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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Piranha 3-D

It first must be noted that before those sitting high and mighty start sniffing their nose up at this movie, they cannot argue against this: At the very least "Piranha" knows its audience and it plays to it brilliantly. It is a remake about man eating Piranhas set loose on lithe, beautiful bodies during Spring Break. What did you expect? High art, this most certainly is not. What it is however, is the most out and out, rollicking good time you may have at the movies this year. While hardly the first 3D exploitation film, it is certainly the most high profile in recent years, following the dreadful "My Bloody Valentine 3D" released early last year. While that film seemed to have aspirations to knowingly playing to generic and cliche horror conventions, it had a horrible cast, daft set pieces, not an ounce of tension and horrid use of its 3D. "Piranha" on the other hand, not only plays hilariously with its tongue lodged firmly in its cheek, but with actual talent in front and behind the camera. Those who can withstand the copious amounts of blood and ridiculously gratuitous nudity will find a live action cartoon in front of them. Do not take this film for one second seriously; it's cast and director certainly don't. What they do take seriously is entertaining their demographic, something the film does in spades.

It's Spring Break on Lake Victoria, Arizona. Hundreds of students cut loose and go wild here every year. However this is the time that an underground earthquake hits, releasing a large swarm of prehistoric Piranhas from their underground lake. Falling prey first, to a very unfortunate Richard Dreyfuss (in the first of many nods to "Jaws") they then descend on the nubile, party goers on the lake. It's up to a small group of strangers to bond together to escape the snappy jaws of the very vicious fish. One of the small successes of the film is in it's casting. Already mentioned was the very welcome cameo of Dreyfuss, yet there are plenty of other surprises in store. Just seeing Christopher Lloyd back on screen again spouting some fantastic OTT dialogue is enjoyable in its own right. Adding to the 'knowing factor' is including talented comedy actors Adam Scott and one third of 'Human Giant' Paul Scheer. In fact its cast has to be one of the oddest in a while; many average cinemagoers won't understand the simple virtues of seeing seasoned veterans Elizabeth Shue (in her first lead in quite a while), Ving Rhames and the aforementioned Lloyd and Dreyfuss back on screen. Jerry O'Connell hasn't lately been in anything other than what is found in DVD bargain bins, Kelly Brook is hardly a 'serious' actress by anyones standards and the rest of the supporting players are filled out by porn stars. All of this adds to the fun on display and shows Director Aja's intentions from the off. To know these actors is to know perfectly what each character will fulfill. It is shameless in its intentions. Somewhat surprisingly, it's distributers Dimension and The Weinstein Company must have had very little faith in the film. Declining to show the film to critics before the films official release usually screams out 'stinker'. But then a curious thing happened. When the film was released, the film actually received good reviews. Happy that critics seemed to be in on the joke, they immediately greenlit a sequel. This has to be the first time a sequel has been put into development as a result of glowing reviews. The film did not open very successfully in its opening weekend. Probably down to the fact that audiences were not to be aware of the intentionally camp and cheesy tone of the film from its many promotional spots, it is regrettable. It seems that everyone involved got the tone the film was aiming for, apart from those promoting it.

Now as you probably can tell, the film is not plot or character based. It has only two things on its mind: Sex and Violence. And the film offers heavy abundance of both. In fact it spends its first half ogling acres of naked flesh, while then spending the second gleefully and very violently ripping it apart. At its center piece is an admittedly very well choreographed and sustained massacre sequence, as all the Spring breakers run (or is that swim?) afoul of all the vicious underwater carnivores. Aja shoots what resembles "Saving Private Ryan" as a stunningly gory and very literal 'bloodbath'. The lake runs red as decapitations, scalpings and lacerations run rampant. The sheer awesomery of the violence on display is both shocking and hilarious. Credit must go to the great make up effects supplied by KNB, for kitting out an entire lakes worth of amputees and bite victims.

Aja has got a lot of praise over the years. Credited with starting the Extreme French Horror genre in "Haute Tension" he then moved to America to remake a string of forgettable and very po-faced horror flicks. While "Haute Tension" was not the horror masterpiece that many proclaimed it to be, it did show that the Director knew how to handle tension and violence in a picture. He can frame a shot well and knows how to play to demands for the genre in a fresh enough way. I thought his talent was to be dimmed in America, but it seems he has found his feet here. He builds proceedings well enough and handles his cast well. Most impressivily, he seems to be having fun with the material. 3-D is very well handled throughout. The film is after all, an all out and unashamed exploitation picture and Aja relishes in throwing as many bodily functions and objects towards his audience as he can think of. The effect works well in adding to the scream-jump-laugh factor. The creatures themselves are hardly menacing in their CG appearance, but they do the trick and work well on screen. The films revels in its absurdism and gleefully celebrates its debauchery. It is gratuitous in every sense of the word, it has zero brains or originality and it panders to the lowest of the low in its audience demographic, but it is competently made, well acted and most importantly of all, great fun. Audiences do get it wrong sometimes it seems. See it on the big screen with mates and laugh along to the glorious violence and mayhem on display.

Verdict 69%
The definition of a guilty pleasure; this offers mindless, nasty violence and pointless and gratuitous nudity, but I chuckled and laughed throughout. Everyone delivers the ridiculous material with a wink and events are well sustained. The sequel cannot come soon enough. Let's hope they decide against the flying piranhas of James Cameron's original 1981 sequel.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

''Inception'' OST

A stunning piece off the ''Inception'' soundtrack. Hans Zimmer again delivers another rousing score to work perfectly with Christopher Nolan's modern masterpiece. Ex -'Smiths' guitarist, Johnny Marr special guests on the Soundtrack and provides the dissonant guitar line here. While sometimes veering too close to Zimmers prior ''Dark Knight'' it still offers plenty of stunning moments as evidenced.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Expendables

You have to hand it to Sylvester Stallone. Now in his mid 60's and not content with fading away into 'where are they now action hero limbo' he has over the past few years, been sustaining not only his own career, but audiences interests. After spending the latter half of the 90's and the first part of this decade in flop after flop, he decided to return to his roots with the franchise that made his name in the first place, ''Rocky Balboa''. A surprising critical and commercial hit, he then followed that up with that other franchise that made him, in ''Rambo''. Now, not content with living out his later years with all his hits and characters gone, he now drums out an action heroes Hall Of Fame extravaganza. Stallone will not be leaving his past anytime soon it seems. For it, Stallone assembles his dream time action Wish List. Actors are known only for their action chops; recent puny 'brains over brawn' types such as Jason Bourne or Bruce Wayne have no place here. If veins are not bulging out of every single muscle on your body, then you are not wanted on this cast list. Stallone Writes and Directs as if he has no concept of the word 'cliche'. But for the many reasons this is one of the clunkiest and cheesiest films of the year, it is also at times, quite entertaining in its own lug headed way.

For many males, this is for them, what ''Sex & The City 2'' was to women. An all out male testosterone fest; simple things like plot or characterisation have absolutely no place here. Not that you would be able to hear any of it over the explosions. Stallone and his crack team of mercenaries for hire seek to overthrow a corrupt general and ex-CIA agent in some small country in South America. An alarming amount of the cast have been languishing in straight to DVD hell for quite some time now. For Lundgren, Austin, Crews and Couture, the prospect of appearing again in a theatrical Summer 'event' movie must have seemed like it was never going to come. After the surprise success of the film in the States, they must be thanking their lucky stars that Stallone remembered them. It does at times feel like it is checking off fan boys desires for fight scenes; Li Vs. Lundgren!!! Stallone Vs. Austin!!! That the acting and dialogue is some of the most grinding in recent memory only adds to it's 80's nostalgic feel. Something tells me Stallone was not intending the piece to be as cliche and irony ridden in its delivery, he just doesn't seem as clever as that. A knowing wink every now and again to the audience could have sold the material a bit better. As it stands, a lot of the film is just bad. Characters reminisce about 'that time in Bosnia' and many (awkward) cuttaways to other team members exist only to show that, hey, all these are just blue collar friends and that these cold blooded killers are just normal people underneath all that muscle and brawn, not to mention, give more screen time to some of the lesser featured Expendables. Sexual tension between them all is palpable but just so some guys in the audience don't get uncomfortable from all that male bonding, Stallone throws in woman troubles for Statham and a corrupt Generals daughter that needs rescuing for himself. While we are on acting it is worth noting that Mickey Rourke actually delivers a very fine monologue about his war experiences. Rourke, in the film as a favour to Stallone, sticks out like a shiny penny. He has acquired genuine acting talent through his many down-trodden years that none of his other team mates could even muster for a second. It is an unexpected scene of emotion in an otherwise extraordinarily loud and very bombastic film.

So with all this focus on the many 'once great action stars' in the film, it surely lives or dies on its spectacle. Stallone goes for broke in many of the scenes here, crowbarring enough gun fights, knife fights, fist fights, car chases and giant plane explosions into the plot as he can muster. Most of these deliver, if only for the fact that the young boy in you will get a small excitement quiver at watching those action heroes you once idolised all those years ago, finally getting another chance to show they still have what it takes, before they are brought out to the pasture. A minor concern is that Stallone shoots things too close, and achieves that dreaded 'what just happened there' bug, that seems to be plaguing most big tent pole releases these days. Somehow, all of these things do not destroy the film going experience. There is at least a sense of fun that was missing from the sometimes too nasty ''Rambo''. After ''The A Team'' and ''The Losers'' we could be forgiven from getting 'action ensemble fatigue', but for the most part this stays entertaining. Events don't run on too long and just simply seeing these guys back on screen is enough to sustain interest. Action is never far away at all times, and it features plenty of bone crunching violence to laugh and wince at. If you're in on the joke then you will certainly get a kick from it. It is best watched through boozy and reminiscent eyes. The boy inside you will not be able to resist.

Verdict: 45%
Weak by almost all standards of judgement, this is pushing the 'so bad its good' category of films. I can't say that it offers much in the way of anything, but I can say that I laughed and whooped along with it. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, then rent next time you and your mates are drinking. If you are a woman, then subtract 20% from the verdict. I look forward to the already announced sequel....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Knight And Day

With "The A-Team" last week, it surprisingly found itself under heavy comparison with other similarly themed films of this year "The Losers" and "The Expendables". Quite odd seeing that all were produced and released around the same time showing that none of them can be accused of ripping off each other. Hollywood has a history of releasing similar films during the same year. You only have to look to "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon", "Antz" and "A Bugs Life", and "Dantes Peak" and "Volcano". Which brings me to "Knight And Day". While the wise-cracking, tough guy action ensembles seems to be one of the filmic trends of the year, then so too, is the action, romantic comedy. Joining "Knight And Day" this year was "The Bounty Hunter" and "Date Night". These films all offer the same things and cynically, could be looked as simply ticking off boxes for multiple demographics. Action and excitement for him and sweet romance for her. Comedy is the thing that can link these two conflicting themes together. You can't blame Hollywood for trying really, as it seems a sure thing to get both genders to the same movie, as opposed to being dragged along to "Sex & The City 2" or "Iron Man 2" by your other half depending on your sex. The result for all films in this mould have all been the same. In struggling to balance so many conflicting themes, and trying to appeal to such a broad audience something gets lost or falls behind in the final mix.

Tom Cruise plays Roy Miller, a spy on the run from his own agency and accused of going rogue. Cameron Diaz is June Havens, a sweet simple, girl next door. Through events they are brought together on the same flight. June is believed to be with Roy and as a result, the two are forced to go on the run together, getting into various scraps and scrapes all over the world, all the while harboring a 'will they, won't they' relationship. Peter Sarsgaard turns up as the agent tracking Cruise's and Paul Dano gets a fleeting part as a junior scientist genius. Despite the talents of those supporting actors, both are wasted. Focus is kept primarily on our leads and as a result, the film lacks a decent antagonist or MacGuffin. Why get actors of that caliber only to have them so wasted in their respective roles? Lucky then, that Cruise and Diaz share decent chemistry. This is the only film of the Summer relying on simple star power to sell to audiences. It does not carry the hype of other films falling back on iconic characters, or previous tried and tested material. Thank goodness then that both leads deliver. Diaz is as spunky and proficient as she has been in a while while Cruise provides the main draw to the films charm. This is as likeable and charismatic as he has been in years. He has far too many knockers in the world and despite what many think of his private life, the fact remains that he is never less than reliable and constantly delivers decent performances. Here he is affable and charming and shows just why he has managed to stay on top of his game for so long. That the film was not a huge runaway hit in the States (despite the fact it has made twice its budget back internationally) shows that his wattage might unfortunately be dipping. I myself still thinks he has what it takes to carry a major motion picture and when he is on form there are few who can match his charisma.

Director Mangold has been steadily working in wildly different genres for the past few years now. To take a look at his CV shows just how versatile he is. Results from him are never less than watchable. Here in his first major Hollywood release he proves very adept at handling the many action scenes. However there are points when the laughs just doesn't seem to blend with the large body count on screen. While remaining fairly bloodless (censorship is odd like that) Cruise still manages to mow down his fair share of agents and other interceptors after our two heroes. Another problem is the fact that while Cruise is one of the main reasons to see the film, he is absent for a large chunk of the films third act, leaving Diaz to carry the film on her own. The comedy dries up and events grow tiresome waiting for Cruise to appear again (the film paints him as an almost super-hero agent, completely incapable of getting badly injured). So while the action crackles along, Cruise shines and Diaz acts her best 'normal girl caught up in this mess' the film never rises above watchable. Shame as there was certainly talent in front and behind the camera. The final result seems wasted.

Verdict: 51%
Cruise reminds just how adept and competant he is at the action, laughs and old fashioned leading man status and Diaz shows genuine chemistry with her fellow co-star, but supporting characters are wasted, the plot soon wavers and the incredible body count is at odds with the films comedy and romance. Mangold is a talented Director but lets events get out of control and the result becomes tiresome. That final bike chase is good fun though.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Trailer - "Black Swan"

Darren Aronofsky returns after the award winning success of "The Wrestler". And it seems like he hasn't forgot his roots here, with this latest trailer for his brand new film. It seems this is a return to the freakish, and disturbing themes and images of earlier works "Pi" and "Requiem For A Dream". Really cannot wait to see this one. The film is scheduled for American release on December 1st of this year. No European date has been announced yet.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Trailer - "Catfish"

A really intriguing idea this is. It seems to be a really interesting mystery documentary. I'm sure you can find the twist somewhere online, but why spoil the surprises the film has in store for you? It's very rare for a documentary like this to come along and it will live or die on its 'big shock reveal'. But for now, I am suitably intrigued. The film has no release date in Europe yet.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trailer - "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark"

A new teaser trailer for first time Director Troy Nixey's new film. Reports from its panel at this years Comic-Con were promising and the fact it is produced and co-written by the genius of Guillermo del Toro shows there might be something to be interested about. A teaser in the truest sense, it gives a bare feel and idea for the film, suggesting it might fall into last years "Drag Me To Hell" in terms of its shocks for fun than to actually unnerve or truly terrify. With del Toro's success in guiding both "The Orphanage" and this years"Splice" to audiences they may not have necessarily found before, shows that this may be one to watch out for. The film is scheduled for release early next year.

The A-Team

Let it be noted that anybody walking into "The A-Team" without their brain switched off is bound to detest the 2 very loud hours they have ahead of them. It is dumb, shallow and very far fetched at times. It also is the most out and out 'fun' movie I've seen so far this Summer. Languishing in development hell for years, credit must go to Director Carnahan, for rescuing and giving the script the polish I'm sure it deserved. As far as translations of old TV shows to the screen goes, this film is certainly one of the better ones. In keeping within the original show's giddy and frivolous mood, it is suitably OTT. However most of the films success is down to its cast. It is the one thing that separates it from the other action films. Its leading cast members look as if they are having fun. Their sense of mischief and camaraderie is evident and can be equated in the same way a fit of giggles can spread throughout a group of people. It is quite enjoyable and easy to surrender your charms to this group. If the cast were not as good and did not look as though they weren't enjoying themselves so much, then it would not nearly be as enjoyable as a film this bombastic and overblown has any right to be.

The plot follows the same route as the original TV show. In keeping with its new time setting, the action is switched from the originals Vietnam to the Middle East. After a lengthy pre credits action scene bringing the four together, we are thrust forward to '8 years and 80 missions later'. Events take a turn when the gang are imprisoned for a crime they did not commit and sent to prison. Can they break out and gain vengeance on those responsible, while still clearing their names? As you may or may not have guessed, the plot is almost of no importance other than to string together the many set pieces the film has. If you find yourself paying too much attention you will see huge plot holes, some lackluster villains and non-sensical character arcs. Liam Neeson as the teams leader 'Hannibal Smith' is as level headed and stern as the character calls for. 'Rampage' Jackson takes over the now iconic part of 'BA Baracus' however leaves something to be desired. While perfectly suitable looks wise, he doesn't quite manage to bring enough charisma and personality to the role, on at least not the same level Mr T did, back in the 80's. The two standouts are Bradley Cooper as 'Face' and Sharlto Copley as 'Mad Murdock'. Both have great fun with their characters and could not be a better fit to their 80's counterparts. Cooper elicits easy fun and laughs as the womanising number 2, without making him sleazy or unlikeable. Copley showing again that he is going to be a great success after his breakout in "District 9" last Summer, gains the films most laughs. His insanity and penchant for using fake accents and languages provides some of the films stand out moments. In fact one of the films main problems is that it is almost too eager to get to each beat of action. Scenes of interlinking dialogue and plot cohesion seems like an afterthought, which is a shame, as I would have liked to spend some more time just hanging out with our leads. Jokes come thick and fast and while most are instantly forgettable and hardly belly aching, they add to the films charms.

Director Carnahan knows exactly what the film is and does not try to make it anything that it isn't. The film is very loud and sometimes very clunky, but are you really looking for anything other than a rollicking time when you pay your money over to a film with this title? It strives for fun and for the most part achieves it. Action scenes carry the quick ADD editing that more and more action films seem to be favouring. While there to add to the adrenaline and excitement, most of the time they elicit more of 'what just happened there?' reaction. For the most part the set pieces are fun and offer plenty of explosions for the 13 year old boy inside of you. With this years other 'ensemble team' action films "The Losers" and the forthcoming "The Expendables", the film had a surprising amount of competition on its hands. As one of the better blockbusters this Summer, it won't be memorable or achieve immense runaway critical or commercial success but if a film in which our heroes fly a tank appeals to you, then I certainly recommend checking out this team.

Verdict: 60%
A fun frothy night at the movies which is all its director and cast ever set out for it to be. Incredibly hyperactive and over the top, but its cast gain plenty of charm and provide most of the reasons to the films success.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Retrospective - 'In The Company Of Men' (1997)

How utterly despicable can a lead protagonist be before the audience feels like switching off in disgust? After all, the audience can take a bad guy being as ruthless as possible. Most of the time we thrive on the knowledge that no matter how cruel and sadistic they may be, that come the end credits, our hero will have vanquished them once and for all. When the lead character is portrayed as these things, it can more times than not, be very hard to swallow; why would we want to spend two hours of our time in the shadow of these wretched people? Scorsese has made a career out of portraying incredibly unforgiving anti-heroes, and making them interesting and watchable. Just look at DeNiro's 'Jake LaMotta', 'Travis Bickle' or 'Rupert Pupkin'. These are all incredibly hard and complex creations. They exhibit nasty and and sometimes brutal behavior and yet they are three of the most captivating characters in screen history. While characters like 'Hannibal Lector' and 'Darth Vader' usually top 'best ever villain' polls, they offer us sometimes cartoonish and unrealistic portrayals of psychopathic tendancies. That is why we love them so much; they are the epitome of evil, but offer us no grounds to assume people like this exist in real life. We can look on from afar, completely removed from the action on screen. That is why they are so fun to watch. Which brings me to "In The Company Of Men". This film I propose has the most vile, and stomach churning characters in recent memory. And why is this? Well because in the ways that we enjoy other villains for their over the top theatricality, those presented here are all the more barbaric and ruthless in that they stem from a very real place. There are people like that out there today. We can run into people like this just outside our door. And that is what makes "In The Company Of Men" the uncomfortably fascinating experience that it is.

Whatever happened to Director Neil LaBute? It was with this that he made his Directorial debut and it was met with much critical acclaim and award winning success. Now wasting his considerable talents on execrable affairs such as 2006's horrific remake of "The Wicker Man" (one of the worst films I have ever seen) and this years pointless remake of "Death At A Funeral", that he crafted something as scathingly clever and well observed as this, is quite surprising. Working from his original stage play the film plays on its own terms and offers plenty to think about come the end credits. Chad and Howard have both been recently dumped. On a six week business trip to an unnamed city they find themselves both embittered by women. Sick of pining and feeling terrible for those they perceive to treat them like rubbish they both hatch a plan. Both will date the same 'lowly' woman for the time they are in town. Both will treat her like royalty. Then, when her spirits are raised and she begins to feel great about herself for the first in a very long time, they will both humiliate and dump her. It is their way of 'taking back the power' and enacting revenge on the female species they feel has wronged them so. That their pray in question is the meek and very unassuming Christine, a deaf employee at their agency, things begin falling into place. That is until both mens actions have unforeseen affects on them. An unusual and often uncomfortable examination of misogyny in the workplace, this is one film going experience that could not be described as an 'easy or fun watch'. Indeed, upon watching it, I myself began to feel quite queasy at the sheer level of cruelty and torture on display. Not quite the same form of torture used in the "Hostel" and "Saw" films; what our protagonists specialise in here is emotional torture.

Eckhart in his first lead role in a major motion picture is repulsive, malevolent and magnificent. His is a character that thrives on power over others. He could be seen is quite a misogynist, what with his scorned put downs and general dislike of those of the opposite sex. I however believe him to be more misanthropic in nature. Look closer and you see that while on this particular occasion, those on the receiving end of his power hungry trip are women, he has the same scant regard for everyone. His hatred in this case might extend to Christine, but he holds everyone he works with in that regard. They are puny to him and he must have dominance and power over them. Eckhart portrays him brilliantly. Underneath his good looks and wide smile lies very complex and sociopathic tendencies. It could be argued that Eckhart built his career on the back of this performance and he gives it everything he has got, despite the fact it is such an ugly person. A very risky part indeed, but under Eckhart's wing it is guided to safety. He is joined by Matt Malloy as Howard. An actor I have heard nothing of before or since, he nontheless plays the puny and weak number two, to Eckhart. Sure he doesn't come up with the original plan, but he doesn't do anything to stop it. Malloy is the audience in this game of destruction. We are complicit in Chads ploy, just as Howard is. As he grows ever more uncomfortable of the game, so does the audience. Howard just might be the worse by sheer fact that he has the ability to tell wrong from right. Chad it seems has lost that trait a long time ago. As a foil to Eckhart he contrasts him in not only in looks but also personality. He is the submissive, to Eckharts domineer. Completing the trio of characters is Stacey Edwards as the unfortunate prey. She is heartbreaking in her role. Portraying deaf in a character cannot be easy and is always a tight line to walk, but Edwards here exercises a wealth of emotion with her eyes. It is through them we see the sheer pain events have transpired to. The cast are without a single false note.

As the source material is originally a play, it is evident throughout the entire film. In fact, this is one of the films criticisms. The film has very little cinematic quality to it. It favours long takes, over stylish cinematography and quick cuts. As a result the film moves at quite a languid pace. This style, certainly does allow events and actors to breathe but for such a dialogue based piece, it demonstrates very little to set it apart from its original stage production. Music is initially disjointing, until you realise the tribal rhythms are intentional in reflecting the predatorial tendencies of the protagonists; they are on the hunt and the music emulates this. Morals run very murky indeed here. LaBute seems intent on showing what men are truly capable of. Do all have the potential to be either a Chad or a Howard? LaBute seems to think so; in his world all men are cowards or barbaric. Christine is the one pure thing in this world and it is she that the men are conspiring to destroy. The title itself could mean both the sexist, male domineering company these men work for, or either the time we spend in their company. The film will almost certainly not be to everyones taste; those who don't mind the heavy dialogue and pitch black humour the film strives for, might find the uncomfortable subject matter and lead characters too miserable to want to see them through to the end of their little 'game' Those who have the head and stomach for it though will be rewarded with a very interesting and probing examination of the darkest side of men. LaBute writes fluidly and callously and exhibits a great ear for dialogue. All in all, not exactly a truly fun experience, but overall, very rewarding and rich for all the right reasons. Just remember Chad and Howard the next time someone brings up how horrible their favourite movie monsters are. After all, the scariest monsters, are those that really exist.

Verdict: 81%
A very well observed but sometimes excruciatingly cruel debut from LaBute. The cast all exhibit high standards and the writing is pitch perfect but watching in any sort of nihilist mood is 100% not advised. If this is, as it is suggested a 'black comedy', then it must go down as one of the darkest in recent memory. A fantastic debut from both Eckhart and LaBute.