2018/09/24

Mediocre: Jailbreakers

Jailbreakers (1994)
Directed by William Friedkin
Written by Debra Hill, Gigi Vorgan
Produced by Lou Arkoff, Debra Hill, Willie Kutner, Llewellyn Wells, Amy Grauman Danziger
Starring Shannen Doherty, Antonio Sabato Jr., Adrien Brody, Adrienne Barbeau, Vince Edwards, George Gerdes, Sean Whalen, Talbert Morton, Charles Napier
Just as every moon orbits a planet, so too may every bored alpha female gravitate to a charming rogue. A pretty cheerleader (Doherty) in one such instance falls far and fast for a thuggish hunk (Sabato) governing a gang of greasers in tidy postwar Fresno. Captivated by his rout of rival bikers and the prowess with which he gloms hamburgers, cars and jewelry just for her, she inflames until their brief crime spree's curtailed by his incarceration. His escape from prison enables them to reunite at and vamoose from her sweet sixteenth birthday party, but a reaffirmed adoration for her brainish beau is dampened by the murderous escalation of his criminality. His career here years into its doldrums, Friedkin shot this installment of the trite, tawdry, televised series Rebel Highway by rote; only a few wildly transgressive moments and tense handheld shots faintly echo his past ingenuity. Doherty and Sabato share considerable charisma and chemistry, but haven't much to do when they aren't smooching. Brody fares better (not too many years predating his stardom) as Sabato's leathered, lovably lanky lieutenant, as do Barbeau and Edwards, Doherty's typically concerned parents. Fair '50s detail was imparted to this production's set and costume design, and further fortified by a fleet of vintage automobiles. Regrettably, Hill's and Vorgan's skimpy script barely fulfills a brief 71 minutes, prompting the question of whether the former might've crafted an absorbing story with her ex-boyfriend. Only seven years prior, Friedkin was still dissecting criminal pathology; for this, he's as much an observer as his audience.
Instead, watch Bonnie and Clyde.

2018/09/15

Sublime: Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son (2013)
Written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Produced by Kaoru Matsuzaki, Hijiri Taguchi, Megumi Osawa, Tatsuro Hatanaka, Chihiro Kameyama, Tom Yoda, Chiaki Harada, Satomi Odake, Yasushi Ogawa
Starring Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Lily Franky, Yoko Maki, Keita Ninomiya, Shogen Hwang, Jun Kunimura, Yuri Nakamura, Kazuya Takahashi, Kirin Kiki, Jun Fubuki, Isao Natsuyagi
Any brief of another flower effloresced from Kore-eda's preoccupation with familial misadventures and their reverberations reads as that of timeworn, televised fayre via Lifetime: two irreconcilably unlike families headed respectively by a stuffy, operose architect (Fukuyama) and a jovial, lovably scruffy shopkeeper and electrician (Franky) are shaken to learn that two of their sons (Ninomiya, Hwang) were at birth covertly commuted by a nurse (Takahashi). Social convention dictates that the boys be restituted to their cognate nuclear units, but six years of parental intimacy stay all involved, and their woe is only aggravated by contradistinctions of class and constitution: Fukuyama's aloof, white-collar striver disdains the lenience, uxoriousness and relative impecuniousness of Franky's working-class handyman, who in turn contemns with his assertive wife (Maki) the corporate cog's fatherly inattention in pursuit of professional projects. For all their failings and recriminations fermented by reciprocal misapprehensions, none among them are unsympathetic; the overachiever's no more callous than his demurely adoring spouse (Ono), and oscillations and frivolity belie the depth of his counterpart's paternal perspicacity. Once preponderate in civilized cinema beyond Hollywood's orbit, Kore-eda's strain of sentimentality is rooted in realism, its poignance piercing far deeper for an economy of expression, nested in precisely composed perspective shots, slow zooms, drifting pans in rich high contrast. He unsoundly deprecates consanguinity as a mere priority of obsolescent tradition in a culture where it may be taken for granted in the luxury of social and ethnic cohesion, but in doing so postulates an equally vital insight: beneath the burdensome strata of lineage, expectations and ambition, the hearts of children and their parents need beat no slower, nor at all asynchronous for that weight.