Film Review: Thumbsucker

Thumbsucker Film Poster

A diamond in the rough, this is definitely not another Napoleon Dynamite. What Napolean did for Pop Culture Thumbsucker does the exact opposite to the teen angst genre producing one of the first films to be widely regarded as “American Indie”.
Thumbsucker brings all those problems that we are so used to seeing to new sensational heights.

Justin Cobb (Lou Pucci) is 17 and still sucks his thumb. It’s not surprising that Justin is still clutching to his “security blanket” as his mother dreams over of television heartthrob and his father mourns his college football days. In addition to this both insist that their children call them by their first names in a vain attempt to not be perceived as old.

His ‘problem’ combined with his parents might be overcome if there were some other strong role models for him to turn to but unfortunately there are not any. The closest is possibly Mr Geary (Vince Vaugh) the teacher in charge of the schools debate club, a character that feels it’s entirely acceptable to summon the entire club to the men’s room for a pep talk.

Keanu Reeves, a name everyone should know by now, performs brilliantly with a dialogue consisting mainly of “hippie psychobabble” as the alternative inspirational mentor. Reeves plays a orthodontist who believes that he can treat teeth damaging problems psychologically. Using various methods such as encouraging Justin to summon his power animal to pointing out that sucking your thumb is a substitute for a mothers nibble. Whilst encouraging he isn’t without his own problems as he performs on his reclined open mouth patents.

Diagnosed by his principal and treated for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with Ritalin-type drugs Justin then begins his metamorphosis. The transition begins with Justin being held in limbo, opportunities have now opened to him and he’s lost with choices. Whilst this sounds incredibly samey to other films you really feel the despair as you are essentially shown Justin’s entire world before this happens giving you a full panoramic of where he is and how hard it is to see where he’s going.

The personal growth of Justin is entirely undermined by the fact that his parents resent being adults something that whilst not as obvious as a hit in the face adds to the tethers that is holding him back.

The Director/screenwriter Mike Mills transfers Walter Kirn’s novel perfectly (yes I enjoyed the film enough to read it) expecting vast plot points and internal insecurities to be placed in the dark for the film I was surprised to see how many were portrayed if even subtly into the film.

Certainly something to see if you have the chance although I wouldn’t choose it for a first date, perhaps for a third or forth when you can both happily sit together and take in everything that you are bombarded with. Stunning story, well cast and enjoyable to watch.

Rating: 76%

Film Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Large Aslan (Lion) head overlooking cast members in a snowy atmosphere

If like me, you’re old enough to remember the 80’s television series of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe you can remember that it used what was considered at the time the cutting edge of technology, every week you would tune in to see a television masterpiece which captivated your imagination. This film to had me suspense, I had been anticipating it for over a year and my expectations were not let down in the slightest. I watched in wonderment as I was gradually introduced to the o-so familiar characters and their situation. The story progresses smoothly as their lives are up heaved from their home sending them on a long journey to a country home little so they know that his is only their first step on an epic journey from this world to another and back again.

For those that don’t know this story you should be asking yourself 2 things; Why have you not read the books, for they are a marvellous pieces of literature that feature prominently in most lists of the top 100 books for the 20th Century.

The other must be why do you not know the story? Three inconceivably linked things; a lion, big scary and linked intuitively with nobleness, A Witch, spells, mischief (whether good or evil) and fantasy, and to make things that little more curious a Wardrobe, which for those that have no idea will be thinking “what?” a wardrobe and will be instantly bewildered and want to know more.

Never the less here is a brief non-spoiler version of the story. Four children loved by their family living in central London during the World War II bombings are sent to a Professors residence in the country for their protection. As they adapt to their new surroundings, which quickly lose all interest to the four making their lives dull and boring.

One day during a rather risky game of hide and seek Lucy the youngest of the four stumbles upon a wardrobe, which she promptly hides in. Of all the hiding places one could find this was possible the best for she found that the Wardrobe is a doorway to the Land of Narnia, though it does look ordinary at first but soon starts speaking to a Faun (think merman but instead of a half fish/half human think half goat/half human) called Mr. Tumnus and listens to stories about the magical world of Narnia with its talking animals and ancient myths. Throughout their tea and biscuits Lucy learns that Narnia has fallen under dark times due to the reign of an evil witch. Mr Tumnus not wanting Lucy to suffer to the same fate soon sends her on her way back home.

Back in the countryside home Lucy tells her siblings of Narnia and they, of course don’t believe her. Sometime later the children are trouble with the house keeper and it turns out that Edmund, the second youngest, had actually been to Narnia as well using this knowledge they flee to Narnia to escape their punishment.

Upon arriving they start exploring discover further the peril that Narnia, and they, are now involved in. Being just children they are scared and do not want to get involved, Edmund however had unwittingly been talking to the Witch and after being offered as much Turkish Delight as he could eat willingly agrees to ‘introduce’ his brother and sisters to her. So the children are divided one tricked by evil to betray his family and the others intending to somehow rescue him.

Personally I think using a relatively unknown cast is a benefit, we as an audience do not have any preconceptions about them, and it adds to the sanity-questioning concept that the film is in fact real. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a film but think about an 8 year old seeing this film they might think its real and will go home wanting to be a knight or king and go around the house saving people.

Awe inspiring visuals, hair raising orchestral audio, pristine effects a fantastic film well suited to any and everyone. Definitely a worthwhile watch and certainly a film to rent or buy.

Rating: 92%