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Sociopaths for justice!

Recently watched Hard Candy and Payback: Straight Up. Neither may have a lead character that is actually a sociopath in the now obsolete technical sense, but whatever. Both have a hardcore, crazy, yet principled lead. Sort of like Darkman.




Hard Candy is a tough watch at times. It's about a 15 year old girl who hooks up with 30 year old man she met on the net, and goes home with him. The much publicized twist is that she isn't interested in fucking him, and he isn't about to take advantage of her. Quite the opposite, actually. She spends most of the movie physically and emotionally torturing her would be lover. She is almost unwavering in her confidence she's doing the right thing.

The vast majority of the film is spent in a house with just characters, and these somewhat confining aspects can add to the overall uncomfortable feeling of the movie. It's sort of like a light, morally complex, Americanized Funny Games with really beautiful photography. Seriously, the colours, angles, and focus come together to make some brilliant, even slightly distracting pictures.

--Incidentally, Haneke is remaking his excellent Funny Games, originally German, in English with Tim Roth and Naomi Watts. It's in post-production now, and slated for an early 2008 national, but limited release. After Caché (which, except for its director, was a French production), I'm looking forward to it with great anticipation. If you haven't seen the original, you should. It may not be easy to find, but Netflix or a really good rental store should carry it. Keep your eyes open.--

Payback: Straight Up is a drastically different cut of the decade old Payback, with Mel Gibson and Maria Bello. A lot stays the same, but, even then ,it can feel different. The whole movie used to have this bluish tint to it; that's been replaced with varied film treatments, causing scenes to look warmer, less washed out, or crisper than in the older version, adding nuance. Gibson's narration as Porter, the lead character and mostly heartless criminal, is gone. Kris Kristofferson is out. So, too, are most of the cheesy moments. The score was newly commissioned for Straight Up, with only 'Ain't that a Kick in the Head' making a return from the original. The whole third act has replaced with something you've never seen before. The Hollywood mandated ending and humour are no more.

What's left is a grittier, meaner film with a much more retro feel. Really enjoyable, fun, and cold blooded all at the same time--though it's worth pointing out that the most brutal moment from the original theatrical release isn't even hinted at in the newer cut. Because both version are so different from one another, there's no reason you can't own and enjoy both the original and the newer one.

Included with the new HDDVD--I think you can get it on Bluray, too, but I don't believe it's available on old school DVDs--are a couple commentaries I haven't yet delved into, and several featurettes. They're not exactly the most compelling fare, but they can be interesting, as they offer a look into why the director/writer left the project, leaving Mel Gibson to make a more Hollywood-pleasing film; what the process was in recutting; how the new score came about; what shooting the film was like for everyone; and how the author whose book was adapted for this movie feels about his work.


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