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

Friday, March 28, 2008

Another Day In Paradise (Larry Clark, 1997)

Larry Clark is really a love or hate director for most people. I personally love him, a lot. When I worked at a university library one summer in special collections, I would hide in the air conditioned rare books basement and read dirty books; particularly, old issues of Playgirl, High Times, and Larry Clark photography. I love the maligned Ken Park -- it's a film with no real plot to speak of, but short vignettes about how hard it is to be a teenager. That's what most of Clark's films are about, the in-between period when you're not an adult, but certainly not a child, and what sex and love and fun means to you then. In Another Day In Paradise, Clark takes on adulthood, or at least two adults who are in a state of arrested development, and two young people who want to be adults. James Woods and Melanie Griffith (with whom I was surprisingly impressed) play Mel and Sid, two junkie thieves who end up hooking up with Bobbie and Rosie (played by Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner, who both give wonderful performances but seem to have fallen victim to the strange young actors of the 90s curse), two teenage junkie hoods who want to become big time. Mel and Sid become like parents to Bobbie and Rosie, but, like most things, the good times only last so long.

The plot isn't so much what's important about Another Day In Paradise; rather, it's the movie one can point to when detractors try to claim that Clark isn't a director, but instead is an exploiter of underage sexuality. This film has lots of beautiful and occasionally poignant moments. All four of the leads are remarkably well acted, and in all these people at the bottom of society, we see glimpses of failed dreams and vulnerability. But it wouldn't be a Clark film without some sex, and although this was the director's cut, there was some of the most straightforward sex talk I've seen in film in a while. Wagner in particular is fantastic as Rosie, who wants to be rich and have her fun like with Bobbie, but also wants to settle down and be a mother (hard with a heroin addiction), but fails in the end. The only real problems I had with the movie is that there was no way that Wagner plays for a teenager, as she was almost 30 at the time of filming; and I could see where the plot was going long before it got there. But like I said, plot isn't the most important thing in this film, but rather the actors' reactions to the situations. Those are all amazing. Not Clark's best film, but certainly a really good one, no matter who the director.


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