Sundance – Kaboom

Gregg Araki had a lot to say about his film Kaboom when introducing it at yesterday’s screening. It’s his tenth feature film, his eighth to screen at Sundance, and the first one to go to Cannes. He called it his ‘most overtly Lynchian’ film. He called it his most beautiful and his most autobiographical. Whatever the hell that means. If I’m reading the film right, it means he slept with a lot of people in a college filled with cult members, witches with special powers and all the students there score a nearly perfect three on the Kinsey scale. He gave the film the tagline ‘a bisexual Twin Peaks that takes place in college’. When asked about his decision to place the story in college, he explained he found that point in people’s life extremely interesting, a time when you really discover who you are, what your sexuality is, and what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. All of this, mind you, was the introduction. He didn’t stick around for a Q&A.

Kaboom is highly stylized, filmed like a comic book adaptation.  It follows a sexually confused, but mostly gay eighteen year old, beginning his education at a liberal arts college in California.  After eating a psychedelic drug-laced cookie at a party, he sees men wearing animal masks murdering a naked co-ed on campus.  This is the beginning of him discovering a monstrous conspiracy.  He’s sure to have lots of sex along the way.

It seems confusing that Araki would claim interest in a period of young lives where they’re supposed to so unsure of themselves, in a state of self-discovery, and then to give his characters such distinguished and exact personalities.  The kids in Kaboom aren’t confused.  They’re just sluts.  And perhaps this is because I’m an ardent fan of David Lynch, but Araki’s claim on his style of filmmaking is a bit overkill.  Where Lynch takes you into a spiraling descent into madness and terror, Araki takes the film into a ridiculously campy, and poorly written comic book.  The ending scenes of the film are so ridiculous, the movie stopped being a pleasantly quirky and funny film, to a more WTF-this-is-lame-wish-I-was-waitlisting-that-financial-crisis-doc-instead sort of film.  It may be out of line to expect a certain level of coherence from a film at a festival dedicated to experimental filmmaking, but Kaboom just falls flat in my opinion.

I’m sure you offended every republican in the country, Araki, but this isn’t a very good movie.


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9 Responses to “Sundance – Kaboom”
  1. I want to see this because I’m a fan of Araki. I hope to see it much later on when it comes out on DVD. I know his films can be flawed at times but they’re always interesting.
    Steven Flores´s last blog post ..Somewhere

  2. melanie says:

    this sounds like an updated ‘rules of attraction’ which was also a highly sexualized journey of disaffected youth.

    come on TD, you can act…please pick some better films. thanks.
    melanie´s last blog post ..2011 Oscar Nominations and my picks

  3. Blake says:

    @ Steven Flores – It’s definitely something else. Kaboom is already available on VOD if you have access to it. The only other thing I’ve seen by Araki is Mysterious Skin, and I loved it.

    @ melanie – Have you worked with Thomas Dekker before?

  4. melanie says:

    my friend leo work with TD on heroes. he’s a good dude.
    melanie´s last blog post ..You pick- &8216The Mechanic&8217 or &8216No Strings Attached&8217

  5. “I’m sure you offended every republican in the country, Araki, but this isn’t a very good movie.”

    I liked this movie more than Blake did, but the implied criticism of the above remark ie., that at age 51, the director is still trying to “shock:” us with how “naughty” he is, is not without merit.

    “this sounds like an updated ‘rules of attraction’ which was also a highly sexualized journey of disaffected youth.”

    Why do I keep reading that everywhere?!? I just saw the movie today, and I can assure you, it is NOTHING like “Rules of Attraction.” Not every movie where the principals are sexually promiscuous college students is a remake of “Rules of Attraction.”

  6. melanie says:

    kevin- fair enough dude. since i haven’t seen it i can’t say…i was going off what it “sounded” like. i still don’t think it is a movie i would run out and see.
    glad though to hear it was like that movie since i found TROA, bland and ridiculous.
    melanie´s last blog post ..Movie Review- Oscar Style- 127 Hours

  7. Yeah, The Rules of Attraction sucked. I think that’s why I got a little irritated after the forth time today reading someone compare Kaboom to that movie. I mean, Kaboom is not Citizen Kane,* but its a Hell of a lot better than that garbage.

    *Full disclosure: I don’t actually like Citizen Kane.

  8. Blake says:

    @ Kevin – Thanks, man. I’m glad I’m not the only that feels Araki is part provocateur.

  9. Colin says:

    just to say that I watched this today. I sorta enjoyed the first half, but what on earth was the second half trying to do? I rated it a three.

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