Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Kim Basinger, Billy Bob Thornton
Director: Gregor Jordan
FROM THE AUTHOR OF 'LESS THAN ZERO' COMES A NEW TALE OF 1980S LOS ANGELES AS A LOST GENERATION DRIFTS THROUGH A WORLD OF LUST, GREED & ADDICTION.
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Underwhelming and unengaging look at the decadent 80s
z hayes | TX | 08/30/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Intrigued by the premise of the decadent 80s in LA [and all the star names associated with this movie], I decided to rent it. The result however was completely underwhelming, and left me feeling disappointed and annoyed at wasting my time on it. The movie plays out ala "Crash" in the sense that you have all these characters that are kind of linked with each other through certain circumstances. There's a Hollywood honcho [Billy Bob] who has a tumultuous and strained relationship with his wife [Kim Basinger] because of his dalliances with a newscaster [Winona Ryder]. His son [Jon Foster] is heavily involved in a world of sex and drugs, a world which includes his promiscuous girlfriend [Amber Heard]. There's a father-son pair who can't seem to connect with each other [Chris Isaak and Lou Taylor Pucci], a disillusioned rock star [Mel Raido], and a doorman [Brad Renfro, whose appearance in this movie was his last prior to his death] who is forced to put up with his con artist/criminal uncle [Mickey Rourke] and his nefarious activities [which include the kidnapping of minors].
The story arcs seem compelling, but they are never explored with any great level of depth, and the connection between these various arcs are at best, tenuous. I just felt underwhelmed by most of the performances - Billy Bob just seems to have this vacant expression on his face for most of the movie, Amber Heard's performance highlight was exposing her delectable bits and pieces, Brad Renfro blubbers throughout, and the list goes on. The exception was Kim Basinger who is actually quite compelling and credible in the role of the betrayed wife.
"The Informers" tries its best to engage viewers' attention and elicit sympathy, but I felt emotionally disconnected from the major players, and felt the movie was shallow and under-developed in its' theme and characters portrayals. A rental at best.
An Under-Appreciated, Bold and Faithful Adaptation
Michael K. Crowley | 09/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I almost never review anything anymore, but I'm reviewing the motion picture adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' THE INFORMERS because I honestly believe it was treated patronizingly, haphazardly and unfairly by most professional film critics.
THE INFORMERS--the movie--is an unusually faithful adaptation of the collection of stories upon which it is based. I consider "The Informers" a novel, but Ellis considers it a collection of short stories. In any event, the film certainly looks exactly like I imagined it would look. There are minor changes here and there, and the absurd vampire stuff is omitted (mercifully) because it would have stood out as atonal and conspicuous.
The fiction of Bret Easton Ellis is clearly an acquired tasted. Initially, I loathed it, but after time it began to grow on me and I feel he has the knack for capturing what was so titillating, repulsive, appealing, magnetic, compulsive, empty, vacuous, frightening and true about that period between 1981 and 1990.
I suspect, and I may be wrong, that most critics who detest the movie THE INFORMERS neither read the book upon which it is based nor like the novels by this author anyway.
Bottom line, for me: This movie is faithful in tone and spirit to the novel and waddles unapologetically in precisely the type of deadpan, vicious, fierce satire at which Easton excels. Yes, it is at times painful, loathesom, horrifying. And the tone oscillates to include the broader satire of his work, as illustrated by the father and son trip to Maui, punctuated with flashes of extreme sincere pain. Note Kim Basinger's performance.
In truth, the movie is actually kinder and gentler than the book.
It would be interesting to read the critiques of readers who "get" Ellis' work and see if their opinions vary drastically from the conventional talking points about this film constituting an utter failure.
Admittedly, it is by no means a perfect film--and it would perhaps have benefited from being longer--but it is far, far better than most of the reviews would lead you to believe. You want to see an awful adaptation of an Ellis novel? Check out LESS THAN ZERO. The only thing the movie and novel have in common is the title.
In addition, I highly recommend the collection of stories upon which it is based, the original book "The Informers."
As an afterthought, I am shocked to see people actually asking "What is this film about?" Is it not obvious what it is about?
I mean, really."
An accurate depiction of the feeling of desperation...
Kirby L. Wallace | Tulsa, OK USA | 09/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
As I began watching this movie, the immeidate parallel that I drew was "Less Than Zero." I didn't know until it was over, and googled the cast, that I found out that it was written by the same guy. Very similar in mood.
In fact, I think the mood is more the point of the movie than anything else, and in that respect I can testify for it's accurate portrayal since I was exactly the age of characters at exactly that time. The dress, the look, the "searching", the feel of opulent loneliness, or exquisite desperation... It really did feel exactly like that in the early to mid eighties club scene.
Others have criticized the story line for being shallow, but hey, we were shallow. There were a couple of places that I thought seemed a bit "contrived", but even those mirrored some of my own sentiments from that time. I'm speaking of one instance where two of the guys are talking, and one of them is beginning to question his lifestyle and the other is definately not. He begins talking how he needs "someone to tell him what's right and what's wrong..." and I'm thinking, "Well, that came out of nowhere..." But when I look back, I did a lot of the same questioning myself, after coming home from a night on the beach clubs.
The movie is a series of pretty much independent character stories, in the same sort of vein as "Crash", but without the obviously clear connections between all the characters. They seem less connected to each other than in Crash. I'm not sure what Renfro's and Rourke's characters had to do with anything, though, and that whole plot line could have been dropped from the movie entirely with no sense of loss at all. Not sure what they were there for other than to perhaps lend a hand to the feeling of depression which I think this movie is intentionally trying to create. Same for Bassingers and Thornton's character line.
In fact, so independent are the stories from each other that you could drop almost any of them with no noticeable impact. The movie is the sum total of it's parts, but the sum would certainly be a bit less with any of them missing. Altogether, they create an "air" of emptiness, loathing and desperation that really were the mood of 80's nightlife. "To Live and Die in LA" has the same sort of grittiness to it.
What will help you survive this movie is to look at it differently than you are accustomed to. If you go in expecting the characters introduced at the beginning are going to be redeemed by the end, you will be disappointed. If you expect this to be a movie where all the knots are untangled by the end, where the rough edges are made smooth, the dillemas resolved, and harsh reality eased and made more bearable... you will be disappointed. This movie goes the other way and makes the smooth edges rough - the closing scene is particularly jagged.
Also of note is the soundtrack. It includes a lot of the "big names", but it's nice to see a movie about the 80s that doesn't neglect to remind you that there was lots of music on the scene other than "Flock of Seagulls". The soundtrack includes a lot of the other 99% of songs that never really made it to the Top Ten. This has the effect of intensifying the feeling of authenticity. You recall the music being like that, but not necessarily who did it. And that's the way 80's music really was. It was ubiquitous yet largely unknown; extremely transient. The only thing I can think of conspicuously missing is any reference to Miami Vice, although a character in the opening scene is dressed much like Don Johnson just before he gets killed.
The sex is gratuitous and I could have done with less - a LOT less, in fact. But I think it may have been made excessive, but not specifically gratuiotous. I think there was a reason: it was to make a very hard impact on the closing scene. The dying Christie, laying on a cold, sunless beach, pale, ravaged now with AIDS. And on her pale, bruised covered thigh, a fly lands and crawls about for a while, while her former lover looks at her. This is the same beautiful body we were seeing before, now only weeks later cold and nearly dead with flies crawling on it. The contrast between soft and beautiful, and diseased and infected, on the same skin in so short a period of time. That really was a bit of a shock.
Mis-comprehended Satirical masterpiece.
J. Freedman | Michigan | 03/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bret Easton Ellis is not the everyman's writer. He is a literary writer and a noble, hilarious satirist. The Informer's is mood and tone perfect a translation of his literature to film. This appeal won't necessarily be the right kind of appeal for most people, however the implicit satirizations of social convention, indifference, vanity and acceptable decadence ring true as important motifs worthy of cinematic exploration.
This movie does not have a plot with a start and an end. We meet doomed souls, with very sad lives, where everything gets worse and nothing is ever answered. How unlike real life is it? Is it the pre-occupation with narcissim and nihilism and hedonism that these men and women so lose themselves to it, merge with the emptiness and become...nothing. Several of the actors bring true emotional gravitas to their performances and it is scalding. Mickey Rourke is terrifying. Kim Basinger is sad and weak and desperate and conniving. How could anyone sympathize with any of these characters? That's right you can't. The beauty is in the subversion, as these questionable people hold up well underneath current civil concepts of social stature. These are the wealthy status symbols that have obtained the American Dream, and have lived it so raw that no meaning can possibly be gained from it. This is a lesson in casual moral truth. The Informer's is a very important satirical piece, written by a genius satirist. Within fifty years, this film as well as his literature will be regarded as some of the most sadly insightful criticisms of society, social status elitism and the prosperity inherent to it. He tears it apart, perhaps some of the caricatures are too exaggerated, but they were envisioned with feverish dispassion and precision.
The movie gains momentum by the loose and abberant connections that character's have with each other. If you read the book, you would know that Peter (Mickey Rourke's character) was a child trafficker, that sells children to West La Vampires (basically people that pretend to be vampires to be hip, but are in actuality cannibals). The elucidation of the film in its true form, is that of a social horror, a social tragedy, a society of people disaffected and misguided by their own ambitions. Their are attributes to these characters that can have initial appeal, and this may or may not fool you. You can laugh at its absurdity, and recoil at its reprehensibleness. Either way the comedy creates a reactionary state to the film watcher, just as the literature does to the reader. You will be appalled, but perhaps fascinated at the characters decay, the moral etoliation. The movie will make you cringe, an very possibly un-nerve you in some scenes. This film does not belong in any clear cut genre. Their is drama in it, but it is satire, and horror with a beautiful mock-superficial appearance.
The motif of false idolatry. Oh. Famous muscians! So many people listen to a musician and identify with their music, but cannot truly see the humanity behind it, only believe in the illusion of the lyrics and what they would mean if they were real. In the film Bryan Metro is a pedophile. He is a reptilian abomination, that lives and lies in a state of bizarre decadence and irredeemable moral decay. His only saving his grace? He loves his son. As would any father. Their is humanity to each character, but only the vaguest glimmer. Why are famous musicians so reveered in our society? So beloved? Should a musician that is also a pedophile, or extremely physically abusive be reviled, or worshiped by fans? Can you think of any famous musicians that were pedophiles or were very abusive to women, but were culturally worshiped? What is the morality of that? Is ignorance then worthy of derision? People lose themselves in the fiction of the lyrics, the sound of the music, so that that entity becomes something more than just a person, irregardless of any moral or ethical decisions he/she makes. Art is a human expression, then what is the significance of it progenitor? According to the satire of The Informer's, absolute nothingness. The Informer's has a mock-superficial pretense, and it is merciless in its proficiency at creating two dimensional characters that only have the vaguest trace of humanity within them. How poetic their decay is.
The Funeral scene is hilarious. Model and acting headshot's with Pat Benetaur music playing, followed up with the group of the deceased best friend's saying terrible callous things about the person who thought they were his best friends? The satirically educated can't help but to laugh at this funeral. Why would a man stand topless in the middle of the desert to look sexy for a picture, why would this be displayed at a funeral, why would they have a Sushi bar at a funeral wake? Absurdity, hilarious if you look at it through a fine lens. To the non-satirically educated watching this movie is like swallowing the broken glass of a vanity mirror. Just as in the literature, the film characters will tempt you with their physical appeal, socio-economic status, intelligence and pleasure indulgence. How different are these people from anyone? Their are definite distinctions made in an almost abstract caricature as to what defines the significance of a person. This film is a reflective piece about a brain-dead society. He proliferates its appeal while at the same time revealing its primitivism. Given fifty years this movie will be regarded as a very sad, yet very important and insightful period piece about American society, specifically LA, but it also does have a general view of our civilization, through the wonderful, eccentric satirical genius, of Bret Easton Ellis.
Having characters with extremely flimsy pathos and some so far beyond redemption that hope vanishes, is a tricky venture for any story teller. Wouldn't it then be to the films benefit to see that he doesn't rely on the sympathy, or the forced emotional reaction that typical dramatic pieces entail? No, this film is full of anti-pathos, mock-carictures, of people that many would consider to be of very high stature and importance in our society (envious of or deeply hated). In that regard this movie is fearless, it has no sense of the common of the world, and in doing so alienates most of the audience that could have appreciated this film, for its extremely unique mood, tone, and societal insight. If I could name a genre for this movie it would be classified under "mock-superficial satirical horror disguised with beautiful aesthetics". Yes this movie is way too sophisticated for your average movie goer and frugal film critics. It's pretend shallowness is a ruse for its true message, which is very difficult to comprehend, try to wrap your mind around it, and your head just reels, you don't want to take it in, its too much revelation in sadness. It is truth revealed by lies. It is satire, and The Informer's is a very rich, full bodied satire. A comedy that never relies on nonintellectual chaps for its laughs and for its terrors.
All of the characters are essentially hollow. Their is an INTENTIONAL lack of depth. This is how their lives are satirized. This is how he makes the movie-goer a hypocrite. Watching this movie is a negative experience, but it is fascinating, their nothing else like this out there.
To emphasize this; after the child abduction, Peter tells Brad Renfro's character that they never left desert, and that all their is is "the dust the sand and the rocks". Desolation, moral poverty, destroyed dreams, aimless souls, morally corrupt cultural superiors. When does it stop. It stops very suddenly when we realize that every relationship has failed, and that the only fleeting chance of true love and romance in the film is extinguished when it dies on the beach, in a beautiful cinematic shot of Christie's dire physicality on a sun-less beach. For every question there is no answer. The final shot is also symbolic of her moral character's moral dissolution, how profoundly lost her innocent soul truly is. Despite her disease and carelessness she just wanted to be a hot popular girl, she wanted to have fun all the time, she wanted pleasure, and money and fun. Doesn't this compel many people?
Sadly the film's negativity un-did its own possible popularity, commercially and critically. That is not important, though. This is a great period piece about a society that is afraid to look at itself in the mirror. When confronted with this reflective piece, we recoil in shock, disgust, terror and confusion. The fact that this movie willfully brings forth such powerful human emotions in the movie goer is perfect credence to the films significance. Positivity doesn't necessarily make a movie important. Nor is this movie a "great tragedy" film. It's a reflective satirical horror film. This is a satire with teeth and claws and a giant maw. Fearless and foreboding and sullen. I have nothing good to say about this movie, other than that it is misunderstood by most movie goers and film critics. The flaw is not in the film, only in the hypocritical and appalled minds of the movie goers. You shall not grieve for the fates of these character, only observe in detached fascincation and disgust as their lives unravel into destruction and anti-revelation.
A magnificent film. Not for the faint of heart, or weak of mind. A background in satirical writings, especially Ellis's works, would be preferred before this movie could be understood, or what should be said, comprehended."