Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Director Report Card: Bryan Singer (1993-1998)

1. Public Access
Certainly an interesting little movie, even if it doesn’t actually do too much with its premise. Not completely unlike Singer’s next film, “Public Access” is a movie that actually spends more time telling you what it’s not about. We are ask to draw our own conclusion; not a bad things at all, but we’re not really given enough to figure much out.
Still, I found plenty to enjoy here. The discussion about small town values is compelling stuff. A lot is done with what was obviously a small budget. Ron Marquette’s lead performance is deceptively deep. Singer’s direction is stylish and colorful with some interesting visual clues and subtexts. “Public Access” is not required viewing, but fans of the director or of smart indies might want to give it a look, if they have nothing else to watch. [Grade: B-]

2. The Usual Suspects
An intricate puzzle box of a movie. The plot is complicated and really demands your attention, but this appears to be a ploy just to drawl you into the movie’s world. Or it could just be to confuse, cause you to over think things (Much like Chazz Palminteri’s character does), so when the twist ending does comes, it hits harder then you’d expected. I’d probably hate the movie for that if the twist wasn’t as awesome as it is.
The movie might be easily dismissed as a one-time pony if it weren’t for the care taken to bring the story to life. Bryan Singer’s direction is cool and smooth, in perfect neo-noir style. There is a great ensemble cast here. All the individual characters are well acted, memorable, likable, and well-rounded. Possibly more important is how well they play off each other. Each character is design to play off the rest of the team in order to produce maximum drama. So while the big twist gets you the first time, it’s the multiple layers that make you come back for seconds. [Grade: A]

3. Apt Pupil
What’s best about this feature is its acting. Ian McKellen, despite an obviously fake German accent, is certainly a fine actor and gives a good performance and Brad Renfro does a good job as well. Their personalities don’t quite clash and click as they should and that causes the film too loose a lot of tension. The character interaction is still entertaining to watch, but the mentor/enemies concept just didn’t seem very rounded to me.
Singer’s direction does manage to produce at least two scenes of actual tension, Renfro’s frenzied bike-ride through the tunnel and the sequence with the homeless man being them. The nature of evil in people is the main theme, something carried over from the original Stephen King novella, and that gives the final product considerable more strength. The way these two people affect each other, how their beliefs contaminate one another, is fascinating and makes up for the noticeable lack of tension. The final act drags a little but I really liked the ending. So, if you go in expecting more of a character study and less of a thriller, you’ll probably be pretty satisfied. [Grade: B+]

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