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First Winter (2012)
One of the worst films ever
One of the worst films ever to play to the Tribeca Film Festival had the press corps stumbling out of the screening with pained looks on their faces.
The film is about a bunch of hipsters in a retreat farm house during some apocalyptic event trying to survive. They do it badly and a bunch of them die.
This was the one of the first films where I realized that official synopsis lie about films and often give you information that isn't in the film- for example there is no mention of Brooklyn in the film but the synopsis says that's where everyone is from. Additionally it's never clear what the event is, we get bits of a radio broadcast but it isn't clear. There is talk of a blizzard but there is so little snow you can see the grass under foot.
The film is a mess and it might have worked if there were aliens or zombies.
Avoid at all costs unless you want to see a man with the longest mustache hair on record- its longer than his beard
The only danger comes when it isn't used correctly
This is an examination in to the safety of tasers. The film examines the creation of the weapon and it's use by law enforcement. The film looks at several cases of death and injury as a result of their use.
For the most part this is everything you want to know about tasers. It goes into every thing you could ever want to know about the weapon, then men who created it and the company that manufactures it. The film also questions whether Taser's are safe to use...
...the problem is that if you watch the film and listen to what it's saying all the questioning about the safety is wrecked when you realize that all of the deaths and the result of misuse-the injured and killed were either tased repeatedly or for tased for much longer than is recommended. I don't know about you but I can't really question the safety of something if it's being misused.
I saw this at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015 and you could feel the air go out of the audience when everyone realized the film was essentially cutting it's own throat.
Worth a look, but take what it's saying with a grain of salt.
The Invitation (2015)
This film makes no sense
The premise of the film has a man and his new wife/girlfriend going to a dinner party thrown by his ex-wife (who has just returned from a long time off the grid in Mexico) at his old house- where their son had died. Once they get there some ominous things begin to happen and the happy reasons for the party are fund to be rather quite dark.
I am puzzled that this film is getting a solid buzz when the people I saw this with were kind of left scratching their heads. I absolutely hated the film finding it the sort of film where you have to not only suspend disbelief but kill it to have it make sense on any level what so ever. This is the sort of film filled with moments where you can't believe that anyone would be so stupid as to actually go along with any of it beginning with returning to a house haunted by memories to be with a woman you left on questionable terms. Once the cult leader locked the door I lost all respect as no one batted an eye to the obviously ominous way it was done.
If you've seen any number of horror films you've been here before, especially anyone that involves a life changing new way of thinking.
This was one of the worst films I saw in 2015 largely because it makes no real world sense-with a final denouncement that is beyond ludicrous.
You have to go with the film until the film flips
Very dry dead pan comedy has a deeply moving sting in it's tale.
The plot of the film has a sad sack samurai trying to make a prince laugh. He has 30 days and 30 attempts to do it or else he will have to commit suicide. What looks like a one note film flips in the final minutes to be revealed to be about something else entirely The whys and wherefores are of what is going on is not what you think at the start.
Like the directors earlier film SYMBOL (and his other films as well) this film requires that the audience member be patient and wait for the whole film to unfold. If you get bored or give up the pay off will be lost. The fact that the directors films are not easy to explain I think keeps people away.
On the other hand if you are willing to work with the film and wait for the pay off I think you'll be greatly rewarded. I was moved to tears.
A truly great film.
Verbotene Filme (2014)
Not what it should be
This examination of Nazi produced films that are still banned in Germany and elsewhere is a mixed bag. While it does highlight the films considered too dangerous to show, the film also operates in a vacuum failing to connect the films to the current real world or to each other.
Looking at the 40 films still banned, down from an original 300 titles, the film talks about the films and their popularity with out really explaining what the films are or giving them context. Saying that the film THE GREAT LOVE had more people see it in Germany than AVATAR is all well and good but considering there was no TV, internet or many of today's entertainment choices is misleading, especially since more people went to the theater in the 30's and 40's than they do now.
The film also doesn't really explain what any of the films are about. What is UNCLE KRUGER and what makes it so dangerous especially considering that Hollywood was going to produce a version of it? Thats a problem that pretty much every film discussed faces- what the heck are the films and why are they dangerous? (yes things like JUDE SUSS are put into context but the rest aren't.
Largely this is a lot of people talking about films which we know very little about. While the discussion of the potential danger of films (in general) is extremely well handled and gives you much food for thought. The discussions are spot on and worth seeing.
The problem is since we are never given the specifics we're kind of adrift in deciding if the films really pose any sort of threat. Personally I've seen some of the films discussed over the years and outside of JUDE SUSS, ETERNAL JEW and a few others, I'm left scratching my head about why they pose a danger. Why are these films still banned? We're not told nor are we given excerpts to decide for ourselves.
For me FORBIDDEN FILMS is a missed opportunity. It's an debate about a subject where the person who wants to engage us makes some very valid points in their favor, but at the same time refuses to give us enough information for us to actually carry on a dialog with them.
Ballet 422 (2014)
If you like dance you'll love this other wise you'll be disappointed
A look at the creation of a new dance (number 422) for the New York City Ballet by choreographer and dancer Jonathan Peck. We watch as Peck goes from commission through creation to performance.
How much you like the nuts and bolts of dance will determine how much you like the film. Personally I'm not a ballet fan so much of the creation segments bored me. I had no idea what they were talking about and watching some things over and over again wore on me.
At the same time seeing the completed piece was magical as was the kicker of seeing how Peck had to create the dance while at the same time maintaining his training as a dancer for the Ballet- his piece premieres as part of an evening of dance and he then had to race to get into costume to dance.
I know many dance fans who saw this, like I did at Tribeca, who loved it. I know just as many people like me who liked bits.
Worth a shot for the dance fans out there, all others its up to you.
Looks great but its stupid as a stick
When the seal of the newly forming Korea is swallowed by a whale the race is one to find the whale and get the seal back. This sets in motion various factions of pirates, bandits and officials in a mad dash to get the seal and win favor.
Great looking film has some great fights, some killer set pieces but not a hell of a lot of logic. Its a weird macho soap opera (with a pirate queen as one of the leads) where everyone ends up screwed over by everyone early on and then brought into conflict later on. Its sound and fury signifying nothing.
To be honest I lost interest 40 minutes in and went off to hang my laundry while the Bluray played on without me. WHen I came back I had missed almost nothing and just settled in for the final hour of constant motion.
Its not a bad film but it never fully grabbed me. I probably would have liked it more had I seen it in a theater. Worth a look if you're undemanding.
While We're Young (2014)
A disappointing film
Noah Baumbach's film concerning a documentary filmmaker and his wife who have lost their friends to the baby track is disappointing. The couple, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, meet up with a younger couple played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, re-spark their lives but questions creep in about what the younger couple is really after, and what is the right path in life.
To be honest the film is enjoyable on its own terms. It has laughs and is occasionally strangely moving.
The problem with the film is that the terms of the film are kind of messed up. The film has a big subtext concerning honesty in documentary films and a quest by Stiller's character to uncover what the Adam Driver character is doing- the problem is the film subverts it and throws it aside in the final minutes. The collapse begins when the Charles Grodin character, a respected documentary filmmaker makes a speech about integrity and then two minutes later says that everything he had just said (and said pretty much in the film up to that point) doesn't matter. Its a wtf moment that had myself and more than a few people in the audience at The New York Film Festival scratching our heads. The film's the collapse is kind of complete at the end of the film which is a kind of out of left field turn for the Watts and Stiller character. The ending kind of throws numerous plot lines aside and is a feel good moment that feels contrived.
When the film ended I was left confused. What was Baumbach going for?
After the NYFF screening someone in the audience asked Baumbach the questions I wanted to. He said that all that mattered was the final bit of the film. That was what he was going for and everything he was doing was for that. He also added that we shouldn't have paid any attention to the integrity/making a documentary stuff since he only put it in so that the Stiller character had something to do. We weren't suppose to have paid attention to that since that isn't what the film was about.
Without that the film really isn't about anything. Without it the film doesn't have a reason to be seen.
Truthfully I don't hate the film, I hate its construction. The film has moments and characters but its as morally bankrupt as the Adam Driver character.
A disappointing film
Tim's Vermeer (2013)
Very good but this should have been a short film
Tim Jenison works out how it was possible for Vermeer to paint what amounts to photo realistic paintings with a great deal of ease. He then builds a full scale room that matches one in a Vermeer painting in order to further prove it.
I'm mixed on this film. While I think Tim pretty much proves Vermeer could have used this method to paint the film, I'm still pondering why the film runs 80 minutes especially after 15 he's proved his point.
Yes I completely understand that seeing Tim paint the copy is the point but taking it that far raises more questions than are healthy such as how Tim learned to paint and mix colors and how it would be possible for a regular guy to just do it.
Don't get me wrong but at a certain point I just wanted to know why this film was longer than say a half an hour.
Worth a look but its little more than a Discovery Channel documentary.
Life Itself (2014)
Its nice but not deep
This look at critic Roger Ebert is a nice film. It is not deep or very much beyond a friendly look at the man and his work.
Forgive me for taking a less than glowing position on the film but I would have liked something more than what amounts to a warm and fuzzy remembrance of the man. The bad things in his life are sped over and we dwell in the places where Roger was a king. That's all well and good for an in memoriam piece or cinematic eulogy, which is what this amounts to, but it doesn't make for a wholly compelling documentary and somewhere the group hug of the film wore thin.
While I completely understand that this was put together as Roger was dying and completed after his passing by friends and family I would have liked a little bit more meat, especially from director Steve James.
To be completely honest I don't know where this film will stand in say five or ten years down the line when Ebert will be less fresh in people's minds. WIll this film be remembered or will it just be a footnote as a film about a guy who used to review movies?