Tag Archives: Emile Hirsch

Peel

When Peel is just 5 years old, his father abandons him, taking Peel’s 2 older brothers with him, but leaving Peel alone with his emotionally unstable mother. It is implied that his father just can’t deal with her hippie ways, her alternative views on parenthood (ie, she is still breastfeeding her 5 year old). But in leaving Peel alone with her, he dooms his son to be raised in near-isolation with a loving but overbearing, overburdening mother. And I’m talking real isolation: they have a house in the suburbs, but they don’t even leave it to do groceries. Peel mixes her drinks and lights and her cigarettes and soothes her when she’s coming apart at the seams. And then she dies.

Well, she dies when Peel is 30 and basically still a toddler. He has not been socialized at all. He’s not exactly dumb, but he’s naive as hell, and he’s just been unleashed on a world he hasn’t met. His lawyer is likely crooked; the house is immediately in peril of being lost, so Peel takes on roommates who of course take advantage of him. Just as he’s losing faith in humanity, he gets the bright idea to go in search of the father and brothers who disappeared 25 years ago and haven’t been heard from since.

It’s a delayed coming of age, I suppose. Peel is so without cynicism he just feels so vulnerable out in the big bad world. But I think we should feel more protective of him than we do. There isn’t that much behind his character, in the end. The whole thing just feels too inconsequential, but it’s not as if it doesn’t introduce some heavy topics. It wades into the consequences of broken families but treats the whole thing with such sweetness and sentimentality, it’s actually tough to swallow.

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An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn

Lulu is a waitress in a coffee shop when she is unceremoniously fired by her manager, Shane Danger, who is also her husband. Home all day, she notices that their house could use some upgrades, starting with a bigger, better TV, but Shane says this isn’t a good time for spending since they’re down to a single income. Lulu mocks her husband for having so little in the way of savings. Even her brother Adjay has more. Cut to: Shane, an idiot, robbing Adjay of his savings. Only Adjay doesn’t take it too kindly; he hires Colin to retrieve the money and shoot Shane in the kneecaps.
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Of course, what actually happens is: Lulu (Aubrey Plaza) absconds with Colin (Jemaine Clement) and the money. They hide out in a nameless hotel that’s been advertising a magical Evening With Beverly Luff Linn. Beverly (Craig Robinson) and his platonic (?) partner Rodney have been cooling their heels in this hotel for days, postponing their show, and Lulu is determined to hook up with Beverly, whom she seems to have known in the past. Lulu is obsessed with Beverly, Colin is obsessed with Lulu, and Shane (Emile Hirsch) isn’t really obsessed with anything, but he’s always in the way.

I watched this movie on the strength of its cast, which was already a mixed bag. It has pretensions. I think maybe it wants to be Wes Anderson-ish or even John Waters-ish; the dialogue is heavily stylized, although it often mistakes style for screaming, and sorrier still, Robinson’s character for some reason only grunts\growls which gets SO old SO fast. The costumes are outlandish but unexplained.

I was ready to turn this movie off so many times and only my cheapness (rental fee: $5.74) kept me in the game. You can tell director Jim Hosking is going for an out-of-the-box experience, but nothing works, and I’m pretty much the prime audience for quirky material. When a movie like this works, we call it absurd, and we giggle delightedly. But An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn isn’t absurd, it’s only stupid, and instead of laughing, I played sudoku on my phone to pass the time. I want to love a movie that takes risks and tells its story in an off-kilter way, but this one didn’t feel fun to me. It was an exercise in patience and it tested my nerves. Regrettably, this is a hard no for me.

All Nighter

Ginnie takes her boyfriend Martin to meet her father. Martin is a vegetarian with an allergy  to red wine who plays the banjo for a “living” (it’s not much of one). Does Dad (let’s call him Mr. Gallo) hate him on sight? Of course he fucking does. The dinner does not go well.

Cut to: six months later, Mr. Gallo (JK Simmons) is pounding on Martin’s (Emile Hirsch) door. He’s in town just for the day and can’t seem to locate his daughter. Martin’s not all-nighter-trailermuch help since they broke up 3 months (and 9 days, but who’s counting?) ago. Does Mr. Gallo take no for an answer? No he does not.

So Martin sets out on an epic adventure with his ex-girlfriend’s disapproving dad to track down the woman he’s not really over. It becomes increasingly clear that she is over him, has gotten over him with lots of different guys in lots of different places. But where is she now? It’s a little alarming that none of her friends can say.

JK Simmons puts in a solid performance, his character a pretty comfortable fit for his on-screen persona. Emile Hirsch is a capable, sorry sidekick for him. If this is a buddy comedy, it’s a truly strange one, with an extremely oddball duo engaged in some extremely forced bonding. And while I was at least mildly entertained by All Nighter (at least one chuckle was audible), it’s the kind of movie you forget as soon as you turn it off. Director Gavin Wiesen seems intent on making the blandest choices possible until he just says fuck it and lets the thing descend into madcap absurdity. The bizarre set pieces aren’t even that interesting. Damn it, Hollywood: JK Simmons has a lifetime of incredible character-actor roles under his belt and now he has a damn Oscar from a star-making, powerhouse performance. What more do you want before you give this man some material worthy of his time? All Nighter’s not even close.

Killer Joe

I’m so shell-shocked from this movie I’m having trouble writing about it.

When Chris, a not so great guy from a not so great family ( Emile Hirsch) has a stash of drugs stolen from him by his mom, he has to come up with cash quick, or he’s dead. He and his father, Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church) hatch a plan to kill the mom and collect on her life insurance policy. texasAnd Chris knows just the guy to do the job – Killer Joe, a Dallas detective who happens to be a hit-man on the side.  Too bad they can’t afford to pay his retainer…until Joe spots Chris’s sweet little sister Dottie (Juno Temple) and decides that sexual collateral will do just the trick.

This film is trash. Trash trash, not trailer trash. Don’t be fooled by the actual trailer park. These people aren’t just hicks, they’re actual filthy, morally bankrupt people. This fact is established very very quickly – it’s immediately vulgar, over-the-top vulgar, and that’s before the beaver gets flashed in your face. Chris’s stepmom (Gina Gershon) has no boundaries and apparently no pants. Letts, the playwright, is adept with fucked up families (think August: Osage County) but this one takes the cake.

So I was repulsed by this movie, and this from the girl who didn’t blink once while watching Sin City a few weeks ago. My revulsion was knee-jerk and I went straight for the “bad movie” label – bad, bad movie. But I didn’t turn it off. And as I watched more, I realized that the badness is on purpose. It’s the point. You’re not supposed to like these people. This film is showing us a very dirty, seedy class of people. The badness is actually pretty expertly done, which doesn’t mean it’s easy to watch.

Enter Matthew McConaughey, a southern gentleman and a breath of fresh air. His demeanor is calm, his drawl is polite. He injects the movie with a much-need hit of stillness that lets us catch our breath after all the frenetic coarseness. The audience wants to eat him up which is a very effective device because it turns out he’s just as morally reprehensible and probably the most soulless character yet. He just has a more polished facade.

There’s so much tension in this movie that occasionally a giggle will bubble up, guiltily, without relieving even an ounce of the tension. This movie will make your jaw ache. It’s brutal. It’s sadistic. There so much fetishistic sexual cruelty that you won’t know where to look. If you’re comfortable exploring dark, nasty, demented sides of people without every really scratching the surface, then by all means, you won’t do better than this movie. I sort of hesitate to call it exploitation cinema, but isn’t that what it means? To be a voyeur in this condemnable underworld and enjoy watching the bloody violence and perversion vicariously? But Killer Joe has the capacity to really catch people off guard, and not in a good way. (You won’t ever eat fried chicken again.) It’s provocative but doesn’t really attempt to teach us anything. The characters are not remotely redeemable, but neither is the movie. Galling, outrageous, and ultimately superficial. And as polarizing as the movie is, just wait til you get to the end.

 

 

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