Saturday, January 31, 2015

Free Writing - Take 71

I was going to write a mini review, but I'm not thinking straight. The movie mattered so much more last night, more specifically yesterday morning, but I was watching tennis. I watched again tonight. Serena won and she's everything that is wrong with sports in my mind. I've always hated players like her, Connors, Nadal and even the young Djokovic. Players who can't seem to ever get beaten, even on a single shot, without glaring at a lines person, yelling at themselves or checking their racquet. Then of course, there is the Nadal special, where the second you start to lose, you suddenly have a limp, which you explain after the match had been bothering you all week. You know, the week where you didn't lose a service game until the semis and won 74% of your serves. Yeah, tough going. Serena takes it to a new level now. She complains before the tournament even begins. She's sick, sore, injured, not in the right frame of mind or is she on drugs/drunk as was evident earlier this year. The reality is that it's never done by the lesser players, because they can't get away with it and they know it. You don't see a guy ranked #65, bandaged head to toe complaining, so why should the number one player ever do it? I'm not taking anything away from her talent, but why?

OK, who the hell cares about tennis anyway. Wow, a second paragraph in free writing. I'm starting over instead of starting a new one. I'm at my wits end. I can tolerate not hearing, not listening, not understanding, but if you are talking with me, I'm going to assume you care. If you don't, we can easily rectify this situation. I'll save my breath, my time and my patience. I won't bother anyone who doesn't feel like I'm worth their time. If remembering what I told you the last time we spoke is a chore, let's not speak the first time. If I'm talking about one thing, but your issue is so important that you decide to tell it to me through interruption, I'll let that slide a handful of times, but don't be surprised if I'm not there for the third or fourth time. Finally, if we're together and you feel the need to get up and walk out of the room for anything other than relieving yourself, then please let me finish. I promise, your text, your call or whatever you feel you need to hold in your hand to better hear me with, can wait. What's the old expression? Treat me like I'm unimportant seven times, shame on me, do it enough times I'm not going to let it happen again, enjoy talking to yourself.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Super Quickie Review - Solomon Kane

This movie cost $45 million to make and I believe $44 of it was on CGI. Was there one scene that was real? It was bad CGI too. The opening scene was almost comical it was so badly done, but then it continues and despite the decent cast, the dialogue couldn't save it. Probably because it was equally as horrid. Von Sydow was in it, so I gave it a chance. Seriously, people found this enjoyable? Sure, I know, mindless entertainment, but there wasn't a single scene that was well executed. I knew nothing about this, but saw the cast and decided to give it a try. Reading the positive reviews after, leads me to believe people had to like this before even seeing it. Even Excalibur seems less silly than this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Free Writing - Take 70

I love the snow and how pure it is. Nothing like walking in it and making those first steps. The crush from the weight of your foot, making that familiar sound. No matter how old I become, it will remind me of childhood. The walk towards our destination is filled with those steps over and over, but the walk back is different. The chilly air has taken hold of our sense and staring down, we see steps going in another direction, a place that was a goal. We're now returning to where we started and it will be like we never let. It's too bad friendships aren't like that. Too bad for some that their actions, their goals aren't easily rescinded. As of late, I've had friends make decisions, some unbeknownst to me at first, but then when I noticed, the dominoes fell. I don't care about these people anymore. Some I've know their entire lives and most of mine. They chose their path and they chose it, without ever discussing it. A simple explanation and no ill feelings would be had. I don't think they even know who they are, but their actions are irreversible. I feel betrayed and there is one emotion I can't forgive and that is being completely let down. I can fake niceties, but that's all they will receive from this day forth. I'm done caring and yes, loving them. I'm done making excuses for that which they lack, because they are no longer part of my life. If these dominoes continue and more people call them friends or family than do me, then my inner circles will just get smaller, tighter, better. For I'm not one to change my mind, not ever for this feeling. The snow doesn't get to cover back up these footsteps.

Quickie Review - We Are The Best!

If you're my age (44), 1982 was a time of rebellion, discovery and punk rock music. This beautiful Swedish film, captures the very essence of what so many of us were feeling. Everyone else had the cool parents, ours were a burden. Everyone else had issues that were unimportant, because whatever "we" worried about was paramount. We chose our friends this way. We sought out other outcasts and wanted them to join us on our quest for world domination or simply to be noticed, to be different. It's when we cut our own hair or the sleeves on our shirts. It was our way of saving punk music, but for many of us in the US, it was really the beginning of it.

The movie is the story of three girls and their desire to fit in without fitting into what society wanted them to. They truly were the essence of the punk movement. The same way that hip-hop isn't just music, punk wasn't either. It was a style and a mindset. Establishment's rules are for the masses, not us. What's so beautiful about this film is it balances the girl's desire to be rebellious with truly just wanting to be normal. They all want to be something they aren't and by supporting each other, they become this thing, a band. This is by no means meant to be a musical. It's not a grim tale, showing some seedy side of the movement and if you're like me, you might not even know the bands they were mentioning.

It's not for everyone. Nothing happens. It's life. I passed on three hours of Boyhood to watch an hour and forty minutes of what could essentially be called girlhood. But more bad ass.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Quickie Review - The Den

The Den is a very good film and there are things about it that are great. It takes our comfort with the Internet and makes it truly awful. It takes a few other things that make us feel comfortable and it ruins that too, but I don't want to give to much away. I will however tell you what is absolutely great about it (yes, some slight spoilers).

1. It's not fucking Hollywood - Yes, there are some scenes where you wonder why it's shot in a found footage style, but it doesn't matter. It was done and you don't care. 
2. The Killer - Watch it you'll see.
3. The ending that will drive some crazy - Because they didn't get how awful it was and not in a bad way, in it's view on society as a whole.
4. A beautiful girl who has sex - And here's where it is wonderful, The girl is adorable, she gets surprised by her boyfriend who is leaving town and what's the scene we see. Him pleasuring her. How often is that the only sex scene in a movie. Oh and another thing, it's a pretty hot scene.
5. Despite the craziness, there is never a point where you say "who the hell would act this way?" It all makes sense. 

Now, the detractors will point to style errors, camera angles and possibly reasoning, but I felt that is what makes it authentic. It is rusty in spots and sure, there are liberties taken with cameras and computer logistics, but that doesn't hinder the story as it does in so many other. A don't listen to the message board trolls who didn't like it, because the girls aren't all naked. That wouldn't have played any part in the film anyway and those that wanted more gore need to watch some Takashi Miike films and get their fix and come back to a stylish thriller, that has a nice balance of scares, violence and gore. Oh yeah and a wonderfully sensual cameo by...the man, Bill Oberst Jr. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quickie Review - Timecrimes (Minor Spoilers)

After hearing about this movie a lot recently, I dove in last night. Clear head, full stomach and a couple of cups of coffee ready. Time travel movies need you sharp and this one was no different. Like all movies, I went in with a blank slate. I knew absolutely nothing about this, other than it being a time travel movie. So the first scene sees this buffoon trip his way around his house, while his wife works busily. I noticed something right away. What's interesting, is not one review I read after seeing the movie even touched on it. The bet on the table. Hector knew the table wasn't going to fit in the house. So I'm assuming right away, he's done this before.

Fast forward close to 80 minutes and the same table is used in two scenes that are meant to mimic each other. Now, without noticing the obvious hint, this makes the movie very neatly wrapped and people can go home happy. I wasn't, because not only does it mean there is either another layer, it could mean it was an enormous plot hole. So say I'm wrong and there is another reason for it, then the movie is to be taken as is. But then, how do you explain what transpires right after the table incident, if there was Hector #1?

Timecrimes is very well done for the genre. It is absolutely killed by a lethargic performance by it's star, but the story alone is fun. It also uses a very clever technique, which has been commented on, but is absolutely brilliant. The director uses breasts as a distraction to an enormous plot hole. That might sound funny or downright ridiculous, but at some point in the movie, no matter if you are male or female, you are taken by this beautiful nude woman who is utterly (pun intended) perfect. What this scene does is it allows you to forget that there is no logical explanation for it happening, because the logic actually contradicts the plot....unless of course you picked up on the table hint. The second time we see the woman, we're not shown her naked body and in an odd instinctual reaction, we're sidetracked. While we wonder why they edited it, we're distracted again, by the second plot hole.

I don't like giving things away, so I'll say this. Timecrimes is good. It's no Triangle as it's been compared and it's not even as effective as Looper in many ways, but when you realize that they created a time travel movie with no special effects and only four speaking parts, it's absolutely genius. It is one of those movies I'll revisit a year or two from now and probably appreciate more for it's artistic prowess, but a lot less for it's ability to deceive and confuse. If you do adore this genre, it will without a doubt jump to the top of your favorite list.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Frank - Is It A Movie About Twitter Or Mental Illness?

Was I the only person who felt that the entire film was about Twitter? I'm not saying the concept or even the original idea, but the way it plays out, especially in the final forty minutes, feels like it's entirely about life on twitter? I just felt that Twitter was always the anti-Facebook. It was the place where you went to be yourself and be recognized for it, but the reality is that it's become worse than Facebook. People make up a persona and become completely pigeon-holed into one genre or type and the only acceptance they feel is from the people they tried to separate themselves from in the first place.

Yes, I realize the movie is also about mental illness and wanting to be "normal." Normal in the sense that you can do what you love and have it accepted and appreciated without judgement. We all know that even when people with disabilities achieve greatness, we always add they are disabled. The irony in the movie is the most damaged is Clara, who is really the main character in so many ways, even down to her metaphorical instrument.

I must admit, that while I didn't enjoy the movie, I was fascinated by its layers. All of which get bogged down by the fact that we know this is based on someone real and a person I knew nothing about before and I know even less now. This brings me back to Twitter. Even those twitter handles that I call friends, are really strangers to me. I take at face value they are who they say they are, but as I've experienced, there are those who will privately ask you how your weekend was and then unfollow you because you didn't like the song they posted for you. Is that twitter, mental illness or both? Is it neither? I don't know, because unlike Facebook, there is no history between us.

I'm not sure when this was written, but I'm guessing the writer was very aware of the power of twitter. Not only as it's portrayed in the film, but also it's power to affect lives, both good and bad.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Been A While

Well, it's been a while since I've written anything really personal on here. I didn't wrap up my year or even the holidays in any neat little package of words, because I really didn't have much to tell. I feel let down by the holidays, by people, both friends and family. I feel lost in a a repetitive episode of an awful game show, where even the winner seems less than enthused. My distance to those I once called friends is obviously taking its toll on their memory of me and mine of them. I don't reach out via text the way I used to and they don't in any ways. I have a $100+ month phone and it has rung due to a friend's call only three times since before November began. My outgoing calls have been minimal as well as I don't need small talk. All I have is small talk. Small talk and the social media connection. The funny thing about it is that I've made a "new" friend who has kept a smile on my face and two old ones too. I get the sports messages once in a while and they are a welcome addition. The reality is that my real online friends are those who don't know my situation all that well and don't feel the need to judge me or make any assumptions based on anything. They know I like movies, I'm a bit of a wise ass and I like to joke. That's pretty much all the need to know, because, it's me. Sure there are more layers, but like all friendships, we strip those away slowly.

I'm bored. I'm bored about reading about everyone's colds, their weather conditions and their daily woes. I miss talking to people about real things. Even those who actually have true problems, I miss. I miss being there with more than a "like" and a comment or two. I'm done liking your sick child or praising your parenting skills for staying up with your coughing child. If you need to be patted on the back, you probably aren't as good a parent as you think. I'm tired of people thinking Facebook is Google or the yellow pages. If I want to know where to fix something, I look it up and I'm calling that place within ten seconds. I don't need six likes to make me feel better about my household appliances being on the fritz.

On the other hand I'm thrilled with my friends having babies or who have had them. Facebook does serve a purpose in that sense. I get a warm feeling seeing fat cheeks smiling at me, even if they will never see me in person. Maybe they will and then I'll be thankful I didn't miss out on them growing up. I have weekly crushed on people and not always in that way. I have crushes on their frivolity and their tenderness. I have crushes on their vulnerability and like me, their ability to share it. Sure the 50 comments they receive proves they have better friends than I, but I don't let that get me down. The people I need to hear from aren't on these sites and the ones that are have done more than their share.

I'm thinking about how I went an entire football season not watching one game with any of guys and girls I've spent watching for 25 years. I think about how I have watched more football during the playoffs than I did the entire regular season. I think about how little college basketball I've watched and how my legacy regarding it, is not only tarnished, but an end of an era in my life has come. I hope those I owe realize I have not forgotten and will get to them. It's a thorn in my side, which hurts more than those other debts, deemed more serious by the parties involved.

It's cold, but not unbearable anymore. Thoughts of going outside to warm up are gone. Going outside at all has become a mystery to me. I was someone who was constantly walking to the store, walking to the bar, waiting for a cab, doing something outside and now, I'm a complete hermit. That will change, hopefully with the ability to walk without pain. It's still a dream of mine. Many more ailments plague me now and despite what some may think by my grizzly appearance, all hope is not lost. Those who care give me reasons to look to the future, but it is me, the future is ten minutes from now, not ten years from now. I don't even like to think about ten days. Plans. People with their plans!

I don't ever want to seem pathetic, but it is nice to get a hello once in a while. It's nice to have people say nice things in private. Not looking for a like, an immediate response or anything else that makes it about them. I am worried about two people who I have always been able to count on and them on me as we drift further and further apart, for no reason other than we are.

So much has changed and 2014 was the worst year of my life since 2004, but even more so in some ways. I can't call the seven months I had with my mother bad, so even with her passing it was better than last, because last year, I couldn't put my troubles aside and think of someone else who needed me. It was always on me and my problems and the ball dropped and like the 44 times before, nothing changed.


Quickie Review - A Company Man

Korean action thrillers are pretty much always better than American action thrillers. The reason is that they don't get bogged down with silly stuff like love affairs and characters who show too much emotion. Or, they go absolutely insane with emotion and undying love and it works like a charm. A Company Man unfortunately resembles too many of the American versions, but benefits from the stoic performance of its star and some decent action. Unfortunately for you adrenaline junkies out there, the best action scene takes place in the first 10 minutes of the movie and the rest is standard procedure. Make no mistake, this film is solid as entertainment and has a very sharp look to it. Definitely worth a look, but not up to the standards of what I've been seeing out of Korean cinema.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quickie Review - Contracted

I usually don't do spoilers, but I'm going to make a little exception, because this movie is so awful in every way, people should be warned. The real problem starts if you saw it through Netflix. In the synopsis, it states a girl has a one night stand and contracts a disease. She's roofied and raped. Big difference! Secondly, she's raped by a man, but it a lesbian who is in love, if not infatuated with her beau. Oh, did I mention the first scene is someone having sex with a corpse, but don't worry, you only see the toe tag moving back and forth.

Within twenty minutes, you realize the writer/director isn't very good with the ladies and any girl who doesn't accept the advances of the "nice guy" is a lesbian or deserves to be raped or killed or contract the plague. Anything, but live a normal lifestyle. Oh and she's a drug addict, who tried to kill herself, fights with her mother and is a loner. Oh yeah and apparently she still goes to her pediatrician, because she's too immature to fuck a guy.

Everything that was good about the movies Teeth, Carrie and any other revenge flick is lost on this movie. I'd even go so far as to say that I Spit On Your Grave is better, if only for the fact, it doesn't try to be anything it is not. The guy who made this film also made Madison County, so his talent level isn't very high. What amazes me is the quality of the movie and the fact, the makeup is pretty good. As a viewer, we notice the changes, but apparently, the people who see the victim don't notice her blood red eyes, corpse like skin and veins popping out of her. Even worse, she never panics about it. Even casually ripping off a finger nail and pulling out a tooth.

Please don't watch this. Yes the star is cute, but that's not enough to waste 80 minutes of your life. Trust me. It's only going to piss you off. Especially if you're a woman.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Quickie Review - As Above, So Below

Why this movie was done in the found footage genre, I'll never understand. It completely detracts and distracts, in that it is terribly done and adds tons of plot holes that didn't need to exist. That being said, it's shot beautifully at times and had it been done simply as regular movie, would have been much more effective. Think of it as The Descent, but with an actually decent premise. It has a beautiful cast, which definitely helps, but the pretty faces don't always show acting chops and some scenes, which should be powerful, fall flat on their faces. The lead however is solid, if not a little naive to the very mythology she's supposed to be an expert in.

Now here's where the Internet trolls are prowling. It's a basic telling of Dante's inferno and examines Martinism. A form of hermeticism in line with the religion based on alchemy. Now, obviously there aren't many people who are going to pick up on this and I'll admit, I did think it was about free masons, but looked up French angles of hermeticism and found Martinism, so no, watching this, I wasn't completely clear, but without giving away a thing, I knew exactly what had to be done from a certain crucial point. I also know plenty about the Bible, so I understood some of the metaphorical stuff within. 

If you strip away all the educational stuff, the movie is a complete dud. If you watched it without realizing it's about Dante's Inferno, then you were simply along for the bumpy, hand-held ride. That being said, it isn't without it's excitement, especially for those who are claustrophobic. To be honest, the only scary parts happen within the first 45 minutes and being that the entire first 30 are devoted to the set up, that's not a lot of horror. This is a film that could be debated as being very cerebral, but that would just feed the trolls, because at the end of the day, only the premise is clever, the rest is just a low budget telling of a classic tale and if you believe it, possibly our existence.

Quickie Review - Knights Of Badassdom

I didn't know a thing about this, but the title was so bad, I had to see for myself. Plus, Steve Zahn was in it, so how bad could it be? The simply way to describe this (for me), would be to say "Role Models, if it were a horror movie." The movie is outrageously funny, but also shows that in the world of LARP, these people, no matter how hardcore, simply know how to have fun. 

The cast is amazing, with Peter Dinklage really being the star when he's on screen. What's beautiful, is that in this fantasy world of magicians, elves and dwarfs, his size never becomes a focal point. The horror is somewhat silly, but pretty much standard fare in an 80's slasher kind of way. The monster is about as silly as you'd expect, but in reality, it's the one thing that's "real" and everything else is fantasy, so take that for what it's worth. Oh yes and like all good horror films, it has an absolutely beautiful woman in it. Summer Glau is pretty badass too. 

Immensely fun ride.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kevin Smith's Tusk: The Jokes On You

Originally posted on IMDB. Assuming I'll have to delete it due to trolling, but I'll leave it here. If I knew how to do a podcast, I'd do so (No, I wouldn't).

I consider myself a KS fan, but without any exaggeration, this was the single worst movie I've ever endured. Not a single laugh, scare, flinch or original thought for that matter. Like the sarcastic Mr. Smith, I too have convinced myself that celebrity takes on an aura that is unexplained. The only logical reason or this movie being made, was for KS to prove to the world that the little guy can turn into the big guy and poke fun of all of them.

While I find podcasts ridiculously silly, I don't dispute they've become an interesting medium.They've allowed some a freedom that radio and television doesn't, but they also (generally) turn into childish rants, proving that delivering a concise message isn't as easy as it looks. While I understood each and every gag and reference in the film, I don't get the necessity for it. A podcast in itself pokes fun at the silliness of the world, so to make a movie poking fun of that is not only superfluous, but in a sense, makes fun if the exact people who appreciate the medium. While I hardly think it was Smith's intent to ridicule those who have made him famous, he achieves just this. A sad film, about sad people, enjoyed by, I assume, the like.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Free Writing - Take 69

Type type type. Delete. Over and over I do it. So afraid to offend. Silence from where I want to hear noise. Constant silence. The only time I hear anything, is the rehearsed, timed responses. The same conversations each and every day. I hear them on the phone. I hear them spoken. Each day. Even the faint muttering to oneself is the exact same. It's like being trapped in an awful version of Grounhog's Day, but without the knowledge it can be changed and it can't be ended. The same exact routine over and over. Even alone, I sleep and wake up. I lie in bed or maybe I get up. I eat immediately, but what if I am not hungry? I don't eat. I don't follow this rule, this painful fucking rule that each day I must have the bowl filled with the same contents, the same tea, the same one hour and 15 minutes. The routine, which if broken sends the day into a tailspin. The pattering of keys, the sound of the shower or maybe not. The written note, 12:45 or is it 1:00 or 1:15 today? The idea of picking up what one needs for three four days seems simple, but then the routine is broken. The same time every single day. The shake, the stir, the memories of everything after that first sip, lost. Lost, not for the night, it doesn't come back in drips and drabs, it is lost forever. The next day, the same question, the confused look. The complete lack of awareness that this conversation has been had before. And the excuse. It's all to hide the reality. The same real reason it's been since 2005, which was the same in '95 and back in '85. Maybe even '75 or even '65. The night's celebration of life was one of nothingness. Was it even remembered? The past ones have been received with an "oh yeah." I think back to conversation towards the end, where I was warned of this and to be understanding. Sorry, I can't be, because it's a choice, not an affliction. Or is it?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Quickie Review - Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch is a genius. Most people didn't realize this until they saw Bill Murray in Broken Flowers, but those in the know have been singing his praises since the early 80's when Stranger Than Paradise hit. For me, he made Tom Waits a great actor who sang, then I got into his music and realized it was really just the opposite. From Down By Law to Mystery Train (Fuckin' Joe Strummer is in this man!) to Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, he has thrilled us with his melodic take on everything, in a way that only he sees the world. So why not take on the most popular genre going?

Tom Hiddleston, who I must admit, I'm not very familiar with other than the silly portrayal of Loki in the Thor movie is the male lead, who in any other world, would have dominated the screen. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for us, he shares most scenes with Tilda Swinton, who is easily one of the top five actresses in the world without this ever coming out. Her ability to transform herself into the character is more than simply makeup and fake teeth (something that seems to be a trend in her recent films (see Snowpiercer). To say she redefines the genre is an understatement. She is, what anyone who gets it would do with immortality. Even in her own personal life, she's pretty much embraced the bohemian lifestyle and dabbles in everything. Everything she touches turns to gold. Maybe that's why she needs the gloves.

Without giving anything away, what makes this so brilliant is that it can be taken or mistaken in any way and I don't think Jarmusch would ever tell you that you're wrong. The entire movie is the contents of Marcellus Wallace's briefcase, but we're all allowed to see what's inside. There's social commentary, there's humor, there's so much in here that if I ever did decide to write real reviews, with references and details, I'd end up writing a thesis. The main thing I took away from it is this. If we were given the ability to see the entire world through history and see how man has treated it, how would we look at man? Would we see the advancements or the wasted opportunity. Would we bask in individual achievements or be saddened by the overall lack of care? Would we covet or realize it's all just stuff? One movie, taking on this teen frenzy fueled genre, shouldn't have us thinking about how Socrates would see the world or if Christopher Marlowe would fake his own death to escape it, but it does....and more.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Quickie Review - Calvary

Let's start right off with letting you know....this is a comedy. It is not as funny as The Guard, which was written and directed by the same guy and also starred the amazing Brendan Gleason, but it is hilarious at times. What you have to realize is that it isn't necessarily American humor and if you're sensitive about religion, especially Catholicism, you might not love the attitudes within. That being said, you do need to know a little bit about Christianity to get the story. Then again, this was my one knock on the film. I won't give it away in here, but a few huge "symbols," pretty much tell the tale. Taking away a bit of the dramatic mystery, but still holding your attention. It is not a knock on religion so much as an exploration of faith. There are no punches held back, but they also aren't going to floor anyone.

The real joy is the dialogue. The attitudes towards the church and how modern day life, even in a small town in Ireland, are put against the hundreds of years of biblical thought. If you pay attention to what is being said, the issues are ones that go back centuries and how they are handled are the same and different. It's also a movie about smaller stories, but many are used to fuel your curiosity and nothing more. Some will cringe at the finale, but I thought it was perfect, for cinematic and personal reasons.

Quickie Review - Neverlake

Some say it has a very slow start, but I'd argue that almost all good horror movies have a methodical buildup and this is no different. Sure, there could have been slight editing and a little more normal interaction between the father and daughter, but it was part of the story. Call it "psychological thriller," "suspense" or "horror," it doesn't matter. The acting is above average for low budget horror, the film is shot beautifully and the story actually plays out well without too many holes. The best thing about the movie is that it falls into so many genres, but some things might simply be metaphors or causes due to one of the plot devices. I really liked this and found it to be far superior to about 90% of what I've watched in the past year and that's a lot of horror.  Don't guy by the picture on the DVD box/poster. It doesn't represent the movie at all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Quickie Review - Ida (The Best Movie of the Year)

Ida is as close to perfection as I've seen in a while. I'd argue that Argo was perfect, in that it held a balance between drama, comedy and realism, while never entering a superfluous scene. At 80 minutes, Ida might have succeeded in bettering it. Ida leaves the viewer with choices, but is clear in it's intent. The story is the short journey of two women, very different in every way and the path it leads them to, by defining them, to nobody other than themselves. What's even more important to note, is their tale is the secondary story. The real story is the story of Poland as it overcame the war and tried to crawl out of Stalin's communism. The symbolism isn't overdone and the dialogue is sparse. The black and white monochrome filter, lends to the dreary time as well as to the mood of the film and the season, in it's look and it's symbolism plays its own role.

The fact the lead is a first time actress shows to some, but not to me. I found her vulnerability a charm and an asset. I found her somewhat wooden posture a positive, especially when next to her flamboyant in comparison co-star. The film is is powerful in the emotions it will bring out and for those connected in any way to the Holocaust, it might be troubling. This is not to say it is a Holocaust movie, but the atrocities play a part in the growth of the characters and obviously has historic significance, beyond explanation in Poland.

I believe that these types of movies come around very infrequently. The last movie that moved me in such a way, was another done in black and white and that was The Artist. That did, for personal reasons where as this film did so from a philosophical view. I immediately tried to find out more about the time in Poland to gain a better understanding. I think, if not tonight, I will watch it tomorrow or over the weekend. Definitely need to see it again, to watch more closely for anything missed the first time. I can't endorse this film enough.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Quickie Review - I, Frankenstein

This movie was bashed by pretty much everyone. Horror, superhero and graphic novel fans all hated it. So I went in with absolutely no idea what to expect. I do know I normally like those movies which everyone else hates, but knew very little about this one. Bam, Aaron Eckhart stars. So now I'm thinking how bad can it be? First 10 minutes is amazing and then Yvonne Strahovski, my true blonde crush and Bill Nighy, today's version of Vincent Price are both in this. Add Miranda Otto, some bad ass gargoyle and you've got some fun. Did I mention this movie is shorter than a half of football? It is CGI heaven and it actually works. I know this sounds odd, but what I loved was the lack of plot holes that kill movies like this. Sure there is one huge one, but they actually cover it up perfectly. I'm not going to preface it with anything....I liked it, a lot.

Quickie Review - The Outlaw (Korean)

This movie takes a tried and true formula, good cop, falls for victim and then the obvious happens and turns it into the most garbled mess you will ever see. The last twenty minutes is so absolutely ridiculous, especially when you think about it for more than a second after it ends, but I beg of you not to. It really tries to be something interesting, but the real problem is it's five movies in one. There's also two scenes which make absolutely no sense and at one point, I'm not sure if there wasn't a little time travel in it or they just switched character's roles. It's not really that confusing, but it's just poorly done with too many side stories that get wrapped up very poorly.

Quickie Review - Room 237

Another movie I'd heard nothing good about. This documentary on the hidden symbolism found in the Stanley Kubrick film version of Stephen King's The Shining is all over the place. From the obvious to the absurd, from the logical to the flat out insane. This gives Kubrick credit for everything from faking the moon landing to giving us the greatest social commentary on genocide ever on film. Oh yeah, occasionally, it talks about what happens in the movie and hits the nail on the head.  The real shame of the film is that in trying to peel off all these layers found within the classic, it's reveals the human side of Kubrick. A man known as a perfectionist is revealed as a mistake oriented director who feared thoughts of the Holocaust so much, that he inserted his anger into every film he ever made, because he didn't have the guts to make his own movie about it. That is if you believe it to be true.

I've long thought The Shining was actually a pretty simple movie, but then again, I've never read the book, so I have no idea where the true inspiration comes from. I have always felt that there are three thoughts here.  Jack's, the slow decent into mania, resulting from alcoholism and a fear of losing his family, due to his personal failures. There is Wendy, the concept of a rock, who actually does everything for Jack and in doing so, emasculates him. Then there is Danny, who is innocence. Everything he sees while with the family is secure (even if a false sense), but everything without them is madness. The halls, reveal his learning the truth. Yes, at times this has something to do with things other than the family, but it's about the lose of control. Everyone is protected by what is their own environment, but when they stray within the house, into someone else's, it all falls apart. The maze, a symbol of confusion, is more of the mind and in the center there is order, but the surrounding area is confusion. Danny's innocence is what saves him, because he can go from inside and out. The scene where he squeezes through the window, but the mother can't, for me is the key scene in the movie. If one wants to take Room 237 commentary's angle, it makes sense too. All the movie is about is a simple story about not making the same mistakes twice and how adults have no choice, because history dictates that it be repeated, while the innocent child, sees what he wants to see and is free to explore different paths.

Enough of that for now. I could go on and on and break down scenes as the documentary did, but without reading the book, I'm simply making my own half cocked assumptions. Only worth it for the laughs in my opinion, you'd be better of simply watching the actual movie again and enjoying one of the greatest horror films of all-time.

Super Quickie Review - The Lego Movie

I'm not going to give anything away, but this is probably the best thing I watched in 2014. I'm not even going to say, because it was fun. It's thought provoking, sad, poignant and downright hilarious. The voices are great and the dialogue flows so perfectly. The cultural references will have adults in as much of a tizzy as the children they may watch with are affected by the sights and sounds.

If there is any other reason you need, may I just say this. Morgan Freeman had never done an animated film until this. Thank you your almighty!

Quickie Review - Deliver Us From Evil

I actually liked this, but I should have known they were going to ruin it with the scene most people think is the best in the movie. The movie rolls along well until the 100 minute mark and then the dumbest scene ever starts to take place. That being said, the last 30-45 seconds of this scene are actually well done. It's the complete silliness of the  rest of it that destroys this movie's chances of being considered, well good. It's entertaining, that is all. Miscast people such as Munn and Bana (honestly, his accent is so distracting, I felt as if in a parallel universe, Jon Hamm's character in The Town was receiving an "Awscah").

My honest feeling is that they had all these scenes they liked, but they didn't know how to wrap it up cleanly. The movie is good enough that you forgive Bana for being the worst father, husband and partner and sit back and enjoy, but then when everything mounts, it gets too far fetched. Truly, unless this silliness is your cup of tea, the final twenty minutes is truly difficult to watch. Even worse was the written summation at the end. Let's be clear. This movie is a fun ride, but you're left not only feeling betrayed, but also going back and realizing that in a week or two, you'll realize just how bad it was.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Free Writing - Take 68

As not to bore anyone who happens upon this, I'm going back to a set time. Today, four minutes. Starting now!

Two football games, alone, sans snacks and comforted only by two beers to make it feel normal. A shit sandwich and some cheese. A cheese and tomato wrap for dinner as there was nothing else to choose from. Someone's leftovers, a bite of cold, soggy spanakopita was as uneventful as the last few months. Thought back to Christmas and how it was the first in 29 years I didn't call three people. First in another 15, I didn't call two others. They didn't call me either. The games, movies, people I don't know, have become my entertainment. I long for an interesting tale. Not one of these responses that feel so rehearsed. "I liked this, I didn't like that, that is what the consensus is, right?" I want something other than my own voice, repeating over and over the stories of the day before. I'm too old for small talk. I'm in the living room, not at the bank. I don't care for a book report, I want to know how you live, think, exist. What does that tomato taste like? Fuck you, I want to know what it reminds you of where. Sushi...doesn't taste the same without my red-headed friend, laughing as we sip sake, not a care in the world, for however long we're there.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Out With The Old, In With The Older

2014, was a tumultuous one and it ended, much the same as it played out. I went to bed angry, but airing out some of my displeasure. I awoke, well rested for the first time in ages and without a single regret. I slipped out of the warmth of flannel sheets and into the frigid air of the kitchen. The floor was if standing on ice and as I've found hours later, the heat is not even on. Twenty degrees outside and not a warm pipe to be found. I retreated back into bed, even opening the window for some air to combat the dryness of the bedroom.

I looked back at New Year's past and thought of laughter, good food and memories. Last night I had one of those. No memories can be formed in Ithaca, because there is a combination of forces that delete them from some minds. Cliched words of religious symbols, humped on our backs, is not my problem. I have my own memories, good and not, but can't be burdened with remembering for others. What is the use, if they tell themselves what they want to remember or how it will be so. I don't have that energy. None of us do.

I look back on my year and it's woes, sprinkled ever so lightly with good. I don't dwell on the negative, even though it's been 15 years since I last remember a great one. I am confused by one person's infatuation of another. It has wreaked havoc on my life and it's just plain silliness. A grasping at some youthful straws or is it more? I'm tired of holding back, as not to hurt people's feelings. It hurts mine and why should I suffer. Even at the time when someone's eyes should be their widest, they squint, just enough to distort reality. A cry for help, a last pledge of love? I saw it in his glazed eyes and I heard the feverish tapping of the keys and I knew that all my heartfelt words, meant nothing.

I look forward to the coming year and changes. If they come as I hope, I will go far away and those who will miss me will have to do it without my constant silliness or thoughtfulness, depending on how you view me in your life. I need time away. I know distance does not make any fondness grow, but I don't care. I need distance. If people want to worship others, things, false idols, that is their choice and not mine. I am above viewing anyone or anything above myself as I have for my entire life. I always say I will be more selfish, but every year, I look back and I see none of it. Do not mistake this for not being thankful for support, but there are secrets we keep, which don't allow us to tell the whole story.

To me, today is Thursday. For other's it is some sort of cosmic delete button. Visits to the gym, skipping dessert, a phone call to that friend you won't talk to until next holiday. For me it is nothing more than biding my time until football this afternoon. Maybe I'll go light for dinner and have something healthier, but that will be because of a bare cupboard, not for any other reason. Maybe some cocoa, to take the chill out as I wrap blankets around my already layered body. Maybe a sip of something to take the edge off, although I feel much more secure with that edge on.

Six months sober and this is an awful thing. I can't laugh at those things that might normally bother me. I can't forgive the repetitive nature of this new life. I can't forget the toes I can not feel. I can't laugh with someone feeling the same effects I feel. I can't text or call and thank someone for good times. I can't mistakenly (or not) say the wrong thing to the right girl. No chance for any of this lately and I miss it. No I don't miss it, honestly. What I miss is not waking up and knowing the entire script for the day is already written. As is tomorrow's and the next.
Tap Tap Tap
sip
fawn over youth
silence
repeat yesterday's life
stumble
repeat the same three questions
movie
computer
sunrise
sleep.

2015?