Friday, April 07, 2006

Where's my fucking money, college boy?


Someone recommended The Rules of Attraction to me - that, combined with the appearance of The Largest Forehead in Hollywood, if not The World made it an eventual must-see.

Well, it's great. I did have a whole lot written out, witty and erudite as hell, but naturally Firefux crashed and I lost it all. Now, what was I saying?

This is based on a book by Bret Easton Ellis, the author of American Psycho, which turned out to be another great film. Wo, I've just realised that the central characters in both movies have the same surname. Hmmmm.

OK right yeah, back to the movie. Most people will have heard about the infamous chundering-on-the-semi-conscious-drunk-girl-while-having-sex-with-her scene, and yes, there are a number of similarly shocking images and ideas in this film. However, it's not defined by the shock value alone - the story and the way it's told are just damn good.

First off, the acting. Most of the characters are rich American college students, and virtually everyone strikes the right contradictory balance of arrogance and naivete so characteristic of them. A particular standout is the aforementioned James van der Beek. He has a pretty interesting character to work with, but could've done it so much worse than it turned out.

The reverse-time structure is something else that really could have turned out badly, but as it is done by something of a master of the technique, it works very well indeed.

The music is also brilliantly done - it's on a par with Donnie Darko in that respect. Some might say that merely choosing tracks (rather than writing music specifically for a film) is easy, but it's definitely a dark art. A good example is the suicide scene (I don't think I'm giving too much away there) - it could be said that Without You is an obvious and cliched choice. However, it fits brilliantly, and is made all the more haunting by an echo effect towards the end of the scene.

Incidentally, does anyone remember the NZ cheese ads that used that song? The tagline was, "You can't call it a day without cheese," they were around in the late 80s, and strangest of all, weren't for any particular brand of cheese, just cheese in general. Did we really need to be reminded to buy cheese?

That scene, along with a couple of others, uses the brilliantly simple technique of slowly tilting the camera, so the whole thing ends up on an angle. Maybe it's just me, but it seems to lend everything an other-worldly quality.

Anyway, rated this film really highly. It's not really much in the feel-good department (although there are a few laughs, particularly the scene-stealing "Dick" Jared), but it is beautifully made.

2 comments:

afraid said...

I read several bad reviews of this when it came out, so decided not to go to it. One review summed it up by saying: "Not wise, not clever, and worst of all, it's not even funny."

Eventually I did see it, at the recommendation of friends, and quickly decided that the reviewer in question was talking out of their arse. What, because it's a movie about kids on a college campus it has to be funny? Bullshit. I thought it something of a nihilistic classic, with fine acting, decent writing, and innovative film technique (the split-screen meetup and the Eurotrip being particularly stunning). It's that suicide scene that I really remember, though. Beautiful and shocking, and as you point out the music is perfect.

It doesn't feel like it's a film set in the real world, but it creates a believable universe of its own which is interesting and comments on ours. I think I've seen it twice, and enjoyed and admired it both times. Plus, it has Clifton Collins Jr. in it, which is always a good thing.

Tok Cheese said...

of course you need to be reminded to buy cheese - keeps me employed