Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day of the Dolphin

Day of the Dolphins has the most amusing opening sequence. Scary music plays while George C. Scott tells the audience all about why dolphins are super cool. This is intercut with slow motion sequences of dolphins doing adorable dolphin activities, like throwing a ball or identifying shapes. It has the odd effect of trying to make something incredibly benign look ominous. Oh my god, it can identify shapes, it might identify people, and KILL THEM!

Another odd sequence happens soon after, where Scott goes swimming with his dolphin in a sequence cut and scored like a sex scene. I imagine it was designed to make dolphins seem lovable, but instead the result is that Scott seems to be into bestiality.

So, what is the story? Scott raised the first dolphin born in captivity, and sort of taught it to speak English. Then people who fund him want to use it to kill the president, and a fat guy investigates the whole operation. He's filmed like a villain, but he's later revealed to be good, in is a fine demonstration of the magic of film. Just by being slightly sweaty and filmed in a decidedly ominous way, he suddenly seems like a bad guy. It takes way too long to get going, the villains are comically, illogically evil ("we spent years training this dolphin to put bombs on boats, let's kill it immediately after the a test run!"), and while dolphins are fascinating creatures, they're much better suited to a well done documentary than a thriller.

I think the main problem with the movie is that it appears a script was hastily thrown together after someone decided to make a movie about the dolphin weapons. The story is quite weak, overall, trying desperately hard to make people care about the talking dolphins. It's never clear why Scott's dolphins are picked to bomb crap, nor why the president they're trying to kill is a target in the first place.

It's telling that in the DVD extras, people in the production basically admit that they realized a bit too late in the production that it wasn't a great concept, wasn't going to be a great film, and was certainly going to be a career low for them. Hell, even the dolphins ran off after their last scene, seeing full well that they really did not want to be answering questions from their dolphin friends about the stupid talking dolphin movie they were in.

It wasn't a complete waste of time, there are some moments of extremely ludicrous silliness that I enjoyed immensely. But the problem is, it assumes that dolphins are inherently interesting, and while they are certainly fascinating, they can't carry such a poor narrative.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I will say right now that Brazil is my favorite film country. Two of my favorite movies ever come from Brazil, and I've never seen a bad movie from the country. Yes, they're often grounded in poverty, and yes, they're too often a touch depressing, but for the most part they're all good, and if you're making a movie in Brazil, of course poverty is going to show up, Brazil is a poor country.

Carandiru is also not a bad movie, and also has a lot to do with poverty. It's about a Brazilian prison. A doctor comes in to the prison, and learns about prison life, prisoners, and all manner of other stuff. The prison is over crowded, there's a lot of sodomy and AIDS, but other than that it seems like a suspiciously nice place.

Here's a case of what I'd like to call the Shawshank Conundrum. In order to make a prison movie that people enjoy, they have to like the characters. In order to like the characters, they can't be all that bad, generally misunderstood and in jail because of an unfortunate series of events. If they're not all that bad, people don't want to see bad things happen to them. Suddenly, jail doesn't seem all that bad, because everyone's good-natured and friendly. Instead of being a deterrent, prison seems like a fun and exciting place, apart from all the sodomy, of course.

So it is with Carandiru, which tells the stories of about a million different prisoners and makes them likable. Unfortunately, it also shortchanges the negative aspects of prison - the overcrowding, the really terrible conditions - and makes it seem a bit too fun and enjoyable. Oh sure, there are hints of the negatives, and murder and drugs and whatnot, but then there's an amusing gay wedding, or the wacky visitor's day where a character has to keep his two wives apart in a wacky Three's Company riff.

It's not a bad movie, as I already said. The various vignettes are interesting, and one actually begins to care about the prison and all the characters within. When they do wrong, you feel a bit betrayed even, since you begin to trust them, even though you know they're all criminals. But I can't help but think, like all prison movies, it takes a bit too light a touch.

Maybe I'm wrong about prison, maybe it really is a place of camaraderie, games and free Johnny Cash concerts. I'd just like to see a prison film where it doesn't seem like a place you might want to go, apart from the sodomy.

...is what I was thinking before the end of the movie.

For two hours, we begin to like jail, the prisoners, and the events themselves. Carandiru seems like a summer camp almost. It's a dastardly trick, making us like everyone. After two hours of getting to know everyone, having the police come in guns ablaze, indiscriminately murdering everyone they see, it's a kick in the balls. Discussion of Carandiru cannot take place without mentioning the massacre that inspired the film in the first place. They might be prisoners, but by making them human, it ensures we have some investment in them, and the events that end the film.

This is why you can never properly judge something before seeing the end. Sometimes it turns right around and does something important, and you understand the value of the preceding two hours and the film as a whole.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Life Less Ordinary

I like Danny Boyle, even if I didn't especially like the previous Danny Boyle directed entry in this big thingy. I like him because he's not afraid of doing all sorts of crazy things, whether or not they fit within his comfort zone. He made his name with Trainspotting, the premier movie about heroin enthusiasts. He won his Oscar for making an uplifting tale about an Indian kid winning a quiz show, which I haven't seen yet. He tried a zombie film, he's tried science fiction, and he's tried this, whatever this is.

The movie is about love. Love between a mismatched couple forced together by the whims of a cruel god, and his completely insane angels Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo. The man in the couple is Ewan McGregor, an awful novelist who is also a janitor. The woman is Cameron Diaz, spoiled socialite who is more than a touch insane. McGregor is replaced by a robot, Diaz shoots a prospective husband in the face, and they come together to defraud her father out of millions, and the angels bring them together with the power of violence and robbery. Ah love, what a thing.

This movie was a notorious flop, but I enjoyed it. This is odd, because the characters actually aren't very likable. Diaz is impulsive and immature, McGregor is the world's worst kidnapper, and a weak and ineffectual person. Together, they are a whiny couple that is constantly bickering and disagreeing with each other. Diaz helps McGregor become a better kidnapper, but kind of a worse person, and her character doesn't develop at all.

So yes, there are flaws, big glaring flashing neon signs flaws, but I liked it. I liked it because it's funny. Sure, the characters aren't particularly likable, but they belong together, two extremely unlikable characters together to not sully up the lives of anyone else. Truly, they do belong together.

I also appreciated the pure power of Boyle's filmmaking. You're tricked into caring about what happens because of the ridiculously pretty cinematography, the fantastic soundtrack, and the often clever editing. He can make you temporarily forget about how technically unlikable everyone is, just by making the events become suddenly entertaining. If anyone else tried this script, it would have been terrible - B. Monkey, for example, is actually surprisingly similar plot-wise, but is utter shit.

I won't pretend that it's a great movie. Certainly, it failing should not have been unexpected. But, honestly? I was entertained for two hours. I laughed at some of the clever lines and some of the clever slapstick, I enjoyed some of the clever filmmaking, and I was genuinely entertained by the events taking place. More importantly, it seemed like everyone was having fun with the film, and fun with their characters. A bad script, perhaps, but I honestly am glad I watched.

Bless you Danny Boyle, I look forward to the next one of your movies I get to see, even if I didn't like your zombie picture.

Friday, June 19, 2009

B. Monkey

The absolute worst fictional archetypes is the sad sack author substitute. This creature, existing only within the realm of fiction, is a creative and wonderful soul who is trapped in an improbably dull life. Living out the fantasy of the terrible, frustrated, unpublished novelist, he (and it is ALWAYS a he, female writers seem strangely immune to this) suddenly meets exciting and interesting and improbably good looking people, and becomes that beautiful flower they always were.

In short, you are stuck in the middle of the author's crappy wankfest.

The main character in this wankfest is some idiot named Alan, played by Jared Harris. He's a hopelessly dull teacher, until he meets the improbably sexy robbery enthusiast B. Monkey, played by the improbably sexy Asia Argento. They strike up an unconventional relationship, the fellas get to see Argento's boobs, the ladies get to see Harris' improbably pale buttocks, and I don't give a crap.

Alright authors of the world, here's the problem. Nobody wants to see your fantasies. Interesting and sexy girls aren't going to suddenly become interested in you and save you from your dull life, and I certainly don't want to see any more movies based on your crap fantasies.

Quit feeling so bloody sorry for yourself and your dull life. Quit hoping some beautiful girl will whisk you away from your dull life and make you less of a milquetoast. Quit acting like you're sooooo misunderstood and such a precious flower waiting for someone to realize it. I don't give a crap, and the only people who do give a crap are other dull, ineffectual writers who share the same fantasies and write the same goddamn stories and make the same goddamn movies.

B. Monkey is given this special rant because I got sick of it within 20 minutes. The only thing that keeps me watching is that maybe, somehow, something interesting will happen. There are some movies that I can't really get behind that will nonetheless have a great late movie moment that somehow redeems it. Take 28 Days Later, not a huge fan but I can certainly get behind the climax. Take Foreign Land, the 10th best movie ever made, which starts as a low fi indie mope fest and turns into a fairly awesome caper seamlessly.

Here's the thing with Foreign Land, the characters don't wait for someone to save them, they decide to quit moping and scam some fat guy. And it's awesome. In this, nobody does anything for themselves, and when they insist they could handle things on their own, they're clearly lying. They're all completely hopeless, worthless, and useless.

Screw this movie, and everyone behind it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

28 Days Later

The other evening, I had a dream. It was a sequence from a zombie movie, a man trying to get into a van and people inside the van trying to help him, with zombies swarming the vehicle. The camera was mostly confined within the vehicle, except at the very beginning and the very end of the sequence (yes, I have dreams that look like movies, and I'm not in them), and the man never did get into the van, as the driver had to speed off when the window was broken and the door never opened. I took this as a sign that I should watch a zombie film. Luckily, sitting right there on my coffee table was 28 Days Later.

This movie SHOULD start with Cillian Murphy, waking up from a coma and noticing that he's all alone in a hospital. As he wanders around the hospital and London, he notices that he's all alone there as well, which is mysterious and somewhat menacing. You know there's something wrong, it's freaking London, that town's always busy. Eventually, he discovers when he goes to a church that everyone's either dead or a zomb..er "infected". He finds a couple people, and learns what happened while he was sleeping, and it didn't involve Sandra Bullock at all! Eventually, they get to an army base commanded by Doctor Who himself, Christopher Ecclestone, and learn that people are just as dangerous as zombies.

I said SHOULD, so obviously it doesn't open exactly like that, instead the first scene has to do with angry monkeys affected by a virus made out of RAGE, and some hippies release them and kills us all! It's stupid, partly because it's a RAGE infection, which doesn't make any bloody sense. Can't it just be a virus? Why does it need to be a stupid RAGE virus? And why do we need to know? We shouldn't find out until Murphy stumbles upon the first characters, and they should infer that it's a virus, by how it's spread.

Let's take Shaun of the Dead, which did this better. In that movie, there's no explanation of what causes the zombies. The zombies are there, nobody knows why, and they just want to eat some brains. It's menacing because the explanation isn't obvious. And that's a comedy.

Shaun of the Dead also did the action better. The encounters with the zombinfected don't have very much tension, the actors and zombies might as well be separated by a gigantic wall given how little they are in the same frame. They never seemed like a threat, and really that's the most important part of any monster movie.

Most of all, the movie is sloppy. Characters fall in love because they're the main characters, not because of particularly compatible personalities. Characters die because the script needs them to, the most flagrant example late in the film when there doesn't seem to be really any reason for the most likable character in the film to go down. Lots of time is spent wandering around, and there are lengthy sections where there is no indication that there are even any zombies at all.

So it is not lightly that I say that the climax is intense, exciting, well made and even makes a sophisticated point about the nature of man. The fight between the three different sides is as intense and tension filled as you may have hoped the previous hour and a half was. We learn more about the characters through an action sequence than the entire film beforehand, plus we're treated to a badass song and someone getting their eyes poked out.

The music is another huge plus for this film, I absolutely adore the soundtrack. It's exciting, it's tense, it's tender, it's everything the movie needs at any given moment, and sometimes makes a sequence seem much better than it actually is. I could listen to this soundtrack all on its own, it's that good.

Alas, some good music, and a great ending, do not a great film make. I keep going back to Shaun of the Dead, which did the whole zombie thing right. It makes me appreciate just how good a director Edgar Wright is, since he made a tension filled film with exciting action, and it's a comedic take on the genre. Here, we've got a serious version, and it's not as good at that.

But if I get to make my zombie movie that I just dreamed up the other morning, I'll totally show them both.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Here's something curious. At the mail order DVD thingy which MaR relies on for both movies and random, they have a list you can use if you want to prioritize what movies you want. I generally don't use it unless I'm sick of seeing something in the big list to maximize randomosity, or it's a movie I desperately want to see. So, anyway, a couple weeks ago I was sent a full screen edition of a movie I know happens to have delicious cinematography, so I complained. The helpful staff sent me replacements, but the weird thing is that they also put a bunch of movies in the most wanted list. I thought, do I have a fan? Have they figured it out? Do they really want me to talk about whatever's in the list? Well, I changed it all up because there are are some movies that have been in there for too long, but I let it stand for a bit, and that's why I'm talking about Heat. They also put on 300 and the Final Fantasy movie, and some other stuff. If you are an employee at the rental thingy, feel free to comment! Perhaps you could sponsor me and then I wouldn't have to pay? It's a thought.

On to the review proper.

As a fan of cinematography and editing, I am a fan of Michael Mann. Nobody shoots in the night better, his shots are bloody spectacular, he can make an exciting and well choreographed action sequences like nobody else. If a budding young action filmmaker who wants to rip off someone named Michael, they should definitely lean in the Mann direction rather than the Bay one which they seem to be.

So Heat is a pretty movie. More impressively, it's a pretty movie in 1995, when some people were still using crappy 80s style film stock. It's strange to see early 90s cars and awful early 90s fashion (Val Kilmer is everything wrong with 90's fashion) shot in such a fantastic manner. I want to marry the cinematographer and father their children it's so pretty.

Errr...right, the movie itself. Sorry, I got distracted there a bit. This is a film about criminals robbing banks and the cops who are chasing them. The ringleader of the cops? Al Pacino, who has a rocky marriage (wives don't seem to like their husbands running off to chase criminals) and a troubled stepdaughter. The ringleader of the criminals? Robert DeNiro, who has just met a new girl and isn't certain he's doing the right thing anymore. His partners in crime include Val Kilmer, whose own marriage is in trouble, partly because his wife is getting tired of his crap, partly because she's not a very likable character in the first place. There's also a bunch of other stuff happening, and the cops and criminals are trying to figure each other out in order to do their job properly. It's ridiculously complicated, but it's easy to follow because the movie is 3 hours long.

It spends a lot of time with the personal lives of all the characters, trying to fully explore their motivations for doing the things they do. Agree with their motivations or not, you begin to understand why they do what they do, and these characters are almost all really complex and human in their depiction. Curiously, there's really only one person who could be considered a villain, a serial murder/rapist who is transparently evil from the first frame. I would consider him the only weak link, but he's a pretty minor character overall. It'd be nice if he could have been as complicated and well drawn as the rest of them, instead of just being an obvious villain though.

As a fan of action films, I've noticed that they aren't art often enough. Too many times personalities are established through exposition rather than acting. Villains are a collection of obvious evil attributes, if a criminal is the main character they're doing it for some cheap "be sympathetic to this guy!" reason. Here, they're stealing because that's what they do, and after watching this I understood them. I never got really why Marky Mark stole all that gold in the Italian Job, apart from Edward Norton being played as a dick. I enjoyed how both cops and criminals are portrayed as human beings, rather than pawns in a gunfight.

Another interesting thing is that at the time, a big fuss was made about Robert De Niro and Al Pacino being in the same movie. They rarely share the screen - I think you can count on one hand the times they're both in the same frame - but there was still a big deal made about it. I didn't get it, for I was ten, but I've begun to understand the fuss. In their prime, when they still had good agents who could get them decent roles in films people wanted to watch, these were fantastic actors, and are great foils for each other. In the famous diner scene, you understand both of them, their motivations, why they respect but still can't like each other due to their professional obligations. There's a sense they're rarely in the same frame because they're such strong screen presences that we can't handle the power of their acting. So, in recent years, Meet the Fockers and 88 Minutes, what's going on guys? It's interesting how their careers have gone so downhill that no fuss was made about the recent Righteous Kill, where they appeared with 50 Cent and Marky Mark's brother.

It's clearly difficult to make a great action film that also has good characters and interesting motivations. And people still don't take them seriously, this was never nominated for any academy awards in spite of excellent performances, direction, cinematography, editing and writing. Well, I do, so take that stogy critical establishment!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Claim

I first got acquainted with the work of Michael Winterbottom through the films 24 Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy. Two films which I enjoyed very much, the former being what convinced me that Joy Division was a pretty cool band after all. I decided that he was a director to watch, but I had only really seen his merry prankster side. While I knew he could make jolly postmodern comedies with large doses of Steve Coogan - nothing wrong with that, naturally - I had no idea if he could find his way around more serious material.

Judging by this, yes, he can.

As the story goes, once upon a time in the west, young Wes Bentley decided he would stop being that slightly creepy guy and become a railroad planner. He goes to a town called Kingdom Come, run by a man named Dillon, played by Peter Mullan and his sensitive beard. What he doesn't know, however, is that the town was founded when a much younger and less bearded and played by a different actor Dillon got the claim to the land for the town from an extremely horny man for the low, low price of his wife and daughter.

Now, while it might be tempting to sell your wife and daughter for a lot of gold, no matter how horny the purchaser might be, the film itself is a tale of delayed karmic retribution. While Dillon is rolling in gold and Milla Jovovich in the intervening years, the film picks up when Bentley and his long abandoned wife and daughter, Nasstasja Kinski (daughter of extremely crazy actor Klaus Kinski) and Sarah Polley (somewhat crazy Canadian girl who is very attractive) show up, and things go steadily more badly for him, until he progressively loses everything.

I've never much liked westerns because they tend to be excessively yellow. This is an extremely ridiculous complaint and I admit it fully, but I have a tendency to be interested in how a movie looks just as much as I care about the story and characters, and too much yellow is annoying. Luckily, this takes place in the winter, so while it still has too much yellow, it's got lots of snow to balance it out and it becomes very pretty. I mention it being pretty because the beauty of the winter is an important part of how it's filmed. Winterbottom uses a very, very shallow depth of field in most scenes and the lighting makes the whole thing soft and strangely romantic. Combined with Mullen's sensitive beard and you've got a film that looks as lightly sad as the story is.

There are problems. Some scenes don't seem to have much of a point in the whole - the hot surveying action is just a distraction from the more important story happening. There's a subplot about marriage that exists solely to hammer home a point about creation and destruction happening simultaneously. I can't help but think that with a little tighter editing, it might have been a bit stronger.

But that point about creation and destruction? It's edited in a quite a lovely manner and the contrasts are fascinating, and it's a great way to end the picture. It's a case of something that, when it works, works wonderfully. The overall sad prettiness of the picture is fantastic. It could be tighter, but so what, it's a lovely movie.

Here's the big question though, why is it that I never heard of this film until I decided I was a Winterbottom fan? It's actually a really good movie, with an interesting story and nice cinematography. Easily better than a number of critically acclaimed and award winning films set in the same era (hello There Will Be Blood, I still don't like you!). Why doesn't anyone talk about The Claim?

Friday, June 5, 2009


Is there a job in the world more thankless than being the wife of a dead rock star? Now, admittedly, I don't know the wives of many dead rock stars, so I can't really speak for their personalities in real life, but from the press, they get a rough ride. Yoko Ono is constantly accused of killing the Beatles and exploiting her late husband's memory. Courtney Love gets an even worse treatment, as conspiracy theorists are constantly claiming she killed her husband. Mrs. Rock Star, especially if they're married to an icon, is never treated with very much respect.

So, we have Clean, in which Maggie Cheung is pitched somewhere between Love and Ono on the star wife scale. She plays Emily Wang, wife of down on his luck rock star Lee and heroin enthusiast. She's trying to get her husband a better deal, and they are at a Metric show in order to do something music-business-y. Also, director (and Cheung's ex-husband, awkward) Oliver Assayas is constantly shooting singer Emily Haines' knees, which is very odd. Anyway, eventually, they fight, she runs out and does some drugs down by the river, while her husband has a big overdose in their motel room.

So, Lee dies, Cheung is sent to prison for drug possession, and their son Jay lives with grizzled father of Lee, Albrecht, played by Nick Nolte. The story picks up when Cheung leaves prison and has to figure out how to clean up and get her life together, in a world where everyone hates her and blames her for her husband's untimely demise. We watch as all of her friends abandon her and she can't get her way out of the hole she's dug. Nobody likes Cheung, because everyone liked Lee.

It's a redemption story, essentially, and it humanizes the wives of important people. No wonder Courtney Love is a drug addled skank, she's got to do something to drown out how nobody likes her. No wonder Yoko Ono's kind of annoying, actually I think she's annoying naturally. I've heard her records. Still, I've got to say I respect her a whole hell of a lot more, realizing what she must go through daily.

The world against Cheung is, luckily, quite subtle. We hear of press being extremely negative, and we can see people constantly snubbing her or assuming she's a smelly old junkie. Even her son doesn't like her, though he does provide an opportunity for a speech about how drug addicts can't help themselves.

Still, it makes one think about the real people behind the stories on supermarket tabloids, more than anything more explicit possibly could. There was a smart move making Lee a struggling, but somewhat popular musician. People know him and his wife, but they're not so famous that they are constantly harassed. Thus, the attacks on Cheung are more personality, and it also allows her to blend into Paris when necessary. He's no longer a star, but he is famous enough to get some classy reissues and be well known.

It helps that the movie had mostly good music (though Cheung's singing is on the Ono end of the spectrum), and is beautifully shot. Through Assayas' camera, industrial sprawl doesn't seem so bad. Yes, there are some distinctly odd shots - I mentioned the knees, didn't I? - but overall it's a very attractive film, with a lovely score and good acting.

One can argue that it reflects on a problem in society where if a man is famous, his wife can't appear to be involved in his career at all. To put it simply, the husbands of female stars don't seem to have this problem, that prince the Grace Kelly married actually stopped her career, and nobody ever talks about him being a horrible destroyer of talent, at least that I've seen. But, more than anything, it's about how a woman has to shake off something that ruined her life, and eventually get clean and go back to her child. It's just that her problems are made more difficult by association.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Boys Don't Cry

I've been overexposed to really awful lifetime movies. You know the kind, all about very serious injustices and it's all played in a forced, very serious and dour way. So, I expected Boys Don't Cry to be that in a slightly more professional way. So, I was very surprised by the opening shots.

In essence, holy crap, it's the early '90s!

I can't think of many other movies that capture a time and a place so perfectly. Before being told, you immediately know that it's somewhere in the early 90s, somewhere in the south, and the lead actor is somewhere between a man and a woman. Everything you need to know, all in a few shots, some music cues, and a few well chosen lines.

So, the story is about one Teena Brandon, or is that Brandon Teena? He - I know someone who knows a cross-dresser, and she tells me that you go with whatever gender they're running with at the time - is played by Hilary Swank, who surfaces every so often to play a fantastic role before disappearing into obscurity and questionable movies like The Core. This is one of Swanks fantastic roles, which she rightly won an Oscar for. If you didn't know better, you might think she's a man. Even if you do know better, you're still convinced.

As the story goes, apart from being a transgendered person, Teena is a bit reckless. He goes out drinking, tries to pick up women, steals cars, and generally lies. He's a very foolish man, and if he sort of sets up his own problems by gleefully pitching in with a crowd of criminals. When they find out his secret - due to his criminal activity - bad things happen.

The word tragedy gets overused, describing anything that is generally a bummer. This, however, is a tragedy in the accurate sense of the term. Teena's flaws are what bring him down at the end. I'm not counting his being transgendered, but merely the company he keeps and the activities he enjoys. If he would have been more selective of his friends, wouldn't have hung out with the crowd he did, and wouldn't have done criminal acts, he might be around today. He may have even saved up for the sex change he always wanted and became a real boy. But his foolishness is, in part, what caused his problems. Yes, there's a plea for tolerance hidden in here, and there's a message about homophobia being a scurge. But most of all, the message is don't be an idiot and hang out with assholes. There are signs from when we first meet them that Teena's friends are bad news, and that he's living dangerously by keeping his secret from them and hanging around so close. He would have ended up in serious trouble if he was actually a man, just by the nature of his friends and his tendency to lie, though lets face it, it likely would not have been as bad as it wound up being.

Given the brutal nature of the crimes committed to Teena, I can't say he deserved what happened, nobody would. The point is that we can see it coming. From the first frame, we know trouble will visit young Teena soon. The thing that carries the movie is that Teena himself doesn't see it. He keeps thinking that he can somehow outsmart his own bad decision making and questionable friends. We know, as the audience, he can't. In a just world, he might have had a few jail sentences, but there wasn't any way he would make it out of life without having some severe problems.

I have to say this film impressed me, just by not being what I thought it would be. I thought, like too many of these films, it would be about the infinite sadness of being sexually confused in a place that doesn't allow it. In a sense, it kind of is, but more than anything it captures a time and a place. In the end, it's a bad time, and a bad place, but for a while you can almost convince yourself that it's the right place to be, just like Teena did. Unlike Teena, however, we can see that it can't end well, and it's a shame he never did.