Friday, March 25, 2005

I'm not a bad person. I'm a real good person [march 23, 2005/march 24, 2005]

Monster is a very disturbing film. It's disturbing, because it refuses to take sides. It refuses to make mush and melodrama of the events in the life of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer. Charlize Theron delivers a very very convincing performance aided by some great makeup. All you have to do for a comparison is watch Reindeer Games. Christina Ricci lends great support as Aileen's "muse", a reason to strive for a better life. It is unfortunate that the struggle ends in a journey from the good side over to the bad. What I really liked about the film was that at the end of it I had mixed feelings about Aileen, about Selby, and about the goings-on. There was an equal mix of sympathy, horror and a strong sense of sadness. Given that this is a brief work of fiction based on a much larger more complex life, tradeoffs and representative composites may be expected. But the film gets points for not attempting to go the mainstream route of Thelma & Louise (the film I was strongly reminded of). The extra features on the DVD emphasize the salient aspects of BT's soundtrack: the importance of the 5.1 layout, and the different constituent elements (including a hurdy-gurdy).

Other elements that I liked include: the shot of Aileen by the freeway that appears twice in the film (once as the background for the sole opening credit of the title, and once later on); the mix of Aileen's voiceover about her past counterpointing her efforts to find a job; the opening which features a flashback that uses a growing rectangle sharing the aspect ratio of the film that grows (along with Aileen) to fit the frame; the motif of the ferris wheel (the "monster" from aileen's childhood). And yes, the songs on the soundtrack.

Grouse: The only subtitles on the DVD are in Spanish; the extras aren't plentiful. But, at least you have a DVD. Go grab a copy, watch it, and be warned: it's not pleasant.

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