Reviews

48 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Better Things: Rising (2017)
Season 2, Episode 2
10/10
Was this the best thing ever on television?
22 September 2017
I think this might just be the best thing I've ever seen on television. At first, I thought Louis C.K.'s comment that this is the best show right now was a self-promoting lie. I was willing to forgive him, because so many artists do have to self-promote, and some get carried away. Some are still under the creative bliss that they were in while creating, and that bliss carries over when they are asked how good the work is. They can't know. They only know how true they were, or how true they wish they were.

Then. I thought: "Okay, maybe he's being honest and funny at the same time. Because he knows the show is just okay, but there's nothing really much else to compete with in this season.

And finally, during this episode, I realized that this was unbelievably good. Like OMYGOD good. Like "am I really watching this?" good.

As a man, it kind of checks you and makes you think. And as a woman, I'd suspect it is unnervingly different, but hopefully it makes you grateful for the refreshing honesty, and re- invigorates your desire for progress in all media. That was the goal, anyway. And that lofty goal alone deserves a heap of praise, because what other show invests so much ambition and meaning into a TV program? They are few and far between.
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Mozart in the Jungle: Not Yet Titled (2016)
Season 3, Episode 7
10/10
One of the best TV episodes of any series ever!
19 December 2016
Cinematography, editing, meaning, acting. It's all top-notch.

It's actually part prison-concert documentary and part drama. It brought tears to my eyes for how beautiful the music is and how nicely it all came together.

Much needed in a series that has become very silly, especially after the uncomfortable/forced kiss in the last episode.

This episode deserves a lot of praise for the attention it brings to the prison population and the daring of it all. Bravo!

The rest of this review is just filler to get to the needed number of lines required by IMDb. Pretty silly policy and I hope this changes soon.
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Halt and Catch Fire (2014–2017)
10/10
masterpiece
7 September 2016
I'm watching season two right now, and i just have to say: This is fricking good! the story is engaging, the editing is sharp, and the actors are of the highest caliber. It's amazing sometimes how smart it is! And I love the way it can be dreadfully suspenseful in one scene, and then stumble on the most sensitive over-looked aspect of life in another. I cannot pick a favorite character because they are all good, and that's saying something! I also am amazed at the high-quality of even the actors with smaller parts. The direction is impeccable. Who are these directors? Is it God? This show is a giant, and should be ranked with the best. .......... ...... ......... .......... ............ ....... .... ............... ............... ......... ........... ............ ................. ...... .............. ...... ................
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Mad Men: The Strategy (2014)
Season 7, Episode 6
10/10
Art worth dying for
31 July 2016
Allegedly, Charlie Parker died while watching a superb juggling act. That makes me think there was something special in that juggling act, something so beautiful that it could bring a person to heave with such excitement to induce a fatal heart-attack.

For viewers who have followed the series, this is the climax. First, when Joan makes her declaration for love, and then, when Don and Peggy's relationship was consummated, and finally, the revealing of the final strategy for the Burger Chef campaign, the episode peaked and answered all questions about these characters. The episode exploded with deftness and profound meaning. Will I watch the next episode? Of course, I'll be loading it after the end of the next sentence. But there is such satisfaction from this episode's writing, development, acting, music choice, and directing, that it could have ended here and I would not have complained.
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Love (II) (2015)
10/10
Show me how gentle you can be
30 November 2015
One of the greatest movies of all time! After "Irreversible" and "Enter the Void", I thought director Gaspar Noe would have reached his peak. I thought either that, or maybe he would have nothing left to show, but this movie satisfies what the characters in the movie are looking for. Towards the end of the movie, one character bemoans the complete absence of "sentimental sexuality" in cinema, and proposes to supply it, and earlier, one of the characters challenges another: "Show me how gentle you can be." This movie is Noe's offering to that challenge. This movie continues in the recent history of French movies that seem to keep erasing the boundary between pornography and art. And yet this movie seems to be one of a kind, thanks to how personal and vulnerable it seems. It seems to be a magnum opus, as do all of Noe's works. That's part of what makes them so thrilling to watch: they all have a distinct spirit of desperation infused in them, a hunger to be great. This movie seems to be ground-breaking in its camera-work, in its story structure, in its handling of nudity and sex. And it's very beautiful. It soars where the latest movies of many formerly great auteurs seem to strain and miss. The cinematography and editing are top-rate, and there are no more devoted actors than these. The soundtrack alone deserves to have a substantial essay written on it, the way it sounds 80s yet contemporary yet futuristic, the way it sounds menacing yet romantic yet hip and yet like the soundtrack to a porno. Perfection!
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7/10
There is no one like Woody, the closest thing is Hitchcock
26 July 2015
Woody has such a full body of work that's stretched for decades, there is hardly anyone to compare him to. That being so, it's even interesting to think about people's reactions when a new one of his movies is released. After watching a new one, the most vocal people tend to try to rank it either at the very top or very bottom of his movies. I think that does the movie-watching experience a disservice.

There's very much to like about this movie and just as many ways to watch it. For one, it's like a classy fun witty and romantic Hitchcock movie, albeit transposed coolly and beautifully to the present-day. For two, Khondji's cinematography is an absolute afternoon delight. For three, the three leads are brilliantly cast and played. For four, it's a fun movie about an ethical experiment. For five, it's a fable-like tale of good and evil, safe and daring. For six, it's a very intense story of girls and women, and the very harrowing gulf between. For seven, it fits majestically within possibly Woody's most noble ambition: to have the same movie be as good a comedy as it is a tragedy as it is a story of triumph, in other words, it's an ambitious script. It's an ambitious script also because of the shifting of narrator throughout, and the way each shift pulls at our sympathies. I was laughing at the same time that I was biting my nails and trying to remember to breathe.

We're truly blessed to be able to watch these when they're new! Future generations will envy us, the way we might envy people who were there to see the new Hitchcock or even the new Chaplin.
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Mr Selfridge (2013–2016)
8/10
Shifts into high gear at Season 1 Episode 5.
24 June 2015
Awesomely detailed sets, costumes, story, acting, crowd directing, and overall production. Reminds me of the Jeremy Brett "Sherlock Holmes" series.

But this series really finds itself in episode 5, when each of the story-lines finds its groove and the cast and crew really give it their all.

Never liked Piven much until this. Frances O'Connor is spell-binding as Mrs. Selfridge!

Oh, and it's true to history, at least the basic backbone of the storyline is.
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4/10
Gaspar Noe and John Cassavetes win the Oscar
20 March 2015
Beautiful production in this movie but it's ripped off from Gaspar Noe's movies like "Irreversible" and "Enter the Void". The subject matter and themes are out of John Cassavetes' "Opening Night". In the end, the wonderful cinematography, editing, production, and acting don't really amount to much because the heart is not deep. Yes, the story of a person trying to make something of value and to be appreciated is a good story and has been told well in cinema many times, but this movie didn't seem to believe it. It was more caught up in big names and smirking at Hollywood. Inarritu's "Biutiful" was more worthwhile.
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Samsara (I) (2011)
10/10
Immense, God's-eye-view of our world!
26 September 2014
Immense! This movie shows us things we're familiar with and things we have never even imagined, and yet it all comes from somewhere in our home, on our planet, within our environment. Framed by Buddhist philosophy and art, we have a god's-eye-view of all continents, all classes, so many cultures and vastly different terrains. We see the endless desert- scape, we see Cairo, the United States, China, Tibet, indigenous peoples of South America, the architecture of Rome, the worshippers of Mecca. We see various trades, the wounded, the dead, families, contrasting political and social agendas. We are left with a feeling of bittersweet grandiosity, the way that Buddhism leaves its adherents. Pain exists, we may never get rid of it. Maybe violence cannot solve violence. Maybe the path of progress is a lot slower than most of us think, maybe the only solution is to take on this weighty all-encompassing compassion that this movie offers up, and pray that it spreads by example and because it is the most virtuous and inevitable way. That's the magic of this movie, that it does not look down on anyone, it seeks to document everyone as they would be documented, and yet there is editorializing, however subtle it is: that we all have the nobility of consciousness, and we are all each as consequential as a fleck of sand upon the Sahara.
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Jasper Redd: Jazz Talk (2014 TV Movie)
8/10
Proof that America does comedy best
18 September 2014
Unique speech pattern, unique material, great show! Starts out with a handful of jokes about fast food, but they're told in such a serious, sly, tongue-in-cheek way that you cannot help busting a gut. He covers sex, religion, race, terminology, currency, but it all feels so fresh because his Southern accent and cool demeanor makes it a perspective that we find we have a void of. It's real in a way that a lot of English, South African, and Irish comedians just can't be. It feels potent and light at the same time! And then there's the jazz accompaniment! What a lovely comedy concert! I'm ready for more! It's in between pot humor, civil rights speaker. He's like a calm, mellow Richard Pryor, a smoother Louis CK, and he carries himself more proudly than Anthony Jeselnik. Winning combo!
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Boyhood (I) (2014)
7/10
Another Linklater gem, possibly even his masterpiece
14 September 2014
Another gem from director Richard Linklater. You might even call it his masterpiece, I know I'm debating this as I write even now. The premise is: a boy grows physically, intellectually, and spiritually over the years. It is famous for being a movie twelve years in the making, visiting the actors, settings, and even some props every year or two, to not just tell a story, but to literally show it. As I watched the first two or three jumps-in-time, I was very conscious of the rare technique, thinking all sorts of things like about the logistics of such an endeavor, how the actors had to really commit in a way that most actors don't have to, how the director committed and achieved his vision, what that preliminary vision even was, how complete he thought it all out or not, how improvised it was or was not, how much the direction changed over the years. And then, as the years kept jumping, I felt the characters begin to appear. I began to find myself searching inside little Mason and feeling his strengths and fears, his quirks, and mannerisms. I began to find myself watching the other people in his life and watching them age, change, and mature. Melancholy arose, humor arose, neat coincidences arose, goodbyes whisked by. There were surprises like people showing themselves as less wholesome than they first appeared, or people stepping up to the plate after seeming like perpetual losers, somethings seemed vague and never fully connected. But in the end, it felt just like life. It even shows us ourselves in our cute phases through the pop songs that pepper the soundtrack, through the politics of the day, as well as through the the growing prominence of technological gadgetry. But in the end, it's just the rare moments that make the magic, snippets of the boy and his sister as kids fighting, snippets of them hanging with their dad on the weekends, snippets of their mom in the background always trying her best, never asking for repayment, snippets of the pressure to get along with other kids, and snippets of trying to make a place in the world. The photography is poetically beautiful at times, and the editing is unbeatable. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are astoundingly good, and so is the lead actor, Ellar Coltrane. It's almost impossible to rate or rank it on the same night of having first watched it. It feels like it will take some time to process it and understand what we've really been given. I think that this is its greatest gift, this feeling of having nothing else to compare it with, just like our own lives. All we can say is that it is potent, fragile, and the moment is always new.
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Funny Face (1957)
6/10
Flash meets substance
27 August 2014
It starts in some bizarre zone between cheesy and marvellously modern, but it's all style and flash. There's no substance in the first ten minutes, but when Audrey Hepburn comes into view, it's like the floodgates of emotion have been opened, it's like the sight of land on a barren sea. She plays her role like a naive heroine expecting a sincere fairy-tale only to be surprised by a macabre parade of shallow 20th century modernity. This instantaneously creates a clash between two worlds, and we are hooked at least to see how the next scene plays out. But in the end, we are let down by the leading man. Fred Astaire is no match in romance for such a queen as Ms. Hepburn.
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Barefoot (I) (2014)
2/10
Great actors in a tragic mess
22 February 2014
I began watching this for the epic Evan Rachel Wood. I found a good performance, another good performance by the male lead, and I found an epic miscommunication between script and direction. It couldn't make its mind up whether to be a heartwarming story, a humorous romp, or an intense psychological drama/romance. It did not juggle all of these facets, but rather dropped each and every one. I kept hoping it would get off the ground, get untangled, but it didn't up to the 2/3rds mark when I stopped watching. So bad I even began wondering if Evan Rachel Wood is as talented as I thought or if she has a bogus agent or if someone dropped out of the project last minute and Wood was stuck and stayed out of a sense of obligation. Yikes! Not what I'd want my audience to be thinking about during my movie.
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3/10
A Masterpiece of Human Horror Tragically Edited as a Horror Flick
5 January 2014
Had the potential for eternal glory in cinema history, but the soundtrack, and the editing were off that badly. Luckily, if you're a person who can appreciate a stellar screenplay, directing, acting, and cinematography without paying attention to the afore-mentioned fumbled aspects, then you will love this movie.

Yes, it's horrific how the character's life changes and how if we put ourselves into the character's shoes, we realize this just may be the worst possible fear for anyone in his or her right mind. Unfortunately, just as I started to feel that, I got rattled by the strangely cutting in and out of the soundtrack and random objects flashing large against the screen. The lasting impact is that the mood was fumbled: Instead of taking horrific to mean the horror of realizing that we, as a species, hold that kind of sadistic torture in our souls, the direction shifts manically between the direction of a campy slasher movie, an experimental Bruce Connor kind of movie, and a pretty good cover of "The Passion of the Christ". Come to think of it, there may have been this kind of mix of editing styles in "Shame", but for some reason, it fit more smoothly there, possibly because the latter movie was more psychologically-rooted, whereas this movie is more situationally- and historically- rooted. So, the flashiness only takes us out of the feel. It's as if in the editing room, there was an argument about whether to try to capitalize on the hidden little art crowd or the larger shock- and-thrill audience, and they tried to capture both rather than trying to stay true to the movie's potentially independent spirit. Sad, but here's hoping for a new edit!!!!
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Party Girl (1995)
8/10
I disagree. I think it's great fun AND a quality piece of cinema!
9 February 2013
Strange, avant-garde, campy, AND feel-good. This movie walks a delicate line. Parker Posey is phenomenal, but so is the writing and directing which crams every moment and every character with witty humor. It's a cool, sly type of humor, for example: a librarian yells out "I've already got you on the list for the new Danielle Steele." Then we see that she's talking to a young black man who gives a confused look. Young black males are not Danielle Steele's targeted demographic, so is this a unique man who is embarrassed by being outed as a Steele fan or has the librarian confused him with someone else. That moment causes us to question our stereotypes and gives us a laugh at the same time. But that is one miniscule joke in a movie that has thousands of such bits. It's thoughtful, intelligent and a bit emotional when it comes to the main character's search for herself and her full potential. Bravo!
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5/10
Stellar status most of the way through, fumbled and lost because of plot
31 December 2012
Pure. Thick and heavy. It's like going through a gallery of paintings where every piece is a timeless treasure. It's as pure a movie as can be found. It's got its own style, it makes its own rules. There is no dialogue, no sound of human voice other than when the family goes to town. And just when you feel like you can't take anymore of this life, the movie slaps you in your face and you simply understand: this isn't make-believe, it's real life, and if you are busy being bored, you're simply wasting precious time when there's work to be done. The work for us is to enjoy all the beautiful angles, the daring framing which somehow often cuts off part of the image but by virtue of that cutting-off keeps the realness perfectly intact. The editing alone is a masterpiece, cutting just as the characters and setting reach a sublime visual harmony, and returning with a new set up full of many little details fluttering and seeking balance all over again. This movie defines what visual story-telling is and forever should be, because it almost never gets bogged down in drama, it ebbs and flows in synch with the nature around it. Plus, the talent of the actors is beyond belief, most definitely owing much to the direction.

The problem comes in the last quarter of the movie's duration. After teaching us not to be sentimental, the movie then takes us through what would be a tragedy for us in most other movies, but here we don't exactly know how to feel. The movie up to this point taught us to detach from emotion, so we kind of just want to get back to work and we don't see the sense in wallowing in misery. And so when one of the characters displays a desire to wallow in misery, we don't have any connection. That is the downside to not getting to know any of the characters' individuality. We have never heard their voices, never understood their dreams or frustrations. Because of this, the movie's miraculous shots, though technically good, become devoid of cinematic beauty because their context is muddled. The audience slips out of the spell that for more than hour seemed impossible to break. A+ for Ambition though.
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Desire Me (1947)
8/10
Gorgeous photography, slick editing and a gripping look at relationships and moving on
30 March 2012
Its structure is intense. The way it's edited kept me always on the tip of my toes. I was biting my nails through half of it, and feeling a nervous guilt in the pit of my stomach through the other half. This movie has it all, from one of the best escape scenes ever, to a whole spectrum of emotional truths. I found myself switching my opinions many times about the characters and what actions they should take. All the way through the ending, I was proud for the people who lent their efforts to make this movie. The acting and cinematography are unbeatable. I repeat, unbeatable! It might not be air-tight in plot details, but it gets a certain sense of cinematic perfection across that can also be found in other 1947 movies like "Out of the Past" and "Black Narcissus". I love those movies just as much as this one, if not more, so it's a little baffling how hard people are ragging on it.

It seems like the making of the movie was beset by hardship, and left a bad taste in the mouth of a lot of the cast and crew, but I see no reason that it should leave a bad taste in our mouths. It's just too gorgeous a movie to forget about. And any hardship and injury that came of it only makes the cinematic achievement that much more astounding. But ultimately, this movie's greatest achievement is that it surprisingly exudes a maturity that is more common in movies made closer to the present, for example, Mike Leigh's morality-play movies "Vera Drake" (2004) and "Another Year" (2010). It's time "Desire Me" had a re-evaluation, if you ask me.
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Permutations (1968)
7/10
Like a music video on LSD
29 February 2012
This is a movie by the same guy who gave us the analog computer credits to Hitchcock's Vertigo.

But this time, he makes a whole movie around Indian drummer Balachander's amazing seven minute solo. The images move and sparkle in ways that never get boring. There may be a few points where contemporary viewers will wonder whether this is as pointless as watching a screensaver. What kept me watching was the early date (predates screensavers), the killer soundtrack, and the fact that it was all human-generated (in other words, Whitney decidedly orchestrated the images). Seems to go well with the early abstract movies like Ruttmann's "Opus" as well as the credit sequence of Gaspar Noe's "Enter the Void". Must be seen on as big a screen as possible, in as dark a room as possible, and with the sound cranked high. Goes well with the "Pink Elephants" sequence in "Dumbo".
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At Land (1946)
10/10
I'm so happy to live in a world with this movie!
27 January 2012
Maya Deren certainly does capture her dreams. Even through a silent soundtrack, she creates a gripping linear story line out of symbols, scattered situations, and moods. Through it all, she displays a sensuous love for cinematography by eliminating all but one dischordant splice. It flows together as an answer to all the movie-lovers who wished movies would cut between shots with a little more flow. Not to mention, that she's a fricking lovely actress! To me, it's even more accomplished than her "Meshes of the Afternoon" from the year before, since it's less frenzied, and takes its time to build a mood that draws the viewer in and ends up accelerating with unexpected twists.
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6/10
Plot-less, camera fun by the mistress of cinema
28 October 2011
The movie is a feast for the eyes, we stroll through a French town from the perspective of a pregnant woman. It would be interesting to know whether Agnes Varda, the director, was herself pregnant during the shooting or editing of this movie. The images flow in groups of different types, for example, there are set of images organized by the shape of the images, there are sets organized by similar movement, there are sets organized by meaning. It is all very hypnotic. There is also a surprising amount of nudity for the year of its production. As far as my experience goes, it has more nudity than any movie before it and any movie after it until 1966's "I am Curious-Yellow". This movie reminds me of the experiments made during the early days of the movie camera and also the early avant-garde movies of France and Russia. It's well done, but it doesn't offer much beyond what those earlier movies achieved.

Also the original soundtrack is a unique and interesting counterpoint.
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Pollock (2000)
7/10
Artists had a bleak cycle of hatred/idolatry/disregard to face in 1950s USA
18 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The coolest thing about "Pollock" is that it doesn't glorify him. After it was over, I felt as if I had actually gotten a grasp of the person, as opposed to the way I feel after most movies, that I've been watching a movie made by fans, or by enemies, or by fans that are trying very hard to put their idolatry on hold. But with the tantrums, the sober, unflinching tone, the cold hollow stare Ed Harris gives, the devotion of the Lee Krasner character, and the ending drunken crash, I got the feeling that the cast and crew weren't out to make the case that Pollock was a better more graceful human being, but rather to show the almost impossible personal and professional challenges involved in the life of an artist, the demands for an artist to be completely exposed to the world, personally and professionally, and, all simply for a fleeting bit of fame. Pollock was far from being a graceful, mature human being, but he had the temperament and situation to embody the role of one of the best painters in the world, and thus by looking at his life, we can see what artists in the United States during the 1950s had to look forward to, and it was not a very rewarding lifestyle. The problem seems to be three-fold: the level of fame of a few select artists, the lack of support for artists who struggle, and the stranglehold that privatization has over those few artists that happen to break through. It ends up being a document to compare with our present situation, and because of the lack of progress, and perhaps even worsening of conditions, the movie serves as an impassioned plea to society to re-evaluate its treatment of artists.
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Man on Wire (2008)
6/10
This movie, though imperfect, ruined me for "Jackass"!
25 June 2011
This movie ruined me for "Jackass"! Of course the subject is the reason this movie is so gripping. The directing/editing team does an admirable job splicing together archival footage, interviews and re-enactments, but ultimately it is a lop-sided movie, because as much care that went into explaining the events in the first three quarters, the resolution is all lost as a result of there being not much explanation at all at the end. Yes, we get to see the set up from before the towers are even built, we hear multiple perspectives on every step, but when it comes to the aftermath of the attempt, we are given what feels like a rushed, impressionistic style and little to no information. Also, the emotional impact of scenes seems to connect in spite of and not because of the zig-zagging narrative, which makes me feel that it could have been more gripping if it were presented in chronological order. In short, I'm happy I saw it, because it elevated pranks and stunts to an art-form for me. It was only the movie's film-making style that I felt was not completely at the same level as its content. Ambitious project, at any rate.
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8/10
This movie makes me want to fight for its respect!
27 May 2011
People give respect to give respect to Scorsese's "Casino", to "Taxi Driver", to "Mean Streets", they give respect to "The Godfather" and a whole slew of gritty organized crime movies. But I've never heard a single mention of this movie. Thankfully, people have been coming slowly around to Cassavetes-directed movies, but seldom, if ever, have I heard anyone compliment this movie for which Cassavetes is only credited for his acting. The silence regarding this movie is ridiculous, because of how great this movie is. It's so pure, it's so rough, it makes "Mean Streets" look big budget. The director, the comic-timing pro Elaine May, is a genius to let the actors do their thing, because they are legendary actors and to get too involved would ruin the chemistry. I think it's wise to go into this movie without knowing too much except maybe the names of the two leads and the director, and that the whole production is amazing without being perfect.
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Choices (I) (2009)
8/10
Not for prudes!
21 May 2011
This is one of my top ten favorite movies of its year. The video and audio are each mesmerizing, but the real meat is in how each individual viewer combines them, or doesn't. Subject matters include childhood, parents, divorce, maturity, siblinghood, and sexuality. To cover all this and to start an endless stream of discussion in just 4 minutes is remarkable. On Youtube, I read the comments and found most people complaining about the graphic sexuality, and felt that the audio narration was an attempt to elevate pornography. I think that completely misses the point. Yes, the erotic scene is captured up-close and intimately, but I found that the reason for that was to put us in the role of the protagonist. We are in his physical situation, and mentally, we are going over his memories and thoughts. This is the route that movies are going, pointing out the intersect between physicality and intellect. Bravo!
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8/10
David O'Reilly's Masterpiece, or rather, His Best Yet
27 February 2011
I loved it. Warning much strange violence and sex in it. During my viewing of it, I kept thinking of David Lynch's "Inland Empire", which this and O'Reilly's earlier movie "Please Say Something" both seem to have as a foster parent. However, I think "The External World" soars over O'Reilly's previous work in its scope. Whereas the previous movie had one main plot line and one small emotional note to it, this one weaves several short masterful if sardonic story lines together into one cohesive whole. The artwork will astound previous admirers of O'Reilly's work in that it is more accessible, more detailed and uses a brighter palette of colors and voices than the previous dots, lines and squeaks. I am on pins and needles wondering if O'Reilly will be able to top it. But even if he doesn't, there is no shame in setting the bar that high. This is a perfect match of meaning, mood, technique and humor, an achievement that deserves to be honored by a wider audience than short films usually reach.
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