Mar 13, 2011

[Movies] Kaboom (2010)

Kaboom (2010)Gregg Araki is one the quirkier filmmakers in the industry today. He's not exactly well-known given how he mainly works on smaller independent films with highly sexualized or LGBT content involved (or both). The director himself is declared to be openly homosexual apart from an odd 2 year relationship with actress Kathleen Robertson.

His works include the strange Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy which includes the movies Totally F***ed Up, The Doom Generation and Nowhere. All three movies deal with sexuality among young people in a mix of both heterosexual and homosexual trysts. They also have common themes of sexual independence, a propensity for violence and surprising celebrity cameos.

It's odd that I've yet to encounter this director's works until I finally got around watching this movie. I probably would have "met" his works sooner had I finally gotten around to watching my copy of Mysterious Skin, which remains unviewed together with a bunch of other LGBT-themed movies.

Out of sheer curiosity, I know I'm going to check his other movies out soon enough because of this one.

Kaboom is a 2010 highly sexualized science fiction. At times it felt like a comedy but in other moments it gets pretty serious so I don't have a final definition for this movie. If other Araki movies turn out to be this way as well, I'm going to tag this as a "science fiction Araki movie", and that should suffice as a description. As with his other films, Gregg Araki both wrote and directed this movie.

The story begins with our protagonist Smith (Thomas Dekker) narrating a dream he keeps having as of late. The imagery is a tad surreal to say the least (the dream ends with him finding this particular red dumpster behind a door), but it also serves as a basic plot device to introduce some of the key characters of the story. With Smith being "sexually undecided" in terms of gender, he has strong feels of attraction to his generally straight roommate Thor (Chris Zylka), who has a propensity for nudity and attempts trying to blow himself. His best friend is a lesbian named Stella (Haley Bennett), who is also on the look-out for a relationship as is Smith.

Things start to change when Stella starts dating Lorelai (Roxane Mesquida), who turns out to be an actual witch with supernatural powers and Smith starts meeting people that he's only encountered in his unusual dreams. He also starts casually sleeping around with London (Juno Temple), who appears to be just as sexually indulgent as Smith with occasional moments of philosophical brilliance. And as the sexual encounters get stranger and stranger, Smith starts to discover there's a great quasi-religious conspiracy at work around them and not everything is at it seems.

Now I knew we were in for a wild ride when I first read the synopsis of this movie on different geek blogs here and there. But even with that in mind, I was still pretty much blown away but how crazy this movie got and I felt oddly drawn in to watch this strange creative hodge-podge of ideas. All this just because I'm a fan of the old Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series in which Dekker played John Connor.

The movie has a fair amount of sex going on, as I've referred to a number of times by now. Through creative shots and angles, they make sure you don't see anything too forward apart from the occasional boobage. But the sex is just part of the quirkiness of the whole thing and just helps explain the characterization behind the protagonist and those he encounters but not much else. Lots of fairly hot guys though - despite how bone thin Dekker seems to be in this movie, he does seem to have a knack for bagging rather interesting guys.

The whole science fiction side to things oddly reminded me and my partner of Donnie Darko for one reason or another. Replace time travel and creepy bunny costumes with surreal dreams and, well, lots of sex and the comparison oddly works. There are points that definitely generate that same degree of intellectual confusion as you try to piece things together. Quantum entanglement can be a major pain after all.

But in the end, the pieces all fall into place and remarkably the dreams actually made sense. I'm not saying the final resolution was a good one, I'm just saying by some stretch of logic (with a generous dash of imagination), things just rather make sense. In a way.

Ah well, the confusion and inconsistency is actually part of the fun.

Despite how hazy and confusing I make the movie sound, it's actually a pretty entertaining movie. The bulk of it plays out like a comedy and my partner and I found ourselves laughing at all the absurd situations. Plus there's the core ridiculousness of how the straight characters seem to act the gayest when you compare them to the queer kids in the movie. And even when the whole conspiracy angle starts coming together (juxtaposed against the supernatural girlfriend from hell plot line), it just gets more and more ridiculous that you end up laughing given nothing else better to do. It's that odd, quirky kind of funny that you can't quite explain.

Kaboom is definitely not your run of the mill kind of science fiction comedy piece and it does give me an appreciation for Araki's unusual yet refreshingly unique style. It gets 3.5 sexual encounters for Smith out of a possible 5.

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