Underground Film Journal

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Movie Review: Cruel Intentions

I like to walk, which was one of the factors in my decision to move to New York City. A minor one albeit, but it was something I did think about.

Earlier in the week, I had to take the subway in from my new Brooklyn abode to buy some phone extension cords. After finding what I needed at the Union Square Staples, I decided it would be foolish to simply hop back on the train and come home and hook up my computer’s modem. It’s been chilly recently, but this day the sun was out high in the sky to warm up the day and make the brisk wind endurable.

Shortly, I found my casual stroll to nowhere had taken me twenty blocks up Park Ave. at which point I became bored. Walking clears my head and I had reached my zenith of proper mind-emptiness. There were any number of subway stops I passed along the way I could have returned on, but I decided to keep on truckin’ courtesy of my own physical transportation even though the weariness factor was coming on strong. So, I turned the corner of 33rd that would cruise me back down 5th Ave. to Union Square.

It was then I looked up and realized I was standing at the base of the Empire State Building. Moments like this make me step back and think, “Goddamn, I really live in NYC now.”

Ok, I’m avoiding. There are a slew of better stories I could tell for this review of CRUEL INTENTIONS (which takes place in New York) rather than this pathetic “Gee, what a neat perspective I have of my new hometown on the big screen”, but they’re too embarrassing and painful to tell even to me who normally could give a rat’s ass about what I say in a public forum. Oh well, screw it. Here goes: I have experienced a disparagingly small amount of affairs of the heart in my almost exclusively solitary life.

And the few times I have been interested in getting something going with a member of the opposite sex, I find myself involved in these hideously complex situations. In other words, I always fall for the “wrong woman”. For whatever reason, I find instability in a female enormously attractive.

I am a guy, though, who seriously enjoys the company of women and I have, and have had, several terrific female friends. However, as expected, platonic relationships can sometimes be a difficult line to walk. In the cases where one side does fall for the other and the other doesn’t reciprocate, it’s a disaster in the making. But I am grateful the ratio of that happening to not has been happily small in my experiences.

I don’t normally do this, but I’m about to cannibalize myself. What follows below is a piece I wrote for another website last year that I don’t think many people saw. If you did, excuse me, but I got rather good feedback from people when it appeared and it seems entirely appropriate for this review.

The assignment was to write about a scent that inspires a strong memory. This is what I came up with:

There’s a particular scent of perfume that reminds me of my friend Debbie from high school because she wore it all the time. We got pretty close our senior year, but I was totally unprepared when she developed an intense crush on me. Totally oblivious to anything I might have done to attract her to me, she caught me off guard when she asked me to the prom. I accepted not totally knowing what was up. I got more of an inkling of what was on her mind when I got really, really drunk at the school play’s wrap party and she mauled me in the backseat on the car ride home.

I remember the prom being pretty fun, but I particularly recall Debbie looking the happiest any person I’ve ever seen in my life being, before and since. Afterwards, we had sex.

The only problem was I was not attracted to Debbie in the least, physically or emotionally. So, when we got back to school on Monday, my solution to discourage her love for me was basically to never talk to her again. Which made the rest of the school year extremely uncomfortable.

She forgave me a couple years later and we hung out a few times one summer while I was home from college on break. It was then that Debbie confessed to me, pretty matter of factly, that her father used to beat her. He used to whip her with his belt buckle and cover her skin with giant red welts. When Debbie and I did it, it was pitch black, so I couldn’t have known from that. I thought he was an incredibly nice guy when I picked Debbie up for the prom.

So, whenever I smell that same perfume Debbie used to wear, it reminds me of how I treated a sweet, loving, and abused, girl like garbage. Somedays I think I am both still paying and trying to atone for that sin.

I enjoyed CRUEL INTENTIONS more than I thought I would. Going in I didn’t pay attention to the rating, but seeing as how it starred a popular TV actress and was appealing to the teenybopper crowd I assumed it wouldn’t have been stronger than PG-13. However, I was surprised to watch a fairly hardcore R film. It could have been much darker and dirtier, but there were plenty of scenes of high school kids talking about fucking, giving blow jobs and rug-munching that I was happily entertained for most of its runtime. The ending was a real letdown, but it was overall a fairly subversive little piece of trash. And that Buffy vampire chick is pretty cool and funny.