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A Most Violent Year (2014)
J.C. Chandor's least effective work in his debut trilogy.
"I'd like to own the things I use" Abel, a Columbia immigrant, is married to Anna whose father owned a heating oil company in New York back in the day and Adel is now running that company. New York is a terrifying place in 1981 but Adel would like to think his hands are clean, that he doesn't need to become a gangster to grow and succeed. He plans on buying a land right by the river on the east side as it will give him access to open waters. He is going be the best in his business once that land is bought and invisible forces around him are not going to let that happen.
"A most violent year" is a film about the nature of American capitalism and the dream that comes with it if you win it. that dream doesn't come without a cost however. Abel thinks that he has learned how to operate within this system. he tells his sells people to hold eye contact with the customers in order to gain their artificial trust. He'd like to think of himself as a man of integrity and pride but the game he is playing is not going to allow it. He is soon going to feel the punch in his face as he chooses tea over coffee.
This is not an original story where the idea of the American dream is scrutinized and show to be deeply flawed. but J.C. Chandor chooses a very interesting angle and style to approach it. It contains very interesting and intense moments within that are cinematically perfect, but as a whole, the film lacks a certain element to bring it all together. It felt like a film that would leave a deep impact, but it ended being a forgettable experience: J.C. Chandor's least effective work in his debut trilogy.
Style over substance
Within the first 2 min of this film, anyone with any level of knowledge on cinema can admit to the film's "uniqueness" in style, looks and the neo-genre it is trying to create from the ashes of genres such as western and vampire. That much is evident right off the bat. and it summarizes the overwhelming high praises it is receiving in the festival world. This powerful revelation leaves you in anxious excitement to want to see and know where this journey is taking you and how it will leave you.
The story happens in an imaginary city in Iran called "bad city". A very 'sin city' like atmosphere where basic human values have vanished and what is ruling this land is money, corruption, extreme misogyny and LOTS OF OIL. As a matter of fact, oil refineries seem to be the only legit functioning industry within this very bad city. One can only guess where the oil money is going to and how it is being spent judging from the state the city is in.
The glorious black and white cinematography paints a very dark atmosphere that quite effectively suits the characters, storyline and the location. Almost every shot was carefully composed to the point that you'd want to pause the film to appreciate them to the fullest.
The most important and powerful aspect of the film, besides its brilliant cinematography, is the vampire character: both in substance and style. Taking in the fact that chador, a tool of female oppression, is used as the vampire's cape took a while to sink in. the juxtaposition of both of those concepts, oppression and domination, made the character mysterious, powerful and quite fascinating to watch. Sheila Vand is very effective as the vampire as well. She wears a cold, inhuman and aloof face yet there is so much sympathy and curiosity within her. She hit both spectrum quite well. There is an iconic tracking scene of the vampire skateboarding on the road which cinematically is one that will always stay with me. It was purely magical.
The vampire is out to get justice for all the women that are being harmed by the patriarchal system they find themselves in. in a creepy scene, she stalks an old man on the empty streets of bad city. The reversal of roles here hits the right note and it acts as very competent punch line that sets the tone for the whole film. In the end, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is in the simplest of terms "Style over substance". The film sets up a brilliant and for lack of a better word "unique" platform to explore the unexplored and to say the unsaid. However, It sadly leaves a lot more to be desired. Most of the scenes drag on for too long. If done right, silences within scenes could be a powerful tool to assert things that no word can. But this was not the case here. Such silences made the scenes drag for too long offering nothing in return. It seemed that Amirpour wanted us to take in the atmosphere and the inner-character tensions that was supposedly going on, but sadly nothing of substance could be found there, no matter how hard one tried.
A huge potential for an exceptional film.
A resplendently sweeping opening shot that promised of an exceptional film with complex themes completely took unexpected turns for the worse.
Scorsese expresses his love for his profession of film and film making and reminds us of how cinema has shaped us and our dreams in the past century. However, he chose to tell this amazing story within a lame over used and formulated context. The film was slow and at times seemed uninspired, the film's one dimensional characters and many pointless subplots didn't help bring it back to life.
But I left the theater thinking of similarities with Cinema Paradiso - the clips of film so lovingly edited out and then reconstituted by Alfredo the projectionist shown to Salvatore in CP, and those of Melies in Hugo... and what a wonderful medium film is when it is placed in the hands of an artist. Scorsese should've only focused on the story of Melies.. A good film that had a HUGE potential to be exceptional but failed to do so...
Highly potential and so disappointing.
Titanic could explain the faith of this film, not the movie titanic, but the ship itself. A big production with a lot talent and big names behind it, but not being able to deliver its potentials; it didn't quite transfer its audience where it could have with all its promise and potential.
The film was beautifully shot, with amazing lighting and composition. The cinematography was the only thing that could keep one from falling asleep.
The premise of the film is of an unusual one, and it begged the question of how it was going to work. I personally thought that this could be a vehicle on delivering a very profound message on life and death. I thought it was going to touch on the absurdities of life and death and the reasons behind our existence. Or maybe touch on how one would appreciate his/her young hood much more if they aged backwards; because who can deny that a man with a young body and the wisdom of an old man could achieve anything that he wants to. But it didn't at all focus on those philosophies about life; instead it was about a very usual and at times boring love story, with all the clichés that we have all heard from our kindergarten teachers when we were 5.
The film seemed sappy and sentimental. The only times that it tried to have some sort of message on life and death it ended up being so cliché. Lines like: nothing lasts forever, everyone dies, no one is perfect, all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us, etc delivered no refreshing outlook on life. Normally movies tend to steal a few clichés and run with it in the hopes of not getting caught but it was surprising how the decision was made to put all those clichés in the film and still the film begged the audience to take it seriously.
There was no depth to the main character, Benjamin. In a character driven film like this, the main character's depth and complexity determines the depth and complexity of the film, without it the whole movie would fall flat as it did in this case. It was unclear what Benjamin liked in life, what his passion was, what were his hobbies, what made him happy, what made him sad, etc. his motivations were unclear.
At the end of the film, I wondered what his special condition of aging had to do with the film's message and its ultimate goal. I don't think the film would have been that much different if Benjamin was a normal person with no special condition but still went through the same journey. In other words, his special condition didn't add anything profound, as it could have; to the plot other than fooling the audience into thinking they are witnessing a very unique film.
The reason behind the film's relatively good reviews could be (beside the hype and Brad Pitt being in it) because the plot seemed interesting and unique enough to get someone to go and check it out. But after walking out of the theater I couldn't help but thinking that what a genius marketing strategy this was to generate all that enthusiasm about a film that delivered nothing new, and something so mediocre that could have been delivered by any other film that comes out on any Friday throughout the year.
Blade Runner (1982)
IT SHOWS THE FUTURE IN THE MOST TOUCHING WAY.
This movie is great. its by far my favorite movie of all time. i just watched it last night and i was amazed of the way this movie was made it shows the future really truthfully they things that it shows in it are really too far from reality. knowing that it was made in 82 now that its 2002 we see some of those ideas happening. business were in the hand of east asian people as we see now its kinda getting there . i love the part where blade runner (robert redford) is sitting outside and reading newspaper. and all of a sudden we see this huge advertising thing in the air that play a commercial over and over again its anoyying but the irony about it is that the comment is being said in a very nice way and it says LETS MOVE AMERICA TO A NEW WORLD.. more new than what it shows in the movie? it proves that human beings are never saticfied. u can't run away from that voice being played by that hude thing in the sky. if we let advertising go the way it is now someday we'll see that huge annoying thing over our head. he goes to this chienes take out and he orders but the chinese guy speaks in his own language .. all nationalities are mixed and no one speaks only enlgish . the guards speak to him in their own language and the chinese guy traslate it for him YOU SEE THE COMPLICATION? the part where it shows middle eastern .. the way their parties are.. its exactly like how it is in west NOW .. so as much as i hate the message that this part brings but i have to admit its true (im from middle east) but maybe after all not being so bright about everything like western people are, isn't the best way to live in such a world like this . u know what i mean? alright just WATCH THIS MOVIE dont ask why you'll gain that when u watch