Saturday, March 17, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: Nothing's more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose.

American Violence (2017): This thing, directed by Timothy Woodward Jr., is what they called a “stinker” in the olden times when I still had all my hair and teeth. It’s an overly ambitious movie that makes big gestures towards exploring the nature of violence and evil through a thriller lens but actually spends its running time regurgitating all serial killer thriller clichés you may or may not remember, presenting them through hilariously po-faced direction, tone-deaf dialogue of the “how not terribly clever people think intelligent people speak” type, and actors who just aren’t good enough to sell any of it. Seriously, when your best thespian is Denise Richards (adding a psychologist to her nuclear physicist etc roles), you have yourself a problem.

Patema Inverted aka Sakasama no Patema (2013): This anime directed and written by Yasuhiro Yoshiura, on the other hand, is really rather great. It concerns the adventures of (of course) two teenagers on a post-apocalyptic Earth where some people live with an inverted gravitational direction. That’s of course a pretty damn silly idea, but it drives the film to moments of true awe and wonder, and adds ingenious little twists to help a plot that at its core is as generic as they come feel as vibrant and alive as the animation itself.

There’s also a rather potent metaphorical level to a tale of two people coming from very different places with opposite gravitational pulls falling in love that should speak to romantics of all ages and places.

Cherish (2002): Finn Taylor’s comedy/thriller/whatever does remind me a bit of the films of Jonathan Demme when their genre descriptions were equally vague/all-encompassing. It’s not as good as Demme at his best – there’s a bit too much calculated twee-ness in here for that – but there are moments in here when the film truly sings with a mix of honest eccentricity, surprising ideas, and unpredictable tonal shifts that are indeed the actual tone of the film.

The whole high strangeness of the film is centred around a disarmingly charming main performance by Robin Tunney and an able supporting cast (among others Brad Hunt as an improbable love interest, and Ricardo Gil as our heroine’s gay, wheel-chair bound, little person neighbour who isn’t at all the caricature that description may suggest), whose performances organically shift and change with the film.

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