Fat Girl (2001/dir. Catherine Breillat/France) – In his review, Roger Ebert summed up the point of this movie perfectly. “Young love is idealized as sweet romance, but early sexual experiences are often painful and clumsy and based on lies. It is not merely that a boy will tell a girl almost anything to get her into bed, but that a girl will pretend to believe almost anything, because she is curious, too.” More about curiosity than love, Breillat’s film is unbelievably uncomfortable in it’s examination of an overweight but intelligent 12-year-old girl and her model-esque but dim 15-year-old sister. Her 15-year-old sister falls in love with an older college boy on vacation, and ends up being sexually manipulated. The sex scenes in Fat Girl are long, drawn-out and extremely difficult to watch. They’re also incredibly, painfully realistic. It’s painful for the 15-year-old sister who is being coerced by some college horn dog but it’s equally as painful for the 12-year-old who is forced to witness her sister essentially being raped by the hard knocks of life. While all of this has the makings of an excellent film, a few elements completely spoil it. First of all, the musical score is extremely inappropriate for the material and completely undercuts the weight of some paramounts scenes. Also, the ending is totally fucking bonkers and not in a good way. It’s a revoltingly blunt, uncreative and dishonest way to cap off a film so rooted in honesty. Available for streaming on HuluPlusGrade: B 

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Hard Boiled (1992/dir. John Woo/Hong Kong) – This was John Woo’s last Chinese film before he starting working in the United States, and he certainly treated it as such. Featuring a near forty-five minute hospital shoot-out scene and about a dozen other action sequences sprinkled through-out it’s two-hour runtime, Hard Boiled doesn’t give you much of a chance to come up for air. Woo’s direction is impressive, the best it’s ever been. There isn’t much of a plot, but Woo knows this would only bog down the enjoyment factor. Chow Yun-Fat is back as a cop itching for revenge against the Triads that murdered his partner in a glorious tea house shoot-out that opens up the picture. This is such a far-fetched film that has absolutely no plausibility, but that’s the point. Most American action films are pretty unrealistic anyway, Woo just goes that extra mile by having a shot person fly through the air like a crouching tiger or hidden dragon. Hard Boiled is two full hours of relentless entertainment. Out of Print.  Grade: A- 

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House of Games (1987/dir. David Mamet/USA) – I’m an enormous David Mamet fan. Glengarry Glen Ross is my favorite play. However, for all of it’s acclaim, I’ve never really been a fan of his debut feature House of Games. I thought watching it again after college (when I first saw it) would give me a greater appreciation for it, but it didn’t. This isn’t to say the movie is bad, it’s actually a good movie, it’s just not what one would expect from David Mamet. While the acting is outstanding, Lindsay Crouse and Joe Mantegna give career-best performances, and the dialogue is crisp, the plotting is really predictable. It’s strange that a movie about con men is so utterly predictable, but there are no real surprises in House of Games. The other problem I had with House of Games is that it gets fairly misogynistic towards the end, especially in the handling of Lindsay Crouse’s character. Grade: B 


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