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Cruel Intentions (1999)

Cruel Intentions

Genre: Drama

Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon

Synopsis: Two wealthy, spoilt, and morally corrupt teenagers enter into a wager in which Ryan Phillippe will seduce the headmaster’s virginal daughter. Things don’t go to plan, however, when he finds himself falling for her girl-next-door charm.

Sometimes I wonder why it is that I am such a ho bag. Seriously, I’ve lost count of all the individuals I have had trysts with…and I’m not including that homeless guy that grabbed my ass one time. I suppose it’s part of that nature vs. nurture debate and, if I were to pick a side, I would say that it was more of a nurture thing. Why do I say that? Well maybe it’s because, at the age of 10, I idolised Buffy the vampire slayer. I didn’t want to be with her; I wanted to BE her. I wanted to be Buffy so badly that I watched everything Sarah Michelle Gellar was in so I could learn her secrets. Eventually I found myself watching Cruel Intentions. With this in mind, is it really surprising that I turned out the way I did?

Let me explain, Cruel Intentions is all about Sarah Michelle Gellar getting in touch with her bad self. Up until this film, she had only played do-gooders and likeable characters. In Cruel Intentions, she lets out her inner bitch-whore from hell and has a bloody good time doing it. She makes being a slut look like fun. How slutty does she get? Well…she propositions her step brother with something no red-blooded male can refuse.

 Butt Secks

Yes, that’s right. She offers her brother anal sex. They’re not related by blood, you understand, but it’s still pretty scandalous. I don’t remember Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons offering John Malkovich entry to her back passage…although they may have had a different word for it in 18th century France. So much of enjoyment can be had watching Gellar play the villain and it is obvious she really relished the opportunity to do it. She even looks as though she had fun making out in the park with Selma Blair.

It pains me to say, however, that aside from Gellar the film really doesn’t really offer much else in the way of brilliance. Despite having an impressive cast, none of them match Gellar’s ruthless charm (except maybe Christine Baranski who is brilliant in everything she is in purely because she is Christine Baranski). This is perhaps one of Witherspoon’s weakest roles and Phillippe doesn’t get naked nearly as much as he should. Moreover, the plot plods along at a rather slow pace and not enough is done at the outset of the movie to inspire empathy for Phillippe’s character. When the climax finally happened, I was rather underwhelmed. Having said that, the film does have a banging soundtrack and features instant 90s classics such as Every You Every Me, Coffee & TV, and Bitter Sweet Symphony.

All jokes about me being a ho aside, the film does offer one useful piece of advice to teenagers and young adults: it’s alright to get your baps out in private but for the love of God don’t take photos. Tara Reid learns the hard way in this movie….which is kind of ironic if you think about it….or maybe it’s just appropriate…

Tara Reid BoobsI’ll let you be the judge

High-lights:

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar inspiring me to be a cunt and a slag. Although, I do draw the line at cocaine and incest.
  • Brilliant soundtrack.
  • IT’S SO 90s!!!!! So much nostalgia.
  • Score one for the lesbians.

Downers:

  • Boring and two-dimensional characters.
  • Wealthy teenagers piss me off.
  • Disappointing climax.

Summary:

Cruel Intentions is not the sort of film that will inspire admiration and it’s not the sort of film that will make anyone’s top 10 list. It’s clunky in places and, at times, improperly thought out and executed. However, I would advise you to watch this film purely for Sarah Michelle Gellar. Although she’s no Meryl Streep, Gellar has her own strengths and her own charm which are deployed in full force here and it’s always fun to watch a movie that has a brilliant villain.

5.5/10

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Filed under Drama, Meh

Pleasantville (1998)

Pleasantville

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Cast: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels

Synopsis: Two 90s LA teens get sucked into their TV and find themselves in Pleasantville, a black and white 1950s-esque TV show where everything is perfect because no-one has had an orgasm.

Everybody wishes that life could be more perfect. I wish life could be more perfect when I’m bored at work and my editor is giving me the stink-eye. I wish life could be more perfect when the police arrest crack-heads on my doorstep. I even wish life could more when I see a dead cat floating down the canal in the park near my apartment. Unfortunately life, like Halle Berry’s filmography, is not perfect. Pleasantville is an interesting film because it examines the costs of perfection and why life is so much more interesting and beautiful when there’s diversity and when crazy shit happens.

At times, the film gets very heavy handed with its message which can get quite annoying. I know racial segregation is bad. I don’t need the characters to tell me that it’s wrong to separate coloured people from monotone people…I’ve seen 12 Years a Slave….I have enough white guilt to last me a lifetime. If you can ignore the preachiness of the film, however, Pleasantville can be very enjoyable to watch as it manages to balance laughs with stunning visual imagery.

From a visual standpoint, this film does some really interesting things with colour. I can’t say for sure if there was or was not any digital trickery or if it was simply the lemon haze I was smoking, but when colour is used in this film it really pops. The first use of red for the rose is particularly mesmerising and the scene with the playing cards was weirdly orgasmic…which was kind of appropriate what with the whole ‘fuck until you see colours’ thing.

On the comedy side of things, this film does a good job of poking fun at the differences between America in the 90s and the 50s without really coming to a conclusion about which is better. Sure, teenage slutiness and MTV was rampant in the 90s but you know what was rampant in the 50s? Racism. Sure, breakfast was more traditionally American in the 50s but you know what else is as American as maple syrup covered bacon? Diabetes. The film turns the idea of ‘the good old days’ on its head by showing both the positives and negatives of each era and, thanks to a wry wit, it manages to so in a way which is amusing and engaging which is all you can really hope for when it comes to comedy.

High-lights:

  • When Reese Witherspoon’s crush calls her a bitch.
  • The film made me appreciate how beautiful colours are. I know that sounds cheesy but can you imagine being completely blind to colour and then suddenly waking up and seeing red or green? Your mind would be blown.
  • The scene with the art book was a stroke of genius.
  • Fiona Apple’s cover of Across the Universe is surprisingly good.

Downers:

  • Preachy.
  • Oh Shit that’s Paul Walker! Oh shit….that’s Paul Walker. Sad face.
  • Those kids have a terrible mum….she doesn’t even realise one of her kids is still stuck in TV land.
  • It upsets me to think that there are teens out there as slutty as Reese Witherspoon in this movie. I blame MTV. Everyone should have a slutty phase but it should be in college when your parents and elderly relatives won’t find out about it.

Summary:

Pleasantville is a cute and quirky little film from the 90s that should be easy viewing for everybody. There isn’t anything particularly unlikeable about it but, unfortunately, it falls short of being one of the greats of the 90s. However, the film will be a lot more enjoyable if you’re baked because then you’ll be able to truly appreciate the film’s use of colour and some of its more artistic aims. If you’re not into that sort of stuff, then at least watch it to see Reese act like a teen ho and get called a bitch.

7/10

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Filed under Comedy, Drama, Good