Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting Adults Out Of Their Diapers.

I know, I'm on a Renner rampage. However, Jeremy Renner, as epic as he is, is a shadow in the backdrop of this straight-up good movie. The premise follows like this: after the death of his twin brother, one 12-year old boy and his two best friends struggle to get a hold on plots for revenge, their own wild hormones, and unhealthy family dysfunction. It's a dark, intense movie that keeps the viewer in a vice grip of teenage angst and drama. But this isn't about teen pregnancy or the popular cheerleaders in class. Instead, this is one of the few movies I've seen that treats children with the dignity and the respect they deserve. And it's for that reason alone, really, that I gave this one a full five stars, because children are so often swept under the rug in cinema. Steven Spielberg aside, no one seems to really care about what goes on in the mind of a child, unless they can slap a talking dog in it and sell it for millions. Instead, Twelve And Holding gives the children the much-deserved center stage, while the adults take a backseat. 

In order to have a movie like this work, however, you need good child actors who can handle the heavy material, and not cereal box Anakin Skywalker. And, damn, do these kids hold their own. Watch out for these names, because they're going to get a heck of a lot of recognition when they grow up. Conor Donovan plays the ill-fated twins, giving a performance Cate Blanchett would be proud of. Zoe Weizenbaum (stealing the scene from Jeremy Renner) gives a positively fearless performance as the attention-seeking Malee Chuang. And Jesse Camacho pulls off a bold performance and one of my favorite subplots of the movie as he bears the burden of his family's unhealthy lifestyle. All these kids hold their own, and I really don't know what I'm more impressed with: children who can act like adults, or adults who can write like children. Either way, if you can handle the dark side of growing up, I highly recommend everyone check this own out.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"I'm A Killer...Like You."

DAHMER (2002)
So I finally got around to seeing The Avengers (2012). Which left me, like everyone else, teeming with Avenger fever. So I did the next logical step: I set out to hunt down the Avengers cast on Netflix and see if I could find anything to take the edge off. So I popped in Dahmer. Let's just say I couldn't get further from Hawkeye if I tried. Dahmer is a retelling of the life of Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer who murdered 17 men. And occasionally raped them and ate their flesh. Sounds horrifying? It is. Though now have a good theory about where Joss Whedon's Reavers came from.

Dahmer is one of those high-profile stories that demands an audience. However, it's clear that this was the only thing the writers banked on when doing the script. The movie has two timelines running simultaneously alongside each other. Moving forward, we have Jeffrey Dahmer grooming his latest victim--a flashy, flamboyant black man, Rodney. Told in reverse, we have the story of how Jeffrey Dahmer became the psychopath he is. In theory, this kind of storytelling should work, but the transitions are a little too sloppy. We've got flashbacks in flashbacks. Yeah. That.

However, Dahmer has a couple saving graces. The story is twisted and intense. Jeffrey Dahmer is neither demonized or forgiven. But the real reason to see this movie? The acting. After watching Jeremy Renner pull off the calm, rational Hawkeye, you really get the full extent of his acting abilities when you see him as the socially inept, mentally damaged Dahmer. Matching him frame-for-frame is Artel Great, who plays Rodney. Artel Great is full of energy and vibrance and he adds a layer of much-needed humanity to the film. In short, if drawn out scenes of mutilation and psychological torment don't make you run for cover, I'd recommend this one solely for the exceptional acting.