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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
All style no substance
Much like the protagonist in the story, the film is all style no substance. For some reason, whenever I go to see a movie in the theater I eat a large bag of candy and a huge soda, I don't do this anywhere else in life but for this movie it was strangely fitting. At first, when watching Grand Budapest, It was Visually appealing and indeed Anderson may have missed his true calling as a premiere interior designer for the European aristocracy, as each scene is set up perfectly. My problem with the movie, and all Andersons movie's post Rushmore for that matter, is you don't really walk away from the films having gained anything as far as insight into life, or rewarding feeling you may have after let's say watching Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" which was layered. Sure, GBH was pretty to look at, and it is fun to see all the great actors (mostly used as props in the same way the villains 1932 Sara lea motorcycle was used) but when leaving the theater this time I felt a bit sick after, and I'm not sure it was completely the fault of eating the large bag of candy and sugary soda, in fact I felt more sick than I usually do after leaving the theater.
Room 237 (2012)
Interesting, entertaining, somewhat far fetched
This movie was worth while, it was interesting, entertaining and made you think. For a fan of the shining, or Kubrick or conspiracy theories this was a great film. Junk science came to mind a few times, to me the most interesting parts of the film were the details which were brought to the attention of the viewer which Kubrick definitely had a hand in, the conspiracy theories, ideas about the holocaust, extermination of the native Americans and faking of the lunar landing were a bit more out there but intriguing and I wouldn't put anything past Kubrick. The most interesting point of the film to me was the discussion of post modern works of art and the claim that irregardless of the authors intent, themes can be found which might have been or have not been consciously intended. Overall, the mind of Kubrick, his eye for detail, his humor and overall brilliance is what is most evident when watching this film. If one looks for themes and ways to make connections they can be found in many different places, overall this can lead to seeing reality though higher levels of awareness and if one is lucky enough glimpses of enlightenment, that was the broader and most important theme in this movie.
Identity Thief (2013)
Terrible, awful, insulting, painful
Where to begin? this movie was beyond bad, two hours of my life I will never have back. Almost amazing how many plot holes, problems and just down right insulting situations to the intelligence of even the most idiotic movie goer. I've seen funnier stuff at the laundromat while watching my clothes tumble around. My five year old step son could have written a funnier, more believable, intelligent script, and he has, he is quite talented.
Very few times have I left a comedy angry, but this was one of those rare occasions. I should have realized when I saw the crowd come out of the previous showing with looks on their face like they had just been duped into buying a 1982 Chevy Malibu with the body of a 1968 camaro on top of it's frame. If I could go back in time and change one thing in my life it would be to have not seen this movie.
Professione: reporter (1975)
watch it with Nicholson commentary.
The way to watch this film is with the Nicholson commentary. This is a very good art film with intriguing ideas and an existentialist theme, however the pace is so slow that at times you would get bored, Nicholson's commentary fits perfectly into this and adds a great deal. Today this would be considered way to slow. In the seventies art films like this were able to have long shots with little or no dialogue. In this world of video games and high budget cgi action its refreshing to see something that you can get absorbed in or lost in like a dream, and reflects more accurately the pace and events of real life.
The story narration flips between past, present and location. At times it can be a bit difficult to follow, both where they are and when they are, but this adds to the overall intrigue of the film. Identity, time, place are all interwoven together. The themes are Bunuelian in many ways and this type of film, with real ideas and themes about the existence of life and what it means to live with an identity are explored very well. Movies like this simply aren't being made today.
The name of the game in this film is "understated." Everything, from the performance by Nicholson to the sex scene, or implied one, and car chase, or implied one is not over the top. Maria Schnieder doesn't give a stellar performance. In the commentary, Nicholson states she was on pain pills for a back problem, however it was well known at the time she had a drug problem. Seems like she was on drugs throughout the film. Maybe heroin or some kind of downer, I watched this film in many ways to see her follow up to "The Last Tango in Paris" where she was vibrant, charismatic, and very sexually charged. This film, seems like she is more subdued, jaded and reserved and she is still only 23 at the time this was made. "Last Tango In Paris" took its toll on her, even by this point it is apparent she was damaged by what had happened during the aftermath of that film.
Excellent, revealing documentary
Like many people out there I'm sure, I had a loose understanding and knowledge of Basquit, but this film is very enlightening by filling in the missing gaps that I personally hadn't known about his life as told through those closest to him. The Director, who had a friendship with Basquit, does a wonderful job of interviewing people who knew him to really paint a full portrait of the mans character. Brilliant, creative, very sensitive.
Basquiat of course, rose to fame from the streets even though his father was a well off accountant. His life story is sad, in the crusty, white world of art in the late seventies and early eighties in NYC, the obnoxious liberals who Basquiat was often demeaned by, because of his ethnic background which he felt, probably rightly so, like he was being viewed as some kind of primitive animal. Very sad, very moving film about a gifted artist and one of the best of the 20th century.
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
where to begin...
Wow, what a great documentary. Having said that, hilarious, disturbing, brilliant, where to begin with this one? The story of street art which took a serious turn from straight up graffiti somewhere along the way to becoming the new hottest thing, but this story has a twist.
The John Belushi looking Thierry who is crazy, and was obsessed with filming street artists, having fooled many to believe he was a documentary filmmaker, when in reality he was just a French guy with a camera. Became obsessed with meeting the brilliant, elusive street artist Banksy and one day does. Banksy, who is everything Thierry is not, being humble, low key, a true artist, not looking for fame. Imagine that? Actually attempting to avoid the spotlight. Or is Banksy not what you would think and just brilliant at creating a mystique, like Batman who everyone wants to know his true identity, who doesn't want recognition and operates at night in the cover of darkness in order to create that scarcity many artists desire in order to sell for more money? that is up to you to decide. I feel that Banksy is the real deal, a true artist, not in it for the money and a true genius.
Banksy, who is the Michael Jordan of street artists encountered Theirry In L.A. and warmed up to him after he took a metaphorical bullet for him at Disneyland in a hilarious post 9/11 scare, encouraged Thierry to go back to L.A. and put on a show after he realized the horror that was his attempt at a documentary film. With Banksy's endorsement, Thierry became a million dollar art seller on his first show.
This film is as much a commentary on the creative movement of street art as it is the death of the movement. Innovators come along, do something new, than it becomes mainstream because some hack imitates the originators and sucks all the air out of the movement. Same old story...
Winter Soldier (1972)
Sad, shocking, horrifying
So much has been said and divulged over the years about Vietnam and the atrocities committed, both in Hollywood films such as "Platoon" "Full Metal Jacket" and many others as well as by the random veteran or family member who may have served, but to see the actual soldiers that either witnessed or participated in the horror while the war was still raging is something else entirely, and too see how fresh it was, and how young these guys were at the time. This generational nightmare takes it to a more real and personal level. the men gathered to divulge what they had participated in or witnessed in Vietnam in April of 1971 in Detroit, showed extreme bravery by willing to testify. At that point in history, the returning soldiers were spat on, in almost a national denial, those who didn't go to Vietnam couldn't wrap their brains around the fact that it was rancid all the way up, no one was stopping the chaos and anarchy that was happening in "The Nam" so they blamed the returning soldiers. The men who fought were victims, the whole experience was horrendous from top to bottom. America the beautiful indeed.
Ultimo tango a Parigi (1972)
taking advantage of Jeanne?
This film is troubling yet in it's own way a masterpiece of cinema. Troubling because for some reason it feels as though the lead female character is being exploited. It's quite telling, in the film Jeanne yells about half way through "Last Tango In Paris" to her fiancé who is filming a cinema verite style film based on her "Find someone else for your film, I feel like im being exploited" this is telling, as years later maria Schneider who played Jeanne, told that she believed both the director Bertolucci and Brando were taking advantage of her, exploiting her. Not Brando in a sexual way, but in the way they used her for the film, she fell into drug abuse after, this film is like watching the taking of innocence, watching an older, male dominated, lecherous world take and use female youth, beauty and innocence for its own gain. The sleazy 1970's, the years of decadence and excess, hedonism, narcissism profoundly reverberate through this film. It's a character study alright, but not in the way its intended.
The Big Chill (1983)
movie about self important thirty something yuppies in the 80's
First off, let me say this is a movie with a great cast of actors, most of them going on to really define themselves in other movies as true talents. That being said, this movie is really dated, and if it was other people acting in it would fail completely. Having lived in Ann Arbor for five years on the campus of the University of Michigan, I can honestly say that the director truly did capture the smug self importance of university of Michigan alumni. This he got down perfectly, as well as the narcissism and ego of the baby-boomer generation, who hypocritically dove head first into greed and money after sowing revolutionary oats in the sixties.
But most of all, this film seems to be about the confusion and despair those of that generation were during the early years of the , capitalist 80's. The characters reconnecting after one of their college friends killed himself because he felt he was a failure, speaks volumes for the self induced pressures placed on those of that time. Real or imaginary, failure didn't seem to be an option.
Tom Berrenger as the movie star character of J.T. Lancer, a take off of T.J. Hooker of course, seems the most out of place amongst this group of friends, he doesn't seem like a Michigan graduate, way too good looking and far less cerebral. Jeff Goldblum would be perfect, he would have been a student and graduate from Michigan, intelligent, smug, self important, selfish.
The woman who wants a baby, the character played by Mary Kaye Place, she claims she just wants someone to "Plant the seed" but when Jeff Goldblum offers she says something sarcastic about how it wasn't romantic, if she truly just wanted someone to plant the seed and nothing more romance shouldn't be a consideration. This of course is just one flaw in the film. Overall, at the time this came out, and for people of a certain generation I'm sure this was an important film, but now in this day and age it is way less relevant, as many wish they had the luxury of choosing to reject capitalism, most are struggling to get by during this time of the great reset.
The Office (2005)
surrogate sitcom, but just donkey in lipstick
Above average sitcom, which isn't saying much. My first thoughts about "the Office" are don't any of these people date anyone outside of "the office"? I don't know about you people, but when I have worked in offices most people that worked in them dated or were married to people that were not working in the same space, sure a few did here and there but that was the exception instead of the norm. Second, the surrogate laugh track is provided by either A. references to why something should be funny by the actors speaking to the camera in mockumentary style, or 2. a slight look or wink to the camera to let us know we should be laughing, usually by Jim saying "Hey! isn't't this funny?". In my humble opinion, this is both primitive, and stupid as far as jokes go, don't tell me I should be laughing, if it's funny, I will laugh without having to be told it's funny. Like I said earlier, this is an amusing sitcom at best, slightly different than the standard pathetic sitcoms with a laugh track but in reality still a donkey dressed up in lipstick and high heels. Demonstrating the low brow level of intelligence and base stupidity that remains and will remain to pass for entertainment to the masses.