Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Monday, September 11, 2006

Spanking the Monkey (David O Russell, 1994)

I had Spanking the Monkey at home from netflix about two weeks before I watched it this weekend, which is never a good sign. Although I apparently wasn't pumped to watch it, it was an alright, interesting, experience. When it was over, my brother said to me, "That wasn't really a comedy," and I said, "Yeah, but it wasn't really a drama, either." To me, that is the central dilemma, and selling point, of this movie; it is very unclassifiable. While I found myself laughing a few times, I was uncomfortable and nervous even more times, but it wasn't very dramatic.

Spanking the Monkey deals with Ray, a college student who's obtained a prestigious summer internship, but, as luck would have it, his mother has broken her leg and needs him to stay home to take care of her. The mother and son's proximity and necessary intimacy (Ray has to help his mother stand up in the shower, etc) leads to some, ahem, uncomfortable situations for the audience. I don't want to give up much more than that plotwise.

Jeremy Davies as Ray is a very solid performance. Ray isn't the kind of character you like, no one in this movie is, but he's very realistic and relatable in his angst. He's at the age where he's both an independent adult and still his parents' son, and there is necessary conflict being in that position. Jeremy and his mother deal with it in ways that most families never even consider, but it doesn't seem unlikely in the way that Russell has written it. On the other hand, the characters are all so unlikeable that at points, I didn't care what happened to them. The realism goes both ways, I guess. The story, while shocking, wasn't particularly compelling at times, and the subplot with Carla Gallo as Ray's teenage "girlfriend" was good, until Gallo's character was turned into a whiny child. A good debut for a now-accomplished director, but I wouldn't recommend it without reservations.


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