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DVD Review

The Informers

Directed by: Gregor Jordan
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton,
Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke

A story criss-crossing the lives of a bunch of privileged ne’er do wells in LA in the drug-addled, sex-soaked early 80s could, in the hands of a talented novelist, say American Psycho author Brett Easton Ellis, make an excellent book.
Unfortunately the same thing in movie form, co-written by the same Mr Ellis, is a giant steaming pile of poo.
The Informers’ interlocking stories include a group of bed-hopping, drug-popping rich kids; a soulless movie exec (Billy Bo Thornton) who is simultaneously moving back in with his ex-wife (Kim Bassinger) and rekindling his relationship with his newsreader mistress (Winona Ryder); a substance-addled rock star (Mel Raido) losing his grip on reality; a mental small-time gangster (Mikey Rourke) dragging his nephew into a life of kidnapping and a creepy perma-tanned alpha dad (Chris Isaak) taking his son on a guys’ holiday away.
And, as convoluted as the stories are, they pale in the shadow of how empty and vacuous the characters populating them are.
The Informers is not a pleasant experience. Bland, unpleasant characters, some played by Oscar-winning performers, occupy themselves with tasks ranging from the tedious to the despicable. In the novel this sort of feckless emptiness reads kinda cool. Your imagination can fill in the gaps and good writing can make allowances for any moral shortcomings.
Onscreen, however, moral turpitude and spiritual anomie is boring to watch when expressed by a shower of actors doing impressions of sedated house pets.
The fine tightrope that Mary Harron walked when she adapted another Easton Ellis book, American Psycho, was tipped to the side of brilliance by Christian Bale’s powerhouse performance in the lead.
There is no such brilliance on show here to offset the horrible.

Sunshine Cleaners

Directed by: Christine Jeffs
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily
Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn

Taking some cues from the bleak but eccentric middle America portrayed in The Wrestler, Sunshine Cleaners tells the story of stuck in a rut sisters, Rose and Norah (Amy Adams and Emily Blunt), whose fortunes take a turn for the better when they start their own crime scene cleaning service.
Single mother Rose finds herself elbow deep in blood splatter and bits of brain, when her odd-ball son gets kicked out of school for licking the teacher and the bill for private school becomes a pressing concern.
The slightly crazy and recently fired Norah gets roped into the burgeoning family affair and sisters pitch headlong into the smelly, sticky and, dare I say it, quirky world of cleaning up after the dead.
Set against this sad, macarbe sometimes amusing backdrop, both women deal with their “issues” – Rose is having an affair with her kid’s father and Norah has been spiritually empty since discovering her mother’s body after she committed suicide.
Quality-wise, Sunshine Cleaners could be set on the same shelf as the recent The Lucky Ones. A little laugh here, a tugged heartstring there, add some understated character actors probably working for considerably less than their normal fee and you’ve got a small but satisfying pill of a movie.
While it lacks the emotional depth or standout performance of The Wrestler, the flick does feature a career best performance from Amy Adams. Finding herself in a non-kids movie environment for once, she is fantastic as the aspiring blood-mopper barely keeping her life together while coping with the antics of her mental relatives.
Ably supported by Emily blunt and Alan Arkin as the crazy dad Sunshine Cleaners will, at the very least give you a stupid smile for a couple of hours.

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