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About me

Hello. I thought it was about time to change my profile, so here goes. I am an eighteen-year-old, obsessive movie fan with an addiction to obscure and insane films.

I love dogs, films about mental disintegration, and intelligent discussions about just about anything, and am a bit of a loner in person, who doesn't really have any close friends. I have been trying my hand at screenwriting, with little success, mostly because I do not seem able to finish a screenplay.

Feel free to read my reviews or lists and leave comments, I check this site pretty much every day and even if I do not respond, you can rest assured your comment is read. Bye!

About my collections

Let the Right One In, Buddy Boy, Dead Alive, The Living and the Dead, The Fall, Paperhouse, Billy Elliot, Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone, Treacle Jr., Some Mother's Son, Pariah, Dead Man's Shoes, This is England, Made in Britain, Reservoir Dogs, American History X, Fight Club, Fargo, Burn After Reading, O Brother Where Art Thou, and more


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Recent reviews

All reviews - Movies (156) - TV Shows (4) - Books (2)

Sweetly Sad

Posted : 10 years ago on 22 February 2014 09:14 (A review of Set Me Free)

I'll go ahead and admit as a bad filmgoer and reviewer that I have never seen "Vivre Sa Vie" ("My Life to Live") by Jean-Luc Godard, and I considered watching it to get some perspective before reviewing "Set Me Free." "Set Me Free," though not directly related to "Vivre Sa Vie" thematically, is the story of a frustrated young girl who becomes fascinated with the prostitute character, Nana, is Godard's classic.

It's also about growing up. And sexual awakening. And youthful confusion. And the moment as a child when you realize that you can't save the grown-ups in your life; sometimes, you can only help them along while they choose to sink or swim, to fight against the current, or drown. It's about the way movies influence young people, and how it's often the one's you wouldn't expect that change their ideology, for better or worse.

Hanna (Katrine Vanasse) is a knowing yet naive 13-year-old who lives with her thief brother, Holocaust survivor father, and suicidally depressed mother in France. The year is 1963. Her father (Predrag Manjlovic) has a iron grip on the household. On the other hand her mother (Pascale Bussières) is as submissive and weak as her father is dominating. In an opening scene, Hanna gets her first period near her grandparent's house, and shortly after goes back home to her parent's.

While she was hardly happy at her grandma and grandad's, things go from bad to worse at home. Her dad is a pretentious, lofty, and generally bad writer who fancies himself a great artist, and her mom is one twitch away from a complete nervous breakdown. Her brother Paul is a petty thief. In an opening act of general assholery, Hanna's father spits at her mother that her's is 'mongoloid family' because her brother (Hanna's Uncle Martin) has Down Syndrome (I told myself that 'Mongoloid' was not such an offensive term back in the 60's, but nah, it's still not excusable.)

When Hanna goes to the theater and sees "Vivre Sa Vie" for the first time, she falls in love- with the movies, Anna Karina, and with Karina's 'glamorous' character. From what I saw of the film within this film she is totally misreading the message of the movie, as her teacher tries to point out. But as a confused kid (sexually and in life) looking for a role model, it makes sense.

Boy, did the child actor knock it out of the park here! Hanna was a sweetheart. From what I understand, the child actress was sixteen when she did this movie, and in fact, she looks childlike in some shots and more womanly in others, probably a intentional decision on the part of the director. Hanna's father insists on masculinizing his daughter, cropping her hair down to boy length (the hair-cutting scene reminds me of the one in "Ma Vie En Rose.") As Dad cuts, a silent tear runs down Hanna's cheek, and she gradually is made to feel a little more helpless.

Hanna propositions a man, maybe in hopes for a normal life or because it is the 'thing to do' as a girl, but exchanges intimate kisses with a female friend (Charlotte Christeler.) Does that mean she is bi, simply confused, or something else. Fed up with her family, Hanna runs away, but will a life on the streets be easier or harder than she was looking for?

The acting was fabulous, but I wished the ending had offered a little more. There seemed to be a real lack of realization, and everything get's better quite abruptly. What was learned, except that being a ho' isn't all it's cut out to be? It's nice to have a happy ending for such a lovely character, but the story doesn't seem to have the most logical conclusion.

"Set Me Free" is well made and most of all bittersweet and sad. It's is based on the director Lea Pool's life, so that makes it this much more authentic. I would love to know if filmmaker Lea Pool is gay, because that would shine a light to better understand the sexual elements of this movie.

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Compelling Read

Posted : 10 years ago on 11 February 2014 11:01 (A review of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes)

I pulled my paperback copy of this book of my shelf on impulse one day, and I'm very glad I did. 'Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes' is a compelling read, which examines a large birth of issues including bullying, obesity, disabilities, child abuse, abortion, and religion. This all sounds very 'disease-of-the-week,' but the 'problem novel' aspect of the novel is levied by genuine audacity and an unforgettable cast of characters.

Eric, called 'Moby' (as in the whale) for his considerable girth, is an obese seventeen-year-old boy living in a single-parent family. His oldest friend, Sarah Byrnes was horribly disfigured under suspicious circumstances when she was three. For seventeen years she has stood strong, but now she sits, wounded and silent, in a psychiatric ward.

Eric is running out of time. He has to save Sarah Byrnes from insanity... or something worse. Because someone wants to silence Eric. And in this situation, there isn't a wide berth for error. Subplots involve proselytization by Eric's Christian conservative classmate, a classroom discussion group dissecting relevant social issues, and a troubled and dimwitted boy from Eric's past.

It might be hard to warm up to the characters at first. Eric is a unrepentant smartass who constantly describes his obesity and profuse perspiration at length, while Sarah Byrnes sometimes seems rougher (and meaner) than she needs to be. Likewise Steve Ellerby, Eric's other friend, seems to be someone who would pick any fight with a Christian. But slowly your views change- Eric is a devoted friend, Sarah is incredibly brave, and Ellerby is a thinker who refuses to accept someone else's reality that doesn't make sense to him as his own. Even crazy-religious and hypocritical Mark Brittain shows a human side.

This in't the best written book ever- it contains a lot of cliched language. But the plot and the characters are engrossing. The story is exciting while also being interesting and not insulting the reader's intelligence. "Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes" was actually banned/challenged at several points by the school systems, and a Wisconsin parents actually called it 'pornography' at one point, which is pure ridiculousness. It is actually a pretty mature book, but nothing that older teens can't handle in my opinion.

This is a lot darker than the last YA book I read (the Trans-friendly "Parrotfish,") but then this arguably goes deeper into teen issues (not just GLBTQ issues.) I can't say I liked this one better, but then, they do different things well. For compelling characters and a steady mix of drama and action, look no further than "...Sarah Byrnes." I think you could get a tech-head or jock boy who is committed to sports or glued to his video game system to read this book because it is so involving. I think it should be on every high school library shelf .

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Underrated Chiller

Posted : 10 years ago on 8 February 2014 02:26 (A review of We Are What We Are)

Family values takes a whole new meaning in Jorge Michel Grau's eerie cannibalism thriller "We Are What We Are," and the menace of the movie is both strange and psychologically intriguing. Sexual politics and bodily mutilation take the front wheel in this nightmarish horror film, and no one is safe. When the patriarch of a strange, impoverished family in Mexico dies dramatically, the bereaved are compelled to carry on as they always have. But this time 'carrying on' doesn't mean washing clothes, commuting to work, and buying groceries- Father's clan is a family of cannibalistic killers, and someone must take the job of hunting their human prey.

While Mother (Carmen Beato) locks herself in the room and falls apart, her two sons- impulsive, violent Julien (Alan Chávez) and the more methodical, repentant Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro) squabble and their beautiful sister Sabina (Paulina Gaitan) plays them against each other. Alfredo laments that his mother never liked him and tries to prove himself to the others, while Julien, a loose cannon, postures and puts his family in grave danger with his recklessness.

Meanwhile, two somewhat corrupt cops track the family, after a gory incident involving a prostitute threatens to put their strange lifestyle on display. The film builds tension with spooky cinematography and a nerve-wracking violin score akin to "The Shining." The acting is superior from the entire cast, especially Paulina Gaitin and Francisco Barreiro (who is also a cutie- I look forward to seeing him in "Here Comes The Devil."
The first scene is a haunting study of disenfranchisement- as Father (Humberto Yáñez) wanders the streets and stops before a display of mannequins, he falls to the ground and begins to spit up blood. After dying in the street, he is nonchalantly cleaned up along with his blood, and steadfastly ignored by passersby, as the violins on the soundtrack shriek. This sets the tone for a grim and bloody picture that is sadly underrated by the public.

There is recurring theme of women in low-class situations asserting power as best they can- Sabina manipulates her two brothers with her gentle words and her gorgeous body, while mother attempts to maintain control of her sons. And the prostitutes... well, you'll have to see how that turns out. More disturbing than the graphic violence is the dehumanizing way the family talks about their victims (they're 'whores' and 'faggots,' never people.) More disturbing still is the way you start to root for the family, ever so slightly, before you can stop yourself. They suck you into their world, and things you know are wrong seem intriguing.

I wish the characters of the police had been developed more. I definitely think the climactic scene would have been more compelling if the main cop hadn't just tried to pick up a prostitute who was like twelve, destroying any meager sympathy we may have had for him. After that, I don't care whether he lives or he dies... I'm actually rooting for the man-eating psychos at this point.

The 5.7 rating of this movie on Imdb makes me sad. I only checked the clock once during "We Are What We Are," and that was when my sister asked from the other room how much was left. This movie was engrossing and not boring at all, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I love how foreign horror films don't feel the need to reveal everything in the first five minutes. It is compared to "Let the Right One In" on the back of the box. Well, I wouldn't call it better ("Let the Right One In" is my favorite movie,) but it was well-made and highly enjoyable. A creepy slow-burner of a horror film.

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REAL Sci-fi

Posted : 10 years ago on 6 February 2014 09:34 (A review of Blade Runner)

"Blade Runner" is how a science fiction film SHOULD be made, as a speculative thinker, not as a silly disposable piece of throwaway camp like "Star Wars" (yes, I dissed George Lucas' Magnum Opus. I can see you fanboys writing that down.) I won't place this on the pillar of perfect science fiction like "Firefly" ('cause I just won't,) but the creativity of the whole enterprise shines through, past the dark sets and blackened hearts of the characters.

Early in the 21st Century (yep, folks, we should be seeing some crazy shit real soon,) Tyrell Industries has refined the android model to the brink of perfection. These beings, called 'replicants,' are man-made entities virtually identical to the human but used for all the dirty work- war, prostitution, dangerous jobs. They were implanted with memories that are not their own and manufactured to feel no empathy or identity as an individual.

But things have changed. Replicants have formed a consciousness of their own and have become too dangerous to keep. That's where Deckard (Harrison Ford) comes in. Deckard, a 'Blade Runner,' is assigned to kill illegal Replicants. In turn, a group of Replicants attempt to force their their creator, Dr. Tyrell (Joe Turkel,) to increase their longevity (the androids have a maximum life span of three or four years.)

It's Deckard against Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer,) the maniacal, intelligent leader of the Replicants, and his three cohorts. And you know what? I kind of wanted Roy Batty to win. He's a great, complex character, even though he goes to violent extremes to get what he wants (I felt for two of the victims, but less for the third.) Deckard is frankly kind of a bore. He's typical stoic Ford, and the way he borderline-rapes beautiful female Replicant and love interest Rachael (Sean Young) is a little sickening.

I liked Batty a lot, but I was equally taken with J.F. Sebastion (William Sanderson,) and eccentric and somewhat childlike inventor suffering from Methuselah Syndrome, which leaves him prematurely aged. He's a little talked about character, but I find him just as interesting as Batty. J.F. picks up waifishly appealing Replicant Priss (Daryl Hannah) and takes her home with him, a decision that turns out to be the worst of his life.

There are a few corny scenes and lines (like "Wake up! Time to die!", uttered by Leon (Brion James,)) but the movie is very original and iconic. I love the unique sci-fi vision originally created by Philip K. Dick (author of the book 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?' that "Blade Runner" is based on) but brought to life by Ridley Scott. The movie's world is damp, dreary, but strangely compelling. The final confrontation is sad and creepy and maybe even a little darkly humorous, all at once.

Rutger Hauer's performance as the lead android is wonderful. He is creepy yet tragic, all he wants is more time. In a world where humans have really screwed their creations over, the creations want to feel the sunlight a little longer, to live to see the world through aged eyes. Why should their experiences mean any less? The final line by Hauer (..."Like tears in the rain") perfectly summarizes this.

"Blade Runner" is a classic movie that is most definitely worth multiple rewatches. It's important in that it deal with the moral quandaries of science and creation, the way 'Frankenstein' did. It features a stunner of a performance by Rutger Hauer (too bad he plays in so much crap now...) and a chilling orchestral score. Watch it. Watch it more than once, if you haven't already, and think about the implications behind it and films of it's ilk.

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Worthy Contender for the Oscar

Posted : 10 years ago on 6 February 2014 03:30 (A review of Sister)

Set primarily in Swiss ski resort and nominated for a foreign language Oscar, "Sister" is an emotional and mature work that is engaging from start to finish. All the actors are effective, but fifteen-year-old Kacey Mottet Klein steals the show as Simon, a youthful twelve-year-old dealing with responsibilities and problems way beyond his age level. Simon lives in a low-rent apartment with his immature older sister Louise (Léa Seydoux of "Blue is the Warmest Color."You might remember her as one of the LaPadite sisters at the beginning of "Inglourious Basterds.)

While Simon makes money stealing equipment and luggage from a nearby ski resort and selling the philfered items, Louise shirks any kind of responsibility, mooching off the spoils of her brother's thievery and having sex with different guys. Although Simon takes from tourists with a cold and calculated efficiency, you can't help but feel for the little guy as he does what he has to to survive.

There is definitely a weird incestuous subtext between Simon and Louise. You don't feel that they are aware of this or that they would even act on it, but their relationship is marked by an odd co-dependence and half-formed, burgeoning sexual interest on Simon's part, and maybe even on Louise's too. There's a very strange scene partway through (which I love and I think speaks volumes about this pair of outcasts) where Simon pays the angry Louise over a hundred dollars to sleep next to her.

He craves human contact, but Louise is selfish and exploits his vulnerability in a weird way, and is only able to offer comfort in the most basic manner. The cinematography is great and in it's own way, powerful, while the ending leaves you to draw your own conclusion. Scotsman Martin Compston (who caught my attention playing a sympathetic criminal in Ken Loach's social realism drama "Sweet Sixteen) has a role as a employee at the resort who gets in on Simon's thieving.

"Sister" is special in that it is pensive and character-based without being ever boring and it evokes deep emotions, yet is subjective and stays away from gooey sentimentality or blatant attempts at audience manipulation. There are no 'villains,' just despair and dead ends. Kacey Mottet Klein is just perfect as a kid who has many foils and has run into trouble trying to live a halfway normal life.

Don't let the incestuous vibe I get from this picture deter you from watching a great foreign film. This is not a movie about pedophilia. It is a movie about secrets, responsibility, and what it means to be an adult. Léa Seydoux is practically his equal as a character you probably should hate, but you end up feeling kind of sorry for.

"Sister" proves that 'art film' doesn't have to mean being bored out of your mind. If you don't mind subtitles, you'll surely find value in this fascinating film about a troubled girl and a little boy who is forced to take up responsibility for the two of them. I liked this almost but not quite as much as "The Intouchables," the French submission for best foreign film of 2012. While "The Intouchables" is heartwarming and funny "Sister" is quieter, sadder, and maybe a little truer. Do. Not. Miss.

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Fine Family Film

Posted : 10 years ago on 4 February 2014 02:43 (A review of Akeelah and the Bee)

Cynics have called this film 'predictable,' but I loved it. Touching, character-driven, and inspirational, "Akeelah and the Bee" wins A's from me. It reminds me of when I participated in spelling bees as a child. I was pretty good, but I never made it to the Nationals. To see young Akeelah do so, despite her impoverished background, is very moving.

Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer) is an 11-year-old, highly intelligent black girl who lives in an Los Angeles urban community with few options. She shows an aptitude for spelling, but is not confident in her abilities. When her teacher notes that Akeelah is the smartest student in the class but seriously lacks motivation, she gives her a flyer for the school spelling bee.

Well, Akeelah breezes through that, and she is placed under the stern watch of Joshua Larabee (Laurence Fishburne,) a former Harvard scholar haunted by tragic events in his past. Larabee is one those blokes who makes it almost impossible to please him, and Akeelah and he are initially at odds.

Akeelah finds a true friend and prepubescent love interest in fellow speller Javier and butts heads with her beautiful but stubborn mother, Tanya (Angela Bassett.) Meanwhile, she grieves for her dead father (played in flashbacks by Wolfgang Bodison) and worries for her brother Derrick-T (Eddie Steeples,) who has taken up with Gangsta wannabees.

Her military brother Devon (Lee Thompson Young) loves her and supports her, encouraging her fledgling dreams to take flight. Gradually, however, she captures the interest of an entire community. The first thing you might notice about "Akeelah and the Bee" is the undeniable stage presence of Keke Palmer, who plays Akeelah.

This young girl has warmth and talent to spare. Laurence Fishbourne lends a lot of credibility to his character as Dr. Larabee who starts out not liking Akeelah much at all and gradually warms up to the girl's charms. Angela Basset is also very believable as Akeelah's deeply tired mother, who is frankly expecting to see her daughter flunk the spelling bee.

The characters are really well-written; it's not really movie with villains, per se, but with different character components who act and react with each other. The movie does not ignore the disturbing or sad elements (Akeelah's dad is killed before the movie begins in a gangland shooting) but it makes them more manageable somehow.

I first saw this movie when I was a kid and was happy to see it again. My opinion had not changed- it is still a very good movie. "Akeelah and the Bee" has a certain innocence without being naive and handles some troubling themes without forgetting to let the sunlight in.

It is a very special movie that should be appreciated by kids eight and up (those who are above the "Air Buddies" developmental stage, that is) and it will make kids and adults alike root for Akeelah, with all her grit and her might, against staggering adversity.

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Funny & Touching

Posted : 10 years, 1 month ago on 3 February 2014 09:10 (A review of Parrotfish)

Intro- So, this is my first book review, and any comments or feedback would be much appreciated. I have always had a deep appreciation for GLBTQ (for the out-of-the-know, that's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and/or questioning) books and cinema. I believe there really can't be enough of this resource for the GLBTQ community, especially youths who aren't yet sure where or how they fit in. I hope that Christians and gays can unite someday and throw away the silly prejudices one has about the other. It's only then that we can make our way towards a better GLBTQ future.

The book- "Parrotfish" is a funny and tender light read that nonetheless has content that will provide serious discussion. It asks the question, between the lines of straight and gay, male and female, how does what the youth hem or herself wants fit in? Why is gender such a big deal? Grady Katz-McNair is by all accounts a very ordinary boy, except he's not.

You see, Grady is Angela, a biological female, and vice versa. Angela/Grady is a smart, funny, and razor-sharp transgendered teenager. 'His' family is shocked when he comes out as Trans, and why shouldn't they be? It's a big change. But Grady doesn't think so. This is who he's always been, only now he has gone the whole nine yards- cutting his hair, binding his breasts, and swapping 'Angela' for a more masculine name.

Grady requests acceptance- and reactions at home and school run the gamut, from horrified and horrifying to accepting to somewhere in between. Grady finds unlikely allies in Sebastian Shipley, the High School geek, and Kita, a fierce beauty and Grady's first love interest, while growing further and further away from his old friend Eve, who has starting hanging out with some very nasty girls.

An interesting technique that is used in this book is the ironic, imagined conversations Grady comes up with. In these talks, people say what they really think, and everything is out in the open. Many writers would write over-the-top, unbelievable dialogue just to be funny, but author Ellen Wittlinger finds away around this and also, in doing so, adds humor and credibility to Grady's character.

I wasn't sure about some of the side characters. Sebastian seemed like a little too much of a super-nerd who always runs to Grady's defense, is blisteringly intelligent, and doesn't care what anybody thinks. Kita was a little aggressive. A good example of her aggression is when she goes ballistic because there was a drag comedy routine at high school and believes that Grady's rights are being infringed upon. I mean, burlesque acts involving cross-dressers have been going on for years, and so what? They're just for fun.

My dad did a Miss Emergency Pageant in full drag, but not to be offensive to transsexuals. You can do it in a way that is offensive and homophobic. But that's not the only option. So, I think Kita overreacted. And she and Sebastian are somewhat one-dimensional. But they don't ruin a very entertaining book.

"Parrotfish" is a LIGHT read, emphasis on light, so don't expect literary gold. But you can still learn from it. Grady is a hilarious and lovable character. He's extremely intelligent and sarcastic, which just makes him more lovable. But he just wants to be himself yet still receive his family's approval. I also loved the character of Miss Unger. She doesn't turn out to be how I first thought she would at all.

This book is thematically similar to "Luna" by Julie Anne Peters, and has a blurb by Peters on the back. "Luna" is a little more literary, but I like them both in their own way. "Parrotfish" is a lot of fun yet sensitive to its subject matter. I also think it would make a great movie if the they cast it right.

None of the A-list young Hollywood starlets would pass as a boy like Grady does, so I think they'd have to cast an unknown, and also pick someone who actually looks about sixteen (okay, I think I have a pet peeve with alternately hulking and buxom thirty-year-old actors playing fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds.) I'd recommend this book to the open-minded and those who remember being a teenager.

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Ludicrous Thriller

Posted : 10 years, 1 month ago on 26 January 2014 06:35 (A review of Pathology)

I do not dislike this 'movie' because it is 'sick' or 'disturbing' or anything else other viewers brand it with. I dislike it because it is unbelievably written, badly acted, and takes itself so seriously that you are hardly even able to laugh at the pure ridiculousness of the script. "Pathology" features poor performances from Milo Ventimiglia (who displays about four or five facial expressions, tops, but mostly gives us his broody face) and Michael Weston (who wins the honor of being the most unbelievable villain of the year.)

Drinking game time.

. Take a drink whenever a cadaver is shown or discussed.

. Take a drink whenever there is unnecessary sex scene.

. Take a drink whenever someone gives someone else a intense or significant look.

. Drink every time you snort at the pure idiocy of the script.

Ted Grey (disgustingly transparent symbolism in name, check!) is a med student who leaves his girlfriend (Alyssa Milano) to study at a morgue. He is immediately ostracized by the other students. When he makes a 'deep' comment about the innate evil of humanity at a bar, he temporarily wins their respect and they let him in on their secret- they have formed a group where they kill an undesirable member of society and the others try to guess how the murder was committed, using their med school skills.

The very beginning and the very end are... not bad, but the rest of the movie is so terrible you might have to pinch yourself to stay awake. "Pathology" is full of pseudo-profound comments about the darkness that abides within human beings that an emo eighth-grader could have written. The characters are singularly unlikable- it would be hard to find a more reprehensible bunch than featured in this movie, and I'm not letting Ted off the hook.

The moral issues behind he killings of the undesirables, as immoral as some of them are, are never explored in any depth (remember, they 'deserve' it,) while some of the scenes are so silly that you'd have to be high on a gigantic amount of cannibus to find any value in them. Take for instance, the scene where Ted and femme fatale med student Juliette (Lauren Lee Smith) get intimate at the scene of the murder they have committed, having passionate sex across from the dead body. Are we supposed to take this shit seriously??

Which brings me to another subject, the acting. Ventimiglia can't act. Weston can't act as the main baddie, 'Jake.' Smith tries to play a sexy-but-dangerous stone cold killer, but tries so hard that the performance simply comes off as awkward and inexperienced. The movie continually tries to be as immoral and sleazy as possible, but what does it achieve? Nothing.

"Pathology", quite simply, is bad. It is so bad, in fact, that I nearly didn't care that my mom's idiot dog was barking in my ear through the second half of the movie because it almost mercifully blocked out some of the awful dialogue. I hated this movie. It is terribly made in almost every respect, and I don't want to hear it's title ever again.

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Posted : 10 years, 1 month ago on 25 January 2014 07:31 (A review of Hick)

Contrary to the brutally negative reception for this film, I found it to be a solid film with a powerful theme and an engrossing main character. I actually thought it was better than the director's earlier effort, "Lymelife" (2008.) Rory Culkin gave it his best shot, but the Suburban family dysfunction motif is so 'done,' and y'know, Emma Roberts plays the same damned character in every freaking movie she's in.

The often-overlooked Culkin brother is in this too in a small part, but Chloe Grace Moretz runs the show as Luli, a sexually provocative yet heartbreakingly vulnerable 13-year-old and the product of drunk loser parents (Anson Mount and Juliette Lewis) living in small town, Nebraska. Disenchanted with her going-nowhere life, Luli hitches a ride from a limping young man (Eddie Redmayne,) a decision which turns out to be the most dire of her life.

Chloe Grace Moretz is a good little actress, although she still has a lot of room to improve, and seeing her flounce around in her underwear and act sexually precocious might bother a lot of people. But it's important to remember that Moretz is not a little girl anymore, and is gradually working her way into more mature roles (maybe a little faster than we would like.)

Luli is a dynamic character. Early on, as she points her revolver in the mirror and quotes lines from famous films, we see a girl who has been hurt to many times, and needs a lifeline of any kind to stay afloat. Later, when she asks her mother's boyfriend if she's pretty, our heart aches for her- we want to be there for this lonely, desperate girl, yet can only watch her fumble and fight with the challenges of an unusual adolescence through the screen.

Unfortunately, the other characters are singularly nasty and unlikable, almost unbearably at times. Most of them seem to exist primarily to abuse, let down, and exploit Luli, to the exclusion of anything else. Redmayne gives a good performance as Eddie, the boy who picks Luli up, but by the end it is impossible to feel any sympathy for him.

Just because we are traveling from one little hick town to another, does that mean the men can't show a little chivalry towards a struggling teenage girl? It is disturbing, but also ludicrous, how each odd character Luli meets seems to be indescribably broken and mean spirited. That said, I never got bored during this movie, and was fascinated by Moretz's little traveler.

I've liked Moretz since "Kick-Ass," and she shows maturity and screen presence as the lead character. Watch this for her and Redmayne, if for no one else. While Redmayne is appropriately vile, the film finds an unlikely heroine in Luli, sometimes sour, sometimes sweet, but always compelling.

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Less Involving Than I Had Hoped

Posted : 10 years, 1 month ago on 24 January 2014 07:45 (A review of Wake in Fright)

To be perfectly honest, I found "Wake in Fright," the chronicle of a man's financial and spiritual ruin in the outback of Australia, to be dull, uninvolving, and rather obvious. Maybe the reason it didn't engross me as much as I expected it to was that I expected an entirely different movie. Looking forward to an exciting, entertaining, and well-made rural thriller, I was instead subjected to a VERY slow-paced and uneventful movie with lots of animal killings that shocked and sickened me.

Now, I often love slow-paced movies, so I wonder if I simply watched it at the wrong time. But to enjoy a slow movie I have to have have characters that hold my interest, that I like and relate to in some way. The characters in "Wake in Fright" were fairly well-defined, but not likable nor particularly involving. While many of the Australians are loutish thugs, the rather conceited English schoolteacher is an uppity snob who personifies the kind of person I hate.

John Grant (Gary Bond) is the stereotypical proper Englishman who reeks of pretension and who you would want to show your light reading picks to (his choice of light reading would probably be 'Ulysses' followed by a few chapters of "Anna Karenina.") He is stuck on the Australian Outback teaching a small school of students varying greatly in age, and arrives in Bundanyabba, a remote mining town, on his way to meet his girlfriend over in London, England.

The rough-hewn men of the town want his to drink, brawl, and be merry, and John looks down on the men and their customs. But when he gambles away all his money on a coin game, he is forced to live with Doc (Donald Pleasence,) an alcoholic is both rough and highly education. Thus begins his emotional and mental disintegration, as he lured into the world of boozing, fighting, kangaroo killing, and homosexual sex (ya better look out for those hom'sexuals, ya hear?)

I think reading 'Lord of the Flies' again would be preferable to watching this dreary descent into depravity. Peter Brooks' film adaptation is no good, but William Golding's book remains a masterpiece. I simply didn't get into the characters or events portrayed in this film. Donald Pleasence is a gifted actor and I find him strangely attractive, even as an old man in "Halloween," but his character's motivations are inexplicable.

Furthermore, I found the killing of the little fox and the kangaroo hunt spiritually sickening on several levels. The disclaimer at the end states that the kangaroos were took down by actual hunters and would have been killed anyway, but that doesn't account for the fox, and I was horrified by the maimed kangaroos staring at the camera with a mixture of sadness and terror. Maybe I'm personifying them too much, but that's not something I'm ashamed of. I know the scenes were meant to show the men's disconnect from the natural world, but it still made me sick.

I feel a little guilty for not liking "Wake in Fright", which got %100 'fresh' on Rotten Tomatoes.com, but there you are. Truthfully, I kept checking the time left on this film and getting distracted, not the mark of a masterpiece. The actors perform commendably, and the movie is fairly well shot, but basically it was just not for me.

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