|The Cinema Snob|
By: William G. Muir
Hello there fellow readers, it's time for another WillseyeREview. In the past I have brought reviews on such literary works as Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare as well as Jean M, Auel Clan of the Cave Bear. But today readers I am widening my range, I'm turning my attention to the world of film.
Now everybody and their brother wants to rush out a review of the latest big budget blockbuster from the current who's it that Hollywood has a hard-on for at the moment. Not me! When I decided I wanted to do a movie review I wanted to blaze my own trail and review something I was sure you readers have not seen before. I wanted to expand your mind.
I figure at this point you are all wondering what movie I could be reviewing. Is it that film you saw on the marquee at your local theater. You know that obscure one made by some first time director. The one tucked away on the smallest screen in the back corner of the movie multiplex. A movie that no one believed would make any money, a movie that only exists because it was done as a favor for someone.
Today's movie review is part three in my look at internet reviewer and independent filmmaker Brad Jones. The movie I am about to review is the third of Mr. Jones that I have seen thus far. And I believe this film is one of his earliest films. To tell you the truth I was never one for independent anything before I discovered Brad's work. I grew up in the 1980's and became an adult at the start of the 1990's. It was at this time I first became aware of the independent scene and was quickly turned off of it. It always seemed like the people who were into the indie scene, the fans, were a bunch of pretentious pricks. I always got a sense that they believed themselves better for the type of entertainment they consumed. It wasn't until I stumbled on theCinemasnob.com website that I discover someone that was not like that at all.
So what is today's movie, I can here you asking. And to the guy that shouted get to the fucking movie already, that was just rude and a little bit painful. Just watch yourself! The movie I have chosen to review for you today is called Cheap. Cheap is a thriller that focuses on the seedy side of the pornographic movie industry and the making of snuff films. For those of you that are not aware snuff films are movies that supposedly depict extreme violence committed upon an individual which leads up to their deaths being caught on film. To this date the F.B.I. has found no evidence of any actual snuff films having been made. All that is out there is fuax snuff films. I think it would be safe to call actual snuff films an urban legend.
Our movie starts off with a once popular porn actress in the offices of porn producer and distributor Max Force (David Gobble). The washed up, drug addicted actress has come to beg Max to let her star in one of his latest films. She is in need of a fix and willing to do anything to get it.
Max is frustrated with both his life and his work. Head of the number two amateur porn distributing website on the internet Max wants more. He is fed up with the current state of the porno industry. It's full of want to be actors/actresses that make movies with no plot, no feeling. Movies whose goals are to be sexualized parodies of mainstream hits.
There was a time, before the 1980's and video tape that Max wishes the industry would return to. Back when pornographic movies were actually films. When the people who made the movies were stars. Back when porn was an art form. But sadly those days are long gone and Max is forlorn. Max wants to return some legitimacy to the porn industry. He wants to find that next big thing. But his wife (his pregnant wife) reminds him that he is nothing but a fetish peddler and that he will not be the one to make porn legit.
His wife's attitude leads to Max's drug use, which leads to Tracy getting on his case, which leads to Max abusing her.
Max is not the only one looking for the next big thing. Jack Stone (Brad Jones) a failed porn director is also looking to hit upon something new, something never done before. But unlike Max Jack actually has a plan to do something nobody else has ever done before. With the help of two teenage runaways and a camera man with a shady past Jack plans to capture brutal reality. A whole new genre of film making. Documentaries full of violence and ultra reality.
With his vision in mind Jack set out to capture it on film. The subject of his first film is a homeless man he finds on the street. With their identities hidden behind masks, the two teenage girls set about brutalizing the homeless man. They kick, stomp and just pound on a man whose only crime in life was that he was homeless. And it's all wrapped up with a pretty little bow when one of the girls pulls out a saw and removes the homeless man's head from his body.
The next day one of Jack's girls drops the video off at Max Force's home/office. Only knowing that the film is from Jack Stone, Max is interested in seeing what is on the tape. Jack has done work for Max in the past, work that made Max money. After popping the tape and watching the film Max calls in his wife and his director. Max had found what it was that he was looking for, the next big thing.
After a meeting with his staff (his wife and his director) Max plans to not only buy the movie off Jack so that he can distribute it; he also plans on turning out his own versions of this movie. His wife points out they haven't sold one copy yet, that it is too early to be talking about follow-ups. He cuts her off telling her that he knows this is going to be big and that they have to strike before anyone else has a chance to release their own violent laced movie.
Not long after making the movie available through his website Max discovers that Jack Stone's movie is the highest selling movie in his companies history. Success goes to his head and he starts in on the coke heavily, so much so that one night after sneaking off to the bathroom to get his fix his wife catches him. A fight ensues were Max tells his wife he is now rich and can spend his money however he pleases. Tracy reminds him that he will be a father soon and that he needs to start spending his money wisely and that if he doesn't she will take him for all he owns.
Later Max has another meeting with one of Jack's girls. As before she is wearing a mask. Not knowing if he can trust her if he doesn't know who she is Max can think of only one way for her to earn his trust, and that is for Max to fuck her. The girl refuses to have sex with him and gets up to leave. This infuriates Max, so much so that he physically abuses the girl and then rapes her. The whole time that he is forcing himself on this young girl he is blurting out his feeling of frustration with his wife.
Once Jack and his crew finds out what happened to one of their own they all want revenge on Max. For what he has done the crew wants his blood. No other punishment is good enough for them. But it is the victim herself that comes up with the plan for exacting revenge on both Max and his business. They go about putting their plan into motion.
I will stop there because if I was to go on any further I would be spoiling the end of the movie. If you wish to know how the movie ends either go to theCinemasnob.com and look up the movie or check out the Cinema Snob on blip.tv
So this is where I tell you if I liked the movie or not; let you know if you should go see it and my impressions of the movie. I'm not a critic, movie or otherwise. I don't know what it is you're suppose to look for to judge if a movie is good or not. I know nothing that goes into making a film, all the behind the scenes tricks and stuff. I am just a regular guy who watches movies from time to time. In no way am I an aficionado of films or anything like that. I'm just a guy who knows what he likes.
With that said what are my thoughts on this flick.
I thought the story was very good. It was a little difficult to follow at first but once the movie got going all the pieces started to fall into place making for as easily digestible plot. The story was not too complex, it was not trying to overreach, it wasn't trying to be more than it was. It was a simple story that progress from point a to point b to point c. No subplots that muddied the water and never led anywhere. Just straight forward no nonsense story telling. Thumbs up.
Visually the movie seems very dark. The lighting in this movie is very low, which I think leads to overall feel of the movie. This ain't no walk in the park, all puppy dogs and candy canes kind of movie. This movie is disturbing. While they do a good job of not being overly graphic in this movie, leaving the gore to your imagination, the scenes that do test your resolve are shocking but they do bring home the horror of the moment. Thumbs up.
The overall technical quality of the film while not polished like a big budget Hollywood film, itis good for what it is, a low budget, paid for out of the pocket, independent movie. Having seen the quality of many low budget films, ones even put out by major studios I have to say this one is not bad. Sure the text looked a little blurry, there were a few moments of the film being out of focused but I have seen worse. The thing I liked most about this and films Brad Jones has done are the sets. I like that the city shots seem to have grit to them, it reminds me of those late 70's early 80's films that showed cities to be dirty. Not all cleaned up and airbrushed like today's films. The city can devour a person's soul and you get that feeling in this movie. I also like how they use homes in actual working class neighborhoods. In a Hollywood film the home are always those of upper middle class folk. Very alien feeling if you're not from that world. But here the homes feel very accessible, I can see myself in this neighborhoods on a daily basis. Thumbs up.
We come to the acting, I will tell you this, it is better than it has any right to be. To often in low budget, hell even in big budget films you get people who honestly do not know what it is they are doing. Here you get a feeling that while these actors and actresses may never be A list stars they sure are better then most. A lot of times in films of this caliber the actors/actresses seem to be unqualified for their roles. Their performances are stiff, lacking emotion and underwhelming. Here you can tell the cast does care about what it is they are trying to do. They are doing everything they can to make the best movie they can. While at times the performances have a sense of cheesiness about them you can tell the performers are genuine with what they are trying to do. They put their hearts into their work. Thumbs up.
What did I think of the film overall, would I recommended it to you my readers? Yes, if you don't mind seeing disturbing images. Before you click on the links to see this movie you must do one thing. Think of the most disturbing thing you can think of and throw it in the trash. There is no way what you have thought of could match the level of disturbing in this movie. Brad Jones is a man with a creative mind so he can go places most of us would never even dream of. If you are willing to have your mettle strained to it's breaking point I say by all means see this movie. You will not be disappointed in the least bit.
Overall I give this movie thumbs up, 2 and 7/8th stars out of four, a 7 out of ten rating. For what flaws this movie has the story more than makes up for them.
Well that is all for me, I hope to see you next time for another WillseyeREview.