Tag: 2005

Movie Review: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Everyone else had left campus, the dorms had closed, it was almost Christmas, but there I was stuck at work. Knowing no one would be coming into an obscure art gallery in the middle of a blizzard, I popped in one of my favourite Christmas movies (and favourite movies in general) to alleviate my doldrums. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a twisted, complex, and hilarious mystery/action flick that is just incredibly fun to watch. Small-time New York thief Harry Lockhart (the forever handsome Robert Downey, Jr) accidentally lands himself in Los Angeles for a screen test. At a jumpin’ party he’s set up with private investigator and film consultant Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) to help improve his acting.

There he also runs into his high school crush and failing actress Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan) but ends up on her bad side after hooking up with her friend. While on a stakeout of a cabin in the woods, Perry and Harry witness a girl’s body being dumped into a lake, and find they were spotted by the unknown killers when they try to frame Harry for her murder. Meanwhile Harmony believes her sister was killed, and, mistakenly believing Harry to be a PI, hires him to solve her murder. Now the three of them are embroiled in a multiple murder mystery that eerily mirrors Harry’s and Harmony’s favourite books as kids, the Johnny Gossamer detective novels, all set against the bawdy hedonism of those involved in the movie industry.

This movie is freaking awesome in every single way possible. The dialogue is some of the funniest, most quotable I have ever heard (“I don’t think you’d know where to put food at, if you didn’t flap your mouth so much. Yes, I think you’re stupid”; “Wow, I feel sore. I mean physically sore, not like a guy who’s angry in a movie from the 1950’s”). Robert Downey, Jr is at his snarkiest, mumbliest, and adorable best. He also narrates- one of my favourite things in films- with wit and silliness and forthrightness which really add to the enjoyment of the movie as well as understanding. Val Kilmer, whom I usually haven’t particularly liked, is sharp and not over the top as a gay character. Michelle Monaghan is funny and beautiful, and surprisingly badass at parts.

The plot, partially based on a Michael Shayne detective story, pulls you in: a legitimately complex, fast-paced, and interesting mystery alongside the non-stop humor. There’s torture, boobs, gun fights, satire, and even some magic tricks (illusions). It keeps viewers on their toes the entire time, whipping up unexpected twists at multiple turns. For me it’s one of those movies that never gets old- I could watch these guys do their thing over and over and still be exceptionally entertained. I can quote it with my friends (or to myself) every day and it remains funny. There are so many little moments or lines that I often forget, so there’s usually something fresh to see whenever I watch it. I pretty much can’t say anything more except that this is one of the best movies, so go see it already.


Movie Review: Imagine Me & You (2005)

Hey you! Check out the YAM Magazine LGBT Blogathon for a huge collection of great articles on LGBT film.

I always forget how much I love this movie until I am watching it. Imagine Me & You starts with the wedding of beautiful and smiley Rachel (Piper Perabo) to affable best-friend-turned-boyfriend Heck (Matthew Goode). Florist Luce (Lena Hedey), who has never met either, is there to check on all the arrangements, and there is a half second when her eyes meet Rachel’s as she walks down the aisle. From then on, Rachel grapples with confusion over her marriage and her possible attraction to someone else. The women quickly become friends, as the newlyweds try to set Luce up with their playboy friend Cooper (Darren Boyd). However they soon find out Luce is a lesbian, and, while this doesn’t stop Coop from trying to get her in bed, it does shake Rachel into realizing she may be falling for her. But, she can’t bear to leave a good person like Heck and Luce is very against breaking up anyone’s marriage. They go back and forth between acting on their feelings and acting on reason; it is fairly gut-wrenching for the viewer but don’t worry, some things work out!

One of the things I dig about this movie is its general ignorance of gender in its discussion of love. Yes, Rachel has lived her life as a heterosexual but has suddenly found herself inextricably attached to a another woman. Her mother (Celia Imrie) harps on the same-sex thing but most of the other characters don’t. For all intents and purposes it would be the same if she was attracted to another man.
Writer-Director Ol Parker actually intended it to be about a heterosexual affair to begin with, showing the adaptability of the theme to different genders. I think this is a refreshing take on love as well as gay relationships in movies- the driving force of the story doesn’t have to be the fact that they are gay, but can instead be their feelings for each other and their effects on people around them. It’s very realistic, with relatable characters and the ups and downs of their lives. It’s a beautiful love story no matter what, with a wonderful, likeable cast. I especially enjoy Anthony Head’s comic turn as Rachel’s mumbling, apparently clueless father. Added bonuses: England! And you learn a bit about flowers and their meanings! Also, you might cry if you are affected by true romance!

Hal Hartley Double Feature: The Girl From Monday (2005) and The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

You all might as well know that I have a pretty serious thing for Hal Hartley films. I don’t know whether it’s the highly choreographed conversations, the puzzling character motivations, the liberating musical scores, the frequently re-appearing actors, the grainy cinematography, or the way everything seems to work out, but not really, and how each story seems like it still has so many places to go. I’m sure it’s some combination of everything. His films affect me like no one else’s, and I can’t compare them to anything. Continuing my journey through his collection of movies and shorts, the other day I settled on The Girl From Monday, his most recent before Fay Grim and his only foray into science fiction. It’s also his least well-liked, if IMDB ratings are any indication.

Shot in loose, blurry, hand-held format, The Girl From Monday has an anxious, uncertain mood that’s perpetuated by the ambiguity and confusion of the plot. Set in a not-too-distant future where people are considered stocks and everyone has a barcode tattooed on their arms (showcasing their status as consumers), the story is narrated by Jack (Bill Sage), the inventor of this human-based market. People sleep with each other to increase their personal value, making sex for pleasure odd and “barbaric”. All pretty Brave-New-World-ish. Jack is feeling uncomfortable with the world he’s helped create and ends up secretly leading “Counter-Revolutionaries”, mostly teens who are anti-consumerism and pro-sex-for-fun. He ends up dragging coworker and crush Cecile (Sabrina Loyd) into their illegal activity. Simultaneously, a strange and beautiful woman (Tatiana Abracos, in her only film role to date) appears and ends up staying with Jack. She helps him unlock some buried secrets of his past and also enacts a subplot about alien life.

Overall it’s entertaining, funny, and has a good cast. The experimental cinematography was a little off-putting but interesting. The story was kind of shoddy, but the concepts were good. I can see why this is one of his lesser films, but at the same time it still satisfied my need for Hartleyesque storytelling.


Finding myself with some time on my hands after The Girl From Monday, I decided to follow it up with another Hartley movie, one of my favourites: The Unbelievable Truth. His first film, it follows serious, ex-con-turned-automechanic Josh Hutton (Robert John Burke) as he tries to start a new life in his old town, surrounded by people who think he’s a mass murderer. Meanwhile, Audry Hugo (Adrienne Shelly) is a highly intelligent, gorgeous high school senior with constant fears of world wide nuclear destruction. She starts to fall for Josh but is thrown off by his alleged past and by her father’s threats against the relationship. Eventually she ends up working successfully as a model to make money for college as Josh grapples with his inexperience with women, among other things. Various characters interact and intersect, truths are revealed, deals are made, conversations are repeated, and everything is pretty swell.

This movie is awesome. Unfortunately it is a little bittersweet as each viewing of it re-awakens my sadness over Adrienne Shelly’s death. Also when will it be released on DVD already? Sheesh. Not that I don’t love watching the trailer for Black Magic Woman on my VHS copy (seriously, it is pretty damn hilarious- just look at the tagline), but come on guys. Let’s give Hal Hartley some high-quality, extras-ridden love.


Movie Review: Kinky Boots (2005)

All right I’m trying to get through some Netflix movies, because guess what: I have 457 movies/tv show discs in my queue (not including 25 saved). So last week after an exhausting day and lengthy trip between my school and the Museum School for an also-lengthy drawing class, I collapsed into bed with some fried rice and no intention of doing anything other than relaxing. Popping in Kinky Boots to top off the evening turned out to be a good idea!

The film tells the story of Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton), whose shoemaker father ran an independent shoe factory in rural, small-town Northampton, England. After his death, Charlie is forced to take over the business, despite his recent marriage, job in advertising, and move to London. With the factory on the brink of financial collapse, he’s starved for ideas to reinvigorate it. After running into drag queen and club singer Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and learning of his profession’s perpetual snag of women’s stilettos’ weakness under a man’s weight, Charlie decides to corner this niche market and design women’s boots for men. Lola goes to Northampton to provide the designs and help in the production, both scaring and befriending various townspeople and factory workers. His lifestyle makes most people (including, to some extent, Charlie) uncomfortable, but he braves the stares for the sake of creativity, small businesses, clueless factory managers, and men seeking fashionable high-heeled boots everywhere. There’s some romantic stuff in there, too.

This movie rode the line between comedy and drama pretty hard, though leaning slightly more to the lighter side. I was ok with this, not expecting any kind of gut-buster or tear-jerker. I cared about the characters and really liked the story. A good amount of tension was built up to the final fashion show in Milan, keeping my interest throughout. I dug Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance, especially his interactions with Charlie and the homophobic factory worker Don (Nick Frost). The film isn’t exactly breaking any barriers for gay rights but it presents an engaging cross-cultural relationship and throws in some fashion and musical sequences. Enough to keep anyone happy!

Note: Excitement! According to the film’s Wikipedia page, “A Broadway musical version of the film is currently in the works, with producers Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig and helming the project.” Eep! Musicals!