Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Monday, August 11, 2003
MicroReviews

Well, I�ve seen a number of films recently, and won�t get time to write long comments, so it�s time for microreviews �

Identity
Director James Mangold, whose past work includes the excellent Girl, Interrupted (1999), has done a fine job in pulling together what initially appears a fairly formulaic murder-mystery. John Cusack leads an impressive ensemble cast whose perils �late one stormy night in a remote hotel� are sure to entertain fans of the genre. The much talked about �twist� is actually quite good, too!

Buffalo Soldiers
Although completed in 2001, the September 11th attacks in the US prevented this film being released due. Why, you ask? Well, it portrays US soldiers as corrupt, ineffectual and rather lacking in discipline. It takes the piss out of the generals and vilifies Vietnam veterans to a certain extent. It is, however, finally being released and, more to the point, is an excellent flick. The four key cast, Joaquin Phoenix (as Elwood, the would-be Robin Hood, liberating the US armies supplies for his own needs), Ed Harris (the bumbling but well-meaning Colonel), Scott Glenn (the new sergeant with a chip on his Vietnam vet shoulders) and the lovely Anna Paquin (as Robyn, the sergeant�s daughter) all do an amazing job. Paquin has proven here and in Spike Lee�s recent 25th Hour, that she can play the bad girl as good as anyone. The story is pretty straight forward, but has a few nice touches to keep it moving along. And in the conservative political climate of today, this film is just what the doctor ordered (twice; so his staffer could sell the other one)!

Bully
The previous film before Ken Park for director Larry Clark I�d avoided since it simply didn�t sound very nice. However, in light of Ken Park being an excellent, and rather controversial, film, I thought I�d check this one out. It�s �moral message� is much more ambiguous than Ken Park�s, but it certainly makes a strong critique of suburban life. There are no heroes here, though; everyone�s a bit nasty and everyone�s a villain to some extent. The story centres around the murder of a rather nasty character who bullies his best friend endlessly. Then a gang of his victims (and others) plan and execute an effective but badly handled murder which lands all of them a trial. As I said, not a terribly nice film, but an effective critique of urban US lifestyle (and drugs, let�s not forget the drugs�).

The Rules of Attraction
James Van Der Beek stars as Sean Bateman, the younger brother of Patrick Bateman who you�ll all remember from the film adaptation of American Psycho. Yes, it�s another Brett Easton Ellis story. This one lacks the black humour of American Psycho and just leaves a nasty taste in your mouth (you�ll know what I mean when you see the scenes which frame the film). The iconic Dawson does an okay job at being bad, but doesn�t make too much more of the role than he has to. The film does use an interesting technique of doing realtime rewinds about one minute long to intersect scenes, but by the fourth or fifth time, even this innovation seems tired. Not really worth wasting time on�.

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