Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
First they send in their drone... Then they find their queen.
A lonely waitress with a tragic past, Agnes rooms in a run-down motel, living in fear of her abusive, recently paroled ex-husband. But when Agnes begins a tentative romance with Peter, an eccentric, nervous drifter, she starts to feel hopeful again - until the first bugs arrive...
I seriously can't believe it. After my wife subjected her poor mid 70's parents to Killer Joe last night, she somehow convinced them, by some sly Ashley Judd trickery, to watch Bug tonight. I suspect they aren't going to visit anymore.
Me, I was smiling all the way through. Not from observing my in-laws uncomfortable, but well timed, reactions, ( well, maybe a little ) but rather that on a short re-watch this film didn't lose a speck of it's brilliant luster.
After being completely gob-smacked by Friedkin’s Killer Joe last year, I was eagerly anticipating seeing his previous collaboration with playwright Tracy Letts. I was expecting good things, but not the incredible ride I was taken on.
Right from the opening scene, Friedkin conveys so much with such masterful economy, it’s staggering. We start with a distant point of light, as we move in closer and closer you feel the isolation and loneliness, and you feel that something is arriving. The simple use of the harsh ringing of a telephone elicits a sense of menace and dread.
Perhaps we’re seeing a visual metaphor of Peter’s elliptical approach to Agnes. He sees her tiny point of light, and is drawn to her…
Infestation is everywhere in Bug attacking the pores of the skin, slowly taking over the mind, large pests leaving prison to invade lives, secret organisations on the hunt looking to exterminate their prey. It's a cacophony of disease surrounding two people holed up inside their own lonely lives, barricaded into a motel room, seeking refuge in the corners of their disappearing sanity.
This intense psychodrama quietly lays its seed early on then draws you in slowly, almost deceptively, to a climax that will leave you wide-eyed at two actors totally off the leash. Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon turn in performances of the like you rarely get to see, or which a director rarely inspires. An actor on their game…
Agnes White (Ashley Judd) lives in a run-down motel. Her son has gone missing years ago. Her violent ex-husband has recently been released from prison. She receives silent phone calls that worry her. She meets Peter Evans (Michael Shannon) through a friend. He is acting very strange and seems to be a dangerous person but Agnes allows him to stay with her for awhile. As they begin to know each other, she finds out from him that he was used by the military in different experiments, ran away and now is followed by secret agencies.
This movie is insane. Most of it takes place in the motel room which creates a claustrophobic atmosphere rarely achieved in other movies. Ashley Judd…
Bug had me from the very first scene.
Black screen with credits. An old rotary phone rings.
It is answered by a woman. Hello? (pause). Hello?
An aerial view of the middle of nowhere with what looks to be 5 buildings surrounded by nothing but empty fields and a highway.
It's eerie and ominous already. Someone somewhere down below is getting calls. Wherever she is we know she is isolated. Alone.
The camera keeps moving forward. She is in one of these buildings.
Who is calling her? How long has this been going on?
The camera begins to settle on a decrepit motel. Motel. Is she hiding from someone? Has he found her?
We are now just above the motel…
I have no idea what the hell I just saw, but this was pretty fucked up and awesome at the same time !
Damn, am I the only one feeling really itchy ?????
If Bug even is a horror movie, it transcends that genre completely.
What we do get is an excellent drama that reminds me more of Lynch than any thing else. Things spin out of control and when the movie climaxes you know you are dealing with an amazing screenwriter.
Vampires, werewolves, homicidal maniacs, zombies and various other murderous creatures... They don't hold a candle to a motherfucker like paranoia.
William Friedkin is the most criminally underrated director. The guy directed The Exorcist and The French Connection and he's still making compelling and controversial films. Why aren't more people talking about his work??
Bug is a bottled picture that successfully translates a stage play into a powerful cinematic work. The film is cleanly divided between a first act concerned with an emotional connection and a second act that reaffirms and redefines it. The emotional torment feels genuine. The paranoia and intensity of the story is masterfully controlled. The chemistry between the actors is never in question.
Ashley Judd doesn't come off as a movie star once she adopts her midwestern twang and fills out her daisey dukes. Her face emanates a natural, backwoods beauty left untouched by a makeup team. Even her non-Hollywood figure sells us on her character's existence. The baggage she carries comes across visually and is only compounded by her…
I love Michael Shannon. But I can see that this is most definitely a stage play. There's just something about that Tracey Letts, I'm telling you....
if you say you freak for cinema and miss this experience, i might call you a liar.
A pleasant surprise after Killer Joe and August, Osage County, which I found merely shrugworthy. I was amused to read that the movie received positive reviews and an overwhelmingly negative CinemaScore based on viewer feedback, which is a testament to Letts' commitment to writing that displays an almost hostile indifference to the audience's satisfaction, because... you know... art, man. Friedkin, Judd and Shannon mine the material for its flashes of seedy humanity and its genuine brilliance as a hangout narrative. Letts seems to have tapped into some sort of playwriting tonal zeitgeist, a gritty brand of darkly humorous social commentary that owes much to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. In such plays, people do little, make wry jokes, pick each…
Two strangers, both harboring secrets of their own, find solace in eachother's presence. What happens when isolation and loneliness are paired with paranoia? Conspiracy, delusion, and ultimately a tour de force piece of filmmaking that I feel is a masterpiece on all levels. Few films come this close to the relentless hysterical excess of Zulawski's Possession and you're doing yourself an injustice to not see it.
Fans of Michael Shannon and nightmarish paranoid hallucinations, take note.
Many favorites, as well as a small handful of films that I don't care for... in no particular order (1960-2014).
Contains every horror film made that is not lost and is found on the letterboxd database.
If there is any…