River’s Edge

river's edge

Here’s a dark little ditty about unfeeling Generation X youth not feeling much at all and slowly zoning out of life. It’s as if they’ve all taken Valium and are just getting on with things while half asleep. When one of their number is killed by another member of the gang none of them can really feel much more than apathy which they realise and it’s devastating. Welcome to River’s Edge

The killer is never quite sure why he killed he just wanted the girl to stop talking. He didn’t love her, it wasn’t a crime of passion, it was just death. The dark apathy shown by these kids throughout the film is really sad and kind of scary. They decide they need to protect their mate but at the same time are conflicted by the fact that another of their friends is dead and the killer has no remorse. In fact he just tells them and then shows them the body. Their lack of reaction to her dead naked form is a truly devastating moment.

There is a sense of dread throughout River’s Edge which is odd because we know about the murder from the first scene. The dread derives from the inability of these teens to do anything combined with the driving need for something to be done. It’s like waiting for a bomb to time down to zero but not bothering to stop it even though you could.

The main character (wotshisname) is played by Keanu Reeves. This was back in 1986 so I figure it’s early days for Keanu (pre Bill and Ted’s, pre Dangerous Liaisons). I crush on Keanu Reeves – it cannot be denied. Every time I see him in a film I get a little thrill and I may as well be 16 again. I realise this is horribly wrong as I am very well aware that the man can barely act. He is an emotionless void of stiffness in almost every movie. Sometimes that works because that is what the character is like. Sometimes it does not. In River’s Edge I am not sure that either thing occurs. The character is meant to be stiff and emotionless… but Keanu still seems really stiff and emotionless. I get that teenage girls would like him because WHO WOULDN’T?? So the romance makes sense but unfortunately I don’t think Keanu was the right bloke for this role. Of course, I don’t care because I love him forever and ever.

Further along the ‘not the right person for the role’ path was Crispin Glover as the overbearing patriarch of this little group of zoned out teens. He sucked. Not just in character but in massive over-acting. He was really annoying and repeatedly removed me from the movie because I just could not understand why anybody would have him as the leader of their pack. Also his hair is the worst mullet ever. I could never follow someone with hair like that. The weird thing is it kind of looks like a wig. Why, director, why?

Crispin Glover

“I’m really sad because the director made me wear this terrible mullet wig. Not because I’m over-acting or anything…”

I’m very glad that in the end us Gen X-ers didn’t turn out so bad after all. We all got over our sad sack ways and got on with the important stuff… at least that’s what I comfort myself with… (OMG! What will we do when these arseholes run the world?!? Hang on – they already do! Watch out for the Gen X apathy apocalypse y’all!)


Orange County


Here ‘s another movie I wish I’d seen at the time it was released. Unfortunately, since Orange County was fresh and new  (13 years ago – I probably should learn not to wait a decade to watch films…) I have seen the equivalent film about ten times. It’s pretty much every angsty boy goes to college movie you’ve ever seen but with cool cameos. It was great seeing Lily Thomlin, Chevy Chase, Kevin Kline and Harold Ramis going hard at the comedy acting. It’s a good film and it’s fun but it’s not new to me.

Also, OC has Jack Black being very Jack Black which isn’t particularly clever but is very Jack Black so it’s kind of funny but you’ll have seen it before. His tighty whiteys (floppy yellowies really) should have been a credited character you see so much of them. (I think they would be called Jock Jaundice.) May I never see them or their ilk again…

Colin Hanks plays a really likeable young man with a neurotic streak the size of a cow and a girlfriend who is way too innocent and way too good for him. The initial mix up that sees our young hero denied access to his college of choice plays the role of causing generalised mayhem as his girlfriend, father and brother (the aforementioned Jock Jaundice – sorry Jack Black…) move money, blackmail, a van, heaven and earth to get him in. Eventually everything turns out heaps good, which is nice.

I loved seeing Harold Ramis playing the Dean of Admissions and taking the “aspirin” from JB’s pocket was gorgeous. It’s so sad that he’s not with us any more he really is a delight to watch on screen. His comic timing is genuinely perfect.

Colin Hanks is  almost totally overshadowed  by everyone around him which is, I suppose, the point. He can’t find himself  or his place in the world while surrounded by those who are taking up their space in the world so loudly and dramatically.

I loved his alcoholic mother who loves him so much yet manages to constantly make his life hell. I love that she’s secretly happy when he doesn’t make it into college and quietly enjoys Jack Black’s stoner lifestyle and jaundiced knickers. I think I’m going to be like that – not liking yellowed undies, yich! – always wanting my kids to be around every day! Hopefully, I won’t become an alcoholic in the lead up to that though.

Orange County is a clever version of lots of other movies you’ve seen about starting, being at, dropping out of or living through college while you’re dysfunctional family stuffs up, is overbearing, drunken, drugged up or accidently giving the Dean of Admissions ecstasy but with way more Jack Black and a little too much Jock Jaundice.

Living in Oblivion

living in oblivion

This movie is an oddball. A movie within dreams within a movie about making a movie with dream sequences. It’s hard to keep on top of the reality and the dream while watching a movie being made as if in a dream world itself. The blending of film and reality is blurry with actors being called by both their names and their character’s names as well as the crew bringing in their problems from home into the filmmaking experience.

I have no experience of filmmaking but I can imagine that directing a film, if Steve Buscemi’s character is anything to go by, is a bit like herding cats. Cats with overbearing egos and a massive belief in themselves and their abilities… oh, just like cats really.

Have you heard of this one? I obviously had because it was on The List but apart from that I didn’t know what to expect. Living in Oblivion is an unusual beast. It is a surreal look into the world of directing an alternative film while wrangling actors, sound guys, camera operators, mothers, dealing with blowout from relationship breakups and sexual encounters – the lot – even Tyrion Lannister (sort of).

We get to watch Steve as the director maybe going nuts or maybe not. Actors come and go while trying to put their stamp on his film and because they are the ‘names’ Steve has to work around them. Clearly the movie making experience takes over all their lives to the point that reality blurs and work becomes dreams (I hate that!).

What I liked about this film was the clever use of black and white for dreams but also for the eye of the camera. There are also a few excellent moments with actors re-shooting the same scenes over and over. One in particular stands out where Catherine Keener begins by giving an amazing impassioned performance but by the umpteenth take is no longer feeling it. That must be pretty much  what it’s like. Acting would be quite draining after a while, doing the same things over and over again.

There is no action and no real outcomes, just movie making. I really liked this film but I’m not sure why. It felt like watching a play and also like reading a short story. Maybe because you’re dropped in after the beginning and leave before the end – there’s more to be said and done but you don’t get to see it.

Interestingly this is written and directed by the same person, Tom DiCillo. Can you imagine how meta it must have gotten while directing a film you wrote about being a director directing a film? Meta!