Directed By: Donald Cammell

Written By: Donald Cammell & China Cammell Based on the novel “MRS. WHITE” By: Andrew Klavan & Laurence Klavan

Cinematography: Larry McConkey

Editor: Terry Rawlings

Cast: David Keith, Cathy Moriarty, Alan Rosenberg, Art Evans, Alberta Watson, William G. Schilling, Mimi Lieber, Michael Greene, Danielle Smith 

In a wealthy and isolated desert community, a sound expert is targeted as the prime suspect of a series of brutal murders of local suburban housewives who were attacked and mutilated in their homes. As he desperately tries to prove his innocence, his young wife starts to uncover mysteries of her own…

This film is like a jazz album. One can’t quite get into or find the correct beat to connect with to groove with it. 

This film was recommended by quite a few people. Especially as it is one of the few films directed by Donald Cammell a popular writer and director of cult films such as PERFORMANCE.

As his films are usually out there it’s expected that his films will be a bit crazy. This one Certainly is it commits the sin of being boring for most of the film Until a totally bonkers ending. Which still doesn’t save the film as a whole. 

The film shows its Giallo influences only when it uses them in the daylight. These scenes are the only time the film comes alive and its artistic touches work to its advantage. Other times it seems like a film that is pretty Mainstream and more a studio product but presented in a style that feels peculiar and not for the better. That comes off pretty bland the first 2 thirds of the Film.

The camera work is unpredictable which is a thrill. It keeps you alert. Even the casting is inspired but in the end, the ingredients are there, but the dish served comes up short.

What saves the film somewhat or at least keeps you watching is David Keith’s performance that goes from mundane to romantic to off the wall. 

Alan Rosenberg doesn’t fare as well as he comes off like a New York stereotype at first who is dim-witted and then later comes across as a new age burnout. 

Cathy morality gets a chance to not play her usually big-haired villain or tough New York City girl. Here she gets a chance to just play normally as the lead who might be a little too trusting, but other than Be the audience’s introduction to the events and revelations she is given little to work with or do with her character to make an impression.

It also doesn’t help that this film is supposed to be sexy and have a lot of sex and half the time it is usually the opposite and the seduction doesn’t seem to raise the temperature. Even the sex scenes take a while for the audience to realize what they are doing.

The film’s theme seems to be nature vs commercialism. Which represents more of an Avant-garde film abs approach that eases into trappings of the more ridiculous commercialism. 

By the end the film made me come up with some thoughts when it comes to films such as these.  Where it seems we will make excuses for ourselves to explain why we just sat through all of this, but rationalize what we have seen by giving it artistic credentials because it tries to be artistic and different. When it did take a gamble that was misguided. Ultimately it might actually be bad but if the filmmaker had success before there must be some kind of deeper point 

Usually viewed by an audience who expected it. Usually mostly caucasian looking at it analytically abs since it speaks to them or is identifiable it must be good abs preached upon. 


PATTI CAKE$ (2017)

Written & Directed By: Geremy Jasper
Cinematography By: Federico Cesca
Editor: Brad Turner
Music By: Geremy Jasper & Jason Binnick

Cast: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Cathy Moriarty, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, MC Lyte

PATTI CAKE$ is centered on aspiring rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.

I remember in the past where a movie like this that was a hit at Sundance and had a strong word of mouth from critics would do respectable business after being gobbled up by an independent studio and be well placed. As well as given a lot of exposure and publicity.

This film just seems to be put out at random to little and no fanfare. Not even playing in the usual art houses (at least as far as New York goes)

It’s a shame as this movie is a strong crowd-pleaser. That has heavy mainstream appeal. That I am shocked it wasn’t promoted more. As it doesn’t seem to be a hard sell as some independent films of its ilk might be.

The film is predictable and plays like 8 MILE only a little lighter in theme and not quite as serious. Though it does have a white female who dreams of being a rapper.

What the film does right is that it fills the film with reality but also adds in the absurdities that even when down and depressing it adds humor and a lightness of mood.

The characters are all outcasts in their own way. Especially from what is expected of them. With a positive comedic middle eastern hype man. Who works for a pharmacy by day and is a weed smoker. A producer who is a black goth and musician. The main character is an overweight bartender rapper on the search for a permanent job. To help pay the bills at home as well as help pay the medical bills for her grandmother (played by an unrecognizable Cathy Moriarty) meanwhile having to deal with a mother who was a wannabe singer and is now a lush who sings at karaoke and slides up to any man who treats her nicely.

So as you can see the cast is diverse and plays to a wide audience. Mainly anyone who feels different or ostracized. That makes the film kind of empowering.

You know where the film will end up and that victory of some kind is inevitable. Though the film has something to say about struggle, artistry, and talent.

The filmmaking isn’t awe-inspiring but it is solid. Watching the journey is fun if at times rough. But the film is rough around the edges but always has a sweetness. Even when the film chooses to be cruel or bitter to the characters at times.

The ensemble is strong, though it is rounded by a good performance by Bridget Everett as her alcoholic mother. Who is convinced sex appeal always works. Watching her here especially if you ever get to see her one-woman cabaret show is a marvel. As is the performance by the lead actress Danielle Macdonald who is actually Australian but gives off a flawless jersey accent. She had to learn to rap and master the New Jersey accent for her role. Though the writer-director wrote all the rap lyrics

The films cast being so diverse adds to the eclectic quality of the movie and its soundtrack. As well as acknowledging that most communities in society intersect.

The film does bring up race in a few scenes and even explores how real she is or isn’t in a scene with her idol a legendary hip hop record producer who tells her about realness and commodification of a race and it’s culture. So these films at least go there and acknowledge it.

The question of cultural appropriation does come up. More as an accusation from a person of color tho at first was an inspiration then drawn more to represent a villain or at least an adversary. Now by putting that opinion into a character who ends up representing bad is already bias especially when This film is written and directed by a caucasian. Making it even more questionable by kind of dismissing the idea and even more villainizibg The person go color for stating it.

The film already makes one question that invisibly this is a story about overcoming fear and following your dream a kind of rags to riches story that covers an overweight white girl and making herself feel good and overcoming her problems but the question remains would an audience or even critics like it feel the same way if the film was about an overweight African American female or would it be seen as familiar or typical. Would there be an interest or audience?

This is a film definitely worth your time. Though it will seem a bit familiar. Just as it is following a trend I am a fan of and hope to see more of, having more coming of age, uplifting stories about women and not being about romantic relationships. More films about empowering themselves and following their dreams with very little sex involved. Not tom mention a great soundtrack

Grade: B-