8mm (1999)


If There Was No Honor Among Perverts and Pornographers, the Whole Fucking Business Would Fall Apart

I’ve been informed that a lot of the people that read my reviews prefer that I make fun of a bad movie to when I rave about a good movie.  But I could not abide watching a bad movie EVERY day, so I feel I should try to split up the bad and the good.  While trying to think of a bad movie I could watch, my mind instantly went to one place: Nicholas Cage.  The man barely ever lets you down … or up, I guess.  Either way, today I watched 8mm, written by Andrew Kevin Walker, directed by Joel Schumacher, and starring Nicholas Cage, Catherine Keener, Myra Carter, Amy Morton, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, and Christopher Bauer.

Tom Welles (Nicholas Cage) is a private investigator with a wife, Amy (Catherine Keener), and a little daughter.  He’s contacted by recently widowed Mrs. Christian (Myra Carter) who found a film in the possessions of her recently deceased husband.  She asks Tom to watch this movie and tell her if it’s real.  The film turns out to be a snuff film.  Now, if you’re not a member of the violent pornography culture as I am (please don’t believe that), I’ll explain.  A snuff film is a sex film where a person gets killed.  Most are fake, but Sister Christian wants to be sure.  She pays Tom to look in to it.  The rest of the movie follows Tom into the seedy underbelly of the pornography community, introducing him to adult video store employee Max California (Joaquin Phoenix) who helps him go further down the rabbit hole.

YAY!  I was right.  This wasn’t a very good movie.  It set it’s intentions towards some thrills and suspense I never really felt it accomplished, but what really made it bad was the subject matter and the look.  It should be expected out of a movie about snuff films that it would be gross and dark but, on the other hand, no one really needed a movie about snuff films.  The subject matter takes us to all the icky places that none of us want to go into in real life, so I don’t really want to go there in a movie either.  The story itself plays out like a mystery without a great deal of mystery.  It pretty much goes in a linear fashion with no surprises at all.  It’s not like there’s some guy that’s been in the movie since the beginning that we find out is the bad guy at the very end.  We pretty much find out who the bad people are once they’re introduced.  The biggest mystery in the movie is why no one in this movie owns a man-sized gun.  Everyone used James Bond-size baby guns.  The most interesting side of the story is Cage’s dilemma over punishing the guys that did it, although, to me, if jail wasn’t really a concern, there wouldn’t really be much of a moral dilemma.  The world may be a little better off without the 3 people Cage had to take out.  Now, the person hanging on the wall in the background of one of the climactic scenes, I don’t know.  There was a body hanging off the wall in the big scene with Gandolfini, Joaquin, Stormare, and Cage that was never explained, never mentioned, and just hung there.

I’m pointing out the music now, so you know there was something interesting about it.  The most interesting thing about it was how little it fit the scene.  For some reason, they decided that the best music for a murder mystery, dark, icky movie was the same music they use in Bollywood.  One scene of Cage looking through a bunch of missing person’s files was music I would expect to instead be playing as someone rode a camel through the Serengeti.  It was mostly music for Bollywood, not Hollywood.

The performances were off-putting, but usually in a way that seemed to serve the purpose of the movie.  To that end, the actors should not be blamed for this movie; just the writers.  Cage was pretty low key for most of the movie but broke into the classic Nick Cage overact near the end of the movie.  His movie-wife, Catherine Keener, performed her part well, but I hated her character.  She made no damned sense!  In the beginning, she see’s Cage packing his gun for this investigation, but he assures her he won’t need it, so she says “So leave it here.”  What kind of a wife is that, writers?  You predict that you won’t need it but, if the event arises that you are in a life-threatening situation and you DO need it, I’d rather it was here being useless.  Also, she doesn’t know what he’s investigating and she gets all pissed at him for endangering the family.  Look, I understand not wanting to endanger your family, but is that Cage’s fault?  It’s his job and it just went too far in a way Cage couldn’t really stop.  It’s like if I went in to work and the building burnt down.  Should I have known better than to get involved?  Technically, he was more interested in finding closure for the mother of the murdered girl.  That’s noble, bitch!  Gandolfini is in the movie as well, and he plays a version of the same character I’ve seen him play many times: quasi-Italian scum bag.  The same could be said for Peter Stormare, exchanging “quasi-Italian” for “indiscriminate Eastern European” and “scum bag” for “creepy person”.

This movie will, very likely, either make you feel dirty or horny.  I don’t claim to know what you’re in to.  The performances are mostly fine, but they act in support of a movie nobody should want to watch about ickiness and badness.  Also, I’m pretty sure whoever put the music in this was watching the wrong movie.  Either way, skip it.  It’s not the worst movie ever, but it doesn’t have many redeemable qualities either.  8mm gets “All I’m saying is … it can get to you” out of “There are some things that you see, and you can’t unsee them.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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