Alain De La Mata

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NEDs Review


Good
While it's beautifully shot in period style and features terrific performances from the largely non-professional cast, this film struggles to get us involved simply because there isn't much we can grab hold of.

In 1972 Glasgow, young John (Forrest) is a bright spark who certainly will never become a "Non-Educated Delinquent". He lives on a rough estate, and as he heads for secondary school he begins to be targeted by the bullying local gang members. But he keeps his head down, hides behind the fierce reputation of his big brother (Szula) and excels at his studies. Then two years later, John (now McCarron) falls in with a group of thugs who offer him acceptance and camaraderie. Of course his studies start suffering as a result.

Continue reading: NEDs Review

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things Review


Good
Only a month after acclaimed author J.T. LeRoy was exposed by The New York Times as a fictional persona concocted by writer Laura Albert - a revelation that all but demolished the credibility of the scribe's supposedly semi-autobiographical books - cultish actress/diva-turned-director Asia Argento arrives with her adaptation of LeRoy's The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, the tumultuous road-tripping saga of young Jeremiah and the psycho birth mother who introduces him to a world of whoring, pill-popping and delusional paranoia. Having proven herself more than slightly familiar with society's seedy underbelly with 2000's skuzzy Scarlet Diva, Argento attacks LeRoy's (untrue, but still affecting) tale of corrosively corrupted childhood with nasty relish, employing severe close-ups, nightmarishly surreal stop-motion animation, curdled primary colors and a dissonant Billy Corgan score for this descent into degenerate nomad hell. Yet despite such avant-garde showmanship, Argento's second effort behind the camera is significantly more polished than her debut, lacking the truly gonzo verve that might have overcome her film's more pressing, primary failure to capture the boy's-eye-view of LeRoy's tome. Closed off from her protagonist's internal turmoil, Argento's Heart is Deceitful gets the horrific literal facts straight but, disappointingly, captures only a trace of the mental anguish and manipulation that bestowed her source material with its coal-black tragedy.

Taken from the loving arms of his foster parents by unstable mom Sarah (Argento), Jeremiah (Jimmy Bennett for the first half; Dylan and Cole Sprouse for the latter section) finds himself unwillingly thrust into an itinerant life of substance abuse and sex-for-sale, a babe cast into the big bad woods of Middle American tract house communities and interstate truck stops. An odyssey of innocence parentally defiled, Argento's film strives, from the opening shot of a stuffed animal being waved in Jeremiah's face, to assume the perspective of her pint-sized protagonist, both through straightforward knee-high point-of-view shots as well as by grotesquely distorting her carnival-esque compositions to create a mood of terrified awe and dread. The result is a funhouse-mirror vibe rooted in squalor, from the decrepit apartments that Sarah and Jeremiah temporarily occupy with her assortment of boyfriends, to the parking lots where she plies her trade as a prostitute, to a combustible crack kitchen where the filth is so tangible that it can almost be felt creeping under one's fingernails. Still, working with cinematographer Eric Alan Edwards, Argento carefully balances these more out-there inclinations - felt most strikingly in Jeremiah's visions of cawing, flesh-eating red crows - with conventional setups and chronology, thereby deftly maintaining a tremulous sense of coherence even as her narrative begins spiraling into madness.

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Raising Victor Vargas Review


Very Good
To watch most movies featuring teenagers, you would assume that sex is as simple a function of breathing. In goes seduction and confidence... and out comes a liaison. The most refreshing aspect in Peter Sollett's Raising Victor Vargas is in how the young characters stumble around their emotions, trying to spot their comfort zone.

The title character (Victor Rasuk) is an 18-year-old Lower East Side playa-wannabe: The film's opening finds him undressing for a neighborhood girl, derisively called "Fat Donna." Though that encounter is interrupted, Victor and his friend are soon hitting on two girls at the local swimming pool, where Victor falls for Judy (Judy Marte), who ignores him. Rejection isn't about to slow him down, though. Victor recruits Judy's younger brother (Wilfree Vasquez) to reintroduce them, and thus the two kids begin an awkward process of letting their guards down.

Continue reading: Raising Victor Vargas Review

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Alain de la Mata Movies

NEDs Movie Review

NEDs Movie Review

While it's beautifully shot in period style and features terrific performances from the largely non-professional...

Raising Victor Vargas Movie Review

Raising Victor Vargas Movie Review

To watch most movies featuring teenagers, you would assume that sex is as simple a...

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