(kr) wrote: "Is it menopausal?" Eugene Sutphin (Sam Waterston) frantically asks his wife, Beverly (Kathleen Turner). On their way to church, Eugene, Beverly, and their two kids, Misty (Ricki Lake) and Chip (Matthew Lillard), are being followed by at least a dozen police cars. Why? Beverly has just been accused of, or rather, found out, as the murderer of a bunch of townspeople. You would never guess she was a serial killer. She is a housewife, a woman that speaks like Carol Brady and conveys the innocence of Lucy Ricardo - but if anyone dares to wear white shoes after labor day, eat rotisserie chicken, break her daughter's heart, or accuse her son of having a sick fascination with horror movies, they meet their end. Beverly isn't like one of Cary Grant's spinster aunts in "Arsenic and Old Lace". She is the female Norman Bates, or even better, Norman Bates' mother. John Waters has made plenty of completely tasteless, sincerely crazy movies, but "Serial Mom" contains no dog poop consumption, no wacky drag queens. It's accessible, and, ultimately, a complete delight. The suburban setting is played in such a satirical light that when the birds aren't chirping, the neighbors aren't making small talk over cookies, Beverly's antics are a sheer shock, all the more funny because it plays with such contrast over everything else. The early scenes in the film, which show Beverly with her family before school, are bitingly hilarious because you can feel how much Waters is going out of his way to make all the fun he can of the likes of Donna Reed or Doris Day. As a serial killing mom, Turner is fabulous. The film is one of Waters' few that have a serious actress at the front, and Turner is totally campy and clearly having a fantastic time. When she's playing a goody-two-shoes mother, Turner's voice is breathy and deceivingly sweet, but once she turns into a maniac, the evil glimmer in her eyes is thoroughly convincing, even a little bit frightening. People think of Turner as the femme fatale in "Body Heat" or Chandler's mom in "Friends". But as Serial Mom, she gives one of her most memorable, finest performances. What keeps the film from floating away into planet camp is how satirically smart it is. Once Beverly is arrested, the media goes into a flurry. Rather than making her out to be a monster, she becomes a celebrity, understandably. With her kindly image and murderous instincts, she's a character of unbelievability and it attracts the attention of nearly everyone around her. Outside her trial, her kids sell Serial Mom merchandise, whether it be buttons, T-shirts or hats. One women even sympathizes with Beverly: "I could kill a few people myself sometimes," she groans. After Beverly kills someone at a rock concert (the band, Camel Lips, is actually L7 in disguise), the crowd doesn't look at her with hate, but instead, with glory, chanting "Serial Mom! Serial Mom!" Whether Waters is trying to warn against the influences of media or simply laugh at how twisted it can get, it's hard to tell. But what he has concocted is a superbly fun and outrageous comedy that is, still, unlike any comedy out there. And with cameos from Traci Lords, Patty Hearst (yes, Patty Hearst), Joan Rivers, and Suzanne Sommers (who is playing herself, studying Beverly for the chance of an Emmy), "Serial Mom" is broad and funny.
(mx) wrote: Black comedy based on a true story of the wife of a pizza baker who finds her Italian husband cheating and consequently plans to murder him. Kevin Kline channels parts of his role in "Fish called Wanda" and works great as charming macho man who just can't take his hands off women and just can't die. The minor characters, especially Hurt and Reeves as doped killers, are fun and the black humor works great. The film is a bit slow at times and the solution maybe a tad too much sunshine and lollipops, even if that's how it really played out. But especially the scenes of murder and revenge, with Joan Plowright being a wonderfully vile and loyal mother, are fun and make it an entertaining film.
(ag) wrote: More a piece about the time the film was set in than a traditional narrative, Downtown 81 is a postpunk fantasy that almost certainly happened. Everything from the art, music, even the disintegrating buildings by themselves make it worth takes to watch the film. Not to mention the tons of cameos(John Lurie, Deborah Harry, Vincent Gallo) and the fact that Basquiat is essentially playing himself. The overdubbing of Saul Williams for the lost Basquiat audio lends a eerie removed feeling that goes with the overall detached, noir meeting neo-realism eerie presence the film has.