Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.
Today the Wachowskis’ latest co-creation, Sense8, slams onto Netflix. Just days earlier, their massive, divisive science fiction showcase Jupiter Ascending made its way to home video, and in considering the indulgently wacky, effects-filled, possibly bloated extravaganza, it’s intriguing to see how far they’ve come since their first film, and where they’ll go next. As a TV project about telepathically-linked “sensates”, it’s possible Sense8 could come back to approaching something more intimate again. Today we’re checking out the Wachowskis’ debut, Bound, a tightly coiled and efficient heist thriller with lesbian protagonists, and the kind of small film they’ve never returned to since.
Next Week’s Pick:
We’re really mixing it up and doing something a little different! In our first-ever short film selection, we’re checking out neon-tinged, 80’s-action-inspired, viral hit short film KUNG FURY. You’ve got a half hour to spare, right? Join us as we take in this absurd blast of green-screen adrenaline. Here it is!
Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)cinapse.co!
When the Wachowski Siblings were the Wachowski Brothers, and they hadn’t yet plunged an unsuspecting Keanu Reeves into a dystopian nightmare, they produced possibly their most successful cinematic outing (narratively speaking) with Bound.
A taut, stylish crime thriller with a knowing vein of noir running through it, Bound is essentially a cracking three-hander, with Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly never better as the scheming femme fatales attempting to steal a tonne of mob money and pin the blame on the brilliantly douchey Joe Pantoliano.
Many may remember Bound for its lesbian overtones, which are actually integral to the plot as opposed to being mere titillation (although, unavoidably, it is a little of that too). But overall, Bound is a reminder of a time when the Wachowskis weren’t hamstrung by their own enormous ambition, and produced films where story and character were favoured over high-falutin’ concepts and elaborate design.
I will always support the Wachowskis singular cinematic dreams, however outlandish or foolhardy, because their work is unlike most A-list filmmakers working today. But it would be nice if they could meld the story-telling sensibility they developed with Bound to their unique blockbuster aesthetic. Now that would be a fucking movie! (@jconthagrid)
While I fully understand why a film like this in 1996 would be praised by critics and considered groundbreaking in some ways, Bound has little to none of what I love about the Wachowskis’ style. It lacks much of the stylized effects that the duo and their team has become known for, but that’s wholly forgivable as the budget was quite obviously not anywhere near the budget of their subsequent films. But it lacks a depth in the plot and the storytelling that exists in their subsequent films, as well. This is the primary reason it ranks well below The Matrix films, V for Vendetta, and Cloud Atlas (Speed Racer also ranks above this film for me, but not because over any depth, it’s just really fucking cool to look at).
This isn’t to say that the film is poorly written, per se. It’s just missing something. The actors give great performances and the noir tone feels spot on most of the time, but there’s just a missing spark that the film can’t quite deliver.
What is admirable, is that the film is certainly a promising debut, a promise that the Wachowskis proved to make good on in the follow films. As a starting point, it’s not bad at all… even if I’ll probably never watch it again. (@thepaintedman)
Judging from this stylish, hard-boiled debut, I would never have expected the Wachowskis’ next film would become one of the seminal genre films of our time, but they’ve always been good at surprising us. Bound, however, is one of their most purely entertaining works, a sweet blend of Tarantino theatrics and a stripped-down Coen Brothers-esque yarn.
Bound is pure 90’s, a surprising and taut crime thriller filled to the brim with sensuous feminine imagery. There are great little touches throughout, like the camera capturing the sheet popping off the bed as Corky and Violet go at it, or the red blood mixing in with congealing white paint during the finale.
But Bound’s most impressive elements are the contained script and the fiery performances, especially Jennifer Tilly’s sharp turn as the femme fatale next door. Her seduction of Corky is laughably porny, but the rest of Bound plays rough, especially once we learn how unexpectedly skilled at improvisation under pressure Caesar (wonderfully played by Joe Pantoliano) can be.
Bound is one of the most arresting and memorable debuts I can think of, and I would be fascinated to see what the Wachowskis would do with those limitations today. (@AlexWilliamsdt)
The Wachowskis famously used Bound as a audition piece for The Matrix, taking the low budget, small-scale thriller as an opportunity to prove their chops on a film set. They are not the first young talent to use a genre exercise to show off a little bit of flair, and Bound neatly fits in alongside the likes of Memento, Blood Simple, or even Evil Dead as early films of powerful new voices testing their muscles while playing with well-worn tropes.
For Andy and Lana Wachowski, their neo-noir is a wicked little ride, showing an early mastery of the moving image. Bound looks better than many directors’ eighth or ninth film, let alone someone’s first. And the script is a revelation as well, all coiled tension, black humor, and marvelously executed payoff. Years of sprawling epics later, it’s nice to reminded of just how much control the Wachowskis can possess if they, you know, feel like doing that, which they don’t often do.
Not all of the big stylistic choices work (the old-timey music cues are especially jarring) but this is as assured and enjoyable a debut as any I can think of. Great stuff, and it only portended better. (@TheTrueBrendanF)
As fascinating as I find the Wachowskis as people, I do not really love their movies. I appreciate them a lot. The Matrix was very important to me when it came out, and while I decry the sequels, I find their other films better often than they are given credit for. However, I LOVE none of them, and that includes Bound. A well done Neo-noir which handles the sexuality of the film surprisingly well, it is still mostly forgettable. For reasons I no longer connect with, I at one time had a crush on Jennifer Tilly and initially sought this film out at my local video store in an attempt to scratch that itch. While the film turned out to be far more than I expected of it, I was surprised years later how little an impact it had made on me. I want to appreciate the compact and efficient story it tells, but instead Bound feels anecdotal to me. Its twists and turns seem sparse and not interesting enough for a full length film. Then again, I do appreciate seeing the Wachowski style shrunk down from the sprawling epics they do today. Still, even now I want something more from Bound. (@liamrulz)
I’ve known Bound by reputation alone and despite being more or less a fan of the Wachowskis, it took me until now to catch up with this one. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was actually pretty surprised to see the DNA of The Matrix and their other films all over this thing, from the exploration of same-sex relationships to the textured production design. The apartment wallpapers and alternating slickness and grubbiness of the environs would feel right at home in Neo’s dream world. After a taut and lesbianism-tinged sequence of escalating thrills and clever double-crosses, the final conflict is an artful climax of bullets and splashes of white paint and red blood. Consider The Matrix‘s debris-filled lobby shootout or the sprinkler water streaming down Morpheus’ face, and it’s clear that the heightened sense of texture in Bound would become a hallmark of their style. (@VforVashaw)
Did you all get a chance to watch along with us? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!