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From the director of Batman Forever come a long-needed Hollywood look at the snuff film. Nicolas Cage stars as private investigator Tom Welles, a family man who lands a lucrative case for a rich widow. Despite the lurid nature of the assignment — to find out if a 10-year-old film of a murder found in the widow's late husband's safe is real — Welles smells money and throws himself into it. The case leads Welles into a sleazy, seedy, foreign culture of pornography and sadism that so affects him he can't shake it after the case is solved. Thankfully, untalented director Joel Schumacher keeps his overbearing aesthetics to a minimum, and the first three-quarters of 8MM play like a mostly credible, occasionally intense mystery thriller. As usual, however, logic goes out the window toward the end, which is only salvaged by some original plotting and Cage's troubled performance. All of the performances are solid, with Catherine Keener as Cage's bitchy wife, Joaquin Phoenix as a porn clerk who becomes his sidekick, and Peter Stormare as a mildly Satanic S&M auteur. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker, who also wrote Seven and is in bad need of counseling. Includes a terrific musical score by Mychael Danna, which mixes Islamic-prayer-style ululation with techno beats to create an atmosphere of strangeness, although I'm not sure Allah would approve of the sordid associations. Presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and pan and scan, and both 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Surround. Includes audio commentary by Schumacher, a making-of featurette, trailer, textual supplements, keep case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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