By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru
Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Bound (1996)
Well, folks, we wrap up Pride Month this week. I handled it like I handle so many other things in this life – poorly and at the last minute. My plan to review 30 films for this month failed. In my defense it was an incredibly busy month for me, so the plan became pretty impossible. Had I started maybe in mid May I could have pulled it off. So what I’m going to do is squeeze in one more film for tomorrow and then as my schedule permits I’m going to continue the Project Pride series and committing to cover at least two LGBT related films a month. Sound good? (Doesn’t matter how you answer, I’m doing it anyway.)
But for the purposes of this review, I’m just gonna ask you one question. Do you know these Wachowskis?
Born Larry and Andy Wachowski are filmmaking siblings that really put their stamp on the world of cinema. They started off as screenwriters, their first big break coming from penning the screenplay for Assassins with Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas. We don’t hold that against them. Their big break came in 1999 with The Matrix, a sci fi epic that put a new standard on special effects and was filled with pseudo philosophical gobbeldy gook. They followed it up with the even more pseudo philosophical The Matrix Reloaded and the frustrating couldn’t-be-more-of-a-jesus-methaphor-if-they-tried The Matrix Revolutions.
They also penned the screenplay to a big screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s award-winning graphic novel V For Vendetta, made a big budget adaptation of Speed Racer which you either loved or were like most people and hated the living shit out of it. After that, Larry came out as transgender and is now named Lana. She and her brother teamed up with Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer to adapt the novel Cloud Atlas, which was also a bunch of gobbeldy gook that lost a lot of money, even though I kind of enjoyed it. And most recently lost even more money with their latest pseudo philophical hunk of bullshit, Jupiter Ascending.
But they have one film that many would argue is the crème de la crème of their filmography, a film actually more beloved than The Matrix. The non-philosophical neo-noir thriller Bound. It’s about to get sexy up in here, people.
Bound is a sexy, stylish noir thriller about ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon) and Violet (Jennifer Tilly), the girlfriend of temperamental gangster Caesar (Joe Pantaliano). Corky just got out of prison, where she spent five years, and now lives in a high rise apartment complex where she also works doing maintenance. She has a flirtatious encounter with Violet and since she hears the couple having sex through the thin walls, as she is working in the unit next door.
Violet “loses” an earring in the sink, calling Corky to come retrieve it. The two start to do more than flirt, but are stopped when Caesar comes home early. Violet later meets Corky at her truck when she leaves for the night and the two end up having sex.
Later on, Violet hears Caesar and his men roughing up an associate named Shelly, who had been stealing from the family. She can hear his torture and goes to Corky for comfort. Caesar and his men get the money back, but in the process Shelly was shot and killed by Johnnie (Christopher Meloni), the son of mob boss Gino. Caesar brings the money back to the apartment and counts it out, totally just over $2 million. Wanting out, Violet goes to Corky and they put a plan into motion to take the money and run away together.
Bound is an incredible directorial debut. The film sets the Wachowski style but is also grounded in reality, as much as a film noir can be, and is easily their best film to date. As much as I like the original Matrix and Cloud Atlas, with all the budgets and worlds they create the Wachowskis have never been better than they were with this film. My biggest criticism of their work is that the spend all their time setting up a world and not spending time with the characters. Here it’s the total opposite.
It actually makes this film almost frustrating in retrospect knowing they’re about to descend into a journey up their own asses. I wish they would go back to their roots and do something like this again. I don’t know how studios still trust them with these inflated budgets and all they give us is pretty visuals and clichéd, boring stories. Bound is exciting and tense from start to finish.
I first saw this when I was still a teenager, but after The Matrix, and I admit I was all “heh, heh, lesbians” and all I cared about were the moments of Gershon and Tilley getting it on. Now that I’m older, while I still appreciate said steamy scenes, I appreciate this film more for being the thrill ride it is. This is edge of your seat entertainment at its finest and at no point does it dip into philosophy.
Bound is a near perfect film that demands your attention. If you’ve never seen it, jump on this shit immediately. If you haven’t seen it in a while, jump back on this shit immediately. This isn’t The Matrix telling you to do this, it’s me.
Follow John on Twitter: @TrapperJohn1210