IN THE CUT (2003)

Directed By: Jane Campion 
Written By: Jane Campion, Susanna Moore & Starvos Kazantzids
Based On The Novel By: Susanna Moore 
Cinematography: Dion Beebe 
Editor: Alexandre De Franceschi

Cast: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kevin Bacon, Sharrief Pugh, Nick Damici, Heather Litteer, Arthur J. Nascarella, Patrice O’Neal 

A psychological thriller: a lonely New York woman discovers the darker side of passion after becoming involved with a tough homicide detective who is investigating a series of murders in her neighborhood.


This film seemed to be dismissed and quickly forgotten by audiences and critics at the time of its release. Seen more as a failure or embarrassment. When actually it is a film that is worth exploring for the rules it abides by and the many it doesn’t. 

It’s grimy ugly not all that sexy. You don’t want to be there but are kind of forced to. As the film starts off disorienting and claustrophobic, it constantly feels like it’s tightening a noose. It stays intense with barely any noticeable score. 

Not a pleasant experience but this film is worth exploring. 

It’s strange as it is Jane Campion making a movie that is more seen as the most mainstream for her at that point and you have America’s sweetheart who wants to challenge herself and be seen in a different more dramatic light. In other words, trying to be anti-mainstream 

So you have these two working together trying to tell a tale that seems mroe obsessed with sex and maintain interest in a murder mystery that seems to be in the background until it hits close to home 

It certainly doesn’t help that all the male characters seem to be creepy as hell. Though make up a long suspect list 

The violence is more told or shown in the aftermath. After a while, the film’s problem is that you wonder what this is all about and what we are waiting for as it gets a bit monotonous at times but stays interesting. As you never know quite where it is going to go next so it feels alive 

The film is certainly well-directed though the material might not be the best. It works as everyone seems ordinary and doesn’t feel like a glamorous Hollywood production. As it does get down and dirty 

So can’t say you like or really care about too many of the characters. Especially when every cop character seems to have an overworked New York accent 

Then throw Kevin bacon into all this madness as a psycho stalking ex. He usually wears red so he might as well be labeled a literal red herring. Where you wonder why Meg Ryan’s character slept with him in the first place. As he seems to be there as a recognizable face and kind of a waste of time.

As Meg Ryan plays a nerdy teacher who is brought into all of this erotic and sexual obsession. At first, she seems Miscast almost like this film is more an experiment for her watching one time America’s sweetheart in a down and dirty role that for some might come across as desperate but for others, it shows she is up for the challenge. Between this film and her other dramatic performances in COURAGE UNDER FIRE and WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN. 

Mark Ruffalo gives the most convincing performance. As he comes across as a simple character with a lot of secrets and heMs not the type to talk about his feelings. More direct as he seems to inhabit the role than play it. Though will admit him, Nor most of the cast are the first you would think of or fantasize about seeing in an erotic thriller 

Though the film would have been easily welcomed and probably lauded had it come out in the ’70s or 80’s as it seems to agave that kind of grit and seriousness of those films even if it would have felt like more of the norm back then. Though it does show classic early 2000 New York 

It feels like a welcome daring film especially for the times that was just too gloomy for audiences of the time to really get into as it is far from enjoyable 

Doesn’t play into bigger-budgeted thrillers with plenty of tension but not as much suspense and lead up. The score is barely noticeable 

The film shows the violence that men do to women that isn’t always physical or sexual but mentally and emotionally. 

 No matter what you think you are going to get going into this film. Do you actually get, It’s A challenging film that has a mind of life or energy if it’s own. That isn’t quite like anything you might have seen before. Not for everybody 

The film is sexual and erotic but not sexy necessarily. When it comes to the more erotic scenes and nature of the film. In the cut is the first Hollywood movie where I have seen someone a man eat ass booty 

Even by the end of the film once the killer is revealed there are no real answers. It’s more left for the audience to put together from what they have seen. Not only when it comes to the murder mystery but even most of the characters’ motivations.

Grade: B- 

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (2007)

Written & Directed By: Noah Baumbach
Cinematography By: Harris Savides
Editor: Carol Littleton

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Halley Feiffer, John Turturro, Cirian Hinds, Zane Pais, Seth Barrish, Flora Closs, Michael Cullen 


 A slice of family life: sisters, husbands, children, history, secrets, jealousies. Margot and her teen son, Claude, travel from Manhattan to her family’s Long Island home, occupied by sister Pauline, Pauline’s daughter, and Malcolm, the slacker Pauline will marry outdoors that week under a tree neighbors want removed. Backbiting marks family discussion, particularly between the sisters and in Margot’s cutting remarks to Claude. Pauline tells Margot a secret that Margot promptly tells Claude. Margot dislikes Malcolm and undermines him. She also has marital problems and a lover nearby. People are cruel, inside and outside their families. Is there a refuge for Margot or for Pauline? 


I don’t know if this is supposed to be misery/tragedy emotional pornography with some humor or not. As it is beautifully filmed with natural lighting, but when you are complimenting the filmmaking or certain technical aspects over the whole of the film or you just happen to notice and focus on that more than anything else. You know the movie might be in trouble.

I was looking forward to this film having loved his previous film THE SQUID & THE WHALE. Not to mention other films he has made before and since. This was his bug follow up project. Though I have to say this was a big disappointment really his first for me. It might be because he was following up a big success and his film would have to live up to it and it falls short.

I should have known when Nicole Kidman was cast in it. Not that she is a bad actress. Quite the contrary. Around this time and. Wrote She only seems to do independent films when she wants to be noticed m. As her career might be in trouble and she wants to prove herself to critics again (TO DIE FOR, FUR, RABBIT HOLE) she also comes off as icy onscreen so if she was looking to play different. She could have tried Jennifer Jason Leigh’s role in this film.

Unfortunately for her. This was not like the redirection Charlize Theron had with MONSTER. Here she plays such a bitchy unlikeable character, It’s hard to like anything about her unfortunately for this film other than the kids the same goes for almost every character in this film. Jennifer Jason Leigh is fragile, sympathetic and pathetic. Oddly enough though this maybe the best and funniest work ever by jack black at the time. It takes awhile to get ignited but You can see all the promise people have been saying about him. Though The uncomfortable nature of his relationship with the teenage girl in the film feels reprehensible and especially after the film tries to get us on his side. After that it seems pretty easily to detest his character.

The constant war their characters have with their neighbors could have gone on longer. Those scenes might have sped the move up. The way it stands the neighbors come off like a mix of the duckie boys from THE WANDERERS and The Bumpasses of A CHRISTMAS STORY. They seem to be dirty and mean instead of just mean like the other characters in this film. Who just have better wittier one liners and vocabularies.

Nicole Kidman is the main attraction here. As the film takes place more or less around her character. Even though she is only there for a wedding, but her arrival brings old family drama and her sister’s drama and problems with her fiancé to the forefront.

Of course Nicole Kidman stands out in this film as she all but consumes the film and takes it with her. As she is thebttile character everything seems to stem from her. Even when we try to get into the side stories of other characters they are usually all connected or come back to her 

This is also the moodiest if all of writer director Noh Baumbach’s films which usually are dramatic and go to dark places though usually manage to have a smile. While the film does have humor it seems to have a chilly mean spirited vibe throughout. Which again seems to stem from Nicole Kidman’s character

The film offers the actors plenty to play with and they all get room to shine a bit, but the film and screenplay are more focused on the character of Margot. Her name is in the title.

Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, & Jennifer Jason Leigh moved in together during filming because they wanted to perfect their roles as a dysfunctional family.

The film exists as an emotional melodrama where the overall mood is depression and just melancholy with some bits of humor. While most of the characters are intellectuals.

Jack Black gives an ok performance and much was made of his appearance in the film. Here he gets to play a character who is unlikeable and normal. Which is something that is rare for him. As now he seems more the master of cameo roles or kids entertainment comedy. Though with a kind of wicked streak enough that adults still find him funny. He seems to manage to have it all.

This seems more like a film devoted to the 1970’s and with a twist of the French new wave in presenting a kind of familiar story more emotionally but also with more cutting edge pizzaz.

The film is Not a complete failure. It tries to play more like a European film or at least seems to be inspired by them. Though this film among other does make me wonder why when a film Is depressing they call it realistic and natural. There are a few happy moments that feel like simple pleasure within but in these films it just seems to be more attention paid to the doom and gloom.

Cinematographer Harris Savides used old lenses and shot mostly in natural light to get the dim, ominous look of the film. The natural light and old lenses making the hues darker doesn’t cover up sub par material. This film just heavily is disappointing. It has It’s moments but not enough for the audience. You never know you might like it.

The film feels like an overblown second novel that has too much to prove. Like the first one wasn’t a failure so it feels bloated with self importance. Like the writer is trying too hard to prove themselves. As he wants to explain things yet also be vague enough to have the evidence read into more

GRADE: C

WELCOME TO ME (2014)

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Directed By: Shira Piven
Written By: Eliot Laurence
Cinematography: Eric Alan Edwards
Editor: Josh Salzberg & Kevin Tent 


Cast: Kristen Wiig, Wes Bentley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Linda Cardellini, James Marsden, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Loretta Devine, Thomas Mann, Alan Tudyk, Kulap Vilaysack 


Alice suffers from borderline personality disorder, but she has what she needs in life. She has an apartment, she has a best friend, and she has tapes of every Oprah Winfrey show. And now, after winning the lottery, she also has 83 million dollars. What she doesn’t have is an outlet for the whole world to know who she really is. The TV station cut her off when she tried turning her lottery announcement into a frank discussion of her sexual experiences, but with her money in hand, she’s off to LA to convince two struggling TV producer brothers to produce her own TV show. Whatever it costs, she’s going to do it. From swan entrances to dog neutering, she is going to introduce the world to Alice. But is the world ready for Alice?

Continue reading “WELCOME TO ME (2014)”

WHITE BOY RICK (2018)

whiteboyrick

Directed By: Yann Demange
Written By: Andy Weiss, Noah Miller & Logan Miller
Cinematography By: Tat Radcliffe
Editor: Chris Wyatt 


Cast: Richie Merritt, Matthew McCognahey, Bel Powley, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane, Brian Tyree Henry, RJ Cyler, Eddie Marsan, Jonathan Majors, YG 


The story of teenager Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

Continue reading “WHITE BOY RICK (2018)”

WHITE BOY RICK (2018)

whiteboyrick

Directed By: Yann Demange
Written By: Andy Weiss, Noah Miller & Logan Miller
Cinematography By: Tat Radcliffe
Editor: Chris Wyatt


Cast: Richie Merritt, Matthew McCognahey, Bel Powley, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane, Brian Tyree Henry, RJ Cyler, Eddie Marsan, Jonathan Majors, YG 


The story of teenager Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

Continue reading “WHITE BOY RICK (2018)”