Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jon Foster, Kim Basinger, Billy Bob Thornton, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder, Amber Heard, Austin Nichols, Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Isaak, Brad Renfro, Mel Raido, Rhys Ifans
Written by: Bret Easton Ellis, Nicholas Jarecki, based on a book by Bret Easton Ellis
Directed by: Gregor Jordan
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, drug use, pervasive language and some disturbing images
Running Time: 100
Date: 10/01/2008

The Informers (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bret Easton Ellis' novels generally explore such heady themes as the fact that Los Angeles in the 1980s -- with all the glamour, drugs and sex -- was really rather shallow. If you don't require anything more profound than that in your movies, then The Informers may well be a satisfying experience. This is especially true if you consider that director Gregor Jordan (Buffalo Soldiers, Ned Kelly) takes that theme and explores it to the hilt. (The film is good in a sleazy, lowdown way.) Based on Ellis' 1994 book -- which is a collection of linked short stories -- the film follows a randomly interconnected series of characters. Movie producer William Sloan (Billy Bob Thornton), who is sleeping with a TV newswoman (Winona Ryder), tries to get back together with his ex-wife Laura (Kim Basinger), who is sleeping with a younger man, a music-video producer (Austin Nichols). Laura and William's grown son Graham (Jon Foster) seems to be the main focus, as he struggles with the problems of having everything and still feeling empty. His super-hot girlfriend Christie (Amber Heard), who spends most of the movie cavorting naked, likes to sleep around, but so does Graham, so it's a fair trade. A sweaty, nervous, hotel desk clerk, Jack (Brad Renfro -- in his last role), approaches Graham in the hopes of landing an acting job. But Jack has bigger troubles in the form of his sinister uncle (Mickey Rourke), who is crashing at Jack's place and using it as headquarters for a kidnapping scheme. There's also a drunken, junkie rock star (Mel Raido), with Rhys Ifans as his long-suffering manager. And a drunken, divorced dad (Chris Isaak) takes his ambiguously gay son (Lou Taylor Pucci) to Hawaii for some pathetic bonding time. It all starts as a friend of this group is killed at a stylish party by walking in front of a car; the funeral is as empty and perfunctory as everything else in their lives. Of course, we get a plethora of 1980s music and fashion, most of it straight out of vintage MTV. The key to the film is the overwhelming sadness that seeps out of every pore in this otherwise supposedly good time. Sorry, Nine 1/2 Weeks fans, Basinger and Rourke don't have any scenes together.

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