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.
Continue reading: The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things Review
While Kevin Reynolds' (Waterworld) recent adaptation was warmly received by both audiences and critics (myself included), his was a truncated version. It made up for graceless transitions with gorgeously shot action sequences and American melodrama. Reynolds focused on the story's conflict but lost all the subtlety of the inner narrative, the character growth, and the true turning of the worm. While not as breathtakingly visual, Josée Dayan's earlier television production is superior to Reynolds' film because it assumes that the audience is familiar not just with the story but the novel.
Continue reading: The Count Of Monte Cristo (1998) Review
Continue reading: Somewhere In The City Review
So leave it to Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) to adapt Swann in Love, a continuation of part one (Swann's Way) of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, series of seven volumes that span some 3,000 pages. (I'm hardly a Proust expert, so if I've got the exact ID of the original text wrong, forgive me.)
Continue reading: Swann In Love Review