My Friend Dahmer


Viewed – 23 June 2018  online-rental

When movies attempt to tackle the subject of a real life serial killer, the results are often sensationalist tabloid rubbish that fail to reveal anything new or a deeper understanding.  This movie tries to show a side of one of America’s most notorious killers during his high school years, before he became a monster.

myfrienddahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer (Ross Lynch) is portrayed as a heavily introverted loner school kid who gets befriended by some other kids who go about promoting yet inadvertently ridiculing him in an attempt to bring him out of his shell.  Jeffrey goes along with such treatment in a desperate bid to find a connection and a distraction from morbid urges, confusion with his sexuality and constantly quarrelling parents.

Director Marc Meyers’  movie fails to delve under Dahmer’s persona to reveal what made him tick or how such urges developed that eventually lead to particularly depraved murders.  Instead we have him as little more than an oddball that would occasionally act out for attention.  Newcomer Lynch gives a subdued, rather weak performance, perfecting a slumped stance but not much more.  The casting of Dahmer’s parents (including a stand-out Anne Heche) is more interesting and from what I hear, pretty much on the nail.  Based on a graphic novel by Dahmer’s high school friend this more than likely throws in some artistic licence with what went on and who Dahmer actually was, but ultimately fails to do much more than showcase a weirdo with a few alarming habits.  Considering who Dahmer became, this barely hints at any of it, making the final scene feel a bit of a stretch …despite the facts.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


Viewed – 08 February 2017  Blu-ray

Throughout the eighties and to a lesser extent the 1990s, director John Hughes made some of the most memorable and fun movies I’ve ever seen (big breath: The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Home Alone, Plaines, Trains & Automobiles).  Arguably this is his crowning glory, the simple tale of the popular smart-ass (but likeable) school kid who chooses to take a day off school, and out smart the authorities at every turn.  I was always appealed to the cool-kid-gets one over the grown ups idea (and that was never me, by the way) often seen in similar movies and tv shows like Back To The Future and Family Ties (and yes, Michael J. Fox would have been perfect for this), so this remains one of my all time faves.

Matthew Broderick

Matthew Broderick made a bit of a name for himself in roles where he played the cool kid in films like War Games and Biloxi Blues – but it was his turn as the iconic Ferris Buellar that cemented his reputation.  Everything about this film just plants a big goofy grin on ones face – the opening POV sequence as Ferris lays down his plans to the viewer, to the carnival float Twist & Shout bit, and finally the edge of the seat run home before the folks find out he’s not sick at all and has been fooling them all along (!).

Mia SaraThe teenager in all of us (no matter your age) will have something to like and find familiar, be it the dawky best friend, the hot girlfriend (or that hot girl u wished was your girlfriend), the boo-hiss Principle (a career best from Jeffrey Jones), or just all those eighties moments from the fashion-sense to the music to the fast cars to the jokes – all zip along so wonderfully, that well this is pretty much the perfect movie – and thankfully free of the angst of other John Hughes films like Pretty In Pink.  Therefore, very little dates this one – and that is why it’s still as fresh and enjoyable as it was all those years back.

The Blu-ray (I picked up the limited edition Zavvi exclusive steel book) is for the most part impressive.  The image is vibrant and has some good detail but does leave in the odd soft still image occasionally (house interiors, wider city shots) preventing it from being a total home run.  The soundtrack in 5.1 Dolby Digital True HD has several great 80s music cues that deliver a lively and punchy experience, and dialogue throughout is crisp with only occasional (very minor) lip-sync issues.  The plentiful extras consist of archival and slightly more recent interviews and behind the scenes featurettes that prove invaluable for fans.  No commentary from director John Hughes (which does exists somewhere I’m told) but with attractive menus and the classic, always appealing allure of the movie itself … this overall, is an essential purchase.

Verdict:

(the movie)  5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  4 /5

Everybody Wants Some!!


Viewed – 14 October 2016  Online-rental

As soon as I heard about this I wanted to see it.  Director Richard Linklater’s as he puts it ‘spiritual sequel’ to one of my all-time favourite movies; Dazed and Confused.  This like Dazed follows a group of high school students but is now set in 1980 rather than that movie’s 70s and on the eve of starting college as apposed to the last day of school.  It primarily follows baseball pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) as he arrives at a frat house and becomes acquainted with the rest of the college baseball team; a group of guys who seem obsessed with getting high, partying and getting laid.

Everybody Wants Some!!

It’s hard to not make comparisons with that earlier movie, as I kept being drawn back to it for everything this one lacked.  Jake is the only particularly likeable character here but even he has very little ark but for a tacked-on romance towards the end.  Everyone else are simply obnoxious stoners or loud-mouthed jocks who despite being believable … I really wouldn’t enjoy being in the company of.  Also Jake’s story is the only one we follow, nobody else has a ‘journey’ or any real defined personality and frankly several of the characters are very similar to one another.  Also situations rarely had any pay off, like an early scene with a water bed and a little later on one character having to leave for the weekend because his girlfriend might be pregnant … but when he returns, it’s never mentioned again.

That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have it’s merits.  Linklater’s keen observations of the era and setting are well done and the soundtrack on the whole is decent (the movie starts off well with The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’).  And well, It all looks pretty good too, shot with an  early eighties vibe that works a treat.  Just a shame the wafer thin characters and lack of interesting situations means that unlike ‘Dazed it’s unlikely this one will achieve anywhere near the same cult status.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Dazed and Confused


Viewed – 25 January 2015  Blu-ray

Dazed BluThis for a long time has been my go-to movie to just chill out and relax with.  Something about this 70’s set high school comedy-drama just feels very comfortable.  I’ll put this on occasionally because hell, I enjoy being in the company of these characters probably more than any movie I can think of.

Set on the last day of school this follows the (mis)adventures of various school kids as they go to parties, hang out, drive around, cause a bit of mischief, contemplate their futures and learn a little bit about themselves along the way.  You could say the main character is a freshman called Mitch (Wiley Wiggens) who is one of several targets for drop out thug O’Bannion (a before he was famous Ben Affleck) who likes to spank these kids with a softball bat as some sort of ‘initiation’.  Mitch gets into various encounters and we follow his story but at the same time we have quarterback ‘Pink’ who’s trying to figure out if he’s going to stay on in the college football team, and along the way we meet several other fascinating and interesting personalities like super-sleazy but super-cool Matthew McConaughey and a stoner hippy chick Mila Jovavich.

Dazed

I think there is a character in this movie for anyone to relate to, someone was one of these characters when they were at school – were you the cool guy the girls all looked at, or the geeky kid that just wanted to fit in, or someone in-between?  That’s the magic of this and add Richard Linklater’s assured, very authentic and (clearly in love with the subject matter) direction, mixed with a soundtrack to die for (Ozzy, Deep Purple, Cooper…they’re all here) … and I think this is one of the best high school movies ever made – if not THE best high school movie ever made.

Dazed MitchThe Blu-ray that I imported from the U.S. may not be the bells-and-whistles Criterion release (I reviewed the Criterion DVD release HERE).  Yet this Universal edition boasts a picture full of fine detail even if the colours lack a little vibrancy (but seem to suit the 70’s look and feel).  However the big showpiece here is the soundtrack with clear dialogue, decent use of surrounds and most importantly the iconic music given major, thumping treatment to really show off your speakers (has Alice Cooper’s School’s Out ever sounded better?).  Extras are rather limp however with no commentary and little more than deleted scenes and a music feature that you can bring up with Universal’s U-Play mode.  Very disappointing for a movie that that for me, is a stone cold classic.

Verdict:

(the movie)  5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  3.5 /5