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Left-brain directors: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls076383682/
Right-brain directors: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls076383214/
Seul contre tous (1998)
Tries to be disturbing, but is ineffective for several reasons
I Stand Alone, directed by Gaspar Noé, attempts to be a "disturbing" film in the vein of A Clockwork Orange and Salò: 120 Days of Sodom. However, it falls flat for several reasons.
For one thing, Noé uses gimmicky directorial tricks that severely cheapen the film. He shoots the entire film with very wide lenses and heavy yellow filters. To his credit, it's an interesting visual style in small doses, but when used for the entire film, it becomes distracting and irritating. As is typical of many 1990s thrillers, the film frequently employs MTV-style editing in an effort to intensify the violence. This style of editing has not stood the test of time, and the frequent jump-cuts and speed-ups come off as schlocky rather than intense. In addition, the main character narrates over the whole film in a dry, monotonous voice. This narration sucks the emotional impact out of several potentially intense scenes. It brings to mind the theatrical cut of Blade Runner, and not in a good way.
The climax, in which the main character has a fantasy about murdering his daughter, perfectly demonstrates many of these problems. The scene could have been quite effective in the hands of a different director, but any tension it could have potentially had is deflated before it even has a chance. At the beginning of the scene, there's a 30-second bumper that warns the audience that something extremely violent is about to happen. Inevitably, this buildup makes the scene itself seem underwhelming. The gore isn't as graphic as the warning would have you believe, but it would be quite shocking...if you weren't warned beforehand that it was about to happen. The scene itself also has the aforementioned filming style, editing, and narration.
When watching this film, it becomes quite clear that Noé had not yet found his voice as a director. His later films, particularly Irreversible and Enter the Void, stand out because they have a strikingly original creative style and bring new ideas to the table. I Stand Alone, on the other hand, tries to be "clever" at the expense of leaving an impact on the viewer, or for that matter, actually having a message. It's as if Noé was saying, "Hey, check out these cool tricks I can do!"
All in all, I Stand Alone does not work at all on an emotional level. It's more annoying than it is disturbing, and it is probably Gaspar Noé's weakest film.
Almost Human (2013)
Not great, not bad, just so-so
I just finished watching the pilot episode. Overall, I thought it was okay. I found it entertaining, but not particularly engaging or thought-provoking. The themes of man vs. machine, what makes a human, etc. have all been explored before. The visuals weren't very original either, taking many cues from Blade Runner, Minority Report, Battlestar Galactica, and (insert any first- person shooter here). There was also a lot of shaky-cam, fast cutting, and orange/blue contrast, giving it a very generic look.
On the positive side, I thought Karl Urban and Michael Ealy both gave excellent performances. I loved the contrast between Urban's angry, violent, Jack Bauer-esque antics and the calm, pacifistic demeanor of Ealy's character. I thought the two of them played off of each other very well, and I look forward to seeing them in future episodes.
Cheesy script, but good atmosphere
A lot of people dislike this movie because of its various plot holes and bad dialog. I partially agree with them, but I don't agree with them that it automatically makes this a bad movie. For one thing, I love the atmosphere. Right from the opening credits, it has a very dark tone that it maintains throughout the movie. I also love the soundtrack. The theme by Metropolis perfectly captures the feel of the movie, and the jazz piece in the final scene is beautiful.
Like I said before, I still think that this movie has its weaknesses. The dialog is painfully bad at some points, and the continuity is almost nonexistent. Then again, this is a slasher film, so those flaws are to be expected. Overall, it's a fun watch.