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This Week's Film Reviews ( June 11, 2021)

04 Jun 2021

It is horror fest this week with different offerings for different tastes.

THE DARE - for those who like their horror at its most disgusting

QUEEN OF SPADES - milder horror

CENSOR - more artistic horror though still as gory

LA DOSIS -  mystery horror

A PERFECT ENEMY -  a psychological horror

AMERICAN BADGER - this film is horrorible

 

FILM REVIEWS:

AKILLA’S ESCAPE (Canada 2020) ***
Directed by Charles Officer

films movies TIFF toronto international film festival

An assured sophomore piece after his 2008 NURSE.FIGHTER.BOY, AKILLA’S ESCAPE is writer/director Charles Officer violent drug drama demonstrating that black lives matter.  When a routine deal goes bad, a drug trader, Akilla (Saul Williams) tries to set things right while unexpected circumstances force him to confront his traumatic origins.  Narrowly making it out alive, he captures one of the thieves, a teenaged Jamaican boy named Sheppard.  Sheppard reminds Akilla of his past that he now tries to escape from.  But circumstances do not allow Akilla to do so easily.   The film is aided by an awesome soundtrack by poet-musician-actor Saul Williams — who also collaborated with Massive Attack’s 3D.   Though the story is familiar, Officer crafts a moving and exciting drama leading to an explosive climax.  The film boasts a cast of familiar Canadian actors that deliver convincing performances to boot.

Clip: https://deadline.com/video/akillas-escape-tiff-world-premiere/

 

AMERICAN BADGER (USA 2021) **
Directed by Kirk Caouette

What happens when a stuntman gets inspired and gets to write, direct, star and executive produce his first movie?  For one, this is quite a formidable task.  What happens is exactly what is expected.  A terrible movie.

Writer/Director Kirk Caouette is a well-respected stunt veteran with films like X-Men, Fantastic Four, Mission to Mars and “Superman & Lois.”

In AMERICAN BADGER, Caouette stars as “Badger,” whose real name is Dean -- but that's the lamest name ever for a hitman.  The nickname came from his wife.  Since her passing, Badger has been living the life of a recluse, operating in the shadows, hardly speaking a word to anyone in years.  This is similar to the American badger that  lives in isolation and gets violently protective when his habitat is attacked.   The audience is told all this at the start of the film, which is of course, written by Caouette.  But all that is about to change with his latest assignment.  His job is to make friends with a sex worker named Velvet (Andrea Stefancikova, “Debris”) and extract information from her about the inner workings of an Albanian gang she works for.  Soon, Badger realizes he is much more emotionally vulnerable than he thinks as his short relationship with Velvet takes a sharp turn into an unlikely romance - another example of a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome.

  Suddenly Badger’s Handler tells him that it is time to take down the syndicate — and the first person he must kill is Velvet.  The result is carnage.

The film is clearly an ego trip for Caouette.  One can tell from the film’s dialogue that it seems to demonstrate that Caouette tries to be philosophical (revenge is redemption) but ends up seemingly silly.  His musings are repeated at the end of the film, as if the audience needs to hear them again.

One can hardly care for performances in an action film.  Caouette has a good body and is believable as a solid fighter.  But for him to be able to do away with the number of victims as shown in the fight scenes is hardly credible.  Andrea Stefancikova who plays Velvet who is supposed to be 17 is just plain ridiculous even though an internet call girl would lie about her age,  She clearly looks around 40.

In the press notes, it is said that Caouette was very inspired by the early works of legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai (CHUNGKING EXPRESS, IN THE MOOD OF LOVE); the way he blended slow burning film noir with explosive action pieces.”   Caouette thus set out to create a film that would delve into that space but would also satisfy the appetite of a modern audience that has been gobbling up comic book movies and John Wick films.  The film actually has a MATRIX and John Wood feel, but one can tell that Caouette is just a wannabe.  The action scenes are operatic, no doubt, but credibility is washed down the toilet.

  Despite its American setting, AMERICAN BADGER is a Canadian production set in the province of British Columbia, as indicated in the end credits.

Trailer: 

AWAKE (USA 2020) **

Directed by Mark Raso

AWAKE is a Netflix American science fiction action film, directed by Mark Raso, from a screenplay he wrote alongside Joseph Raso.  The story concerns some odd alien or maybe non-alien force that causes a worldwide disaster.  People cannot sleep and all technology breaks down.  But a few can sleep and the military wants to study these rare individuals to find a cure.

If the premise sounds too ridiculous, it actually is.  The trouble with such a premise is that it is just so bad that no matter how much effort the filmmakers and crew put into the film, it will just ultimately fail.  Another example is the horrid 2006 film starring Billy Bob Thornton where he plays an ex-astronaut who builds his own rocket in his backyard and flies it.  It takes the entire NASA to even design a rocket protocol.  So the FARMER ASTRONAUT is a complete failure from the very beginning because of its outrageous and unbelievable premise.  AWAKE falls into the same demise.

So in AWAKE, where the whole world is awake, the story narrows down to a single mother, Jill Adams (Gina Rodriguez) and her daughter, Matilda and son, Noah.  Jill Adams picks her son Noah and daughter Matilda up from their grandmother, Doris. Whilst driving, their car loses power and is hit by another car into a lake.  Matilda nearly drowns but is revived by a police officer who reveals that everything that uses electricity is malfunctioning.  They go to a hospital where coma patients have awoken. They then go to Doris’s house. Jill, Noah, and Doris are unable to sleep. On her way to work Jill sees that the whole neighbourhood is awake. At work, psychiatrist Murphy explains there are no unconscious people; that everyone is awake or dead. Jill remembers that Matilda can sleep so she rushes home to find her and discovers she's at church. The pastor, Pastor Jim (Barry Pepper) gives a sermon about Matilda being a beacon of hope and people want to sacrifice her.  And the plot thickens - unfortunately into a big gooey mess.

Though the film’s country of origin is the United States, the film is made with the funding aid from Ontario, Canada.  The film is largely shot in Toronto.  This explains familiar Toronto sights and Canadian actors like Barry Pepper (from British Columbia) who plays the pastor and Ryan Blakely who plays a pharmacist.  Blakely is from Toronto, in fact, a member of the same YMCA I am in.  Jennifer Jason Leigh lends a hand playing a doctor who tries to help out.

Dialogue is interesting enough with common, often heard lines such as the one the pastor uses: This is not who we are,” or interesting ones like: “people are no longer sleeping; they are either on or off.”

The ending to the story (not to be revealed here) is even more preposterous.  The film is so silly that one cannot help but watch on.  If only one can fall asleep on this one.

The film will be released by Netflix on June 9, 2021.

Trailer: 

 

CENSOR (UK 2021) ***1/2
Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond

Horror has always been a favourite genre among cineastes.  Special sections similar to Midnight Madness at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) have been created specially to cater to this genre of films that delight audiences who like their entertainment doused with lots of blood and gore.  CENSOR is one such bloody love letter to this genre of films, particularly video nasties, the ones that flooded the British market during the mid-1980s.

CENSOR is a film in which life imitates art - in a similar way as occurred inToronto with Peter Jackson’s 1992 horror zombie flick.  DEAD ALIVE  featured a young man's mother bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey.  She gets sick and dies, at which time she comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbours.  Jackson’s brilliant film was hilariously graphic and is my personally top 3 horror film of all time.  I first saw the film at the Midnight Section at TIFF but the film was banned and released finally a year later with censorship cuts available only in video under the different title BRAINDEAD.  The big video chains like Blockbuster Video refused to carry the video nasty but one could get it for rent at the smaller independent shops.  Video nasties are important in providing a market for these films.  CENSOR contains a scene in which a video store owner rents out banned films under the counter.

CENSOR is set in Thatcher’s 80’s.  Welsh director Prano Bailey-Bond takes great pains in creating the 80’s atmosphere which distinguishes CENSOR from other run of the mill horror flicks.  She has also included a scene with the Prime Minister preaching her policies on television.  CENSOR is filled with aesthetics of the British horror films of the times like those churned out by Hammer Film Studios.  Her film is a trip down horror nostalgia lane.

The film follows Enid (Niamh Algar), a censor, often agonizing over whether to cut (or not to cut) graphic scenes like eye gouges and decapitation.  She is a prim and proper lady, dressing always in a prudish fashion, despite her occasional liberating ways of censorship.  This result in her being under scrutiny, especially after the press tries to link a brutal murder to a film that she approved.  But Enid has a secret.  She is riddled with the guilt of losing her sister during an outing in the woods when they were younger.  When she views a new film that bears an uncanny resemblance to the tragedy she had endured, she decides to solve the puzzle.  This is where reality and fiction begin to blur in terrifying ways.

CENSOR is an ambitious first feature.  But true commercial horror fans might get bored owing to its slow pace, despite the excesses in gore and violence.  Director Bailey-Bond also makes an effective statement on the #MeToo Movement with a creepy film producer (Michale Smiley) who makes sexual advances towards Enid.

CENSOR had its world premiere in the Midnight Section of Sundance this year and opens June the 18th VOD.  It is definitely worth a look for its 80’s period look!

 Trailer: 

 

THE DARE (USA 2019) **
Direct by Giles Anderson

In the tradition of the SAW movies for those who like their horror films so ghastly to render them almost unwatchable then THE DARE might be your cup of tea, never mind the mindless storyline, cardboard characters and minimal art direction.  Credit should be given for the totally imaginative torture segments, though that might not really be thing a film should be boasting about.

The protagonist of the story is Jay (Bart Edwards).  A rare family night for Jay takes a brutal twist when he awakens in a basement with three other prisoners.  As their vengeful captor runs riot, Jay engages in a twisted battle to solve the puzzle to his past and save his family's future.

THE DARE all begins way back when a bullied boy Dominic is forced to undergo certain acts of dare in order for him to join a gang of kids.  Dominic was eventually left in a house where he underwent trauma that transformed him into a sadistic killer.  Dominic now exacts revenge by capturing the gang, now adults and forcing them to do unspeakable, yes, unspeakable acts to one another or things would turn out worse.  In the mind of director and co-writer Anderson, he is always able to come up with a more horrific torture.  One wonders if this is really a talent.

With regards to the other aspects of the film besides the torturing dares, the film contains nothing special.  Jay spends little time with his family due to his job.  His wife does not like it and the events that follow obviously make him realize the importance of family.  The film starts off on a slow note, allowing director Anderson to make time showing Jay to be deep down inside, a good hearted family man and good husband.  But it is an event in the past that shows a shadier side of him.

There is not much humour and none should be expected in such a ghastly film.  Jay claims to be vegan when chucks of meat are offered to the prisoners for meals in the basement.  Jay is then referred to as Captain Tofu.  Jay or Capt. Tofu tells the others: “I’ll get out of here even if it kills me.”  Obviously this is a poor choice of words.

Director Anderson includes both physical and psychological horror.  The latter is seen mostly as Dominic, the boy traumatized by his non-birth father, Credence (Robert Brake).   Credence constantly tortures the boy with questions and then screams out when the boy replies with the answers Credence does not approve of.

The ghastliest scene has one of the captives insert a squirming bug into another’s eye, as part of a dare.  One can imagine for example, putting eye drops that the drops can enter the eye though its side.  Just imagine a bug entering your eye in the same manner.  If one can stomach this, the next scene has this poor victim rescued from the bug by having his eye plucked out of the socket so that the bug can leave.

Only watch THE DARE if you dare, but it will be guaranteed to be an unpleasant watch.

Trailer:

 

LA DOSIS (The Dose) (Argentina 2019) ***

Directed by Martin Kraut

If the story of a nurse in an ICU practising euthanasia sounds far-fetched, one has to look no further than Ontario, Canada where in the small town of Woodstock, an ex-nurse, Elizabeth Wettlaufer killed 8 seniors in her care sentenced to 8 concurrent life terms.  She was found guilty.

LA DOSIS is the story of one such nurse -  a male nurse whose deeds finally come into question.

Marcos is an experienced nurse. He works in the night shift of a provincial private clinic. He is applied and professional but has a secret: in some extreme cases he applies euthanasia. Gabriel, a new nurse, shakes the sector: he is young, intelligent and beautiful.  He seduces everyone.  He soon deciphers Marcos' secret by progressively taking control of his life. Marcos retracts until he discovers that Gabriel also kills, but capriciously. That revelation will force him to confront Gabriel, Marcos knows that only by exposing his true identity will be able to stop him.
The film contains homoerotic tones as in the scene at the end of the film when Gabriel paints a kiss on Marcos’ lips.  Though Marcos does not respond, perhaps out of surprise, one might still wonder of Marcos’ sexuality as he was  dumped at the beginning of the movie, though the partner’s gender is never revealed.  There is another scene in which Gabriel brings Marcos to a bar that Gabriel claims he will like, where close to them is a table with two males kissing.  But again, there are ladies in the bar which means the situation is ambiguous.

Another unexplained scene is the one at the beginning when Marcus saves the life of a patient only to euthanize her again later on.  The reason for the difference in action is never explained.

LA DOSIS plays like a mystery from start to end.  It succeeds as a mystery, queer enough as there are many unexplained incidents.  This proves that mysteries can still be left unresolved in a mystery drama.

The film also examines the effect when one’s comfortable working space is invaded by a newcomer.  No matter how nice and accommodating Gabriel is (Garbriel offers Marcos a drive back; buys him a mechanized can opener; covers for his naps etc.), Marcos always frowns at his new helper.  It is when the new helper takes control and Marcos loses control of his working conditions that all hell breaks loose.  Gabriel has also taken over the one thing that Marcos has control over the ICU - the lives of the patients.  The only good that he believes he is doing is now taken away from him.  It is a cover scenario rather brilliantly hidden in the story.

The film also takes a look at the Argentine hospital system.

Though Kraut’s film moves at a snail’s pace and has many loose ends, it is still a compulsive watch for that very reason that so much has been kept from the audience, that the audience is always, almost curious all the time.  It is this curiosity that overcomes the dullness of the picture.

Trailer:

 

IN THE HEIGHTS (USA 2021) ***1/2
Directed by Jon M. Chu

IN THE HEIGHTS is the long awaited film adaptation of the Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and the book by Quiara Alegría Hudes.  It highlights the multi-talents of Miranda who many will recognize as the lamplighter in MARY POPPINS RETURNS.  Miranda wrote IN THE HEIGHTS while in his sophomore year 1999 while in college that went on to debut on Broadway and then all over the world.  Miranda also wrote HAMILTON.  Compared to the political HAMILTON, IN THE HEIGHTS is more accessible to the masses due to its universal theme of poverty and ambition to achieve one’s dreams.

The film opens with Usnavi de la Vega telling a bunch of kids a story, which is the story of the movie.  He talks to them about what El Suenito means - little dream.   The story takes place on the hottest day of the summer, with Usnavi, the owner of a small bodega in Washington Heights, chasing away a small-time vandal, Graffiti Pete, before the audience is introduced to the corner he lives on and some of its many residents of course by a song and dance number, In the Heights.  There is Abuela Claudia, a matriarchal figure who helped to raise Usnavi among others; Usnavi's young, spirited Sonny who helps run the bodega; Daniela and Carla, who run the local salon; and Kevin and Camila Rosario, who run the cab company. As the day begins, the Rosarios' daughter Nina arrives home from her first year at Stanford University. Often considered the "one who made it out" and the pride of the corner, Nina dreads telling her parents and neighbours the truth of her return home: that she dropped out of Stanford because she had to work two jobs to maintain her tuition, leading to her getting poor grades and losing her scholarship.  Then, there is Benny, Usnavi's best friend and an employee of Kevin's who has been temporarily left in charge of the dispatch while Kevin seeks to solve a financial problem. Benny loves Nina. 

The song and dances are what makes IN THE HEIGHTS tick.  The musical contains almost 20 songs with the dance numbers featuring latest dance moves including rap, quite different from WEST SIDE STORY where the dances are similar to ballet.  Judging from the wide range of songs Miranda can write from his Disney contributions, HAMILTON to this film, Miranda is quite the talent to be reckoned with.  Miranda played the main character on Broadway, but in the film has only a cameo as a street vendor welling ‘ices’.  Anthony Ramos who had starred in the Washington DC. production has the starring role in the film.

The story of the film stereotypes the Latino and simplifies their struggles.  The Stanford incident told by Nina is a story that can be predicted and her move to leave the college and to do the right thing does not really get the audience to be on her side.  The death of Abuela Claudia is executed with too much melodrama .  The two romances add nothing fresh to the story.  Part of the blame could be probably attributed to the book the script is based on.  Director Chu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS), no newcomer of dance films, having directed the STEP UP films directs with exuberance as observed in his previous movies and in this one.

There has been a tremendous amount of effort expended before IN THE HEIGHTS the musical had reached the screen, the rights transferred from the Weinstein Company (because of the sexual abuse) finally to Warner Bros.  The film is finally in theatres and available to rent at home on June 10!

Trailer: 

THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD (USA 2020) ***
Directed by Patrick Hughes

THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD is the sequel to the 2017 film THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD, a Lionsgate film that cost $60+ million to make that grossed more than $200 million.  A sequel makes money sense.  So, THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD is more of the same.

And as the plot goes, it is four years after the events of the original film.  Bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Rernolds) is on a company mandated sabbatical when Sonia Kincaid (Selma Hayek), the wife of hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L.Jackson who has never been in a film in which he has no used the ‘mf’ word) whom Bryce shares an uneasy friendship with, rescues him from an assassination attempt to rescue Darius.  Due to his sabbatical, Bryce is not allowed to use firearms or lethal weapons of any kind and must use his wits and intelligence to save Darius and thus save the day.  His shrink tells Bryce to go on his dream vacation and to find his future self, a triple A guy.

The action begins when Bryce is on today sipping cocktails by the beach.  He is actually reading the book “The Secret”.  Then arrives gun blazing, foul mouthed Sonia who recruits Bryce from his sabbatical.  It is not long before Samuel L. Jackson appears using the ‘mf’ word.   His exact words to Bryce: “You are the most annoying ‘mf’ on the Planet Earth’.

Reynolds reprises his role and does he same kind of humour found in the original film, that is also found in his DEADPOOL films.  It gets a bit tiresome - the familiar humour.  Several stars reprise their roles including Hayek, Jackson and Gary Oldman, with Patrick Hughes returning to the directors chair.

The film tries hard to be mother fucking entertaining with its lewd and blatant humour, that is often very crass, like Sonia holding up a limp banana while talking about sex with her husband.  The climax includes a tripe fight between Bryce and has bad-ass father turned bad, Sonia and another female and Darius vs. the main villain of the piece (Antonio Banderas).

THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD earned a meagre 32% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the point of the writing of this review. But it is not bad a film, considering it is action packed and quite funny with some heavyweight actors to watch.  The main complaint is that there is nothing really fresh in this action outing, but old stuff can still be quite mother fucking entertaining.

Trailer:

Trailer: 

 

A PERFECT ENEMY (Germany/Spain/France 2020) ***
Directed by Kike Maillo


A PERFECT ENEMY is a well built-up suspense, mystery thriller in which director Kike Mail keeps the audience constantly guessing what is going on.  The film is based on the best-selling novel The Enemy's Cosmetique by Amélie Nothomb.  The novel is French and the author is from Belgium.

It all starts with a good deed.  Successful architect Jeremiasz Angust (Tomasz Kot) stops his chauffeured car to offer a ride to a seemingly harmless stranger Athena Strates) a ride to the airport.  She causes him to miss his flight.  While waiting for his next one at the airport, the girl introduces herself as Texel Textor, Dutch.  Texel keeps hounding Jereniaz with stories, annoying him to no end yet arousing his curiosity.  He is unable to get rid of her.  And finally when he does, he has to go back to her as if bound psychologically.

The film initially plays like a solid Hitchcockian thriller.  She is a strange young woman who seems to be looking for captive victims whom she forces to listen to her strange stories. Jeremy loses the flight because of Texel and once they are stuck in the lounge area, he will not be able to get rid of the annoying stranger. The suspicious girl tells stories about herself of her murderous ah.  She finally confesses to being in love with a lady (Marta Nieto) and finally stabbing her to death in her apartment.  The architect finally is coerced by Texel to tell his story.  He reveals that his wife had been missing and finally that he has killed her out of jealousy and she was leaving him after getting pregnant with another man.

The film has an eclectic cast being a French, German and Spanish co-production.  It stars Kot who is Polish, and Strates who is from South Africa.  Neto is Spanish.  It is also good to see French actor Dominique  Pinon (Jeunet and Caro’s DELICATESSEN and THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN), not seen in movies for a while.  Director Maillo himself is Spanish known for EVA.

The man is shown to be socially and politically correct, designing his building, as he says during his speeches, to serve humanity.  Jeremiasz strives for perfection.  In contrast to his character, the one he meets is the complete opposite - a sociopath, though it may be argued that this trail is revealed from her stories.  The clash of the two highly different personalities is explosive.  The story also reveals that there is always something sinister behind every human being and that one cannot escape the ghosts of the past.  Often karma returns to bite one in one’s arse.

The trouble with the film, co-scripted by director Maillo is that the climax is muddled over the decision to turn the film into super surrealistic stylish.  The hardening cement suffocating the victim in the enclosed room is a bit much to take with the alternate victims, ending up more confusing than solving the puzzle.

QUEEN OF SPADES (Canada 2019) **
Directed by Patrick White

It is impossible to find any information on this new Canadian horror flick QUEEN OF SPADES.  This film cannot be found, not even on the move database site, imdb.  Already listed are two other 2019 films of the same title, with QUEEN OF SPADES: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS having a very similar plot.

Apparently, the QUEEN OF SPADES refers to some demon from the past hidden in a mirror waiting to possess any pro should summon it.  As this film is low budget, there is no flashback scene into the past where a period segment will show how this evil demon came to be.  One has to hear, instead of its origin from the characters quoting what they got from YouTube.  This makes the film more realistic while sillier at the same time.  A group of 4 friends decide to summon the QUEEN OF SPADES.  She can grant a wish from the youngest member, according to the YouTube video.  So, Anna summons the demon.  As in the age of political correctness, the protagonist has to be female and the story includes a daughter/mother relationship instead of a teen with a father/son relationship.

Director White’s film is so riddled with cliches that the final one occurring before the closing credits should register laugh-out loud laughs.  The mother and daughter problems are typical.  Anna complains that her mother is never around.  Mother says that she works so that they can have a better life.  Daughter runs to the bedroom, and the mother shows up at the door of the room later.  And so on.  Most of what happens onscreen have been seen countless times before including the climatic exorcism scene, where what happens is taken un-shamefully from William Friendkin’s THE EXORCIST.  The demon has to enter some other human.  In THE EXORCIST, one can clearly recall the demon entering Father Karras’ body with the priest flinging himself outside through the bedroom window to perish with the demon.  In QUEEN OF SPADES, there is a poor fat cat locked in a small cage (though the credits claim no animals were harmed during the making of the film) with the hope that the exorcised demon will enter the fat cat, instead of anyone else.

QUEEN OF SPADES is a harmless horror film catered to young teens where the violence and gore is kept to a minimum.  For those who like their horror in extremes, there are the SAW torture flicks and the newly released THE DARE, which is so horrid, it is almost unwatchable.  The special effects in the film are also minimal for this low-budget flick, most of it being seen as white eyes from the possessed.  The script moves merrily along, with not much fresh happening.  The film ends up an ok, watch rather boring at times, but the decision to remain an inoffensive horror flick results in it becoming just another forgettable run-of-the mill film.

QUEEN OF SPADES is available digital/VOD June the 15th.

Trailer: unavailable

 

TAKE ME SOMEWHERE NICE (Netherlands/Bosnia 2019) ***

Directed by Ena Sendijarević

Cool-looking film in which nothing appears on the surface to be going on.  The story centres on Dutch girl, Alma who leaves her mother in the Netherlands to visit her father in hospital in Bosnia.  Things turn out more complicated than expected.  She is met by her lazy loutish cousin Emir.  She has sex with Emir’s partner-in-crime.  Just as director Sendijarević loves playing with weird camera angles, her characters are equally as weird.  But this is Ama’s coming-of-age story, done with the director’s odd sense of humour and aplomb.  The journey is quite an entertaining watch.

Trailer: (unavailable)

TRUMAN AND TENNESSEE (USA 2021) ***1/2

Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland

There are many valid reasons to watch this new documentary TRUMAN AND TENNESSEE.  For one, these are the two most famous American writers of their time, if not of all time.  They share incredibly intriguing lives, both being openly gay when homosexuality was a crime back in the day.  Both were friends, rivals and each a genius in the literary field.

One of Capote’s famous quotes take from his book “Other Voices, Other Rooms”: ‘The brain may take advice, but not the heart, and love having no geography, knows no boundaries’  One of the doc’s more interesting segments has the novelties talk to a talk show host on the subject of love, whee he distinguishes between sex and love relationships claiming that he had and fallen out of more of the latter.  Capote was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor.  Several of his short stories, novels, and plays have been praised as literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and the true crime novel In Cold Blood (1966), which he labeled a "nonfiction novel". His works have been adapted into more than 20 films and television dramas.

Tennessee Williams quote from his play and film A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE: ‘“What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains.” Ironically, William took in one main lover in his life and loved him so very much even after his death.  But before that, he claims he was always the pursuer in any relationship or pick-up.  Tennessee Williams was an American playwright, considered among the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.  Williams became famous with the success of The Glass Menagerie (1944) in New York City. This play closely reflected his own unhappy family background. It was the first of a string of successes, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), and The Night of the Iguana (1961).  Much of Williams' most acclaimed work has been adapted for the cinema.  Film clips of all the above works are shown in the doc.

The brilliant work, personal struggles, and cultural impact of iconic American writers Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams explode onto the screen in this innovative dual-portrait documentary.  Director Vreeland illustrates both their similarities (especially their southern and gay backgrounds) and differences, emphasizing that they remained friends for am major part of their lives.  The doc benefits from the large amount of footage shown of the two writers.  The inclusion of the films made of their works also make the film more interesting.

The voiceover work by award-winning actors Jim Parsons (Capote) and Zachary Quinto (Williams), with much of the words taken from their writings sounds very authentic.  Parson's voice , though recognizable from his, could very well pass on as Capote’s while Quinto’s raspy voice sounds realistic as well.

TRUMAN AND TENNESSEE is a tremendously entertaining doc about two hight entertaining gay writers with lots of old film clips to boot.

Trailer: 

 

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