Friday, July 16, 2004

Movie Rentals, Week of 7/12/04

Really no rhyme or reason for this week's rentals, so here goes:
 
SIX FEET UNDER, Season 2, disc 1 (2001): HBO has a knack for creating excellent character-driven series, and this is no exception. Six Feet Under follows the Fishers, a highly dysfunctional family that runs a small, Southern California funeral home. I'm pissed that it has taken HBO so long to release the second season (I'm cable-deprived, so DVD is the only way for me to see the show). The writing is top-notch, and seeing the characters again has made me realize how much I've missed them.
 
PARTY MONSTER: THE SHOCKUMENTARY (1998) and PARTY MONSTER (the movie, 2003): It was interesting watching these two films back to back, as they were both made by the same filmmaking team of Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. In the "shockumentary", we see the real Michael Alig and his Club Kid cohorts tell the story of Alig's descent into drugs and, ultimately, murder. The Club Kids relentlessly documented themselves on video, so the film is chocked full of archival footage of the New York club scene of the late 1980s and 1990s.  The dramatization of Alig's story, on the other hand, is simply good but not great--and I think some of this rests on star Macaulay Culkin. It was halfway through the film before I could let go of the fact that I was watching Culkin playing a gay club kid. I know that its not fair for Culkin to have all that child star baggage, and I give him props for trying to play a character like this, but for me personally, it was still somewhat difficult to accept him in that role. Despite this, the film did a good job at capturing an authentic look and feel of the era. If you want to know the story about Michael Alig and the club land murder, I would go with the documentary.
 
MYSTIC RIVER (2003): Excellent. Director Clint Eastwood and the top tier cast of Sean Penn, Tim Robinson, and Kevin Bacon are in fine form in this dark tale of childhood friends reuniting as damaged adults over the murder of Penn's daughter. My only quibble with the film is the tacked on ending. I'm not giving anything away here, but the film should have ended with Penn walking down the street and Bacon getting into the car--end of story. The added "denouement" seems so unnecessary and has the feel of spoon-feeding the audience. I wonder if studio executives demanded this?


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