Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hedwig and The Angry Inch

John Cameron Mitchell is a master of emotions and Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a film that aches and is full of humor. He reminds me of an American Almodovar (whose films I love) in the worlds he creates, his use of art and music. But dare I say that Mitchell takes away the campy vibe and adds a depth of heart and soul that rings deep and clear.
I loved the creativity, the art, and the music channeled together and set against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall (still vivid to many of us) to tell the story of Hedwig, the German glam-rocker with a botched sex change.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Visitor Q

I just finished Visitor Q and I don’t even know what to say. I have seen several other Miike films and have liked them all in some degree or another. I don’t understand Visitor Q at all. I kept wanting to turn it off as I watched it both because it was completely disturbing but also because it seemed it was going nowhere. I can handle disturbing, even just plain fucked up but there has to be a point or if not a point then some sense of dark humor. Nothing about Visitor Q is funny and while there may be a point hidden within, it just doesn’t make up for 85 minutes of repulsivity.

As to plot, Visitor Q is more a series of random scenes that are strung together and connected by the fact that these people are family. Graphic incest, necrophilia, and physical abuse are the primary happening in these scenes and it all seems to be for no reason other than just because. The lack of a compelling plot in addition to the obvious, makes these scenes practically unbearable to watch and certainly never offers any kind of payoff for having done so. Now I just wish I could reclaim 90 minutes of my life.

Hard Candy

Hard Candy is one of those rare films that grabs your attention right at the beginning and doesn’t let it go until long after the credits stop rolling. It is brilliantly written by Brian Nelson a playwright who has a sense for how engaging characters really can be. David Slade shines in his first feature length project with a directing style that is not over-stylized but knows how to use the right tools to do the right thing – especially when it comes to ratcheting up the tension and letting the characters come into their own without the emotional manipulation that accompanies most thrillers. Ellen Page plays her role brilliantly and is completely captivating in the cat-and-mouse game that is Hard Candy. To reveal to much of the plot would not be fair but if you are looking for a movie that even when has it’s predictable moments manages to bring in a few twists and definitely knows how to keep you tense and on your toes. Then Hard Candy is the film for you. It is psychological thriller at its finest – stripped down, all muscle, and able to get under your skin whether you want it to or not.


Shortbus breathes with life – it has the ring of truth and reality that is usually buried in films. Its magnetic force draws you deeper and deeper into the heart of its characters and their stories. And while the characters are the “gifted and challenged” they remind us suspiciously of ourselves and everybody we’ve ever been close to. Shortbus is a mirror into our humanity that doesn’t shrink back from the violence of emotions and sexuality because it recognizes that they are essentially part of the human condition. It is a story about New York and New Yorkers, about life and our damaged hearts, and about living hopefully within our world especially once we realize we are gifted and challenged.

The performance of Justin Bond has been lauded rightly so - he brings out the heart, life, and compassion that make Shortbus such a touching movie that feels delightfully grounded in reality.

Pan's Labyrinth

Dark and beautiful at the same time, rich with mystery, aching with fantasy, yet punctured with reality in all its brutality. The people and creatures inhabiting the film leave haunting memories in our imagination filling us with dread at times and hope at others. Pan’s Labyrinth is a fairytale rich with the things that caused fairytales to live with us as kids and reminds us as adults of their silent grasp that still can make us catch our breath in fear and anticipation.

Beautifully directed with wonderous creations and horrifying truths brought to life by strong performances from all of the actors. Pan's labyrinth is the story of the loss of innocence, the forced coming of age, and surviving in a manner that is heroic and costly.

Ken Park

More graphic than Kids, yet not as visceral a film. I was not offended as many were, but neither did I find it pleasant to watch. But herein lies the catch – it is not meant to be pleasant. The camera is never as distant and detached as in a documentary but neither is it as in love with its subjects. Much of the time it feels that it is just present for better or for worse. And with it, the viewer is present forced to not look away at this collection of stories from suburbia. Only at the end do you feel that Clark has left a distant view for one that seems to more fully engage and then it is to join in an escapists answer. Unfortunately it feels an over-romanticized answer to a problem that deserves much better answers. Of course, answers in life are messy and hard to come by and it is not my suggestion that he should have picked some other over simplified answer, just to say that it seems that Clark leaves a detatched view to agree with the answer found by the kids in Ken Park.

Every story deserves to be told but perhaps not every story is for everyone. So it is with Kenpark – a story not for the easily offended and certainly not for children in the same way that the reality never should have been for them in the first place. Where Kids was a movie that all Kids should see, Kenpark is a movie that you can only hope for fewer kids to be forced to experience the reality of.

Lucia y el Sexo

Has sex ever been this beautifully filmed? There is an opening seen shot in the water that may be the most beautiful sex scene I have ever seen. While at least one scene later in the film seems to stand in stark contrast to this beauty. Sex – in different forms, for different reasons is central to the heart of Lucia y el Sexo. One part erotically charged love story, and two parts search for truth, with a plot that is near labyrinthine. Lucia y el Sexo isn't shallow but it doesn't go as deep as it could. It is a movie about sex, relationships, forgiveness, and the question of how much someone is worth in your life.