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Spider: A Web of Lies (083568)

A psychological thriller at its core, Spider doesn’t fall short of the unsettling and uneasy atmosphere that it generates thanks largely in particular to the unique and troubled character of the schizophrenic Spider. Ralph Fiennes is amazing in his title role, and effectively communicates the troubled nature of this character. Throughout the entire the movie the story is told as a flashback from Spider’s point of view, however what is so unique is how the present-time character of Spider is juxtaposed next to that of the young Spider in the same scenes.

What I enjoyed about the film was how it was told, it was unique and very different from most movies that revolved around a murder mystery that made heavy use of flashbacks. The contrast between that of the grown-up Spider and his young self made for a great character study and really showcased the troubled nature of this man. A film that has a schizophrenic as its protagonist may seem lost and susceptible to confusing the audience, however director David Cronenberg has done an amazing job in keeping the disturbed atmosphere throughout the motion picture whilst never leaving the audience abandoned by the mind boggling nature of Spider and his memories.

Personally however, I felt that the film was a bit too disturbing for me to enjoy, as great as the plot was and as amazing a character that Spider is, the schizophrenic and freaky nature of Spider himself left me detached from the film, I never found that angle which I cold relate with. Thus given the nature of the film, the twist at the end wasn’t all that surprising and should have come to be expected given the variables present in the movie. A film that I feel will only be understood the more times it is viewed, I don’t think it has provoked enough interest in me for a second viewing.

Despite the unsettling ambiance of the film, what I did love about it was the crime-solving like characteristic of Spider. I love mysteries and Spider didn’t fall short of that as Ralph Fiennes tries to retrace his steps in what led to the murder of his mother. However, given his state of mind, everything that was put on screen was left to be questioned regardless due to his schizophrenic nature. I felt that it left way too many loose-ends as there wasn’t a clear cut way of determining whether what we were seeing was a figment of Spider’s imagination or perhaps in fact reality. Although the “web-weaving” of Spider served as a metaphor for his mind and how he constructs it to see what he wants to see, when it boils down to it, this story could be nothing more than the imagination of a schizophrenic gone wild with no truth to it at all.

Ultimately, Spider is a character driven film and done so to near-perfection by Ralph Fiennes and his co-stars. Miranda Richardson is fantastic as well showcasing her talent as an actress is playing multiple roles so convincingly as to boggle the mind even further. By the film’s end, although left with somewhat of a conclusion, leaves much to be desired and left up to personal interpretation which I personally like. It encourages one to dig deep into the characters of the film and deduce for one’s self whether certain event did in fact transpire or if it was all simply a part of Spider’s unique and troubled mind.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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V for Vendetta: An Experience

This film has grown to become a popular favorite amongst many filmgoers, especially those of the youth and adolescent audience. With its stylish graphics, a badass protagonist (or perhaps antagonist) and loads of heart-stopping action along with the beautiful Natalie Portman, it’s clear that there is very little to dislike here.

I personally loved the film as well, for all the reasons above and so much more. On the surface, V for Vendetta is an action packed film led by the unrelenting and seemingly invincible character of V. However, digging deeper the film speaks volumes about politics, freedom and revolution. I found that the character of V served in its entirety as a symbol for the power of a single idea. He even mentions it himself during the climax of the film when he is single handedly dismantling Creedy and his bodyguards, “Beneath this mask is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof” he says just before choking Creedy to his death. Indeed, this film has stirred my belief in the power of a single idea and how it can be used to fight against something so strong as politics or the government rule, just as V had done. He led a revolution against the totalitarian government of the United Kingdom and brought it to its knees through sheer willpower. Evey’s monologue in the beginning of the film even blatantly talks about the power of the idea and how it transcends that of human life and existence. In a sense, one’s mortality can be surpassed into the realm of immortality through a single idea.

Other than the in depth personal interpretations that this film brings about in many moviegoers, I enjoyed it for the simple things that it brought on screen, hardcore action in slow motion. It’s no surprise that the most memorable scene for me in this film was the climax between V and Creedy’s bodyguards, that fight was remarkable for it’s effects and gut wrenching action plain and simple. Amazing choreography seemed as if it was an interpretive dance almost, mixed with the blood and gore it was difficult to even blink during this beautiful sequence of shots.

What I also enjoyed about the movie was how it communicated the dystopian atmosphere so fluidly and believably to the audience. It really made me feel worried for what the future has in store for society and where we are headed as a civilization. The doom and gloom like nature of the film bodes well for the plot and characters as it leaves the audience without any hope except for the single source of light in the character of V who fights against this evilness. However, what also makes this character all the more unique is how he may even be seen as an antagonist given the point of view for the individual. It leaves us to question whether he is a sane man seeking vengeance against those who have done him and the people wrong, or if he is just an insane man out of his mind and on a relentless tear of violence and destruction across the country.

Overall, V for Vendetta is an amazing and captivating film that will keep one at the edge of his or her seat. Filled with stylish action along with fantastic cinematography and an eloquent script, this is a movie not to be viewed but experienced.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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La Jetée / Primer: Lost in Translation (083568)

These two films revolved around one of my most favorite of topics or rather plot schemes, time travel. To begin with La Jetée, what surprised me right from the start was the obvious use of still photos to tell the story. Both unique and creative, it was a very intriguing way to go about directing a film as it would immediately capture the attention of its viewers. As to why the director would choose to use still frames, I personally feel it is because it adds to the dramatic effect that this film is all about. With the shocking twist by the film’s end, that the man was actually witnessing his own death as a child, the use of still photographs works well in capturing those moments. As if telling the story in the form of a documentary almost, with the dialogue serving as the voice over for each still frame, it only can add to the dramatic feel of the plot.

The still frames also capture the emotion of each of the films important moments, such as the pain and agony that these test subjects feel during the experiments, or the love that the man feels for the memory of woman he saw in his past. Quite literally a motion picture, La Jetée although may be captivating for its story and plot twists, it is unforgettable for its methodic use of still frames.

Moving onto Primer, I personally really enjoyed this film. It was fantastic, albeit way too confusing for it’s own good, it has perhaps grown notorious for that reason alone. Taking the use of scientific lingo to a whole new level, it’s become commonplace for many first time viewers to despise the film simply for that reason alone, that they just don’t understand the dialogue. However, if one were to look past that, they would find that Primer is an amazing well thought out journey through time and back.

What I really loved about this film was its ability to make the audience think for themselves. It brought about many questions, and although it may not answer them all, it left room for personal interpretation. It didn’t spoon feed the audience which is something I’ve come to appreciate from films that do so, it lets them find out for themselves that this movie is about time travel. I personally found it exciting when the two characters of Aaron and Abe are realizing just what exactly they have stumbled upon in their garage, very subtly it shows the development and growth of these two characters when faced with such power.

My favorite scene in the film was when Abe brings Aaron to a field and tells him to be calm and watch what is about to happen, what transpires is Aaron witnessing Abe’s “double” walking into a building. It’s moments like this why I love the film so much, so subtle and effortless, the film becomes very eerie and almost horror or thriller-like. “What was that? Was that Abe?!” were what I was thinking when Aaron saw Abe’s double, and it was then when it clarified for me that this film was indeed about time travel.

The only downfall to this film, as mentioned before, would be the in depth use of scientific words and phrases that the average movie-goer would cringe at, however what makes it all the more amazing is that every bit of their dialogue is indeed scientifically accurate, no to the point that time travel is made plausible but more to the extent that everything is connected on a scientific level and isn’t complete fiction. Because of that, it leaves one to wonder and really question the possibility of time travel.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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I Don’t Get It! [Primer] (103461)

Primer might be the most awful film I have ever watched in
my lifetime. The premise is interesting, time travelling theories usually are,
but not even that can salvage any sort of hope for a movie like this. Not only
was the techno mumbo jumbo jargon very demoralizing, they don’t even give us a
chance to absorb all of the complicated information before assaulting us with
another barrage of what is undeniably a steaming pile of bull. Much like
television shows such as CSI and NCIS, the creators of this horrid production
relied heavily on the incompetence of the audience, without even attempting
suspension of disbelief. They did however succeed in suspension of satisfaction
because the incomprehensible, dialogue, lack of substance, and outright
confusing plot combine to completely destroy any sort of positive feedback they
might be hoping to achieve.

It is true that science fiction requires viewers to just
blindly accept impossible things as fact. It happens everytime. They throw
terms such as “hyperdrive”, “antimatter” and “particle-charged laser beam of
death” at us and we will naturally eat it up for the sake of entertainment. Of
course we all know that it’s only true for the make-believe movie world (most
of us anyway). The second we walk out of that movie theatre we quickly dismiss
any notion of there being an actual “sdkfhsl” alien race on planet “Cthulhu”. Primer
doesn’t seem to understand this however. I don’t know, I guess I just felt
insulted because I knew that they were trying to sound smarter than me even
though they probably knew nothing about actual time travel. I honestly prefer
Donny Darko’s wormhole theory to this crap.

On the other hand, I suppose that the idea of having a body
double is interesting. It was also nice when i found out that they could
interfere in any way with the outside world for there will be unknown consequences,
which is why they often lock themselves up in a hotel room. This was realistic,
that is true, but it also limits the possibilities (if i remember correctly
they did not want to travel to the future because it was dangerous). Risking is
exciting, while playing it safe ultimately ruins the experience (once again,
this is not real life, it’s a movie, so please do something we real people
wouldn’t normally do). What probably redeemed the film for me would be the
moment that i found out there was a second time machine built as a failsafe.
This opened up countless scenarios for the plot to evolve but once again i was
disappointed at how needlessly complex they had to make it.

The ending was fine, basically just retelling the problem
but at a grander scale. They could have done a better job in building up the
tension leading up to that moment though. I didn’t really feel fearful of what
could happen because they didn’t exactly show me any horrifying catastrophe
resulting from their first experiment. In fact, it came off as completely
harmless and at the same time, useless (wow he became a hero at a party… what
happened to the MONEY!!).

Overall the movie was boring. And I’m not just being
stubborn because I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. No
matter who you are, do not watch this.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Punch Drunk Love: Transcendent Love (083568)

I personally find it rare that a film is carried all by one character alone, usually it is done as a group effort, multiple characters that differ in their own special ways that work together to make a film truly epic and great. However, Punch Drunk Love goes against that belief as it is all about the one character of Barry Egan, played brilliantly by Adam Sandler.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson has done a remarkable job in communicating the character and mind of Barry Egan to the audience. Throughout the entire film the audience is placed in this uneasy and unsettling almost disturbing-like atmosphere. The awkward shots and use of lens flares gives off a very surreal element to the movie and it is through these techniques that we as the audience come to terms and understanding of Barry. It is clear that Barry is no ordinary human being in the sense that he is a very strange man, most likely living with a certain mental condition that is never explained or mentioned whatsoever in the film. Rather it leaves it up to the audience to find out which is much better than resorting to spoon-feeding the audience.

Barry’s actions and responses to everyday life are what captivate the attentions of those that watch this film, that it is because of his unique and different character that we as the audience can’t wait to see how he reacts to something such as a call to a phone-sex line. What ensues is nothing short of genuine comedy, as the phone-sex receptionist struggles to get Barry to talk “dirty” instead Barry chooses to talk about his day and about his life. It is hilarious to see someone refer to a phone-sex line as somewhat of a life-coach or guidance counselor, or even a therapist as Barry talks on and on about anything other than what the purpose of that call would be for any other person.

However, what I really enjoyed about this film was how it revolved around the phenomenon of love. Being a romantic-comedy at heart, it was truly heartwarming to see someone such as Barry Egan find true love in his life. Something that may seem almost impossible given the situation and condition he’s in, one may find it extremely unlikely that Barry find someone willing to spend the rest of their life with him, and as harsh as that may sound, it is all the more joyful when he defies those odds and gets the girl.

It sends out the message that love transcends and conquers all, and what could be more feel-good than that? Filled with hilarious moments such as the absolutely ridiculous dialogue that Barry and Lena (His love interest) share whilst in bed, or when Barry and the character of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dean Trumbell, get into an intense argument over the phone (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE2FCCZ50VU), although it may not be for everyone, this film should not fall short of entertainment.

Although I will be honest, at first I was not all that interested in the film, the awkwardness and unsettling nature of the score and dialogue made me feel way too uneasy at first. However, after taking much time to realize what the film had done, I’ve come to appreciate a lot more than I thought I could have. Overall, at it’s core, Punch Drunk Love is a heartwarming tale of a strange man that goes against the world in his fight for true love, and in the end wins her heart.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Down but not Out [Punch Drunk Love] (103461)

This was probably the first Adam Sandler movie i’ve watched
that wasn’t based on slapstick comedy or racist jokes. Most would probably read
that previous sentence and assume that Punch Drunk Love was a horrible
experiment that failed at being funny. On the contrary, the film wasn’t bad at
all. It might be Sandler’s own fault for being typecast as that funny dumb guy with
a good heart but i believe his performance (as an actor) in this film was his
best work to date.

I can somehow relate to him in terms of his being awkward.
Growing up, I found myself to be a bit more reserved compared to my peers. I
was no athlete and I wasn’t the most eloquent speaker in class. Needless to
say, I would often shy away from any birthday parties that I was invited to,
only attending if it was absolutely necessary. Okay fine I was totally an
introvert, or socially awkward as they would say. His behaviour was very
similar to mine I guess with the only difference being that I could hide all of
my insecurities and control my temper, only losing it when I was completely
alone and out of earshot.

I found his character to be quite unique in that he is
actually a pretty successful guy. He owns his own business and apparently does
well for himself. It was interesting the way he sought to take advantage of a
frequent flyer promotion because it shows that he is actually quite intelligent
and is a keen observer of details. Interesting to note is that he seems to
suffer from ADHD because one of the symptoms of this is obsessive-compulsive
tendencies. In many instances he also lies, denying that he said or did certain
things that he feels are embarrassing or humiliating.

I was very much surprised when Lena, Barry Egan’s love
interest, turned out to have the same unusual behaviour as Barry and that they
actually hit it off. It was actually giving me that whole soul mate vibe seeing
as how they are perfectly suited for each other. It was natural to see Barry
completely lose it after seeing Lena get hurt, as he has been waiting for
someone like her all his life, someone who could relate to him and communicate
with him without prejudice or malice.

I also felt irritated by his sisters who i think are too
judgmental, lacking any measure of sensitivity towards their clearly awkward
brother. They don’t even bother to try talking behind his back, instead letting
him hear of all their degrading insults.

At the end of the film I am glad to see that he found the
courage to confront the syndicate’s leader, who i don’t think was named but is
nevertheless a total jerk to him. This event signals a change in his demeanour
and could possibly symbolize the end of all of his turmoil (brought about by
the phone sex call and his refusal to pay up).

I am not sure what to think of the weird psychedelic
sequences that play out in between scenes but I suppose this would serve to
enhance the notion that Barry sees the world in a different light.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Spiritual Exercises [Hotel Chevalier/Darjeeling Limited] (103461)

Darjeeling limited is my favourite film to date (the ones
that we watched in class). Owen Wilson is such an amazing comedy actor, his
presence alone makes this movie Oscar-worthy. Anyways, I was actually very
surprised to see Bill Murray in a desert setting that isn’t Las Vegas. And also
the fact that he was attempting to catch a train, and failing miserably, sort
of gave me that poor, clueless foreigner vibe comparable to Tom Hanks’ The
Terminal.

I was very happy to finally encounter a comedy movie as this
is my favourite genre. Watching the short into Hotel Chevalier was, in my
opinion, a very important part of the whole experience as it provides a much
needed background for Jack, the youngest sibling. It was also a good idea to
keep the origins and purpose of the three brothers in the dark for the earlier
parts of the film. By keeping it vague, we were forced to use our imagination
to try to gather what was really going on there.

Seeing as they are in a foreign land, it was interesting to
note how awkward it was for them in trying to blend in with the crowd. They
were trying so hard to be spiritual and everything but their goofiness doesn’t
makes this very convincing. Still kudos to them for the effort.

The relationships between each character are pivotal to say
the least. From each of the brothers to one another, the brothers to their
mother, to their late father, etc. Clearly they all have abandonment issues and
each harbours resentment towards their mom, if only slightly. However, they did
in fact travel all the way to a far-off land, leaving their life and families
behind in order to get some sort of closure which shows that they still had
hope for some sort of reunion in their dysfunctional family.

The death of the Indian boy felt a bit out of place for me
because there was nothing comedic about death and that was when I realized that
this was what they were going through. Clearly they have not yet coped with the
death of their own father, with one of them still stubbornly clinging on to his
father’s material possessions insisting that he was the favourite. This was the
same brother who was soon to become a father himself which i think scares him a
little because he is on the brink of divorce and he does not want his child to
experience the same emotional burdens that he himself carries. We also learn
later on that Owen Wilson’s character attempted to commit suicide most likely
due to the isolation and midlife crisis.

I am glad to see that by the end of the movie, the three
brothers have learned to accept their past and each other. This was clearly
shown in at least four instances. When they agree to let Owen keep their
passports, when Peter, the middle brother gives the Francis, the eldest, his
father’s belt, when Francis himself tears apart the detailed itinerary he kept
on referring to throughout the film, and when they jettison all of their father’s
luggage together.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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