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Posts Tagged ‘empathy’

THEATRICAL REVIEW – Don’t Breathe (2016)

September 2, 2016 2 comments
Don't BreatheDirected by: Fede Alvarez
Produced by: Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, Fede Alvarez
Written by: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Edited by: Eric L. Beason, Louise Ford, Gardner Gould
Cinematography by: Pedro Luque
Music by: Roque Baños
Starring: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang
Year: 2016

 

Isn’t it nice to see horror movies that succeed both financially and critically? It wasn’t too long ago that the biggest horror movies given wide release were mostly sequels, remakes, and cash-ins on trends. I mean, we’re seeing that still, sure – that’s just part of how the movie industry works in general – but, specifically in regards to the horror genre, it’s not nearly to the degree from back when the Saw flicks were an annual tradition. Don’t Breathe, the latest surprise critical darling, is currently sitting at the top of the box office in its first week and is also maintaining an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – not just a good approval rating for a horror movie, but any movie in general. And while it doesn’t reach the same heights as films like The Babadook and It Follows in terms of vision, style, and execution, I was still incredibly pleased to find that not only were the positive reviews well deserved, my own expectations based on the trailers and word of mouth were exceeded. Read more…

REVIEW: Rich Hill

August 21, 2015 1 comment
Rich Hill (Kickstarter)Directed by: Tracy Droz Tragos, Andrew Droz Palermo
Produced by: Tracy Droz Tragos, Andrew Droz Palermo, David Armillei
Edited by: Jim Hession
Cinematography by: Andrew Droz Palermo
Music by: Nathan Halpern
Year: 2014

 

I am not a fan of reality TV. This isn’t exactly a bold statement, I know, but seriously – screw pretty much the whole entire exploitative genre. From absurdly overwrought drama, to manufactured hilarity to peddle some person’s brand or image, to outright delight in the misfortune of others, I hardly see any benefit in reality TV’s existence. The overflow this industry has had into actual reality, what with cameras everywhere at the ready to share some unsuspecting person’s personal issues with everyone, is even more troubling than the stuff people at the very least consent to divulging on television. There’s little artistry in manipulating perception and encouraging schadenfreude with whatever makes it to air. Shame on the people who produce it, and, quite frankly, shame on those who enjoy it, too. I’m not excluding myself in that, mind you. I’ve dabbled in taking pleasure at the horrific performances of admittedly terrible singers and judged the merit of people’s very existence based on a few minutes of footage aired weekly that could have very likely been a façade meant to make the footage seem much more interesting and outrageous than it actually was.

Documentaries, however – at least the good ones – differ from reality TV in that their primary goal is usually to invoke some kind of understanding and empathy; the goal is usually education over entertainment. Though documentarires, too, are edited to fit the purpose of the filmmaker, it’s often with artistic goals in mind, there’s usually a respect for the intelligence of the audience to understand the filmmaker’s intentions and the footage being presented to them. Read more…

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…

REVIEW: Under the Skin (2013)

July 25, 2014 4 comments
Under the SkinDirected by: Jonathan Glazer
Produced by: James Wilson, Nick Wechsler
Written by: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer (screenplay)
Edited by: Paul Watts
Cinematography by: Daniel Landin
Music by: Mica Levi
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Adam Pearson, Joe Szula, Kryštof Hádek, Paul Brannigan, Michael Moreland, Dave Acton, Jessica Mance
Based on the novel by Michel Faber
Year: 2013

 

Under the Skin is one of those weird art films that apparently will perplex most, bore many, and leave only some at varying levels of admiration for the film. I don’t mean for that to sound snooty or anything, but it’s kind of true – this is a bizarre but arresting film that’s told through lots of strange and/or confusingly beautiful images and as little dialogue as possible without being a silent film, and the matter of fact way in which the film presents is unique premise will leave some put off if they’re not prepared or willing to accept what is happening and still let the film take them deeper into the world of “Laura,” an alien in a beautiful human woman’s body who patrols the streets of Scotland ensnaring men to take back to her lair. Yeah, I told you – it sounds pretty weird. Read more…

Review: “The Sixth Sense”

October 25, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Barry Mendel
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Cinematography by: Tak Fujimoto
Music by: James Newton Howard
Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Trevor Morgan, Mischa Barton, Trevor Morgan
Year: 1999

 

Though I couldn’t outright say that The Sixth Sense is a horror film, at least in the traditional sense, it was somewhat of a rite of passage for me. Funny story — My mom had seen it before me and thought that I would possibly love it, if I could handle it. I was about 13 at the time, and so, like the self-confident early teenager that I was, I decided to go with her… but I was terrified to see this, to be quite honest, if only because her description of it was so scary. I wasn’t a horror fan at the time and hadn’t really sought out any scary movies in my life, so this was a new experience for me. And… Well, I’m not going to lie — I ended up seeing Runaway Bride one auditorium down because I chickened out mid-previews. Read more…

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