Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Madadayo, Used DVD's! - #5: Lee Daniels' THE PAPERBOY

(Note: the actual title wasn't released *as* The Paperboy, Lee Daniels directed it but he doesn't put his name on ALL his films, sad to report - imagine if that was the case!)

This won't be a long review.  Here's what I have to tell you about The Paperboy, if you want to seek it out - and why shouldn't you, in theory anyway: it's one of the movies made amid the "McConnaisance" where Matthew McConaughey, since I think around William Friedkin's Killer Joe, has been hooked up with a string of movies that are making him one of the biggest stars in the world all over again, preferring directors to subject.  This movie is... weird.  Bizarre.  And it has meaning to it.  And sweat, lots of sweat.  I feel like there must have been outtakes where Daniels' DP had to come in and wipe the brow of the lens.

The story is basically a murder mystery and legal drama, with McConaughey as a Miami report going back to his hometown - this all takes place in Florida or parts around there, it's the South - to investigate a man who is on death row for murder (John Cusack, quite a plum role which he eats up for all his scenes by the way, but I'll get to that more in a moment).  He has a younger brother, Jack (Zac Efron), who is fairly directionless and, of course, got sexual energy to burn.  Ward (McConaughey) puts Jack on his payroll as a driver, and they go about re-tracing the steps of the case alongside reporter partner David Oyewolo.

... and then comes the 'Dame', in Film Noir parlance.  This being Nicole Kidman's character, who is the fiancee of the death row guy.  She uh... has the hots for Efron.  Or maybe he does for her.  In either case, there's a lot of sexual tension in the air, and at one point it comes out in the form of Kidman peeing on Efron... yeah, that happens.  How does it happen?  Should I tell you?  Would you care to know or do you HAVE to know?  

(Seriously, it's not really for a full-blown sexual reason, you might just THINK it is, you sick pervert you..)

In any event, this is all sleazy material deep down, despite there being a story about this guy and did-he-or-didn't-he with McConaughey keeps as the one sort of 'normal' character in the bunch (everyone else is high-strung, too loose, or too crazy to care).  Daniels may actually be creating a really potent, strong atmosphere for the sexual tension in this film - again, sweat, lots of sweat, and sometimes Scott Glenn pops up, too - but it's all just this side of morbidly done in terms of acting.

The 'Oh' face.  I mean... geez.  How about those earrings, huh?
Kidman, it should be said, is having a ball though.  In the past few years, let's say going back even ten years, she's had some characters who are hard to play in the sense of a lot of deep-dark-dramatic emotions (think Rabbit Hole for example).  In this, in gaudy make-up and platinum-blonde hair and heels and a trashy Southern twang, she gets to let loose with a character who doesn't give a flying fuck.  She struts around and makes the men who notice her rather crazy - for Oyewolo's partner character, he's the only one to fully go 'No, thanks' - and this goes for Cusack too, who ends up rubbing one out in a scene.  No, that's not a misprint, he actually masturbates!  (Ok, ok, the actor doesn't, but the character does, during a 'conjugal' tease as it were).

I don't like the movie, on a logical level.  Stuff  in the plot, especially the ending, sometimes doesn't make total sense, some of the dialog is stupid (there's no other word I can find for it), and it's compulsively lurid.  It's the kind of movie I can't say is worth watching, but it is, too.  It's a lurid misfire, and it's hard not to take your eyes off of what Daniels and his actors do here with this hogwash.  But maybe they know it's hogwash, you know.   And it's got Kidman, who steals the show away from McConaughey, who is usually acting in a 'real' movie.  So...

Hmm...  this review did go longer.... huh-huh-huh, 'long'...

Oh, and Macy Gray... damn.  That's some narration there.

PS: That 'ladies' reference is courtesy of Rifftrax.

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