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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras

    Kalifornia

    Magna/Magna . R4 . COLOR . 117 mins . MA15+ . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    SMASH! CRASH! SCREAM! HELP!

    If any of that got you a little excited, then Kalifornia's got something to offer you. In more so than just a gratuitous kinda way, too, though there's plenty of that to be had if it's your bag and all. America has long held a morbid love-hate relationship with violence and murder, and Kalifornia takes on the 'America vs violence' topic from some pretty interesting perspectives.

    We get four very different takes on the issue of violence, from broadly representative angles of the American psyche toward it. Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) is the quiet, intense, intelligent writer with a morbid fascination with this darker side of life. His girlfriend Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes) represents what I think is the majority of America; while this photographer can not stomach violence in the flesh, she is more than interested in watching it through the lens of her camera. She brings to mind the millions of people who, whilst adverse to the reality of all things icky, nonetheless get a kick out of Crimestoppers marathon specials.

    These two happy young yuppies get their real life piece of the carnage pie when they advertise for companions to join them on a drive to California (sic), tracking the scenes of infamous murderers to compile a book. Their road-tripping allies end up being “white trash” couple Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) and Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis).

    Here we are presented with another two players in the issue. Adele is a simple, innocent child who misfortune has dropped into the seedier side of the world; life’s eternal victim. Early is pure evil, an amoral monster of a man, who partakes in violence purely for the joy of it. Oh, sorry, and to foot his share of the petrol bills too, so perhaps Carrie is a bit of a miser to start getting antsy about dead bodies trailing their journey like discarded Big Mac wrappers.

    The cast does a stellar job of building up and playing out the dire conclusion of this dark psychological thriller. Pitt proves himself yet again as more than just a pretty face, a-spittin’ and a-cussin’ his way through the picture as the nasty Early. Sure, every now and then he just seems a teeny weeny bit too damn pretty to be so damn bad, as there’s only so much a crusty beard can really do to detract from nature’s generously bestowed gifts. But he pulls off the accent and the psyche well, barely ever failing to convince. And one can’t help but celebrate the fact that we now have conclusive evidence that being Early is, indeed, evil and wrong.

    Duchovny, while entirely believable, is vaguely disappointing in that he has again been typecast in the ‘still waters run deep’ simmering dark looks and deep intellect role, and you may well spend half the movie waiting for him to gaze deeply into the camera and intone “I want to believe”. But hey, if the cap fits, wear it; and while perhaps typecast, he is certainly well cast.

    ”Karma”
    ”Wha?”
    ”Karma – you know, where you do something bad, and fate pays you back by something bad happening to you.”
    ”Is that French?”

    You’d think it would be a serious cause for concern to Juliette Lewis that she plays a bimbo so well. She gets it entirely right from start to finish, and your sympathy builds for her along with that of Carrie, who can’t help but want to protect her, while Adele strives to emulate this strong, self willed woman.

    There’s a bit of a yawn stereotype in Carrie’s immediate women's-intuition-dubious-vibe on the dodgy duo, alongside David’s dopey-male testosterone-driven fascination with Early, but you’re no sooner annoyed than swept away with the building tension, so, as with a couple of one dimensional characters, this minor annoyance does not last too long, although at times you may feel as though the film does. While the performances are great, the content interesting and the tension palpable, Kalifornia could perhaps have done with some cutting or livening up in places.

      Video
    Contract

    Kalifornia is presented in an anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 format and delivers very decent quality for a 1993 flick. The picture is predominantly bright and clear, with some fuzzy, hazy moments which are clearly by design (though seriously, Brad Pitt and David Duchovny don’t need a soft lens!) The framing is thoughtful, with motion and action captured very effectively. There’s a bit of unfortunate noise in the picture toward the middle of the film in some sky shots, which leads one to wonder if they forgot to pay attention to the task at hand as the film wore on?

      Audio
    Contract

    Kalifornia only offers two surround-encoded Dolby Digital audio tracks, with the prime listening language being English. While this fails to excite or overwhelm, the dialogue comes through nice and clear, apart from one scene where Carrie is brushing her teeth, and you can only hope what she’s saying isn’t too essential to the plot. The soundtrack is subtle, fitting, unobtrusive and complementary.

      Extras
    Contract

    None!

      Overall  
    Contract

    Comparisons with the Quentin Tarantino penned Natural Born Killers are numerous and unavoidable, as these two gratuitous-killers-hit-the-highway thriller flicks were released within a year of each other. But NBK is a completely different kettle of fish, as per most of Tarantino’s films as compared to the rest of the world's. NBK does not trouble itself with much in the way of character growth or underlying message, for, as with many Tarantino films, the point is the experience. Kalifornia, on the other hand, addresses this disturbing arena of world fascination in a notably in-depth manner. Sure, it's not Michael Moore, but it gave this reviewer something to think about.

    Kalifornia offers kaptivating kharacter development, konsistent and kredible performances, and a killer klimax.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3755
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      And I quote...
    "Kalifornia offers kaptivating kharacter development, konsistent and kredible performances, and a killer klimax."
    - Rachel Schmied
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS530
    • TV:
          Sharp SX76NF8 76cm Widescreen
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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