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Year : 2001
Country : United-States

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Dancing_P  [ 2.5 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

Much has been said about the perversity of this film and of its director, Larry Clark. And well, much of it is true. This film is graphically violent and almost exploitatively explicit in its depictions of sex... but where some have gone wrong is in implying that this movie is anywhere near watchable. Bully is the very proof that grittiness and realism will only get you so far; it's a sloppily directed, simplistic and profoundly stupid film about sloppy, simplistic and profoundly stupid assholes. Marty Puccio
(Brad Renfro) is a typical (by this film's standards, anyway) teenager who does nothing but lie around half-naked all day and generally act like an obnoxious asshole. As if this wasn't enough, he has an even more annoying best friend named Bobby (played by Nick Stahl, who should really be playing the Marty role since he's about as menacing as Doogie Howser) who bullies him around and generally acts tough. Then, for an hour, nothing happens. People have sex.
Just before the viewer falls into a state of gritty-sex-scene-induced catatonia, Marty and his girlfriend (either Rachel Miner or Bijou Phillips; since they spend most of the movie having sex with whoever, I forget which one is which) decide that they've had enough and plan to kill Bobby. This sets up an endless segment of ''I can't, I just can't'' moments that generally result in more annoying characters showing up. Eventually the film travels a more psychological, less gynecological path but by then you've had the choice. You've either a) turned it off because it was boring (which it is), b) turned it off because you can't stand the actors and/or the characters they play or c) stuck with it out of morbid curiosity. In all three cases, you lose.

chapter11  [ 5.0 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

"Bully" treads that all-too-fine line between gritty, uncompromising realism and trashy exploitation. It's a bit of a merging of both, when you come right down to it, and it's a shame, because some of the trashier stuff dilutes the impact of a film that, when it's on, hits harder than a sledgehammer. It's quite possibly one of the most disturbing films I've ever seen, but on a couple of different levels: on one level, the one that shows these aimless slackers assimilating and plotting a murder basically because they're bored, I'm horrified and disgusted, and taken aback by the eventual ruthless murder of the always-dead Nick Stahl, but motivated to pay attention to any kids I may father in the future, and make sure that they neither commit a heinous crime like this or commit any of the heinous actions of the titular bully that provoked the others to kill. When a film disturbs you into taking a pro-active stance on something, it can't be all bad. And yet, there's the other aspect in which "Bully" disturbs me, and that's the amount of time devoted to the nudity and fleshy habits of the young nubile slackers--- a tactic that makes director Larry Clark seem like a lecher and a voyeur. Yes, we realize that mom and dad didn't pay attention to these kids, and that as an indirect result of that, they became sexually active. But the devotion with which Clark crafts these scenes makes him seem like the biggest pervert in the world, and a dangerous director to let near your children. How else do you explain scenes that feature Rachel Miner's Lady Macbeth-like character just standing around, full frontal nudity on display for all to see? I mean, and these are just the scenes that should not rationally require any stripping-down. The actual sex scenes are perverse, voyeuristic, and creepy--- and made even more so by a series of interviews included as DVD supplemental material in which the young stars all casually agree that they got their parts by sleeping with Clark. On a different picture, and with older actors--- a "Charlie's Angels" movie or something--- this would be a perfectly passable joke, but here the joke isn't very funny and unsettling in the context of the movie. The actors are all fine in their roles--- one imagines if more couldn't have been accomplished by switching the casting of the Brad Renfro and Nick Stahl roles, but they both perform admirably. Again, the supplemental cast interviews show a scary, fundamentally disturbing view of their characters' actions from both Miner and Bijou Phillips, but they, too, perform admirably, and though young Michael Pitt isn't exactly the next Robert De Niro (as Larry Clark is quick to spout in an interview on the DVD), he IS an up-and-comer to watch, scarily effective in this film and one of the only redeeming points of 2002's turgid "Murder By Numbers". Ultimately, I'm pretty inconclusive about this film, so I'm just going to go the middle-of-the-road route.... just be warned of what you're getting into, as it'll most likely disturb you something awful, one way or another. Or both.

kcremer  [ 9.0 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

I'm sure that you or at least someone you know has had a friend who can sometimes be so very intolerable to the point where you decide you don't want this person in your life anymore. Maybe it's because they changed at some point in your friendship and you didn't, or vice versa. Maybe it's because they are pushy and you are not, which results in you having to compromise what's in your best interests to avoid conflict. Or maybe you just realize over time that this person really doesn't deserve to be your friend, for whatever reason. This movie, one of the best movies of the year, is based on the latter two reasons.
This is story of a young man named Marty who decides, with some help from friends and other people, that not only does he want to end his friendship with Bobby, his best friend since childhood, but also feels his friend needs to die. Bobby is a mean, evil-spirited kid who has gotten away with his behavior over the years by bullying people he feels are weaker than him, notably Marty, and manipulating others, notably his parents, who feel it is Marty who is bad for Bobby.
The way the story unfolds is very gripping, with a realistic touch to it (which stands to reason because the movie is based on true life events). I highly recommend this movie.

RyanSpradlin  [ 8.0 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

I liked this movie. I guess, I can't really say that the movie is likable in any way other than that it served its purpose. It was setup as a vehicle to show how ruthless and irresponsible the youth is becoming. I don't agree with it, or at least not completely. I would have to say that I have seen this kind of group think mentality among crowds of friends, and it is plausible. There is nothing about this film that falls out of the realm of possibility. It is a bit perverted and morally bankrupt, but so is the news. I don't have a problem with most of what has been considered controversial about this film. The murder scene is one of the most shocking and uncomfortable scenes that I've ever watched and I suspect that that was the idea. That scene alone makes this movie worth watching. It is horrible in every way and that is the idea. Murders shouldn't be about giving motivation to a film's hero. The murder scene in Bully is what it is, a complete extinguishing of life. It turns your stomach and that's what it should do.

Corto  [ 7.0 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

I have usually been on Larry Clark's side, and this is no exception. Even though Bully doesn't reach the heights of Kids, it is still a fucking sharp-sighted movie about Youth.

jeff_v  [ 5.0 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

I would love to see CAPalert review this one. Is it trashy and exploitative, or is that determined by its subjects? I think both --clearly the film is hung up on kinky voyeurism and doesn't implicate its audience (other than the de facto implication of paying to see this lurid peep-show). There's a great deal of fucking, violence, and profanity, and there's no grand statement or epiphany waiting to soothe you at the end. Instead it's an indulgence of sickness, and an effective one at that (the climactic murder scene is as thrilling a moment as any this year, regardless of whether it gives one the moral heebie-jeebies). I can't say I liked it, or that it's good or bad, but for better or worse, Bully is out there, waiting for you to succumb to your base desires.

Edwards  [ 2.0 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

These teen actors are so natural that after seeing this movie 3 times, I can't tell whether they're remarkably convincing or just hardcore minimalists. There's not a trace affectation in their performances, which is creepy given the deeply disturbed individuals they portray. I'm baffled by Brad Renfro in particular, because in "Ghost World" he had the same laconic, zoned-out approach. Is he a brain-fried drug addict in real life? Why does he look half-asleep and retarded in both movies, like he's not even aware of his surroundings? The story here is intriguing, but Larry Clark tells it in an impenetrable way. Aside from the copious, apparently self-indulgent nudity, what's strange is Clark's strategy: he basically tells the story in a straightforward manner, and that's all. He uses no artistic gimmicks, and presents the events in such a blunt manner that if there's any subtext or symbolism or deeper significance beyond the horror with which we are to react to these kids' behavior and attitudes, it's a little too well-hidden. The movie may as well have been a documentary, for all the fictional devices it DOESN'T use

Tomcat  [ 9.5 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

Larry Clarks film is brilliantly realized. Shocking and sad. Nick Stahl gives harrowing performance as Bobby Kent.

dayfornight   2.0  ]
CornyBlower   5.5  ]
swblack   2.0  ]
scottwblack   2.0  ]
DokBrowne   8.0  ]

Weighted Rating : 5.6
No. Ratings : 13
No. Reviews : 8

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