Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Creep - So, I've always thought of Mark Duplass as really sort of creepy. I think that's why I've never liked him in movies that I'm supposed to like him in (Safety Not Guaranteed, The One I Love). Needless to say, this is a PERFECT role for him. The movie is told found-footage style, about a guy who answers a Craigslist ad (HAHA! What??) as a Videographer for the day. The uneasiness is built in right away with this mixture of "this guy is creeeeeepy" and "aww...poor guy". He explains that he is dying and he wants to record a video for his unborn son (he references the movie My Life, and OHMYGOD remember that movie? I think I cried through the entire thing). The whole beginning of the movie relies on unnecessary jump scares, which is really annoying. I began to think that they didn't know any other way to scare an audience, but then the last 30 minutes of the movie are BRILLIANT. The scene where he is sleeping with the camera on and it starts to move! AAAH! So unsettling. Then his last mea culpa ("I only need a friend and you're the last chance I have"), actually makes you feel bad for him. And THEN, the last scene. My mouth actually dropped open and I stared at the screen for a solid 5 minutes after it was over. It makes the whole movie worth watching.

2. The Duke of Burgundy - I've seen a lot of high praise for this movie, and I didn't really know what it was about so I watched it with a very blank slate, which I think worked. However, I don't think I can praise it as highly as everyone else. I did like it. There is a lot to praise, but overall, I was a little let down by certain aspects. It's beautifully shot, with some stunning use of mirrors and reflections. It deals with the subject matter, BDSM, with respect by showcasing it within a relationship that is built on love and intimacy. It also shows the intricacies within this fetish by questioning which one in the relationship is actually in control. I did like the parallel butterfly discussion, although I feel like I need to study butterflies to really understand its relationship to their relationship (I didn't even know that the title is in reference to a certain type of rare butterfly until after the movie. Was it mentioned? Maybe I missed it.). I think my reservations for the film are because of the very basic, simple fact that I just don't get it. I don't connect with either character (I don't like being told what to do, nor do I like to tell others what to do). And, I really find the character, Evelyn, insufferable and immature...and spoiled...and an overall bad human being. So, I don't really root for her to have a happy ending. But, again, it's very beautiful to look at. It's well-acted. It's interesting, and there is even a bit of humor to it. If I were to judge it purely by an "everything I learned in film school" mindset I would probably praise it highly, but, seriously how boring are those people?

3. Cinderella - It's a very "expected" movie. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I have to wonder, if there isn't any value added to a story, then why tell it? It seems like a useless exercise, but one that kids and young teens will probably enjoy. I wasn't a huge fan of Cinderella when I was a kid, but I LOVED the mice (I almost named my cat "Gus", but I named him "Simba" instead). I used to sing the "Cinderelly" song ALL THE TIME ("used to", as in I still do, just not in front of anyone but my cats. It's sadly not in this film). It's a sweet story, that focuses on the two lessons "be kind" and "have courage". I always liked the way Cinderella stayed true to the "kindness" even when faced with the true evilness of her step-family, but I think I knew it would be a mistake to believe that "kindness" would actually get me anywhere, and therefore, I always called "bullshit" on the story of Cinderella. I mean, you should be kind, yes, but don't expect a prince to fall in love with you because of your kindness (being cynical will keep your heart from being broken, now there is real life lesson for you. You're welcome.). Anyway, aside from the mushy-gushiness of it all, it's a very pretty movie. Some scenes looked like they were straight out of a Monet painting (in fact, I'm pretty sure one shot is a direct copy, but I looked into it and I found nothing.). The acting ranges from fantastic (Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter - both are literally perfect in their roles) to blah (Lily James - kind does not equal boring). Overall, it's a very average movie.

4. Spy - I have no idea why anyone is raving about this movie. Really, I read so many amazing reviews, and it has a 93% on RT, which is high for any movie, but especially a comedic spy movie. I watched the trailer, and I wasn't really impressed, but I had high hopes for the supporting cast. I shouldn't have been surprised that I didn't enjoy the movie, because I think, deep down, I knew it wasn't going to be good. People seem to be surprised that Jason Statham is funny (Um...Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels? Snatch? Anyone?). He definitely steals a few scenes here, but it becomes repetitive. The highlight for me is Rose Byrne (and Jesus fucking Christ, please don't tell me people didn't already KNOW that she is hilarious). She goes so over-the-top as the villain. I think it's funny because she kind of calls out the ridiculousness, by being ridiculous. Jude Law (as "Bradley Fine" Ahem.) has his funny moments, as well. Yet, overall, I didn't really laugh out loud. The plot is really fucking stupid and so OBVIOUS. Rule # 1 of the spy genre: If you don't actually see someone die, then they aren't dead. I'm not a Paul Feig hater, I laughed like a crazy person at both Bridesmaids and The Heat, this just didn't do it for me.

5. Child 44 - There are two really fascinating stories that are told in this movie, but jumbled together it becomes so confusing and hard to follow. One story is about a relationship set in 1950's Russia, between a police officer (soldier? general? I have no idea.) and his wife. He tells a tale of "true love", while her version is one of a frightened woman who was taught not to say no to people in power. She is claimed to be a traitor (no idea why...), and he refuses to denounce her, causing them both to be exiled. A whole movie could be made out of this plot (I would focus on her story, but either way works). The second story that is intertwined is about a serial killer who is killing young boys. Apparently, in Soviet Russia, the theory of communism does not allow for serial killers. Communism is "paradise", and murder only happens in a capitalistic society. Therefore, murders are hidden, and disguised as accidents. So, a serial killer is on the loose and no one is doing a thing about it, until this police officer (soldier? general?) decides to investigate. Now that is a great plot. Why not just focus on this? Can I call for a redo? Two separate movies with different actors. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic group of actors, but none of them felt right for the part. I mean, Tom Hardy just gives it all he's got with the accent, but And Gary Oldman reminded me of his guest star on Friends. I just kept picturing him spitting on people, which was quite distracting.

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