IFC's September '10 Releases
Mercy (October 2/10)
Frustratingly uneven, Mercy follow playboy author John Ryan (Scott Caan) as he finds himself falling in love for the first time in his life - with John's relationship with Wendy Glenn's Mercy Bennett effectively split into two separate sections ("Before" and "After"). It's clear right from the get-go that filmmaker Patrick Hoelck isn't looking to offer up a typically slick Hollywood romance, as the movie, written by Caan, boasts a gritty visual style that's reflected in its pervasively meandering narrative. The less-than-eventful atmosphere doesn't become a problem until the film reaches its "after" section, with the film's already low-key sensibilities taken to entirely new heights as John sinks into a deep depression following a presumed breakup with Mercy. It's Caan's decision to postpone the revelation of just what happened between the two that ultimately leads to a lamentably dull midsection, as the viewer can't help but wonder why John is reacting so badly to a run-of-the-mill breakup (ie why did he punch his friend for trying to set him up?) Such concerns become moot once we find out what actually transpired between the two, and one can't help but imagine that the film would have benefited from a far more linear structure (ie armed with the context of the final revelation, the midsection might not have been so oppressively tedious and John would have undoubtedly become a far more sympathetic figure). Still, Mercy is generally a well-acted (if obnoxiously directed) piece of work that just barely earns a lukewarm recommendation based almost entirely on the strength of Caan's compelling performance.
Paintball (October 4/10)
An absolutely interminable piece of work, Paintball follows several strangers as they arrive in a desolate area for a game of high-stakes paintball - with problems ensuing as it becomes clear that the group is being stalked by unknown individuals armed with live ammunition. It's a reasonably promising premise that's squandered fright from the outset by filmmaker Daniel Benmayor, as the director's decision to jump straight into the action proves utterly disastrous - with the pervasive lack of character development ensuring that the viewer couldn't possibly care less who lives and who dies. By that same token, Benmayor's reluctance (or inability) to subsequently transform any of these people into wholeheartedly compelling figures ensures that the remainder of the proceedings fare just as poorly, and it's also worth noting that Mario Schoendorff's screenplay has been peppered with a number of illogical episodes that only further the vibe of artificiality that's been hard-wired into each and every one of the characters. The movie's hopelessly uninvolving atmosphere is exacerbated by its annoyingly (and aggressively) shaky camerawork, with the ugliness of the visuals reaching its breaking point as Benmayor offers up a final half hour that transpires mostly in the dark (ie just when you think the movie can't get any worse...) The end result is a progressively unwatchable disaster that doesn't seem to possess a single positive attribute, which is actually kind of impressive in its own way, admittedly.
no stars out of
Perrier's Bounty (October 4/10)
Directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, Perrier's Bounty follows a rather shady young man (Cillian Murphy's Michael McCrea) as he attempts to come up with money owed to a local thug named Darren Perrier (Brendan Gleeson) - with his efforts eventually leading him to team up with his quirky father (Jim Broadbent's Jim McCrea) and a pretty neighbor (Jodie Whittaker's Brenda). Fitzgibbon does a superb job of capturing the viewer's interest almost instantly, as Perrier's Bounty boasts an impressively fast-paced opening half hour that's heightened by the uniformly agreeable performances. The actors are so good, in fact, that the movie's segue into a comparatively less-than-eventful midsection is hardly as problematic as one might've feared, with the palpable chemistry between the three lads heightened by screenwriter Mark O'Rowe's undeniably gift for clever, compelling bursts of dialogue. O'Rowe's willingness to mess around with the conventions of the genre proves instrumental in cementing the film's ultimate success, as the familiarity of the storyline is consistently offset by the script's playful sensibilities - with the most apt example of this Gabriel Byrne's narration, in which Byrne's voice-over admits that it would be nice to see something happen between Michael and Brenda (and even warns the viewer when things are about to take a dark turn). By the time the rather conventional final act rolls around, Perrier's Bounty has certainly established itself as a pervasively affable endeavor that confirms O'Rowe's place as one of the most intriguing up-and-coming screenwriters around (although, admittedly, the film is hardly in the same league as the scripter's previous effort, 2007's brilliant Boy A).