Movies that are slightly off.
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…
Those who have seen Bug will know damn well why I start this review with that exclamation. After all, where the hell did they get that much tinfoil from?!
I jest of course, it's because Bug is mad. When I say that I don't mean in the usual way you might describe something as such, but because the content is mad. Portraying paranoid delusion and escalating psychosis is something that cinema has often struggled to do convincingly and even truly great films have grappled with the subject but not really managed to do so all that successfully.
On this front, films often go wrong on one of two levels - acting performances or pacing. I would imagine it…
Michael Shannon is beautiful.
i could go on about how i love the character development of the play-turned-script, how the sets (though only a few) are phenomenal, how michael shannon's performance should've been awarded with an oscar, how convincingly paranoia is portrayed, how the camera moves in just the right way to make the audience feel claustrophobic...but instead i'll just say this: michael shannon has an adorable penis.
William Friedkin is, if nothing else, a visceral director, and this sordid world from Tracy Letts is quite the perfect arena for him to do what he does best. Letts is a playwright dedicated to achieving extremes. Both this and Killer Joe start out as grounded, albiet twisted character pieces that escalate into absurdity. In Bug, the escalation is more gradual and Friedkin tempers it perfectly by making each chapter harsher and bloodier than the last with more abrasive visuals and crushing sound design. It's a master class in zero-to-sixty.
Bug has another specific element the director gravitates to and that is ambiguity. I don't suspect there is a large audience that believes Peter is right. That there are bugs…
Hmm. Nothing really wrong with this one, and the performances from Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon are very good indeed, but as it ramped up the madness I just gradually lost interest. Everything about the characters and the situation they find themselves in feels dialled up to eleven, and I found myself wishing for a bit more restraint or subtlety - not something that would usually bother me in a film like this, but there we are.
William Friedkin sharpened his edge to the point of cutting just by touching back in 06 with this adaptation of Tracy Lett's play. The movie is a time bomb, from the first frame to the last everything feels unstable. Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd are so intense it looks and feels like they're having nervous breakdowns right on screen. Machines, conspiracy theories, insects, isolation, toothaches, helicopters, murder, all of it spiraling out of control inside a ramshackle motel room in the middle of nowhere. Madness is infectious. A gem.
What a trip! What starts out as a fairly mundane and somewhat awkward drama, slowly and methodically devolves into a chaotic nightmare of paranoia and insanity. Totally unexpected but highly entertaining.
After a pretty great first psycho-thriller relationship-drama first half, there is a small time jump and then things go awry... Agnes' behavior change (first towards Peter, then the tin foil hat turn) seemed weird to me. But hen you just go with the flow and things make sense again :-) Then stuff really gets nasty und the bugs appear (or vice versa).
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Killer Joe, the second of a series of collaborations between William Friedkin and playwright Tracy Letts, is one of my all time favorite films, so obviously I had to see Bug, their first collaboration.
Agnes White, a bartender in a lesbian bar, is a woman haunted by her past and her ex-husband. She lives in a trailer trash motel in Oklahoma, with very few friends. Her lesbian friend R.C. brings over Peter a mysterious loner who while smart and charming is also incredibly paranoid. R.C. leaves the motel leaving Agnes and Peter to confront their loneliness and start up a relationship. By any other director this would be a charming low-key romantic dramedy and at some points it is,…
I showed this film to my wife tonight. I don't remember the last time I saw her in such a state of disbelief.
The movie is about a white trash female bartender. He ex-husband just got out of prison, and is breaking his parole to come and visit her. Even though she wants nothing to do with her. The woman's best friend introduces her to a kind, soft spoken man, who notices things.
The woman is played by Ashely Judd and the man is played by Michael Shannon. Both turn in raw and extreme performances. Ashley Judd does her best, but she is up against a juggernaut in Shannon, who lays it bare for his performance.
The movie is a…