Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Film Review: BOXING HELENA (1993, Jennifer Chambers Lynch)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 107 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Sherilyn Fenn, Bill Paxton, Julian Sands, Art Garfunkel, Kurtwood Smith.
Tag-lines: "Beyond love, beyond obsession, there hides something beyond reason."
Best one-liners: See Paxton quote below.

Why would Jennifer Chambers Lynch have to wait fifteen years after her first movie (BOXING HELENA, 1993) to make her second (SURVEILLANCE, 2008)? It seems to me, the answer would either be:

A., BOXING HELENA was TOO good, racy, cutting-edge, and brilliant to be accepted by the mainstream, or,

B. the film totally sucked.

Unfortunately for us all, the answer is B. The actors are fine, but have been far better directed elsewhere:

Sherilyn Fenn (TWIN PEAKS),

Julian Sands (NAKED LUNCH), and Art Garfunkel (BAD TIMING). Jennifer steals quite a bit from Daddy David- her lead actress, the cinematographer, and several stylistic elements such as the use of slowed-frame-rate slow motion.

Let me give you and all burgeoning filmmakers a piece of advice, Jennifer. NEVER USE SLOWED-FRAME-RATE SLOW MOTION WITH THE INTENT TO BE SERIOUS UNLESS YOU ARE DAVID LYNCH. You may share his last name and possibly 50% of his genes, but you do not share his uncanny ability to transform corny into scary or banality into mystery. This film is a sprawling, pretentious mess of self-indulgence, faux-Cinemax skin-flickery, and plot twists that only confound and piss off instead of shock and amaze.

Even the dad from THAT 70'S SHOW is appalled.

There are two reasons, however, that the film garners two stars and doesn't fail entirely:

#1. The baroque visuals. Though this has everything to do with the production designer and cinematographer and nothing to do with Jennifer Lynch.

#2. Bill Paxton.

Note leather pants.

The man strolls out of left field and into this movie, wearing leather pants and a see-through shirt, hangs around long enough to show his ass and make some smarmy comments, and then leaves, exclaiming "Hasta...WHATEVER!" as he departs.

Bravo, Paxton. Obviously you ignored whatever Jennifer Lynch told you to do.

-Sean Gill


Unknown said...

Irony: Kim Basinger dropped out of Boxing Helena and ended up losing an arm and a leg

Sean Gill said...


Well played.