Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and RED WHITE & BLUE: Ultra-violence, minimal-intelligence

I spit on your movie, you creeps serving up yet another remake of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. The bottom of the barrel has now been reached and scraped, and those scrapings are on ripe display in this new version, which remakes the 1978 Day of the WomanThe title of that film was actually changed to and cribbed from the 1959 French film J'irai cracher sur vos tombes (which uses future tense and the plural). This earlier and true original -- a hell of a lot more interesting than the two films since that have borne this name (it had a plot, at least) -- starred French hottie-of-the-day Christian Marquand and featured another up-and-coming pretty boy, Jean Sorel, along with the likes of Claude Berri, who was also in the cast. The two more recent "spits" simply put a young lady in the backwoods, have her terrorized, raped and beaten practically to death (ah, but not quite!) and then allow her to wreak vengeance.

What is so appalling about all this, besides the excessive violence, is that the whole film is obviously geared to bring out the worst in its audience: a blood lust that cannot be sated but that will certainly be encouraged. Make all the references you want to feminism and a girl who gets "her own" back, there is nothing on display here (or, for that matter, beneath the ugly surface) except violence against women and then -- whoopie! -- grizzlier and lengthier violence against men. Granted the guys shown here are about as vile as you'll find, and the girl about as stupid, but is this excuse enough?

The film-making (by director Steven R. Monroe, shown two photos above) is certainly professional: Every "good moment" in the movie is designed to tickle a sadist's fancy. The cast is plenty professional, too -- with Andrew Howard as despicable as any good-ol'-boy/family man villain you're likely to encounter. Among the transgressors is Jeff Branson (above and below, right), who was so fine in one of the best (and practically unheralded) indie films of the last decade, The Big Bad Swim. Well, actors have got to eat. The female lead, TV veteran Sarah Butler (below, left, and on poster, top), is very pretty but looks so slight and vulnerable that we doubt her ability to withstand the initial attack, let alone coming back for all those kills. (And who knew the girl was an Olympic-level swimmer? That sure got left out of the meager exposition!)

I find no point in wasting more time on this trash. You know what it is. Just to clue you in on specifics: The first 20 minutes are devoted to set-up, the next half-hour to the big event, with the last half of the film reserved for revenge. At one hour and 46 minutes, "Spit" is way too long, but not, I guess for those who can't get enough of rape, torture and murder. Would shorter have been better? Of course not. But it might have made this seems-like-a-prison-sentence a lot briefer.

From Anchor Bay Films, I Spit on Your Grave (un-rated) opens in ten cities this Friday, October 8. Click here and then click "showtimes" on the menu at top to see the locations and how to get tickets.


The title of RED WHITE & BLUE, the new movie from Simon Rumley, is a half-step up from his earlier The Living and the Dead (a slight tale about a very odd dysfunctional family which the filmmaker buried under a bundle of repetitive visual tics and back-and-forth time trips), and is also several steps up from I Spit on Your Grave. Rumley, shown below, and his well-cast principals offer some interesting situations and characterizations before the godawful tortures/murders begin. From what TrustMovies can gather, Rumley's themes encompass everything from America's sex/drug/rock-and-roll mentality to its current mid-east wars, general state of health (pretty sick) and employment opportunities.

Once again, Rumley's stylistic tics (choppy editing among them) succeeds only in giving the movie less reality than more, while in certain places, unnecessary visual effects seem to be compensating for some low-level acting in some of the lesser roles. Whatever the film may be trying to say (from the importance of losing one's parent to the contracting of AIDS) finally gets lost in its inexcusable finale of ultra-violence. It's one thing to have a major character or two who are unhinged, but when nearly everyone in your film goes off the deep end, it can be difficult to keep your audience from giggling.

Rumley is fortunate to have Noah Taylor (shown above: an actor who could easily corner the market on whacko roles) as his lead. Taylor is always good, though here, he's saddled with a major hurdle, which he bounces over handily: Scrawny as a dry leaf, still, he's awfully scary. Amanda Fuller, below, as the young girl who connects all the movie's dots, is less successful, though it's probably not her fault. Rumley saddles her with a hunk of exposition (explaining her nympho behavior) that would choke a horse: this is not the best way to treat your lead actress. Exposition regarding her past history is probably unnecessary to begin with; if used at all, it should be handled very subltly. Marc Senter (shown at bottom), a cute actor who seems a bit above his abilities here, tackles the third lead.

Those dots I mentioned -- death, AIDS, sexual compulsions, Iraq vets and on and on -- are both what give the film its interest and make it, finallly, unworkable.  Like a multi-car smash-up, it's all too much. When the movie at last goes over the top with its big-time slasher finale, you realize with a sigh and a shrug that this, and only this, is what Mr. Rumley has been interested in all along.

Red White & Blue, from IFC Films, opens theatrically this Friday, October 8, at the reRun Gastropub theater in Brooklyn's DUMBO area.  (Click and scroll down to the Concession Stand menu: Popcorn coated with garlic and then dribbled with duck fat? I'm drooling! Meanwhile, Red White & Blue has been available via IFC On-Demand since September 24 and will continue there for some time.  Click here to see if and how you can view it via your local TV reception provider.

No comments: