Thursday, December 6, 2012

8MM (1999)

Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Written By: Andrew Kevin Walker
Cinematography By: Robert Elswit
Editor: Mark Stevens

Cast: Nicholas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stomare, Anthony Heald, Chris Bauer, Norman Reedus, Catherine Keener
Private investigator Tom Welles is hired by the recently widowed Mrs. Christian who has found a startling pornographic film in her late husband's possessions. In the film a teenage girl is apparently killed and Welles is pretty sure it's a genuine snuff film. He takes the case, first going through records of runaways finally identifying the girl and learning that she may have run off to California. There he enters the seedy underworld of pornography with the help of Max California, a porn store clerk. His principal clue is the masked man who killed the girl as he has a unique tattoo on his hand. He soon finds the culprits but there is little satisfaction in resolving the mystery.

There is a really good film in here. The script is good I delves into the darkness that Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (SEVEN) usually likes to explore. Though it feels like it needs a little more defined characters and refinement. It might nor actually be the fault of the writer more the Director’s interpretation of his original screenplay and not fully understanding or feeling the material. Not communicating his ideas in the way they should be to fully interpret the material.

The film feels like it would be more powerful in the right hands, like David Fincher who turned down the film. --The actual script by Andrew Kevin Walker was reworked by Joel Schumacher and Nicholas Kazan after Walker left the project in disagreement with the director.

The film's production encountered concerns regarding the dark subject matter, and the studio asked Andrew Kevin Walker to lighten the film's tone. With Joel Schumacher as director, Walker felt a rewrite would no longer be needed. But as it turned out, Schumacher supported the studio and made changes of his own, leading to a much-publicized fallout between the two, with Walker virtually disowning the film and walking away from the set. He refused to even watch the film.

The enema porno film seen at the porn swap meet is a genuine S&M film that was heavily edited for inclusion in the main movie.

This is a dark detective story that I feel just fell into the wrong hands to bring it to the screen. Joel Schumacher is a good popcorn movie director. I am in the minority of film fans out there that doesn’t hate him. None of his films are begging to be put as a social change film or any greatest film list. He makes popcorn entertainment plain and simple.

His films follow and jump genres and are meant to entertain that’s it.Sorry he messed up the batman series of films. He’s not a deep director nor would any person who made ST ELMO’S FIRE, But he has a stylistic eye as a former Interior Decorator. This was not the type of film for him.

The plot is extremely similar to that of Hardcore in which a man (George C. Scott) hires a private detective to track down his daughter after she runs away and he sees her in a 8MM porno movie. The plot is also very similar to a book called "The Cutting Room" by Louise Welsh in which an estate auctioneer finds disturbing photos among a client's porno collection and endeavors to find out if the girl in the pictures was actually killed.

This is a well structured film that involves a seedy underground world and characters. This film needed to be more mid-range budgeted and have a director who is used to material like this. Here the film tries, but comes off a little too polished and the underground here looks too mainstream. Like what a person in the suburbs would picture it with designer clothing, Especially Peter Stomare.

Nicholas Cage should being his element in a film like this, but he looks constipated and bored. He gives a similar flat performance. Joaquin Phoenix in a role first offered to Mark Wahlberg seems to be at least having fun with his role, but…


When he dies. So does most of the films good graces and credibility.


The film has some good stand alone scenes. Like the battle of Nicholas Cage Vs. The Machine. I was even intrigued by the character of the machine, but for the most part the film felt off. In full disclosure. I did read the script before seeing the film. So maybe I am bias of having a picture in my head that didn’t match what I saw on screen.

The film has so much potential that you can see trying to bust out. It seems to be a matter of wasted talent. I wish someone could come along and remake it.

The film is not horrible it may even be a satisfying rental for you, but to me it is a very flawed piece of work. I saw this in the movie theater for free and still felt disappointed as the film kept going. I just sank deeper and deeper in my seat.


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