There's an element of parody to this jet-black comedy, but the film is so creepy that it gets under our skin. And even if it feels a bit ridiculous, the story challenges us with an exploration of bullying and social pressure that's deeply unsettling. All while writer-director Bates gleefully keeps us off-balance with a shifting mix of broad comedy and growing horror.
It's also a deranged coming-of-age tale about Pauline (McCord), a teen outcast who delusionally believes that she is destined to be a great surgeon. This is mainly because she wants to cure her sister Grace (Winter) of cystic fibrosis. So she teaches herself surgical skills by piercing her nose, among other things. She also propositions a hot classmate (Sumpter) about losing her virginity, partly because this is in her master plan and partly to annoy his mean-girl girlfriend (McCook), and he doesn't refuse. Meanwhile, her mother (Lords) makes it clear that she doesn't like Pauline, treating her husband (Bart) like dirt while doting on Grace.
The film's opening scenes are like a Todd Solondz movie, with grotesque characters saying staggeringly rude things to each other. And as events unfold, each person develops some complexity that makes them intriguing. It also helps that scenes are packed with lively side characters played by starry veterans. McDowell, Matlin and Wise play school employees who are baffled by Pauline's refusal to toe the line. And Waters is dryly hilarious as the sardonic priest Pauline is forced to see for counselling.
Continue reading: Excision Review
The Maiks family was a happy one. Father and two young sons, they had carved out an all American existence after the boy's mother died giving birth to the youngest. Until the boy's father (Bill Paxton) gets a visit from God, bestowing upon him a terrible mission to rid the world of demons, complete with a list of names of real human beings upon which the family is to wreak divine vengeance. And you thought your family was dysfunctional. Still firmly grounded in the real world, 12-year-old Fenton Maiks (Matthew O'Leary) is convinced his father has gone mad, and struggles to find the courage to stop his insane killing spree, before his younger brother is completely brainwashed.
Continue reading: Frailty Review
Though it goes against everything he stands for, this rejuvenated Pan actually shows signs of growth and maturity. Special effects advancements help Peter and his cohorts pop off the screen. Cinematographer Donald McAlpine expands the rich color palette he utilized in such vivid films as Moulin Rogue and Romeo + Juliet. And director P.J. Hogan slips in subplots of unrequited love, develops pangs of loneliness, and mixes fleeting flights of happiness with his heroism.
Continue reading: Peter Pan (2003) Review
In an era of severely dumbed-down children's movies, the first live-action "Peter Pan" picture since the silent era does something extraordinary -- it un-Disneyfies the story, revives the deeper themes of J.M. Barrie's original book and play, and emerges as an appropriately wily family-fare delight.
From its exquisite, Maxfield-Parish-inspired Neverland of golden sunlight, lush green forests and cotton-candy clouds to the quintessently pubescent and enigmatically tingly chemistry between Peter (the strangely pretty 14-year-old Jeremy Sumpter) and Wendy (the even prettier 13-year-old Rachel Hurd-Wood), the film is a vivid and surprisingly visceral experience.
Director P.J. Hogan ("My Best Friend's Wedding") evokes the true wonder of childhood in the eyes of his young stars as Peter Pan, the mythical leafy-clad boy who refused to grow up, hovers with the power of happy thoughts and fairy dust outside the third-story window of Wendy Darling on a snowy night in 1900s London, engrossed in the stories of adventure that the girl spins with wide-eyed zeal for her little bothers John and Michael.
Continue reading: Peter Pan Review
At the end of the religious nut killer thriller "Frailty," my eyes were so sore from rolling at the film's predictability and narrative loopholes I could barely see straight.
The directorial debut of actor Bill Paxton ("Titanic," "Twister") -- who also plays the movie's ax-wielding mad dad who considers himself a demon-slayer doing God's will -- the movie opens with good ol' boy Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) dropping in at the office of an FBI agent (Powers Boothe) to spill the beans about a serial killer in the family.
It seems that when he was a boy, his widowed father (Paxton) started killing people whose names he said he got from God. It wasn't long before his younger brother got into the act too, and Fenton has been holding on to this dark secret since he was 10. But now, he says, it's time to turn his brother in as the "God's Hands" killer that the feds have been hunting for years.
Continue reading: Frailty Review