Thursday, July 01, 2010


The Girl Next Door (*)
An American Crime (***)
although both films are ostensibly based on the true case of the torture and murder of teenager Sylvia Likens by Indiana housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, both adaptations come well short of the shocking facts of the case; The Girl Next Door is poorly acted and particularly phoney: much of the context being altered (for example, the 60s become a Happy Days-style 50s), and the children who assisted Baniszewski in the torturing are depicted with that highly irritating adult-imposed evil knowingness typical of cheesy horror, likewise the story is seen through the eyes of the one kid with a conscience, a boy who is given the highly anthropomorphised script of what seems to be a timid yet responsible septuagenarian; An American Crime is vastly superior mostly thanks to its excellent cast (Ellen Page is brilliant, far less annoying here than in Juno and beyond), but also because many of the interactions amongst the children involved actually feel believable - in addition, there are several brief and poignant courtroom sequences interpolating the narrative; sadly, in order to make for compelling entertainment, the movie makes some big compromises by smoothing out the narrative in easy-to-understand chunks (little of the familial chaos of the true story is depicted) and tacking on a sickly sentimental resolution

The Runaways (**)
judging by the film's ludicrously amped-up live sequences, you'd think The Runaways were a Metallica/The Donnas hybrid, therefore it comes as no surprise to note Joan Jett credited as producer of this profoundly dishonest biobpic - the whole is an exercise in rehabilitating her career through the tawdry twin strategems of making her bandmates look as bad as possible and by giving Jett phoney proto-punk credentials; that said, the central dishonesty is failing to acknowledge that The Runaways were shit: weedy undercooked unmemorable glam rock at best


No comments: