Friday, June 04, 2010

American Psycho, What Just Happened + The Room

Short review time...

The satire American Psycho is kind of under appreciated based on how few people saw it when it came out in 2000. More folks should watch it. Based on Bret Easten Ellis' controversial novel, director Mary Harron took on the project that many thought was impossible to make and turned it into something dark, funny and a blistering statement on the superficiality of the 1980s. I watched American Psycho after a ten year gap in viewings and it has really held up well. 

Christian Bale plays a yuppie serial killer running amok in New York City.  Bale's rants about the incredible, positive attributes of people like Huey Lewis, Phil Collins and Whitney Houston are some of my favorite moments in the film. To hear him tout these vapid individuals while he's about to kill someone makes the scenes even more devilish as he's a crazed killer talking up a bland brigade from the era. The business card obsessions by some of the males is another terrific sequence. American Psycho, full of sex, violence and unexpected turns, is worth seeking out if you missed it and is good enough for a re-watch if you've not seen it in a decade like me. 

What Just Happened (2008) from director Barry Levinson is another satire but not nearly as successful as American Psycho. The film wants to unleash some barbs on the absurd, egotist ways of Hollywood but it can't rise above mediocrity due to a story that is too obvious and lacking surprises. Robert De Niro plays a producer who is forced to deal with a couple of troublesome film projects--one about what do do about a dog getting shot in the head at the end of the film; the second involves a massively bearded Bruce Willis ranting and raving about everything under the sun. While I'm sure there is a lot of truth in the story, What Just Happened never feels right. Something is off, turning the film into a satire without the bite it intended to have. 

I had not seen the cult 2003 film The Room from writer, director, star, producer, executive producer (he does both!) Tommy Wiseau until a recent midnight screening at Circle Cinema. I am glad I waited to watch it in the theatre with a bunch of other people in the middle of the night. The Room cost millions of dollars and is flat out horrible. This is one of those bad/good films where the fun is the shared experience of seeing this in a theatre. See it alone at home and it's probably not as funny or entertaining. The Room covers all the bases for bad cinema--overwrought melodrama, terrible acting, writing, story and directed on film and video at the SAME time! It's hard to believe this was done in earnest but I don't believe Wiseau, or anyone else in The Room, is talented enough to maintain a ruse of being this crazy awful the entire length of the movie. Best if watched by as many people as possible to heighten the comedy. 

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