TO DIE FOR
1995, Columbia, 106 min, USA, Dir: Gus Van Sant

There’s nothing that up-and-coming TV weather woman Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman, in one of her most audacious performances) won’t do to get what she wants. After marrying a man (Matt Dillon) for his business ties, she feels tied down by his desire for children and seduces a troubled teen (Joachin Phoenix) to get him to eliminate her bothersome husband. Buck Henry’s biting script uses the real-life Pamela Smart case as inspiration for riffs on naked ambition, the justice system and the media circus. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by director David Cronenberg as a mob hitman! "An irresistible black comedy and a wicked delight." – Janet Maslin, The New York Times


HELTER SKELTER
HERUTA SUKERUTA
2012, Asmik Ace, 127 min, Japan, Dir: Mika Ninagawa

Lilico (Erika Sawajiri) is Japan’s top model and the envy of every high school girl across the country. She is also, with the exception of her fingernails and a couple other parts, entirely fake. Created with the most advanced plastic surgery methods organized by her savvy and manipulating manager (Kaori Momoi), Lilico is a star on the verge of elite status. But as her own manufactured body deteriorates, she lashes out at and torments her social circle, particularly her infatuated assistant (Shinobu Terajima). When a philosophical prosecutor (Nao Omori) begins to collect evidence of medical malpractice stemming from the grisly suicides of models whose bodies have been destroyed by similar surgeries, Lilico’s life starts to unravel in spectacular fashion. Based on Kyoko Okazaki’s eponymous award-winning manga (2004 Grand Winner of the Tezuka Osama Cultural Prize), HELTER SKELTER has the bright sets and colorful palette of Ninagawa’s SAKURAN, with some kinky sex and macabre violence thrown in for good measure. As a kinetic look at celebrity culture and the fashion industry, the mix of black humor and gaudy melodrama makes for a satire that is appropriately in-your-face. In Japanese with English subtitles.


PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE
2002, Sony Repertory, 95 min, USA, Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson

Adam Sandler gives one of the strongest, most nuanced performances of his career in his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of Barry, the lonely, rage-filled owner of a novelty plunger company courted by shy, fellow troubled soul Lena (Emily Watson). Both beautifully romantic and tensely thrilling, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE is a surreal fever dream following Barry and Lena’s whirlwind love story as they battle a wide array of threats to their relationship, ranging from a violent phone-sex hotline “supervisor” (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to their own temperaments. Anderson won the Best Director award at Cannes in 2002 for his highly inventive, aesthetically gorgeous portrait of innocent love contrasted against a world of corruption.


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