movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PEOPLE: OMG! Another Gregg Araki movie is finally out! I love almost everything he does! Smiley Face (2007) was a great stoner comedy, and an atypical Araki movie (8/10). Mysterious Skin was an amazing movie, even if it was very painful to watch a plot about child molesters (8/10). Splendor was so refreshing compared to other movies with 3-way relationships (8/10). Even the Teen Apocalypse Trilogy: the movie Nowhere (7/10), The Doom Generation (upgraded to 7/10), and Totally Fucked Up — are extremely unique movies that take you on rollercoaster rides of ridiculous unexpectedness. I unfortunately have not seen his first three films: Three Bewildered People In The Night, The Long Weekend (O’Despair), or The Living End, or his 2000 MTV pilot “This Is How The World Ends”. But I am working on fixing that!

Basically, he is a great filmmaker. He usually writes, directs, edits, and produces his films, so there are not a lot of forces interfering with his creative genius.

The main character, Smith, is played by Thomas Dekker (John Connor in Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles, also in the Honey I Shrunk The Kids TV series, and he was in 1 ep of Caroline And The City [as young Richard], 2 eps of Seinfeld, as well as A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010, and Star Trek:Generations). I’m surprised I did not recognize him since he apparently gets around. His lesbian friend Stella is played by Haley Bennet (Kendall from the movie College).

Her crazy witch girlfriend is Roxane Mesquida. “London” is played by Juno Temple. I knew I’d seen her before – she was in the 2 recent St. Trinian’s movies. Why was her nose-ring so tight in this movie?

The Messiah was played by James Duval (Frank from Donnie Darko, Go, SLC Punk!, Nowhere, Independence Day, The Doom Generation, Totally Fucked Up).

Smith’s mom was played by Kelly Lynch (Dianne from Drugstore Cowboy, 90210, The L Word, Ally McBeal). She reminds me a bit of the mom in the new V series. I kept thinking I’d seen her before, but I’ve only seen her in Drugstore Cowboy, and I watched that so long ago I’m surprised she looks familiar.

And oh, the redhead? Nicole LaLiberte? She was in Dinner For Schmucks, as the bird girl. She’s looks like a beautiful alien to me.

But enough about the people…

PLOT SUMMARY/QUIRKS: The plot was an interesting one. I consider this a thriller, some consider it a black comedy-scifi; this film manages to straddle several genres.

There’s black comedy, blue comedy, sex, drugs, trippiness, murder, cults, witchcraft, conspiracy, creepiness, sexual identity issues, homosexuality, bisexuality, straight people who act gayer than gay people, mystery, and armageddon.

Ian called it “vaguely Lynchian”, and I can see that a bit.

Remember – the movie is called KABOOM. The point is that everything is going to blow up at the end. Feelings of impending apocalypse are pretty much a staple of Gregg Araki movies.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Students who were too busy being horny fail to save the world.

VISUALS: Beautiful cinematography, like most Araki movies. They are full of intense colors, reds and blues, eye colors that are more intense than they ever would be in real life, overly-saturated scenes, “Star Trek purple”. This guy could make moving images that would be beautiful to watch even if there were no story, characters, or plot.

Ian pointed out that “Araki’s great gift is in creating entirely irrational worlds that seem completely reasonable in context”, and I agree completely. The real world doesn’t look like this, people don’t wear those clothes, dorms don’t look that nice — most everything is un-realistic, and yet it all feels very real. Perhaps I just enjoy suspending my disbelief and riding the rollercoaster ride provided by every Gregg Araki movie.

MORALS: Gregg Araki movies don’t really have morals or politics. They are generally kind of nihilistic. I took nothing from this movie other than it was a kick-ass movie.

GOOD STUFF: Everything! From the beautiful cinematography, the unexpected twists and turns of the plot, the hilarious sexual situations and commentary, the generous heaping of sex and nudity, the dreamlike and trippy feel, to the total nihilism experienced by the ending, this is Gregg Araki at his finest. I might be caught up in the excitement of having just seen it, but this may be my favorite Araki movie yet.

BAD STUFF: The page changes dramatically at the 1 hour mark — into an almost horror-esque feel, as the conspiracies that have slowly built up during the movie are gradually revealed. And it changes yet again at the 1:16 mark (a mere ten minutes before it ends), when the movie ends with an action sequence that feels a bit out of place. Some did not like this. Ian did not like this. He felt that it almost seemed like Araki ran out of money, and told everyone that we’d shoot one final scene that wraps everything up.

Being sympathetic to Araki’s uniqueness, I grasped at straws trying to explain why this pace change was actually okay.

While I do always like more of a good thing [make a sequel, make an animated series, put the deleted scenes back in, find a way to generate sequels in my dreams every night, etc, etc], I do think that perhaps he was aiming for having an ever-increasing pace to things.

It starts out slow, tricking you into thinking it’s maybe more about the characters (which has been done a lot; young people fucking). But then the odd things start happening, faster and faster and faster. Perhaps there is something about the feeling of impending doom working better when events start happening too fast to process.

To go with the Kaboom metaphor, it’s really hard to think clearly, and deal with everything happening, when you are holding a lit fuse that is about to blow. As that fuse gets closer to the end, things get crazier and crazier. When a bomb finally blows up, how things blow up is never something that can be truly predicted. So I think the increase of events — including the kind of ridiculous and abrupt ending — kind of work with the metaphor of something about to blow up, then blowing up. Shit gets crazy, then it explodes and falls apart. The rollercoaster ride is over.

Regardless, I can still understand the criticism. It did feel abrupt, and that does often makes me, and other viewers, feel kind of robbed.

But then again, doesn’t Gregg Araki ALWAYS end his movies abruptly?

CONCLUSION: I was already a huge Gregg Araki fan, but this movie has truly cemented him as one of my favorite directors ever. I can’t fit the reasons for why this movie is great into this box, suffice to say that it is a nihilistic ride that is more on the fun side than most of Araki’s movies. However: prepare for an abrupt ending that you may find disappointing.

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 9.4/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 9/10.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 6.7/10 (too low!), Netflix: 3.7/5 stars (it had no prediction for us, for some reason).

RECOMMENDATION: OMG see it! But if you have watched other Gregg Araki movies before, and don’t like them — then he may not be your style. But he has his own style — more than most other filmmakers. And I think that’s what makes him great.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Besides other Gregg Araki movies? This is sometimes compared to The Rules Of Attraction. Truth be told, the characters, situations, and style of The Rules Of Attraction is nothing like this movie. But they are both nihilistic movies full of horny college kids where nothing anybody does truly makes a difference. Of course, that can probably describe a lot of movies…

MOVIE QUOTE: [paraphrased] “Straight guys are gayer than gay guys! They’re so upset that they can’t suck each others’ dicks, that they act queerer than Clay Aiken!”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian B reviewed it here. (I agree with his pro points, but not so much with his anti points.)

OTHER REVIEWS:

Mood: laughing
Music: NoMeansNo – Slugs Are Burning