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by Bill Gibron

24 Oct 2009


The disconnect between two people from similar cultural backgrounds. The pain of relationships breaking up and/or never happening. The wonders of a city lost in a strident class crisis. A single day of sex, drugs, soul searching, and music. This is the universe of Micah, the “second best” aquarium technician in all of San Francisco. A one night stand at a party has turned him from a fiery community activist and racial advocate to a combination hopeless romantic and unbearable cynic. The object of his (dis)affections is Joanne, the enigmatic gal pal of a white museum curator who appears privileged and acts passé. Together, they spend an eye-opening Sunday trying to piece together each other’s past while avoiding any chance at a future togetherness. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and definitely not the Medicine for Melancholy each person appears to need.

As plotlines go, this intriguing title really has little to offer. Micah and Joanne wake from a posh party, intersect throughout the next 36 hours, and then resolve their issues as only two still-strangers can. Somewhere near the back end of the last act, writer/director Barry Jenkins tosses in a random rally of local residents, their call to arms over Bay area rent controls and property price hikes adding fuel to the fires our leads have already lit. There’s also a sequence near the finale where Micah melts down the indie scene into a series of stereotypical human and sonic maxims. But for the rest of the time, Medicine for Melancholy (new on DVD from IFC Films) is a tempting tone poem that never really breaks out into the kind of compelling free verse that would indicate something definitive or dramatic. Instead, it takes its cues from its characters and meanders around a little before slowly fading away.

By using San Francisco as a vital aspect to the story, Jenkins injects a great deal of local color into his mostly monochrome visuals. In fact, he purposely desaturates the print so that the clear contrasts between our two wannabe lovers remain ambiguous and blurred. We visit the Museum of African Diaspora, as well as a gorgeous urban art project consisting of manmade waterfalls and politicized slogans. Jenkins doesn’t do a lot outside of this, painting his pliable travelogues and letting the camera get in too close once Micah and Jo start interacting. One has to credit the filmmaker for avoiding certain formulaic pitfalls. He doesn’t mandate that his temporary paramours quip precociously, or take their emotions to some syrupy level of RomCom ridiculousness. Instead, this is a slice of life carved as carefully and considerately as the delicate balance demonstrated between the couple.

But there are troubles here, problems that pop up like unwanted extras in a crowd scene and keep us from caring too much for anything Micah or Jo have to offer. When dissecting the concept of “interracial” romance, our hero fails to recognize his own obvious attraction to women of light skin tone (in an aside, we see a MySpace post featuring a clearly Caucasian ex). Jo is the perfect antithesis of what he rants about - porcelain features hinting at a mixed lineage that goes totally unmentioned. In fact, the whole “black is black” element doesn’t get a lot of explanation. Instead, Jenkins plays it like a fact when all it really stands as is an assertion. Before long, the debate starts to turn circular and then careless. Because they’re so closed mouthed, Medicine for Melancholy‘s leads create just as much confusion as the man putting the half-completed thoughts in their mouths.

And then there’s the issue of chemistry. Actors Wyatt Cenac and Tracey Heggins are model agency apropos for their parts, each one exuding the kind of iconoclastic radiance the simply story requires. But there’s no sizzle between them, no inherent need for them to be together. Indeed, much of the time, Jo seems to simply be playing Micah for a weekend reprieve from her stuffy, sterile life - and that would be fine, as long as we find the pair perfectly matched. But beyond the exterior, our couple trades in cross-purposes. He’s earthy without being totally bohemian. She’s cultivated without becoming a sculpture. Still, we keep waiting for the moment when their combination brings on the heat. Sadly, it never comes.

Indeed, many in the mainstream audience will look at this obviously independent effort and wonder why the She’s Gotta Have It era Spike Lee doesn’t sue. Others will find it almost impossible to overcome the obstacles of limited plotline, unclear characterization, and dramatic pauses large enough to drive a few dozen cable cars through. San Francisco obviously has many, many problems regarding the gentrification of neighborhoods, and ill-prepared viewers would be carping like crazy had Medicine for Melancholy turned into some preachy social statement. But there’s such a thing as being too inconspicuous. Jenkins needed to turn down the ambience and amplify the action, if only a little. And no, montages of his cast dancing to various underground poptones doesn’t count.

It’s been said that the title is taken from a 1959 Ray Bradbury anthology. That would make sense, considering the science fiction author once said that, in order to create a literary fiction, all you had to do was “find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her around all day long.” That describes Medicine for Melancholy perfectly. Jenkins obviously believes that he’s fostered personalities so complex and personable that we’ll gladly track them as they explore the outer reaches of Northern California and the inner areas of their own identities. Sometimes, he’s absolutely right. At other instances, we stand around like strangers at friend’s function and pray for our chance to exit. This is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. But there’s really not enough here to remain memorable.

by Bill Gibron

23 Oct 2009


In his new documentary, Chris Rock takes on a very controversial subject. No, it’s not about race, though ethnicity and cultural factors do enter into it. It’s not about gender politics or inequalities, though they also play a part in the final discussion. It’s not about neighborhood disenfranchisement, turf wars, social agendas, or individual personalities, though we see a great deal of them as well. No, Rock’s going deep into the heart of commercial cosmetology (and the media frenzy surrounding same) to discover why black women obsess on their coiffure. In trying to help his pre-school daughters understand the difference between bad and Good Hair, the comedian uncovers a multibillion dollar industry relying on misinformation, misrepresentation, and misguided personal opinions about fashion to maintain its beauty salon stronghold.

The premise is pretty simple: Rock gets a few of his friends (including fellow comedian/filmmaker Jeff Stilson) to rally around his quest for clarity, grabs a camera, and then sets out to ask the tough questions. Always tinged with humor and wit, he confronts famous African Americans about their hair choices, from known actresses (who prefer those notorious “weaves”) to the Rev. Al Sharpton (who was introduced to his first “process” by none other than James Brown). We visit the Bronner Brothers’ Annual Hair Convention and Show in Atlanta, following four stylists from around the country who are each vying for the honor of champion in the Battle Royale competition.

There is a trip to one of the few black-owned businesses catering to hair care products for the community and a discussion of the perils inherent in straightening. Perhaps most tellingly, Rock hangs out at a local barbershop and gets the male reaction to $1000 extensions and high maintenance women. Some even suggest the inflated costs of fashion, in combination with the social desire to look “good”, causes much of the strife between black couples. Indeed, some men laugh, saying their lady will gladly not pay her rent to get her weave adjusted or changed out, while importers of the “raw material” (usually from India), sit back and count their cash.

If it wasn’t for Rock tossing in the occasionally satiric rejoinder, Good Hair would be merely shocking. Like all good gateway films, it lets the audience into an arena they would rarely be able to visit themselves. While clearly geared toward the African American population and the problems it faces, Good Hair makes several rather universal claims. Indeed, this film could easily be called “Good Body” and focus on the mind-blowing Madison Avenue trend toward skeletal models and unrealistic depictions of the female (and now male) form. It could also be called “Good Man/Woman” and focus on the unreal/unhealthy expectations placed on couples by a media bent on celebrating the less than honorable elements of the battle of the sexes. In fact, aside from the whole “nappy vs. straight” debate, this movie is really about how a people use prettiness as a reflection on their value - and how misguided that can be.

Because the focus is on hair, and the stigmas/significance attached to it, Rock finds the perfect foil for his always pointed funny business. Even in situations that you’d think were serious (most of the Indian hair comes from temples where an annual ritual sees millions shave their heads), he is on target and terrific. One of the best exchanges comes with a black market mane merchant, who doesn’t quite get the comedian’s Western references. Equally intriguing are the interviews with the Battle Royale competitors, each one offering their own arch opinion about styling, the Bronner Brothers show, and the other participants. As we get to know these people, learn their strengths and their flaws, we find ourselves handicapping the contest. The finale, while not without controversy, is one of Good Hair‘s best moments.

The most compelling insights also come from the one-on-one interviews. Former child star/ Disney TV diva Raven-Symoné proudly ‘pimps’ her hairdo, arguing that she too will one day get into the weave business. By contrast, Tracie Thoms (Death Proof) celebrates her “natural” look, arguing rather successfully that it’s more attractive and becoming than a Caucasian interpretation of what black hair should be. Poet and national treasure Dr. Maya Angelou shocks Rock when she reveals that she had her first process at age 70 (!) and rapper/actor Ice-T celebrates the “anything goes” attitude about beauty. Whatever makes a woman happy, he argues, guarantees less ‘bullsh*t’ for the man she’s with. As if to emphasize this, Rock returns to the barbershop, where the customers prove the points made on both sides. While several men compliment the entire high tech approach to attractiveness, a sole voice hollers for realism - and is quickly shouted down.

Where Rock stumbles a bit is in getting to the heart of media manipulation. Soul Train gets a shout out (the syndicated ‘urban’ response to American Bandstand is where many African American’s learned their style points), but ‘70s sensations like Afro-Sheen, or magazines like Ebony and Jet are never discussed. Similarly, the comedian never pushes his subjects to reveal the underlying reasons for their hair issues. Clearly, many of the actresses and singers believe it is a business decision, a necessity to compete in what many still see as a lily-white world. But even Good Hair is guilty of its own image manipulation. When discussing a woman’s natural look, a picture of proto-feminists mega-activist Angela Davis is flashed on the screen. It’s an image that many would argue highlights the misguided demonization and stereotyping of African Americans and their otherwise noble heritage.

Still, for its minor missteps, Good Hair is a great deal of fun. Rock could read a daily production meeting call-sheet and still find a way to make it hilarious, and as a director, Stilson makes the wise decision of showing the comic constantly interacting with his subjects. Even during the sit downs, the camera glides over to Rock as he presses a participant for more information. The Battle Royale conclusion is kind of a letdown, if only because a couple of important rules are only revealed at the end, making the win seem slightly tainted. Still, for all it has to offer, one gets the impression that Rock could never really uncover the truth about “good hair”. Like so much about self-worth and image, it’s a subject wrapped up in unanswerable riddles. Luckily, the comedian is around to make fun of them.

by Bill Gibron

21 Oct 2009


Why does everyone want to re-evaluate Waterworld? Are there really members of the motion picture mainstream that feel this overblown bit of lame liquid future shock is actually some manner of misbegotten masterpiece? If it wasn’t for the obvious rips from the entire Mad Max canon, combined with star Kevin Costner’s immense ego, this would be nothing more than a failed featured attraction at some cut rate Florida aquatic theme park. As it lumbers about, eradicating any claims of implied environmentalism with each new piece of preposterous plotting, one gets the distinct impression of something being made up as it went along. And by the end, when evil is vanquished and good given hope, we don’t celebrate the triumph - we just wish everyone had drowned in the first place.

The set-up for this story has the polar ice caps melting, the resulting run-off leaving the entire Earth an H2O-only zone. Over time, humanity has developed into gangs of roaming hordes, each one protecting their own secrets and unnatural superstitions. Into their mix comes the mutant known as The Mariner (Kevin Costner). With gills behind his ears and a skillful ease in the water, he’s instantly targeted by raiders, traders, and other sea-skimming scum. When he arrives at a trading post looking for a bargain, he runs into Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Enola (Tina Majorino). The older woman looks after the little girl, claiming the elaborate tattoo on her back shows the way to the last bit of mythic “dry land” on the planet. When the Smokers - a villainous bunch led by the despotic Deacon (Dennis Hopper) - discover the child’s whereabouts, they attack. Thus begins an adventure in which the Mariner reluctantly protects the pair from the madman and his minions.

Waterworld falls into the category of a movie that’s more interesting to learn about than actually experience on the screen. The tabloid like tale of cost overages, bad weather, impossible production parameters, exploding arrogance, massive reshoots and constant re-edits is the stuff of legend. It started superstar Costner on his long slide into commercial irrelevance and proved that Kevin Reynolds had no business helming a multimillion dollar action epic (remember Rapa Nui? Thought so). While many still sight the lunacy of using the actual ocean as the backdrop for the film (nowadays, CG would substitute for water cutting significantly the grueling 157 day shoot), it was the clash of personalities that finally undermined this movie. Reynolds, Costner’s longtime friend, walked off the set with nearly two weeks left. It was up to the Oscar-winning actor to guide the film through its final days, turning an already bloated and repetitive work into something even less sensible.

There are aspects of Waterworld that do work, pieces of a puzzle that will probably never, ever come together. Dennis Hopper and the whole Smoker mythos are really interesting, considering that they live on an oil tanker and wage war against the seafarers for violently vague, always unclear reasons. Mr. Crystal Method is so over the top, so wickedly flamboyant that it really doesn’t matter why he’s so amped up and aggressive. There’s also a couple of intriguing sequences that show you where the movie could have gone. The Mariner promises Helen and Enola a meal, and turns himself into a piece of bait to hook a horrific monster fish. Sadly, such oversized threats are never mentioned again - NEVER. Similarly, we get a wonderfully ethereal look at life on the ocean floor, the hero showing off the submerged wreckage of civilization. So much of Waterworld takes place on the surface that when we glimpse this particularly effective material, we wonder why the “Underwaterworld” wasn’t explored as well.

Of course, it doesn’t help matters much that Costner is such a lox here. The Mariner is one of his worst performances, all faux physicality and no subtlety. While Tripplehorn and Majorino are trying to bring some finesse to their interchangeable damsels in distress, our lead just sits back and lets his tan and weak, wispy ponytail do the acting. It’s especially obvious when he’s surrounded by supporting players like Michael Jeter, Kim Coates, and Gerard Murphy. They are bringing the mediocre material to life as Costner constantly undermines the energy. He’s obviously trying for stoic and stubborn. Instead, he simply looks inert. By the time he must take a stand and save little Enola from the Smokers, The Mariner is a joke, not a champion worth cheering. With so much of Waterworld on the brink of utter stupidity and pointlessness, the last thing it needs is a lead that can’t electrify the viewer.

Sadly, the new Blu-ray version of this film proves one thing definitively - prettying up a picture with a near flawless 1080p 1.85:1 reproduction does not increase its entertainment value. While many will complain about the lack of any alternative versions (there are many variations on the “final” cut, including added footage which fleshes out some of the back-story and material viewed in the trailer but not in the actual presentation itself) or true added content, the new home video format does bring the movie back to its theatrical roots. Even the soundtrack is significantly improved thanks to the DTS-HD 5.1 mix. But the lack of extras really stands out. Instead of a warts and all backstage peek, a chance to get the real story of Waterworld out there once and for all, Universal pretends that nothing significant happened during the shoot and gussies up the tech specs for a pristine (albeit pointless) presentation.

While it is true that time, and the obsessive culture of the Internet, has lessened Waterworld‘s “Fishtar” reputation to some extent, this is still one massively flawed film. In fact, it’s hard to see how the concept could really work at all. Because the ocean is so vast, so infinite in its many uncovered mysteries, making it the center of some interesting action scenes and stuntwork masks an obvious fact - the scope of the setting is just too broad to be made believable. What about weather? Hurricanes and typhoons? If there are others like the Mariner, why would they choose to live above the surface? With so much available underwater, why not build something there and stay? Certainly there are logical answers for all these issues, one’s crafted out of necessity and creative limitations. But make no mistake about it - Waterworld is not some sort of forgotten gem. It’s a decent enough experience - but the story of how it was made makes for a far more fascinating entertainment. 

by Bill Gibron

20 Oct 2009


The tragedy of faded beauty has long been a source of literary melodramatics. While limiting in its assessment of female value, it does strike a chord amongst those who view their worth through such slippery sliding scales as talent, skill, and attraction. In her slyly satiric novels Chéri and La Fin de Chéri, famed French author Colette commented on the Belle Époque era of Parisian society with its celebrated prostitutes, idle wealth, and decadent attitudes. Using the story of a retired madam’s son, his wayward youth, and the older woman who would finally teach him about love, the novels contrasted passion with the plain truth, arguing emotional completeness vs. social responsibility. They also addressed the notion of aging and its aftermaths head on.

Now director Stephen Frears brings us his witty, droll adaptation of Colette’s works, offering Michelle Pfeiffer one of her best roles in years. She is Léa de Lonval, friend of former escort Charlotte Peloux (Kathy Bates). Hoping to steer her son away from the aimless debauchery he insists on partaking in, the women conspire to set Chéri (Rupert Friend) straight. What at first seems like a few weeks in the countryside sewing some wild oats turns into an epic love affair between the boy and Léa. Six years go by and everything is bliss - that is, until Madame Peloux demands grandchildren. Arranging a marriage for Chéri with Edmée (Felicity Jones), the daughter of another former ‘fallen woman’, she sets in motion a series of events that will bring both Léa and her lover to the brink of utter heartbreak.

Clever, charming, and slightly superficial, Chéri is the kind of pert period piece that gets by on a great deal of creative goodwill. For all its narrative flaws - and there are many - we still admire Frears’ delicate direction, the pitch-perfect performances of Pfeiffer, Friend, and Bates, and the consistently catty dialogue from screenwriter Christopher Hampton. This is a movie filled with brilliant putdowns, cutting asides, bubbly bon mots, and enough backhanded compliments to make a contemporary coffee klatch jealous. In the name of gossip and glorified one-upmanship, our haughty heroines use words like weapons, hoping to inflict a little damage during their breakneck back and forth. Pfeiffer and Bates excel in these moments, leaving a memorable impression about the rivalries and responsibilities of being the former toast of the upper crust sex trade.

Where Chéri stumbles a bit, however, is in the relationship between the title character and Léa. We can see the attraction on both sides - Pfeiffer looks stunning, even in her ‘aged’ demeanor, while Friend is all smooth muscled sensuality. The narration keeps us abreast of their developing love, even referencing their occasional spats as nothing more than the arguments experienced by any ‘married’ couple. But they don’t have the same level of discourse as they do with others around them. Hampton’s words let these characters down time and time again. Maybe we are to assume that neither Léa nor Chéri is capable of being truly open and honest. Perhaps it’s simply the way things were in turn of the century society. Gender and power certainly come into play. Yet for all the sensationally snide and humorous quips traded, Chéri can’t work up a decent romantic exchange.

Of course, with Frears fabulous work behind the lens, we tend to forgive such flaws. Chéri is a sensational movie to look at, a lush and opulent work that doesn’t go overboard on the gaudiness or glitz of the era. Instead, the director lets nature do most of the work, gorgeous garden settings and sky blue oceans reminding us of how painfully beautiful the world can be. Even in the baroque homes and hideaways owned by our hookers, Frears is never indulgent. We recognize that these women have means and money. But they also have the sense to realize where it came from, how hard it is to keep, and how to manage it practically while living the good life. All of this is reflected in Frears’ approach. While not necessarily realistic, it does tend to tone down the more arch elements of Colette’s canvas.

But it’s the emotional beats that are supposed to stir us, the raw lust between Léa and Chéri, the sickening realization that age is slowing destroying their special bond. Indeed, Pfeiffer is excellent in those moments when every little wrinkle, every mention of the past, becomes a telling thorn in her side. Similarly, Friend must “grow up” and take on the responsibilities of a gentlemen, even if his status came from less noble origins. But he’s just not believable, not in any rational, understandable way. Instead, Chéri often comes across as whiny, brattish, and too high maintenance to be worth the carnal benefits. We never see a real sense of reciprocity. He’s all puppy dog longing. She’s watching her last chance at youth slowly slip away. One half of the movie is very powerful and prescient. The other gets lost and then limps along.

Still, there’s enough here to warrant attention, especially for those who remember the last time Frears, Pfeiffer, and Hampton collaborated (1988’s Oscar fave Dangerous Liaisons). Chéri may not contain the same authority and intensity as that previous powerhouse, but it’s clear that when these artists get together, something special usually happens. While the recently released DVD highlights how happy everyone is to be working together again, what’s clear is that this latest result pales in comparison. You’ll laugh at this look at faded beauty. You’ll also feel bad for the women who’ve worked exceptionally hard to find a way to live beyond the prying eyes of their snooty, snobby peers. But when the core conflict arises, when we are asked to sympathize with Chéri’s plight and his love for Léa, something goes missing. For the most part, this movie is marvelous. It’s the empty bits that prove the most problematic.

by Bill Gibron

19 Oct 2009


What has Halloween become? For the longest time, this celebration of all things horrific and supernatural seemed the least likely candidate for outright gross commercialization. Oh sure, there have always been the cheap dime store costumes, the mega-caloric piles of candy, and the various hokey harvest festivities. But when thinking back on the holiday some 30 years ago, no one could have imagined theme parks retrofitted with all manner of macabre frights, channels devoted exclusively to terror, and a unreal cultural commitment to making the most out of a former pagan celebration. It’s as if the constant bombardment of violence and shocking imagery has desensitized us to the true nature of the fright festivities. Add in the ever present sugar rush, and Halloween has become a shaky shadow of its former self.

That’s why the new film entitled Trick ‘r Treat is such a welcome addition to the post-modern meditation on the genre. An anthology at its core, but more a triumphant return to old school shivers, this unique narrative experience will instantly remind the viewer of cold Fall nights, years ago, when 31 October was a date to be reckoned with. A quasi-classic, this exceptional look at what Halloween really means is the byproduct of writer/director Michael Dougherty’s desire to craft, what he lovingly refers to, as tales of “mayhem, mystery, and mischief. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this love letter to ghosts, ghouls, and goblins is how accomplished it is. With only a few scripts under his belt (he co-wrote X2 and Superman Returns), Dougherty turns out to be as visually compelling as Tim Burton, or even Terry Gilliam.

The main narrative thread finds a round headed entity named Sam roaming the streets of a small town in Ohio. Warren Valley takes this last day in October very seriously, holding a massive block party and various other festivities. As the ethereal entity wanders the area, watching over the celebrants, we meet a school principal who moonlights as a serial killer. A group of young people visit the site of a horrific local legend, and learn not to mess with the dead. An attractive girl and her friends infiltrate the town, looking to find ‘dates’ for a sinister celebration in the woods, and an old codger, clearly upset over what Halloween means, discovers that Sam can be a very persistent treat or treater - deadly, even. Wrapped within the piles of fallen leaves, hand carved jack-o-lanterns, and unwitting wee ones are nods to previous omnibus films like Creepshow and Dead of Night and sources as varied as fairy tales and ‘80s monster movies. 

Almost too clever for its own good, Trick ‘r Treat is a really good film. In fact, it’s so unusual in its practical F/X approach and retro direct to video charms that a second viewing is definitely needed before confirming its almost masterpiece status. Dougherty delivers in ways unthinkable for today’s blatant battle between PG-13 paltriness and torture porn tendencies. With a color palate so rich it ridicules all those green-gray Saw rip-offs and a tongue and cheek shout-out to dedicated dread devotees everywhere, this is like a fright geek’s greatest hits. Instead of presenting his tales in sequential order, Dougherty makes the wise decision to scatter his story around. One moment, we are watching Anna Paquin and her sexed up gal pals cruising the Warren Valley citizenry for potential “boyfriends”, the next, Brian Cox is getting his butt kicked by a odd little guy in a burlap sack headpiece and dirty long john PJs.

The best stories here are the ones that follow the old EC Comics conceit of O Henry like horror twists. The entire tale subtitled “The Halloween School Bus Massacre Revisited” works so brilliantly, built slowly and steadily like any good ghost story should, that when it also pays off later, we love the fact that Dougherty didn’t keep things compact and concise. In fact, each story here ties in neatly with the others, working themselves into a near perfect ball of paranormal fun. We relish the reappearance of Dylan Baker’s murderous school official, even if he appears relatively doomed. We like the fact that random characters return for later looks just as the new action is starting. Dougherty wants us to pay attention, and by doing so, we are rewarded with lots of little asides to make even the most cynical scary movie buff smile in recognition.

Trick ‘r Treat also offers some compelling performances, Cox and Baker especially good as two different reasons to avoid collecting candy by yourself. The former has the more impactful story arc, a last minute revelation really amplifying his apparent problems with the holiday. Also excellent are the various underage actors who avoid the jaded gestures of contemporary youth to play their suspense and shock scenes with abject authenticity. One of the best things about this film is its wistful nostalgia for Halloween’s past, a time when kids were the center of the situation, not adults dressed up like idiots trying to relive their usually lame childhood. Such a pre-teen-ccentric pose gives Trick ‘r Treat a lot of its staying power. We easily identify with our onscreen familiars, remembering what it was like when we were lost, alone, and suspicious of everything around us.

It’s a shame than that this DVD doesn’t offer more in the way of context. There is a clever animated short introducing Sam - and that’s it. Dougherty is present to comment on said cartoon, but he really deserves more time to discuss his intentions with the film proper. And since the movie itself looks so good (while a full screen version is offered, it definitely destroys the interesting compositions here - stick with the anamorphic widescreen instead), it’s a shame to not hear how this first time feature filmmaker realized his goals. Sadly, this lack of respect is par for the course regarding this fine film (it didn’t even warrant a theatrical release).

For some, Trick ‘r Treat may be all too cute and self-referential. Dougherty has clearly made a movie for everyone who loves Halloween for what it means outside of the drunken parties and Goth gal/guy gloom merchandise. Films like this are the reason for the season however, a smart and funny experience that will hopefully be embraced by viewers wanting something other than the latest overhyped Hollywood crap. One can easily imagine a day when the cult surrounding Trick ‘r Treat pushes it into the big leagues, where it definitely deserves to be. Until then, it can be our little spook show secret - a devilish delight that definitely earns its wicked wizened wings.

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