Monday, October 3, 2011

Review - 8MM (1999)

“If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you.”

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix and James Gandolfini
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Kevin Andrew Walker

Nicholas Cage is an actor that people can have an adverse reaction to, I however dig most of what Cage does, and even in those roles that he goes full on insane I can find fun in his performance. Joel Schumacher is a director that has created one of the worst comic book movies in existence. Some people still whisper its name to this day in the hopes of children not over hearing and begin to cry. However the man has made one of my favourite vampire movies (see here for the rest). So with the two joining forces, what sort of movie do we have?

Well to put it bluntly, you have a dark, depressing movie that made a lot of people want to take a shower after wards. But even if the movie goes to places most people don’t want to visit, is it that bad a movie? In my opinion it’s not. I think this is mostly thanks to the script of Kevin Andrew Walker who gave us Seven’s script which was also dark and disturbing. The script is a solid detective story, with Tom Welles (Cage) being this relentless force trying to find out if a ‘snuff’ film is real or not. The world that Tom has to tread to find the truth is a grimy place, and in firmly gets the audience on Tom’s side as they are repulsed by the world.

Credit also needs to go to Joel Schumacher as he is aptly captures the grimy feel of the script. Honestly after watching this movie I feel like I’ve just walked through a sweat filled room and feel really dirty. The fact that the movie is able to create this reaction is impressive. Schumacher really does try to capture every little nuance about the world. It’s trying to be as truthful to the story as possible, yet at the same time it can be a little much, and I can see why some people just don’t like this movie. Not because of the quality but because of the subject matter.

Acting in this movie is pretty good, Joaquin Phoenix in particular is great and is one of the few characters Tom meets that is decent. The only two people that kind of let the movie down are Peter Stormare and Nicholas Cage. Both are favourites of mine but I found Peter Stormare was just hamming it up a little too much and came off too cartoony in a movie that had played it relatively straight. Cage while doing a good job for most of the movie does cross that ham acting line a few times. Personally I would have like him to tone it down just a little. Mind you telling Cage to tone it down is like telling Juggalo’s gravity isn’t a miracle but a scientific thought. It just won’t work.

Now I think the main bone of contention with this movie is whether it was necessary at all. When all is said and done what is this movie trying to do? It’s certainly not trying to be a fun movie. How about the message? Well if there is any message to take away from this movie is that anyone can do horrible things, it just takes the right environment to foster that personality. Not exactly an uplifting message. The movie does seem unnecessary, but that doesn’t invalidate the good movie that exists here.

So besides the topic and acting issues, I think this movie is damn good. It certainly creates an atmosphere that wallows in the horrid world being presented. As for recommendations, I seriously can’t tell people to go and see it. If you’ve heard about this movie and are interested in taking the plunge and then go for it. However if you are looking for a fun movie, probably best to move on.

0.5 reels out of 1
This movie can be too grim but there is thought provoking content.
1 reel out of 1
Great detective story if not a little grimy.
0.5 reels out of 1
Some good acting, but Cage is a little too wild.
1 reels out of 1
Films feel totally captures the dark world of porn.
1 reels out of 1
Schumacher knows what tricks to use.

4 reels out of 5
Good movie with a dark heart.

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