DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

CRAVE (director/writer: Charles de Lauzirika; screenwriter: Robert Lawton; cinematographer: William Eubank; editor:  David Crowther; music:  Justin Caine Burnett; cast: Ron Perlman (Pete), Edward Furlong (Ravi), Josh Lawson (Aiden), Emma Lung (Virginia); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Charles de Lauzirika/Robert O. Green; Phase 4 Films; 2012)

"The fantasy urban vigilante pic ends with a whimper instead of a bang."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Debut feature directed by Charles de Lauzirika is about an anxiety-ridden 35-year-old haunted and frustrated dreamer, a Detroit crime scene photographer, Aiden (Josh Lawson), who has a constant out-loud inner monologue going. It works very well as a sympathetic tragi-comic character study that is disturbing and with film noir pretensions, but when it become overwrought with gratuitous violence it instead shoots for silly comedy and the pic shows it doesn't give two shits about the nerd it characterizes and the fantasy urban vigilante pic ends with a whimper instead of a bang. It's sort of a Taxi Driver pic without a taxi, Scorsese or a credible full-blown cry out about urban decadence.

Our soft hero, a recovering alcoholic, is a sexually frustrated free-lance photographer, who is out of sorts in a crime-ridden decaying Detroit, and feels since he's such a coward in real-life he must compensate for his inadequacies by dreaming that he is a super-hero. Aiden is shown in his dream world rescuing a damsel in distress from two menacing abusive thugs on a public bus and shooting them, and, in a funny scene, driving a sledgehammer into the head of an obnoxious know-it-all at an AA meeting.

Reality changes for Aiden one night, as he' robbed by a jumpy armed Hispanic while at a party store and later recovers in the street the gun used by the same perp in a killing around the corner. 

At all the numerous crime scenes photographed by Aiden, he always encounters grizzled world-weary veteran detective Pete (Ron Perlman) for some subdued chats about how rotten the world has become. Pete seems to understand Aiden's desperate life and haunting visions of the violent city, and befriends him in the limited way he can. When Aiden eyes the beautiful 22-year-old Virginia (Emma Lung) having a spat with her creepy boyfriend Ravi (Edward Furlong) in front of the apartment building where both are tenants, he makes contact with his fellow tenant on the elevator and to his astonishment scores. The hope here is that sex and love can save this downtrodden soul. But not so fast, as the shlub, who is socially awkward and has a penchant for saying the wrong thing, blows that relationship but now armed gets enough nerve to begin to act out his fantasy rich life as a vigilante and protector of the deserving Motor City denizens and loses any stability he might have once had as he goes over the edge and turns into a loony.

Despite falling apart in silliness instead of keeping it dangerously on edge as something real, the pic still makes for a compelling watch.

Josh Lawson/Aiden
Emma Lung/Virginia
Ron Perlman/Pete
Edward Furlong/Ravi - See more at: http://www.joblo.com/horror-movies/reviews/crave#sthash.HxDy8LQ5.dpuf

REVIEWED ON 11/27/2013       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED   DENNIS SCHWARTZ

 

http://www.sover.net/~ozus/index.htm


Crime scene photographer Aiden (Josh Lawson) is high on inner monologues and gory fantasies but low on actual action. But that gradually changes as he meets a broad he digs (Emma Lung) and at the same time starts to slowly lose his marbles.
THE LOWDOWN

In the tradition of TAXI DRIVER (which CRAVE even nods at via its poster) and I LOVE A MAN IN UNIFORM (with a pinch of FALLING DOWN for good measures), CRAVE is the kind of film we don't see too often now of late, so yes, it was a refreshing breath of dead air!

In short, a likeable yet unstable dude gradually goes Coo-Coo for Co-Co-Puffs and we're the lucky mofos on hand to witness it. And the fascinating thing was, for me anyways: I totally understood why Aiden was losing his beans on pretty much every level. Bullies, druggies, injustices, self centered folks with no consideration for others, chicks on the rebound playing mind games and that's just the tip of the ice pick. I mean take a good look at our society! A huge chunk of it is pathetic! So unless you're able to do what most of us are able to do: let the trash that is around you roll off your back, then you're gonna snap and that's what happened to my good pal Aiden. I so dug the way director Charles de Lauzirika communicated Aiden's train of thought via biting inner monologues and grisly day dreams that we can all relate to, to some degree (I've had fantasies like that when it comes to a-holes talking behind me at the movies as if they were in their living rooms). The gore was well done too, the CGI splats were almost seems-less and more often than none I'd be taken aback by the types of tools Aiden would use for the job. The huge hammer was one for the books! Well played sir, well played!

The solid performances added to the enjoyment as well. I had never heard of Ozzie actor Josh Lawson (as Aiden) but will keep tabs on him from now on. He basically carried the movie via his layered, charismatic and low key show and managed to be sympathetic while turning into a complete nut-job Emma Lung was effective and easy on the eyes as the “confused” love interest, Edward Furlong played a scummy a-hole to a T and Ron Perlman owned every scene he was in as Aiden's detective friend. Perlman often goes big in his movies performance wise, but here he was very subdued, which actually made him even more hypnotizing to watch. I couldn't get enough of him in this one! The actors were in luck if you ask me, cause they had some well tuned dialogue to work with! Yup the script backed them up and helped them shine! As we all know, that is not always the case. Visually Lauzirika showed off mucho skills behind the camera and supported by cinematographer William Eubank, he delivered a visually stimulating affair, that often put out striking, almost poetic-like imagery (loved the framing here). Add to that an ideal score by Justin Caine Burnett and some efficient bleak humor and you get a rewarding watch!

So what was my problem with it then? Simple. At the end of the kill, the bulk of this film was build-up, Aiden slowly but surely losing it until... well I was expecting something like the end of TAXI DRIVER, but CRAVE didn't go that far, and in my opinion that hurt the flick. The last act was nowhere near as powerful as the first two acts and the peak of the story, the crescendo if you will, didn't hit hard enough. But hey that's just me talking, maybe you'll feel differently when you see it. Lastly, the balance of humor and drama was on the money, but I couldn't help but wonder: What if there were LESS laughs, would the film have had more impact? Talk amongst yourselves. All in all though CRAVE was an impressive debut with an engaging story, fine actors, bang on visuals and a sick sense of humor! One to love!

GORE
We get a bashed head, bullet wounds, some chainsaw fun and more! Fun times!
T & A
We get two yummy tit shots and the ladies get a slice of Ozzie ass!
BOTTOM LINE
CRAVE was a cleverly written, brilliantly acted and visually stimulating film that pulled off the always tricky juggling act of balancing drama and humor. Alas, the movie didn't blow up via its last act and kinda left me on a slightly underwhelmed note. And maybe it was too funny for its own good, am not sure. But don't get me wrong, Crave is a must see! Genre driven character studies are a rarity these days, specially well rounded like this one! If I was a betting man, I'd say it was the beginning of an illustrious feature film directing career for Charles de Lauzirika. Knock em dead!
BULL'S EYE
Emma Lung was also in Triangle (2009), starring Melissa George.

Charles de Lauzirika cut his teeth doing extra material for high end DVD releases like the release of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Robin Hood and Prometheus. or Tony Scott's The Making of Pelham 123.
- See more at: http://www.joblo.com/horror-movies/reviews/crave#sthash.HxDy8LQ5.dpuf