Kill Me Three Times

Release: Friday, April 10, 2015

[Netflix]

Written by: James McFarland

Directed by: Kriv Stenders

Simon Pegg embraces his inner baddie and Kill Me Three Times is somewhat better because of it.

‘Somewhat’ is the operative word here as Pegg, even in a killer role (e-hem), isn’t enough to make the film worth watching. Too choppily paced to be considered an intentional slow-burner, not parodic enough to warrant comparisons to Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, and not poorly acted enough to generate entertainment of a purely schlocky nature, Australian writer/director Kriv Stenders’ thriller regrettably makes precious little out of its great potential.

Unsurprisingly, Pegg’s presence affords the adventure most of its enjoyability. Opening on one of its most memorable lines, the film finds a stupefied Charlie Wolfe (Pegg) recounting how he could have possibly gotten into the situation he now finds himself. Before he can say another word — flashback! Yes, we are watching that kind of movie, where the introduction teases a history of events that are, apparently, best left in non-chronological order. Or at the very least, left until later.

We go back to where this botched crime began, like, a couple of days ago. A young woman named Alice (Alice Braga) has a dental appointment to repair a chipped tooth she received after the last altercation with her husband, but unbeknownst to her she is about to be drugged and kidnapped by the surgeon (Sullivan Stapleton) and his assistant/wife (Teresa Palmer). After becoming suspicious about his wife’s recent behavior, Jack (Callan Mulvey), a sleazy motel proprietor, hires a hit man to follow Alice around. Jack’s worst fears are realized thanks to video evidence of her sleeping with another man. Obliged to act betrayed but not really look it — I think this is just bad acting at this point — Jack finds himself requiring Charlie’s full range of services. Apparently this couple is well past resolving their differences with words.

Charlie is amused when he comes upon the dentists carrying out the act themselves, transferring her unconscious body into a different car that they light on fire and send over a cliff. However, he is not aware that their actions are being dictated by a completely different set of motivations. Of course, the sloppiness of the pair’s execution leaves a loose end. When Charlie goes back to Jack, satisfied that the job has been done and wanting to collect his payment (but not admitting that he didn’t have any involvement), Jack discovers he has been robbed.

While all this is going on the dentists, who aren’t really dentists but in fact horrible people with really nice teeth, are attempting to pull off an insurance scam by replacing the receptionist’s dental records with their most recent patient (Alice)’s, hoping to collect on the fake death that was staged with Alice in the flaming car. A corrupt local cop (Bryan Brown) catches on to the scheme-hatchery pretty quickly and demands he be paid half of the settlement. This, despite the fact Nathan is up to his neck in gambling debts and insists he can’t afford to lose a cent.

Kill Me Three Times weaves three tales of betrayal and murder that are all inextricably linked to one another, with Pegg’s contract killer coming right in the middle of it all. What the story ultimately boils down to is a simple case of infidelity and it is one you have seen countless times before. It’s a movie almost worth your while for Pegg’s atypical role playing but he’s deceptively peripheral given the amount of space he occupies on the theatrical release poster. Stenders packs the narrative with twist after twist, and endless scenes of double-crossing and back-stabbings, of both the literal and figurative sort. There is no particular point of view from which the story is told; Stenders instead relies on multiple perspectives by cutting back and forth between parties. Unfortunately very few developments are unforeseen or even very entertaining, the story bogged down in homage and triteness.

And yet, if you can spare some empathy for these underdeveloped characters — the good ones, that is — which will not only be a hell of an effort but likely one that’s more than what this film deserves, you might just be able to eke out some laughs while watching Pegg strut his stuff around the screen dressed to the nines and armed with a serious rifle. Personally, I was more inclined to review his mustache than the film he starred in. Upper lip hair is far more of a sinister characteristic than his all-black attire. For what it’s worth, Pegg pulls off the mustache and the antagonist look well enough. It’s just a little disappointing these are the kinds of cliches Kill Me Three Times is completely satisfied with justifying as its main source of entertainment.

Recommendation: A whodunnit in which we have a decent idea very early on who’s gonna do it, Kill Me Three Times also isn’t very funny. It had a huge opportunity to be something special with Simon Pegg in a different kind of role but unfortunately much of it is squandered in a boring story that does nothing with its solid cast and very little with its gorgeous Australian locales. This one boils down to a film to watch for completionists — if you have to see Pegg in everything he’s done then this should be on your list. 

Rated: R

Running Time: 90 mins.

Quoted: “This place is like a f**king open air insane asylum!”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

The Voices

the-voices-poster

Release: Friday, February 6, 2015

[Redbox]

Written by: Michael R. Perry

Directed by: Marjane Satrapi

I always knew cats were inherently evil.

What with their pawing and purring and hairballs and general infatuation with chasing their own tails. Is evil the right word? In this case, yes . . . yes it is; cats take on an entirely darker role in at least one human’s life.

At the center of attention in this bizarre twist on an already twisted subgenre of horror known as horror-comedy is a fairly lonely man named Jerry (Ryan Reynolds), who has just started working at a bathtub factory in a rinky-dink town we don’t know the name of. By all accounts a nice enough guy, he nevertheless shows some signs of detachment from reality and reluctance to interact with his coworkers. When he’s tasked with putting together a company barbecue and in the process meets the cute girl from accounting, a British babe named Fiona (Gemma Arterton), he is instantly smitten and asks her out.

Unable to flat-out tell him she doesn’t want to go out with him, she instead avoids him after work and goes with her friends from accounting, Lisa (Anna Kendrick) and Alison (Ella Smith), to a karaoke bar. She’s left stranded afterwards in the rain when her car can’t start up and her phone has been soaked in the downpour. Serendipitously enough, along comes Jerry who’s heartbroken to say the least having been stood up yet offers a desperate Fiona a ride home. In striking up a conversation with her on the way back Jerry can’t see the deer in the middle of the road and unfortunately creams it. Antlers and all sticking through the windshield, we’re now entering spoiler territory. Suffice it to say, The Voices quickly flips the switch and starts to pursue, with unsettling fervor, the horror aspect.

As far as the comedy is concerned, a little asterisk might need to be placed beside that word. A twisted sense of humor will help enormously in enjoying what Iranian director Marjane Satrapi has to offer here; although the brightly-colored promotional poster for the film doesn’t really make that a secret. What might be more of a surprise is the quality of Ryan Reynolds’ purely tortured performance. He is something to behold — the days of Van Wilder are long since gone, boys and girls. Not that staying in school for the better part of a decade was ever a bad idea but this is a role that represents a remarkable sense of maturity.

If Reynolds’ masterful turn as an oddly empathetic Jerry is the peanut butter to this messed-up sandwich the jelly, then, surely is Satrapi’s commentary on the truly disturbing potential of mental illness to completely consume its victim. There’s no doubt something’s off about this man and while we do surpass the point where we in any reality could forgive him for what he does (let’s get one thing straight: this isn’t an Eli Roth production, death is not played up for laughs), we are able to get to a place where we understand where his problems stem from.

Sure, in order to get to the root of the evil that pervades Jerry’s life we must try to buy into some rather ridiculous scenes that could have benefitted from stronger writing, but the surrealism, the downright perverse entertainment value wins out time and again. Talking dogs and cats? This isn’t quite like Homeward Bound. Or maybe, if Sassy had more of a psychotic agenda.

At the end of the film, one thing was certain for this reviewer: I’m still much more of a dog person.

ryan-reynolds-does-something-bad-in-the-voices

3-5Recommendation: The best recommendation I can give here is that if you’re still wondering what the animals have to do with anything (especially that darn cat — yay, another movie reference!) then you should just watch and find out for yourself. Fan of Ryan Reynolds and black comedies? This just may well be a must-see for you.

Rated: R

Running Time: 103 mins.

Quoted: “Pretty complicated inside the human mind, huh?”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

Gone Girl

gone-girl-poster

Release: Friday, October 3, 2014

[Theater]

Written by: Gillian Flynn

Directed by: David Fincher

Not to be confused with the Ben Affleck-directed Gone Baby Gone from 2007, Gone Girl is yet another exceptionally entertaining thriller from David Fincher, a director guilty of association . . . with rock-solid filmmaking, that is.

I don’t know why that would be confusing, but for some reason lately I have been having trouble untangling the two names. Since seeing the recent adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel I have also come into the understanding that the film experience is merely half the picture; that reading what Flynn is able to elucidate in greater detail in print is somehow more compelling than the visual spectacle of Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike operating at extremely high levels.

Right now it feels as though I’m trying to compare a giant to a goliath. Whatever it is about the novel that makes it so great I can’t exactly attest to but I know what I saw in this film and I understand the anticipation for Gone Girl has been unlike many other films this year, save for the latest Hunger Games installment and the upcoming Chris Nolan spectacular. What I also know is that Big Bat Ben has been able to explain his dry, bland style of acting a little better to me in recent years, perhaps speaking up a bit louder with this role. Stepping in front of the cameras rather than remaining behind them in the midst of a hot streak as director, Affleck plays Nick Dunne, husband to Amy (Pike) and soon-to-be pariah of the national media in the wake of his wife’s strange disappearance.

On the day of the Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to find an open front door, some smashed glass on the floor and a house devoid of that breeze of blonde hair. As far as appearances are concerned, she’s gone. A husband in immediate panic begins the search for his dearly beloved on solid ground, recruiting locals to help in a missing persons rescue effort. Sure footing and stable ground are soon lost, though, as his cooperation with Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and her partner (Patrick Fugit) is overcome with an awkwardness that’s difficult to put a finger on.

The first of many pressing questions that naturally arises is one of a judgment upon his character. Is he having this much difficulty processing his current reality, or is there something more to him that we ought to be afraid of? As the story unfolds, we are forced into questioning far more than his character.

David Fincher — excuse me, Gillian Flynn — is fascinated with subtlety. Flynn knows that in this world, under these circumstances, it’s not necessarily what you say that gets you into trouble, it can also be what you don’t say. Physical gestures speak volumes. A side long glance can mean one thing, a weird stutter something else. There should be a code word for how ingenious Flynn’s screenplay really is.

As the circumstances and evidence begin to pile up against Mr. Dunne, Nick’s behavior only increases in bizarreness. From our point of view, a more forgiving one than that of media pundit Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle) — a woman who makes Nancy Grace seem pleasant by comparison — the severity of the situation is running him ragged. How one is supposed to handle themselves in the public eye in these situations, I don’t know. This is merely one question Fincher and Flynn in tandem aim at getting to the bottom of.

In the hands of others, Gone Girl does have the potential to become an unwieldy, even pretentious machine. It isn’t enough to simply peg contemporary (televised) media as something of a gladiatorial arena in which the individuals being examined are paraded out in front of the masses only to be slaughtered on live television in the form of brutal interviews. No, it’s the institution of marriage and how we act as a society — at least, as society pertains to American culture — that also comes under fire. Under Fincher’s direction and in Flynn’s mind, the two go hand-in-hand. What better way to link the frenzied collective’s desire to revert back to Salem Witch trial tendencies in the face of such confronting aberration. A husband who has not only seemed to have made his wife vanish into thin air also admits to have cheated on her beforehand? That’s not good. That’s actually really not good.

Gone Girl is extremely ambitious, but never does it overreach. It’s as entertaining as it is perplexing and disturbing. It’s also surprisingly witty. Affleck’s reactions to certain situations, while may not be appropriate, often conjure up some laughs that feel earned rather than forced upon the scene. There’s nothing humorous about a loved one going missing. But of a film that manages to reflect the fine details of how we as people are able to judge so quickly without knowing the full story, the entertainment value skyrockets. It’s a police procedural, murder mystery and a dark comedy all rolled into one. What a beautiful matrimony.

gone-girl-1

4-5Recommendation: Gone Girl appears to be one of the first truly great films of the fall season. Readers of the book have been singing the film’s praises already for its authentication. Not a surprise when the novelist also penned the script but there are often times when that transition is not so naturally made. Here it’s clear there is natural harmony. I at times get ancy with films running over two hours (his 2007 crime drama Zodiac is a good example, despite its strong narrative) but here I hated the fact I was watching the end credits already. I wanted more. I think Mr. Fincher has a tendency to do that.

Rated: R

Running Time: 145 mins.

Quoted: “I’m so much happier now that I’m dead.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

A Walk Among the Tombstones

119178_gal

Release: Friday, September 19, 2014

[Theater]

Mr. Neeson’s very particular set of skills, while not applied quite as liberally this time around, still make themselves available during creative bursts of energy in this brand new crime thriller from Scott Frank.

There’s a chill in the air and an eerie quiet about the New York City imagined in A Walk Among the Tombstones, a surprisingly more meditative experience whose title conjures up visions of a modern twist on the western. (Really, it’s an adaptation of Lawrence Block’s 1992 novel of the same name.) Such an impression is further solidified by the lack of pedestrian (really, any) traffic in these parts; spurts of grisly violence; a character that comes across more righteous protector than a blunt instrument who can wield an iPhone like nobody’s business.

Yeah, okay — he’s no John Wayne, but clad in the long coat with high-rise collar concealing nape of neck he begs a comparison to a number of badass outlaw archetypes. In 2014 Neeson may be deep in his trajectory to becoming one of the coolest action stars of the 21st Century, but he’s also mindful that his dramatic chops always have room for improvement. Given the number of avenues that are taken to subvert the lead’s aggressive persona Tombstones proves to be the ideal platform for him to work on that.

Matthew Scudder is an unlicensed private investigator and a former member of the NYPD hired on the spot by a desperate heroin dealer (Dan Stevens) to find who kidnapped and brutally murdered his wife. In the process he comes in contact with a homeless youth named TJ (Brian “Astro” Bradley) whose attitude belies a warm yet vulnerable and perpetually crumbling core. Betrayed by both parents at an early age, he’s no original creation but he is a slight revelation as a humorous partner-in-crime who convinces us of his humanity. That’s a directorial decision that extends all the way to Neeson, who disposes with the over-the-top dramatics in favor of one of his most stalwart performances since Oskar Schindler.

Granted the circumstances are nowhere near as historically relevant. They’re not really relevant at all. A drug dealer’s home life falling apart in gut-wrenching fashion is not the same kind of gut-wrenching as the stipulations made by the developments within Schindler’s List. An alcoholic learning to overcome his personal issues is not the same as a humanitarian working diligently to save lives in the height of one of the worst crimes against humanity ever recorded. Then again, this is kind of an unfair comparison.

Relying on the strength of its source material and a pair of wonderfully sinister performances from David Harbour and Adam David Thompson as the sadistic kidnappers, actors more than willing to take on the challenge of matching the subtle intensity of Liam Neeson, this grave walk delivers a slow-burning, dread-inducing tale of good versus evil, which may sound on paper as rather unoriginal. In execution, however, Tombstones takes some fascinating back alleys that will have you riveted and possibly more infatuated with the gruff Neeson than ever.

And for those curious, yes indeed, the film does come complete with an electrifying phone conversation that will have you readjusting your jockeys. A Walk Among the Tombstones is not classic Liam Neeson, but rather a reinvention of the concept.

awatt

3-5Recommendation: Going in expecting another Taken would be the mistake! Enjoy a solid and restrained performance from Neeson who more than capably holds the screen in yet another convincingly tense crime thriller. The title may be a chore to utter time and again, but the experience — though notably lacking in pulse-pounding action — is worth repeating to friends who you think may be interested, those who may consider themselves the more dedicated Liam Neeson fan.

Rated: R

Running Time: 113 mins.

Quoted: “Once they’re in the van they’re just body parts. . .”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

The Franco Files – #8

ff

Welcome to September, and the eighth edition of The Franco Files! Still going strong here, folks. . .even despite my apparent inability to really get going on diving deeper into his filmography beyond the recent things that I have seen him in. Some fan, eh? I know, I know.

Here’s me reaching. Today’s entry is not Franco’s most substantial contribution to film, at least in terms of total screen time. But what he does here is still worthy of mention. Dramatic chops? Check. Actual chops? Yeah, he’s involved in some sort of scuffle here. Mutton chops? Well, you can debate his hairstyle all you want. I’m kind of getting away from my point. . . . Where I was going with this bit was, it’s interesting having seen Franco in all of these significant roles, taking the lead even in some instances, and then switching to watching him dutifully fulfill what’s required of a pretty minor supporting character. I’m sure many out there would prefer him to take on these sorts of roles more often. Me? Eh, I’m not one of ’em. I am, however, willing to take whatever I can get.

iceman-3

Francophile #8: Marty Freeman, The Iceman

Role Type: Supporting

Genre: Drama/Crime

Character Profile: Originally written for the part of a Softee ice cream truck creepazoid named Mr. Pronge (shudder), which was subsequently changed to a Mr. Freezy truck driver — same name — played by an incredibly effective Chris Evans . . . Franco’s role ultimately becomes that of an even less major supporting role as a meddling middle-man whose relationship with infamously brutal mob boss Roy DeMeo isn’t particularly clear but a connection exists nonetheless. Franco turns up the smarmy factor to effect a seedy character without having to do too much. (Although I wish he had a little more than this.)

If you lose Franco, the film loses (MAJOR SPOILERS): one of Richard Kuklinski’s most offensive moral backtrackings. The murder of relatively innocent Marty Freeman paints the contract killer in the most cold-blooded light possible, as Kuklinski first intimidates the hell out of and then demands a cowering Marty to pray to God before he pulls the trigger. Granted the scene is written fantastically but it still comes down to Franco’s ability to convince us of the terror associated with being on the wrong end of a gun, particularly in a moment as desperate as this.

Out of Character: [Michael Shannon, who plays the lead Richard Kuklinski, on meeting Franco for the first time:] “You know, James is very into poetry. I like James. I met him in Boston at a train station. I was just standing there one day waiting for a train back to New York and this guy walked up with a baseball cap and sunglasses and a big bushy beard and a trench coat. I kind of thought he might be—he wasn’t dirty—but he looked kind of like he might be homeless.”

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):

3-5


All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com 

TBT: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

new-tbt-logo

I wonder if I should adopt a new rule or something for this little guy, now the longest-running feature I currently have on my page. Today’s selection is a movie my peepers haven’t come across in quite some time. And so now I’m thinking of all the ways these reviews might be more interesting if I choose films I’ve seen before (but some time ago) and then write something on them. See how my memory serves me, and how my gut reaction changes (if it does). While catching back up on films with recent watches certainly helps to put a fresh perspective on things, sometimes those first reactions we have are the ones we always will hold. Unfortunately, I think this method of reviewing will severely limit the number of films that I can talk about, given I’ve only kicked my movie-watching habits up in the last three or four years and my back catalogue isn’t much to talk about. Either way, look for some more of these kinds of reviews from time to time. You probably won’t be able to tell the difference. Then again, perhaps you will. 😀

Today’s food for thought: I Know What You Did Last Summer

i-know-what-you-did

Making 16-year-old prom queens slightly uncomfortable since: October 17, 1997

[TV]

A horror film with not much in the way of a brain, I Know What You Did Last Summer managed to skate on a free-wheeling, fun-having charm all its own. Featuring several of the hottest (and I don’t necessarily mean as in ‘successful’) teen actors from the mid-to-late ’90s — I mean come on, this film was afforded Buffy‘s Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love-Hewitt (who was then still up-and-coming), Freddie Prinze Jr., and a bright-eyed young Johnny Galecki.

Seems odd to introduce a horror film review with a cast whose collective star power has for the most part faded over the last decade or so but it occurs to me now that these highly-recognizable faces contributed mightily in helping this otherwise unremarkable slasher thriller achieve cult status. Hey, that was the best it could have possibly ever hoped for, anyway, right? And while our hindsight is still operating at 20-20, I might as well go on record and declare this film hardly instrumental in extending the success of Michelle Gellar’s career; there are two sequels to this film for any fan bored enough to entertain the notion, but these folks won’t find her in either of them.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was her way out of this kind of purgatory. Then The Grudge came along and had other thoughts on the matter.

But in spite of failing to really impress critics of the day or finding legitimate popularity like cornerstone films like The Shining and the like — why do I have this creepy feeling that the $125 million this film made came out of the pockets of swarming debutantes and their jock boyfriends? — there’s always been something about knowing what these kids did that summer that actually makes for a perfectly pleasant viewing. Perfectly pleasant — yes, you read me right.

A group of teens go out to a popular hang-out spot to do that thing all teens do in the summer. . . study. Right. Yes, they go here and study. And when they’re done studying, they return safely in their cars and tuck themselves into bed quietly and cherubic. Except on this night; this night is different. When returning to town and having become somehow intoxicated (teens don’t drink, that’s an urban legend. . .) the teens swerve off the road and strike a pedestrian. After arguing over what to do about the body, they come to the natural conclusion that it should be discarded of in the ocean.

Hey, he had a life, some kids perhaps and a job to go to every day, but he won’t mind taking this one for the team. But the thing they don’t count on, you see, is this uncanny ability for this man — an apparently keen fisherman — to not stay dead. It’s a practiced skill and this fucker has got it. A struggle inevitably ensues, as these things often do whenever attempting to avoid being tried for manslaughter as a teen. And before the Croaker Pageant, no less! This is just the WORST timing ever. . .

If you have sat through this already, then you know the catalyst occurred fairly early and the bulk of IKWYDLS revolved around the teens trying to shake a mostly-unseen attacker who claims to have witnessed the events of their last trip to that private beach. And as they say, paranoia is not paranoia if someone is really out to, well, slash your throat with an ice pick. Predictable kills surely ensued, but what was less expected was how effective the threats were in actually dredging up some kind of fear in us, the spectators to this pretty poorly-written affair.

Former friends turned on each other try in desperation to figure out who this Mr. Letter-Writer Person is; former boyfriends/girlfriends turned exes — damn, the stakes are just so high in this movie. But we never came to this movie for the potential awards, we came for the killing. And that it does have plenty of. Okay, so maybe we came for the Croaker Pageant, too. That also does not disappoint.

boobs

3-0Recommendation: If what you seek is pure entertainment, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for with this slightly-grisly slasher featuring a cast you are hard-pressed to find elsewhere. While not necessarily a staple of the 90’s, IKWYDLS is undeniable fun, a true guilty pleasure that tests the credibility of the age-old urban legend formula.

Rated: R

Running Time: 100 mins.

Quoted: “I got run over. Helen gets her hair chopped off, and Julie gets a body in her trunk, and you get a letter? Yeah, that’s balanced.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.horrornews.net; http://www.imdb.com 

Kill Your Darlings

kill_your_darlings_xlg

Release: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 (limited)

[Theater]

Harry drops out of Hogwarts to start attending Columbia University — good idea?

Probably one of the easier observations anyone is going to make when referring to Kill Your Darlings, a film that tips its hat to the romantics who inspired a literary revolution both stylistically and philosophically, is the fact that it does indeed feature Daniel Radcliffe in one of the lead roles. The next largest elephant in the room has to be Dane DeHaan, whose impressive performance earlier in the year in The Place Beyond the Pines, an epic story spanning several generations of family, garnered him a great deal of praise very quickly. As it turns out, the attention was well-deserved. DeHaan is equally brilliant — if not more so — as he bolsters his career further in this film involving hipsters. . . .before hipsters were actually hipsters*.

Kill Your Darlings‘ tightly-knit plot sorts through the intricate relationships amongst the young poets Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe), Lucien Carr (DeHaan), Jack Keruoac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster), and how these relationships grew and evolved over the disquieting years in the wake of World War II. A singular event casts a shadow over the futures of these writers when the murder of an outsider, the older David Kammerer (Dexter’s Michael C. Hall), implicates Ginsberg, Carr and Burroughs during the ensuing police investigation in 1944.

The mention of hipsters that surfaced a little while ago is not really accurate. The writers who inspired what came to be known later as the Beat Generation — Ginsberg’s most famous piece, ‘Howl,’ Burrough’s ‘Naked Lunch’ and Karuoac’s ‘On the Road’ being the most notable examples of these times — intentionally went against the grain in an effort to expose the claustrophobic amour-propre of the time. No longer was poetry to suffer the restrictions of rhyme and meter, or anything else that was declared as traditional, societally-accepted forms of expressionism. ‘Hipster’ is a bit of a misnomer because the Beat Generation may be more naturely associated with the peace/hippie movements of the 60s and 70s.

However, it was the attitudinal divergence that makes such a comparison to contemporary hipsters easy to make. Ginsberg, Burroughs and, in particular Carr, discounted traditional methods of storytelling and instead pushed for less restrictions in the constructions thereof, leaning more towards open, honest and potentially graphic interpretations of the human experience.

With hindsight, Radcliffe and DeHaan seem to be ideal actors to personify such ambitious types. While Ginsberg was certainly more of the quieter, more easily intimidated of the two, Carr had no issues whatsoever in flaunting publicly his disdain for the institutions that were. DeHaan plays this up terrifically, and we have a great deal of fun reveling in his casting-out of mainstream society. Radcliffe settles into his post-Potter role with grace as well, at once demonstrating the intense love he had for Lucien while at the same time revealing his own personal fragilities. Ginsberg went to college, leaving behind a mother (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) who was mentally ill and a father with wandering eyes. He also found his new home at Columbia University extremely intimidating, a reality that Radcliffe acknowledges behind glasses exceptionally well.

In many ways, John Krokidas’ debut film recalls the passion of dare-to-live films like Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and October Sky. Its cast is possessed with those same feverish desires to escape and expand beyond the oppressive powers and circumstances that are already in place; the settings and locations are just as romantic and timeless. Desperate actions occur at the most inopportune of moments. But the thing that sets Krokidas’ work apart is a clever blend of the artistic and the lawful. The events that take place in these semi-turbulent times play out much like a murder-mystery, yet they bear all the trademarks of a romance piece. It’s an effective, lively blend of genres that makes for a quick hour and forty-five minutes of viewing.

While the film ultimately doesn’t draw the most grandiose of conclusions from what transpires, it doesn’t necessarily have to. History has already been made and here, Krokidas is trying to recreate it using film as the medium. Clearly there are liberties to be taken along the way, and it’s unlikely that each and every aspect to Darlings is completely untainted by a director wanting to dramatize certain elements for entertainment’s sake, but the combination works deliciously well.

kyd-1

3-5Recommendation: Some are going to view this is as a stuffy film (if they’ve even heard of it), but I urge those people to give it a chance. It involves some delightful characters, simultaneously making great use of its young actors in Radcliffe and DeHaan, while respectfully paying tribute to some of America’s most transformative writers. This forthcoming comment is going to sound limiting, but if you enjoyed Robin Williams and his secretive Dead Poets Society, you will be guaranteed to fall in love with this as well. There’s a palpable joy and love in both narratives that is difficult to shake after watching.

Rated: R

Running Time: 104 mins.

Quoted: “Another lover hits the universe, the circle is broken.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com