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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

MLM: Strange Days, Twelve and Holding, Tamara 

MLM: Strange Days:

The opening sequence to Strange Days is one of the most instantly riveting in film: the prep and execution of a robbery at gunpoint from the perspective of one of the robbers, a rooftop escape while pursued by cops, and a jump from rooftop to rooftop falls just short. And he falls.

The riveting part isn’t the content, but the perspective: the whole experience is first-person. We’re inside his head as the robbery happens, we see what he sees, right up to that last fatal splash into pavement. The screen goes black, distorts, digitizes, changes – as Lenny rips a tangle of wires and sensors from atop his head. The device is called a SQUID, and Lenny is a dealer in the SQUID experience. The science of the SQUID is sketchily explained but unnecessary; the gist is that a person wearing the SQUID can record the full sensory experience of living and then pass on that recording to someone else wearing a SQUID with playback.

Like any quantum leap in human technology, the first uses for the SQUID are, in order, military use and porn. The former for surveillance and spying, the latter a much more abstract deal; ever wanted to have two girls at the same time? Or did you want to be one of the girls? Or appeal to another angle: ever want to rob a bank? Steal a car? Commit a murder?

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Twelve and Holding:

As vital as the tweener demographic is, there’s very few stories told about them. The kids themselves aren’t too interested in hearing about themselves, or so we’re led to believe; the only entertainment aimed at them tend to be fables about high school life that are as authentic as anything starring Hilary Duff could be. Even their marketing handle suggests a transitory state: no longer kids, not quite teenagers, far from adults.

Michael Cuesta’s Twelve and Holding is fascinated with this territory, and treats its subjects with authenticity rarely found in film. Too many movies about children (and for adults) are curiously riddled with reactionary morality and alarmism, as if to ask “Do you know what your kids are up to?” But Twelve is going for something different; instead of assigning morality-play roles for its old and young characters, it simply lets them be, to act as they would.

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Tamara:

We really didn’t need another one of these movies.

Tell me if this sounds familiar. There’s this frumpy, nerdy girl, see, and she’s into witchcraft, and no one in her high school likes her. Everyone picks on her. The only man in the world who’s sweet to her is her English teacher, and naturally she wants to jump his bones but is far too shy to say anything. Instead she uses a bit of the hoodoo in an attempt to work a love spell, which leads us to the awesomely improbable sight of a 20-something public high school English teacher brandishing his own monogrammed hanky. I didn’t know they even made those anymore.

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