Atom Agoyan’s Remember

Atom Agoyan’s Remember is a totally uneven film that teeters dangerously on the line between earnest, emotional drama and lurid, shock value thriller. It yanks the rug out from under the audience violently and overall isn’t perfect.. but damn if I don’t admire the sheer balls in trying to pull off a story this unorthodox, a narrative so weird that I could almost picture it happening for real. Christopher Plummer gifts a tricky role with a brilliant performance here as Zev, a Holocaust survivor living in an Ontario retirement home who embarks on a personal journey to track down the Nazi commandant responsible for the murder of many of his community decades before. Only problem is, Zev suffers from pretty severe dementia and needs to be coached over phone correspondence by his pal Max (Martin Landau) who is back at the home. This is a risky endeavour for many reasons; his dementia and age make moving about and tracking down identities and records long lost to time very difficult, and plus he was never supposed to even leave the home unsupervised so his kid (Henry Czerny) is subsequently also trying to find him and bring him back. He meets many along his journey and there’s an excellent supporting cast including Bruno Ganz, Dean Norris and Jürgen Prochnow. Aside from all the hurdles I mentioned above that Zev must endure, there’s a dark secret hovering over the proceedings, a hidden bit of poison knowledge that literally upends the narrative and it is at this point some viewers will decide this isn’t what they’d call a good film and has shit the bed, which I find totally understandable and wouldn’t fault anyone for doing so. The film asks a *lot* of the viewer in accepting such a turn of events as plausible, concise and even in good taste and while I don’t want to get into the specifics of it or say whether I personally think it ruins or brightens up the film, I will say that it certainly provides a fascinating, horrifying and altogether chilling third act that, like the film’s title beckons you to do, I Remember to this day. Perhaps that’s better than going the generic dramatic route, unboxing the Kleenex and cloying for overdone emotional resonance, which this film certainly does not. You decide for yourself.

-Nate Hill

Michael Cimino’s Desperate Hours: A Review by Nate Hill 

Michael Cimino’s Desperate Hours, despite only really being a servicable home invasion/hostage thriller, still has a lot of fun with it’s two leads, brash sociopath Mickey Rourke and even brasher estranged family man Anthony Hopkins. Based on a creaky old Humphrey Bogart film, Cimino obviously vamps up the violence and eroticism that simmers beneath it quite a bit, and when you have Rourke as your antagonist you know it’s not going to be anywhere near a relaxed affair. He plays Michael Bosworth,  a dangerous felon on the run with two other goons, his volatile brother (Elias Koteas) and another creepy lowlife (David Morse). He crashes into the home life of Tim Cornell (Anthony Hopkins) a boorish father visiting his wife (Mimi Rogers) and children. The film mainly takes place inside the house, as the creep factor rises along with the threat of blaring violence which we know will come, made all the more likely by the growing police presence outdoors, and the tensions of everyone involved, threatening to snap at any moment. Rourke walks a tightrope between amiable and unstable, a man sure of himself, who always gets his way, and is capable of bad, bad things if he feels he won’t. Hopkins plays Cornell as a man used to being in control, but his inability to hold his family together is made worse by the gang’s arrival, rubbing salt in an already festering wound. Cimino has a brawny style to his violence, a trademark that’s seemingly born of both De Palma and Peckinpah, rich bloody gun battles and accentuated slow motion death scenes. Most of the film is held back, but the flood gates do eventually open and action hounds will get what they came for. Watch for Lindsay Crouse, Kelly Lynch, Shawnee Smith, James Rebhorn and Dean Norris as well. Not groundbreaking in the least as far as thrillers are concerned, but still an entertaining little piece made memorable by Rourke and Cimino’s ever interesting pairing.