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Audrie & Daisy (2016)
MUST WATCH! This movie makes my blood boil!
Firstly, my rating of the movie is no means a reflection of my stance on the issue.
The subject of the movie is gripping and definitely an eye-opener. However, my beef is with the storytelling. It lacks the fluidity that it sometimes took away the "punch" that the subject is capable of delivering. There were times (especially in the first part) were the movie jumps from one POV to another that it felt disjointed.
But this movie is still potent and if you have the patience to finish it, two things stand out:
1- Technology has enabled teens to take bullying to alarming heights. One can argue that there is technology by itself is not evil but those who use it. BUT these are children we are talking about... children who are yet to come to terms with the full responsibility of free speech and free information. Just like how parents try to control the movie/shows that their children consume, parents now have an added responsibility of making sure they censor the information they access through social media and the internet. It's scary how these kids use technology (without even thinking) to scar each other... scars which they will carry to adulthood.
It's also alarming how our understanding of reality is shifting. Before the internet, news organizations have the responsibility of distributing the truth behind each news. But with the proliferation of different social media, there's an amount of mob mentality. The side which gets the most "share" or "likes" becomes the "truth"... which is okay if everyone is responsible and accountable to whatever they post and broadcast on their profiles. But alas, we're still far from that day.
2- In this day and age, it's repugnant to see that rape/sexual assault victims are still treated like they are partly responsible for what happened. This was most pronounced in Daisy Coleman's case. I cannot fathom how the whole town turned on her. She's only 14!!! Even if it was consensual, it is not okay for an older guy to have sex with a 14 year old(in this case, 17 years old... underage but he still should have known better)! And the fact that she was intoxicated, it means she's not in her right mind to consent to anything which makes it RAPE! The physical evidence is there! There's also an eyewitness account! It's mind boggling how the sheriff and the DA did not find any case against Matt B! The movie ended harping on this note. It's definitely a powerful message. However, I think it should have brought both points together. After all, the movie is not just about rape/sexual assault. It's about a much larger issue: The vulnerability of children to ANY kind of assault (sexual or otherwise) in the age of social media. I kinda wish the directors offered an actionable message that we can unite behind.
My heart bleeds for Audrie, Daisy and all the girls... but more so for a whole generation of kids who are exposed to an unfiltered world even before they are ready.
Lastly, I hope the sheriff and the whole town of Maryville watches this and FINALLY realize what they have overlooked!
This will go down as ONE OF THE BEST HORROR FLICKS of all time
I can't stop thinking about this movie and it's been 24 hours since I've seen it. I find myself replaying the movie in my head over and over. I find myself reflecting on the themes that it tries to bring to the surface.
Easily, this goes down as one of the best horror movies I've watched. On the second thought, it's one of the best movies I had the pleasure of watching! It's smart, it's clever and it's beautiful! Words that you won't actually use to describe typical horror movies. What makes "GOKSUNG" transcend its genre is that it has so many layers but each one is as potent as the other. Like an onion, some audience will walk away only having seen the outer layer but would feel as satisfied as the next audience who was able to see through all its layers.
I was taken aback when I read the message boards and reviews where critics and moviegoers weren't actually too sure if they understood the movie correctly. I've read reviews where they view the film as a social commentary between the divide between Japanese and Koreans, others view the film as a genuinely creepy horror movie, others view it from the tragedy that it is, others saw it as a spiritual exploration. And I was thoroughly surprised by this because I didn't see the ending as an abstract one. To me, it left very little to the interpretation.
But to better understand this, I had to search through interviews of the director (Hong Jin Na) on what he wants the viewers to take away with them. It helped a lot how the film came to be. He started writing the script of the movie when a series of deaths started happening to his friends/family members. Though he didn't elaborate, he termed the deaths as "unnatural" which leaves me to think they were murdered. Grieved with the loss of his friends, he started asking "why them?". It brought him to a journey asking different religions to somehow demystify it. This movie was a result of that exploration.
In some ways, the movie tries to answer that. Jong Goo, the "hero" of the movie, asked the same question several times but there's really no special reason behind it. The stranger did not choose them, it just so happened his daughter took the bait (now think back to the first frame of the movie where the stranger was seen fishing, putting a bait on the hook brilliant!) We often try to search for a deeper meaning into bad things that happens to us. To devout catholics, it's the guilt that it's punishment for sins we have committed. But in the end, we really don't have anyone but to blame but ourselves. It is within our will not to give in to the temptation/bait but sometimes we just do because we don't see through the events that will be set in motion. We often times act in haste thinking our actions doesn't have consequences.
The movie forces us to evaluate who brings unspeakable tragedies into this world. Should we blame the devil for laying down the trap? Or should we blame ourselves for being too blind to see it? I think this point was the one that resonated with me: people in this day and age have become desensitized with evil that we rarely think that the devil is real in a physical sense. There's that unbelief in the supernatural that it has no place in our reality. Just like Jong Goo who had heard of (he charged it to village rumours) and seen the Devil (he thought he was a serial killer, nothing more) before but never really understood what he was up against. Several times, he was also given a warning to stay away from the tragic path he was walking into (through his dreams and the most blatant one, to wait for the third crow of the roosters) but alas, Jong Goo relied on what was logical in our reality. It's more logical and easier to believe that our nightmares can never happen in the real world. It's more logical to rush back home when your family is in danger. It's more logical to believe in a religious figure (priest/shaman) than a woman you suspect is a ghost. And that same unbelief is the very tool that the devil uses against us.
"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." --- The Usual Suspects
This movie is loaded with symbolisms, parallels and commentaries but never once did it hinder the narrative. It even enriched the movie, making three hours seem like two! The director's control over the whole movie is just masterful. To achieve a tonal balance between humour and horror is an achievement by itself but add to that, a movie that works on so many levels this movie is a master filmmaker who understands how to "talk" to his audience, what buttons to push to make them think and to make them feel.
Hong Jin Na leaves the audience with this: Whatever ideas come to you while you watch the film, they're yours. I want this film to be your own. On the other hand, there is one thing I wish everyone who watches this film to feel, regardless of who they are: a condolence for those who disappeared after having fallen as victims of the world. And for those who are left behind, I sincerely wish this film gives you some time for condolences.
Broken Marriage (1983)
How To Work A Broken Marriage
When searching through the internet about old Filipino movies, it surprises me that there's not a lot of things and information you can find. It's a shame, especially for me who grew up in an era where hundreds of movies are released every year. Not that a lot of them are noted for its great quality but it is part of a wonderful past and I find that in some of these movies, you'll find a reflection how Filipino lives evolved through the years.
Broken Marriage is a perfect example of this. When the movie was released in 1983, separation are still relatively frowned upon on. This was evident in how Ellen's mother reacted with the couple's decision to separate. So from that perspective, you could say that the movie was brave in presenting an anatomy of marriage. However, decades after, there are more films that were far more successful in doing this. But that's not to say that the movie is no longer relevant.
The movie wasted no time. From the opening sequence, Ellen and Rene are at each other's throat. Rene is resenting that Ellen has no time anymore to take care of him and the kids. Ellen resents the fact that Rene doesn't appreciate her for being a working mom. Obviously, this issue is still relevant. Although husbands don't expect their wives to be full time housewives nowadays, a lot of married couples still have the same argument.
As the movie progresses, we see that this resentment coupled with Rene's jealousy has wedged a distance between Ellen and Rene to the point that they can even stand sleeping in one bed together without arguing. There's an obvious emotional distance between them even when they try to put on a facade for their friends. And as the title suggests, the two decided to separate. From this point onward, the movie presents us with the pros and cons of separation.
Compared to other Filipino movies, it practiced restraint and didn't take every possible opportunity to dramatize and bathe in melodrama. But if you're a fan of that, there's still enough there that you can soak into. What sets this movie apart from all other marital spat movies is its honesty and simplicity. It hits the nail on the head that marriage is a lot of work. It's a 24/7 hour job that even if we have careers/dreams that we want to pursue and people who want to be, it should take priority over everything else. Not that it should take away a piece of ourselves but it should be a willing sacrifice. And the only way that one can do it willingly is to realize that marriage is the foundation of every family.
I love it how Ellen realized this in the end and decided to give the marriage another go. Rene, on the other hand, who had always been understanding of Ellen's yearning to be a woman of her own, realized the importance of his family to him. There was a review that thinks the reconciliation will be a short-lived one. I disagree with the assessment. At the end of the film, both of these realizations from Ellen and Rene changed them for the good of their marriage. Sure, they will still have arguments and fights but if there's one thing that marriage needs for it to work: the couple's ability to see the big picture --- why making it work is worth it. And this is very evident with the upbeat conclusion that we get from the movie.
The screenplay leaves a lot to be desired but the actors filled in those gaps. While a lot of people lauds Vilma Santos for her portrayal of Ellen, I felt that Christopher De Leon as Rene was the "MVP" of this movie. There's a subtlety and wonderful balance on how he presented with Rene --- while some of his actions are objectionable, De Leon's Rene is very sympathetic. His unspoken lines and his actions helped bridge the story as it justifies his motivations for his decisions. But like any other Christopher-Vilma movie, their chemistry as actors breathes into the film and makes it stronger than the material.
So should you see this movie? I say yes! You'll probably be surprised how a lot of things that the movie pointed out are still relevant even in these times.
God's Not Dead (2014)
The Christian Propaganda: Love and Forgiveness
First, let's get it out of the way: this movie is nowhere near to achieving cinematic excellence. The only reason why I'm giving this a 10 is because of the amount of hate that it's receiving. Having said that, do I think it's a movie worth seeing? Sure, if you are at least to open about hearing about Christianity.
That's why it's puzzling for me why some people who are not even remotely open to the faith who would watch it and dismiss it as Christian propaganda. After having watched the movie, I think it's targeted mostly to Christians to encourage to stand and testify for God. It's not meant to be a movie to make you sway your faith. No, it doesn't outline why you have to have faith in God. But rather, it challenges believers to do the most basic thing that we often neglect: to speak for Him.
There are a lot of reviews here in IMDb (from who I presume are non-believers) calling this movie offensive, baseless and even "dehumanizing". One review called out the movie for "demonizing" non-believers and atheists because every character who's not a Christian were made out to be villains. But I would beg to differ. It didn't paint non-believers as heartless and cold. It showed that people have their reasons for not believing. It showed that people have their own story why they feel they need to be a certain way. Kevin Sorbo's character spent all his life disproving the existence of God because his prayers were not answered the way that he wanted it to be answered. The father who has thrown away his own daughter because she decided to be Christian, was shown to be torn between the love for his daughter and his own faith. Dean Cain's character who was disconnected and focused in accumulating as much wealth and success was remorseful for an overbearing mother who was only trying to bring him to the faith. There's a degree of truth in all of these stories. No way that the movie showed that all these characters were made out of cardboard or showed them as one-dimensional.
There was also someone claiming to be a minister reviewed this film and said that it's just a bad movie and more of a propaganda more than anything. He even went to make a call for Christians to stop making movies like this. This just saddens me. He was expecting Christian movies to just focus on salvation. While it's the central message that we Christians should be attesting to, I don't think Christian movies should be confined to this one message. This movie, I find, is very timely when most Christians just confine to the belief of the world to "get along". Don't get me wrong. I'm not calling for us to shove the truth down the non-believers' throats. But we have to stand up for Him and know when our faith is challenged. The problem arise when Christians force our doctrines to non-believers and condemn them for their way of life. And there was a line in the movie that hit the nail on its head: you don't have to defend Christ, it's enough that you speak for Him. We are called to testify, not to pass judgment. We are not called to hate non-believers but rather show them love and forgiveness is possible.
This movie is not intended to put the spotlight on the non-believers but rather it turns the mirror on brothers and sisters in faith: to be reflective on how we conform and blend with the world.
So as a final word of caution: If you're not a Christian and you're looking for a movie to explain the basis of our faith, this is not the movie for you.
As Cool as I Am (2013)
Starts out strongly, fell apart and ended with a whimper
I watched this movie thinking that this movie is actually one of those light-hearted family comedy-drama. I was pleasantly surprised that it served more... much much more.
As the plot summary already contained, this movie is the coming-of-age tale of Lucy, a smart 15-year old girl who's a product of teenage pregnancy. Her father is pretty much absent most of the year because he has to work as a lumberjack somewhere. And while he is an absentee father, he is very much committed to provide for his family. As her dad (played by James Marden) grew up in an orphanage, he has a longing to have a traditional family where the mother stays at home while the father goes away to find livelihood. Her mother, having deprived of living a single life being married at an early age, tries to live the single life ---while trying to hold on to her family --- with disastrous consequences.
The first half of the movie started out fantastic, taking its time to establish the main players in Lucy's life which is mainly her parents and her best friend since they were kids, Kenny. Contrary to one of the user reviews here, Lucy and Kenny are not "unreal". Although they were not your typical average teenagers driven by raging hormones, these type of kids exist (I would know, I'm one of them). Their belief system were mainly shaped by the family they were born in. Kenny, a product of divorced parents looks forward to a relationship that will last but is very pragmatic which pretty much stops him from going for things he really wants. Lucy, having parents who were unprepared to be parents, has to overcompensate for her parent's irresponsibility. However, as any teenager who goes through self-discovery, she eventually started exploring her sexuality and romantic relationships unguided. And as any teenager who goes through bouts of angst and anger, she also started unraveling.
All of these drew me in. Sarah Bolger, who plays Lucy, embodied the part so well that it's quite hard not to fall for her--- flaws and all. Claire Danes and James Marden, for the most part, were effective and sometimes brilliant.
However, the movie started to fell apart when it tried to do too much. And instead of focusing on one theme... it started adding in heavy sub-plots that didn't go anywhere or if it did, it didn't come to a satisfying close that will eventually support the main plot. And when you start stacking more and more, it's bound to fall apart. Not that the sub-plots were bad. Had this been a TV mini-series, it would have been more effective because these sub-plots could have been explored at length. But considering the medium, it just weighted the movie down... hard...
And it's an extreme disservice because the first half of the movie was really good. There were some well put together which showed moments of brilliance. As much as I want to remember the movie for it, I can't erase from memory the last 30 minutes and especially that ending that wasted great talents like Peter Fonda. And suddenly, the movie ends with a whimper... as if the writer just ran out of paper to write on. In coming of age movies like this one, it's important that the main characters have to come face to face with the need to evolve and move from point a to b. And although the ending somehow shows us that Lucy finds peace in surrendering to her fate. It felt abrupt and forced.
Honestly, I would give this a movie a 6/10 but the 5.5 rating is I think too low for a movie that actually showed a lot of promise. So never mind the last 30 minutes of the movie, I still fell in love with Lucy so I'm giving this a 7.
Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel: Critics VS Fans
I just got home from watching the new Superman flick and I'm still reeling from what I just saw.
Let me just state the Superman is probably my favorite superhero because he was the one of the first heroes that connected to me at an early age. Images of him flying over the Metropolis (played by Christopher Reeves) brings fond childhood memories... a time of idealism... a time when anything is humanly possible. But as much as I enjoyed that movie, I'll be the first one to say that Generation X has grown and evolved since then. Along with it, superhero movies which has undergone a major make-over. These movies now have darker themes and "real-life" conflicts. After all, they too experience joy, bitterness, sadness, grief, and a whole lotta range of emotions. So going into the movie, I expected this Superman more gritty and darker than the previous ones. I mean, cmon, what do you expect especially when Zack Snyder is at the helm?
But what I don't get is until now, the critics still haven't warmed up to Snyder, who's obviously highly appreciated by fans like me? They're panning "Man of Steel" for being too dark, for being to serious, for breaking the mold and for offering extended fight sequence. But on the other hand, critics are telling us that "formula" movies are also bad, right?
While "Man of Steel" borrows much of its treatment from "The Dark Knight", I'd say it was highly effective (contrary to what the critics are saying that the script was the weakest part of the film). This Superman movie is a reboot and does not follow all Superman movies that came before it. So out with the "kiddie" elements like Kryptonite, smooth and shaved image, the red "over- wear", the chunky belt. And in with the adult themes. This movie was not an homage or a continuation of the previous movies. And as I mentioned, this fits and mostly appeals to the generation who have loved Superman since we were kids. And this is the precise reason why a lot of us hates and loathes "Superman Returns"! Because it just appeared to be a mockery of the original one and it's already irrelevant to us. (By the way, as of today, "Superman Returns" has a metacritic score of 76 vs "Man of Steel" with 55... seriously?) It's like asking a 40-year old guy to love and adore Barney (the purple dinosaur and not Stinson --- he's awesome!)
Whereas in the first few movies, Superman was the beacon of morality and unshakeable resolve. Here, we see Kal-el/Clark Kent's journey towards becoming the superman that he was destined to be. And they didn't put him in a clean pedestal. Although an alien, he was raised as a human and just like the rest of us, he feels a range of emotions. How exactly would you feel if your parents told you that you were adopted and you have to pretend someone that you're not? For the first half of the movie, it explores this conflict: A man trying to figure out who he is and what he is supposed to do. All his life, his adoptive father was trying to rein him in until he is ready. I genuinely love Kevin Costner and Diane Lane in this movie! Although they have very few scenes, they have evoked why Clark Kent grew up to be the moral person that he is.
Another complaint from the critics: where's the romance between Lois and Clark? Yes, there's very little said about it. But personally, I would have liked if they just edited out the kissing scene. It just throws you off. This movie is about his origins and they should have just stayed in there. They can always explore the romance in the succeeding movies (? -- nah! I'm sure there will be more... two, at the very least).
And so, this "Man of Steel" is an evolution of the Superman that I love. The critics can hate it for as long as they want. The critics can hate Zack Snyder all they want. But at the end of the day -- - these movies are created for us: the generation who once believed that the world should be a gentle and happy place but now finds that there is much pain and conflict in the world as there is beauty.
I can't say thank you enough to the cast and crew of this movie for resurrecting a beloved superhero.
Season 2: How to love unlikable characters
Honestly, I don't know what tempt me to watch Season 2 considering that I didn't really like Season 1. In my opinion, season one was like watching a younger batch of "Sex and the City" girls except that it's not funny... it was just trying too hard... Sure there were few laughs here and there from Shoshanna but I just had no clue what these characters are trying to achieve. It's just like watching real life girls do some crazy things.
Season 2 was a complete departure from Season 1. The popular opinion is that it went from great to bad. But I would disagree. Somewhere in the season, I've grown to care about imperfect individuals... flaws and all... no matter how "crazy" and irreverent they can get. Season 2 was able to articulate what they weren't able to do in Season 1: the show is about these girls growing into their own. If Season 1 was about girls pretending to be women who were fully aware about who they want to be and fully comfortable with their own skin, season 2 revealed who they really are and stripped them "bare naked" (literally and figuratively).
I loved how each episodes exposed the vulnerabilities, insecurities, flaws and indecisiveness of Hannah, Shoshanna, Marnie and Jessa. And it's damn beautiful to watch. There were also a lot of funny, memorable and dramatic moments that explodes right in your face.
Jessa finally got a dose of reality after getting married hastily. And it hit her hard: is her lack of willingness to work on a commitment something she got from her dad? Shoshanna, after losing her virginity in Season 1, jumps in into a relationship with Ray only to discover that sometimes love is not the only thing she needs in a man. Marnie who was all high and mighty last season got the rug swept under her feet by losing her job. She also steps back into the dating world only to realize that Charlie actually provided her more than she thought. Though I'm still not convinced that she's all in with Charlie (poor guy!). And Hannah, continuing her exploration of the world believing it will make her a great writer (trying drugs, bunking with her gay ex-bf, dumping her abusive bf, sleeping with a total stranger, etc), was treated to the realities and responsibilities of adulthood. I'm not sure if it will make her wiser but one thing's for sure... it terrified her. Enough that her OCD tendencies re-surfaced. I would agree that this seemed to be all too sudden considering it wasn't even mentioned in Season 1. But it actually made a lot of sense. In season 1, even if there were moments she was being pushed to confront the responsibilities, she had Marnie and Charlie to turn to. Only Lena Dunham knows if getting back together with Adam would actually make her retreat into her shell again.
Sure, they are still unlikable and sometimes, there will be a point that you will hate them but hey, they're being human. A lot argues that Season 2 just weakened these girls from a feminist point of view by portraying them as individuals consumed about relationships. But hello? Most girls in their age are! It doesn't make you less empowered just because you're falling for guys who are complete jerks. Girls in real life really tend to fall for a-holes (especially in their teens and in their 20s. The problem arises when people look into these kind of shows to be the beacon of female empowerment and feminist agendas.
In my opinion, what makes a movie or a show great is its ability to mirror and reflect on things that are relevant today. Portraying the ideal or "what should" tends to get preach-y and boring... fast. And kudos for Girls Season 2 for being able to do just that. And bravo to Lena Dunham and Judd Appatow for cleverly crafting a season that makes you fall in love with "hard-to-love" people.
Oh yes... I love Girls!
A bold statement to sentimental love stories
Before I saw "Evening", I actually read the synopsis to see what the movie was about. I originally thought this was something like "The Notebook".
During the first 45 minutes, it was actually set up as a love story. We see an elderly Ann (Vanessa Redgrave) in her deathbed longing for the love of her life and her greatest "mistake", Harris. This had an enormous impact on her daughter, Nina who was at a crossroad in her life. She was torn in "settling" down for someone who's been with her for the past three years or "waiting" for her one great love. Then the movie explored an event, in great detail, which happened in Ann's youth that had an enormous impact on Ann's life: the wedding of her best friend, Lila. During this event, we were introduced to Buddy, Lila's brother who had been pining at Ann for quite some time but doesn't have the courage to own up to it. We also meet Harris, the son of the caretaker of the family's Newport Beach vacation house. Harris was so close to Buddy and Lila as they were growing up. Lila was deeply "in love" with Harris and she was waiting for him to pursue her. It is in the middle of all this that Ann met Harris for the first time. Ann and Harris immediately "clicked". However, Buddy was convincing Ann to talk Lila out of the wedding and pursue Harris instead. In an unfortunate twist of events, Ann and Harris decided it was best for them to part ways because being with each other will just remind them of the fateful events that happened after Lila's wedding. Both of them, in some way, feel responsible for it.
As the movie was going on, I was expecting the movie to preach about the importance of chasing someone you feel strongly about. After all, I was watching a love story. Lo and behold, it went on another direction. A bold one at that! Lila visited the dying Ann who was looking for some confirmation that she made a mistake in letting Harris go. I guess, when you're at that point in your life, you also look back on things as if regret will make you feel you have the obligation to go on living to correct it. I loved how Lila (Meryl Streep) put it and how she refused to looked at their lives as a failure to live it. And before she went, she left a statement to Nina that made things clear for her. A statement that made her fear of making the "wrong" choice disappear almost instantly.
I loved how the film puts Ann's life in perspective. I loved how it refused to reduce a dying woman's life into a big mistake. While it's true that Ann's life will be vastly different if she ended up with Harris, who's to know if it will turn out any better? In the end, I would like to think that Ann got the validation that she wanted. It wasn't a mistake that she let Harris go. After all, that choice did lead her to having two daughters she dearly loved. And to quote Lila: "Your mother had her whole life. She sang at my wedding... she raised two girls... we can't know everything she did. We are mysterious creatures, aren't we? "
Is it sad that Ann and Harris who seem to be perfect for each other don't end up together? Yes but the movie wasn't about that. It's about finding the true joy in your life no matter what you end up getting. As Lila put it, there are happy days and there are days that are not. But while I love how the movie came full circle in the end, it could have been so much powerful with such a strong message. I think the pace of the screenplay could use more work although I did love how it tried to steer clear of melodramatic tendencies. Sadly, Danes who's a great actress, failed to shine here. She didn't have any rapport with any of the actors. Patrick Wilson was also lacking the charm that the character calls for.
This movie is actually the antithesis of "The Notebook". And while I love "The Notebook", I also deeply appreciated this movie's honesty and bold statement that seemed to be directed to the stereotypical love stories out there: It doesn't mean that your life is a mistake if you don't end up with your "greatest love". After all, not all of us live our lives as if we own a magic ball that can tell our future. We call it as we see it. We are indeed mysterious creatures...
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Boal and Bigelow's Best Yet
Before watching this, I almost made up my mind that I wasn't going to like it. The trailer looked a total departure from the Boal-Bigelow team-up that I know. But at the same time, I have high expectations after reading so much fantastic reviews about it.
Lo and behold! This movie even topped The Hurt Locker which I thought was a landmark achievement in this particular genre! The masterful, intelligent, snappy and ultra gritty writing of Boal was translated by Bigelow into the silverscreen with gripping intensity with a very thoughtful approach. The material itself could have gone in so many direction depending on the treatment: a boring indie docudrama or a highly cliché action movie or an over the top political drama. But Bigelow and Boal has effectively steered this movie across genres. It almost felt I watched three movies!
And the movie is already sparking a worldwide debate! 1- Some are saying that the movie glorifies torture. I totally don't see this. If anything the movie went as far as stating that the interrogation methods mainly depends on the policy that the government made. All the torture in detention cells that happened in the beginning of the movie all stopped after Obama was elected. Dan was also quick to warn Maya about being caught as the last "man" holding the dog collar.
2- Some are saying that the movie is wildly inaccurate. Hmmm, but then again, how do we know if it's accurate when we really don't know what really happened. All the CIA files and documents are highly confidential and I suppose heavily redacted already by now. No civilian would really know the entire story. This is where the imagination of the writer comes in.
3- The movie will leave a lasting imprint on how torture is conducted. A lot of CIA agents (?)/military men are commenting that the movie over dramatized the torture scenes. They're claiming that in real life, these interrogation tactics are conducted under the supervision of a medical specialist and there are rules and standards. I find this hard to believe after pictures of Abu Ghraib came out. What's even more outrageous is that they're pointing to movies having an influence on how military interrogators do torture. I highly doubt it. What I saw in the Abu Ghraib pictures are so disturbing and I've never seen anything like that in the movies.
In terms of performances, Jessica Chastain is just pure perfection. I'm officially convinced she's able and capable of taking over Meryl Streep. She's just like a chameleon. Though her character was given so little to work with, she just magically presents us with what can be considered as one of the most memorable characters in cinema. And I'm not exaggerating. In the first 15 minutes of the movie,it was uncomfortable to watch her. She was even annoying, at times. She came across like an wannabe agent. She was acting tough as to opposed being real tough. But in one of the highlights of the movie which was a pivotal point for her character, there was a complete shift in how she handled herself. It's like the little warmth that she had in her and all her personality just totally disappeared. And then she transformed into this irreverent, impatient, ballsy and icy agent who just means business. She was the portrait of a woman driven mad by one goal. That's when I realized that it was part of her character build-up. A lot of posts from the message boards are "crucifying" Bigelow for putting feminist undertones in the movie. That's totally stupid. Maya could have been a guy it wouldn't make a difference. I've certainly didn't see any of Maya's co-worker treat her differently because she was a woman. If her superiors see her differently, it's because she was irreverent and marvelous at the same time. Chastain deserves to win the Oscars for her work in this movie. I think she will. I read a review that the movie could have used more time in building the back story for the character, I say he watch the movie again and watch Chastain closely.
Another standout for me is Jason Clarke who also deserves to get noticed for his role as a brutal and cold agent who just wants to be a regular guy.
I can't praise this movie enough and I hope more people can appreciate the movies of Boal and Bigelow. But sadly, the movies they make doesn't have that mass appeal. I'm just going to keep on that one of these two things happening: (1) they make something more commercial soon or (2) there will be more audiences who can appreciate movies that break the formula.
The Hunger Games (2012)
Could have been far better! Missed a lot of points then won some...
After reading the plot from IMDb, I actually thought this has some promise. Movies about dystopian future are generally very interesting because they tackle issues that currently pervades our present society but in an exaggerated manner. The story has a distinct point of view that is very much culturally relevant.
I tried hard to stop myself from reading the book before watching the movie because I wanted to keep an open mind. But halfway through the movie, I just realized that there's particularly missing in the movie. Something just doesn't add up. I don't get how a girl from extreme poverty would have the grace and restraint that Jennifer Lawrence is portraying. I just don't get the power of connection between Peeta and Katniss. It just didn't make any sense to me. Other characters, aside from Katniss, also seemed to be made out of cardboard and seemed to be placed just to define who Katniss is. Bottomline, there was no one I cared for in the movie except for Katniss. Which is weird. Even the impact of Rue's death was just a total miss.
Then I read the book and everything became clearer. Everything was more pronounced. Each character like Effie and Haymitch had depth and layers. There was so much in the book that I felt that should have been explored in the 140 minutes of the movie. I don't buy the idea that they had to leave out so much because there's only so much they can show in the movie. Surely, LA Confidential was able to achieve that, Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, No Country for Old Men, etc...
And of all the things they have to cut off, why leave out the back stories of the characters that will make them more "human" and realistic to the eyes of the audience. Why leave out the nuances of the characters that can ultimately define the character. Effie, Peeta, Haymitch and Rue were so multi-dimensional characters in the book that the movie just wasted the opportunity to give the film more depth and texture. Even the Katniss in the book was so different from the film. In the book, it was more believable that Katniss actually "feasted" on the food upon seeing it in the train whereas in the movie, she didn't even touch a thing. That actually shows character and where she came from. For crying out loud, she's from a place where she dreams of food everyday!!! And it's instances like that which actually makes the character more believable.
There were more things that the film that left out. There's one thing that the film made sure it hits right on target: Art Direction. However, it's all eye candy. Truly, a missed opportunity. And I'm just purely disappointed that this is coming from the same director that gave us "Pleasantville", one of my favorite films of all time which so cleverly discussed the themes of tolerance and finding oneself.
I suspect the studio had something to do with the direction and they wanted to go the commercial route. But cmon, The Hunger Games is a young adult novel and it successfully navigated through dark and adult themes, so why can't the movie? Surely, the market that was targeted by the book is the same market who will go see the movie.
Despite being disappointed by the initial serving, I hope it gets better on the next installment.
If you're thinking about watching the movie (who hasn't at this point in time?), go watch it but I highly encourage you read the book if you're left unsatisfied.