Sunday, June 19, 2011

Short Takes: "The Other Woman", "Kaboom".

Will someone please tell Gregg Araki that he's no David Lynch? Despite his florid use of intense white lights for scene transitions, psychosexual explorations and use of actors with animal masks, Araki lacks the conviction of Lynch to deliver stories about chaos within the quotidian. Take this for example, in Kaboom, Dekker plays Smith, a sexually "undeclared" film student who lusts after his surfer roommate (Zylka) while having an affair with ferocious British import London (the truly and utterly fantastic Temple). One night after consuming hallucinogenic cookies, Smith accidentally realizes there's more than meets the eye at his campus and soon finds himself part of a dangerous game involving masked cult members and apocalypse worshipers.
Araki fails to make his film's plight something worthy of our attention and the more he deviates into selfindulgent moments where he uses witchcraft and sci-fi, the less we are thrilled by his film. What Araki gets right is the extreme horniness and carelessness of college students: the irresponsible way in which they engage in affair to affair as if life was merely comprised of hookups and partying. He also aces the relationship between Smith and his best friend (Bennett) even if Dekker is too passive an actor to inspire more sympathy towards his character.
Best in show? Temple, whose fierce London asks "would you like to have sex?" seconds after meeting you. The fact that you wouldn't think of saying no to her is what the whole movie should've felt like.

Natalie Portman is a truly hit-and-miss actress. Send her to a great director and she blossoms onscreen (Black Swan, Closer), place her under the tutelage of a more divisive filmmaker and all bets are off.
While Don Roos has proven himself to be one of the most clever makers of "movies for grownups" (see the underrated Bounce and Happy Endings) Portman lacks the presence to play The Other Woman her baby face and whining come off as annoying more often than not as she plays a second wife, trying to get her stepson (Tahan) to like her. The film's languid pace doesn't help to convince us that any of these characters even want their lives to be onscreen.

Kaboom **½
The Other Woman

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