down in disturbia

down in the valley is a peculiar movie. it's a quietly disturbing film about a delusional man who believes he's a cowboy, that starts a relationship with a bored but rebellious teenage girl. i never heard of this movie until i saw the trailer for it online and to be honest, i'm not surprised i missed the movie's release.

it's an interesting movie for sure, and it moves in slow gradations, building on scene after scene until the plot comes to a slow boil about two-thirds the way through, to slowly limp to its finish. it's definitely not for mass audiences, because it's not a thriller nor is it a love story. it's more of a character portrait the way taxi driver is, and like that film, down in the valley's climax doesn't really make it worthwhile to sit through the film a second time. the film actually pays homage to taxi driver's infamous "are you talking to me?" scene, but this makes sense once you find out how much of a film buff the guy is.

it is, however, interesting in terms of how it portrays this urban cowboy. at first, you don't really know what to make of him, because he comes across as a naive guy. but you slowly get a broader picture of him as you start to learn about his fascination with guns, cowboy movies and basically playing cowboys and indians in his living room... by himself. what i really liked about this film is that two-thirds the way through, the plot effectively sets aside the love interest in favor of showing the relationship he kindles with the girl's younger brother.

another movie i've come across is disturbia (which is a horrible title for a movie). i sort of wandered into this movie not expecting anything, and was pleasantly surprised. i thought it would be your typical silly thriller, but it turned out to be quite entertaining.

the plot involves a kid who is sentenced to house arrest after punching his spanish teacher. he has slowly wandered down a troubled path ever since the death of his father. he spends his days playing video games, making twinkie mountains, and spying on neighbors. his boredom leads him to get pretty involved in the lives of his neighbors through his binoculars. one such neighbor is the girl next door, who's brought in as the resident hottie. as the days progress, he starts to think one of his neighbors is a serial killer, and he jokingly starts to investigate him, only to become a serious target.

the film is interesting in that the first hour, you barely notice that it's a thriller. it's basically about developing the protagonist as a flesh and blood, three dimensional person. normally thrillers don't take time to do such things, because they're usually more involved with playing out the formula than anything else. what you get is a movie where this teenager is actually quite bright, funny, troubled, curious, horny... basically a complex kid like most teenagers. by the time the movie starts getting into the thriller formula, it's basically already an hour into the movie, which i thought was brilliant.

there are some actual scary moments in the film, but i suppose it would have had more effect on me if it weren't for the three girls sitting behind me whose shrieks and giggles were a precursor to the scares. still, i was entertained, and the writing was actually pretty good. even the goofy asian sidekick didn't annoy me like i thought he would.