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21 | Male | Kansas, USA
Favorite Films: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls073282425/
Favorite Shorts: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls060856031/
Favorite Directors: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls013106527/
Directors of Interest: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls063141920/
2016 watches: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls063523819/
2017 watches: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls066885525/
"top 10 poster probs higher somedays" - Catrician
"Not here v[ery] long but one of the best for sure." - atnahom
"One of the best on here. Impeccable taste, open to engaging in pretty much any film conversation, writes posts so thorough they may as well be book chapters. I dig it." - mikediastavrone96
". . . I often find myself visiting your profile page for your ratings/lists." - GanzEhrlich
"I am thankful for getting worldly knowledge of movies from you . . . in the en[d] you updated your list after weeks of hunger." - hikerhetav
"Jay, I think that you are great. I am really glad you are here. You are a good writer and have good insights into films." - Taran_of_Prydain
"Dig your taste deep. Underrated patrician." - Dexter_MORTENSEN
"Nice guy with perfect taste in films." - Jim_Jt
"Some of the most [focused] discussions with some of the best (and often unique) points." - tobias_681
Ratings are always subject to change upon evalaution and reconsideration.
Worst: Suicide Squad (2016) (2016)
This is a list of favorite short films (short films I have rated 8-10). Some shorts I have rated highly are not featured on this list as they collectively construct a feature film featured on my favorite films list; examples include It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012) and Dog Star Man (1964).
1 A feature-length film that is well-regarded by IMDb user Jay96 to the point that it recieves an 8-10 rating on a numerical scale by him.
"Big Fish is a film that is still considered a favorite after several years."
- 2017 Film Log2017 Additions:
- http://www.imdb.com/list/ls063523819/2016 Film Log
- http://www.imdb.com/list/ls013106527/Favorite Directors
- http://www.imdb.com/list/ls060856031/Favorite Short Films
- http://www.imdb.com/list/ls039390821/Favorite Music Moments in Cinema
- Safety Last! (1923) (1923),(1969),
- The Hart of London (1970) (1970),
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) (1974),*
- Every Man for Himself (1980)Every Man for Himself
- On the Silver Globe (1988)On the Silver Globe
- For All Mankind (1989) (1989)
- Film ist. (1998) (1998),
- Boys Don't Cry (1999) (1999),
- Ni na bian ji dian (2001)What Time Is It There?
- Blue Valentine (2010) (2010),
- Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010) (2010),
- The Hateful Eight (2015) (2015),
- Heart of a Dog (2015) (2015),
- American Honey (2016) (2016),
- Ah-ga-ssi (2016)The Handmaiden
- Oldest: Dante's Inferno (1911)Films by Decade:
- Newest: Sleep Has Her House (2016) (2016)
1910's: Intolerance (1916) 1920's: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) 1930's: M (1931) (1931) 1940's: Fantasia (1940) (1940) 1950's: The Seventh Seal (1957) 1960's: Andrei Rublev (1966) 1970's: Stalker (1979) (1979) 1980's: Raging Bull (1980) (1980) 1990's: Pulp Fiction (1994) (1994) 2000's: Melancholia (2008) (2008) 2010's: Incendies (2010) (2010)Most Represented Directors:
19 films: Ingmar Bergman 10 films: Stanley Kubrick 08 films: Andrei Tarkovsky ............ Akira Kurosawa ............ Jean-Luc Godard ............ Alfred Hitchcock 07 films: Robert Bresson ............ S.M. Eisenstein ............ Buster Keaton 06 films: David Lynch ............ Denis Villeneuve ............ Pier Paolo Pasolini ............ Lars von Trier ............ Michael Haneke ............ Martin Scorsese ............ Charles Chaplin 05 films: Gaspar Noé ............ Stan Brakhage ............ Fritz Lang ............ Roman Polanski ............ Steven Spielberg ............ Richard Linklater ............ D.W. GriffithNavigation: | (1) | (2) | (3) | (4) | (5) |
Ratings are subject to change over time and reflect my personal opinion as of December 31, 2016.
Top 10: 01. Melancholia (2008) (2008) 02. Shoah (1985) (1985) 03. I Stand Alone (1998) 04. My Life to Live (1962) 05. From What is Before (2014) 06. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) 07. Ran (1985) (1985) 08. The Apple (1998) 09. Breaking the Waves (1996) (1996) 10. To Our Loves (1983)
Bottom 10: 01. Penis Boy (2015) (2015) 02. Ghostbusters (2016) (2016) 03. In the Realm of the Senses (1976) 04. Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) (2015) 05. Super Girl from China (2015) (2015) 06. The Help (2011) (2011) 07. Zen for Film (1964) (1964) 08. Lot254 (2012) (2012) 09. The Seafarers (1953) (1953) 10. Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) (2016)
Director Stats: 58: Stan Brakhage | 23: Jean Painlevé | 15: PES | 13: Gaspar Noé | 12: David Lynch | 9: Ryan Trecartin | 8: Jean-Luc Godard | Don Hertzfeldt | Jan Svankmajer | Robert Morgan | 6: Sergei M. Eisenstein | Akira Kurosawa | Robert Bresson | Aleksandr Petrov | Jodie Mack | 5: Stanley Kubrick | Krzysztof Kieslowski | Georges Méliès | Orson Welles | Samira Makhmalbaf | 4: Roman Polanski | Alfred Hitchcock | Harmony Korine | Fritz Lang | Miranda July | Tim Burton | David Cronenberg | Eric Notarnicola | 3: Ingmar Bergman | Lars von Trier | Buster Keaton | Yasujirô Ozu | Steve McQueen | Satyajit Ray | Denis Villeneuve | Pier Paolo Pasolini | Andrei Tarkovsky | Oskar Fischinger | Woody Allen | Yorgos Lanthimos | Alain Resnais | Luis Buñuel | Paul Thomas Anderson | Jafar Panahi | Lav Diaz | Joseph Pelling | Becky Sloan | Neill Blomkamp | Majid Majidi | Neil Breen | Ilya Naishuller | 2: Charles Chaplin | Ang Lee | Ken Loach | Charles Burnett | Alejandro González Iñárritu | Chris Marker | Abel Ferrara | Federico Fellini | Martin Scorsese | Werner Herzog | François Truffaut | Aleksandr Gordon | Thomas Ridgewell | Eadweard Muybridge | John Cassavetes | Jean Renoir | Grigori Aleksandrov | Sidney Lumet | Vera Chytilová | Henri-Georges Clouzot | Yuriy Norshteyn | Asghar Farhadi | Peter Watkins | David Firth | Walerian Borowczyk | John Huston | Xavier Dolan | Abbas Kiarostami | Larry Clark | Takashi Miike | Matt McCormick | Alix Otenstein
19th Century: 1870's: 02 | 1880's: 02 | 1890's: 08 20th Century: 1900's: 05 | 1910's: 02 | 1920's: 22 | 1930's: 21 | 1940's: 12 | 1950's: 47 1960's: 53 | 1970's: 61 | 1980's: 37 | 1990's: 67
21st Century: 2000's: 105 | 2010's: 108
Feature: 240 | Short: 220 | Documentary: 9 | Documentary Short: 35 | TV Series: 1 | Mini-Series: 1 | Pilot: 1 | Webseries: 4 | Web Special: 2 | Video: 7 | Video Short: 32
- Arabian Nights: Vol. 1-3
- Embrace of the Serpent
- Knight of Cups
- Son of Saul
Sleep Has Her House (2016)
A Melodic Dream
This is definitely among the best films of 2016, a rather strong year for cinema. It is a prodigious thought knowing that such a powerful film as Sleep Has Her House was shot on an iPhone. The darkly beautiful cinematography is complemented by harmonious score and ethereal images. Perhaps every last shot of the film could serve as its poster. Sleep combines the best elements of experimental films like The Hart of London, The Turin Horse, and Visions of Meditation to form an ineffable cinematic experience. The film is thoroughly engaging and beautifully shot and edited. Despite being considered a "slow movie", Sleep Has Her House moves forward fairly quickly, never focusing on one shot for too long, balancing its themes quite well.
Perhaps Barley's greatest achievement with this film is portraying a dream-like state, channeling the likes of Tarkovsky and Deren. The film's length matches the time of an average sleep cycle, and the film itself carries the viewer through such a dream and its different stages.
The first part of the film depicts a sense of ambivalence within a dream found in the confines of nature. The remainder of the film appears as a gradual descent into nature's acceptance of the world's end, the true inevitable nightmare. This is accomplished with Barley's impressive form and leaves this writer with a sense of awe, similar to the emotional response gained from Fricke and Reggio's films, although through different subject matter.
This viewer expects a gradual increase of attention and appreciation for Barley's work by cinephiles in the near future. It is great. Watch it for yourself.
The Love Witch (2016)
Artistic Aesthetic and Muddled Messages
The Love Witch is apparently supposed to parody/mimic technicolor melodramas and stories from pulp magazines, but it seems as if it follows a certain aesthetic so closely that it doesn't seem to offer any insight or perspective into the aesthetic itself. As a result, it gets old pretty fast. I have read that some people find the film to be pro-feminist; I could see it as pointing out flaws with the patriarchy but that's about it. Every grain of feminism within the film comes across as incredibly shallow. The film allows itself to have an excuse to be shallow and basic, however. The film sets itself up with a defense mechanism so that it can avoid criticism, as people can respond with "It's part of the aesthetic." I don't really see anything particularly funny, and definitely not empowering about using satanism as a plot element, especially one for laughs. One doesn't have to be religious to agree that human sacrifice, including infant sacrifice, is evil. The film does not feature infant sacrifice, but it does reference human sacrifice and depict a glamorized version of witchcraft in a campy manner. The film is so messy that it seems like it is making women out to be works of the devil. One could easily respond to me and say "you don't get it, you are missing the point, it is the exact opposite of what you are saying. It is satire." If this is the case, what is the subject of satire, with what means is it satirizing the subject, and what is the purpose of it satirizing in this manner?
I would say that by subverting relatively outdated tropes and aesthetic while being campy and humorous isn't all that far from the realm of satire. Taking the viewpoint of the femme fatale in this case just leads to muddled politics regarding women rights. There is nothing particularly empowering about Elaine that isn't synonymous with evil. The film seems to suggest women are also inherently evil and the road to achieving equality is by harming the oppressive gender. I would say that even though I don't really care for the film at all, it is one that may call for some interesting discussion.
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Racial Insensitivity Analysis
The recurring criticisms towards the film's portrayal of racism oftentimes include the use of black-face makeup on white actors, the limited portrayal of black people being shown in a negative and sexually aggressive manner, historical inaccuracies to favor the South's point of view, and the glorification of the KKK.
Black-face makeup is an arguably racially insensitive makeup tool generally used by white actors to portray black characters. Similar makeup techniques were used in classics like Lawrence of Arabia, Touch of Evil, and Breakfast at Tiffany's where white actors are in different colors of makeup to portray characters of other races. Black-face was less a fault with the film as much as it was an unfortunate fault with the era in film and the lack of job opportunities in America for black people at the time. Black-face was a tool within the film that reflects the time frame that was still plagued with its racially unfair history.
There are several notable characters that represent African- Americans as either being saintly by obeying their white southern masters, or the opposite by carrying out their violent and sexually aggressive behavior. While the latter statement is only really applied to one represented character on screen, most of the black characters are either neutral or as mentioned otherwise, this scene can be quite problematic. This is due to what one perceives the film as implying, as one can argue that this indicates that black people are generally like this.
On the subject of stereotyping, people suggest the scene involving a black man attempting to rape a woman, who jumps off a cliff to her death, unfairly implies that black men generally behave that way. It is not fair to apply stereotypical attributes, whether they stem for partial truths or not, upon everyone within a culture. The sexually aggressive rapist character triggers others in the film to unfairly associate the individual's qualities with his race. The film clearly depicts racism but is not necessarily condoning it. Furthermore, the exaggerated attributes of the mentioned character are technically held to the same standard as most of the significant characters within the film. Silent films are known for exaggerated performances to heighten drama.
A constant criticism is that it is morally wrong as its narrative is from a racist viewpoint. Beloved films consistently portray stories and themes from the perspective of evil. People consistently accept films depicting murder and other crimes, shamelessly told from the perspective of said criminal. Goodfellas depicts evil behavior in the form of organized crime, as seen from the perspective of someone who is and likes being a gangster. One can say the film does not promote such themes, but technically it never directly states it isn't. The lead character frequently and directly voices his disgust for regular lifestyles to the audience, while commenting on how superior his way of living is. Scorsese leave it up to the viewer's perception to interpret right from wrong, mostly with success. Goodfellas' depiction of violence theoretically could be mirrored with this film's depiction of racism as both display evil from characters' viewpoints who argue for it; and without an observable argument against such behavior, the audience can perceive right from wrong themselves. However, this can't be fully compared, as the film does provide a clear distinction.
The film does not condone racism, from my perspective. Like Goodfellas, it depicts heinous acts and includes characters blatantly arguing for a certain evil lifestyle; although, unlike Goodfellas, The Birth of a Nation includes direct statements heavily suggesting the evil content depicted is not necessarily promoted by its creators. At the start of the film is an inter-title that reads: is blatantly stating its intentions that are not to offend with improprieties and obscenities. Griffith previously made a film depicting the KKK as the enemy. Griffith, makes a test to his audience, albeit unknowingly, and their discernment of how differences in camera movement and editing can imply heroism to an individual.
Griffith argues that one must first understand evil and darkness, to understand and embrace its opposite. With such free speech, he demands the right to show whatever he sees necessary in the depiction of this historical event.
One can argue that such beloved films about criminals are acceptable to argue for and rationalize immoral behavior, when there is a logical explanation for such behavior. For example, a character decides to rob a bank for his/her sick spouse, and decides to kill people along the way. Point A leads to Point B. Indeed, there is a motive, but it does not make the violent behavior right. This logic can be applied to the film. Racism increases due to events including the scene mentioned above. Point A leads to Point B. There can be reasons for immorality, but justification is not necessarily acceptable. I believe this film is not held to the same standard as other films that technically deal with similar potential issues. One may argue that racism is not greater in immorality levels than other crimes depicted in films, yet many beloved western films reinforce racism towards Native Americans. Interestingly, nine years prior to the controversy and multiple bans of the film for its alleged racist agenda, the 1906 film Reenactment of the Massacre at Wounded Knee was banned in the US for its sympathetic depiction of Native American people.
The glorification of the KKK is constructed by the perception of the film's viewers. It does not appear that the film is condoning the group's agenda; even if the film was doing so, it is a double standard to find this inappropriate and dismissing it, but defending crime films arguably condoning crime and violence, and western films arguably condoning racism towards Native Americans. Now, there are those who do not accept any form of rationalization for evil in free speech, which is reasonable.
Summarized Thoughts on Each Chapter
I thought Dekalog was a very interesting approach on various individuals' different personal struggles that oftentimes are self- inflicted or inflicted upon them by a loved one. I can say Kieslowski successfully utilized the ten commandments' themes and applied them to a contemporary setting, while also mixing in his own themes that he finds ways to correspond with the respective commandment.
In the case of this, I found each part less of an episode, and more of its own individual television movie, which combined form an even better film. The title is listed on IMDb as a TV mini-series, which I suppose is fair despite me seeing this listed among the best films ever for some reason. Anyways, here are my brief thoughts on each episode:
Decalogue 1: I am The Lord Thy God
This one is either the best or second best in this series of television films. It is beautifully filmed and very well written. Also this alone proves children can act under proper direction. Applying the idolization of science and indifference towards spirituality is an interesting way to start off. This one also may be the most religious to its core in what themes it presents and how it is executed. It's fantastic. 10
Decalogue 2: Thou Shalt Not Take The Lord's Name in Vain
This one is really good, albeit slow. I wasn't as drawn to this one as some people were, especially in comparison to some of the other episodes, but it's still really great. I think acting is one of the least interesting aspects of filmmaking, but in the case for this chapter, its just too well done not to comment on it. This one also features some very nice and memorable motifs and imagery. Maybe drags on a little to hold everyone's interest, but it does help set the mood. Great writing for some great characters. 8.5
Decalogue 3: Thou Shalt Keepeth the Sabbath Holy
While still under competent writing, editing, and performances, this chapter wasn't as interesting to me as the previous two but still a memorable watch for positive reasons. It is also maybe my favorite Christmas movie after Brazil, interestingly. I think it plays well with theme of the respective commandment and showcases some negative effects the holiday season can have one those who are lonely. Pretty good. 8.0
Decalogue 4: Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
This is a fantastic film with fantastic character interactions and dialogue. It pushes boundaries by exploring taboos within families. The film covers respect in a father and daughter relationship as well as near incest and the role that family ties and obligations override feelings and desires. 9.0
Decalogue 5: Thou Shalt Not Kill
Even though I am strongly against capital punishment, I interestingly found this film's argument against it to be the least interesting aspect of the film. This is such an amazing film with some shocking scenes and peak of emotions. I am looking forward to see A Short Film About Love as its allegedly more intense. 9.5
Decalogue 6: Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
This chapter is a masterpiece in every technical way, I can't imagine A Short Film About Love topping this as it might be perfect how it is. This part definitely has the most interesting characters (though Decalogue 5's criminal character is also great) and expertly explores themes of obsession, stalking, lust, and heartache. This one is so beautiful. 10
Decalogue 7: Thou Shalt Not Steal
Unfortunately, Dekalog drops in quality ever so slightly here on out. But its hard to surpass its expertise in the first six episodes. Chapter 7 is pretty good even though my initial thought suggested otherwise. The film may be somewhat more slow and less eventful, but it makes up for it in character interactions and dialogue as well as its cinematography. I like it. 8.0
Decalogue 8: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness
This one was just frustrating, it wasn't really bad in any technical way; this chapter is just not as strong. It could be more me watching it at the wrong time, but this film frustrated me. As gorgeous as the cinematography and overall form was, I just was not drawn to the story. I don't find anything particularly wrong with its screenplay other than just not allowing many interesting event to occur. I think at least that's my opinion, I had troubles following this chapter for whatever reason and that bothers me. This thought isn't very developed, but I also might think that this chapter's use of the commandment is somewhat contrived. I don't know for sure. I have mixed thoughts on it. I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy watching it, it was more so its legacy on me. 6.5
Decalogue 9: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife
This is a good movie with some interesting themes regarding relationships and the important role that sex plays within them. The characters are complicated and the first and third act are quite strong, I just wasn't particularly invested in the second act. Overall, it's good. Watch it. 7.5
Decalogue 10: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Goods
As great as this chapter is, I still wish Dekalog ended on a somewhat more stronger note in terms of intellectual stimulation. However, it's no doubt that this chapter is a blast to watch. It is the most light- hearted and humorous. The emotional connection to the characters allows the audience to more laugh at the character's misfortunes and antics than feel moved, saddened, or disturbed as previous chapters did. It's wonderful. 8.5
Ai no korîda (1976)
It's Bad . . .
Director Nagisa Ôshima was once quoted saying "My hatred for Japanese cinema includes absolutely all of it." These are quite pompous words from someone who has made such a bad film as "In the Realm of the Senses." I decided to wait a few weeks to let this film sink in for me so that I am able to develop my thoughts; not only do I now stand by disliking this film, but I have actually grown to detest it more upon contemplation. At the time of this writing, I have not seen any other films by Ôshima, and interestingly, I would not be against it as it is clear he has some talent. Throughout "In the Realm of the Senses", the audience can conclude that the film is well made in terms of mise en scène and I would even go as far to call some shots beautiful. The problem I have with the film is not how something is shown, but the context of which what is shown.
The film has inspired Gaspar Noé to direct his explicit film Love, which I have previously reviewed and consider to be one of the best films of 2015. This fact and its inclusion on the Criterion Collection drew my interest, however I was quite disappointed. A few minutes in, we see in a rather cringe worthy scene, children throwing snowballs at the private parts of an old man sleeping in the snow only to be followed by the lead character caressing his cold genitals in up- close detail. At this point, I realized the film would be more reminiscent of erotic schlock like "9½ Weeks" than it would intelligent psycho- sexual dramas like "Eyes Wide Shut." Scenes like this contribute little to nothing to the overall narrative; which the narrative in fact is mostly constructed by one pointless scene after another until it meets the third act where the elements it builds upon actually start to lead somewhere.
While the film is admittedly brave in what it chooses to show, it is ultimately aimless and inconsistent. In some scenes, there is conflict between the two regarding unfaithfulness; in others, it is defenestrated. In some scenes, the affair is meant to be kept secret; in others, the two have sex in public. Some scenes are bleak and imply realism, while others are hackneyed and corny including a scene in which an elderly lady watches the two have sex as she laughs and comments on the beauty of youth, which more or less happens twice with two different elderly women. There are at least two scenes of rape, which aids in neither the plot nor the characters it involves. The film's shock value loses its quality and becomes embarrassing. I would say the explicit nature of the film in theory does not upset or offend be, but I'd be lying if I didn't include one scene that legitimately bothers me. This particular scene is fortunately shot from afar and begins with two children (one boy, one girl) playing with each other while randomly running around naked. The boy is stopped by the lead female character who then yanks on his young penis leaving him shouting out that he is hurt by her. Not only does the scene appear to border child molestation and possibly documented abuse, but it also serves absolutely nothing to the story. The film goes on and on like this with interchangeable and ultimately irrelevant scenes for some time.
The third act is when the director actually takes the characters somewhere after much worthless malarkey that preceded it. The heightening dangers and perverseness of the characters are displayed in an intimate way as the two engage in the unhealthy taboo of choking one another. The film lacked such intimacy previously between the two leads, and ultimately the greatest scenes within this film is not brought to its fullest potential and feel watered down to me due to its lackluster first two acts leading here. The final moments of the film are fine, just fine. They are nothing special. There could be more buildup leading to its conclusion, but it's ultimately just okay at best at this point. While 2015's Love used this film's aesthetics as an outline to examine a relationship and case study on sex in an entertaining, intelligent, and intimate manner, "In the Realm of the Senses" butchers its best moments by settling within its perverse, corny, and shallow qualities. This is truly a bad, ugly, and unintelligent film disguised as something holding special significance.
El laberinto del fauno (2006)
Symbolism and Theme Analysis
With such a layered film, I feel this analysis won't do justice my appreciation. Within this analysis, I decided to primarily focus on the role disobedience has within the film and give insight to the film's symbolic subtext. Unfortunately, due to word limit, I cannot elaborate further on this film (such as its utilization of both fantasy and real world), but I figured this post may give people some things to think about.
Classic fairy tales and folklore put thematic emphasis on the importance of obedience. Such stories' themes and conservative moral core and sensibilities. Such themes, morals, and tropes were heightened in society through the works of people such as Brothers Grimm in their adaptations and then later, Walt Disney in his films. Such fairy tale stories were for quite a while, restricted within their own tropes, themes, and formula. Guillermo del Toro, borrowing from a number of sources, breaks such boundaries within Pan's Labyrinth. He utilizes and subverts ideals found within sources and references he borrows from. In particular, is that of the theme of disobedience to authority in effort to making the right moral choice, or in some cases, any choice at all. There are many cases in which authority is disobeyed and questioned by various characters. However, for the purpose of this analysis, I will focus on Ofelia's character arc of disobedience alone.
In Ofelia's case, rather than having disobedience being the tool that sets her character arc in motion as fairy tales tend to do with their respective protagonists, her character arc grows and concludes through acts of disobedience. Towards the beginning of the film, she enters the labyrinth and continues to read fairy tales against the wishes of her Mercedes and her mother. Later on, she ruins her dress her mother gave her and keeps secret of Mercedes' position before eventually attempting to leave with her, once again disobeying authority that is set before her. In the scene in which she visits the lair of the Pale Man, she is told by a fairy to place her key in the wrong key slot. The fairy is proved wrong, and she places it in another key slot. Right after proving authority to be wrong at time, she deliberately disobeys the Faun's command and decides to eat off the table, eventually facing consequences of her action. This example demonstrates that one must find a balance between obeying and disobeying. The film's climax leads to the ultimate act of disobedience. Already promising to obey the Faun, she drugs and escapes her fascist step-father and enters the labyrinth with her baby brother. Even though she had already promised obedience, Ofelia makes the choice to once again disobey the Faun at the expense of her brother's safety. While she is murdered soon after with her brother rescued, she passes the test and according to the fantasy narrative, gains access to the next life in which she can spend with her deceased parents. The film delves into the theme of disobedience, and itself, demonstrates disobedience by escaping restrictions often set before fantasy stories. Guillermo del Toro, while hinting at the fantasy world existing and not existing, does not provide a clear solution to the existence to either. With an argument for one extreme, there can be found another argument against it. Even if one were to take the fantasy aspect literally beyond being a coping mechanism for Ofelia during such times, it is hard to argue against the "fantasy world" symbolizing and reflecting from aspects within the "real world" and still serves a means for Ofelia to use to cope with her situation. The fantasy elements constantly reflect upon the real-life elements. Dressed within an Earth green dress similar to the dress seen in Alice in Wonderland, Ofelia enters a tree that mimics the shape of the Faun's head. In addition to this, it also resembles a uterus, which is fitting as this becomes one of Ofelia's steps to being "born again." She enters inside the tree and encounters a giant toad containing a key within itself. She utters to the toad "aren't you ashamed of living down here, eating all these bugs, and growing fat while the tree dies?" These lines of dialogue do not just refer to that of the frog, but also her love/hate relationship with her soon to be born brother who is causing health problems for her mother. The toad eventually vomits its inner body as its outer skin deflates, demonstrating the violent nature of her brother's birth to come and its fatal effects on her mother.
The Pale Man symbolizes fascism and its negative effects on youth. The Pale Man itself is a child-eating monster reminiscent of trolls and ogres as well as Cronos from Greek mythology, who consumed the young in fear of the youth eventually acting as replacements, similar to fascist Spain's treatment of its youth. Off to the side of the table is a pile of shoes, mirroring holocaust imagery. The Pale Man is positioned at the end of the table mirroring imagery of Vidal at the dinner table in a previous scene. With the Pale Man representing fascism, and in particular, Captain Vidal.
I personally view the film as containing much religious subtext through its symbolism. For example, eating the grapes that serve as an example of negative disobedience can be compared to the forbidden fruit seen within the story of Adam and Eve. Christianity treats choice as a gift given to people from God. Those who choose to follow God enter Heaven according to the Bible; in the case of Ofelia, she makes the moral choice to disobey and save her brother, sacrificing herself in the process, which brings her to the afterlife. It does not matter if the fantasy elements are not to be taken literally as otherwise, she returns to childhood innocence and dies honorably and at peace, bringing closure to her character arc.
American Psycho (2000)
Underwhelming and Basic
A film like American Psycho is one that attracts a certain type of person. Its primary fan base is youthful people with high adrenaline and desire to watch entertaining violence while also longing for more meaning that is easy and accessible to them. The meaning this type of people long for doesn't even have to be of much substance, as long as these viewers are able to understand it and justify their taste with a comment on the lines of "no, it is good because it is satirizing violence, not condoning it" even though there is a good chance this type of person also just enjoys this type of content already, rendering the satire aspect useless for the person's argument.
I don't think American Psycho is a particularly bad film, but I don't think it is a particularly good film. I believe this film relies too much on entertaining violence and its satire is rather flat. One should make close attention to Bale's role as Patrick Bateman. Bateman is rather a caricature, or at least his character is fairly static. However, while one could look at that as a negative, it isn't necessarily bad. The superficiality and lack of (for the most part) real dimension of the protagonist character can be argued to benefit from the notion that such people in his position of power themselves take on a public persona that in turn becomes who they are. Adopting said persona in this position could lead the individual to lack normal emotional and mental depth. Patrick Bateman as a character has little depth, and because of this, he fills the empty hole with the satisfaction of fulfilling hedonistic fantasies including misogyny and murder. The film opens with a scene of Bateman narrating about who he is as an individual, practically noting how superficial and empty he really is. To further the point, they have him applying a materialistic skin mask to develop who our protagonist is. Now, this is what the film sets up and has working for it. Unfortunately, as the film progresses, I feel the film focuses on the entertainment aspect of murder and misogyny (which admittedly is good in some scenes) up to the point that it overshadows satire and leaves it somewhat undeveloped.
I feel that American Psycho does not live up to what it sets up leading to a rather underwhelming and predictable climax. At least it was to me.
With this in mind some may wonder why certain people flock to defend the film? The answer is that it fits a formula and adopts tropes that some impressionable people like. Such tropes include insane serial killer protagonist, violent and sexual scenes played comically and set to popular music, and of course surface level satire to make the viewer feel smart for noticing and not guilty for enjoying the violence and sex. The film has its moments to shine, but ultimately falls flat. Not the worst, but far from the best.
I expect just solely due to my lukewarm rating and negative title, there will be fans who will mark this review as "unhelpful." Well, maybe not as much now that I addressed this.
Fight Club (1999)
While universally praised by all types of people, teenage and young adult audience members in specific tend to gravitate towards Fight Club, hailing it as one of the greatest films of all time and currently placing it at #10. on IMDb's Top 250 films. However, there are plenty of people that deem this film overrated, and while I can't quite agree with that, I would say, much like Pulp Fiction, people tend to consciously praise this film for the wrong reasons and through superficial means. For the fairly shallow reasons people claim to like this film, I would say in that sense, it is overrated. I would argue that this film is quite misinterpreted by common audience members and even by well-known film critics. Edward Norton's narrator character is not named, to serve as a vehicle for the audience to adopt themselves upon. He is a regular American white collar Caucasian male in his thirties. He is a regular person. He is a loser to many as his life is empty. In essence, he is the audience. Tyler Durden represents the other extreme, while being a different side of the same coin. Audiences generally love Tyler Durden, and it makes sense that they do in a way, as he embodies everything they wish to be or wish to have. Tyler Durden is the ideal masculine role, but the Narrator is given the task to redefine that role.
Tyler Durden influences the Narrator to give up his dependent and materialistic lifestyle and embrace life for what it is; in essence all that matters is up to the individual. I think the film is also about finding a balance and not going too far in a way. The film is about how people should strive to improve, accept their worth, or lack of, but not give in so far that they lose sense of their individuality.
There's an over growing sense that one should not give in too much. The fight clubs and Project Mayhem begin to form a cult with set rules and priorities, embracing a mindless sheep like organized role, which is what they are set out to go against. They ultimately and ironically are fighting against what they are, which gives more insight and meaning to the film's twist. The twist is what audiences tend to focus on, while thinking the film is actually endorsing what the fight clubs and Project Mayhem stand for. The answer is neither 'no' nor 'yes' but rather 'sort of'. As mentioned before, the film argues for balance. The narrator, while ultimately agreeing with Tyler in some ways, feels things are getting out of hand, especially after a man is killed. Once he kills off Tyler, he is then ridding himself of the extremist side of him in a way, though not fully as he is still adopting some of that side. Tyler taught him not to need consumerist products and lifestyle, but he went too far and the narrator realizes he does not need Tyler. The film is about gaining a little bit of both sides. Tyler is not the hero. He is going too far and the audience needs to catch onto the fact that he is not the ideal one should strive for, but rather strive for that of the protagonist at the end. One should be their own individual but strive to improve and not give in and embrace extremes. The film is first about ridding one's self of the materialistic means and ideals society sets forth, including hyper-masculine extremist role models that Tyler embodies. The film is being more like the narrator than Tyler. Despite this, audience members lose sight of this and still view the film of being film as being for Tyler's philosophy and character ideal.
Blade Runner (1982)
Philosophical Analysis (abridged class paper)
This philosophical analysis of the film Blade Runner is an abridged version of a school paper I wrote during my first semester at college. Upon evaluation, I feel there is much more I could add to this.
This is my personal subjective and analysis of the film and the philosophical writings of Turing and Hume referenced below. Alan Turing gave his answer to the question of whether or not machines could ever be capable of thinking like a human being as a 'yes.' Many philosophers and great thinkers of history stated the answer would be, "no." While it is often agreed that computers can think in certain but not all ways, it raises the question, "how would we even know if a computer is thinking like a human being or not?" Turing stated that it is polite to assume everybody thinks as the only person one can know positively thinks is one's self. With this in mind, it can be concluded that machines can one day be assumed to have human thought just as validly as any person besides one's self does. Turing looked at a party imitation game as an inspiration to develop the Turing Test, a game in which a judge must decipher if he is speaking to a computer or a person and if the computer can be mistaken to be human, it can be concluded to possibly have human-like thought.
In the film, four bio-engineered humanoids known as replicants come to Earth illegally and become targets for execution. The process of replicant execution is referred to as retirement, perhaps because the layman would look at replicants as not humans, therefore their executions would not be considered genuine deaths. The film utilizes the fictional Voight-Kampff Test a test parallel to the Turing Test designed to determine if someone is a replicant or not by asking a series of questions and looking closely at iris dilations and pupil fluctuations to decipher if their emotional response is not human. Towards the beginning of the film, the replicant character Leon is given the test with suspicion of him being a replicant. Before murdering the questionnaire, Leon responds to several questions in an evasive and curious human-like way easily, thus passing the Turing Test before the Voight-Kampff Test really began. The character Rachael believes herself to be human but is then given a the test by Deckard and is then discovered to be a replicant. The line between artificial intelligence and human intelligence becomes blurred, so much that only the slightest details would give away the difference. According to the film, artificial intelligent beings are in fact able to pass the Turing Test and therefore are able to think for themselves.
With this in mind, mankind ever does create a machine that claims to be able to think and potentially turn away from initial programming, I believe we should not automatically assume they do not genuinely think, and possibly treat such a machine as a living organism. David Hume once wrote: "As a memory alone acquaints us with the continuance and extent of this succession of perceptions, 'tis to be considered, upon that account chiefly, as the source of personal identity. Had we no memory, we never shou'd have any notion of causation, nor onsequently the identity of our persons beyond our memory . . ." and ". . . memory does not so much produce as discover personal identity, by shewing us the relation of cause and effect among our different perceptions." I interpret and summarize Hume's writings as stating memory is not what makes somebody a person as other philosophers may believe, but rather helps one know their personal identity.
The character Racheal learns she not only is a replicant destined to die within a short amount of time, but that her memories had been programmed by her creator, Tyrell. Racheal essentially loses nearly all understanding of her personal identity but as she exists, she does not lose her personal identity altogether.
While not officially stating it, the film hints that Deckard, is not only assigned to retire replicants, but also a replicant himself. This is further explored in The Final Cut in which Deckard dreams about a unicorn and at the end of the film finds an origami unicorn on the floor presumably left by his work partner, Gaff, who had previously been shown with an origami match-stick man. Towards the end of the film, Gaff tells Deckard that he has done a man's job while before treating him more unfairly, further suggesting Deckard may be a replicant. With this in mind, it appears Gaff not only knows Deckard's basic whereabouts and thoughts, but possibly created Deckard with programmed memories that may belong to Gaff. If this theory is true, Deckard's understanding of his personal identity is false, but his actual personal identity is not, as memories do not create personal identities but helps people understand their personal identity. The character Roy Batty, moments before death, says the following lines to Deckard:
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain Time to die..."
One could conclude with Hume's writings that Batty's memories are not what makes him a person but helps him understand his personal identity. With his memories gone, his understanding of personal identity would cease to exist, but by saving Deckard's life and sharing his memories, he allows his personal identity to continue existing as Deckard would remember him. As Batty dies, a dove he was holding is released and then flies into the air, suggesting his soul left his body and makes its way to Heaven. As his personal identity lives on and despite being artificial, he is in fact a person.
Children of Men (2006)
Spirituality Analysis (abridged class paper)
Alfonso Cuarón's 2006 science-fiction drama film, Children of Men, depicts a not-so distant future in which there are no recorded births across the world. This tragedy results in a chaotic dystopia atmosphere filled with people lacking faith and hope. The film both implicitly and explicitly features various references to Christian themes, imagery, and stories. If a viewer analyzes and compares the film's subtext, the person may find that the film's use of spiritual symbolism may enrich the person's appreciation for the film through its messages on hope and redemption.
The central story of Children of Men is set in 2027 United Kingdom, around eighteen years after the last recorded child birth. The film follows the character Theo as he is pulled into a mission to quietly escort a miraculously pregnant refugee woman named Kee through a dangerous region controlled by the corrupt government to a safe haven in order to assure safety of the mother and child as well as hope for the future. Throughout the film, Theo subtly undergoes a change of character as he starts off hopeless and dies with hope for mankind. A particular sequence of dialogue within the film serves as exposition that gives insight to Theo and Julian's past as well as referencing an ongoing continuous existential crisis many Christians have after facing a tragedy involving chance and faith. The conversation features the character Jasper telling Merriam and Kee his take on Theo's past by applying faith versus chance philosophy; thissequence of dialogue happens as Theo listens in nearby agreeing. Essentially, Theo represents a character that has lost or struggles with his faith, something that can be compared with many devout Christian's recurring existential crises when in doubt of their God's love. Theo is mentioned to have once been a part of protests exercising his beliefs. The death of his child led to him and his wife seeing less of each other and likely the cause of his alcoholism and separation from his wife. The film begins with him nearly hopeless for the future due to the mass infertility of women across the world. He later has a glimpse of hope when he discovers the character Kee is pregnant. This hope continues to grow and change him throughout the rest of the film as it serves as a driving force of his motivation.
The film's story may draw various allegories and references to Christian theology, such as the resistance group within the film being called "fishes," (a common Christian icon), but seems to be able to be compared more to the nativity story within the gospel of the Christian Holy Bible. The birth of Jesus, according to Christianity, is a miracle in itself as Mary, his mother was a virgin at the time of his conception and birth. "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:23). While in a different nature, Kee's pregnancy was a miracle as well, and like Jesus' birth set in motion hope for the future. Theo's words when discovering she was pregnant was also "Jesus Christ." Kee even further references this story by jokingly telling Theo that she is a virgin. The Gospel states Mary and Joseph fled from their home and gave birth to Jesus in a manger, while King Herod sent his men to kill newborn children in search of the Messiah. This can be compared to various scenes in Children of Men, as Theo guides the refugee Kee through danger to birth her child in what appeared to be a barn or shed, which is followed by someone discovering the child and inflicting potential danger on the family. Towards the climax of the film, various soldiers see Kee holding her child and are in awe, some even bowing, and performing the Catholic tradition of crossing themselves representing trinity. While this does not mean that Kee's child necessarily represents God, but does represent faith, hope for the future, and a miracle to behold. Theo can also be compared to Jesus in some ways, or rather a Christ like figure. This can be further expressed in the ending scene in which Theo essentially dies for the child's safety, sacrificing his life for the safety of the world. Further symbolism is seen through Kee at the ending as she is rescued by the ship "Tomorrow" which will take her to a safe haven for her child. This scene can be interrupted as the "key to tomorrow" as the child may be hope for the future. While not all of the Christian allegories may be necessary to the film's central plot, some definitely add to the film's subtext.
Drawing from the Bible and other familiar icons of Christianity aids in giving the character's depth and fulfill traditional moralistic behavior. Throughout the Bible, there is a consistent message about redemption; trusting in and living for God, repenting from one's sins, and asking for forgiveness can allow the person to become redeemed. Theo's character is redeemed in a way, from turning from alcoholism and a lack of hope to a selfless person, caring less for himself, and more for others and the state of mankind. In addition to selflessness, this film seems to promote the concept of having hope, which can also be seen not only the character of Theo but within the film's overall environment. It seems that while one known remaining child may not be sufficient enough to repopulate the Earth, it still gives people hope. With these Christian symbols, allusions, and themes, viewers can draw meaning from the subtext of Children of Men to enrich their experience and appreciation in watching the film. The film on the surface is a violent science-fiction survival thriller, but upon analysis, one can find more meaning through its optimistic Christian themes of hope, redemption, and selflessness as seen through the character Theo and Kee and her child.