Bug and Lions for Lambs

William Friedkin, while one of my favorite directors, is definitely a hit and miss prospect. His projects always pique my interest--he's one of a few directors that make me stand up and take notice (Spielberg, Boyle, DePalma, Fincher, Brad Anderson, Coppola). The director of the excellent The French Connection, The Exorcist and To Live and Die in L.A. also made such stinkers as The Hunted, Jade and Rules of Engagement.

But Bug is something else. Something in between.

I didn't like it much on first glance. Nor did I dislike it. I was a bit...well, perplexed by it.

On the surface it's an atmospheric thriller about paranoia and government surveillance. But beneath it's the story of a sad pair of damaged drifters that find themselves drawn to each other to experience human contact and interaction. You might not recognize Ashley Judd (playing Agnes White) in this one. She's a chain smoking, coke snorting bi-sexual serving wench that allows the creepy Peter Evans (played capably by Michael Shannon) to shack up with her. We haven't seen such a used-up character since Charlize Theron played Aileen Wornos in Monster. We also get a great performance by Harry Connick Jr. (underrated actor) who plays a menacing scumbag of an ex-husband that drops by White's apartment to snarl at her and smack her around. He's not a very nice guy, but in the end, you find yourself rooting for him to put two and two together and save Agnes from herself.

It's about co-dependency and isolation and while it's not a perfect film, or even a very good one, it's an interesting and memorable descent into madness. The final scene is heart-breaking, and on second thought, I don't think it could have ended any other way.

Lions for Lambs is out this weekend, but it's been getting hammered by the critics. I'm intrigued by the story, but I'll wait to look at it on DVD. The Horrorfest '07 phenomenon has reached Jacksonville, and I'm gearing up to see Borderland, Tooth and Nail and Mulberry Street this week.

My apologies for the delayed writing this week. I graded better than 100 papers and piled up a couple of thousand words on my WIP. There's a lot to discuss in the world of publishing next week, starting with the purported death knell of the short story...

The Ducks start the hoop season tonight against Pepperdine. With all of the upsets this week (Gardner-Webb over Kentucky? Are you kidding me?), I'm going to watch this one with a lot of interest...

Stop by www.danielwpowell.com tomorrow afternoon for updated photographs, markets and writing links (waiting on the batteries to charge for the camera)...

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