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No Absence of Malice

No Absence of Malice

Articles - Directing

Malice

This film has nothing to do with malice
except for the malice it inspired in me against the people who made
it. Malice is like an encyclopedia of everything that’s ever
been done badly in a movie. The plot is a mess of fractured ideas.
It starts off as a thriller about a rapist terrorizing a nice Boston
college community. But it turns out that this plot, which takes
up half the movie, has nothing to do with the rest of the film,
and the filmmakers struggle to scrape it off their shoe as they
try to juggle the pieces of the next plot.   The
style is supposed to be thriller. but the only thrills are that
the the characters jump whenever anyone walks into the room. What
the film is about eventually is that a wimpy husband’s suspicions
that his wife is cheating on him with a "real" man (a.k.a.
Alec Baldwin) are not only true but she has also been leading an
entirely separate life behind his back and is intent on fucking
him over. This paranoia must have been the only inspiration the
filmmakers’ had, it’s not surprising they took the wimpy guy’s side.

Farewell My Concubine

Chen Kaige, the director of Farewell
My Concubine
, finds an excellent base for his epic film about
the impossible love of a homosexual opera singer for his straight
singing partner. Over the course of this huge film, he also manages
to flush out some ideas about the imagination blurring into reality.
The imagery is suitably rich and excellent. The first part, which
deals with the characters as children, is what filmmaking is all
about. They don’t make good, epic films in America anymore and they
never made one with

Twenty Bucks

The path of this twenty-dollar bill
was probably paved with the best intentions of the filmmakers, but
the result is something akin to switching channels on TV when there’s
nothing good on. For all its pretensions to be a unique film,

Twenty Bucks ends up using short
versions of formulaic stories to preach simple messages that we’ve
seen a thousand times. It seems like the writers were too afraid
to stick to the gimmick of simply following the money, because sometimes
they do and sometimes they don’t, which isn’t really a big deal
but it’s annoying when you watch the film. You always know to whom
the bill will be passed next: just look for the next "quirky"
character. But don’t wait too long because he won’t mean any more
than the last one and he won’t be much funnier- the bill itself
has more character than anyone else. This film never explores any
of the issues it presents, and there is no overall mood or unifying
theme that might make it interesting. This is mediocrity at its
best. MM

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