Okay, obviously The Wrestler did not make its way to my area. In fact, I probably will not get a chance to see it until Feb. 13. So, I decided to watch some trash this past weekend. But I'm adding a more respectable independent film that I recently watched on DVD to try and church up this review lest I end up reviewing nothing but slasher flicks and Jason Statham movies. But first: the trash...
My Bloody Valentine has a plot, I think. Something is going on where a guy kills a lot of people with a pickaxe. Let's face it, anyone who wants to see this knows exactly what it is. There is bad acting by a cast of TV actors, there are ridiculous plot twists that aren't even worth pondering, there's gratuitous nudity (a naked woman even picks up her clothes, only to discard them to grab a gun from her purse as if to say, "I could put my clothes back on before I go outside, but what's the fun in that?"), etc. I knew about all of these aspects and that is exactly what I was wanting to see. I laughed quite often during this film, which I can only imagine was part of the point of it all. But the bigger aspect to this film is obviously the 3-D.
This is not that crappy 3-D you see on TV every now and then that calls for those blue and red glasses. These glasses are pretty much clear, using some technology I don't care to look into. All I know is that they are well on their way to perfecting the use of 3-D in film. It was certainly problematic; some things move too quickly and it gets blurry at times, plus it can get downright disorienting at first. Apart from that, the bigger 3-D setups are great. The pickaxe is the perfect weapon for this. There are countless moments when a pickaxe is swung at the screen and it all honestly looked like it was right in my face. I didn't duck out of the way or anything like in the preview for the film, but it was still very impressive. Overall, the 3-D turned what would have been a mediocre slasher flick into a mediocre slasher flick with a great visual gimmick. It was mindless fun.
Enough with the mindless fun, now on to some slightly intellectual fun. Living in Oblivion is director Tom Dicillo's 1995 film about what can happen when you try to make an independent film. Apparently this is mainly based on his experiences when he made Johnny Suede (with Brad Pitt), but I have not seen that yet, so I'm not sure how well it ties in. I do know that James LeGros' character, an up and coming pretty boy actor, is based on Pitt. LeGros is only a supporting player, though; the star is Steve Buscemi and he is at his best in this. It is basically a three part film (it was orginally a 30 minute short film, that was turned into a three part 90 minute film) that shows a mix of nightmare and reality on the set of an independent film. So things go wrong on set: LeGros wants to change shots around, a smoke machine doesn't put out smoke, a little person refuses to laugh, a senile mother shows up on set, relationships are made and broken, etc. People end up breaking down and it leads to some hilarious moments. One particular gag involving a DP and his eye patch is quite funny. This is not laugh out loud material, but anyone into behind the scenes stuff, self deprecating humor, or Steve Buscemi in general will have fun with this. One warning, though: there are multiple times where Buscemi is trying to get a scene and you are forced to watch a fake scene played out over and over and that can be a bit boring after awhile. But that is only a small issue. This is definitely worth a look if not for Buscemi alone, but Dermot Mulroney is suprisingly good as the DP, and Catherine Keener is decent (though I am personally not a fan of hers).
I don't know much when it comes to transfer quality on DVDs and stuff so I'll stick to special features when I write about them. I skipped the Director's commentary and watched an interview with Dicillo and Buscemi from 2002. I strongly suggest you check this out if you rent this as it fills in a lot of information about supporting cast members and how it all came about. It's quite funny, also.
Finally, thanks to the Bradley family for all the comments. Good to know someone's reading this already. And yes, I could've gone on and on about Nixon, but I was able to restrain myself. I don't know, though...I might have to do a DVD review of the Oliver Stone Nixon film...that might be interesting.