Chris Hanley

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Spring Breakers Review


Very Good

Arthouse filmmaker Harmony Korine (Mister Lonely) comes dangerously close to making a mainstream movie with this blackly comical thriller. While the film is often very funny, and constantly challenges our preconceptions by veering in directions we don't expect, it's also an intriguing exploration of America's hedonistic subculture.

Gomez and Hudgens also crush their Disney princess images as Faith and Candy, who decide they want to go to Florida for spring break with their pals Brit and Cotty (Benson and Korine). But they've spent all their cash on drugs, so they rob a restaurant and head to the beach. After indulging in a series of raucous parties, they end up in jail and are bailed out by a sleazy rapper-gangster who calls himself Alien (Franco). He takes them under his wing, getting them involved in his war with a dangerous cross-town rival (Mane).

The film is shot in lurid colours, with the girls wearing little more than fluorescent bikinis, sometimes accompanied with pink balaclavas. And the score by Skrillex and Cliff Martinez is visceral and hugely atmospheric, adding unexpected texture to the way Korine explores physicality, drugs and violence. It's also quite deliberate that, apart from the religiously minded Faith, these young women kind of blur together anonymously, like all the other bikini babes at the various beer-chugging, arms-in-the-air parties.

Continue reading: Spring Breakers Review

360 Review


Good
Loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler's play La Ronde, this beautifully assembled film is easy to watch. But that's the problem: the subject matter should be much more difficult than this, as it's about having the courage to make unexpected choices.

In Vienna, British businessman Michael (Law) has arranged to meet Slovakian prostitute Blanka (Siposova) on her first night on the job. But the situation shifts, and Michael ends up thinking about his wife (Weisz) in London.

Meanwhile, she's having a fling with a Brazilian (Cazarre) whose girlfriend (Flor) is fed up with his infidelity. On her flight home, she meets a troubled British man (Hopkins) and a recovering sex-offender (Foster). Meanwhile, an Algerian dentist (Debbouze) in Paris is in love with his Russian employee (Drukarova), whose husband (Vdovichenkov) works for a hotheaded gangster (Ivanir).

Continue reading: 360 Review

The Virgin Suicides Review


Very Good
The Virgin Suicides is a dark comedy that embodies some twisted views on suburban family life and the true lack innocence of adolescence. First-time writer and director Sofia Coppola, daughter of Godfather creator Francis Ford Coppola, proves to us that she's not really an actress (see The Godfather Part III), but that she does have the family knack for provocative movie directing. The movie is based upon Jeffrey Eugenides' novel, The Virgin Suicides, a detective story about five sisters who mysteriously commit suicide and the investigation by four neighborhood boys who had fallen in love with them. Coppola, however, transforms the movie into her own allegory of five adolescent girls who suffer from ruthlessly suppressed lives, their desperate plea for self-expression, and the tragedy that besets their wretched existence.

Set in the mid-seventies, the plot follows the Lisbon family, with James Woods, a physics teacher at the local high school, as the scatter brained father, and Kathleen Turner as the uncommonly strict mother. Their five daughters are beautiful, naturally blonde, and the desire of every boy in the neighborhood. When the youngest, Cecilia, mysteriously attempts suicide, psychiatrist Danny DeVito recommends that she be allowed to interact more socially, especially with boys. So the Lisbon girls are introduced to the boys of the neighborhood, who have already been watching the girls from afar through half-opened window shades, binoculars, and telescopes. At a party in Cecilia's honor, the boys witness a tragedy that shocks them out of their wits. As a result, the Lisbons fall into a deep suppression shutting out the rest of the world by retreating into their own inner sanctum. It appears they will never recover until Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), the high school heartthrob, pursues the unattainable Lux (Kirsten Dunst). He attempts to ask her to the prom, but the only way her mother will allow him to take Lux is if all the girls go together. For the first time, the girls will venture out of the home to interact socially in an environment other than school.

Continue reading: The Virgin Suicides Review

Spun Review


OK
Wes Anderson fans will barely recognize Spun protagonist, if you can call him that, Jason Schwartzman. Though he's been in a handful of forgettable roles since claiming cult status with his breakthrough in 1998's Rushmore, he's back to center frame as a speed-addicted, goalless youngster. Though this time around he somehow manages to snag a buxom blonde dancer and tie her to a bed for a few days instead of merely pining away for the older woman.

But with an eclectic cast that includes John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, and Mickey Rourke, Spun is more about exuberant editing providing a humorous glimpse into a small, bored, drug community than a focus on any particular acting or writing talent. Once the pizzazz of quick cuts and graphic novel touches has washed over the normal tell-tale signs of substance abuse by all the characters, you're left with another drug movie that feels as if it's trying too hard to be Trainspotting, without the spiffy production design.

Continue reading: Spun Review

Bully Review


Excellent
Larry Clark -- who wrote and directed his first film, Kids, at the tender age of 52 and in the process, broke the mold about what we should expect from a movie about teenagers -- returns to familiar ground in Bully, a striking and harrowing follow-up.

A slam-dunk natural subject for Clark, Bully follows the based-on-reality story of Marty Puccio (Brad Renfro), who along with his girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner) decides to brutally slay his "best friend" Bobby (Nick Stahl) as payback for a lifetime of abuse. Set in the ultra-trashy nether regions of southern Florida -- and I mean seriously, beyond-WWF trashy -- there's little to do but drive your car, play video games, have sex, and beat the crap out of your friends.

Continue reading: Bully Review

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Chris Hanley Movies

Spring Breakers Movie Review

Spring Breakers Movie Review

Arthouse filmmaker Harmony Korine (Mister Lonely) comes dangerously close to making a mainstream movie with...

360 Movie Review

360 Movie Review

Loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler's play La Ronde, this beautifully assembled film is easy to...

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The Virgin Suicides Movie Review

The Virgin Suicides Movie Review

The Virgin Suicides is a dark comedy that embodies some twisted views on suburban family...

Spun Movie Review

Spun Movie Review

Wes Anderson fans will barely recognize Spun protagonist, if you can call him that, Jason...

Bully Movie Review

Bully Movie Review

Larry Clark -- who wrote and directed his first film, Kids, at the tender age...

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