Monday, March 19, 2012

Thoughts on 4 Films

1. Melancholia - The more I think about this film, the more I fall in love with it (and the more I want to see it again). The film is seperated into two parts - part one focuses on Justine (Kirsten Dunst) celebrating her marriage with an elaborate party and I admit it was a bit tedious to sit through (I can barely make it through a real-life wedding between people I actually care about). It takes a lot of patience but it turns into a really beautiful film about depression, destruction, life and death and the insignificance of it all. I can see the comparisons to Another Earth only because it captures the "smaller" human tale within the "larger" planetary one, but it defers greatly in the actual story - in this film, a planet called Melancholia is on a path to possibly collide with Earth. It really starts to picks up with the second part that focuses on Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg - who deserved much more credit than Dunst in my opinion, but I could be biased as she is a favorite actress of mine) and her struggle to take care of Justine, who is basically paralyzed by depression. The way the ending keeps building up, as Melancholia gets closer to Earth is breathtaking. I've really never liked a Lars von Trier film - in my opinion, he is the captain of pretentious filmmakers. I was really expecting to rip this film apart but I simply can't. I watched it a few weeks ago and I still find myself thinking about it. "I smile, and I smile, and I smile".

2. The Skin I Live In - Fucking bizarre and disturbing film and I totally loved it. It was definitely an advantage that I avoided reading or seeing anything about the film. I prefer to watch a film without any preconceived notion of it, but I find that increasingly harder to do these days. The narrative of the film was absolute perfection - for the first 1/2 of the film I had absolutely no idea how it would all connect but I was still interested enough to watch every second of it. Once that connection happens, it is transcendent. Easily added to my favorite films of 2011 (which needs a major overhaul since I would also add Melancholia) and definitely my favorite Almodovar film (which is saying a lot because I love all of his work).

3. Footloose - I was never a big fan of the original, so I knew I would probably be even less of a fan of the remake. I was right - it is beyond stupid on so many levels. First, the premise is the same as the original (which was stupid as well) - after a tragic accident, a group of conservatives in a small town create a law where it is illegal to dance in public spaces. The problem is that the accident had nothing to do with dancing, instead it had to do with blatant reckless driving - if they wanted to make a "town law" then wouldn't it make more sense to limit the amount of dumb-ass teenagers allowed in one car? Second, the main female character, Ariel, is a fucking bitch and one of the least likeable teenage characters I've seen in a while - she calls other girls "hussies", then literally one minute later she begins to dance around purposely trying to gain as much male attention as possible (and by "dance", I mean that she basically fucks a pole). Third, I was actually really surprised that Kenny Wormald was from Boston because his accent was atrocious (was he just trying too hard?). He is also a terrible actor - his "you don't know me" breakdown scene was hard to sit through with a straight face. Last, there were these weird and violent fight scenes interspersed through out the film and then forgotten about - the one where a girl hits a guy over the head with a glass bottle and then leaves was actually quite funny, but the end brawl that was then followed by a dance sequence was really frustrating.

4. Hugo - I watched this almost a month ago, but I hesitated writing about it because I thought that maybe I should watch it again before making my final decision of the film. However, after giving it some thought, I decided that I just don't like it. Done and Done. I actually fell asleep while watching it, which is something that never happens to me - I purposely do not have a television in my bedroom because I would never sleep. I did watch the film in it's entirety (after I woke up) and it was mind-boggling how boring it actually is. It was a beautiful film, visually and technically impressive, but once it starts to lay down the "history of film" storyline, my mind started to wander. Obviously, I am interested in the history of film ( I double majored in Cinema Studies and Drama Studies in College) but the problem with the film is that the history is very uninspiring - meaning that anyone with even the most basic passion for film already knows everything that the film tells us, so the point is sort of lost.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Friends With Kids: 2 Reasons to Watch it; 2 Reasons to Skip it

Reasons to watch:

1. The Cast - Sure, the Bridesmaids reunion element to the casting could be considered distracting but Jon Hamm, Chris O’Dowd, Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig have an unbelievable chemistry between them that it doesn't really matter. Add in one of my favorite people ever, Adam Scott, and you have yourself an amazing fucking cast. Ironically, the weakest link was Jennifer Westfeldt (who wrote and directed the film). She was just so bland in comparison to her costars – none were given much depth, but I still felt like I knew who everyone was. Her character, Julia, was sort of a judgemental bitch (and I don't think that was on purpose). I also loved the appearance of Megan Fox and Ed Burns, both were typecasted but they played their roles to perfection.

2. The Idea - The idea of having kids with a best friend has been spinning in my head for years now. The “normal” idea of falling in love, getting married, having kids just seems silly to me. People fall in and out of love so easily, they stay in marriages “for the kids” and just live miserably for no reason. This way of life of life is obviously flawed and it's about time for an update. I loved the relationship between Julia and Jason because it was built out of love, laughter and honesty – what would be so wrong about bringing up a child in that environment? Seems pretty brilliant to me.

Reasons to skip:

1. The Dialogue - Sooo much fucking dialogue! I rarely like films like this – where they just TALK endlessly about their situation, debate back and forth and repeat (the only writer/director who does this well is Woody Allen). Some of it was amusing, some of it was heartfelt (like when Jason explained to the group all the reasons that he loved Julia - I actually teared up a bit) but it was mostly pretentious, narcissistic, exhausting and annoying.

2. The Ending - ****SPOILER**** The whole movie is ruined with the ending. The entire concept of the film is that these are 2 people who aren’t sexually attracted to each other….and then suddenly they are. It’s ridiculous.

3 Thoughts on Project X

1. Most of the film is pure, insane fun - There is a skeleton-thin plot, very little character development and absolutely ridiculous scenarios but I have to admit that it was really fun to watch. It moved rather quickly, had an extremely appealing soundtrack and I laughed out loud several times. If you just take the film at face value and join the party - you should have a good time.

2. The ending of the film was not - The party was bordering on dangerous but still really funny until the last part (you know when fires and riots started breaking out and endangering the lives of the surrounding neighbors - including the newborn baby across the street). The fact that there are no big consequences for anyone was just plain dumb and the part that annoyed me the most was that the kids father had a moment of pride in his son's ability to cause mayhem. I'm sorry to be the voice of reason, but if they live in a house like that in Pasadena (i.e a multi-million dollar home) - they obviously have money. People who have money, care about money - there is no way that his father would be so calm about losing everything.

3. People are fucking stupid - I was in complete shock when the film ended and people in the theater started clapping. It wasn't a film that was deserving of applause. It was completely unoriginal (some described it as Superbad on crack, which I think is insulting to Superbad - but they did flat out copy the 3 main characters and somehow made them not interesting at all). I feel bad for you if you think this was something to cheer for.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Take Shelter - Intense. Subtle. Quiet. Ambiguous. All the qualities of this film that I love. While the film relies heavily on Michael Shannon's performance (which is fantastic), it is aided by the fact that he is just fucking creepy. Ever since I saw Bug I can't look at him without shivers going up my arms. Take Shelter is actually very similar to Bug because it delves into a paranoid atmosphere where reality is blurred but instead of bugs there are apocalyptic type storms. Curtis (Shannon) is a man who is slowly and painfully unraveling, yet he is fully aware of what is happening to him. Even as his vivid dreams begin to cross-over into his reality the only concern he has is to protect his family. The heartbreaking part is that everything he does seems to make things worse. The only bad thing I can say about the film is that it is slightly predictable and I knew exactly how it would end.

2. Thor - The good: An epic adventure, superhero story with extremely fun battle scenes, some witty banter and a hot actress (I'm referring to Jaimie Alexander...sorry Natalie). The bad: The plot was adequate but hardly memorable. Thor is not really that interesting and Chris Hemsworth did a terrible job convincing me otherwise. I certainly don't think a sequel is necessary.

3. Something Borrowed - What can I say...I'm a bit of a masochist when it comes to watching some movies. I know they are going to be torture and I say: "bring it on". But seriously, I don't think I can properly make fun of a film until I have actually seen it - that is why I watch crap like this. Also, it has John Krasinski and he makes me smile. The film, however, is a horrendous depiction of female friendship that pretty much centers around lies and jealousy. I am never convinced that these 2 girls ever actually like each other - and not just because they are opposite personalities. Sure, it would totally suck to fall in love with the same guy but if they were actually friends they would have discussed if from the beginning. My best friend and I communicate things like this as to avoid messy situations (she gets Ryan Gosling, I get Ben McKenzie - see how easy that was?!! or wait...It might be the other way around. I forget now...). Anyway, Colin Egglesfield is a truly awful actor and his character was lazily written. I didn't root for any of them to get together in the end so the romance part of this romantic comedy failed miserably (and it wasn't funny either).

4. In Time - The beginning voice-over by Timberlake's character explains that in the world of this film "time" is now a form of currency and the more "time" you have the longer you will live (you stop aging when you hit 25) - there is no reason, no history, no science, which, to me, feels lazy. It is an interesting concept, but the film focused so much on being a negative critique of capitalism that it became painfully obvious as to how it would end. Timberlake did a decent job but I still think he should go back to music (or hosting SNL).

5. Dream House - Maybe if I didn't see the trailer, I would have enjoyed this film a little. I thought it was weird that they give away the twist in it, but assumed that there was probably another twist that would compensate...but there wasn't. Aside from that, the film itself was a bit of a mess - not sure if it was supposed to be a horror or a psychological drama but it wasn't either. There was nothing scary about it and everything was spelled out for the audience so any thinking is completely unnecessary.