Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Movies: Are other countries so enamored of their own names that they think sticking it in front of any noun makes for a good film title?

Seriously, do they have United Kingdom Psycho and French Graffiti? Brazilian Pie?

I bring this up because trailers for An American Crime, the film based on the Baniszewski "Torture Mother" murder case (itself the inspiration for Ketchum's horrific The Girl Next Door) can be seen on YouTube. Here it is:

I've expressed my doubts about just how filmable the story of poor Sylvia Likens is, but I reckon the question will be settled in the court of public opinion later this year.


Anonymous said...

I don't think ENAMORED is the right word.
Actually, in this case, I think "American" has a more sinister connotation, like if we heard this happened in any other country, THAT would be shocking.
Of course, disturbing crap like this does happen elsewhere, and I wonder if those countries are embarrassed because it's so "American", like this pig farmer in Canada who murdered all these women (there was a recent news headline on AOL within the last 48 hours.)
I'm actually surprised by what a prestigious sort of presentation this film has, not so much in budget, but serious intent, at least by the actors involved, like Keener and Whitford, who i recognize. And i think one of the producers, John Wells, is an established TV producer (ER and West Wing), and, oh, I see that he's done other films like FAR FROM HEAVEN, too.
So, this is NOT some exploitation film.
So, it seems worth a look. Having said that, you wonder what you'll take away from it as an audience, which is sort of your question as well, I think.

Heather Santrous said...

It is hard to tell from the trailer but it could be a type of film like The Exorcism Of Emily Rose. In other words, more of a court room drama more than anything else with flashbacks to the events leading up to the trial.

As for intent of the film makers, I would say it is just to show that things like this happen and we need to be aware of it. It always makes me sad to know that people had to know something was wrong but refuse to get involved.

Anonymous said...

You ask a rhetorical question, CRWM, but you don't give props to films such as "American Werewolf in London" (though I guess we should ignore the horrible sequel, set in Paris...)

CRwM said...

Screamin' Cattleworks:

I guess it is the bid for essential "Americaness," as if child abuse of the horrific nature were an American tradition, that I find dubious. The reason why this crime is remembered is because it is so extreme and unusual, not because it reflects the common experiences of Americans. It would be like making a Michael Jackson bio pic and calling it "The American." It is true that he's an American, but it kinda suggests his story says something universally true about Americans and I think that's a lazy way of trying to force some sort of faux gravitas on a subject.

I do agree though about the suprising involvement of real talent in the pic. The cast and producers are from higher levels of the entertainment strata than I thought they would be.

Screamin' Heather:

I don't know that I question the intent of the filmmakers so much as I wonder if anything other than an endurance test can be made out of the story. Ketchum, who is really not the greatest of authors, managed to fashion an excellent book out of the same material, but that's because he could lay bare the emotions and thoughts of his narrator, making his narrator's tortured conscience the main focus of the work. Even with the best of intentions, this thing could end up being little more than high-class torture porn. That's what I'm curious about: can they make a good movie out of such a staggeringly horrific event?

Screamin' Sassy:

They should extend the franchise - American Werewolf in Cancun, American Werewolf in Toronto, and, when they need to go gimmick, do the monster mash-up and do American Werewolf in Wolf Creek.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god!
Bodies are being discovered in Oz. A serial killer's on the loose.
College co-eds on a road trip. One guy seems to be a goody two-shoes but has a crush on one of the girls, who sees this and takes advantage of it. She convinces him to go along on the road trip, but he makes her promise that they'll be back by this certain date because he has responsibilities.
"Sure, sure..."

Road trip junk/ romance, flirting junk/ shy guy confused by his feelings for the girl and her actions (is she actually interested in him, or does she just want to be friends..?)
As it's about to get interesting in terms of their developing relationship, we go into serial killer mode when the killer captures them.
One by one, he has his way with the kids, finally leaving the girl and boy.
This whole ordeal has gone on for days.
Finally, the killer comes back and the boy pleads with the killer to set the girl go and take him instead.
"Sorry, boy, I want my cake and I'll eat it, too!"
The killer drags her away, the boy screaming, impotently shackled, the girl's hysterical.
After a long dragged out endurance exercise as the killer works over the girl and finally kills her, he goes back for the boy that night, mostly to get rid of him.
When he comes back, the boy's gone, the chains broken.
Suddenly, behind the killer there's growling, and it turns out the boy's a werewolf and that's the first night of the full moon.
Some of the bodies we saw in the beginning weren't all of the killer's handiwork.
The killer gets it brutally.
The last image is the werewolf howling over the body of the girl, a huge full moon framing him.

Yeah, it's way obvious if they use the "American Werewolf" title... but if it were WOLF CREEK 7: THE BEAST IS STILL LOOSE, that may be a neat way to go to finish the series, doncha think?
Man... I need to go to bed...

CRwM said...

I like the basic idea, but I'm thinking we don't want to squander the Mick vs. Werewolf conflict.

Mick's supposed to be the great white hunter type, let him and the werewolf track and ambush one another for a little while. Really let them fight it out, right. Then dispatch Mick. Or, maybe, let Mick kill the Werewolf after getting infected himself. Then the movie ends with Mick-wolf, deadly by day and night, running wild through the outback.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your Michael Jackson analogy: that example doesn't really work because Jackson's a celebrity, he's not your typical next door neighbor. Theoretically, neither are THESE neighbors in the film, but supposedly outside of the house they seem to be. I can't see Michael Jackson ever coming across as a regular next door neighbor.
And I don't agree with the category of "child abuse" either, even though obviously child abuse occurs.
I think the whole idea of American society being a uniquely violent society is the suggestion of the title, and the reason why I don't agree with the category of child abuse is for THEMATIC reasons, it's too specific. Also, the children are brought into the story as predators as well, although, I guess that's another form of child abuse (training innocents to be predators).
I think that's the whole point of the "Americanness," our violent culture.
Don't mind me, I'm just naturally contrary...