Friday, March 30, 2012

MOVIE REVIEWS #27: "DRIVE", "THE GUARD," "OF GODS AND MEN," "BELLFLOWER", "CIRCUMSTANCE", "3", "DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF PHANTOM FLAME," "POINT BLANK", "JULIA'S EYES", "SARAH'S KEY", "THE DESERT OF FORBIDDEN ART," and MORE!

This has been a big month so far for "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews", with almost 1,000 hits so far we've increased our hits by over 30% from last month, and we're growing faster than ever. I wanted to take a second and thank all you for reading, and hope that you continue to do so. To some extent, every writer is just happy to find out that somebody has read anything from them, and to find so many is coming to read my blog is really something special, so thank you all very much!

Oh, and one-not before we continue, while I have finished the 30 Day Song Challenge on Facebook, I'm going to put off doing the 30 Day Television Challenge for a bit. I promised on twitter that I will participate in it, and I will, and I'm looking forward to it, but I want to take a little time before I jump into another challenge, so stayed tuned, and I will announce when I will begin that challenge, and, as the Movie and Song challenge, I will blog with updates when that comes.

Well, this week we got to a lot of films from last year, so let's go right into the reviews!

DRIVE (2011) Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

4 1/2 STARS

"Drive" is strange and full of contradictions you don't see in most Hollywood films. It's kinetically insistant on driving the story forward, yet strangely it's quiet and mysterious. It's action-packed, and yet the action remains subdued and mundane, almost workmanlike. In the world of Driver (Ryan Gosling, his character is never given a name), action must seem like that to him, another day on the job. Driver is, just that, a driver. He's got two steady jobs as a mechanic and as a stunt driver for movie sets, where he can flip a car instantly, dust himself off, and do it again if need be. In his spare time, if somebody can afford him, he works as a getaway driver for robbers and thieves, and he's very good at it. Not simply fast, but skillful, able to outmanuever the police, even when they come from the air. His boss, Shannon (Bryan Cranston) thinks, correctly, that he could be a good stock car racer, and asks an old Mob-connected friend Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) to invest in a car for Driver. He's auspicious, but he likes what he sees, although his longtime partner Nino (Ron Perlman) who runs out of one of those pizzerias that nobody ever comes to, but does incredible business, is more hotheaded, and more skeptical. Meanwhile, Driver begins a delicate friendship that Irene (Carey Mulligan) his next-door neighbor in his apartment. Driver begins watching her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos), and there's an obvious sexual connection between Driver and Irene, but Irene's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is coming out of jail soon. This seems like I'm telling you the entire movie, but believe it-or-not, this is basically, maybe the first half-hour of the film. I wouldn't say the movie is unpredictable in its many twists and turns, but it's certainly done well, and with a lot great directing and tension. This is the second film I've seen from director Nicolas Winding Refn, after the biopic "Bronson," which I reviewed in an earlier blog, and the two films hardly seem like they're from the same filmmaker, and yet, I don't think any other person could've directed both. I think I know the film he's borrowing his influences from with "Drive". The famous French film "Diva," often considered the first film of the "cinema du look" movement, also seems to keep action at a mundane level, despite their being lots of it, and has moments of actual human connections. They're two very different films, but Refn's strange insistence on this smooth '80s-ish electronic soundtrack that seems almost counter to the action, makes me think he's aiming for homage. ("Diva"'s music, also strange for it's genre, included opera) "Drive," made a lot of year-end Top Ten lists by critics, and I can understand why. One of the biggest shocks when the Oscar nominations were announced was Albert Brooks name not being announced for Best Supporting Actor, after him and Christopher Plummer had basically split most every Award going into the Oscars. (The film was nearly shut-out of all Awards actually, only getting a Sound Editing nomination) Brooks is good here, and it's quite interesting how he handles and manipulates situations and characters in this film; he's quite an unusual gangster. I'm not particularly amazed or surprised at his performance however, although that might be because I've always considered Albert Brooks to be one of Hollywood's great actors. Actually everybody is quite good and memorable here. I'm surprised Ron Perlman's performance for instance, didn't get more attention. Mulligan is really becoming one of the most interesting actresses around, as well. And for Ryan Gosling, this has been a helluva year with "Drive," being arguably his best performance in a year that also included his work in "The Ides of March," and "Crazy, Stupid, Love". He's one of those few actors who you can't always tell what he's thinking in a performance. Normally that's a bad thing in an actor, but he can find ways of turning that on and off that makes him amazingly versatile. "Drive," is that weird, unique film that's loyal to it's genre, yet remains outside of it. Almost as though it's an out-of-body experience. I bet people who drive 300 mph around a race track must feel like that sometimes; it might be the only way they can force themselves not to crash.

THE GUARD (2011) Director: John Michael McDonaugh

4 1/2 STARS



Martin McDonaugh is a famous playwright who's short film "Six Shooter," won him an Oscar for Best Short Film a few years back. His next film, the feature "In Bruges," a comic tale of two mobsters sent on a vacation in Bruges, Belgium, earned him an screenwriting Oscar nomination. Both those films starred Brendan Gleesan as conflicted men, who are trying to do their best in situations that do exactly honor such behavior and are filled with strange philosophical, meandering dialogue that Tarantino and Mamet would've been proud of. Gleesan now stars in Martin's brother's first feature-length film "The Guard", which also has many of those similar traits Martin's work has, and it's also just as good. In Gleesan, they've seemed to have found a voice for themselves, as a smarter-than-appearance men, who are certainly flawed, but are smart enough to know that, and observant about the world enough to see the whole board before everyone else does. In "The Guard," Gleesan plays Gerry, one of the local coppers in Northwest Ireland, where nothing much particularly happens. Suddenly, there's a strange a grizzly murder in town. He isn't effected by the wild theory his younger colleagues come up with, because they've spent a lifetime watching "CSI..", but he realizes it's suspicious. When an FBI agent, Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) comes into to town to discuss a major drug-smuggling syndicate is in town, Gerry realizes one of the suspects was the dead guy. The back-and-forth between these two characters and how they approach police work is the heart of this movie. Kinda like "In the Heat of the Night," without all the racism. Well, there's some racism on Gerry's part, but as he says, "I'm Irish, racism is part of my culture," and it's not to be taken seriously. In fact, Gerry's intelligence and dialogue is more manipulative than it first seems. He uses his language and actions, to guise others reactions. Because of this unpredictability, nobody on the force can trust him, bad enough on a police force that's legit, a worse nightmare for ones that are corrupt as hell like this one. Gerry spends what free time he has watching TV, making time for his elderly mother, or taking rare days off to go to Dublin with some hookers. As I shouldn't simply narrow my focus of Gerry, almost all the characters speak in random observations and thoughts, including the drugrunners, who stare at the sharks in an aquarium, wondering about how they've wasted their life and looking for something more meaningful. There's a funny conversation in the middle of a blackmail attempt about the meaning of the song "Ode to Billie Joe". There's also about twenty sentences I could write about this film that begin with the words "There's a funny conversation...". It so rare to hear movies-, yes, hear movies, that are about language. I can listen to "The Guard," and be thoroughly entertained. The crime plot is just the device used to get people to talk, and McDonaugh has things he wants to say. I see lots of movie about drugrunners and cops, here's one that's knows cops try to catch drugrunners everyday and it's boring.

OF GODS AND MEN (2011) Director: Xavier Beauvois

4 STARS

A winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, "Of Gods and Men," tells the true story of a monastery of French monks outside of a small Algerian village, and caught up in the middle of the Algerian War in '96. They were close to the community. They fed them, many of the villagers went to the monastery when they were sick, and without them, they were the lifeblood of the Community, but the radical Islamists were approaching quickly, and the news reports kept getting worse. They discuss whether or not to leave, or be transferred, or ask France, their home country, to get them out, and a few other possibilities. They're schooled in the Qu'ran and well as the Bible, and once the Islamists begin coming, it's at first for medicine and riches they don't have. Their leader, Christian (Lambert Wilson) manages to talk them out of meaningless slaughtering for the night. Many of them monks are old, and have families back home, but it's possible that their presence is saving the town. "Of Gods and Men," is a slow-moving and complicated film. Most of the monks were found dead in the winter outside of the monastery, nobody knows what happened to them. Nobody's completely sure what how they got their or what happened to them, but whatever happened, must have challenged their faith to the fullest extent. The incidents in Croatia and Rwanda were still fresh in their minds as the nation practically collapsed around them. The film won 3 Cesar Awards, and was the French's entry for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2010. Director Xavier Beauvois is actually an actor in France primarily, but he's becoming more known for directing. This is the second film of his I've seen, after the fairly innocuous police procedural "Le Petit Lieutenant". "Of Gods and Men," is quite different and slower paced than that film. He takes the time to get to know the situation, as well as the monks themselves, and why they make and favor the decisions about leaving that they do. For some, it might not be the easiest watch, but for me, "Of Gods and Men," was a fascinating view into a few men, put in a complex, unwinnable situation, who try to reason their way out of it, because it's the only thing they can do.

BELLFLOWER (2011) Director: Evan Glodell

4 STARS

I have a few friends who are to some extent, preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I think they're overreacting to the possibility, (and I think, even if there is a zombie apocalypse, I don't think zombie would have such well-thoughtout plans for taking over the world if they actually did) however none of my friends are serious enough-..., well, I hope none of them are serious enough, about it to spend much of their spare time, building their own flamethrowers. Evan Glodell, the writer/director of "Bellflower," apparently is the kind of person that who is preparing, not for a zombie takeover, but for a Mad Max style future, complete with redesigned weapons and automobiles. Glodell, not just the character, Woodrow, that he plays in "Bellflower". Named after the L.A. sidestreet where they apparently hang out, Woodrow and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) spend most of their time building desert-dwelling killing machines, and/or drinking at some party or some dive bar. These are the two primary activities of killing time in this world, and any other activities must stem from these two. (Usually the latter) At a bar one night, Woodrow challenges Milly (Jessie Wiseman) to a game of Who Can Eat the Most Grasshoppers and Win a $50 gift certificate, because this is a bar in "Fear Factor," apparently. Milly might be the one attractive girl that doesn't get turned off after finding out that someone builds flamethrowers, and drivse in a self-made death vehicle that they call "Mother Medusa". In fact, Milly seems to thrive and exist only in the seediest of the seediest. When they start their first date, she insists on being taken to the shittiest, nastiest place Woodrow can think of. He thinks of a dive bar he once passed in Texas, and to his surprise, she's really game. This unexpected road trip concerns their friends. Milly's friend Courtney (Rebekah Brandes) starts to hang around Aiden a bit, while Milly's roommate Mike (Vincent Grashaw) is frustrated at her eratic behavior, and her lack of paying for the rent. The road trip, and in fact, the first part of the movie, is one of the strangest romances I've ever seen in film. These are two of the strangest characters I've seen in a while, although they are just the reckless kindred spirit hooking up with the shy daydreamer, although the dynamic is all strange, but it's in many ways beautiful. The second half of the movie, shows their break-up, and Woodrow, after an accident, begins to suffer, from either a broken heart, brain damage, both, or possibly just his thoughts and nightmares. Courtney begins comforting him, and Aiden tries to distract him, but nothing seems to work. There's a sudden excessive amount of violence between these characters, that's emotional and random. (I think there's little chance anybody who works on building WMDs for fun, can truly be unviolent) Glodell is good at trying to compare Woodrow "Mad Max," fantasies, with the painful actual drama of love and heartbrokeness. I personally am not sure how or for that matter, what is real or just inside Woodrow's mind near the end of the movie. "Bellflower," is clearly a personal film from a personal artist and a truly unique vision, and for that alone, and the fact that it's good, it's more than worth watching. As well as, well..., there is something intriguing in seeing an actual garage-built flamethrower at work. A powerful and stunning debut film.

CIRCUMSTANCE (2011) Director: Maryam Keshavarez

4 STARS

I seem to be one of the few people who's going to be recommending the Iranian film "Circumstance", as I quickly look around imdb.com and a few of my favorite critics' websites. I don't particularly disagree with their criticisms strangely enough, but I think I'm more tolerant of the film because I found a different purpose for the film than the others did. The movie starts out focusing on two teenage girls in Tehran. Atefah (Nikohl Boosheri) is well-off with professional parents, while her friend Shireen (Sarah Kazemy) is the daughter of anti-revolutionists who were killed years ago, and now she's being raised by her parents. The fact that the two girls have a crush on each other, seems to be only one of their complications. They're teenage girls who strive for liberation in a country that denies them that right. Most of the country, at least the parts of the country the girl's matriculate also seems to be aware of the ridiculousness of Iranian policies. They hide party clothes under their burkas when they go out, to the secret parties. They get occasional work dubbing illegal American films into Farcee. (They work a lot on "Milk," which I imagine would be a tricky film to dub into most any language). Atefah's brother Mehran (Rexo Sixo Safai) is a drug addict who's come out of rehab. Apparently he's lost a lot of distrust from the family, 'cause they insists on urine tests from him. He's clean, but what they don't realize is that he's become a religious fundamentalist, and he's soon begun setting up hidden spy cameras in his house. I'm not quite sure what he's looking for, but he seems to want to punish somebody. While the movie is erotic and lushishly shot, I think the film's objective was to simply show this transitioning and complex world of Iran. I don't know if it showed one that's particularly accurate or realistic, but I think metaphorically, it got the feeling of living in this complex world correct. In one way, this burgeoning secret world in transitioning all the time, underground, while there's this rigid old world that most everyone realizes is problematic and wrong, but they endure and live their lives skirting around it. If "Circumstance," might be uneven, and doesn't explore certain things as much as it should, it's because it's too ambitious, but I'm not gonna punish for that too much. It's the first feature film by Maryam Keshavarz, and while I hope her next film is more focused, I think she's made a memorable and intriguing first film.

3 (2011) Director: Tom Tykwer

3 STARS

I've been debating what rating to give Tom Tykwer's "3". On the one hand, he's an important director who's made so amazing films in the past. This is the fourth film of his I've seen after his masterful "Run, Lola, Run," the convulsively watchable "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer", and "The International," which was a Hollywood action movie that I barely remember. "3" succeeds at what I think it's trying to do, but for some reason, considering the subject matter, it doesn't do it particularly interestingly. The couple at the center of the film is Sophie (Hanna) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper). Their in their '40s, and according to some of the reviews, their intended as archetypes, which is good, because I barely bought them as people. A lot happens to them. Simon has his mother go brain dead after a suicide attempt, and he him gets diagnosed with cancer and must go through chemo. In hindsight however, these incidents seemed not as way of diving into the characters as much as they were unnecessary attempts to add more drama to a story that probably would've worked best without it. In separate relationships, both Simon and Hanna begins having affairs with Adam (David Streisow). Adam's married too, but he seemed more controlled by his need to help fulfill others sexual desires. That's a strange way of describing him, but I think it's an accurate one. Had they both had a relationship with the same women, the film would've basically become a porn, especially the way the film ends up, but it's at this second half of the film when the movie really starts diving into these notions of love and sexuality that the movie starts getting interesting. I know their are couples like these out there, that have this "Jules et Jim"-inspired dynamic, although I doubt that they often begin the way they do in "3", (I think Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," might be a more accurate portrayal of such a relationship) but there's enough here at the end. It makes you wonder though, why Tykwer's adding so much. If "Run, Lola, Run" is any indication, he's the one director who can do more with less than anybody.

DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF PHANTOM FLAME (2011) Director: Hark Tsui

4 STARS

Apparently loosley based off of a real story and a real detective "Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame," is one fun ride though 7th Century China. Empress Wu's (Carina Lau) Inauguration is approaching, but the Empress's court has been plague with the mysterious deaths of some of her men, after they suddenly start spontaneously burning up, and a mystery dark smoky flame comes out of them. Is it a curse, or is someone trying to sabotage the ceremonies. With nowhere else to go, she has to call on her one-time friend and enemy Detective Dee (Andy Lau) who's been in exile for years for reasons that aren't exactly given. Everybody is impressed with his appearance on the scene, as though he were Sherlock Holmes, Adrian Monk, Hercule Poirot, or some other world famous Detective that requires random parishoners to see him and go "Oh, that's the famous Detective...". Quickly, Dee realizes that poison is involved, but he isn't sure of who, and he's also confused because the only substance he knows that can produce such a poison, fire beetles, are thought to be extinct. That's about as far as I got into understanding the movie, but in a mystery where everybody knows Hong Kong style Kung Fu, and one of the suspects seems to be a talking deer, I don't particularly look for realism or believability. Mysteries aren't about whodunit so much as they're really about how they find out whodunit. The great Chinese director Hark Tsui has fun with this film, as he should. The film is kinetic, maddening, non-sensical, non-historical, and completely illogical, and I thoroughly had fun watching it.  I hope there's another Detective Dee mystery coming soon, but I fear that based on the end titles that explained what happens there won't be one.

POINT BLANK (2011) Director: Fred Cavaye

3 1/2 STARS

"Point Blank" does a good job and taking some classic action movie elements, and creating a fairly unpredictable film. I knew all the elements, the wrong/innocent man suddenly finding himself in a situation way over his wife, the kidnapped, love one, usually pregnant, usually a wife, the gangster who's got other gangsters looking for him, the corrupt cops, but I didn't exactly know how these elements would combine and collide, and when. The wrong man is Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) a nurse who's assigned to, and saves the life of Hugo (Roschdy Zem), who's just been in a motorcycle accident. Samuel is unaware that Hugo is a wanted criminal on multiple charges, but more importantly, Hugo's life is in danger, and he has to kidnap Sam just to escape. The police soon think Sam might be involved himself as he has to start helping him. On top of this, the bad guy's have kidnapped Sam's pregnant wife. Which bad guys? I'll be damned if I can remember, the bad guys, whoever the bad guy is at that moment. This is the kind of movie, where if you step back and think abou it..., hey, if you go back and follow "The Big Sleep," closely, you'll realize somebody killed at least two people after he jumped off a bridge. In the moment, you feel all the elements moving closer, and two strangers, suddenly have to become quick friends and figure out how to get out of this jam, preferably without getting themselves killed. "Point Blank," is a pretty entertaining piece of mindless entertainment. It keeps you guessing and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The fact that it's a French film, means that we should expect a American remake someday soon, but I'm satisfied with this one.

JULIA'S EYES (2011) Director: Gillem Morales

3 1/2 STARS

One of the absolute toughest things for film to portray is the realities of blindness. This shouldn't surprise most people, film is a visual medium, and therefore blindness practically runs against that. Julia (Belen Rueda) is becoming blind, and if she's not careful, she could be blind quicker instead of later. Her twin sister, Sara, who also suffered from the same debilitating eye disorder, had also become blind, before she was found dead of an apparent suicide. There's no evidence what-so-ever to indicate any kind of foul play, but Julia is insistent, and after the funeral, she and her husband decide to move into Sara's place for a bit. "Julia's Eyes", is surprisingly visual for a film about a character that's going blind, probably a wise decision. (It also doesn't hurt that Guillermo Del Toro was on board as a producer.) The movie is also quite tense, as Julia has to begin infiltrating Sara's world. She learns at one point that Sara had a boyfriend, but this fact is disputed. Other suspects begin to arise, and then, some of them suddenly find themselves killed under suspicious circumstances. Julia is one of those characters who has no option other than to insist that her theory is right, because it's the only way that she can continue. Something fould must've happened to her sister, and indeed, like in a Polanski movie, all paranoia is justifiable. "Julia's Eyes", is an rather tense mystery thriller, that admittedly uses the main character going blind as a device to intensify the drama than as an actual character trait for a villain to exploit, but exploit it he does, (or thinks he does), and as a device, it's used quite well. This is only the second feature-length film for director Gillem Morales, the first a film I haven't seen called "The Uninvited Guest". He's clearly got a workmanlike skill for tension and horror. "Julia's Eyes," may be a little gimmicky and absurd, but aren't all movie serial killers?

SARAH'S KEY (2011) Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner

2 1/2 STARS

Somewhere, there's an interesting film, in the middle of "Sarah's Key," but this wasn't it. This might not have been the right approach to the film. It begins with a history lesson, and then continues on to a mystery in modern-day France. Julia Jamond (Kirsten Scott Thomas, working in French again after the wonderful "I've Loved You So Long") is a journalist who seems to be particularly close and knowledgeable about the Vel d'Hive roundup. I was actually thankful for this history lesson, it's a lesser-known roundup of the Jews in 1942, that the French were placing in concentration camps. Not the Nazis, the French. One young girl named Sarah (Melusine Mayance) manages to hide help her brother avoid being taken in, but she also locks him up in a closet, with specific instructions not to come out. It's a little too late before she realizes that she won't be able to get back to him quick enough, but doesn't stop her, and with a few heartfelt pleas, and a long journey, she escapes from the camp and heads towards her apartment building to get him out. The apartment building, turns out to also be her father-in-law's childhood home and she's determined to search for Sarah now, and possibly relatives, so she might be able to tell her story. This second part of the story, the modern-day tale isn't nearly as compelling as the first part, and despite a cameo appearance by Aiden Quinn. I do think that part should've also worked as well though; I'm not quite positive the film should've only told one side of the story. Maybe a more linear timeline might've helped, instead of this continual bouncing between stories, which tended to lose any momentum either story might have been picking up. There's a lot to like here though. Good performances, it is a worthy and little-known piece of WWII history that is worth exploring; I certainly didn't know anything about this incident. It just doesn't come together though. I'm partly tempted to recommend this anyway for the core story itself, but it's just not a told well enough to recommend as a film.

THE DESERT OF FORBIDDEN ART (2011) Directors: Tchavdar Georgiev and Amanda Pope

2 1/2 STARS

It's a strange day when I hear multiple geography facts that I didn't even know, but in the sovereign Republic of Karakalpakstan, which covers the entire northwest of Uzbekistan, which is one of only two "doubly-landlocked" countries, the other being Liechtenstien, (and I thought through I knew every geographic term, doubly-landlocked, means a country that is landlocked, and surrounded entirely by other countries that are also landlocked) in this impossible to get to desert with practically nothing, there's a musuem, which holds the secret history of Russian art, that might be the most valuable collection of works that until recently, most people thought were either lost forever or destroyed. Over 40,000 pieces in fact, from some of the greatest painters that both predate the Communist Revolution and were banned during the Communist Revloution. This amazing and well-hidden collection, is the subject of the documentary "The Desert of Forbidden Art". Using some famous voice-overs, including Ben Kingsley, Ed Asner and Sally Field, we learn about the collector of this art, Igor Savitsky, who was an unsuccessful artist himself, but found inspiration in the Uzbeki desert scenes which he began painting, but more importantly, he was able to smuggle loads of banned art, into the area, partly through pure guile, partly through gaining the trust and friendships of the famous Russian artists of the times, including many who were either enemies of the state and thrown out of the Soviet Union, and/or were threatening to be if they ever showed their art publicly, and also because the location was so remote, hardly anybody in the Soviet high command would ever stumble upon it. We see and hear stories of many of the paintings, and some of it is just remarkable. If I'm ever happen to be in the downtown Nukus area..., well, let's first assume that something very frigging strange has happened if I'm in the downtown Nukus area, but if I will remember to visit this art museum. Some of the paintings are in disarray, but the owner, of the few women who owns anything in the republic, is reluctant to sell any of it. I don't completely blame her, without the art, there's almost no reason anybody should visit the area. (And the area isn't condoning the area) As a subject, this is certainly fascinating and just amazing information. As a movie, it was surprisingly underwhelming. Might have been better as a short subject. I can't quite recommend the movie, but I can certainly recommend the paintings. With so much valuable art, it's certainly something scholars will be studying for decades to come as they repiece the history of Russian Art through this renegade collection in the middle of nowhere. Certainly interesting, but not the most entertaining thing around.

HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1990) Director: John McNaughton

5 STARS

"Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," took four years to make it to theatres, after producers who were unsure what to do with it, severe edits, as well as a ratings battle with the MPAA who originally gave it an X rating. It's remains one of the most frightening and disturbing pieces of film ever made. Based on the claimed murders of Henry Lee Lucas, "Henry..." (Michael Rooker) travels constantly killing people randomly and in many different manners. The beginning of the movie shows only the results of his acts, dead women lying naked on the grass, and another lying on the toilet with a broken coke bottle shoved into her face. During one scene, he picks up a hitchhiker with a guitar. The next scene, Henry brings the guitar home to Ottis (Tom Towles) a fellow ex-con who Henry met in prison and is staying with temporarily. Ottis's sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold) comes to stay with Ottis after leaving her abusive husband. She left her little girl with relatives, while she tries to get back on her feet, quickly taking a job shampooing hair at a salon. She relates to Henry after shared traumatic youths. Becky was sexually assualted by her father for most of her teens and Henry's mother was a prostitute who made him dress in women's clothings as a kid, and forced him to watch her with numerous johns, until he finally killed her. I think he clearly killed her, but he keeps changing the murder weapon when he retells the story. This is possibly why Henry protects Becky when Ottis begins making sexual advances towards Becky. (He inherited his father's urges) Henry tries to enlist Ottis in murder as an alternative, for a while successfully. Henry isn't greatly interested, or capable of sex. Murdering seems to be one of the few human interactions that seems natural to him, but Ottis begins getting enjoyment out of it. They even start videotaping some of their adventures. If you're wondering where the police are in this film, they're not there. "Henry..." is exactly what it's title says it is, it's a portrait of a man who kills and kills and kills. It's almost impossible to tell if he wants to, or it's because he has too, but kill he does. The world of this movie is the three people, and anyone else is trying to invade that world, and must be destroyed. It's remains powerful, one of the most frightening films I've ever seen. The violence and occasionally sex, is gruesome and realistic, for the most part, and even when it isn't the tension in the room is too overbearing for any unintentional laughter. Director John McNaughton has spent most of his career since directing television, with occasional forays back into feature films, probably most notably the erotic thriller "Wild Things," which I still wonder whether that was meant to be a comedy or not, but it was certainly memorable. If I had directed "Henry..." I might be reluctant to jump back into feature films myself. I mean, after something this disturbing, there really isn't many places left to go.
Post a Comment