At first I can’t help but think that the Cageists inflates their idol and the god-awful scenes from terrible movies in which he’s starred. This is especially the case in Neil LaBute’s The Wicker Man. Okay, so the awkward babysitting sessions with a female partner in his character Edward Malus’ police force after a traumatizing case and the beautiful calligraphy within a letter from a former girlfriend are ridiculous. But are they the unintentionally funniest moments ever captured on camera? Not really. It’s not Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.
From Edward’s rural, arid California post to a strange island off the coast of Washington State where his paramour now lives, the letter summons him to rescue her – or their – daughter, who is missing and presumably dead because ofan evil neighbor. This insular place is called Summer’s Isle, which produces organic produce and stuff like that. After a nightmare/flashback-filled ferry trip he gets into the island after a pilot reluctantly smuggles him in. Even from the first time he meets the handful of townspeople in the isle, he senses that they’re xenophobic and ritualistically homicidal and he has inadvertently put himself and the pilot as these people’s targets.
Speaking of The Room, early reviews for this movie – that is, before it got its cultish acceptance – have criticized its sexism. Summer’s Isle happens to be the namesake of a matriarch (Ellen Burstyn, who probably did this and W to fund those annual indie love labours she stars in every year). She’s descended from the Wiccans of Salem and this sanctuary in this opposite coast is where her ancestors and her emasculate their men into breeders and young daughters into sacrificial lambs. This commune is an alternative to Edward’s badge-pushing patriarchy. That could also mean that women are equally capable of the subjugation that men give women but that still puts Edward in the right.
Cage’s signature freakouts come in spurts, like when he calls little girls liars, flings a woman (LeeLee Sobieski) across the room or punches another. Like these little seizures, maybe this is one piece within a larger puzzle, and I’ll take as many laughs as this film deserves. He approaches Edward’s paranoia, as well as the script’s – also written by LaBute – with admirable earnestness but it’s this same quality that hinders me from fully enjoying this.
Most of Hilary Swank‘s roles have always toyed with ambiguous sexuality, but when she looks uncharacteristically feminine, she has to talk with some fake, upper crust accent.
Her character, Madeleine Linscott, has the blatant surname of an aristocrat and a given name that would appall Emma Bovary. She’s the fourth wheel in Brian de Palma‘s The Black Dahlia. This film’s plot is complicated even for a noir. The threesome between Dwight ‘Bucky’ (Josh Hartnett), Kay (Scarlett Johannson) and her husband, symbolically named Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) is interrupted with the real-life murder of Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Short (Mia Kirshner). As per the genre, Kay and Lee’s perfect, green lawn, post-war marriage is a façade hiding the secrets of their earlier, criminally involved lives. Bucky’s investigation also leads him to lesbian bars that ‘Betty’ allegedly frequented for money and pleasure, which led her to Madeleine, the latter is apparently Short’s doppelgänger even if she looks older. Madeleine condescends to the underworld, chasing Betty at first out of jealousy but eventually doing so in lust, in some way of trying to find herself through her mirror.
Of course, de Palma can’t help but tell his version of the story, reminiscent of the same camerawork that Hitchock gave up after 1948. In a way, his homages to his idol(s) make him (them) look bad and cheap. He also lets his players somehow simultaneously overact and limit their imaginations. Eckhart barks, Hartnett is bland. Johannson is the MVP here. Sure, her overtly expressive face is surprising, sometimes leading to laughably campy results. Yet she never leans on the sexuality that better directors world. She also evinces a lack of innocence that fits her character.
- Black Dahlia (mysteryworlds.wordpress.com)
Never noticed this shot before. I also just noticed how it’s always in darkly lit places where Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) meditate on their loss. I don’t know how I notice stuff in two minutes’ footage instead of two hours of a complete film. Don’t know if that’s a good sign or not.
ETA: I also noticed how Jason (Miles Teller) has this confidence within him. The scene shown in the trailer is one of the later ones, which contrasts from his earlier scenes where he’s the archetypal awkward teenager. It’s as if Jason grows up as the movie progresses.
Brad Brevet posted the trailer on his website yesterday. And I don’t care if it breaks my rules of rewatching films, but I will watch this movie again. December 17, guys. ETA: trailer from MovieReel
In John Cameron Mitchell‘s adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire Pulitzer winning Rabbit Hole, Nicole Kidman plays perfect modern wife Becca Corbett, and the film can serve as a primer for what Kidman can do. In describing Becca, the people in her life – her husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart – not a good yeller) her mother Nat (Dianne Wiest), her sister Izzie, Jason, the people in her God-fearing support group – would give different answers. The audience can watch Becca pretend to be normal as she does her chores. You can also watch her giddily hopping down the streets of Manhattan in high heels as she goes back to her old turf at Sotheby’s. And almost get turned on by Al Green. And make drug jokes. And cry while watching teenager Jason be driven off to prom.
Abaire re-imagines the characters in his play. Becca, Howie and Nat are intact, he waters down Izzie’s confrontational trashiness while Auggie and Howie’s SPOILER alleged mistress (Sandra Oh) END SPOILER appears in the film. Like Becca and the principal characters in her life, the film never reuses the same emotion or depicts every scene in the same way. Sometimes the cloud hanging above Becca and Howie, perceived by others, lifts and humour finds its way into their natural conversations. Rabbit Hole, shot colourfully without being too artificial, is not one of those movies that try to change your life. However, it can change the way one thinks of emotion and the permanence of one’s loss. 4.5/5.
- TIFF: A Glimpse of Rabbit Hole Enthusiasm To Come? (filmexperience.blogspot.com)