Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Nine Lives" and "Hard Candy"

I'm ashamed to admit it's been a rather long time since I've gone to see a movie presented by the Macon Film Guild. This Sunday, however, I'll be breaking this streak, and not just because I promised guild honcho Camp Bacon I would.

This month's offering is Rodrigo Garcia's "Nine Lives," which I haven't seen yet. I have, however, seen Garcia's "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her," in which Garcia showed an Altmanesque flair of weaving together various vignettes together with a common theme.

To tell you about "Nine Lives," however, I'll turn to guest critic Stephen Holden of the New York Times (who doesn't know he's been given this honor). Here is what he said about it in his October review:

During the final vignette of "Nine Lives," Rodrigo GarcĂ­a's extraordinarily rich and satisfying suite of fleeting but intense moments in the lives of nine women, Maria (Dakota Fanning), a girl visiting a cemetery with her mother, Maggie (Glenn Close), notices a cat wandering on the lawn and wonders out loud if cats really have nine lives; her mother answers that she doesn't think so.

Maggie has spread out a picnic blanket in front of a modest tombstone that marks the grave of her husband or a close relative (the inscription is never shown nor is a name mentioned). Later, she stands guard behind a tree while her daughter urinates. At another point, she remarks at how amazing it is that people make it through life carrying so much heavy baggage.

This is how the moments unfold in the movie and in life, like the shadows of clouds skittering across the lawn. While Maggie converses with her daughter, there is a split second in which her grief suddenly wells up, but she catches herself and swallows it. And in one slow, breathtaking shot, the camera pans 360 degrees to observe the trees and grass and to drink in the quiet of an eternal resting ground.

Although the vignette is set in a cemetery, it doesn't offer the sort of weepy closure that people go to the movies expecting to find. Nor do any of the film's eight other vignettes end in snug little epiphanies. Together, however, they add up to a film that may be the closest movies have come to the cinematic equivalent of a collection of Chekhov short stories. The film's reward for intense concentration is a feeling of deep empathy and connection. For once, you don't harbor the uneasy suspicion of having been emotionally manipulated.

"Nine Lives" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has profanity and sexual situations. It is presented Sunday, July 9, at 2, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Douglass Theatre in downtown Macon by the Macon Film Guild. I'll see you there.

"Hard Candy"

A more troubling but equally welcome flick is being presented soon at the Capitol Theatre.

"Hard Candy" tells the story of a teen girl who takes her revenge on a would-be pedophile after the two meet via the Internet. For those who are looking for lurid scenes of extreme torture, wait for the next in the line of B horror flicks; word is that this one mostly focuses on the mind games played by the two main characters. Its setup reminds me of Roman Polanski's "Death and the Maiden," which I loved.

Here to tell you all about "Hard Candy" is our second guest reviewer, Eric Campos of Film Threat:

“Hard Candy” opens with the innocent meeting of two online daters. Hayley (Ellen Page) is a shy teenage girl and Geoff (Patrick Wilson) is a suave, handsome guy in his early 30s. This public meeting seems to be going well and Geoff appears to be a nice enough guy that Hayley decides to accompany him back to his house. The two have drinks, but, using her best judgment, Hayley does not drink anything that she hasn't mixed herself. Geoff completely understands and to show a little faith in her, he agrees to drink one of her concoctions.

“Hard Candy” is an excellent title for this film, but “Bad Move” would've been just as suitable.

Geoff passes out and awakens to find himself tied down and at the mercy of this fairly angry young girl who has a razor sharp grudge against Geoff and she has no reservations in letting him know all about it. So begins the feature-length physical and mental torture as we're slowly dipped into Geoff's past, leading us to figure out just what exactly this axe is that Hayley has to grind.

“Hard Candy” is a tough sit, but it attracts more than repels you. It commands your attention. Once it lands its hooks in you, there's no tearing away. Being a part of the Sundance 2005 film festival, this is so far the only film I've seen that's had the entire theater firmly in its grip with many an audience member leaning forward in their seat anticipating but dreading the next awful deed.

Yeah, this candy is hard to handle, but at the same time it's oh so sweet.

So there you have it.

"Hard Candy" is rated R for disturbing violent and aberrant sexual content involving a teen, and for language.

It is being shown at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Macon at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, 9 p.m. Friday, July 14, 9 p.m. Friday, July 15, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 16. And, if a potentially great psychological drama isn't enough to lure you in, word is that Ingleside Village Pizza is fully up and running at the Capitol to tempt your tastebuds.

What a great combo!


themarina said...

I really enjoyed Hard Candy. It wasn't what I was expecting but I think that is one of the reasons I liked it so much.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely see it, Marina, but I' think i'm more excited about Nine Lives ... I'm just someone bothers to show such movies in my little corner of the world

Vasta said...

Hard Candy was positively phenomenal, and little Ellen Page puts in the performance of a lifetime, and she's only 18. Makes me proud to be Canadian.

Reel Fanatic said...

I just managed to see it myself, Vasta, and I have to agree ... it indeed remind me of Death and the Maiden, as I thought it would, and she was great