Did you ever meet a creepy stranger in a public place who insisted on talking to you? That's what happens to Jeremiasz Angust (Tomasz Kot) in "A Perfect Enemy." Angust is a renowned architect, lecturing in Paris. After the lecture, his driver is hurrying to get him to the airport, and a blonde girl in her 20's comes up to the car window and begs for a ride to the airport because she can't get a cab. She is Texel Textor (Athena Strates), an extremely chatty young lady from Holland. A few blocks down the street, she realizes that she left her suitcase in a doorway, so the driver has to turn around to get it. As a result, Jeremiasz is late for his flight, so he goes to the VIP lounge to wait for the next one. Textor appears and begins chatting him up again.
This time, the chat is not small talk. She tells him her abbreviated life story in three parts, the second and third of which include two murders that she committed. Jeremiasz is dubious, but he listens anyway.
As Textor recites her tales, we see them in gruesome flashbacks. We're not sure if she's telling the truth or lying.
I hesitate to reveal much more. Suffice it to say, things get weird. In the VIP lounge, a small-scale architectural model of the airport (which Jeremiasz designed) mysteriously has puddles of blood on its floor. Textor follows Jeremiasz into the men's room and scrapes the floor with a sinister looking knife. Jeremiasz is also in a couple of the flashbacks.
My instinct in such a situation would be to get away from this weird stranger, but Textor, attractive and pixie-like, with exaggerated eye makeup, has a way of holding Jeremiasz' (and our) attention. She's petulant, immature, annoying, and downright strange. We feel absolutely no sympathy for her, yet we somehow can't ignore her.
"You're insane," says Jeremiasz." You need a therapist."
Textor replies, "Why would I go to a therapist when airports exist?
If you're thinking that this film is bonkers, you are correct. The silliness of it, filmed and acted so seriously, is disconcerting. I couldn't stop watching in spite of my skepticism.
This is a dialogue-heavy film, and bits of the acting are unnatural and awkward. And the reveal two thirds of they way through will have viewers rolling their eyes in disbelief. The rest of the movie descends into "throw your credulity out the window" territory. Actually, that's an understatement.
But in spite of its absurdity, damned if it didn't keep me watching. Sometimes, the ridiculous can be entertaining.
Filmed skillfully in Ontario, Canada, "Lavender" is abundant with plot holes, red herrings, and just plain inexplicable nonsense.
Abbie Cornish is Jane, a wife and mother with some short term memory issues. When she sees an apparition of a young girl in the middle of the road she's driving on, she has an accident that puts her into partial amnesia. Something in her past is haunting her, and it involves the old house where she grew up (She is a professional photographer and is obsessed with old houses). We're told in the opening scenes and flashbacks that her entire family was murdered there.
A psychiatrist (Justin Long) suggests that inhabiting the house, which is paid for by a trust fund held by her uncle (Dermot Mulroney), may have a cathartic effect and help her to exhume her repressed memories and start a healing process. So she moves in temporarily with her husband (Diego Klattenhoff) and young daughter (Lola Flanery).
Did she kill her family when she was a little girl? Or was it someone else? The uncle? A madman?
If it sounds to you like typical horror movie fare, you're correct. It has all the requisite scary stuff, like an ominous corn field, a maze reminiscent of "The Shining," weird little boxes appearing out of nowhere with strange trinkets in them, little kids appearing in doorways, ad nauseum. Plus, the daughter keeps talking about "monsters in the bedroom."
There's nothing scary about it in terms of ghosts, monsters, or gore (except for a few pints of fake blood towards the end). It's intended to be a psychological film. But there's not much depth to it. It's mostly superficial, style over substance. We know little about Jane; therefore, we're detached from her experiences.
Thankfully, the suspense ramps up in the last third of the movie. The resolution, which is a flashback recounting what happened in Jane's past, will be satisfactory to some, confusing to others. It mostly made sense to me. But the coda after that is pretty ridiculous.
It's not a bad movie nor a great one. Popcorn fare.
Scene 1: Hilary Swank jogs in New York. Her body is perfect, of course.
Scene 2: Hilary Swank performs a miraculous surgical procedure on a patient's heart. Never mind that she's an ER doctor. Apparently, the heart surgeon is on vacation.
Scene 3: Hilary Swank locates an apartment. The landlord (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is handsome and flirtatious. Hilary is divorced and has no boyfriend, even though she looks like she just stepped out of Cosmopolitan magazine. She starts dating the landlord.
I'm now 20 minutes into the movie. I don't have to be a genius to figure out that the landlord will turn out to be creepy—a stalker, rapist, homicidal maniac, or all three.
To say that it's been done before would be a massive understatement.
End of review.
In spite of its sleazy title, Sam Fuller's "The Naked Kiss" is an exceptional work, and it's a must for mid-20th century film noir fans. Actually, the title comes from a line in the movie, and it's really an apt metaphor.
Fuller, a Hollywood maverick, was unafraid to explore subject matter that the big studios wouldn't touch. But his films weren't just sensational; they were loaded with social criticism and insights into human nature.
Constance Towers plays Kelly, a prostitute who quotes Goethe and Byron and appreciates Beethoven (Yes, suspend your disbelief). In the amazing opening scene, which is en media res, she is shown beating her pimp, taking the money he owes her, and then pulling off her wig to expose a completely bald head. We discover later what happened to her hair.
Two years later, with her blonde hair grown back, she shows up in the small town of Grantville, planning to ply her trade, Her first customer is the sleazy cop Griff (Anthony Eisley), who partakes of her services but warns her not to work in his town. He recommends that she go across the river and get a job in the brothel there.
Kelly has a pivotal moment after her encounter with Griff and takes a job as an aide in a home for handicapped kids. The doctors, staff, and kids all love her.
But no Sam Fuller movie is going to stop there. Kelly falls in love with J.L. Grant (Michael Dante), the wealthy grandson of the town's founder, who is handsome and cultured. But it's all veneer. Kelly soon discovers that he's involved in some very distasteful activities.
This is probably Fuller's weirdest film. The budget may be low and the acting, aside from Towers', may not be top notch, but the camera work is artistic and the story (Fuller also wrote and produced) is intriguing.
The final act is really something. The conclusion happens rather quickly, in contrast to the long buildup. But that's a minor quibble.
Enjoy this when you're in the mood for genuine noir with some actual depth and a meaningful message.