Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. It Follows - Words like "masterpiece", "terrifying", and "instant classic" can be found in most reviews of this movie. I don't understand it. It's not that I didn't like it; I enjoyed it just fine. It's well-crafted, tense, and the performances are solid. I guess I just don't see what's so different about it than any other horror movie. Most horror movies can be described as allegorical stories about the dangers of sexuality among young women. This just takes on a more literal tone, and honestly, it felt really obvious. At first, I liked the "retro" vibe, but then I realized that it takes place in the 80's (right?), so that vibe just becomes a set-piece. I've never been scared of supernatural stuff (I mean, the real world is terrifying enough. Why is anyone scared of stuff that doesn't exist?), so I think that obviously hinders my enjoyment of these types of movies. It would have been scarier, for me, if the "it" didn't actually exist - meaning that the "it" is an actual STD that causes severe mental paranoia. As soon as the others saw the "invisible" figure by the use of objects in "its" space; the film is ruined for me. Anyway, I think I'm spending too much time thinking of why it's not a masterpiece, instead of why I enjoyed it. I hate when I do that. There are certain scenes that will stick with me; like the pool of blood - what a beautiful shot. And, I love Keir Gilchrist. He reminds me of a Culkin (that's a great thing). I love that she continues to embrace her sexuality; it has this "fuck you" vibe that is awesome. I'm glad that horror fans have found a new classic. I just wish I liked it as much as everyone else.

2. Lost River - I wanted to like it. I really did. I did like parts of it. There are some really stunning shots, and parts of the story are interesting. Overall, though, it's kind of a mess. It didn't feel genuine or original, at all. The kid in it is basically trying his best to exude a Ryan Gosling type brooding, and he failed miserably. It took me a little while to realize that he is the guy from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Jesus, that title is annoying as fuck to type out correctly). He doesn't do well without a personality (not many guys can pull it off without seeming like dicks - Gosling is in a league of his own). There are scenes that are eerily reminiscent to Only God Forgives, but they seem random and out of place. Christina Hendricks and Ben Mendelsohn give it their all, but with such weak plot, they get lost in the mess. The only thing that I will likely remember about it is Matt Smith in a sparkly jacket (and even that is a copy - Ryan is pretty smart, you know, give your character a fantastic jacket and he is instantly cool. AHEM).

3. Ex Machina - (contains spoilers) Finally!! A movie that critics adored that I adored as well! I was starting to feel really left out. It's even more odd because I'm not really a fan of Oscar Isaac OR Domhnall Gleeson. I don't hate them, but I just don't get the praise for either of them (and I don't find either of them sexy or hot, at all - although I can sort of see the appeal of Gleeson because he's awkward and tall *insert heart eyes emoji*). And after this movie, I have to admit, I still don't, really. They are not the reason that I loved this movie. Alicia Vikander is sublime, however. I wasn't too enamored with the story until the end. There are some great scenes, like the scene where Caleb confronts Nathan about whether she is programmed to flirt with him. The discussion of sexuality and his inherent insecurity is brilliant. I thought the ending was going to be predictable (the maid being a robot was a given. Was that supposed to be surprising? And OF COURSE he had a battery-operated camera - this man is a genius. Did anyone believe he was just like "oh well, power is out...nothing I can do"?), but THEN, I really didn't think she was going to turn on Caleb. I didn't expect it to become such a feminist tale of freedom and "becoming female" (like Under the Skin, but with a robot). Although, it can be seen as misogynist, as well, considering that it's basically about a female manipulating men (but she's doing it for freedom! That seems justified to me). Anyway, I would love to watch it again, because I think there are a lot of intricate details that are hidden in there. For a directorial debut, I think it's pretty stunning. I look forward to more from Alex Garland.

4. Before I Go to Sleep - This is a movie in which I watched with very low expectations and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. The cast is excellent - Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. I never heard of it before it appeared on my Netflix Instant, so I assumed it must be really terrible. The story is kind of a mixture of Memento and 50 First Dates - in that it's about short-term memory loss. She wakes up everyday looking at pictures and learning who she is before she starts her day, but the "why" she got this way is the mystery that needs solving. The only thing she knows is that she was brutally attacked. First, I will say, automatically, I said out-loud (to my cats), "It's the husband. It's always the husband". While I won't give away the story, I will say that I was both right and wrong at the same time (ooooh intriguing...right?). I didn't see the twist, AT ALL. The end makes the movie worth watching, otherwise, it's a pretty standard thriller (could pass for a satisfying television movie). I actually really like Kidman and Firth together as a couple, because they are both so cold, distant and proper people - I don't feel like they've ever exuded chemistry in any movie, but together they work. And, Anne-Marie Duff has a fairly small, but important, scene. I love her so much. I love her, and yet, I am completely and utterly jealous of her (she is literally married to perfection).

5. Black Sea - Speaking of perfection...Jude Law! With a Scottish accent! It's very jarring at first, but then I fell in love with it. It's really heavy in the beginning and then it sort of goes in and out, but whatever...it's adorable. I like this movie. It's a solid 3 star thriller. The cast is great. I feel like either Ben Mendelsohn or Scoot McNairy are in EVERY movie, but this movie has the added bonus of BOTH of them! Jude Law is in the same league as James McAvoy - in that they both don't get as much credit as they deserve. He does a great job as a working class tough guy (even though he is so very pretty). The only real criticism that I have is that I don't really understand why anyone would have a problem with getting an equal share of the money that they are searching for; it's the catalyst for the story - basically, people are greedy. However, in this case it doesn't make much sense. I also don't really understand all of the technical submarine stuff (obvi), so it all became a little redundant. I feel like they probably got a lot of the technical stuff wrong because it all seems extremely implausible, but in "movie world", they made it work. I was captivated until the very end, trying to figure out who would end up with the money. The story ends in a very satisfying way, although I'm not really sure why Law's character keeps dreaming about his ex-wife, who left him for someone with money. She's a money-grubbing bitch; get over it.

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