::Literate Blather::
Monday, January 29, 2007
5 Damn Fine Movies You Haven't Seen

DaRK PaRTY loves finding pearls in our oysters. But we realize that you have to eat a lot damn oysters to find one lousy pearl. But we’re not bitter. The pearls are worth it, especially when you can string them together into a rather poorly executed metaphor.

So let’s move on.

Hollywood bombards us with dozens of new movies each month – so many that it’s impossible to keep up. And most of them are fantastic duds. But not to worry, dear readers, we’re found five recent releases (now available on DVD) we think is worthy of your hard earned cash.

So walk, don’t run, to your favorite video store to find:

Hard Candy (2005)

You don’t expect much from a movie called “Hard Candy” that features cover art featuring a 14-year-old girl standing on a bear trap. But don’t be fooled. “Hard Candy” is one of the best written and acted films of 2005. It’s about a 14-year-old girl who turns the tables on a 32-year-old pedophile that she meets on the internet. The plot – which has more twists than a George W. Bush State of the Union address – is carefully and craftily unwoven for the viewer. The movie is really just a conversation – and that sounds daunting for a viewer – but, trust us, the movie defines tension and suspense. Pull up a chair and get ready to debate the very controversial ending.

The Descent (2005)

“The Descent” is a rarity -- a horror movie with acting. Director Neil Marshall is becoming the king of intelligent horror films (his 2002 “Dog Soldiers” is the best werewolf movie ever made). “The Descent” takes place one year after a tragic car accident has killed Sarah’s husband and child. The crash – which is the movie’s opening sequence -- is one of the most soul-wrenching car accidents ever put to film. Her friends take her on a cave expedition in North Carolina and things go horribly, tragically wrong. The tension among the group of women is superbly presented. The movie actually disappoints when the horror creatures arrive (rather disappointing blind flesh-eaters). The real star of this flick is the cave. The scenes with the women crawling through dark, wet tunnels unnerve anyone with even a slight case of claustrophobia. Simply frightening.

The Oh in Ohio (2006)

After chomping through scenes like a comedic Hulk in “The 40-year-old Virgin,” Paul Rudd returns in this absolutely ridiculous comedy by director Billy Kent. The premise is a familiar one – middle-aged angst (this time in Cleveland, Ohio). Rudd plays a shifty high school teacher teetering on self-destruction because he can’t give his wife, played by Parker Posey, an orgasm. When Posey discovers the joys battery operated dildos, the insecure Rudd crumbles and dumps his wife in favor of one of his rather attractive students. Meanwhile, Parker find true passion with Wayne the Pool Guy (played by Danny DeVito – and I’m not making this up). While sometimes disjointed, the movie succeeds because of Rudd and his dead-pan comedic timing. Every time he’s on the screen – you can’t wait for him to talk.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

From the warped imagination of writer Charlie Kaufman comes this hidden gem of a flick. Admittedly, Kaufman can be damn annoying at times (“Adaptation” was so overwrought that it could induce vomiting). But Kaufman hits the mark – and then some here. The lead performances by Jim Carrey and the always good Kate Winslet are top-notched and the chemistry between the two is infectious. The basic premise of the movie is that Winslet erases her memories of Carrey from her mind and he decides to follow suit. But at the last minute, he decides he can’t lose her – even from his mind. So he tries to strategically hide his most cherished thoughts of her from the “mind lasers.” The movies is an emotional rush – and often love-out-loud funny. Great date movie.

The Contender (2000)

Joan Allen hands in her finest performance in this overlooked and underrated thriller about the nomination of a woman as vice president. The movie hinges on the question of Allen’s past sexual practices. She’s pitted against another candidate played by William Petersen. But the real beauty is the filmmaking and director Rod Lurie’s masterful character study. Lurie presents us with the worst of Allen and the best of Petersen at the beginning and then slowly turns the tables on the viewer’s first impressions of the characters. It’s not until the end that we get the full, unfiltered look at both candidates that we realize that we’ve been wrong about Allen and about Petersen.


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