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18 reviews in total 
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A Permanent Step Away From His Old Methods, 22 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The whole idea of Freud, psychoanalysis, dream and hypno-therapy seems and feels a lot more like a playground that Director David Croenenberg fortifies for his cast of A Dangerous Method but never allows them or himself as a director to play on or explore.

With that said Viggo Mortenson is hired, more or less to pose as a stand in model for Sigmund Freud.

A Dangerous Method isn't as much about Sigmund Freud as it is about two psychologists, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) trying to disprove his theory as they end up partaking in it, in the same process. Therefore, you can't step into a theater without any background on the first stages of psychoanalysis because this is about why most modern psychologists of today hate Freud. And with that said it is interesting.

Only For a movie about some of the first psychologists, dealing with one on one dream and hypno-therapy sessions at very close hand, Croenenberg doesn't give as many dream sequences as we hear about them through several of Carl Jung's reiterations.

Aesthetically Croenenberg takes numerous liberties with Michael Fassbender and Kiera Knightley's exploration of Freud's dangerous methods. The closest we come to anything dream like or something we can see as a trace of some of Croenenberg's old-fashioned occultist methods - that cemented his name into cult-cinema forever in the first place - are a number of masochistic sex scenes between Knightley and Fassbender that include him either whipping her or standing over her after he just finished whipping her, looking indifferent, detached or ashamed of either one out of these dangerous methods. There is also another take that includes Vincent Cassell as Freud's son, giving it to a maid in some yard next door to the mental hospital he is currently occupying, only that scene seemed more like Croenenberg's attempt at trying to communicate to some of his first audiences how well he still knows and loves to shoot sex scenes such as these.

Aside from that, A Dangerous Method, is heavily narrated by time lapses and letters going back and forth between Freud and Jung. The time lapses make developing any sort of attachment to the story or characters difficult and once I gained a recognition of the story-telling pattern being wrought by the letters sent back and forth between Freud and Jung, I wanted a narrative voice to come out and say during the last exchange of written words, 'and so that's why they stopped being friends.' Altogether I think Croenenberg's latest A Dangerous Method is even further proof of Croenenberg's permanent step away from his old methodical usage of the stop-motion sci-fi effect and gimmick.

6 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Western Revisionist, 15 December 2011

Harry Thomason's The Last Ride made me very self and health conscious.

My mind wondered throughout most of its' transitions about my own health, as the driver Silas - played by Henry Thomas - throughout most of the ride there, gradually became less and less of a chronic cigarette smoker as a result of seeing his mysterious passenger in the backseat slowly coughing and struggling to death more and more for fresh air, a pack of smokes, or newer bottles of alcohol.

By the time they get to the last gas station, before The Last Ride's ultimate climax, I think Silas, unnoticeably quits smoking, before a girl at the pump tells him he is this gas stations last customer. The owner of it died last year of a black lung so this is the gas stations last night of being open for business.

The Last Ride starring – that's right – Jesse James as Hank Williams is about Hank Williams' last ride out, to a show somewhere in West Virginia. Two things I considered high brow about The Last Ride are as follows. One thing was The Last Ride, wasn't nearly as autobiographical as you could imagine any movie about a legendary country singer like, say Ray Charles, or Johnny Cash being, as much as it was more so about his last ride, in a literal sense, out to some gig he had in a random place and the relationship he developed with the young man, Silas, employed to get him out there safely.

Williams was an alcoholic and chronic cigarette smoker too so it was the drivers' responsibility to get out there sober, while Silas is already worried about getting him out there alive. Another thing was how obvious Thomason didn't make the identity of Williams as a legendary country singer. I had to get out my laptop for research on the last ride to figure out who the mysterious passenger was because I don't think they ever tell you throughout this picture.

Altogether I would say the last ride is about Hank William's posthumous fame.

Silas doesn't listen to the radio so all he knows about his mysterious passenger the whole way there is that he is an alcoholic musician that carries a gun and won't stop being incredibly mean to him, while scolding him all of the time for calling him sir. But the funnier thing about that is Williams won't give Silas any other name to refer to him as.

I think Silas learns of his passenger's traveling name by accident through a long distance phone call he has with an employer who is supposedly his employer, played by some guy whose been a senator for Tennessee for a couple of years and he didn't even mean to give Silas that information. Silas wasn't even supposed to have this guy's number because he is not in fact who originally hired this driver. It's just a weird movie, whose overall story structure run on a lot of obscure Lynchian fuel that you may have seen in either Lost Highway or Refn' latest nominated Drive, starring Ryan Gosling.

The aesthetic liberties taken with the mechanics of The Last Ride's story structure is what I think makes up for all that it lacks in cinematography. You can tell they had a budget during the filming of The Last Ride. Altogether in retrospect I see The Last Ride as a hood classic whose mystery comes from what the film doesn't tell you throughout its' duration, about what is actually taking place.

Audiences shouldn't go into the last ride knowing who that mysterious musician alcoholic passenger is. Aside from all of the mystery, movies like that about people with fighting chances that they can't stop blowing are usually touching to general audiences because the premise of them is normally in regards to their last chance and the main character of every movie like that never knows how close he is to that last breath, much like each and every one of us.

The conservative nature of The Last Ride's scheme is what I think keeps it from venturing too far into anything sentimental or philosophical so its' a lot more chill and a lot less bias than most autobiographical films usually are.

Shame (2011)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Dramatically Ironic Look At Today's Culture, 4 December 2011

Steve McQueen's Shame is a brave, and originally cultured look into masculinity and humanity at its' worse.

Living in New York City, a place where 'cynicism is turning into all,' Michael Fassbender plays Brandon, a full-time employee and sex addict, whose living is for the most part comfortable, and almost entirely led by leisure, until his sister, Cissy, played by Carey Mulligan, comes to pay him an unexpected visit.

On a surface level McQueen takes us to the streets of New York City, while in the same vain exploiting its' landscape for all of its cool grey and blue undertones, which is basically what makes for an illuminating look at this concrete jungle. Even from the highest floor of whatever room Brandon is occupying, all of the cities' industrial beauty that McQueen is capturing through his eyes is something Brandon sees as simple everyday stuff. Brandon would rather be searching for cheap thrills on his laptop.

The first way I think most people would expect a story line dealing with an addiction to sex is down a road of some sort of intervention imposed on Brandon's character by all of his external influences; family, co-workers, actual love interests, but McQueen kept everything, from the time these characters are living in, to the environment in mind, and with that said everyone Brandon knows is just as jaded as he is.

While Brandon plays an accessory to most of his bosses' affairs, he also does his best to ignore how much his sister suffers a longing for people that just do not love her. Brandon doesn't wear his problems as openly as everyone else and all of these elements within his relationships is what stockpiles this story with a very cerebral sense of dramatic irony.

Another thing that deserves a second look is the heavily criticized and jaded sibling relationship Brandon has with his sister that pretty much makes up the entire heart of Shame's unyielding plot.

Where most siblings would slam any door immediately after finding their nude brother or sister on the other side, Brandon and Cissy would square up to argue their differences, and this led a lot of critics to the allusion of an incestuous relationship between them, though I don't think that is what McQueen meant to allude to at all. McQueen tested the waters of American cinema with this rare portrayal of a sibling relationship to show the level of comfort these siblings had with one another, and by the criticism and branding of an NC-17 rating, American cinema failed at showing McQueen how much they understand different cultures.

With all of the cinematic and dramatically well-drawn out ironic elements in Shame McQueen is showing audiences how blurred the division between right and wrong is in our culture today. And in the end our existence is still justified by what I think is the movies tag line, said by Mulligan: 'We are not bad people. We just come from a bad place'

Immortals (2011)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A More Ambitious 300, 14 November 2011

While fans of 300 might like Tarsem Singh's Immortals, I highly doubt they will be able to say that they liked it just as much or more than.

Singh went for something more ambitious than 300 with Immortals. A film of this Greek epic nature always seem like they are meant for one audience and that is primarily an audience who can't stop watching to this day films like gladiator, 300, Troy and Alexander. You can probably even mark a divide between those four films because the difference between them is the difference between action and story. One group has more story than the other, while the other's actions are enough to make up for it's lack of story, unless it's gladiator and the story just had enough to combine these two basic elements. Either way all four of these films have straight forward stories in common. And The Immortals does have this quality in common, however only with the exception of one thing and that is it's over reliance upon the oracle.

With the oracle, Immortals sort of wanders; almost trails off into a journey path paved most by surrealistic images that just doesn't go much further than s-m involving Mickey Rourke as Hyperion in some distracting head piece viciously eating an apple and acting like Sin City's Marv, only if he existed in appropriate times, surrounded by masked and malnourished slaves and prisoners. While all of this imagery that Singh so often relies upon for most of his films might be shocking at first, after a while, you grow numb to their appearance. It's like you find yourself suddenly asking for less oracle and Hyperion and more immortals.

From movies like The Cell to The Fall you can see Singh's ambition. You can tell that Singh appeals to any aesthetic quality he can take and exploit from anything psychological or epic. But I think Singh wanted to do the same thing with his latest Immortals. Only problem with that is that ambition towards achieving some sort of a groundbreaking aesthetic is something that Immortals doesn't call for. The fact of that matter is what forces Singh to hold back in both respects to fans of 300 and to fans of art or fans of Singh.

With all of that said, in the end Immortals does have a finale worth seeing on the big screen, only it takes a longer time to get to.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Existential Stirring Romantic Science Fiction, 3 November 2011

The romantic characteristics of this journey through life are driven by the wheel of a very science fictional sub plot, making this one of the most heart wrenching sci-fi romances I've ever seen about nothingness.

While a part of me wants to say that this can be considered another for fans of maybe The Notebook, Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go goes beyond the boundaries of even today's most conventional romances, by pitting woman against woman, and man against environment, fate.

On a surface level let's take an Orwellian, in some way utopist, out of this world concept into perspective and believe in a place where children are bred and raised to be vital organ donors. By a certain age these vital organ donors are expected to start donating until they have in their terms 'completed' their life spans. As vital organ donors neither of these three out of Andrew Garfield, Carrie Mulligan and Keira Knightly has much time left so while these two women Ruth and Cathy H already have their hearts set on who they want to die with, Tommy has to make a decision, a fact even he is oblivious to. The science fictional circumstances of its' plot are what allows Romanek along with his triangular cast to take subtle aesthetic liberties with both the film and acting.

Out of Romanek's science fictional surrealistic imagery and the moving performances given by Garfield, Mulligan and Knightly I can't decide which out of these two keep me coming back to this film. All I know is that whenever I do I leave with something new. For something so simple, never let me go is heavy and this isn't the type of picture that you need any mental preparation to sit yourself down to.

It just touches something deep, philosophically moving.

24 out of 47 people found the following review useful:
Confused Narrative, 1 November 2011

Somewhere towards the end, the narrative of Bruce Robinson's The Rum Diary loses faith in itself.

Up until this happened it felt so much more episodically close to its' novel adaptation, fast paced and fun but at a certain point the actors involved in The Rum Diary sort of start coming out of their characters.

Just an assumption, but Robinson's nostalgia for Terrance Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas must have been what forced him to gradually break away from his commitment to his own linear narrative. Throughout the first hour and a half we didn't have Hunter S Thompson narrating this story. And I don't think Robinson realized that until the last thirty minutes of the feature.

In Fear and Loathing Gilliam made a commitment to exploiting the drug abusing nature of HST. But Robinson couldn't do that as much in The Rum Diary and I think he wanted to, badly because that's what the last 30 minutes told me.

As much as Robinson wanted to make this journey through Puerto Rico hallucinogenic the novel he was trying to adapt didn't call for it. And all that from Fear and Loathing is probably what really inspired Robinson to direct The Rum Diary in the first place. So toward the end it's kind of like Robinson thought 'wait, we still haven't shown them enough surrealistic hallucinations narrated by Thompson so he tacked on another thirty minutes of a possible story line.

Up until that point we almost got somewhat of an authentic autobiographical epic of the late author obviously told from the perspective of someone besides. But that also meant by this point it was too late for the director to just suddenly turn over the narrative to Johnny Depp from behind the type writer of Thompson.

At this point I began to feel like the words coming out of Johnny Depp's mouth were not the words of HST.

If this was supposed to be a close adaptation to the book it didn't feel that way in the end.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A Still Life Image Of A Hero, 31 October 2011

With movies like Valhalla Rising, Bronson and Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn is creating his own strand of anti-heroes.

And through a full advantage taken of a vast landscape Refn defines his own concept of a Valhalla. And with the help of a certain One Eyed warrior runaway slave, Refn also subliminally reinforces his definition of a man.

In a world possessed currently by pagans and Christians, movies like Valhalla Rising are what is going to separate Nicolas Winding Refn from other directors that are known for shooting films that inevitably fall into that cult genre for men.

From the abilities of this violent when necessary protagonist Refn's definition of today's man is a man who can kill without saying anything. With Refn's own way of minimalist dialog he tells of exactly what he thinks should be opposed of by most men. In that process and through the actions of its protagonist done in complete silence, a firm stance is taken against dialog throughout Valhalla Rising.

If you keep a mental count of the men killed in Valhalla, the majority of them are chumps who are plain asking it of our protagonist by talking. In that way one eye should be seen as a symbolic metaphor of what a force against all chumps looks like. You can call one eye a broom that is used best for sweeping chumps. The child whose father is killed in the beginning by one eye before he brings him along for the adventure can be seen as a symbol of One Eye's conscience.

Not so sure as to how much of this picture if any at all was inspired by Alejandro Jodorowsky, the dependent nature of the relationship between One-Eye and the child he brings along with him for the ride can be compared to the relationships that are formed in movies like El Topo and Fando y Lis.

Through this depiction of a viking's heaven I think Refn is telling one of many stories he has always wanted to tell about a hero, starting with a still life image of what a hero is to him when it is stripped down to the bare fundamentals. That in itself is the soul of Refn's ambitious purpose towards recreating in his mind what he sees as a Valhalla.

1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Most Innovative And Contemporary In Horror Today, 28 October 2011

As both a dynamically innovative and pulse pounding directorial and acting debut, there is no pun intended when I say that Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene is today's most contemporary cult classic.

As difficult as the title might seem to remember, the lasting impression this film has left on me makes forgetting it, now impossible. Definitely the second best film I've seen all year about a rare and unique type of nothingness inducing experience. Elizabeth Olsen is a real punk for doing this one and I mean that in the best way possible.

The ambition of this film lies most in its' complex narrative between her life in its' present state and its' moonlighting over her past experiences with this cult and that to me is what makes it so smart. Olsen's stoned wall facial expression makes it impossible to tell whether she is longing for these past experiences or actually trying to forget them.

And with Durkin filming this cult life from a neutrally pastel colored perspective, from far away these cult members just look like a group of children hanging out. Durkin almost makes cult living look like an alternative life style choice. In addition to that look is several conversations about existence that lean something horrific more towards something philosophically enlightening.

None out of any of these debuts in film and acting combined are in competition with one another in this film as much as they are working together harmoniously. Combining the elements of all it takes to make a great film, Durkin spread his direction evenly over all of this debut production.

So the way leaving Durkin and Olsen's directorial and acting debut felt a lot like it does normally when it comes to leaving behind such a horrifying experience, only with a little something extra; enlightened, like you really conquered something.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Unique Look At Death, 20 October 2011

Years from now, Gaspar Noe's Enter The Void is going to be that film that everyone loves to hate.

Lovers of this instant cult classic are going to have trouble finding reasons in their heads to watch it over again. And for those that need help finding one, my top three reasons to watch this over again are probably going to be either to host a party, show somebody a film they have never seen before, or to give that special someone a reason to remember you by, or a reason to leave you where you stand altogether. This is definitely a film that will stick to anyone you show it to, and if your name is what you want associated with Enter The Void, be the first to show your friends Noe's latest film.

Set in the underworld of Tokyo Japan, the engine of Enter The Void's story line is driven purely by the event of the protagonists death. With that said besides a few lines uttered by him at the beginning of this film, the main character has no lines, so all we have left as an audience to judge him by are his actions and Noe shows his actions through the memories he has of his own life which inevitably lead up to the beginning of this film.

With his shots made from an all knowing type of helicopter perspective Noe's style of direction is something of an eccentric taste, yet at the same time there is still something in Enter The Void that you have to be patient with. A lot like David Lynch's Inland Empire it's easy to forget that you are watching this movie to all of the hallucinogenic images our protagonist sees through his transcendence into the after life, and the life he observes after his own is something almost tough to swallow.

Besides the numerous, at times arbitrary disruptive mourning of the one's he once knew, Noe's direction from the perspective of this silent recently deceased protagonist leaves very little to his cast to take care of. And as you would expect of most new actors, they take full advantage of the time they are allotted to throw an authentic fit before Noe's lens.

Noe's Enter The Void is a hallucinogenic hypothesis on death, a meditation, an experiment that only certain audiences will understand, recognize and appreciate as a brutally honest attempt at an unyielding aesthetic. Though due to the graphic nature of every depraved act, Enter The Void may still be too much for the even this specific audience Noe is aiming for. I want to say it's something sort of like a Requiem For A Dream, only with the absence of dialogue, the anti-drug campaign and ironically the elements of your usual tragedy. If you can make your way through all of the grit and grime of this hell-ish sort of environment Noe does say something about death that can be taken as something sort of optimistic and for that reason I think Enter The Void is one the most unique looks at death in film today.

Enter The Void is just that type of experimental film that you really have to have a stomach for to watch in excess, or at all for that matter.

39 out of 73 people found the following review useful:
Politically Charged Stage Play, 14 October 2011

Audiences leaving George Clooney's latest Ides Of March will feel like they've just finished a watching a really good play.

What makes sense of this is the fact Ides Of March was adapted from a play. In a play telling an audience everything they need to know always helps, especially when the majority of it are only going to see it once. However the difference in film is the aesthetic liberties it allows its' director and I don't think in this Clooney took enough advantage of that.

There is a part to this movie where a business exchange takes place inside of an escalade parked outside of a barbershop. The words being exchanged within that escalade are left to the audience's imagination because the camera never goes inside, but stands staring at it from across the street. Ides of March could've used a lot more scenes like this, but Clooney played it safe with a conventionally linear story line. And I think Clooney put so much more into the story line than he needed to for the audience's sake.

This film didn't leave enough to the imagination of its' audience. While the actors carried out every single demand of this script, the film itself doesn't leave its' audience with enough to make them want to watch it again. The amount of telling done over this show leaves little to no replay value. It feels like the majority of the aesthetic was put into the script when I think a minimum would've been more than enough. Ides of March's script told me a lot more than I needed to know. It feels like the script told me so much that I forgot some key elements to the story. Then again the liberties he took with the script is exactly what allowed Ryan Gosling to take his character to some extremes.

In terms of acting, with names like Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Paul Giamatti, Clooney delivers an all-star studded Sega Dream-Cast. And in terms of his direction, Clooney really leaves Ides Of March to his roots in the stage. However with that said I'm afraid it all felt a little too staged for the silver screen.

For the sake of cinema I think Clooney could've taken a little more of an aesthetic liberty with this project.

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