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Simon Killer

Brady Corbet , Lila Salet , Antonio Campos    Unrated   DVD

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Product Description

Product Description

A heartbroken American on a soul-searching trip to Paris finds his buried secrets clawing their way to the surface in this neo-noir thriller from writer/director Antonio Campos (Afterschool). Lovelorn in the aftermath of a recent break-up with his longtime girlfriend, American college graduate Simon (Brady Corbet) wanders the streets of Paris aimlessly, and drifts into a sex parlor where he encounters mysterious prostitute Victoria (Mati Diop). His emotions suddenly reawakened, Simon hatches a plan to blackmail one of her wealthy clients -- a crime that has some unexpected repercussions for all involved.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Atmospheric Mood Piece That Maintains An Unsettling Vibe, But It Shouldn't Be Oversold As A Thriller Sept. 17 2013
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Despite an advertising campaign that might suggest that this is a pulse pounding thriller, writer/director Antonio Campos has fashioned a slow burn character study in "Simon Killer." What's particularly unusual about this presentation, however, is that we don't know very much about the central figure even though we spend every moment of the film with him. As bits and pieces of his personality and story emerge, we're never really sure of the whole truth. Is he a likable misfit? A needy loner looking for love? A obsessive type that won't let go? Or is he something inherently more disturbing? As portrayed by Brady Corbet, in easily his most compelling performance to date, Simon is an enigma. He has many layers, but you're never sure you want to peel off his mild mannered exterior. His choices are questionable as are his motivations, but what exactly drives him? "Simon Killer," in an intriguing choice, leaves you to make up your own mind about a lot of these questions. Through the course of the film, my opinion continued to evolve until the final scene. And the movie has a haunting quality that caused it to remain in my thoughts long after I'd finished it. To me, that always means they got something right!

The movie begins as Corbet has arrived in Paris. A recent college graduate, he is still hurting from a break-up with his childhood sweetheart. He seems to need the time away to purge some unpleasant experiences from his memory. In letters and calls, we learn that he has disappointed his parents and became rather confrontational with his girlfriend. But we really only hear hints of what transpired from his perspective. After spending much time alone, he starts to seek out the attention of the local ladies. And he befriends a professional who works at a local sex club. Their relationship is surprisingly tender as she responds to his yearning. When he doesn't leave Paris as planned, the two grow closer. He has some thoughts and ideas about her leaving the sex trade, so they enact a scheme to make that happen. As the movie progresses, we see the repercussions of this decision. It's as if his poor choices embolden him with newfound confidence, but I won't reveal where that leads. While I've tried to be purposefully vague, the DVD cover gives even more away.

It's probably best just to let the movie unravel at its own pace, it's mysterious element is one of its strongest attributes. As I mentioned, this is NOT an in-your-face thriller. It is a deliberately paced film that has an underlying creepiness instead. Corbet is absolutely fantastic here. Having been a child actor, he's made some bold choices in his career including "Mysterious Skin," "Funny Games," and "Melancholia." Clearly he wants to be an actor as opposed to a star and has hand-picked challenging roles on the indie film scene. This, though, is his best. The movie also contains explicit nudity and sex (in case that scares you off), but the movie is geared toward an adult arthouse crowd. "Simon Killer" is most definitely not for everyone. But it creates and sustains a oddly creepy vibe that had me hooked. There isn't a lot of action or thrills, instead this is a slow burn mood piece for the right audience. I didn't have particularly high expectations, but I actually loved it. KGHarris, 9/13.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic but definitely not for everyone June 11 2013
By SJreviewsEverything - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Told almost as a modern-day version of the novel In a Lonely Place, Simon Killer places us with a young American man fresh upon arrival in Paris (or so he says). He is struggling with getting over his ex, and falls in love with a French prostitute, also with (literal) scars. As seen in the trailer (so no spoilers), the two devise a scheme to blackmail her clients for cash. This doesn't quite work out.

The narrative, though, is secondary to the extraordinary and wholly disturbing vision that is presented to us. The sex scenes, while erotic, are almost joyless, with Simon's lovers' heads often out of the shot, giving us a view of Simon leering at their nude bodies, or forcing them to turn around and face the opposite way, further dehumanizing his sexual partners.

The unique experience of this film is further developed through the contrast of highly cinematic, "fake"-feeling camera work with exceptionally neorealistic dialogue and acting. The very long shots feel as if we could be there watching live, but with the slight disconnect of a perfectly framed angle, or smooth turns bridging opposite characters or ends of the room.

The focal point of the film, of course, is Simon himself, delivered in a fantastic performance by Brady Corbet (who you may recognize from Thirteen). He is nearly impossible to take your eyes off of, and gives a remarkably rich and believable portrayal of a womanizer, criminal, and yes, killer.

Simon Killer is also extraordinary in how much it takes us by surprise - we rarely get films, either studio or independent, which places us with your everyday man who has the potential to kill. Recalling earlier events, I can now look back and see how we were given clues that Simon could be a criminal all along, but an audience is often unwilling to accept that our narrator, our door to this experience, is capable of such terrible acts. We share in his experience but don't want to bear the guilt of his actions. The film lets off a chilling conclusion and a sense of fluidity, that these events have likely happened before and will probably happen again.

Simon Killer is a shining (?) dark spot in a year of film that was largely optimistic and happy-go-lucky. It offers a very fresh take on the traditional narrative and gives us an unforgettable cinematic experience.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A socopath too chicken to be Tom Ripley Sept. 27 2013
By Maurice W. Knutson Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Story of a young man who is a totally amoral bastard. But he's a mamas boy which doesn't fit the type. FrenchSenegalese director Mati Diop in a major acting role is a real find. She added a couple of stars to my rating,
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oppressive excellence March 17 2014
By technoguy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Americans in Paris,film-makers who are returning to their inspirational source,like writers once did in the twenties. However, this is not the Paris of French film-makers,it is a foreshortened version, bodies decapitated by the screen cut. Campos is a product of Borderline,the talented film-maker collective behind last year's Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene. Simon Killer is his follow-up to Afterschool.Technically advanced,strange angles,oppressive,close-up character study,moving pans,drenched in colour screens,abrupt musical intros,the unreliable narrator with sociopathic tendencies.Playing a creepy character as in Funny Games.

Simon (Brady Corbet) claims to be a graduate in neuroscience,concerned with how the brain processes peripheral vision,yet he doesn't know what `nystagmus' is,a condition of Marianne,one of his pick-ups.He is a compulsive liar.His emails to his ex are all in his voiceovers, even hers to him.He also towards the end tells the passport control officer he's studying French literature, like the last girl he met.In truth Simon is alone in Paris looking for sex,full of deadly cunning,cut adrift from empathy or values. Ripley comes to mind,but even he would never stoop so low as to get his prostitute girl friend to film and blackmail customers.

Chronicling the downward spiral of this inept protagonist,Campos subverts noir expectations,he is ably abetted by Mati Diop, touching as Victoria,who Simon moves in with and battens onto.He believes his lies until Mati peels away at them towards the end as he has gorged his confidence to launch into a new relationship as her spark dims. The sex is true to life.Simon treats women as objects to his own narcissim.There are languorous camera movements and surprising focal points in many scenes e.g.when he's picked her up in the bar and they've gone to a private area to talk as the camera pans away from them as if to widen the perspective.

Simon is portrayed as both pathetic and vulnerable,his mother's `fox'and violently unstable,emotionally immature,'I always saw myself as more of a lion'.Simon is set in his ways,hiding darker impulses.Colours are drab,cameras set at waist level,cutting off torsos.Beneath the frail exterior,manic behaviour is prone to burst forth.The tourist manipulator,adapting to very person he meets, trying to bring a new self into identity, but full of motiveless malignity,deriving his drive for manliness by wrenching emotion from others.Simon grows into a monster as foretold in the title.Corbet quits himself well of this American psycho in Paris.Enjoyable film with urgent soundtrack.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed emotions Jan. 7 2014
By Budas Root - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a well-made and often audacious film. Its prickly willingness to make everything sordid and ugly -- while fleshing this out with exhilarating editing, music and camerawork -- carried me through several enthralling watches, along with Brady Corbet's uncanny performance. But, though I still can't stop watching Corbet work his rancid spell (no one is doing "sexy young creep" better right now), I have begun to see him and the film as rather self-indulgent and a bit flailingly pointless. It's sort of fin-de-siecle art fifteen years too late, it doesn't need the unwieldy meta-subject of how visual culture deludes and tricks the brain (duh), and it should be less in awe of the tawdry sex which it loves to be aghast at. In other words, Ulrich Seidl among others has given sharper and more challenging films about some of these same subjects. In other other words, it panders to a high-minded viewership who can take comfort in calling its desperate characters "sociopaths" when that's not really what they are at all -- just young, sad, lonely, down and out, and speaking two different languages ... er, three, counting the universal one. In other other other words, not being able to trust a film's good reviews has become for me an indication not to fully trust a film. But I wouldn't bet against myself watching it several more times over the next few months. It's just that kind of spicy noodle -- empty calories maybe, but tasty as all get out.

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