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SPECIAL REVIEW: Wristcutters: A Love Story

July 16, 2015 Leave a comment
Wristcutters - A Love StoryDirected by: Goran Dukić
Produced by: Chris Coen, Tatiana Kelly, Mikal P. Lazarev, Adam Sherman
Screenplay by: Goran Dukić
Story by: Etgar Keret
Edited by: Jonathan Alberts
Cinematography by: Vanja Cernjul
Music by: Bobby Johnston, Gogol Bordello
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham, Leslie Bibb, Mikal P. Lazarev, Mark Boone, Jr., Abraham Benrubi, Mary Pat Gleason, Anthony Azizi, Azura Skye, Nick Offerman, Sarah Roemer, John Hawkes, Tom Waits, Anatol Rezmeritza, Cameron Bowen, Jake Busey
Based on the short story Kneller’s Happy Campers by Etgar Keret
Year: 2006

 

This review contains some mild spoilers.

 

Lying in bed, placing a needle on a record, and then, to the tune of Tom Waits’ “Dead and Lovely,” we watch Zia, the lead character, at various stages of tidying up his mess of an apartment. Zia picks up every bit of trash and misplaced piece of dirty clothing, then wipes down every surface and piece of furniture from the dust and filth that has built up. He waters his plants, as well, then looks around to ensure he’s finished. He then looks at himself, directly into the camera, fixes his hair, takes a peek outside his window, mindlessly, and then around his room once more to ensure that he’s done everything he possibly could. He then walks into the bathroom. This time, the camera doesn’t follow until several moments pass. Uneasily, it begins to creep in. Zia’s looking into a mirror, working at something just off screen. His expression barely changes as he collapses to the tile floor. There’s a pool of bloody water in the sink, a razor beside it. In his last few moments, he notices a single, large dust bunny in the corner of the room. It’s barely moved by his last few breaths… Read more…

The Empathy Machine

June 11, 2015 Leave a comment

There was another version of this article that actually went on quite a bit of a rant, but I had to scrap it. I scrapped it not just for you, my reader, but also for myself, as I was writing more out of impassioned irritation than I was to make a coherent article about my relationship with film, as I had originally set out to do. I think this is a bit more focused, and a bit more biographical than that lecture, which I am honestly glad I had second thoughts about – and I do mean lecture as in “scold,” not “educational speech.” Part of what I almost lost sight of was an expression of my love for the medium of film, which, let’s face it, is the main topic of this blog is, after all!

Wall-E - Watching Hello Dolly

Wall-E

I do love film, though. I even admittedly sometimes love watching bad films, when the mood strikes, despite the fact that I usually end up griping about how awful they are by the time the credits begin – oftentimes earlier. I guess I’m a part time hate-watcher. That being said, however, I am admittedly an amateur when it comes to film appreciation. I’m rarely driven by more than gut instinct when it comes to analyzing the individual parts of a film, so I’m often left feeling quite inadequate to judge things like the composition of shots, the quality of the score, and the inventiveness of certain other techniques unless they really stand out to me. And, honestly, so long as those elements are either so well done that they either don’t call attention to themselves or are so transcendently novel that I can’t help but notice, I’m largely okay with that. For me, film has always been more than just the sum of its parts and more about what it’s actually saying on behalf of the artists involved and the subject it’s covering. (And, sometimes, films are mostly just entertaining, and that’s honestly okay, too!) Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: My Top 15 Worst Films of the Year

February 8, 2014 1 comment
This isn't on this list, you jerks.

Surprise! This isn’t on this list, you jerks.

I ended up seeing a lot of movies in 2013 – more than I had expected. So many, in fact, that when I was attempting to assemble a list of the Top 10 Worst Films of the Year, I managed to assemble a list of 15 candidates that I honestly felt were all very worthy of being placed here on the list. And so I saw fit to revise my previous plans and expand the list from 10… to 15!

Below are some of the worst things that Hollywood produced and released in the year 2013. Obviously, I didn’t see every movie in 2013, and so I couldn’t include some very likely candidates, like The Smurfs 2 or Battle of the Year, or the two rival horror movie spoofs A Haunted House and Scary Movie V. I can only take so much, so that’s why I call this list MY list.

Some of these are almost lengthy enough to be reviews, I admit. I got fairly passionate about the awfulness of some of the movies more than others. Some of the material, I admit, may find itself into an official, separate, and expanded review, as well, just so I can avoid the need to talk about it that much more if I do ever get around to reviewing the actual film. For a couple of them I already did review, and so you’ll see links attached to the titles.

For now, however, these are just considered summaries, ranking from least worst to worst worst. These represent the most boring, lazy, stupid, inept, and awful movies I saw this past year, and so all I can say is that I’m happy I made it out alive to warn you against seeing them. There were too many fun, enjoyable, and awesome movies released in 2013 for too many of us to spend our hard earned money on these films without at least wanting to see a bad movie. So… yeah. You’re welcome. Read more…

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Tyler Perry & Larry The Cable Guy: Together at last…

January 15, 2013 2 comments

Umm… Remember how I said the following of Tyler Perry and Larry the Cable Guy just last week?:

He’s like the black, sophisticated and moralizing counterpart to Larry the Cable Guy’s white trash dumbass, and both of them manage to be equally insufferable while also remaining bankable, despite being so superficially different from one another. If they were to ever join forces and produce a film together, this would likely be the only reason I would go willingly to either one of their productions, if only for the fact that it would very likely be one of the worst things of anything ever and would thus likely never see the light of day again…

Um… Yeah, that’s happening… Guess I might have something to look forward to already this holiday season… X'(

Tyler Perry and Larry The Cable Guy to finally bring true meaning to Christmas with A Madea Christmas | Film | Newswire | The A.V. Club.

The Michel Gondry/M. Night Shyamalan Parallel, feat. KIDS SWEDE MOVIES presents: ALIEN – CHEST BURSTER SCENE

June 30, 2012 Leave a comment

You know, despite the presence of children in the scene, this is still pretty horrific. But also kinda cute.

I need to rewatch Be Kind Rewind, as I enjoyed it the first time, but it’s also kinda like M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs in that it was the third major feature film from a director whose first made me love them, but made me also realize that they were losing their creative edge, followed by a fourth film that was a huge disappointment.

Necessary Explanation:

Michel Gondry / M. Night Shyamalan:

1) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind / The Sixth Sense* —  Visually stunning masterpieces with wonderful ideas and brilliantly moving performances.

2)The Science of Sleep** /Unbreakable — A welcome, enjoyable, and visually stunning shake up of a familiar genre (rom-com / superhero) that’s not quite up to par as their predecessor, but still pretty awesome.

3) Be Kind Rewind / Signs — Halfway good films that start to show that the director is fallible and is starting to trip up and they’re making some bad decisions with their creative freedoms. Enjoyable for what they are, but you kind of expect more, and the films leave you hoping for a return to the breathtaking form that made you fall for the directors in the first place.

4) The Green Hornet / The Village — The law of diminishing returns takes effect, and you begin to think that maybe it was all a fluke. They may redeem themselves some day, but, man, did this really suck!

And, so, yeah, there’s where my mind went when I saw this video. Alien parody -> “sweded” -> Be Kind Rewind -> Michel Gondry -> parallel with M. Night Shyamalan. That’s my random morning post and a little example of how my mind works. Hope you enjoyed it! I’m going to go enjoy my day off now!

[Video found via io9.com]
* The Sixth Sense technically came after Shyamalan’s Praying with Anger and Wide Awake, but those didn’t really put him on the map, so  they don’t count as “major” films in my eyes, regardless of their quality.
** Dave Chappelle’s Block Party also isn’t counted here because it’s a documentary, rather than a story-driven film. Again, regardless of its quality, I’ve disqualified it.

The 84th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony: My Rough Summation

February 28, 2012 1 comment

I always call the Oscars “My Super Bowl,” if only because it often comes around the same time every year and roughly has the same amount of buzz surrounding it, though I’m not so sure it has the same number of viewers. (That’s a lie. I know it doesn’t. Didn’t stop me from pigging out on a nice enchilada-style chimichanga like it was the Super Bowl!)

This year saw a decidedly milder ceremony, which some see as a nice turn after the somewhat disastrous choice to have Anne Hathaway and a mannequin host last year. They also brought back Billy Crystal for the hosting gig after Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy left the production thanks to a disagreement about whether it was okay to call gay names. (It’s not.)

Gone were the musical performances of the nominated songs probably because there were only two, and they were silly songs that would have likely taken away from the retrospective feel of this year’s ceremonies. With 2011 being a relative disappointment for movie fans, there was much uncertainty as to who would be nominated and who would win for many of the categories, though there were a few more obvious than others. (Again with the songs.)

There were some major snubs (all things Drive and Shame) and some very unexpected choices (Extremely Loud & Very Close for Best Picture and Jonah Hill vs. Christopher Plummer). Overall, though, this was a relatively tame and bland ceremony that had me wishing they had at least tried something experimental again. I rather liked Hugh Jackman’s turn at the helm and its “creating a film” theme. This year’s “film nostalgia” experience felt like it was just Hollywood patting itself on the back while foreshadowing of the eventual winners.

Still, it was the Academy Awards, and I watched it all with relative interest. Below, for you, I have given my rough summation of each winner in my own eyes, whether I was familiar with the work (or even the category) or not. Why? Because I can. And frankly, this blog is as much about my growing film knowledge as it is yours, whoever you may be! Read more…

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Spoilers: The New “Just Say No” Campaign

November 18, 2011 2 comments
Image

Click to see more Anti-Spoiler Campaign posters. Spoiler Alert: Possibly "offensive" language?

I know the world supposedly has a severe attention span problem, but seriously, why would you want to know the ending of something before you even bother diving in or before you’re even halfway through the movie?

Whenever I’m discussing a movie I’d like for someone to see, it’s almost inevitable that somebody is going to ask, in some shape or form or manner, “What happens at the end?” Why is that? Why would you want to know?

The movie, TV show, whatever you’re discussing, has been laid out for you already. If you don’t care enough about it, then fine, I get it. I reluctantly will stoop to spoiling it for you then, if you really don’t have an interest in seeing the film, though I’ll likely feel dirty doing it. But if you’ve already committed yourself to seeing it, even going as far as to sitting down and starting the movie, why would you then ask, “So why did that just happen?”

YOU WILL FIND OUT IF YOU JUST PAY ATTENTION.

When I go into the theatre or pull up a movie I have never seen, I want to know only one thing: the basic concept of the film. That’s it. That’s what informs me what a movie is about and whether it is worth my attention. Whether the film turns out good or bad, I have already decided to let the filmmakers tell me the story, not my friends, not my family, not someone on the Internet.

This goes along with my idea of art being a testimony. A film is more than just its plot — it is also the assemblage of its plot, the delivery of its plot, perspective of the plotters, etc. Context is everything. Consuming art from its intended context is how we get a full view, or at least begin to get a full view, of what the artist intended for us to take from it as an audience, and also what we as an audience actually do take from the film from our own perspective. Discussion of a plot before you know the outcome just ruins the experience of gaining that first impression from the artist themselves, rather than your friend’s rough summary of the experience. (On a related note, this is related to why it’s generally pretty rude to talk or make obnoxious noises during movies if someone hasn’t seen it yet, too.)

Even if you haven't seen this film, you probably know what happens in the end. Kinda sucks for you, doesn't it?

Once you have both seen the film, then by all means, discuss it and get someone else’s full perspective on it. That’s how we learn from art, and that’s how we get smarter, but we should always be mindful of the fact that there are others out there who have yet to be given the chance to experience some films, both awesome and bad, on a firsthand basis. And why would you want to rob them of that?

So I encourage you, if you spot someone about to spoil a movie for someone who hasn’t yet had a chance to experience it, stick up for the victim. Grab a sock and shove it in the spoiler’s mouth! And if the person you just stuck up for tells you they wanted to know the spoilers, give them a dirty look and say to them, “What’s wrong with you? You… you’re stupid, is what you are!” That’ll show ’em.

(Sidenote: Now I admit, I often do want to know whether the movie is good or bad, as well. I get the whole issue of having limited time, and I do not think reading a thoughtful review – one that is mindful of not discussing the plot in full detail, that is – is contrary to having a movie spoiled. We are limited in our time, and our time is often best served elsewhere. I also understand that my reviews are often filled with spoilers. I try to notify you of this when I can, and if I don’t, then I really do apologize. I tend to review older films, and so these reviews are often intended to be at least an attempt at going deeper into my opinions and thoughts on the film as a whole and encouraging discussion, rather than just telling you a plot summary and what my rating is, but this site is essentially intended to encourage the post-viewing discussion more than it is just a reporter of quality. … At least that is my intent!)

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