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All reviews - Movies (157) - TV Shows (4) - Books (2)

Human Nature, & Mob Mentality

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 23 January 2014 09:41 (A review of The Hunt)

Just as man has succumbed to the urge to kill, fight, and procreate since the beginning of time, also has man had the tendency to persecute others without clear or rational explanation. These attacks, popularly called ‘witch hunts,’ come under fire in the Academy-Award nominated Danish film “The Hunt,” which tells the story of how one little girl’s lie has devastating consequences. These consequences affect not only one man, but a whole community.

Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) a mild-mannered, reserved divorcee and father of a teenaged son, works at the local Kindergarten. He is fighting to gain more time with his son, and enjoys the company of the kindergarten kids as well as his Swedish girlfriend, Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport.) Lucas is well-liked by the community, but is best friend is Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen,) the often-drunk father of Klara (Annika Wedderkopp,) a troubled young girl who is beginning to show symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

When Lucas rejects Klara’s innocent-yet-inappropriate advances in forms of a gift and a kiss, Klara makes up a lie that has far-reaching consequences. Accused of indecent behavior towards the children of the Kindergarten, Lucas must deal with the loss of his career, his friends, and his safe niche in the community. Suddenly, he is distrusted by everyone, and people shun him and outwardly lash out at him. By the time Klara tries to take it back, it’s too late. Everything has changed.

I don’t really blame Klara for the way things turns out- I’m angry, yes, but I cannot hate or dismiss her. By the time the chips have fallen into place, she barely remembers what did or didn’t happen. Unlike the events in Craig Zobel’s “Compliance,” which were set off and carried past a certain point by pure idiocy (although "Compliance" is supposedly based on a real-life case,) the events in "The Hunt" are frighteningly plausible and even, for a while, understandable.

I loved the first scene. In a seemingly jolly outburst of mirth and indiscretion, a group of male friends go skinny-dipping in a cold lake. For a moment, all is well. Then a chill falls over the film as we are shown a shot of a chilly landscape. The amiable notes of "Moondance" by Van Morrison fade into pure silence. All is not well. Disaster is hovering over the hero's head, and he will find himself doing and saying some things he never expected too.

Mads Mikkelsen is just terrific in the lead role. His portrayal of a desperate man going to desperate lengths to be heard is so dark and deep, you never doubt it for a second. All the actors are actually very good. Annika Wedderkopp, as five-year-old navigating conflicts way above her maturity level, is a young talent to watch.

"The Hunt" is just electrifying to watch because of the daunting relevance of the situation. Akin to the Salem Witch Trials, after Klara has told her lie, many of the schoolchildren start reporting abuse. You can imagine yourself in a situation like that, because if a little girl came to you revealing things she shouldn't know, who would you believe? The adult, despite your nagging suspicions? Or the child, despite your friendship with the man in question. We all hate pedophiles. But what happens when that hatred becomes irrational and turns us into something monstrous? Very interesting food for thought.

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Very Effective

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 22 January 2014 10:06 (A review of Angst)

So, apparently this movie is super rare and eventually I got my hands on a bootlegged copy (don't judge me, I'm not proud of it!) The DVD I now own is the short version (at 75 minutes) and has somewhat grainy picture quality. The plot follows the homicidal maniac credited simply as 'the psychopath' (eerily played by Erwin Leder,) who is released from prison where he served time for the murder of an elderly lady only to set his sights on a family living in an isolated house.

The main character never kills to steal or pillage. He has no use for cash or fineries, and never knew his victims prior to the homicides. He kills simply because he gets off on it. He has never known a life without cruelty or abuse, and this is neither a rationalization or an excuse. Now I'm going to format this review a little differently than the others. Here are some thoughts:

. "Angst" approaches the serial killer genre a little differently than other films of it's kind. First of all, the movie makes no effort to sympathize or rationalize the killer's actions. Unlike, for instance, Gerard Johnson's "Tony" (a very good movie in it's own right) where you grow to feel for the psychopath, Leder's killer is unrelentingly (and perhaps appropriately) loathsome.

. I may be mistaken, but I believe the killer never speaks to any of his victims. We hear his voice through a voice-over narration. This is an interesting filmmaking method, as is the bizarre and jarring cinematography and soundtrack.

. I hate the fact that this guy even got out of prison because he made up some bullshit story about being well. Twice! (the first was for the murder of his mother.) People like this should be kept behind bars for as long as humanly possible, as with all mass murderers and sexual deviants. It's not worth it, people! (Okay, that's my inner Conservative talking, but it's a pretty f'ing valid point.)

. It made me mad when I saw that the wheelchair-bound man-boy (Rudolf Götz) at the home the killer broke into was left alone in the house. I'm sorry, but a man with the IQ of an infant shouldn't be left to fend for himself while his mom and sister are out shopping! He could fall out of his wheelchair... or, shit his pants... or have his home broken into by a necrophiliac serial killer! See, the unthinkable does happen!

. The stand-out actor was definitely Erwin Leder. Rudolf Götz was good too as the mentally challenged man. Silvia Rabenreither and Edith Rosset were a little weak as the daughter and the mother, respectively.

. I was puzzled and relieved that he let the dog live. My only guess (besides that he was just such a nice guy, har-har) is that he wanted a relic from the killings. Whatever the reason, I was happy that the cute little daschund did not meet a gruesome (and untimely) end.

Overall I found this movie interesting because it offers a glimpse into a serial killer's mind. I didn't really find it all that disturbing, but others might be horrified by the violence displayed here, so for that reason I would not recommend it to sensitive viewers. The camerawork and soundtrack are another asset- haunting and strange, it adds to the sense of disorientation and horror the movie is trying to achieve. Watch it, if you can find it.

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Offbeat Ghost Story

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 22 January 2014 02:47 (A review of Undertow)

Not to be confused with the 2004 Josh Lucas Dermot Mulroney rural thriller, 2009's "Undertow" is quite simply a delight. It stands as the debut feature of Latin filmmaker Javier Fuentes-León, but luckily his newness to the craft doesn't show. Well-acted, made, and written, "Undertow" takes to the concept of ghostly unrest with a warm, offbeat spirituality.

The film takes place in a small Peruvian village where everybody is up everybody else's butt by habit. Not a good place to be gay. So local fisherman Miguel (Cristian Mercado) retreats deeply into the closet, complete with wife and unborn child, while he carries on a steamy but loving affair with the village outcast and artist, Santiago (Manolo Cardona.)

Miguel's wife, Mariela (Tatiana Astengo) is a nice person, and she performs her wifely duties. Why is this happening to her, she laments as she becomes aware of Miguel's unfaithfulness. When Santiago unexpectedly dies, his spirit stays bound to earth and remains with Miguel. Together they are happy, but Santiago's ghost longs to move on.

There are no scares in this film, and no villains. Even the town gossip Isaura (Cindy Díaz) turns out not to be so bad. There are myriad differences between this and an American movie. First is Miguel's lack of disbelief at his lover's ghostly return. The body is missing, and Santiago looks the same. In a US film there would be lots of frantic, maybe comedic attempts to prove that Santiago is in fact dead.

Maybe there would be gags involving ghosts popping up at inopportune moments, and people walking right through ghostly entities. And maybe there's a bit of that, but the whole thing is taken much more naturally than one might expect. Santiago is dead. He has come back as a ghost. Miguel almost immediately believes him because, honestly, who would make up a thing like that? He needs no proof. He goes on faith.

It takes a very spiritual society to do something like that with a ghost story. What proceeds is the touching examination of the men's love from beyond the grave, and Mariala's increasing grief and disenchantment. The men of the village are fairly homophobic, but they're never portrayed as meaner than the plot requires them to be. The acting is great from Mercado (Miguel,) Cardona (Santiago,) and Astengo (Mariela.) All three are thoroughly believable in their roles.

If you're looking for a scary, fright-filled horror movie this is not for you. If you're looking for straight-out gay erotica this is not your movie either; the sex scenes are brief and non-explicit. But if you want to see a touching picture that will make you think and, perhaps, put a tear in your eye, this is for you. The supernatural element is pulled off gracefully, as is the human interest element. You will care about these characters, and you might even find yourself thinking about them when the movie is over.

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Humane & Wonderful

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 21 January 2014 07:56 (A review of El último verano de la Boyita (2009))

"The Last Summer of La Boyita" is a sweet and humane film about a willful young girl struggling to understand the complexities of sex and gender. Despite content involving burgeoning sexuality and youthful curiosity, "La Boyita" never seems exploitative or tawdry. On the contrary, it is a wonderful film about the friendship between the girl, Jorgelina (Guadalupe Alonso) and an intersexed farmer's son, Mario (Nicolás Treise.)

Jorgelina is a somewhat entitled little girl living in Argentina who spends the summer with her doctor father (Gabo Correa) in a rural area. While vacationing there, she immediately takes an active interest in Mario, the low-key son of a farmer who has been pulled out of school to work full-time on the farm. Living with few joys or options, Mario is further burdened with a destructive secret- he is intersexed (popularly coined a hermaphrodite.)

Cursed with both male and female reproductive organs, he must live in fear that someone will discover his secret. Jorgelina takes a prepubescent fancying to Mario, and becomes curious when his strange sexual status is almost accidentally revealed. Meanwhile, Mario prepares for a horse race that will prove his manhood to the other young lads.

The child actors are wonderful, but the stand-out performance is Mirella Pascual as Elba, Mario's mother. She effortlessly plays a woman to whom life has dealt a shit-ton of pain and sadness. Mario's father, a rather brutish man (Guillermo Pfening) seemingly humiliated by his son's gender abnormality, refuses to take Mario to a professional for fear of embarrassment. He's good too. Actually, the whole cast is quite fabulous.

I honestly don't have anything bad to say about this movie. Beautiful cinematography, natural acting, delightful leads... It's sad and sweet and wistful all at the same time. The plot can be a little slow, but if you like nuanced, slow-paced movies like I do you will forgive the film it's occasional sluggishness.

What impressed me most about "The Last Summer of La Boyita" was the natural way the dealt with the boy's affliction. It's easy to take a schoolboy's stance on a subject like intersexuality, snickering and clowning around a serious topic. It is also easy to turn the whole thing into a lurid melodrama. It is harder to show restraint and sensitivity to a rare but still prevalent issue. I highly recommend this movie to anyone.

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Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 20 January 2014 12:55 (A review of The Piano Teacher)

Unsettling and provocative, "The Piano Teacher" is at once a study of the lives of deeply unhappy people and a commentary on the dangers of repression. It's not pretty or pleasant, but one can expect nothing less from controversial Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke. He shines an unyielding light on his character's perversions, prejudices, and desires.

The piano teacher of the title, Erika (impressively portrayed by Isabelle Huppert) is an aging spinster living with her crazy-domineering mother (Annie Girardot,) who still treats her like she is a girl on the cusp of puberty, who needs to be nettled and looked after constantly. They fight viciously, share the same bed, and there's an incestuous subtext going on. Even when that subtext is confirmed, we still can scarcely believe it.

Erika is a very lonely and repressed soul, but she's not a particularly sympathetic character. She is cruel, petty, sexually aggressive, and at one point inexplicably maims a promising student's hand with shards of glass. However, it is impossible not to feel sorry for her at some point. She is an extremely hard character to read, and her seeming lack of emotion puzzles us deeply.

We are given virtually no backstory on Erika at all- her father is locked up in an asylum somewhere, and she and her mother have long be entangled in a sick, co-dependent relationship. That is all. When Erika meets Walter Klemmer (Benoît Magimel,) he pursues her, but neither of them know what they're in for. They promptly head down the path of Sadomasochism and mind games.

I was surprised that this was categorized on this site as 'erotica.' Frankly put, this is not in the least bit erotic and has some of the most unsexy sex scenes for a film containing so many. "The Piano Teacher" is not unlike "Shame" by Steve McQueen in that respect. There is no joy or virility in the 'love' scenes, even the consensual sex has a not only clinical but aggressive feel to it as well.

Isabelle Huppert is fabulous here, and Susanne Lothar (late, great actress and one of the only good things about Haneke's pretentious bore-fest "Funny Games") has a small part as the mother of one of Erika's students whose distinct lack of warmth mirrors Erika's mother's own.

I wish Walter's character had been developed a little more. He exists simply to pursue Erika's character for one half of the movie and brutalize her emotionally and physically for the other. If his motivations had been considered more thoroughly, and his attraction to Erika better explained, the movie would have been better.

There's a lot of ambiguity and subtext in Haneke's films, and "The Piano Teacher" is no exception. This ambiguity is both a gift and a curse, as it is endlessly frustrating but also intriguing and may command multiple viewings. There were some thoroughly 'What the F**k' moments as well, for example when Erika urinates on the ground of the drive-in theater.

"The Piano Teacher" contains some distinctly 'Haneke'-esque annoyances like superfluous long takes but the film is startlingly adept in its power and never betrays itself with Hollywood B.S. or an inappropriately upbeat ending. Ultimately it is as as it's as enigmatic as it's heroine but less weirdly naive- it knows what it is and doesn't pretend to be anything else. Worth watching.

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Surprisingly Good Thriller

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 7 January 2014 09:40 (A review of The Tall Man)

The 'wronged mama bear,' where every mother's worst fear is realized, stands as a common trope in horror and thriller films, and "The Tall Man" is no exception. This is better than "Flightplan," thank God, and puts a new spin on the worn theme of the child being snatched from the arms of the protective parent. Above all, it sports a pretty wicked twist, one that is unpredictable without being totally out there or ludicrous.

I never would have picked up this movie if it weren't for director Pascal Laugier's previous film "Martyrs." The trailer to "The Tall Man" looked to be in kind of lame standard thriller-ish territory, so I decided to avoid it. When I finally got to watching it, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a well written, directed, and acted movie.

Content-wise this isn't even in the same ballpark as "Martyrs," although I did see it got a nice 'R' rating from the MPAA. "The Tall Man" stars Jessica Biel as Julia, a nurse who seems to serve as a friend, neighbor, and basically a helping hand to everyone in the small town of Cold Rock, Washington. The children of Cold Rock are being abducted by a mysterious force known as the "The Tall Man," disappearing without a trace and baffling the local police force.

Julia has a son, David (Jakob Davies,) and periodically visits local woman Tracy (Samantha Ferris) and her teenage daughters, Carol (Katherine Ramdeen) and silent Jenny (Jodelle Ferland.) Tracy's boyfriend Steven (Teach Grant) impregnated Carol and menaces Julia when she comes to the house to check on the infant. He oozes class.

When David is taken from Julia, Julia will do anything to get the boy back. The cool thing about this movie is that it takes you one one way and then- *BAM*-it steers you in a completely different direction. I won't tell you if the crimes of 'The Tall Man' are supernatural or not, because what would be the fun of that?

Suffice to say it's fresh and exciting, Biel makes a adequate scream queen, and Jodelle Ferland is great as always. Jacob Davies (as the son) can't really act and settles on being mildly perturbed, but give him time. The supporting cast is good too. Samantha Ferris and Colleen Wheeler, as the mother of one of the disappeared kids are the standouts.

One of the problems with the script is that Julia seems at parts to be too much of a 'supermom.' Between battling an attack dog and clinging to (and being dragged by) a abductor's van, it's a wonder this woman has the energy to get up in the morning. Altogether, though, this is a sadly underrated and overlooked horror/thriller.

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No Words to Describe...

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 7 January 2014 12:22 (A review of Martyrs (2008))

There are no words to describe how f**ked-up this movie is. I have not seen "A Serbian Film," which is supposed to make "Martyrs" look tame in comparison, but I truly do not know how it's going to top this. I've seen "Antichrist," "The Human Centipede II," "American Mary," but nothing like this. This movie is spirtually and physically sickening, which is exactly how the filmmaker,Pascal Laugier, intended it.

Okay, I'm probably just riling up you gorehounds, so I'll cut to the chase. To say that this movie is nauseating is not to say it's bad. It's actually very well-made and well-acted from start to finish. Actress Mylène Jampanoï does a great job as the frightened victim turned infuriated perpetrator, and Morjana Alaoui is also terrific as her enamored friend.

Although Anna (Alaoui) harbors a lesbian crush on Lucie (Jampanoï,) her sexuality isn't a huge part of the plot. Instead, the movie is about the giving and receiving of physical punishment (not the least bit pleasurable; sorry, BDSM enthusiasts,) and just how far the rich and selfish will go to secure their own peace of mind, with no regard to the people they hurt.

Maybe comparing the premise of this movie with current class issues is a long shot, but damn it, it sounded smart to me at the time. Lucie is inexplicably held prisoner as a child and subjected to physical pain. Young Lucie (Jessie Pham, in a performance worthy of her grown-up counterpart,) runs away and ends up in an orphanage, where she meets Anna (played as a child by Erika Scott) and forges a close bond.

Anna seems determined to help Lucie no matter what squirrels reside in her attic and continues to be a faithful friend and companion when Lucie grows up and, P.O.-ed and dangerous, takes a shotgun to a couple she believes participated in her torture and their teenaged children.

This movie is super brutal and fairly realistic, and establishes itself as such in the home invasion scene. Unlike a American movie, Lucie runs out of shotgun shells and needs to reload, and the reaction of the family radiates terror, but perhaps, not surprise. The movie a sick (let me rephrase that- sicker) turn after Anna is captured by Lucie's tormenters.

The ending is a 'What the Hell?' moment and will leave you thinking about what it all means. The cinematography is very professional and overall well-done. The scenes involving Anna's entrapment last a little too long, frankly. How many times can we watch a woman be smacked around and degraded when it doesn't advance the plot?

The movie makes the decision to focus on young Lucie rather than her captors in the flashbacks, which is a good cinematic choice considering Lucie is traumatized by the experiences and initially doesn't remember her victimizers. In many of the later scenes with Anna, we see her abusers very clearly, constrasting with with the earlier scenes with Lucie.

I thought this was a very well-made movie, but only watchable for people with very strong stomachs. It's not a popcorn movie, and neither does it intend to be. I liked it, but I don't think I could watch it again anytime soon.

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Family-Friendly Fun

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 6 January 2014 06:09 (A review of Bolt (2008))

There's no doubt about it- "Bolt" is great family entertainment, bolstered by bright, engaging animation and likable characters. My only worry is that people will shy away from this movie because of some irrational hatred from one of the voice actors, Miley Cyrus. Well, let me put your mind to rest folks- Penny (voiced by Cyrus) is not even the lead, and in the scenes she is in she does a fine job, and in actuality, does not make you want to put your head through a wall, although her singing might be a different matter.

John Travolta voices the eponymous character, a white German Shepherd who is adopted and taken home by a little girl, his little girl, who as it comes to pass, becomes the star of a very lame television show. In the show, Penny plays a prepubescent badass who fights the evil Doctor Calico (voiced by Malcolm McDowell) as his minions side by side with the genetically engineered Bolt.

The catch- Bolt, who has been duped by camera tricks and showbiz gimmicks, thinks the show is real, and fights every new episode to save his beloved Penny. The director (voiced by James Lipton,) in order to evoke convincing acting from the job, refuses to take multiple takes and never lets Bolt of the set of the TV show, much to Penny's dismay.

When Bolt is accidentally shipped off to New York City in a cardboard box, he must face real-world consequences for his confused behavior. For the first time he bleeds, he becomes hungry, and he is separated from Penny. It is there he meets Mittens (voice of Susie Essman,) a streetwise alley cat whose fate becomes entangled with Bolt's. The scenes introducing Mittens are hilarious and cleverly conceived.

The next addition to the group, Rhino the hyperactive hamster (voice of Mark Walton,) makes things a little silly but his goofiness will please kids and the young at heart. Mittens wants Bolt to stay with her, but Bolt insists on journeying on to find Penny, which leads to an exciting and emotional finale.

I loved the characters in this movie, and this bears up to multiple viewings. It's touching, but doesn't tear you up (like "The Fox and the Hound," which reduces me to tears) and isn't too scary or dark for kids. I also liked the fact that they made Penny's mother overweight without adding any fat jokes or showing her eating a cheeseburger in every other scene. The movies need more positive portrayals like that.

"Bolt" is a very cute movie that should charm audiences of all ages, especially animal lovers. I don't recall a single potty-related or off-color joke, although some of the showbiz satire should go over the heads of kids. A must see family film!

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Gently Heartbreaking Drama

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 6 January 2014 05:41 (A review of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)

Gentle and bittersweet, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" is the second movie adaptation of "Everything is Illuminated" author Johnathan Safron Foer's novel. Although the movie is littered with stars such as Viola Davis, Tom Hanks, and Sandra Bullock, newcomer Thomas Horn steals the show in a flawless performance as Oskar Schell, a troubled eleven-year-old prodigy struggling with his dad (Hanks') death in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Oskar could be rude, he could treat people sh**ty, but I immediately rooted for him. It helps that he reminded me of a friend of my brother's I'm fond of. While Oskar's dad was alive, he would send him on scavenger hunts. When Oskar rummages through his dad's closet and finds a key with a word on it, Oskar believes his father wants him to find the lock the key belongs to.

Oskar probably has Asperger's, and that becomes a factor as he travels through New York City battling anxiety, loud noises, and his own worst fears about Urban terrorism. Meanwhile, his well-meaning mother (Sandra Bullock) tries to get through to her angry loner son. I wasn't sure about Sandra Bullock prior to this movie because I thought she was undeserving of the Oscar for "The Blind Side" but she was good here. You can't help but feel for her when her son throws angry words in her direction.

Linda (the mom)'s unconditional love for her son touched me, as did her quiet grief, but Oskar and the otherwise unnamed 'The Renter' played by Max Von Sydow were my favorite characters. 'The Renter,' true to his title, rents a room from Oskar's grandmother and accompanies Oskar on his perilous quest.

The only complaint I have with this movie is that the premise was very unrealistic. I mean, the word 'Black' that comes with the key could meet anything and Oskar is immediately on the right track. Not only that, but as Oskar looks for people with the last name 'Black,' he doesn't even think that not only is 'Black' a ridiculously common name, but there's no guarantee that if this 'Black' is a person, that they live in New York city!

I liked Oskar a lot. I liked his way of looking at things. Thomas Horn interpreted Oskar honestly and touchingly. This is one of the most underrated child performances of all time (probably because the movie wasn't received well, for what reasons are mysterious to me.) I wanted him to be happy, and move beyond the tragedy of his dad's death and the tragedy of 9/11 in general. Many lives were affected that day, and this movie offers sympathy to both the lives lost and those left behind.

To breach another subject, I thought the depiction of Asperger's was very good as someone diagnosed with the condition. The funny, idiosyncratic things Oskar said seemed very typical for someone with AS, while his social anxiety was easy to relate to. A lot of movies exaggerate AS symptoms for 'Hollywood' effect, making the hero some kind of head-banging, socially defective prodigy. I mean "Rain Man," that was put out near the beginning of Autism research. But "Mozart and the Whale?" Seriously?

And let's not forget how good the entire cast was throughout this movie. Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Max Von Sydow, Thomas Horn of course... they all played their roles wonderfully and were touching and likable. I'd say Von Sydow and Horn were the standouts among this amazing cast. Von Sydow as the silent renter had no spoken lines, but managed to convey emotion like a pro. I'm going to have to diverge from the critics and say this movie is absolutely worth seeing. It's worth it.

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Understanding Jane review

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 5 January 2014 12:01 (A review of Understanding Jane)

"Understanding Jane" is basically adequate as a talky lightweight Britcom, but becomes repellent and unconvincing when dealing with the romance between nice guy Elliot (Kevin McKidd) and vindictive, manipulating petty crook 'Dallas' AKA the Jane of the title (Amelia Curtis.) Attractive and pleasant McKidd and John Simm, as the friend give it their best shot and the girls (Curtis and Louisa Milwood-Haigh, as Curtis' partner in crime and Simm's love interest) follow suit, but nothing can endear this match made in hell to us.

Elliot and Oz (Simm) respond to a personals ad and are coupled up with 'Dallas' and 'Popeye,' two good-time gals who proceed to ditch them with the bill. The guys eventually get their well-deserved revenge, but Elliot is drawn to Dallas, in that squabbling rom-com way. Dallas is just giving Elliot the run-around, but somehow she develops feelings for the poor sod. So, you would think she would repent from her toying with his feelings and we would see some character development on her part.

The thing is, not really. She never seems to be particularly sorry for manipulating Elliot, or undergo any change. The final gag (her throwing his TV out the window after he is on the losing end of a bet) only shows how tight she has her talons wrapped around him. Elliot seems like a nice enough guy, and I feel sorry for him. Dallas is always playing with his feelings, and any seeming progression in her feelings toward him are really just a means to an end.

There is a lot to dislike about this movie's technical competence (music that just sounds like background noise, fade-outs that inexplicably turn blue, grainy camerawork.) Also, despite a few clever come-backs and conversations, it simply isn't very funny. The plotline about Dallas' psycho ex goes pretty much nowhere, and gives us virtually no 'understanding' of her character.

I loved John Simm on his short stint as a villain in "Doctor Who," and I like his character here, but it's hard to be involved when Jane's hold on Elliot dominate most of the movie. Also, what the f is with Dallas (Jane) introducing Elliot to the world of petty crime? 'Steal this CD.' And he does it! Elliot's getting by. He doesn't need to end up behind bars for petty theft. Is this Borderline behavior supposed to be cute?

Dallas is cruel, narcissistic, manipulative and likes nothing more than to toy with naive Elliot's feelings. There's virtually nothing likable about her. It would be bad enough if the movie didn't enthusiastically condone Dallas' behavior. Are we supposed to believe that a relationship between strait-laced Elliot and cuckoo-crazy Dallas could ever work in the real world?

I would not recommend this movie to anyone, although I did like some of the dialogue. Andrew Lincoln (Sheriff Rick on the AMC zombie drama "The Walking Dead") makes a brief appearance as a party guest. I don't like movies that celebrate imbecilic and hurtful relationships, with an emphasis on good-for-nothing women taking men on 'the ride of their lives.' That's just stupid. There's nothing wrong with playing it safe and not breaking the law for no discernible reason. Hope you enjoy my analysis, readers. Bye!

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