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Burning Palms [Blu-ray]
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You've never experienced a movie like Burning Palms; five stories so twisted, they could only take place in Los Angeles. A father's relationship with his precocious teenage daughter is too close for comfort for his fiancée. A woman becomes undone by her boyfriend's kinky bedroom request. A gay couple brings home the ultimate lifestyle accessory: an African child. An unsupervised young boy leads his brothers in disturbing games. A lonely woman confronts her attacker with a bizarre request. Dylan McDermott (In the Line of Fire), Rosamund Pike (Pride and Prejudice), Shannen Doherty (Beverly Hills 90210), Lake Bell (What Happens in Vegas), Zoe Saldana (Avatar), and Nick Stahl (Sin City) head an "uncommonly good cast" (Hollywood Reporter) in this macabre comedy from the co-screenwriter of Disturbia and Paranormal Activity 2.
Top Customer Reviews
In Creep-Show the flawed character usually ended up getting killed, or jailed, or had some fitting punishment hit them in the end. In Burning Palms - in some episodes the antagonist (not always who you expect) - does end with a severe punishment. In other episodes, the innocent party ends the loser... which I found confusing (felt a bit open-ended, incomplete, or forgotten).
Well filmed, professionally done, with many recognizeable & famous Hollywood actors.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
To highlight the stories, in particular, might be to lessen the surprise factor. But very briefly--the tales include (1) a father/daughter bond that gets uncomfortably close for his new fiancee, (2) a love making experiment that haunts the psyche of a young college student, (3) a spoiled brat whose bad acts might lead to surprising discoveries, (4) a male couple who takes on the latest designer accessory--an African orphan, and (5) an act of assault that has unexpected repercussions. I won't reveal any more as the tales really should unfold on their own merits for maximum impact. But with a strong cast including Nick Stahl, Dylan McDermott, Paz Vega, Rosamund Pike and many other familiar faces--the tales are brought to life with precision. The whole film maintains a car crash appeal. At times it may be uncomfortable, but you can never look away. This is never more true than in the film's final act featuring a fearless performance by Zoe Saldana.
Again, I don't think that "Burning Palms" is a perfect film--but it has a strong and unique satiric voice that should be seen by lovers of adventurous cinema. In case you missed it--I loved this movie despite its shortcomings. It is a real discovery--one that I will talk about to my friends and FORCE people to watch (that's what you have to endure if you're my friend!). I laughed out loud several times and squirmed uncomfortably other times. And for a film to make you genuinely have a visceral reaction--that's always a good thing in my book. Again, I reiterate, even if you hate this movie--you won't be apathetic to it. But hopefully, like me, you will embrace its excesses and go on a wild and bumpy ride through the streets of Los Angeles. About 4 1/2 stars for impact--I'm actually going to round up because this one caught me completely unawares! KGHarris, 5/11.
Expertly directed by Christopher B. Landon ("Disturbia"), "Burning Palms" reminded me of Stephen King's "Creepshow." Whereas "Creepshow" relied heavily upon gore, "Burning Palms" relies upon sex for both shock value and dark humor. Because of its strong sexual content, it also reminded me of the classic HBO series "The Hitchhiker," which contained a lot of sexual violence; each episode's ending was rather shocking and provocative.
The huge cast for "Burning Palms" is a talented, gorgeous one. My favorite performer was Lake Bell who portrayed the wisecracking, hippie-looking, acid tripping nanny, Mary Jane. On numerous occasions, she made me laugh out loud. Even her name is slang for marijuana. Her character reminded me of Tipper whom she also portrayed in the hit romantic comedy "What Happens in Vegas."
Zoe Saldana ("Avatar") gave an emotional tour de force as the distraught rape victim, Sarah Cotton. Other beautiful actresses who gave outstanding performances as sexual victims are Rosamund Pike ("Surrogates") and Paz Vega ("Triage"). The handsome Dylan McDermott ("The Messengers") gave a great performance as the father, Dennis Marx, whose relationship with his fifteen-year-old daughter Chloe (Emily Meade) borders on incest.
When I realized that the stories had tragic endings, I began feeling genuine tension and stress as I feared for the safety of the characters. I stayed up long past my bedtime watching this film; I couldn't turn it off. The cinematography of beautiful LA and Baton Rouge, combined with a dramatic orchestra soundtrack from composer Matthew Margeson ("The Expendables"), helped make this an enjoyable film. However, because of the foul language and perverse, graphic sex acts, it is not recommended for children.
My only complaint is with the DVD release from Image Entertainment. Surprisingly, there is the absence of special features such as deleted scenes, "making of" featurettes and cast/crew interviews. Thankfully, it has English SDH subtitles for those of us who are hearing impaired and is presented in its theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
On the DVD, there is also a trailer for "Burning Palms" as well as for numerous other films, which all look intriguing: In "The Way Back," prisoners who escape a Siberian gulag must traverse 4,000 miles of wilderness; in "Fall Down Dead," a serial killer terrorizes a witness of his latest Satanic murder; in "A Beautiful Life," a runaway struggles to survive on the seedy streets of Los Angeles; and in "The Killing Jar," a group of strangers at a truckstop are taken hostage by a crazed killer.
"Burning Palms" is highly recommended for all fans of bizarre dramas and collectors of strange, frightening anthologies. Though watching it didn't mess me up for life (at least I hope it didn't), it is a very disturbing film that I won't be able to forget anytime soon. Kudos to the director, Christopher B. Landon, for his artistic bravery and I hope he plans more shocking, avant-garde anthologies of this nature.
Joseph B. Hoyos
Traveling around different areas of Los Angeles Landon pulls up situational stories that are apparently supposed to represent life in those particular zones. Very bad for tourism as well as somewhat challenging for the real neighborhood personnel! Santa Monica: a woman (Rosamund Pike) becomes alarmingly concerned over her fiancé's (Dylan McDermott) unnaturally close relationship with his teenage daughter (Emily Meade). In Westwood, a sexual act requested by a man (Robert Hoffman) turns into a psychological obsession for a young woman (Jamie Chung). In West Hollywood, a gay couple (Peter Macdissi/Anson Mount) buys a young African daughter and attempts (unsuccessfully) to mold her to fit their lifestyle. In Holmby Hills, maladjusted kids and their equally maladjusted nanny (Paz Vega) play murderous games. In Sherman Oaks, a rape victim (Zoe Saldana) faces her violator (Nick Stahl) with a revenge all her own. There are lot of other fine actors caught up in this mélange but their roles are small.
Depending on your state of mind, these stories border on parody, black humor, sick outlook, and just uninteresting. The things presented as comedy....makes you wonder. Grady Harp, April 14