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Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
Horrid, vapid, sad bleed-out of a tale
Actually, I will start off my review by quoting Anthony Lane's review of this film:
"Mostly, he sounds like your basic stalker: "I'm incapable of leaving you alone," he informs Anaa notion that appears to stimulate her, although it would easily warrant a call to 911. She succumbs, up to a point, but her recurring doubts lead Christian to dish up one of those crusty old no-means-yes propositions which feminism has battled for decades: "You want to leave? Your body tells me something different." Pass the butt plug."
Indeed. This film is tragic, in a variety of ways, and sexy in none (for me, at least). And probably for a bunch of other people as well, as this film has marked 4.2/10 on IMDb, which is remarkably low. Still, I give this film 1/10 for a variety of reasons.
The characters are one-dimensional. The main character is "god" and, because of the book, is never-smiling and drab. I mean, if he'd only have been interesting in some way! He comes across all Bruce Wayne- y, body sculpted, can do everything (fly a helicopter, play the piano, own at least 75 different neckties), but lacks everything that he should have. Compare this with the lead character in Steve McQueen's "Shame": he says very little, but exudes so much, much more than this film collectively ever will.
The female lead character is just an object, nothing more. A boring, self-deprecating object with a touch of defiance, only there to display her as an individual, somebody who doesn't let anything happen to her as she's master of her own will.
Still, pap like "I'm incapable of leaving you alone" creeps me the hell out, it is _not_ sexy or passionate. It's cheap. And cheapens a lot of things. A lot of people who actually do enjoy BDSM have raised their voices against this film as it's apparently against what is considered safe BDSM use, and goes against more than that.
The soundtrack is a safe word in this film; down-watered covers, mainly used to be "sultry" and "sensual", no doubt, but are, in fact, like adding poop to your champagne. Not that this film is champagne in any way, shape or form; champagne is palatable. This film is not.
Avoid. There will be sequels. I'll avoid those.
Johan Falk: Ur askan i elden (2015)
This was quite the clownboat.
I've not seen any previous films from the Johan Falk franchise, but this kind of parted way from the other successful Swedish cop franchise, namely Beck.
Here, you'll find more violence. And also a fairly more complex storyline.
Having said that, that's all that differs them; the ultra-bad acting is in here, but I must say the characters themselves lack any kind of depth. The Token Female Police is just messy and angry. The Johan Falk character is not only one-dimensional beyond the pale, but extremely simplistic and non-human. The actor, Jakob Eklund, must be a better person than actor; he has to be.
It's not the actors' faults, not just; the direction is skint, torpid and fetid; those are difficult words which I just threw out there to make your reading experience more worthwhile than this film, and I know I did it!
Avoid. Still, it's fun to laugh _at_.
While We're Young (2014)
Montaigne would have balked
This film irritated and invigorated me. Even though it seems to aspire to a kind of awakening of the mind, by realising that - gasp - what may rejuvenate you is _already_ in your own head, it's kind of an old man's old drag.
Michel de Montaigne is the name of a 16th-century philosopher and nobleperson who tried to be a stoic, but who - partly thanks to his cat interrupting his "important work" and partly thanks to his thinking outside the box - realised that life is more than borders that merely serves as a jail.
In this film, two aging New Yorkers meet two young New Yorkers; the youngsters make the oldsters feel young, and bang - there's a lot of talk of vinyl, VHS, cassette tapes, black-and-white film, 1970s music, et cetera. Yes, the old seem old, even though the young use old media and somewhat shun Facebook.
The ploy that's mostly used, is where Ben Stiller's character attacks the younger guy, who just retorts to silence. And being a bit of an idiot. Still, the best parts of the film?
There is but one: to see Ad-Rock live. MC AD-ROCK is alive. Still, that does not make for a film.
All in all, go see Kurosawa's "Ikiru" instead.
We Are Still Here (2015)
Great first minutes, then amateur hour descended over all
This film is pretty straight forward. A family moves into a house and there's something ominous about it; sounds, movement, a cellar where something apparently has gone down some time ago.
It started off well. American country roads. Silence. Winter, snow. Then, silence and few movements.
Then, the main two characters, a couple who are seemingly deeply affected, start talking. Neither of the actors do a good job, I'm sad to say. The script is forced and the dialogue feels contrived. The plot moves along at a bore's pace, and the more everything goes on, I felt a complete blanket of amateurism crudely laid over the entire production.
I could go on with how the twists and turns in this film don't feel relevant, or how I never felt any kind of care for anything in this production, but that would just be giving this machine more than it deserves. Stay away.
Reminiscent of a failed stand-up performance: ups and downs
This film contains a lot of non-working jokes, and I'm referring to members of the cinema audience who were laughing at most jokes, that they didn't actually laugh at a lot of stuff that were obviously meant as jokes but fell flat.
Having said that, there are a few laugh out loud moments in this film, for me, especially where I really didn't want to laugh, but couldn't help myself. I also liked a lot of the moments where I felt the laughs were for women, not _at_ women; have we reached a higher consciousness where feministic comedy is concerned? I'd like to think so.
The forté of McCarthy is what makes this film work, along with parts of the script. The plot is ridiculous, as is most of the twists, but some of the jokes are really funny, even though most of the physical comedy sadly makes me remember Benny Hill, and yearn for Monty Python or South Park. This film doesn't exactly win at being a pastiche of the James Bond franchise, but it's better than being a parody.
This film reminds me of a semi-failed stand-up performance, where you laugh because of some of the jokes, but not at most. You wait for the good ones to come, but it's a bad roller-coaster ride.
Down Down the Deep River (2014)
Short, sweet and scary
This is a lovable short film courtesy of Will Sheff, the man behind Okkervil River, who spent his youth growing up in New Hampshire in the 1980s and wrote the band's latest album, "The Silver Gymnasium", about this experience; this short film is a kind of appendix to that album, where we get to follow a boy through friendship and beyond, to what communicating without words is about, while delving through a barrage or 1980s nick-nacks.
All in all, I think the film suffers a little from all the 1980s regalia everywhere, as though they would make for a better film; that's just a mini gripe, as the film itself is really strong through the choice to not use much dialogue, and for bringing out what being a kid could be like, for good and bad.
The Emperor's New Clothes (2015)
A simple look at where unbridled capitalism takes us
This documentary, as led by Russell Brand and directed by Michael Winterbottom, essentially shows where unbridled capitalism takes us. We live in a time where a cleaner earns 300 times less than his/her boss, and if all bankers in the UK would give up their salary for one day, they would double what said cleaners would make for a YEAR.
Also, lest not forget that no UK (nor anywhere else, really) bankers are spending time in jail if they are sentenced for economic crimes. A man may be jailed for a year for stealing orange juice - as shown in the documentary, yes, really - but not any bankers. Why? They make the rules, you see, with the corporations. That's what you get.
Brand/Winterbottom aren't gripes. They also show ways to try to get away from the bad stuff, from the poorer turning more poor and the wealthier getting more money. I mean, 80 people own more than half of the money in the World. 80 people, of which some are merely heirs, like the Wal-Mart heirs. By the way, did you know that Wal-Mart employees receive 8 billion American dollars per year in social benefits, as they don't receive a salary that enables them to make ends meet? This is not an American phenomena; the documentary examines that, and Tescos, and it's naturally not a US/UK phenomenon, it's everywhere, mate! Check this out. It's a well-worth ride. It's your life, basically, whether you like it or not, and of where we're heading. I wish they'd discussed how corporations are treating the environment and how that'll turn us on our heads in about 10 years' time, because that's roughly how long we have left to change things before they become irreversible and humanity is doomed. Some Naomi Klein, anyone? Don't take the Matrix pill that lets you continue being an ostrich. Go on, see the trews.
Eye-opening and aware
I've read the book on which this documentary is based, and still I couldn't help but cry a couple of times as I watched this documentary on scientology, which contains some of the nastiest stuff I've seen. There's a classic English documentary made during the early 1980s where some top defectors of scientology appear and tell of the continuous abuse, the lies, the money, L. Ron Hubbard's life and apparent narcissism, but some of the big stuff that has happened since appear in this documentary, which is just as good, if not better.
You'll get the full scientology treatment: how Hubbard made it up, how scientologists are fooled, horrendously manipulated to give up all of their friends, family and money, how the IRS was bullied into giving scientology a tax exempt-status - which means that US citizens actually pay some of their tax to subsidise scientology - Tom Cruise, John Travolta, how David Miscavige has carried the torch following the death of Hubbard, and how defecting members are hounded and treated by scientologists, by order from the very top.
All in all, this is a very keen eye on the organisation that is actually dropping in terms of number of members, but still owns so much real estate and land that they make millions off it. This is a good eye-opener on the real dangers of scientology.
Quite fair, but not comprehensive or fleshed-out
I love Richard Pryor. He overstepped so many boundaries, partly on what a comedian's role should be, and partly where matters of race and what intrinsical fun is. This documentary scratches a little on the surface, as is witnessed by reading some of the biographies on Pryor and by hearing his material that evolved massively and changed stand-up comedy forever, which is not really reflected here. Sure, we get to hear Dave Chappelle say "Richard Pryor is the greatest, full stop, end of story" but I wish there'd been more flesh here. It's good that the documentary doesn't flash too much of the drama here, e.g. Pryor setting himself on fire (for real) or his fight with Gene Wilder, but all in all, it's a fair documentary, rather than a comprehensive one.
Sad, but not in a good way
What's being sentient? What's being human? Those two elements are at the core of most films that Neill Blomkamp churns out, and here they are at their most sappy; while I think the robot feels mentally deranged more than like a kid, and the entire thing quickly merges into a sob-story with Chappie getting kicked around and blown to pieces, it's also sad to see that Die Antwoord - whom I like a lot - are more like the frame for this film rather than actors; their entire image takes over the film so much that it feels like a video rather than them being actors. It's also sad to see that Yo-Landi whittles away the farther the film goes, from being a powerful gangsta queen into some greyish Mother to Chappie. Yeah, it's a sad state of affairs.