It's not all that often we head to American shores here at Film Gutter, but this is a movie I had been looking forward to seeing for some time. And, thanks to the joy that is Vimeo On Demand (well worth investigating for anyone into watching the movies we review) I finally had the chance to see the highly-acclaimed Pieces of Talent. The trailer genuinely looked great, very visually striking, and it seemed to have that anti-Hollywood, broken dreams feel that has been part of the horror scene so much of late (see our reviews of Deadly Famous and Eat for a couple of prime extreme examples).
Pieces of Talent follows aspiring actress Charlotte, who is killing time until her dreams can come true by living with her mother and working as a waitress in a strip club. It's a little cliché, sure, but I was willing to let that slide. One night she sees the club bouncer beating the hell out of David, and when she helps nurse him back to health she discovers that he's an aspiring film director. And so the uneasy and uneven relationship between the two can begin.
The catch – of course there had to be a catch – is that David is something of a psychopath, and we have a couple of scenes where we get to see his filmic work, which is dark, poetic and sometimes borders snuff. So ultimately Charlotte has no idea what she is getting into by befriending him, or should I say until it's too late...
Now that set-up probably sounds a bit hackneyed, but the trailer and the reviews both looked so good for this one that I hope there could be something really fresh and interesting here. However it really isn't much more than the sum of its parts, and for me the more extreme elements get a but lost in a sort of lo-fi indie drama of people pursuing their ultimate dreams and the tough lives they have to endure as they do so. The trailer leans very heavily on a few scenes to give the impression of something more brutal than what it really is, and I suppose that's he overriding impression I came away with – Pieces of Talent isn't a bad movie, it just wasn't really what I was expecting.
The performances here are likeable – David Long puts in a good stint as David Long (natch) and captures his quiet side and his mania well, and Kristi Ray is also very good in the role of Charlotte. It's nicely shot and looks good, it had a great soundtrack and has a nice indie quality to it throughout – the production doesn't look cheap or low-budget to me. But it's just not all that extreme, except in a few places, so I suppose that's kind of a note of caution to our readers – check it out, by all means, but if you're looking for something brutal and unremittingly dark this might not be the one for you.
RATING: 6/10. One of those movies I wanted to love and I had been looking forward to for a long time, and sometimes that's a hard spot to be in for a film. With that said, films like Baskin and In a Glass Cage have recently hit the mark despite my high expectations so I can't excuse it entirely on those grounds. It's good, but it's just not great. There's enough to warm me to it to make it watchable, but not enough to make it really exciting. So it's a fair enough 6/10 – very good in pieces, but not so wonderful all the way.
In part two of my Blog tour of Ginger Nuts of Horror, I am taking over Alex Davis’ superb column on extreme horror cinema, to talk about a film he made me watch at Edge Lit. Enjoy. So Edge Lit was a lot of fun. I met up with a bunch of smart, lovely people and talked books. I even launched one of my own.Alex, as ever, had put together an amazing bill of events - the kind of event line up that makes you wish you could be in more than one place at once. Following the epic carnage of the Sarah Painborough-led Edge Lit raffle (an event worth the price of admission on its own, frankly), I’d retired to the bar to catch up with a few folk who were heading out to find out what delights Derby town centre could hold on a Saturday night. Not me, though. Oh, no. The evening had something very different on store for me....
Not often we touch base in the good old US of A, and probably even less often we have the chance to review a film with a host of well-known actors in it. That's not to say we've not watched and reviewed many well-acted films, but with a cast including Stellan Skarsgaard, Tom Hardy, Selma Blair and Melissa George we are probably swimming in a bigger pond than we are used to. This is a film I watched many years back and remembered liking without necessarily hanging on to the details, so I figured WAZ would be worth a revisit. Strictly the UK title is W-Delta-Z, but it's going to be more trouble than its worth to find the Delta symbol on Word..
Women's Flesh: My Red Guts (1999) Dir. Tamakichi Anaru, Japan, 50 minutes
Ah, Japan. Where would Film Gutter be without you? From infamous gore 'classics' such as the Guinea Pig series through to modern offerings such as Grotesque, there seems to be no end of weird, wild and wonderful fodder coming our way from The Land of the Rising Sun. And you can also rest assured that, when it comes to cinema that is truly shocking and disturbing, Japan does not pull any punches.