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Willard – Review

17 May

Back in 2003, when Willard came out, I was so set on seeing it. I just thought it looked like on of the coolest movies, but I guess it was never meant to be. Now in 2014, eleven years after the movie first came out, I have finally gotten a chance to see it. That could put a lot of pressure on me enjoying the movie. After waiting over a decade to see it and then finding out it was complete garbage would really bum me out. So, did Willard bum me out? Absolutely not. Willard is a special kind of blend of horror and dark comedy that works so well, it’s amazing this movie doesn’t get more recognition. willard-poster1

Willard Stiles (Crispin Glover) is an anti-social office worker for his dead father’s company now run by the sadistic and equally loud manager, Frank Martin (R. Lee Ermey). Home for Willard also offers no real escape with his elderly and decrepit mother (Jackie Burroughs) harassing him at all times of night. This changes when she complains about rats in the basement and demands Willard investigate. While Willard is in the basement, he finds a particularly smart rat that he names Socrates. As time goes on, Willard realizes he has a special connection with all of the rats in his basement, and soon the rats grow in number and Willard decides to use them to get revenge on anyone and everyone who has ever stepped all over him. While Willard’s plan seems perfect, he never bet on the capabilities of a large rat named Ben who grows to hate Willard and everything he plans over time.

Think of Willard sort of as a Tim Burton movie. I’m talking about before Burton got lost in his own stylistic excess. Everything down to the soundtrack of this movie felt like it could have been a movie that Tim Burton made, but it wasn’t. Glen Morgan, the actual director, isn’t that well known in the film world. His previous works have been on the show The X-Files and acted as one of the producers on some of the Final Destination movies. After reading up on him, I was surprised that Morgan was able to craft something like this. That isn’t a statement on his talent, but Willard really is a fantastic looking movie with a mood that is created in the beginning and held perfectly throughout the entirety of the movie.

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Usually at this point I talk about if the actors did a good job or not. Most of the times I refer to a couple of them. This time, I only need to mention one: Crispin Glover, one of the most underrated actors I have ever seen. There really is only one person that could have played the part of Willard, and Glover does it to so perfect a degree that it just makes the movie more unsettling than it could have been if another actor was playing the role. He even looks like a rat in a way, although some of that can be credited to the make up department. Still, everything from the way his voice cracks to his slight facial ticks to his posture makes this a deep and understandable character. It’s odd watching this movie almost rooting for Willard to succeed, but that’s just the power of Crispin Glover’s acting.

Of course the writing and the style of the movie helps a lot. There’s moments of Victorian Gothic type of stuff, but then there are times where the style is much more realistic, like when Willard is in a store filled with typical fluorescent lighting and a putrid green tiled floor. There’s something cool to look at in every scene, wether it’s just how the camera is set up or there’s some weird clash of time periods that give Willard a very unique, unsettling, and funny look.

And that’s just what Willard is: unique, unsettling, and funny. It’s an excellent combination of an enormously talented actor combined with excellent set designs, cinematography, and direction. This isn’t really a horror movie as some people tend to think it is. It’s more of a creepy dark comedy that made me laugh and squirm with discomfort throughout the entire movie. I wish I saw it when it first came out, but better late than never. This isn’t a movie to miss, especially if you feel some sort of connection to rodents.

 

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Wild at Heart – Review

25 Apr

I’m a huge fan of David Lynch and could realistically talk about him for an entire week straight without getting bored. When I first saw his short film The Alphabet, I didn’t really know how crazy film makers could get. Ever since then it’s been a wild ride in my attempts to find some of the most insane movies to ever have been created. This all ties back into David Lynch because he’s never let me down when it comes to mind boggling weirdness. Even The Elephant Man has some pretty strange moments, but Wild at Heart shows the same type of odd characters and situations that were present in his previous film Blue Velvet and his short lived television show Twin Peaks.

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Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicolas Cage) are two young people in love who are torn apart when Sailor kills a man trying to protect himself and Lula. This entire attack was organized by Lula’s psychotic and overly protective mother, Marietta Fortune (Diane Ladd), who forbids Lula from seeing Sailor when he gets out of prison. Of course, Lula disobeys her mother and runs off with Sailor as soon as he gets out with dreams of moving to California. As the two lovers spend their time making love and speeding down the highways, Marietta hires her private detective boyfriend Johnnie Farragut (Harry Dean Stanton) to track them down, but she also hires her other boyfriend, a gangster named Marcellus Santos (J.E. Freeman) to kill Sailor when he is found. Lula and Sailor have other problems, however, as they follow their version of the Yellow Brick Road into a small Texas town that makes hell seem comfortable. Problems that threaten to tear their beautiful relationship apart.

Wild at Heart shows a cool transition between the older style of David Lynch with films like Eraserhead and Blue Velvet and his later works like Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. It has the same dirty characters and brutal violence seen in the early films and the trippy sequences and the more oddball characters of his later movie. While this movie does act as a bridge between the older and the newer David Lynch, it doesn’t quite have the intensity and mystery of his other films. As many strange characters and scenes there are in this movie, it doesn’t have the most fun aspect of David Lynch movies: figuring out what it all means.

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Wild at Heart is certainly a romance, except seen through the twisted eyes of David Lynch, much like how Danny Boyle’s  A Life Less Ordinary had a more frenetic view on romance. The style of this movie is very effective, and really is the coolest part of the movie. The jazz music mixed with the heavy metal music Sailor and Lula listen to combined with the rockabilly attitude of Sailor is just ludicrous in a way that only David Lynch could pull off. The supporting cast that I didn’t mention in my synopsis really contribute to that insane “Lynchian” factor. Crispin Glover’s small role is memorable, even though he has three lines of dialogue at best. Returning players who’ve worked with Lynch before include Sheryl Lee in a small part as the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz, Jack Nance as a crazy rocket scientist, and Isabella Rossellini as a criminal who has a shady past with Sailor. The scene stealer in this movie is Willem DaFoe as an off the wall hit man/bank robber named Bobby Peru. Everything from his outfit to the way he talks is completely ridiculous, creepy, and hilarious in the darkest sort of way.

Out of all of David Lynch’s movies that I’ve seen, Wild at Heart is one of my least favorites. I do love the style and the crazy romance, but it doesn’t have elements that made other films in Lynch’s filmography as memorable as they are. The plot seemed to be on the straight and narrow the entire way through, with only scenes that broke up the predictability of it all. The word “predictable” is a weird way to describe a movie of this film maker, but the plot seemed to follow a pretty straight line. There were small moments that shocked me and made me laugh, but as a whole it moved in a pretty normal way which I don’t want to see when I put on a movie made by David Lynch.

The video above shows the awesome first scene of Wild at Heart, and the insanity really doesn’t slow down at all. Lynch even made the slower parts of the movie feel really weird and nightmarish. Unfortunately, the plot wasn’t as interesting as the smaller scenes that were in the movie. The soundtrack and the performances were great and David Lynch’s entire style make this movie still really, really cool. Looking at it in terms of Lynch’s entire filmography, it doesn’t quite hold up to Lynch’s masterpieces like EraserheadBlue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive. Still, if you’re a fan of David Lynch or movies that make you feel very weird, Wild at Heart is still a hellish road trip worth taking.