Posted: 05/16/2011


Burning Palms

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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I would have never imagined that I would see a woman in a movie be raped and then track the rapist down because he left behind his driver’s license. But she tracks him down, not to persecute him, but to ask him to come back to her house—and wait—DO IT AGAIN!
The lady in this particular movie is Zoe Saldana, and the story in this case is called Maneater. The movie, called Burning Palms, is out on DVD and Blu-ray May 24.

Burning Palms is a strange, eclectic movie that reveals the lives of people through five vignettes or shorts and invites the viewer to “revel in ugly stories among the beautiful people.” The rapist in Maneater was just as perplexed as I was—he was actually begging her to leave him alone. Strange story, but the promo for the DVD promised, as following: “Burning Palms is probably the most controversial film you’ll see this year…Saldana gives an intense, devastating performance as a deeply disturbed and damaged soul,” The New York Observer.

Another story called Buyer’s Remorse shows a rich and well-recognized West Hollywood gay couple, played by Peter Macdissi and Anson Mount, who decide to adopt a 7-year-old African girl named Tiara McKinney. They name her Mahogany, but they are not really ready for the challenges presented by parenthood. Adding another obstacle, Mahogany decides not to speak with her parents, and this aggravates them even more.

One of the guys is more motivated and sympathetic, as opposed to the other guy who is cynical and makes what could be considered rude remarks. The straw should have been broken when at a party, the young girl gets so excited that a squirrel is running up a tree that she picks up anything that resembles a spear and hurls it at the squirrel, killing it. At that point, the girl probably makes a connection with her African roots. However, that’s not the breaking point in this short. The girl accidentally ingests some crystal meth, when one of her fathers leaves her unattended. As the two guys are fighting, she runs out of her room and uses the common derogatory slur to describe gays. At this point, the gay couple decides to dispose of their prized possession in a most inconsiderate way and, in her place, they buy a nice puppy.

In This Little Piggy, a young college student is so in love with her boyfriend that she finally decides to honor his sexual request. But with this act, the young woman is freaked out, because she can’t seem to clean her finger good enough to rid herself of what she perceives to be a lingering fecal smell. She finally flips out so much after washing and re-washing her finger that she ends up in the mental ward—but not before ridding herself of that awful smelling digit!

Kangaroo Court shows a nanny played by Lake Bell and a group of children who discover secrets that shouldn’t be shared.

The Green Eyed Monster stars Rosamund Pike, Emily Meade and Dylan McDermott. McDermott is the father of a 14 year old who comes to visit, but his fiancée is very jealous. It is discovered that the girl’s mother killed herself shortly after the girl was born—probably a case of post-partum depression. It was said that the mother was jealous of the daughter. The fiancée doesn’t fare any better, while she watches as the father and daughter are just too cozy, drinking together, skinny dipping together, etc. After a while, she, too, has had enough and just can’t take it any longer.

Burning Palms is a good, disturbing movie that will just have you shaking your head in bewilderment. It is available from Image Entertainment on DVD on May 24. Visit for more information.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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