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Author Bret Easton Ellis is probably best known for his novels depicting the vapid excesses of the Eighties, namely "Less Than Zero" and "The Rules of Attraction". In the eight years since the book's release, the film rights have made their way through Hollywood, passing from one director to the next.
Like the novel, the story is told from the perspective of 27 year old Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale of "Velvet Goldmine"), a successful but despicable "Wall Street" type who works in mergers and acquisitions, who feels nothing but contempt for the people around him. Unfortunately, the people around him are too self-absorbed to notice his erratic behavior, even when he blatantly confesses to his crimes. Similar to the themes espoused in the recent "Boiler Room" and 1997's "In the Company of Men", Harron's take on Bateman is that he is the unwitting victim of male vanity that has been marginalized by the dehumanizing aspects of corporate culture. Unfortunately, other than this statement on the evils of corporate culture, there is little else of interest in "American Psycho".
Finally, there has also been much controversy over the graphic content of "American Psycho"-- this is not a film for the faint of heart.
In light of the release of the third instalment of the horrendous Big Mama’s House series, Thomas Crowley gives us seven decent cross-dressing films to choose from instead.
I must implore everyone not to waste their hard earned money on going to see the dribble that is Big Momma’s House: Like Father, Like Son. Cillian Murphy stars as Patrick ‘Kitten’ Braden, a young man who has a preference for dressing up in female clothing. This film certainly isn’t flawless but it does brag the incredible acting talents of Oscar winners Robert De Niro (Raging Bull) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote). Based on a true story, Sonny Wortzik (Pacino) robs a bank in order to get money for his lover’s sex change but things do not go according to plan.
This film is Neil Jordan’s second on the list and in my opinion the directors most accomplished film. Young FBI Trainee Clarice Starling (Foster) is on the trail of a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. Now I’ve been well known over the years for seeing films a stupid number of times at the cinema (I think I saw Desperado every night for a week when that was released) but three times in one day? What I’m hoping this little tale highlights is just how much I was looking forward to the release of some Patrick Bateman mayhem back in the day – and I mean REALLY looking forward to it.
You see, Bret Easton Ellis’ novel is the only piece of fiction that I have bothered to read twice (yes, I know that makes me sound a bit thick, but there are simply too many films to watch).
I’ll make no bones about it, the simple reason I love American Psycho is the character of Patrick Bateman – while nailgunning prostitutes to crucifixes may be going a bit far, the whole ‘mask of sanity’ or ‘wanting to fit in’ character traits really struck a chord with me, and still do to this day as a matter of fact. Plus, anyone that knows me knows that a touch of the dark side is right up my alley, so I was happy to trawl through the dark recesses of Bateman’s mind, even though I fully understand many recoiling at the thought. So, back to the film and I have no problem admitting I was fully expecting to be disappointed (and annoyed that I had forked out for three screenings of a film I never intended to watch more than once).
But the simple fact that, nearly 13 years later, I am writing a piece about why I ‘love’ American Psycho should tell you that I thought the film was absolutely spot-on.

It seems absurd now with the benefit of hindsight to look back to 2000 and consider Bale a ‘risk’ in a lead role of this nature, but that was how things panned out. In fact, the Welsh actor was only granted the role on the proviso that he was surrounded by a couple of ‘names’ – hence we get the likes of Reece Witherspoon and Willem Defoe in supporting roles. As a calling card, Bale is sensational as Bateman – a glossy, vacuous, vicious, sharp-suited ego-maniac that totally nails the literary creation (if you excuse the pun).
Whether it is sweating over a colleague’s new business card, attempting to feed a cat to an ATM or working out at home (with Texas Chainsaw Massacre playing in the background no less), Bale absolutely owns Patrick – in both looks and deeds.
The best compliment I can pay to him is that, after this performance, it is almost impossible considering anyone else taking on the role – with this much success anyway. Added to Bale is a quality supporting troupe that includes the likes of Witherspoon and Defoe, as well as Jared Leto, Chloe Sevigny, Samantha Mathis and many more. Credit also must go to Harron, both for the solid direction and the tone the film is pitched at. Yes, there are scenes of horror and over-the-top excess, but this is also tempered with a streak of jet-black comedy throughout.
In fact, the whole thing could be considered a comedy (or certainly a satire), even if it is of the jettest black variety imaginable. While I love the book and its oh-so grim overtones, putting that up on screen could have made the whole thing very difficult to watch (or certainly enjoy). But scenes such as the business card face-off, or Bateman’s crazed call to his lawyer confessing to a host of murders, are genuinely funny, and complement the darker episodes of the story to perfection. For many people, the real sticking point of the original novel was the level, and graphic depiction, of violence.
In fact, I can remember the cover of Total Film magazine back in the day, ahead of release, which had a cover story focusing on the production and movie violence.
But what Harmon does spectacularly well is make you think you have actually seen a lot more than you really have. Do we see Bateman diasappear below bedsheets, going down on one of his lady guests, only to emerge from bloodsoaked sheets with blood oozing from his teeth?
So much of what Harron does is suggestion, tricking the viewer into thinking they are seeing things they haven’t.
That is not for one moment to suggest that there is not an undercurrent of violence simmering at the surface, as there is, but showing Bale twisting a coathanger into a potential weapon while snarling ‘We’re not done yet’, is far more effective than washing the screen with gore – and this comes from someone reared on the excesses of early 80s splatter cinema. There were issues I had with the film when it came out – the main one being the ‘did he or didn’t he actually do this’ approach taken at the film’s closure. Although that jarred with me somewhat, it did seem a logical step to take, as did the abrupt conclusion (which mirrored the book).
But these were very minor quibbles for a film that since its release has seen me buy the UK DVD, the US DVD, various teaser and cinema release posters as well as my favourite, my talking Patrick Bateman figurine (complete with briefcase, knife and axe).
American Psycho is a film that I could (and indeed do) watch time and time again, such is the level of quality across the board, and if anyone has given it a miss (for fear of being grossed out etc) then I implore you to check it out.

About The AuthorSimon Fitzjohn Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. Windows:Click the download link above or Right-click the wallpaper and choose Set as Background or Set as Wallpaper. Mac OS X:Drag it onto your desktop, go to System Preferences, go to the Desktop icons, click the Collection drop-down and Choose Folder to find the new wallpaper on your computer.
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This is a fantastic drama packed with great acting and fantastic directing by Sidney Lumet who has also directed classics like 12 Angry Men (1957) and Network (1976).
This dark comedy, although it is set in the 1970s, incorporates a lot about contemporary Irish life and is set against the back-drop of the political troubles in Northern Ireland. It boasts the comedic talents of Robin Williams who plays Daniel Hillard, a divorced husband who will go to extreme lengths to be around his beloved children, namely impersonating an old English Nanny. Koontz is homophobic and is constantly bothered by the drag queens who occupy his apartment building. Jordan and Rea are frequent collaborators with Rea appearing in 10 of the 16 films directed by Jordan. Cillian Murphy gives a great performance as a troubled young boy searching for the mother who abandoned him as a child.
Koontz suffers a stroke which brings his way of life to a crashing halt and leaves him with a speech impediment. The Crying Game is another film made by Jordan which is set against the backdrop of the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland. She seeks solace in the run-down and lonely Bates’ Motel run by the mild-mannered Norman Bates.
He must enlist the help of Rusty (Hoffman), a flamboyant cross-dresser and voice-coach to restore his speech. Robin Williams’ brilliance makes up for the annoying and bratty presence of the films younger actors. The sexual ambiguity of Dil (Davidson) not only tricks protagonist Fergus (Rea) but has done so with audiences around the globe.
Jonathan Demme’s film, which was adapted from Thomas Harris’ bestseller of the same name, is now a classic but has been criticised by feminist critics of homophobia and sexism for its crude depict of homo- and transsexuals. Despite this Silence of the Lambs is one of three films to have won all of the Big Five Oscars i.e. The only other films to achieve this were Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

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