Burning Palms

Critics Consensus

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29%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 7

35%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,318
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Movie Info

BURNING PALMS is a subversive tale that interlaces five stories where no taboo is left unexplored. Framed as a graphic novel come to life, the film unfolds in five popular neighborhoods of Los Angeles as each character careens toward a dark and often comic fate. Santa Monica: Dennis Marx (Dylan McDermott) and Dedra Davenport (Rosamund Pike) are waiting at the airport for Dennis' 14-year-old daughter Chloe (Emily Meade). From the second she arrives it is clear that she and her father do not have a conventional relationship. Dedra becomes so distraught and jealous that she kills herself. Westwood: Ginny Chen (Jamie Chung) and Chad Bower (Robert Hoffman) are a young couple in love. When Chad asks Ginny for an unusual sexual request, Ginny continually feels shame for her sin, punishing herself through self mutilation. West Hollywood: Geri (Peter Macdissi) and Tom (Anson Mount) are life partners, though they could not be more different. The two adopt a little girl from Africa named Mahogany (Tiara McKinney), but when the little girl doesn't meet their expectations of how they feel she should act, they abandon her in a state forest. Holmby Hills: Nicholas (Austin Williams), Trevor (Jake Austin Walker), and Colby Pinter (Addison Black) are three brothers who love making mischief and are raised by their pot smoking nanny Mary Jane (Lake Bell). When the household maid Blanca's (Paz Vega) dead child's umbilical cord goes missing, the three boys hold a trial in which a deep secret is revealed about the death of Blanca's baby, which probes Blanca to kill herself. In Sherman Oaks, Sarah Cotton (Zoe Saldana) is a young woman who finds herself a victim of rape. When her rapist flees, he leaves behind a crucial part of his identity: his wallet. Sarah tracks down Robert G. Kane (Nick Stahl) to a local pizza place. Instead of turning him in, Sarah wants him to rape her again. The underlying story beneath Burning Palms' five featured stories, is the different kinds of people who live in the unique neighborhoods that make up the entertainment capital of the world: Los Angeles. There have been previous films similar in design, but their separate storylines always intersect at the end. Burning Palms defies those expectations by keeping the stories separate and distinct. The only commonality is the presence of the "bag lady." There have also been many Los Angeles based films that speak to the 'magic' of Hollywood where struggling underdogs venture, and through twists of fate, make it big. But there is one aspect that is often overlooked and ignored in Hollywood: the average person. This film gives a good look at the people who aren't gracing magazine covers or starring on the big screen. Yet despite having average lives, these people prove that maybe they have a little bit Hollywood magic of their own-showing the world that nothing is ever like it seems. -- (C) New Films

Cast

Adriana Barraza
as Louisa Alvarez
Lake Bell
as Mary Jane
Dylan McDermott
as Dennis Marx
Shannen Doherty
as Dr. Shelly
Zoe Saldana
as Sarah Cotton
Nick Stahl
as Robert Kane
Paz Vega
as Blanca Juarez
Emily Meade
as Chloe Marx
Austin Williams
as Nicholas Pinter
Naz Jafri
as Dr. Pakora
Ross Thomas
as Lukas 'The Waiter'
Lil' J
as Trey
Jim Lau
as Tak Bai
Kate Albrecht
as Tammy Lynn
Cici Lau
as Soon Li
Colleen Camp
as Barbara Burns
Tom Wright
as Maxwell Baron
Brad Martin
as Stunt 'Angry Guy'
Lisa Marie Dupree
as Busty Waitress
Edrick Browne
as Medical Center Guard
Chad Rose
as Stunt Security Guard
Jude Cambise
as Stunt Mental Patient
Robin Hart Smith
as Stunt Double (Blanca)
Devin McNair
as Stunt Orderly #1
H.B. Burns
as Stunt Orderly #2
John Bernecker
as Stunt Security Guard
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News & Interviews for Burning Palms

Critic Reviews for Burning Palms

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (2) | Rotten (5)

  • Christopher B. Landon's sordid anthology film never quite achieves the balance of melodrama and dark comedy for which it's aiming.

    Jan 14, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Landon's sardonic view of human nature and deft filmmaking skills - plus a raft of sharp portrayals - keep the viewer from pondering the preposterousness of certain situations and instead encourages going along with the fun.

    Jan 13, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Making his directorial debut, screenwriter Christopher Landon struggles so mightily to offend that he forgets to supply a rooting interest in his characters.

    Jan 13, 2011 | Full Review…

    Peter Debruge

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Burning Palms is too sick to attract the masses, but he's onto something subversively valid, and the film is never boring.

    Jan 12, 2011 | Rating: 2/4

    Rex Reed

    Observer
    Top Critic
  • Little sensitivity here, but the film's obsession with grim deeds and sinister turns of fate lends the five stories a welcome kick of ugliness, which is a fascinating screen sensation.

    Jan 20, 2011 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • Touching on taboo themes like rape, incest, and kinky bedroom exploits, Burning is a series of five Los Angeles-set short films that are only superficially provocative.

    Jan 13, 2011

Audience Reviews for Burning Palms

  • Nov 04, 2011
    This movie is unconventional, simple, and so very entertaining. It appears that most people seem to hate this movie (based on the overall rating it has on here), but then again, it also seems like a lot of people have never heard of this movie (even though there are some fairly recognisable actors in it and it's relatively recent). All that aside though, I really liked it, and think that more people should give it a chance. It tells 5 different stories, and unlike so many other movies that tell multiple stories about multiple characters (e.g. Magnolia, Valentine's Day etc.) the mini-stories in this movie are not connected. I liked that. Made it almost like I was watching 5 different short films - though they did (stylistically and thematically) have some similar aspects. I think what I admired most was the variety within the movie. Some of the stories actually made me laugh out loud, whereas others could make me cringe. Furthermore, I can confidently say that all 5 plots were unique and different than pretty much anything I've ever seen before. Though they may start with a topic we've seen before to some extent, this film breaks out of the box and really takes things to a whole other level - explores options we may never have considered. I think it was creative, and that's something I'm very pleased to see happen in film these days. It's not about special effects or CGI, nor is it deeply emotional to the extent where you'd necessarily feel for the characters, but yet it's human enough that I think you can still connect to it. At the very least, this movie should be good for a few laughs, and maybe leave you with something to think about, and there isn't anything wrong with that. What did this movie teach me? Little boys with subtle lisps are the cutest things EVER!
    Sarah . Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2011
    the trailer to this film was everybody's quick opinion on the film as they left the cinema and everybody said how bad and disgusting it was. that made me really want to watch it. It did live up to my expectations and was funny as hell. I'll never look at an Asian girl the same again.
    Shawn M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 26, 2011
    Five Tales That Will Mess You Up For Life. Not bad yet not great either. This film has many stories which could may be real in real life but totally messed up too. I think the cast was decently good and the director almost achieved his his goal but failed in alot other ways. Five tales of madness set in L.A. In "Green-Eyed Monster," a foul-mouthed 15-year-old comes home from private school to meet Dedra, the woman her dad plans to marry. Father-daughter antics creep Dedra out. In "Little Piggy," a woman can't get the stink off a finger she's used to stimulate her boyfriend during sex. "Buyer's Remorse" presents Tom and Gerry, a West Hollywood couple, who buy a child on the black market; she takes weeks to say her first word. In "Kangaroo Court," a nasty kid torments a maid in his household by stealing the placenta of her dead baby. In "Man Eater," a woman tracks down a rapist who has left his wallet at her house. When she finds him, what will she do?
    Manu G Super Reviewer
  • Jun 24, 2011
    <i>"Five Tales That Will F#%! You Up For Life"</i> A subversive tale that interlaces five stories set in Los Angeles, where no taboo is left unexplored as each character careens toward a dark and often comic fate. <center><font size=+2 face="Century Schoolbook"><b><u>REVIEW</u></b></font></center> If you have a dark humor, and speak cynicism fluently - this movie is definitely worth your time. Usually when a movie depicts a couple of different stories with a common denominator, shown one following the other, not interlacing, it is used in order to show "a bigger picture", which brings me to one of the two only issues with this film (in my opinion): there is no bigger picture. If you're looking for a final scene that will connect all the dots together, you should know there isn't any. It's just not this kind of movie, nothing to be disappointed about. The other thing that might bother you, is the lack of "tightness" in the plots. This becomes very apparent in the different endings - as if the writer had an excellent idea for five sketches, but not a movie. A film that isn't going to be everyone's tea, with some of the set-ups leading to some very outrageous, absurdist scenarios but worth watching only once.
    Lorenzo v Super Reviewer

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