Commentary

August 31, 2012

Fly Over: “Killer Joe”, “Hope Springs”

In theaters:

The plot is simple enough. The acting is great, but there is something frustrating about the Lone Star state. Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) asks his sister Dottie (Juno Temple) “what’s so special about Texas? What is there to do here? It’s big, there’s lots of space to walk.” It sounds rather boring and less than extraordinary, much like the movie “Killer Joe” itself.
William Friedkins’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ play about an idiotic drug dealer, Hirsch, who convinces his dumb-as-a-rock father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) that killing his mother for a life insurance policy to keep the local cartel at bay is mildly entertaining but frustratingly pointless. The mother, Ansel’s ex-wife, unexplainably lifts a considerable amount of cocaine from Chris, and he’s left to foot a $6,000 bill or be duct taped and left dead at the bottom of a 10-foot hole. I couldn’t help but think I sat through a well acted 104-minute-long episode of the Jerry Springer Show.
However, because the pair can hardly grasp the English language, let alone successfully commit a murder, Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is called in to do the deed. Cooper, a Dallas police detective, freelances as a killer for hire, and he certainly looks the part with his dark Texas attire.
But, the pair of bumbling dullards can’t produce the mandatory $25,000 up front to pay for Joe’s services. So, he takes Dottie, Chris’ sister, as a retainer.
Dottie is reminiscent of Vladimir Nabokov’s Dolores Haze, but with a uniquely Texas trailer trash twist. She appears to have a sixth sense trapped inside a dunce’s brain. She’s very attractive and spends a majority of the movie nude – no complaints.
The film inevitably grows darker, as its NC-17 rating would allude, and implodes in a wild, ridiculously psychotic scene in the family’s trailer-home kitchen.
The cool-headed Cooper reveals his true colors as he lashes out at Ansel’s wife Sharla (Gina Gershon). Her adultery and betrayal has far-reaching effects on every family member – Cooper included. The film comes to a confusing, though climactic, end that leaves several folks dead and a chicken leg horribly violated. The audience is left repulsed and dissatisfied. I heard many rumblings as I filed out of the theater – some sounded favorable and many not so much.
Critics will heap rave reviews on McConaughey and the rest of the cast, rightfully so, but outside of the acting, the film’s brighter moments were the dark humor that provided a break from the rest of the film’s discomfort. Church’s portrayal of the dim-witted father stole every scene while hilariously reinforcing Southern stereotypes of stupidity and classlessness.
The film isn’t for the faint of heart – leave the children and grandchildren at home. There are some gory scenes, though nothing out of the ordinary, and plenty of nude women. However, I’m still perplexed as to why the film received an NC-17 rating – probably the debased chicken leg. Regardless, the film is certainly worth watching, provided you’ve run out of other viewing options, have nothing else to do or you have a vendetta against chicken.
“Killer Joe” is rated NC-17 for graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality.

 

…..and also playing: ‘Hope Springs’

First of all, how can one not want to watch a movie with Meryl Streep in it? She’s hilarious yet has a special way of portraying how her character feels.
For those who love romantic comedies this is one to see. Typically the romance movies I’ve watched are with two young people who fall in love, somehow get separated and come back together again. Hope Springs is not a typical love story, but it is one that will bring hope to the young and old.
The movie begins with Kay Soames (Streep) and Arnold Soames (Tommy Lee Jones) having their 31st wedding anniversary dinner with their grown children.
When dinner ends the children ask their parents what their gifts were to each other. The children soon see the reality of what the relationship has become; their gift to one another is a cable subscription.
Afterward, Kay stands in front of a mirror ruffling her hair up and arranging her night gown with hopes of impressing her husband.
She walks across the hall and knocks. When Arnold answers, she peeks in and asks if she can come to bed with him. Surprised, he replies with a few excuses as to why she shouldn’t. Kay walks back across the hall to her bedroom and lays awake thinking.
For Kay and Arnold, life has become monotonous. Everyday Arnold wakes up at the same time, and after stumbling down the stairs, Kay serves him the same egg sunny side up with bacon.
As he eats breakfast he is consumed by the morning paper and when finished, he gives Kay a quick, automatic kiss on the cheek and leaves for work oblivious to the discontent growing in Kay.
On a day like any other, Kay decides to stop at Barnes and Noble. Streep’s ability to pull off comedy has been proven in movies such as “Mama Mia” and “It’s Complicated,” to name a few. She easily pulls off a hilarious scene where she is sneaking through the section on sex books.
As she furtively glances through the books, her interest is peaked by a book written by Dr. Bernard Feld (Steve Carell).
She buys the book and reads it front to back. Impulsively, she books two plane tickets and convinces Arnold to to join her in couple’s counseling with Dr. Feld.
Their journey with Dr. Feld begins in the doctor’s office as Kay and Arnold sit uncomfortably on a love seat. The doctor eases them gently into discussing subjects varying from love to sex, which makes Arnold and Kay feel shy as though they are meeting for the first time.
With stellar acting by all three, you’ll find yourself laughing out loud, feel as awkward as the characters do and feel the emotions the characters are feeling. There are some moments, however, which can be a little hard to watch for younger people, such as watching the two older folks trying to ignite the spark again.
I admit there were times I was embarrassed to keep watching.
But don’t let the movie trailers fool you, whether young or old, this movie is good for all ages except for children.
“Hope Springs” is rated PG-13 due to adult themes and sexual scenes.




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