Tuesday 1 November 2011

Double Bill Mini Musings: Junkies and Demons...

Half Nelson:
I remember there was a lot of talk about this movie when it came out in 2006 - much of which was focused entirely on Ryan Gosling's arresting performance. All I knew about it was that it featured a teacher who happened to be a drug addict; however I never got around to seeing it until now. Sure enough, Ryan Gosling plays a teacher/druggie who bumbles about in a distracted haze ... one minute he's teaching his inner city students about change and opposing forces, the next he's smoking crack. He strikes up a sort of friendship with one of his students - the niece of a drug dealer - and so begins a meandering, distracted, and sometimes sparse film which is at times brilliant, but is at other times either politically blunt or just downright boring. If it wasn't for Gosling's performance, I'm not sure if the film would have even half of the plaudits it was garnered with a few years back ... however, if you muddle your way through the parts of the film that feel unintentionally lost, there are numerous moments that make the journey worthwhile - moments filled with unspoken pathos and deft direction. It's just a shame it can often feel as distracted and directionless as its protagonist.

Night of the Demons (2010):
I've never seen the original movie, so I can't say anything about this remake in those terms, however what I can say is this; it's ideal bloke's night-in fodder. Never mind that the script gets increasingly weak throughout the 90 minute running time, there's a load of gore, boobs, and nice production design on-the-go ... not that the latter will particularly be on the mind of the members of a beer and pizza session, but it certainly helps raise this above cheaper fare. Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie), Monica Keena (Freddy vs. Jason), and Diora Baird (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), offer up the bloke-friendly eye candy, while Edward Furlong (yes, John Connor from Terminator 2) dishes out plenty of wry sarcasm. Add in some nifty gore moments, and you've got a decent exploitation flick - it's all about the gore and the boobs and nothing more - it's no genre classic by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly won't linger long in your memory banks, but for lad's night-in fodder it's worth a punt. Again, having not seen the original, I can't comment on how it compares to the original - but it is what it is - stylishly presented buxom babes and gushing grue.

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