With such knowledgeable folk on the site I thought a list topic helping others remember the names of long forgotten…
Spanking the Monkey
A gripping comedy about letting go.
Raymond Aibelli is a promising pre-med student home briefly before leaving again for a prestigious summer internship. His plans however evaporate when his father insists he stay home to care for his mother who is recovering from a broken leg. There, he distracts himself with masturbation and lots of long walks, and even a half-hearted courtship of a much younger girl.
A fantastic example of that popular genre, incest..
Spanking the Monkey is David O Russell's astonishingly assured directorial debut. It's proudly independent in its look and feel, and unashamable in its quirkyness.
You could even say its a black comedy.
The fact is though, that it would be nothing without Jeremy Davies excellent lead performance, or O Russell's unnervingly assured direction.
It's a film too good for a title that bad.
Really really fucked, Mr O'Russell.
The essential mother-son bonding film.
One of those miracles of tone, perched precariously between drama and comedy, although perhaps most invested in being a total bummer--does this guy ever succeed at anything? I mean, he gets that scholarship and the Girl Next Door seems to adore him, but at no point in this film is our protag ever validated for his efforts--a camera style as unappreciative as his family. Russell seems to take the side of chaos whereas Ray takes a cautionary approach to stability, and most of the humor is generated from his futility & uselessness against obligation. Yet when we laugh it doesn't arise from the situation being inherently funny nor does it come from unnecessary stylistic punctuation--it's a very specific, almost gallows…
An offbeat beat off comedy.
What a terrible title.
Anyways, David O'Russell's first feature is a solid start, with Davies proving a good lead and his characters' parents relentless awfulness really pushing the whole thing to a level I wasn't expecting.
This is one of those films that you feel so bad for lazily labelling it a "dark comedy" but there really isn't another way to describe it. It doesn't quite make light of incest but it certainly sees the funny side of things! There are moments that shock and appall but then make sure to supplement your horror with a couple of funny quirks, only serving to make the whole situation worse. There is one point towards the end of the film where our main character attempts to hang himself in what seems to be a very sobering scene and as the belt is tightening around his neck, his mother knocks on the door, prompting him to postpone the hanging…
For all of you that damned Silver Linings Playbook for making mental illness look sexy, go no further. Revolting familial dysfunction served up cold, e.g. Russell shooting the cheese throwing pre-incest hysteria like a Thompson acid trip - though the aberrant shit is so bountiful that sometimes it's not even acknowledged, e.g. statutory rape. Also, the script relies on an abnormal amount of irrational behavior to perpetuate the horror: the Internship committee offering to pay for a nurse (really?); the mother's demonic clairvoyance anytime Ray tries to do something with the girl; or the mother's basic unwillingness to get crutches in due time. I think the balance between nastiness and absurdity is better struck in Flirting with Disaster, but this is Russell's apex in terms of discomfort.
The cringiest of comedies. Painfully ’90s.
David O Russell's directorial debut saw a youthful Jeremy Davies coming home for the summer break from college, to care for his ailing mother while his father was on a work trip.
The film from 1994 certainly had a strong feel of that time period and reminded me a lot of Richard Linklater's debut "Slacker", perhaps the sensibility and the choice of clothing of that time.
The screenplay written by Russell himself was always going to raise eyebrows be it 1994 or 2014.
I thought Raymond, Davies' character is a raging young man who required to relive his urges routinely as we could see but what really turned him on to his own birth mother was immensely befuddling and yet…
Is this really a David O. Russell film? The theme of family disfunction, a Russell mainstay, is impossible to miss, but never again has he approached the theme in such a dark way as he does with his first feature film. The problem with this outing, however, lies in a lack of confidence in his tone. Where later films of his constantly swing back and forth between dark and dramatic to over the top and hysterical, Spanking the Monkey never really ventures far enough into either territory to work. It's almost as if he thought that going too far into one would detract from the other. There are some solid performances and some effective filmmaking techniques, but they are equally matched with the aforementioned tonal issues as well as some narrative shortcomings and holes.
- The Forgotten
- Love Me If You Dare
- A Saintly Switch
- Nothing Personal
- The Gods Must Be Crazy
- American Heart
- A Woman Under the Influence
- 4:44 Last Day on Earth
- Animal Factory
- Being John Malkovich
The term 'independent movie' doesn't mean anything at this point really, and is certainly not a particular genre. Most of…
- All About Eve
- Black Narcissus
- Blackboard Jungle
- Easy Rider
- Harold and Maude
The list is from the book by Jennifer Eiss. A lot of these have surpassed cult status, but it's a…