Friday, August 28, 2020

Kill Your Darlings (2013) Directed by John Krokidas

A biographical piece about the early college days of the earliest members of the beat generation with a great cast, editing and well done screenplay that manages to keep us interested in, to be honest, are not very likeable people overall. The story does give much sympathy to it's protagonist, Alan Ginsberg played by Daniel Radcliffe, but many of his friends seem to be no more than pretentious college kids who are all in some way or another living off other people, be it their family, girlfriend... whomever. The central conflict is the killing god professor David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) in a stabbing incident. The professor seems to be obsessed with Lucien, write his papers for him for sexual favours (according the screenplay - a fact disputed by the real Lucien. There are a couple points where the story loops back on itself, showing us something and going back to what led up to it then on from there and it really works. William S. Burroughs is played by Ben Foster, a role I would not even him taking as Burroughs is so well known it would be hard not to let your performance slip into parody. But  he doesn't and after seeing him in the roles a few minutes, I found him very convincing. 

The film is not full of action as you might imagine and all the better for it. The interplay among the characters, unlikeable as students they may be at times, never feels forced and it's these interactions that get you through the film. Radcliffe is great as is everyone else. Hall manages to be both stalker and sympathetic at times and the early beat scene is portrayed well without over dramatizing or exaggerating it. 

The film did very poorly in release, costing 6 million with a box office of only about 2 million and I wonder if it had been made more recently if it might have ended up a hit on a streaming platform as it seems well suited for that format which as of this writing seems to have a larger audience for a drama like than we are likely to see in cinemas again anytime soon, if ever. It deserves to be seen and bravo for those who put it together. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Circus of Books (2019) directed by Rachel Mason

Karen and Barry Mason were having trouble making ends meet when they decided to take a chance distributing  Hustler fro Larry Flint, a decision which led to them distributing even more x-rated magazines and that in turn led them to becoming owners of a gay porn bookstore, something the couple hid from friends and even their own children for years. To them is was a business decision and they ran the business well for decades until the internet and online free porn caught up with them and they had to close the business down. 

The director is the couple's own daughter and despite some pretty tough reluctance from her her mother i particular, she tells a very personal story of two people who get involved in a business they had no interest in but ended up being an inspirations to 1000s as they not only pushed to stay open during the reason years but dealt head on with the AIDS crisis and finally their own issues when they discover one of the children is gay. 

This is not a high budget film which I think helps keep it on subject and real. Mason keeps the story on her family while all the time showing the events and political world changing over the 3 decades of the store's existence. While her parents are great people, they are not perfect and are not presented as perfect which makes the whole thing very relatable. Brave to Netflix for bringing this to us, I wish it was around when some of my earlier documentaries were made. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Fury (1978) Directed by Brian De Palma

I am not the biggest fans of Brian De Palma but this follow up to Carrie is under rated in my opinion. 

Based on the 1976 novel by John Farris, who also wrote the screenplay, it is the story of two young people - psychic twins in a way- who are wanted by an ill defined government agency for ill defined reasons.  The book goes into more details and has a lot more sex, something the movie only touches lightly on. In the book there is more time spent on what is going on with the two teenagers played in the movie by Andrew Stevens and Amy Irving, expelling how Steven's Character Robin is being controlled by sex with an older woman as she helps develop his powers and Irving's Gillian is in a more nurturing environment in a school  for gifted children sort fo set up. Robin's powers are more pronounced and he needs an enormous amount of calories to keep going, which was a nice detail. The movies skips over most of that and maybe for the best as it it sort of split between a spy/thriller beginning that evolves more into a supernatural horror film as the two main characters discover that their abilities range from seeing the future to making people feels from every pore in tier bodies.  John Cassavetes plays the defect villain and gets his due in a truly violent, explosive (out intended) way. 

De Palma does a great job with the actors and Kirk Douglas is a little overdone I though but he does give the role a little humour which might be missing otherwise. Irving is great, though here end scene is less affective than it might have been for some reason. She just doesn't "exude" the power she is supposed to have. Stevens, whose character shares a preference for being shirtless like his father, on the other hand is terrifying as he devolves into a true monster as his talents increase in strength and his murder of the lover that betrayed him is pretty horrifying due to his ability to sell the supernatural part so well. 

The real star of this movie is the music by John Williams... it's pretty awesome from the theme to the incidental music and adds to every scene in away a less composer would not be able to. 

The cinematography and editing is very well done and even the the convention of the time like the camera zooms and camera pans back and forth don't distract from what is going on and and for the most work well as part of the story telling. 

If you have never heard of this move, check it out. It's very violent but stands up all these decades later as an affective horror/thriller.