Sunday, April 16, 2006

Okay, let’s get the self promoting part over with first:

See Me: This Wednesday at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood, 7:30.) I’ll be screening my short, PUSH IT with a few other excellent shorts at Outfest’s Annual Queer Shorts Program. Want free tickets? Give me a holler and I can hook you up, but you gotta reach me before 5 on Monday.

Hear Me: Ohmygod. I’m gonna be on the radio. This Monday night, a few of the filmmakers with films in the program on Wednesday are going to be interviewed on local radio channel, KPFK FM 90.7, at 7 pm as part of their IMRU (Get it? “I am, are you?”) gay and lesbian themed program. Steve Pride, the host has a cool movie site with MP3s of his past interviews and stuff. It’s my website of the week!

Feel Me: Well, first you gotta buy me dinner…

Saw HARD CANDY. It was alright, but, once again, I feel like I’ve gotten about $5 worth out of a $14 dollar film. (Yes, that’s right, folks, in LA, if you want to see HARD CANDY opening weekend, you have to see it at the Arclight: the most expensive – and best – movie theatre in town.)

I’m getting tired of half-baked films. And I’m not just talking about Hollywood stuff. It’s everywhere. Independent, foreign and, please, let’s not forget, queer cinema. I feel like most films I see these days maybe got past maybe the second draft and the writer decided to call it a day and go get a cocktail instead of staying home and doing his/her homework.

I’ll just use HARD CANDY as an example because it’s fresh in my mind.

SPOILER ALERT.

After a middle aged man, Jeff, meets a 14 year old girl, Haley, on the internet, they have a coffee date and he takes her home to “hang out.” Soon they’re sharing Screw … drivers (he he) which Haley mixes up herself. Jeff passes out, but it’s not ‘cause he’s drunk. Haley has slipped him a roofie and he wakes up tied up to his beautiful Aeron chair – where he stays for most of the film. Seems Haley has quite an axe to grind with guys like Jeff. A young girl has disappeared recently and Haley (out little Nancy Drew dominatrix) believes she has the murderer.

And here’s where the movie hits a brick wall.

Turns out, Haley’s right to tie up Jeff. From the very beginning, we know that she’s tied up a guy sleazy enough to bring an underage kid over to his house. Soon we learn that not only is he into kiddie porn, but he also met the missing young woman the day she disappeared. Good enough for Haley. She proceeds to perform a mock castration on Jeff, shock him with a taser and prep him for a simulated suicide by stringing him up to the rafters.

With the exception of a few moments of freedom, Jeff is tied up for most of the movie. He is never really in control for any major part of the film. And, hey, don’t think I didn’t enjoy seeing cutie pie Patrick Wilson tied up. (I’ll set you free, Patrick!) But what happened to the Hitchcockian twists that this genre begs for? Jeff could have been more clever in his attempts at psychological manipulation, and more successful in his attempts to free himself. An attempt at the nosy neighbor threat (for example, the visiting officer in the much more interesting PANIC ROOM) is introduced but it goes nowhere. Maybe Haley could have made a few mistakes in her mischievous plan. Maybe she’s the murderer. How many of these men has she caught? What has she done to them?

I’m betting the film was made and sold on the basis of the trailer – one of the best trailers I’ve seen in recent years. It’s all there: the set up, the torture, the tension and it’s beautifully shot and edited. It made me want to see the movie. Too bad it WAS the movie.

Oh well, I’m probably going to keep going to these kinds of movies – hoping that they provide the kind of edge-of-your-seat thrills that I want out of a good thriller. In an effort to not be such a Sour Sally, here’s a list of a few of my favorite thrillers. Please do yourself a favor, save the $14 and rent these films or see them at the New Beverly or wherever you go that shows classic film. I guarantee you, a frame of these films will be better than 2 hours of HARD CANDY.

Some of Dave’s Favorite Thrillers:

Hitchcock’s VERTIGO and SHADOW OF A DOUBT
Fincher’s PANIC ROOM
Verhoven’s BASIC INSTINCT
Polanski’s FRANTIC
The Coen Brothers’ FARGO.

Good, evil times brought to you by master filmmakers at the top of their game.

1 Comments:

Anonymous David H. said...

Don't forget Rear Window, my fav color Hitchcock! It's a thriller... with romance... -and- Grace Kelly looking fabulous in a new outfit every scene.

9:06 PM  

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