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Brendan Fraser

Review: Gods and Monsters

[Originally written for Seattle Weekly, November 1998]

Set the wayback machine to 1998. Parallax View presents reviews of films released 20 years ago, written by our contributors for various papers and websites. Most of these have not been available for years.

In Bill Condon’s God and Monsters the ghost of Frankenstein’s monster haunts James Whale (Ian McKellan) even in retirement. Whale, the debonair, openly gay British director who came to Hollywood from the London stage to make “art” and had his greatest success with a string of “monster movies,” maintained a love-hate relationship with Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein almost all his life. Condon weaves the lumbering image of the misunderstood monster into the fabric of the film like a haunting memory that won’t go away.

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‘Gimme Shelter’ a safe place for Vanessa Hudgens

Brendan Fraser and Vanessa Hudgens

A furious 16-year-old girl cuts her hair in big, violent gestures. This is how we meet Apple, the messed-up heroine of Gimme Shelter, just before she escapes her mother’s grungy, violent household.

Along with cutting her ties to her drug-addled, irresponsible mother, this hair-chopping could also be read as a symbolic act on the part of the actress playing Apple. Vanessa Hudgens found teen stardom as one of Disney’s High School Musical breakouts, and taking on movies like this (and last year’s cuckoo Spring Breakers) is a way of graduating to a different kind of professional status.

As a career-changer, Gimme Shelter is great for Hudgens. She’s completely convincing in it, a dark ball of coiled anger and inchoate acting-out. The rest of the movie doesn’t live up to her performance.

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