Bad Lieutenant (1992)
★★ / ★★★★
Even though I really wanted to like this film more than I did, I can understand why it gained its cult following. The film features dark alleys and hallways as if to resemble the dark side of humanity. That metaphor is consistent throughout so it’s difficult not to admire Abel Ferrara’s direction. Each scene is so visceral and honest to the point where it was painful to watch; two scenes I can recall right away is the scene that involves a rape and when the lead actor (Harvey Keitel) actually sees Christ. Keitel pushes his acting ability to its limit and it was great to see. His character is extremely difficult to like because he’s on drugs pretty much every hour of every day, he doesn’t really care for his family, he terrorizes unknowing teenage girls and his obsession with gambling ultimately takes a toll on his soul. That latter component, in my opinion, is the one topic that’s fully explored. On the outside, it seems like he gambles for the money but if one were to look closely, it’s more about his desperation to stay in touch with reality. Without living in some kind of risk, it seems as though the lead character doesn’t feel like he exists–at least exist in a meaningful way. As much as I love symbolism and reading between the lines, at the same time, that’s the most frustrating part of this film. It doesn’t really let the audiences know why things are unfolding as they are. It’s open to interpretation so it automatically weeds out those who are unwilling to look past the grimy, nihilistic setting. To me, it needs more focus in terms of exploring its core and why this tortured character ended up the way he is. The pictures gives us a lot of scenes that involve Keitel’s character doing a lot of very bad things but without some sort of background, he becomes the enemy instead of someone we can watch all the way through–not necessarily root for. I admired this film’s many conflicting ideas but I cannot quite recommend it because I feel like it needed more substance instead of just featuring self-destruction for about ninety minutes.
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
★★ / ★★★★
This could’ve been one of the best sequels of the “Halloween” franchise but it doesn’t reach that level because this installment tried to do too much. The magic and effectiveness of the first film starring Jamie Lee Curtis lie in minimalism: there’s not a lot of special effects (smoke, fog, rain, explosions) and the soundtrack is pretty much non-existent except during the stalking and killing scenes. And if the filmmakers do use the soundtrack, they use the theme song, not some rock and roll instrument-bashing snippets that tend to turn the audiences deaf. This one had those negative elements and it made the images unrealistic. Moreover, the writers could’ve completely eliminated the cult storyline. Dabbling with the occult is the worst one can do when it comes to writing a “Halloween” storyline because the franchise thrives on realism. The point is to make a realistic scary movie that can possibly happen on a Halloween night. That’s why the first one became a classic; because what the audiences are seeing is so relatable and real. The best part of this film was Michael Myers’ (George P. Wilbur) return to Haddonfield because that’s where everything started. It’s fun to watch Paul Rudd taking the lead but I have to say that whenever he smiles, I could not help but smile back or even laugh out loud because I’m reminded of how funny he is in his other films (especially in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”). But I think he can carry horror films quite well. Yes, this one is pretty scary because Michael Myers has more brutal ways of killing but those negative elements I mentioned tend to offset the scale from “pretty darn good” to “just mediocre.” If one decides to see this film, see it for Paul Rudd and Donald Pleasence’s final turn as Dr. Sam Loomis, the original psychiatrist who saved the lovable Laurie Strode (Curtis) from the hands of the seemingly invincible psychopath named Michael Myers.