find it highly unlikely that there are basements under buildings down dark alleys that have stacks of porn which are labeled in large print as to what they contain (one particular stack, loudly labeled `KIDS,' comes immediately to mind). And even if places like this did exist, it's even less likely that they would have one big guard standing at the door, indifferently surveying the entering clientele about whether or not they are police officers. What does this guy expect? `You a cop?' `Oh, yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Thanks for asking, I'll leave you alone now.' I would like to have seen THAT guy suffer Max's fate.

There are obviously a lot of moral questions presented by the film, and they are presented in some pretty interesting ways, not the least of which is the scene near the end where Welles telephones the mother of the girl in the alleged snuff film and asks her to talk him into killing who the man who made the film (James Gandolfini, who is wonderfully villainous in his role as the guy who is literally sick and twisted for no good reason). Welles knows that he is not a murderer himself, even if this murder would be beneficial to the greater good of mankind, and this is exactly the kind of help that he needs to commit such a murder. This is a very unique scene in that it's very rare for the protagonist to be so reluctant to kill the man who he has been searching for throughout the entire film, especially because the vast majority of the audience will be rooting for this guy's death – I know I was. It is interesting to consider the motives of writer Andrew Kevin Walker - who is not a stranger to dark films that culminate in a hero forced to murder a despicable villain – in adding this scene in the film, because it is the exact opposite of what we would expect from the typical Hollywood film.

8MM is a film that has a lot to say, and not all of these things deal directly with the subject matter that it deals with. The existence of snuff films and the violent exploitation of various groups, such as women and (particularly) children, is the disturbing topic on which the film bases a number of questions about the uprightness of modern American society. We start off concerned with whether or not the snuff film is real, then we're further astonished to learn that it IS real, and finally we're left questioning ourselves because we were so eager to witness another violent death. It seems, then, that the film's main concern deals with the hypocrisy of American society, in that we are shocked and disgusted by violence and death at the beginning of the film, but then only a couple hours later we want nothing more than to see more of it served.
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7/10
Disquieting but effective for mature audiences. *** out of ****.
Movie-129 March 2000
8MM / (1999) ***

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, Catherine Keener, and Amy Morton Directed by Joel Schumacher. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker. Running time: 123 minutes. Rated R (for strong sexual content, nudity, violence, and for strong language).

By Blake French:

Joel Schumacher's new disquieting thriller, "8MM," is the kind of movie that starts out hesitantly calm, but contains an atmosphere where potentially detestable material may become apparent, as if the film is preparing us for something much more bellicose. Sure enough, a half hour into the picture, we take possession of plot points regarding subjects beyond human imagination. Our very effective condition propels us into a sleazy world of hard core adult contents. "8MM" is a tense, dramatic production with tantalizing dialogue and a driving theme of action. There is a scene in the film in which a character explains a relative, although somewhat overlooked, concept. "When you dance with the devil, you don't change the devil--the devil changes you," he declares as he walks down a long, dark ally with another character.

Nicolas Cage stars as Tom Welles, a highly acclaimed private detective living with his wife Amy (Catherine Keener), and their newborn son in a homey, relaxed country house. As the film opens, he is called upon by the widow of an important political man, Mrs. Mathews (Amy Morton). This elderly woman has discovered the contents of her late husband's secret safe and his extremely concerned about some of them. Most of the objects found in the safe are normal. One in particular, however, a film strip, is not what you would call ordinary, but suspicious and concealed. Mrs. Mathews explains to Tom what he will see on this tape is something of unimaginable terror. Tom views the 8mm tape, watching in horror as a young girl is raped and brutally beaten to death in front of a camera operator, a silent viewer, and a muscular man wearing all sorts of S&M clothing. The well-developed conflict brought to our attention at this point: Mrs. Matthews is requiring Tom to find out if the tragic events that occur on tape are real or not, and if her husband had anything to do with this atrocity.

Welles opens a missing person's case and reports to his wife that he will be away for a few weeks on duty. He first searches through countless files containing young kidnapping victims. The results: a fifteen year old girl named Marianne who ran away from home six years ago with the company of her boyfriend as they were heading towards Hollywood, California. Next, he converses with several key characters including her depressed mother, a scruffy acquaintance, and her so called boyfriend who is now serving time in prison. He claims Marianne ran off to work at a strip club. These characters point Tom in the direction of an underworld of "snuff" movies, where he meets an adult book store clerk named Max California (Joaquin Phoenix). He and Max become friends. After some negotiating, our fellow porn genius agrees to share his knowledge with Tom and lead him to the makers of the 8mm snuff film. There we meet Eddie Poole, a perverted photographer, (James Gandolfini), Dino Velvet (Peter Stormare), a disquieted man who believes smut to be a form of art, and The Machine, the man in the S&M mask who murdered Marianne in the video Mrs. Mathews found.

"8MM" has an excellently developed setup. A setup that indicates us on the snuff film, as well as the setting, character motives, personalities, dramatic premise, and plot points. The only component that is missing is the history and or in depth elaboration on Tom Welles. With such an important character, one who drives the entire narrative through line, we need to feel a lot of empathy so that we may root for him. Unfortunately, the filmmakers present the audience with only the minimum introduction. The side characters are also descriptive. In their own presence, contribute to both the story and atmosphere.

Director Joel Schumacher's work has always been some of my favorite. With movies like "Falling Down," "Flawless," and "Batman & Robin," I was never expecting him to construct a dark, grim, film such as "8MM." This feature is tasteless and nasty, repulsive and unsettling--while all these bases are relentless within the context of the plot. No doubt many audiences will be offended throughout, perhaps even to the point of where they walk out of the theater. This is a production on the verge of an NC-17 rating and is adult in every atom of its being. The perverse and gritty character motives and mature subject matters all fitted appropriately here, but the film still goes over the top in many areas.

Some of the movie's characters are a bit too obvious. The villain, for instance, I could predict from the first five minutes he is on screen. Whenever there is a character who seems to have no cause or purpose in the plot, he is normally the bad guy. Here, although the character twists are effective and the casting is brilliant, we receive several clinches that many views will be able to detect immediately.

Nicolas Cage is obviously the right choice for Tom Welles, a man who is more submissive than brutal, but is placed in a situation where deep down he desires bloodshed, but knows his morals challenge him otherwise. "8MM" is a movie that frolics with this character's emotions and values, and at the same time lives up to a premise that is way out of his league.

Brought to you by Columbia Pictures.
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7/10
One Of Schumacher's Better Efforts.
Matt_Layden20 July 2009
Every time I think of Joel Schumacher I cringe. Is Batman & Robin really so bad that it makes me want to disregard the rest of his films? He's not a bad director, hell I enjoy some of his work, yet I still cringe when I hear his name. Let's take a look at 8MM, something that is the polar opposite of B&R.

It stars Nic Cage as a private investigator, hired to find out if the content on an 8MM tape found in a safe of a recently deceased millionaire is real. The tape is referred to as a snuff film, which is a pornographic film that ends with the murder of the female. So, already we have ourselves a pretty dark and disturbing film here. Yet, as I watched it I felt that is played it a little too safe.

Upon research you will find out the writer and the director had a falling out over the film. The studio wanted it to be a bit lighter, and the director agreed. While the writer, who also wrote Se7en, wanted to keep the gritty disturbing feel he had originally wrote. The final product is a film that tries to be more hardcore then it actually is.

Nic Cage really seemed to be playing by the numbers here. He is more monotone then usual I thought and didn't really seem invested in his character. Joaquin Phoenix on the other hand immerses himself into this world. Playing the sidekick who is smarter then he looks. The supporting cast also includes James Gandolfini, doing what he does best and Peter Stormare. Both stretch out beyond the page and embody their characters. With Gandolfini, we've seen him do this character before. But with every performance there is just one little thing that makes them all seem different every time.

I was really underwhelmed with this flick. It was a bit longer then it needed to be, just over 2 hours. You go along for the investigative ride and are interested with the story, but at the end you just feel empty. Never connecting with the relationship between the main character and his wife he neglects. Some scenes that were meant to be powerful came off as comedic to me, specifically the "Give me permission to hurt them" bit near the end.

I did enjoy the film, but wanted more. The ingredients were there to make a really good film, but the final product falls a bit flat. It's a rental, or if you are really a big fan of anyone involved . I will say this though, I wouldn't mind if Cage went back to making movies like this instead of the filler he's been cranking out the last few years.
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