Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Double Dakota Feature: Hide And Seek (2005) & Fragments (2008) [Bonus: Cutlass (2007)!]

"Daddy can't save me now."

I was excited when I discovered that there was a real bona fide horror movie among the list of films Dakota Fanning has starred in. However, my first impression was that I didn't like that she had darkened her hair, and I was a little disappointed that she was not her usual chipper self. Nevertheless, I was very impressed; she makes a totally convincing creepy child character. Proof that she's not just a pretty face, but a great acting talent as well. And her morbid look actually did grow on me.

As for the movie itself, it was genuinely creepy. I hesitate to say too much, as it is a mystery/thriller, and I don't want to give anything away for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. (So if you really don't want to be spoiled, you might skip ahead to the next paragraph now). But I have to mention that despite looking like another cliched "is it an imaginary friend or a ghost" plot, it actually turns out to be something I wasn't expecting. Even if they did stoop to using the lamest trick in the horror filmbook - the cat jumping out of the closet. Honestly, I can't tell if horror films are still doing that in earnest, or if it's a joke, or just an homage to the genre. Anyway, I won't hold it against the rest of the film, and besides, this one makes up for it via the inclusion of a different and much creepier cat-related scene.

So, Hide and Seek is not the greatest horror film I have ever seen (granted, I have seen quite a lot), but I liked it. Bob De Niro (;p) is pretty good in it, too, in something of a more sensitive role than I'm used to seeing him in. But if for no other reason (and there are others), it's worth seeing just for Dakota's performance. She manages to make depressive mental disturbance so very endearing.

"Whatchu drawin'?"

"You, dying."

Intermission: Cutlass (2007)

Cutlass is a short film written and directed by Kate Hudson, who I can't help remembering as Penny Lane in Almost Famous. It features an all-star cast, including Dakota Fanning in her most outrageous role yet - a normal teenage girl. She wants to buy an expensive guitar (a vintage '79 Gibson Hummingbird), but her mom is reluctant - until she recalls her own teenage years (her younger self played by a totally hot Kristen Stewart) when she wanted desperately to buy an expensive car (a 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass). The film's only 16 minutes long, but it's a lot of fun, and features other stars I haven't mentioned, so definitely, it's worth seeing if you can get your hands on it.

"It's not just a guitar, it's my life."

Fragments (a.k.a. Winged Creatures) is a heavy film. It's a shame it's so depressing, because Dakota looks absolutely amazing in it. Unfortunately, though, I found her character to be a bit annoying, but then, I understand that the point of this film is to show the characters in what is decidedly not their best moments.

Expanding on that, the film tracks the aftermath of a random diner shooting, and examines the unique way in which each of the survivors deals (or avoids having to deal) with the trauma. One man, who is shot and survives, tests his luck at the slots. A girl who lost her father (Dakota's character) turns fervently to religion. A boy refuses to say a word after the incident. A doctor desperately clings to his ability to help people. And in the process, we learn a little bit about each of these (and other) characters.

But it's not easy to take in. These characters are acting under considerable stress, so the logic behind their actions is not always obvious. And the film can be kinda subtle on certain points. But watching these characters deal with their emotions is, to me, interesting. But not easy. It's not a very happy experience, and there isn't much of an uplifting message, even at the end. The process of recovery is a very slow one, but for many people in life, this is something they have to endure. That's what I believe this film is about.

I would show you a thousand screenshots. I really would.
So don't tempt me. :p

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