Tuesday, April 28, 2009
One does not need to be a fan of opera to understand that opera is a high art form with theatrically dramatic elements. Puccini For Beginners shares nothing with opera other than a minor thread that ties a couple of the characters together. The film lacks the passion that I associate with opera. In fact, I did not find anything within this film that could possibly impel a diva to burst forth with an aria. Puccini For Beginners was a mediocre film that tried hard to be relevant, but fell flat in the process.
Allegara (Elizabeth Reaser) is a lesbian. She is defined by that aspect of her being. She is not an opera lover that likes women, she is not a New Yorker who attends opera and sleeps with women. She is not an author who enjoys the company of women. She is a lesbian. That is the central theme of Allegra’s character. Allegra sees the world (to include Opera) through a woman empowered worldview. This is demonstrated through discussions about opera with her friends where Allegra uses fancy words like “misogynist,” to describe composers. Allegra’s discussions seem plebian and weak with very little substance to support her tepid assertions. But it helped paint the picture regarding who Allegra is.
Puccini For Beginners expects viewers to swallow the idea that Allegra, whose primary identity is her sexuality, would become intimately involved with Philip (Justin Kirk) who she becomes enamored with when she learns that he has read her book. A couple of chance encounters lead to a passionate session of lovemaking. But all is not well in paradise…small idiosyncrasies (like Philip’s propensity to ask “what are you having” before ordering a meal) seem to start adding up. Allegra appears to be lacking something, which has been a common theme in her relationships. Probably because Allegra is afraid of commitment…something she views as a straight trait. When Allegra meets Grace (Gretchen Mol) she begins a second simultaneous relationship. She is not aware that Grace and Philip have been dating for six years and are going through emotional growing pains (probably the result of Philips own aversion to commitment). This unusual love triangle provides a few opportunities for some comic interaction. However, those opportunities appeared to be squandered.
The entire premise of this story required a great deal of commitment from the audience. We had to accept that a love triangle could develop accidentally between a group of people that know each other, without realizing that they are dating each other. If you suspend belief and allow the comic value of the situation to set in, it’s not a ridiculously bad concept. Yet the execution of this concept seems to fall short. The ending ties things up neatly but not realistically. The situations that evolve were awkward and incredible. I was not buying several of the scenes. They just didn’t seem to me to be situations that would evolve the way the film has them evolve. Everything from the dialogue to the character development to the character interaction seemed contrived to me. It was a complete mess on several levels.
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Monday, April 27, 2009
Effete is actually the word that describes Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote. He is short, seemingly soft-spoken and speaks with hushed nasally lisp. There was a parallel between the character and the visual aspects of this film, which were bland and unappealing. If not for the exceptional acting, I would not consider recommending this film.
Capote recollects events that led to the non-fiction book In Cold Blood, written by Truman Capote and published in 1966. The book recounts events that transpired on November 15, 1959. The shocking murder of a wealthy farmer (Herb Clutter), his wife and two children made national news. The film follows Truman Capote in his research leading to the publication of his book. The film concentrates more on the story of Capote than the crime being covered, which is where the story really lies.
Lies. That was an interesting word to end the last paragraph with. Lies seem to be Capote's currency. His ability to brag about the title of his book to his cronies while remaining emotionless when telling one of the murderers (Perry Smith, played by Clifton Collins, Jr.) that he has not yet thought of a name demonstrate the lengths Capote was willing to go in order to get his story. The truth did not dwell in Capote (at least not in the film). It was secondary to his goal of writing the book he intended to write. Flashes of that cold calculated driven part of Capote's personality were evident during an exchange with Perry, where Capote reveals the true nature of their relationship.
The film Capote captures much of the essence of Truman Capote through the tremendous acting of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my favorite actors. The time frame of this film covers six years, which allowed plenty of opportunity to explore other aspects of Capote's existence, which were only briefly touched on. It seemed like a closer examination of Capote's other activities might have produced some interest. As the film stands, there were great stretches of the film where the pacing seemed slow, tedious and bland.
In contrast to the slow stretches, great insights into Capote's background were revealed in conversations he had with people whom he appeared to be manipulating. It was interesting to see Capote reveal intimate parts of his own history in order to win people over. Many times, the thoughts offered by Capote were evident as an attempt to curry favor or demonstrate his own empathy. It was an effort to find common ground upon which to build a relationship which he did not intend to pursue. These telling snippets were the best example of the writing Dan Futterman had to offer. Futterman's screenplay was based upon Capote's biography, written by Gerald Clarke.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009
Yes! A film that keeps you guessing from start to finish with exceptional dialogue and superb acting...what more could you ask for? State of Play displayed Hollywood excellence on every level. One of the best thriller films I have seen in quite a while.
Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is a reported for a major Washington newspaper. McAffrey has a somewhat unholy alliance with Pennsylvania Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck). When Collines needs press coverage, Cal (his college roommate), can be counted on to drum up support at the paper. When Collins finds himself in the middle of a major investigation into a defense contractor, some of his indiscretions become public. McAffrey finds himself covering a breaking story on an old friend...finding middle ground between personal loyalty and professional integrity.
The plot is not as straightforward as two friends who find themselves in a politically sticky situation based no their respective careers. There are several sub-plots to explore which intentionally create hazy areas in the underlying investigation. As McAffrey peels back the layers, he is drawn deeper and deeper into an epic saga of betrayal and greed. The twists and turns continually managed to keep me off balance in spite of some evident foreshadowing.
State of Play was adapted from a television series written by Paul Abbott. The closing credits indicated the series to be a BBC series, so I am uncertain if the series took place in Washington or in London. The show was adapted to the big screen by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray. These three writers are tremendous talents that have combined to bring us numerous political thrillers as well as other genres. Starting with an all-star team of writers was exactly the right move for this film. An awesome group that displayed their talents throughout this film.
State of Play demonstrates the exceptional skill of these writers through intricate character development, which provides each of the major characters a varied set of personal traits that make them all likable, but flawed in a way that cannot be overlooked. The character flaws allowed viewers to be suspicious of everyone, while still feeling connected to the characters. A delicate balancing act seemingly handled with ease. The dialogue was also rich. Providing cues without always giving all of the details. The dialogue further enhanced the suspense by trickling information to the audience or allowing viewers to form their own opinions about the characters. The plot was carefully constructed to string viewers along through plot twists and careening curves. The writing could not have been better.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009
Ron Perlman was excellent in the Hellboy films. He has that edginess that can bring a graphic novel character to life. Mutant Chronicles has roots in a role-playing game from 1993. The film reflected those roots through a graphic novel format which was interesting to watch. If only the storyline could have matched the interesting characters and imagery, I may have found more enjoyment in this film.
Mutant Chronicles tells a convoluted story set in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world. We are dropped into a battle that has the Great War trenches and a distinct throw-back feel. The weapons are obviously anachronistic, demonstrating far greater fire power than what would have been available at the time. In the midst of battle, the two engaging forces are interrupted by a group of mutants who wield sword arms that puncture faces and disembowel with incredible speed and ease. These creatures create havoc beyond the mayhem of war. These mutants pose a very different threat.
Citizens are evacuated as leaders contemplate their next move. It seems that a machine that has been locked away for 10,000 years has begun creating mutants. These mutants used to be human. The machine replaces the right arm with a jagged edged weapon and implants an artificial eye. These mutants are fast and experience cell regeneration that makes them difficult to kill. Massive tissue damage from automatic weapons fire or sword fighting can kill them….but their speed and rapid recovery make it a difficult task.
The objective of the humans in Mutant Chronicles is to battle against all odds to deliver a device that is suspected to be some sort of bomb to the heart of the machine. By accomplishing this difficult task, a small team of humans may be able to stop the onslaught of mutant killers that have taken over.
The plot is very simple in this film, which is why I feel like this review has major spoilers instead of my normal minor spoiler alert. We are introduced to several characters who use their grit and skill at killing to battle mutants that made short work of regular soldiers. The concept was intriguing but the story failed on several levels for me. Mutant Chronicles couldn’t seem to hold my interest. The graphic effects eventually got old. It seemed like the same effects done over and over again. The plot lacked intricacy which made the film rather boring in spite of some interesting special effects. The characters were flat even though they had the potential to be very interesting. The characters were diverse but never really fully explored. The plot was predictable and weak. One minor plot twist at the end was not enough to make this film gripping. I can’t say that this film did anything to make me a fan of writer Philip Eisner.
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Monday, April 20, 2009
Sicko touts itself as a documentary. Documentaries are one of my less favorite genres for film, but I do enjoy them when they present an interesting topic without preachiness. A documentary is defined as a) relating to or consisting of or derived from documents; b) a film or TV program presenting the facts about a person or event; and, c)emphasizing or expressing things as perceived without distortion of personal feelings, insertion of fictional matter, or interpretation; "objective art"
Sicko won controversial film-maker Michael Moore several Oscars. The film documents the American Health Care industry as compared with Health Care in other countries. The film follows Michael Moore to France, where he discusses French Health Care with Americans living in France, a French "House Call" Doctor and a wealthy French Family. The film also exploits ill workers who responded to the 9/11 attacks and have had health problems allegedly stemming from their response. I say allegedly because I am not certain how one can prove that teeth grinding results from post-traumatic stress disorder related to ground zero. Moore calls the treatment given to Al Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo Bay "Universal Health Care" and stages a stunt to try and get treatment there for the 9/11 responders. He then takes them to Cuba where they are given treatment on the cheap.
The film was interesting and addressed some important issues. However, it lost credibility with me because of the non-documentary approach the Michael Moore seems unable to avoid. Moore is controversial. That is who Michael Moore is. But suggesting that Guantanamo Bay prisoners are recieving Universal Health Care is ridiculous. If they were not getting care, the outrage would be deafening. In fact, depending on ones definition regarding the status of the detainees, their care is mandated by the Geneva Convention. There were many other flaws in the approach to this documentary. Statistics are bandied about, health care assessments are cited and interviews seem selective...all to draw a pre-determined (and not necessarily logical) conclusion.
I'm not going to discuss fact-checking per se. Instead, I would like to examine where facts come from...because facts do not always present accurate analysis. For instance, Moore discusses the infant mortality rate in the United States. Infant Mortality Rates are self-reported...with different cirteria from nation to nation.
U.S. News & World Report claims in a 2006 article: "First, it's shaky ground to compare U.S. infant mortality with reports from other countries. The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless. And some countries don't reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth. Thus, the United States is sure to report higher infant mortality rates. For this very reason, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which collects the European numbers, warns of head-to-head comparisons by country."
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Sunday, April 19, 2009
Is Sandy Dennis Superman's Mother? Was Batman A Wiseguy? Is The Hulk A Panhandler? These questions are among the concepts explored in Confessions of a Superhero. The Superheroes in question here are not the ones from the "Hall of Justice." These are the men and women who make their living along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, posing with tourists for tips.
Confessions of a Superhero gives a voice to several of the characters that are found near Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Having recently visited Hollywood, it was interesting to see a documentary chronicling the lives and struggles of the people behind the characters that crowded the sidewalk's near my hotel, seeking tips from tourists in exchange for a photograph. My recollection of the characters was that most of them did not look anything like the character they were portraying with a few exceptions.
The characters selected for this documentary were a fairly good sampling of the characters I recall seeing. Superman was a fairly close look-alike, although physically unimposing. Wonderwoman might have been better "cast" as Xena Warrior Princess. The Hulk deoes not look like any character and does well to hide inside a suit. Batman looks more like George Clooney (and act more like George Loony) than Adam West, Christian Bale, Val Kilmer or Michael Keaton. The brief cameo by Marilyn Monroe reminded me of what Marilyn might have looked like as an aging screen star. The examination of these characters was done in true documentary style...no judgments...simply an examination of the subject matter.
Superman has a name. It is not Kal-El. It is not Clark Kent. Superman's true name is Christopher Dennis...or is it? Christopher Dennis is the gentleman of Hollywood Boulevard. He holds himself to a high standard, abstaining from smoking or aggressive behavior when interacting with the public. HIS public. Chris has a gentle way that makes him endearing. Chris appears to be obsessed with everything Superman, rattling off statistics and trivia with little effort. His apartment appears to be a shrine to the man of steel, covered floor to ceiling in Superman memorabilia. Chris's claims to being the son of Sandy Dennis are rebuffed by her family in a somewhat subtle way. In spite of that single issue, Chris seems a passionate and likable guy. His best line described his constant appearance in magazines and television..
"I have found the fame, but not the fortune."
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Thursday, April 16, 2009
I have a tendency to avoid sequels. This especially holds true when the sequel is based on a film I have already seen and did not like. It was out of character for me to watch Hostel: Part II. I was actually surprised that the second film was better than the first. Although not a film I would go out of my way to see, Hostel: Part II was decent enough to earn a moderate recommendation.
The Hostel films tell of a secret society of wealthy people who travel to Slovakia to engage in sadistic killings. These sick individuals enter into a contract with a group that identifies itself with a mandatory bloodhound tattoo. The contract appears to require three things. First, the members are required to pay for the opportunity to exercise their demented desires. Second, they are required to accept the bloodhound tattoo. Third, they must kill their victim.
The victims are lured to a Hostel in Slovakia , where their pictures are put out to bid. They eventually disappear, their final destination an abandoned warehouse type building which is heavily guarded. The interior has been outfitted with high tech security systems that include cameras, remotely operated elevators and doors, and man-trap doors to control movement. The individual rooms inside this warehouse are outfitted with a wide variety of tools and equipment designed to extract torturous pleasure from the unsuspecting travelers.
In Hostel: Part II the group of travelers are all female art students who decide to take a railroad trip. Their original destination is changed when a nude model (Axelle, played by Vera Jordanova) from the art school convinces them that they should visit the spas in Slovakia . The girls end up at the same hostel from the first film. However, this film introduces the audience to the killers as well as the victims. Interaction between the two groups prior to their arrival in the torture rooms adds another dimension to the story. I thought that there were going to be some parallels between this film and Taken, but was relieved that this film took its own direction.
In indicating that Hostel: Part II was better than the first, this was the point that made the difference. By creating a back story for the killers, the audience becomes tentatively connected to both groups. The character development was ferreted out better in the sequel, which made the film more interesting. The characters were still a bit flat, but the back-story on the killers added some dimension to the overall tale. The plot line in Hostel: Part II was different from the original even though the setting was the same. The ending was flagged far enough in advance that it didn’t really come as a plot twist. The storyline was simple. Eli Roth did a decent job with this script.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The name Milwaukee, Minnesota intrigued me. Does this town actually exist or does this name have some deeper meaning. The film takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The name and description were a good enough hook to get me to watch. I do not remember seeing this film when it was in theaters. As a rental, this film offers decent feel-good entertainment for an hour and a half.
Albert Burroughs (Troy Garity) talks to fish. They reveal to him their secrets, making Albert Burroughs the “idiot savant” of ice fishing. Burroughs has won thousands of dollars participating in ice fishing tournaments in Wisconsin. He could probably earn more, but his overprotective mother Edna (Debra Monk) won’t let him travel anywhere. Edna wants Albert to depend only on her. Edna detests the fact that Albert’s boss, Sean McNally (Bruce Dern), allows Albert to deal with customers in his print shop. The conniving Edna tells McNally that Albert won't be back while advising Albert that he has been fired.
The death of Albert’s mother coincides with the arrival of several outsiders to their small community. These newcomers provide some misdirection regarding Edna’s death, while allowing Albert to explore his independence and demonstrate his extraordinary cunning. Although Albert is functionally limited due to an unstated mental deficiency, his ability to outsmart the people around him endears him to the audience.
Milwaukee, Minnesota takes a slow deliberate approach to reveal small plot details in this well constructed feel-good drama. The pacing in this film creeps along as interesting and eccentric characters take the audience along on a journey of discovery. The film is part coming-of-age for a mentally deficient adult and part whodunit. The details emerge one nugget at a time in a well choreographed script. Richard Murphy provides rich details in this story that help the characters connect with the audience.
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Sunday, April 12, 2009
Movies often feel like they are targeted with a specific audience in mind. Watching Good Luck Chuck, I couldn't help but think that this movie was meant for the Animal House crowd. Not the people that enjoyed watching the film Animal House...but the students that lived there. Although Good Luck Chuck had the makings of a good romantic comedy, the overwhelming sex and nudity seemed a meager attempt to make up for an otherwise tepid script.
A game of spin-the-bottle ends horribly when Charlie (Connor Price) rebuffs an agressive goth girl (Sasha Pieterse). The girl places a curse on Charlie which follows him into adulthood. The adult Charlie (Dane Cook) works as a Dentist. His dental practice grows exponentially when word spreads among single women that a date with Charlie will be followed by true love. The next man a woman dates after Charlie will be their true love. It would be a dream come true for Charlie's bonehead friend Stu (Dan Fogler), a perverted plastic surgeon.
GOOD LUCK CHUCK - Trailer - Funny home videos are a click away
Charlie decides to take advantage of his situation, exploring the willingness of women to believe in the curse by engaging in numerous tawdry short-lived trysts. However, Charlie isn't satisfied by the constant sex. He wants his own relationship, white-picket fence and all. Charlie meets an accident-prone penguin lady named Cam (Jessica Alba) who is afraid to enter into a relationship. Cam seems Charlie's best bet for a meaningful relationship. In order to get Cam, Charlie must figure out how to break the spell. Charlie stoops to some stomach-wrenching levels for love.
Good Luck Chuck appears to confuse sex for romance and gross for comedy. And therein lies my biggest problem with this film. The premise was okay. But developing the concept in the framework of a romantic comedy seemed to be forced. If you think sex with a grapefruit is funny, you will like this film. If you find sex with a morbidly obese woman covered in boils to be humorous, then rent the video. I found some of the attempts at comedy to be disgusting.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Stardust was released in 2007. The cast included perennial heavy hitters Peter O’Toole, Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer. It surprises me that I do not remember the release of this movie less than two years ago. Stardust must have been released to very little fanfare with trailers that failed to engage my imagination. I am glad that I found this movie that I missed during its initial release. It is an excellent film.
Stardust is a fantasy film that takes place primarily in a town in England known as Wall and the neighboring fantasy land called Stormhold. Stormhold appears similar in many ways to the neighboring Wall. But the similarities are superficial. Stormhold is a place where magic plays a prominent role. The treacherous but quirky king ascended his throne by killing all of his brothers. As he lay dying, his own sons find themselves ready to kill for his throne. They are not aware that they have a challenger for their throne from a challenger whose fate lies between the two worlds. It is the story of a young man who comes of age in his quest for love, finding it in the unlikeliest of places.
For lack of a better description, Stardust is a sappy love story with magically fantastic sub-plots. The decision to place the story halfway in the world we all know and halfway in a fantasy world presented an interesting concept. Doing so allowed the writer, Neil Gaiman, to exploit the full range of magic and fantasy while maintaining a story line rooted in reality. This allowed for exploration of some interesting sub-plots that enhanced the story-telling aspect of the film.
The plot was fairly straight-forward but not entirely predictable. The characters were richly crafted with eccentricities and traits that made them both interesting and endearing. The dialogue was credible and fresh. The sub-plots were woven skillfully into the story to provide entertaining and comical scenes that worked towards the development of the broader plot lines. The screenplay was adapted from Gaiman’s novel by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn. The writers did an exceptional job of capturing the elements of fantasy and using them to captivate viewers of all ages.
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Sunday, April 5, 2009
Every once in a while, I enjoy a good, mindless action flick. By mindless, I mean that I like the big explosions and constant action that don't require a lot of thought. But when an action film presents itself as calculated and cerebral I hold it to a different standard. The premise in 12 Rounds pits a police officer against the smartest guy on Earth. The action was great, the dialogue tolerable but major plot holes created a gap in credibility.
12 Rounds takes place in New Orleans, where inept FBI Agents allow a slippery international terrorist and arms dealer (Miles Jackson, played by Aidan Gillen) slip through their fingers. An alert police officer, Danny Fisher (John Cena), recognizes a female associate of Jackson's at a stop light. A traffic stop turned bad results in a chase that ends up taking the life of Jackson's girlfriend. One year later, Jackson escapes from prison and creates an elaborate scheme to exact revenge on Officer Fisher. To get his girlfriend back, Officer Fisher must survive twelve rounds of impossible challenges set up by Jackson.
The "game" begins when Fisher's girlfriend leaves for work. A few minutes after her departure, Fisher's phone rings. Jackson is on the other end of the line. Fisher exits the house, where two explosions begin the battle of wills. The movie becomes non-stop action from that point forward. The explosions were big, the car chases exciting and the tension often blood pumping. However, some of the chess moves set up by Jackson required specific reactions by Fisher for the entire plot to succeed. Even one deviation may have derailed the sub-plots. And there lies my greatest issue with this film.
While the FBI is tracking Jackson through the streets of New Orleans, early in the film, we observe Jackson passing a table where two men are playing chess. With a casual glance in passing, Jackson returns to the table and explains how the other guy will win in three moves and then provides instruction for the players next move. I don't know that even Bobby Fischer (is it a coincidence that Cena's character is named Fisher?) could have pulled that one off. Jackson is cold and calculating and plans every detail to the nth degree. So why leave anything to chance?
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Friday, April 3, 2009
How are television programs created? That is the question writer and director Jake Kasdan answers in his quirky film, The TV Set. Kasdan has written some decent comedies. The TV Set is pretty average in almost every aspect. But the film does provide some actual insight into the process of creating new television programs.
The TV Set begins with a silly set of graphics with captions that explain the process of and statistics associated with pilot television programs. After watching the close to boring presentation, we are introduced to a character, Zach Harper (Fran Kranz). Zach seems like a likeable kid who has made the final cut to play the male lead in a television pilot called The Wexler Chronicles. As we follow Zach through the process, we eventually meet the creative mind behind the television pilot, Mike Klein (David Duchovny). Klein seems to be torn between navigating his pilot through the gauntlet to prime time and maintaining his creative integrity. The process appears to be a minefield of obstacles.
The biggest obstacle is Lenny (Sigourney Weaver). Lenny has the power to pull the plug on Klein's project. Lenny also had lots of ideas...often in direct conflict to the creative process that Klein does not want to relinquish. But money talks. Klein's young actors also present challenges as they appear to change during the filming process. The female lead, Laurel Simon (Lindsay Sloane), somehow manages to stay grounded while Zach appears to spin out of control. Balancing the chemistry of the players with the whims of the cameramen, director and everyone else even remotely involved in the process provides an interesting foundation for the plot.
The writing wasn't bad, but I didn't consider The TV Set to be tremendously interesting. The concept was different and provided some good comical moments. However, the plot was often easy to predict and at times tedious. For a comedy, the film seemed a bit on the dry side. The characters were interesting and fairly well developed for a comedy. The dialogue was equally intersting. But the framework provided for these otherwise decent traits was lacking. The plot was thin and predictable.
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Thursday, April 2, 2009
Them was released in 2006 under the French title Ils. Them is a French Film with English sub-titles that takes place in Romania. The film claims to be based on actual events and intends to be a Suspense Thriller. After fact-checking the film, it appears that the only correlation to the true story may be conceptual. Almost every facet of the story was changed from the events upon which it claims to be based.
Them takes place in Bucharest, Romania. A young teacher named Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and her significant other Lucas (Michael Cohen) become targeted within their own home by unseen intruders. The film delivers an element of supernatural forces which further distances the film both from believability as well as the actual events. After spending the night battling invisible forces, the couple finds that they have fallen victim to young intruders. The battle shifts from the house to the woods to underground passageways.
Them can not be easily dissected. I found myself strangely attracted to the stylistic aspects of the film, while dumbfounded by the lack of credibility and simplicity of the plot. The dialogue did not add much to the mix. Lucas tells Clementine to “stay right there” several times to the point where it got old. The film was actually better when it lacked dialogue. The suspense scenes were a nod to classic Hollywood, complete with hanging plastic barriers, gauntlet like hallways and creaky floors. While the writing left much to be desired, the cinematography (Axel Cosnefroy) was enjoyable.
I was mostly puzzled by the decision to add supernatural elements to the film. There were several scenes where electrical interference, and/or radio and television transmissions seem a bit over the top. The extent to which they used these ploys made the film appear to suggest an other-worldly element that never materialized. The entire premise was distracting and never added anything to the level of suspense. It would have been fine to simply use the old-fashioned suspense-building elements that worked effectively in conjunction with the foundation of the story without trying to give the impression of something bigger.
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