Wednesday, February 29, 2012

EXCISION and PRICE CHECK - Reviews by Nicole Bacher


Director/Screenwriter- Richard Bates Jr.

Pauline (Anna Lynne McCord) is a high-school outcast with two things on her mind: losing her virginity to school stud Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), and perfecting her do-it-yourself organ transplantation system in time to operate on her sister who has Cystic Fibrosis - typical behavior for your average sixteen year-old. McCord absolutely nails the difficult role of Pauline, with this being one of those indelible whack-job types of roles that very few actresses have the guts to actually go all-out and make their own. McCord pulls off one of the bravest, most egoless performances I’ve seen in a genre film. She brings a certain level of sympathy to the role that probably only makes it more disturbing. The movie has so much gore and blood in it that I don’t know where to begin. It could be said that Pauline’s intentions throughout the film are good, even if she is completely out of her mind and needs to be locked up, but thinking she can cut open her sister is just completely crazy. Then again, it’s probably not all her fault, with her conservative, buttoned down Christian mom (Traci Lords) constantly making her feel inferior to her golden girl, sickly sister. Her mother’s idea of helping Pauline is taking her to the local Reverend to talk about her problems, and the Reverend is played by John Waters, probably not the best person for guidance (his entrance into the film brought many laughs). The irony in this film is iconic. The cast truly made this film and it helped coming into this film with an open mind.

McCord certainly subverted all the prejudices I held against her as I walked into the film, but major credit is also owed to director Richard Bates Jr. Despite the subject matter, Bates never makes Excision come off as exploitation. Rather- it feels almost like a piece of pop art, and watching this, which is his first feature-length effort, I couldn’t get over the feeling that it felt like I was seeing a major new voice in genre films emerge throughout. So, while it’s more than a little sick, and will likely leave you queasy by the time the credits roll, Excision is nonetheless a truly unique horror ride into the scariest of all places, the mind of a teenaged misfit. On a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 being extremely mainstream, I would give this film a 3. The film is one of a kind and nothing like anything I have ever seen. The director’s vision is so different nothing compares. Scary and perverse, Excision is certainly the type of genre flick you’ll have a hard time shaking in the days after you watch it.

Price Check

Director/ Screenwriter- Michael Walker

Pete Cozy (Eric Mabius) works as a mid-level manager at the headquarters of a regional supermarket chain in Long Island, although he’d rather still be in the music industry. Regardless, he’s happy to have a position without too much responsibility so that he can spend more time with his wife Sara (Annie Parisse) and son Henry, despite the low salary and accumulating credit card debt. When his supervisor in the pricing department leaves the company, the position is filled by feisty, Susan Felders (Parker Posey), a transfer from the corporate office, rumored to be “a real ball-buster” according to one co-worker. When she arrives, however, Susan proves to be an effective team player. She is a straight-talking, free-cussing fireball who is determined to reshape the department and the store chain into a powerhouse within the larger corporation. She makes some quick changes at the office, promoting Pete to a VP position and doubling his salary, which pleases his wife, but increases his workload. Single and new in town, Susan quickly works her way into Pete’s family life, inviting herself to his son’s school Halloween party and buddying up to his wife. As the extra workload adds up to more hours in the office and then to posh LA business trips with his boss, Pete and Susan spend an increasing amount of time together, much to the concern of his wife. Things start to unravel as Susan comes on to Pete and vice versa. When they return to the office, tension is high and Pete tests his power and forgets the Susan is still boss.

Walker’s script is mediocre with realistic situations, cute dialogue and clever humor that contribute to the overall authenticity of the workplace atmosphere. Walker directs with precision and production values are excellent overall. On a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 being extremely mainstream, I would give this film a 6. Sundance queen Parker Posey brings a certain bold enthusiasm to the office setting, pulling off the role with expert comic timing. She essentially steals the film. It was as if she made this role her own. Mabius keeps his performance dialed back to extract the humor from the large number of awkward setups. The supporting cast of co-workers is solid without overshadowing the leads. The music by Luna is a nice warm touch to give the film a mellow feel. Price Check is a film that could be passed over if it wasn’t for Parker Posey. She once again is the show stealer.

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