Posts Tagged ‘24 Hour Party People’


Life: I’m neither a fan of Eddie Murphy nor Martin Lawrence. Give me Katt Williams, Anthony Anderson or Dave Chappelle any day of the week. Thankfully, director Ted Demme’s Life doesn’t aspire to be one of those bid-budget comedies, it just happens to find irreverent humour in tragic situations. Eddie and Martin excel in their roles; the two ‘legendary’ comedians act their little hearts out like never before and sadly never after. The film starts off as a buddy comedy about two African American New Yorkers – one a hustler (Ray Gibson), the other an aspiring bank teller (Claude Banks) – landing in jail, thanks to a dead body and the apathetic American legal system. So Claude, an otherwise straight-edge guy, is sentenced along with Ray to a lifetime’s worth imprisonment at the infamous Camp 8 in Mississippi. Of course, he doesn’t plan on forgiving Ray anytime soon for leading him so far astray from the life he had planned.

Life Eddie Murphy

Anderson, Bernie Mac, Obba Babatunde, Miguel Núnez play fellow prisoner stuck under sweltering Mississippi sun. Bernie is especially friggin hilarious as Jangle Leg; his random muttering is the stuff that a Jerry Lewis skit could have been built around. Also, Nick Cassavetes, writer of Alpha Dog and Blow, is wicked as Sergeant Dillard – a character you would love to hate, but just can’t seem to find the reason to. Things really pick up when Ray and Claude get into a heated argument and decide that they in fact hate each other. The film then changes its pace and colour and becomes an idyllic prison drama in which only cynicism towards death has a genuinely funny punchline.

At one point the narrator mentions how he “didn’t see nothing special the first time Ray and Claude walked into the cage. They were just a couple of fools whose luck had run out”. Initially, I didn’t see much I liked about the film either, but unlike its real counterpart, Life evolves into something better than most people give it credit for.

The Hamiltons

The Hamiltons: Good independent horror films are surprisingly easy to find. The reason why so many of them work so well is because their directors do everything they can to defy the accepted norms of giving us chills and thrills. Gone are tediously predictable bloodbaths, little girl ghosts, celebrity cameos and overblown CGI effects (or at least desperate attempts of having such); instead a craving for conspicuously deranged storylines, with minimal gloss and a fetish for understating evil gave rise to the indie horror genre.

The Hamiltons, directed by Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores a.k.a The Butcher Brothers, tells a tale of four orphaned siblings trying to make sustain a normal household in American suburbia. The eldest David (Samuel Child) is the breadwinner, desperate to be the glue that keeps the family together; the twins – Wendell (Joseph McKelheer) and Darlene (Mackenzie Firgens) – are the creepiest of lot, with their sociopathic behavior proving to be more and more dangerous. The youngest – Francis (Cory Knauf) – is the odd sibling out and for reasons far more unpredictable and gloomier than one would imagine. The only thing that slightly irked me was the hype of the climax that I had eagerly bought from Bloody Disgusting website’s (my bad, not theirs) glowing review of the film.

Hamiltons Butcher Brothers

See, Bloody Disgusting is the one place that I consistently go to for feeding on horror films…they have an excellent archive of lesser known stuff, as well as pretty convincing reviews that make me want to torrent whatever they praise, but I thought they sort of overrated the “big” secret at the end. Matter of fact I thought the climax was absolutely perfect only because it lacked a proper twist that might have left me with a bad aftertaste. When a film moves at such a pace, it is only fitting that it ends with a whimper – one that warms the audience to the whimsies of indie filmmaking while keeping in close quarters all the ingredients that make for a fantastic horror film.


Sick Girl: Just so you know, I have always hated the ‘torture porn’ tag that new age slasher flicks have learnt to live and die by. It just sounds friggin vile; might as well lump shitty romantic comedies into the ‘scat porn’ category. Well, Eben McGarr’s Sick Girl is proof that independent, unpaid critics are idiots who jump to conclusions and more importantly, gives validity to calling such films as “torture porn”. See, my croonies, it is common knowledge that sex and pain are bedmates and even the wantonly dumb Chicks on Flicks on Sony Pix would tell you that cinema is one voyeuristic bastard. Imagine if you must…a bunch of normal (heh) people sitting in front of our laptops,getting strangely aroused by the pain inflicted on others. Remember James Wan’s Saw and how excited we were about the climax? A nice enough chap mutilated in front of our eyes and whose only ray of hope is extinguished with the speed and velocity of a Japanese freight train and all that most of us could say was, “oh that shit’s just fucking cool”. Even if the arousal probably had nothing to do with sexual desire, it still indicative of the extent that we, humans, would go in search of stimulation.

Having said all that, director Eben McGarr doesn’t just bait the audience with blood, gore and clumsy violence. There is a pretty interesting story that binds all the severed human bits together. The principle characters – Izzy (Leslie Andrews), Barney (John McGarr) and Kevin (Charlie Trepany) – are tremendous, as well. Leslie, in particular, is super fucking gnarly as Izzy Shea – the psychotic sister who guards her kid brother and her home in small rural town near California while waiting for her elder brother Rusty to find his way back from the war. I’m telling you, she could bitchslap The Bride, O-Ren Ishii and the entire cast of Charlie Angels with one arm tied behind her back.  I really dug John McGarr’s character too; he plays a kind-hearted biker who happens to be the only other person Izzy allows to befriend her little brother Kevin.

The extent of graphic violence in Sick Girl could have been toned down slightly; Izzy going berserk on the teenagers towards the end is a bit hard to stomach. Leaps and bounds better than any of those stupid teen slasher movies, but falls just short of forming a really good argument against the ungainly ‘torture porn’ tag. Now all I have to figure out is whether that’s a good thing.


Borderland: Zev Berman’s Borderland is another film that shows how twisted and vulnerable the human psyche can be. There is even the obligatory ‘based on a true story’ line, just to remind us that the stuff that these directors think of pales in comparison to the shit that happens in real life. I’ll keep this one short…three friends go to a colourful town near the US-Mexican border to (a) get laid (b) get drunk (c) get laid again. Instead of the expected binge, they (a) get their skulls opened (b) get their limbs mutilated (c) get on the bad side of a human sacrifice cult. For what it’s worth, the torture sequence with the hapless police officer is truly cringe-worthy. His other film Briar Patch seems much more interesting. Borderland – strictly recommended for those who enjoyed a good meal while watching Hostel.


The Commitments: I really really wanted to like Alan Parker’s The Commitments – a film about an aspiring soul band in Dublin looking to make waves in pop culture at the behest of their manager. Most of the actors in the film are actually real-life members of the band The Commitments, so like the dude in IMDB tells us – “the key players in this movie were not chosen for their acting abilities, but rather for their musical talent”. In case you didn’t know, Alan Parker is the dude who directed Pink Floyd’s The Wall movie, the excellent Mathew Modine-starrer Birdy and Midnight Express. Hold on, I have got one more…the film was based on a Roddy Doyle novel!

Despite all these delightfully awesome details, something went wrong that made the film less enjoyable than I had hoped. Maybe the music (as good as it actually is) totally overshadowed the storyline. Maybe the humour was too one-sided to remain funny after an hour. Whatever it was, it dulled my senses towards the film.

Like I said, the music is pretty good (the singer sounds a lot like Joe Cocker) and none of the characters overstay their welcome, but towards the end I was left with the feeling of ‘meh could have been better”. Colm Meaney, who plays Elvis enthusiast Jimmy Rabbit Sr., gets in the best line of the film – “That’s fuckin’ blasphemy. Elvis wasn’t a Cajun”. Now everybody get your hands on Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People.


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