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Twin Peaks (2017– )
Lynch stuck in a loop
8 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
David Lynch deconstructed and re-imagined the original series as the fantasy of a schizophrenic (Richard), who for 17 episodes fights his way back to reality, attempting to cure himself in episode 17 by reversing the death of Laura Palmer (i.e. the raison d'être of Agent Cooper, aka one of the two major fake identities, Richard's good side that has previously just defeated Mr. C, aka Richard's evil side). Although he finally wakes up in episode 18, by the episode's end he suffers a breakdown and collapses back to the dream/ schizophrenia, and the series ends with the image of him in the lodge and Laura Palmer whispering in his ears.

With 17 episodes of David Lynch-ian dream-world, the series makes for a heavily unballasted watch. There's no beginning and no end, just random events occurring and random characters appearing and then disappearing. The sedated pace doesn't help, nor does the abundance of cheap-looking cgi.

Twin Peaks: The Return is the ultimate act of arrogance of an old artist (Lynch is 72) who is way past his creative prime (his last good work was 2001's Mulholland Drive), and who isn't afraid to tarnish his legacy by meddling with past masterpieces (i.e. the original Twin Peaks) but ends up falling flat on his face in the process. TP3 is a sketchy, swollen, boring, rambling work that repeats themes that have appeared in his previous films, but in a vastly inferior way.

Were there good moments along the way? Sure. The atomic bomb episode, the arm-wrestling scene, the moving performance of Rebekah Del Rio, bits and pieces from the last two episodes, these were all worthwhile moments, but they got lost in an incoherent sea of terribleness.

Let's just hope that this is the last we see of Twin Peaks, or indeed of David Lynch.
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Twin Peaks: Part 16 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 16
Awful beyond belief
31 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The plot: DoppelCoop and Richard Horne drive to where the coordinates lead them (DC has been given three sets of coordinates, one from Ray, one from Diane and one from Jeffries, two of them match, but not the other). DC sends Richard to investigate but it's a trap and Richard dies (it's also confirmed that Richard is his son). In Las Vegas, following his electrocution, Cooper is in a coma but abruptly wakes up, becomes his super capable old self again and immediately sets off to go to Twin Peaks. Subtle. In the meantime, Diane is revealed to be a doppelganger, while Audrey and Charlie make it to the Roadhouse where the whole thing is revealed to be dreamed up by Audrey.

Lol, this is so bad. The story is messy beyond belief. Really amateurish stuff. There are no developed characters, merely stereotypes (Hutch and Chantal) that die and nobody cares. Does anyone remember the junkie who was spouting some random numbers in the early episodes? What was it with that? Nobody knows. Why did DoppelCoop kill Hastings' wife? It was never explained and it had nothing to do with anything. Who was Mr. Strawberry? Pointless. What happened to Becky? Nobody's interested cause the character was superficial. Isn't it awful having a great character like Ben Horne and under-utilizing him to a horrible degree? Yes it is but the fans don't mind. To them it all smells like roses. What about the glass box from episode one? Forgotten. That's not a way to run a TV series. You need coherence, you need structure.

Isn't it cheesy how Cooper just wakes up and immediately is super-duper ol' Coop again? Yes! Won't it be lame if the whole thing ends up being Audrey's dream? YES!! Considering they never bothered to tell us what DoppelCoop has been doing for the past 25 years (which basically makes him as hollow a character as any in this show), and the plot is all about him not wanting to go back to the lodge, wouldn't it have made more sense to have the real Cooper wake up earlier rather than have 15 episodes of tedious back and forth? YES!!!!!!!!!! The whole thing is so ludicrous that parts of it feel like unintentional comedy and, no, I'm not talking about the bits that are supposed to be comedy (which are bad). The direction isn't any better. Did you see the effects when Diane "blew up" in the Red Room? Terrible and cheap looking (I know, I know, it's like that on purpose, lol).

I actually can't believe how poor the new Twin Peaks is. It's really bad. Really really bad. I find it even harder to believe the amount of praise it gets. The fans I can explain. The series has such low viewership figures that literally only the hardcores are watching. Therefore it's to be expected that they'll praise it to seventh heaven. What is not as easily explainable is the preposterous praise it gets from news outlets (thankfully there are exceptions), but that's hipster culture for you. The new Twin Peaks is trending.

Anyway, the way I see it, there are two explanations for what's happening here. One explanation is that David Lynch has gotten senile. It happens, he's 71. The other explanation is that he made a cash-grab and intentionally didn't bother to put any effort either in the writing or in the visual department, in which case the praise this gets is all that much funnier.
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Twin Peaks: Part 15 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 15
Audrey can't escape her house, and (the new) Twin Peaks can't escape being awful
23 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Out of the blue, Nadine breaks up with Big Ed, and thus Big Ed hooks up with Norma. The whole thing was very abrupt and very sloppy, but that's to be expected when dealing with the new "Twin Peaks". In the meantime, DoppelCoop (aka Mr. C) goes to the "convenience store" where he meets with Philip Jeffries, who is a giant kettle now. Woooh, Lynch is such a genius for being weird and all that. All the while, the real Coop (still as Dougie Jones) sticks a fork in an electric socket and gets electrocuted. He seems to enjoy it and it seems to imply that he's finally gonna wake up, who knows, who cares. Finally, the Log Lady dies, Steven along with Gersten are freaking out in the woods (more wasted characters in a series full of wasted characters), Audrey is still debating getting out of the house with husband Charlie (something seems to stop her from doing that, "Exterminating Angel" style), Chantal assassinates Duncan Todd (yet another underdeveloped character), James and his glove-friend get involved in a brawl and end up in prison where Billy still drools, and in the obligatory Roadhouse ending sequence some chick crawls through the floor and starts screaming.

So, all in all, this was another episode where nothing substantial happened. 15 episodes in (3 to go) and we still don't know what's the deal with DoppelCoop, what he's been doing all these years and what are his goals (apart from not wanting to go back to the Lodge), you know, normal things like storytelling and character development. In fact, there hasn't been any character development with any of the characters involved, they all feel as one-dimensional as cardboard figures. But, hey, I know, it's all done on purpose, cause Lynch is a genius. He has to be, he's David Lynch. The new series is god-awful on purpose. It's meant to be awful cause it wants to challenge the audience and their conceptions.

Lol, keep telling that to yourselves, fans.
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Twin Peaks: Part 14 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 14
More eventful but still horrendous
16 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Truman, Hawk, Andy and Bobby finally go to Jack Rabbit's Palace where they discover the eyeless woman from episode three. A vortex appears, sucks Andy into another plane, where he is confronted by the Giant. The Giant implants him with a sort of recap of what has happened/ will happen, then sends him back to earth. In the meantime, James Hurley is working as a security guard in the Great Northern, alongside a British chap who's wearing a rubber glove that makes him freakishly strong (lol?!). Finally, Sarah Palmer goes to a bar where she is, ahem, flirted by a persistent truck driver, but then takes off her face and eats him (literally), in a third-rate horror scene with horrendous CGI that feels like it was taken out of one of the worst "Hellraiser" movies. Is that the best you can do, Lynch?

Anyhow. The story continues to be weak, but because this episode was more eventful, it immediately makes it better than the previous ones. Unfortunately, the lame story exposes yet another of the new series' weaknesses. While it was always the case that a weird story lied at the center of the old "Twin Peaks" (the Laura Palmer mystery initially, the quest for the Black Lodge afterwards), it was interwoven between a noir labyrinth concerning the shady dealings of the town inhabitants, a humane bittersweet small-town drama, and chunks of offbeat soap-opera. These were as central as the weird quasi-mystical, quasi-horror, quasi- sci-fi "main" story lines. The show was called "Twin Peaks" after all, it was about the denizens of Twin Peaks.

One would have hoped that after Lynch made the mistake of ditching all that and focusing entirely on Laura Palmer in "Fire Walk With Me", resulting in a one-sided and mediocre film, he would have learnt his lesson. But no. This new series revolves entirely around the dull doppelganger story, with virtually no subplots, no interesting characters, no television flair whatsoever, uninspired direction (name me one scene that is as poetic as Laura's painting in "Fire Walk With Me"), cold digital feel (superiority of film proved once again), cheap CGI, ludicrous Roadhouse endings that do little more than promote Lynch's favorite hipster bands, laughable horror outbursts like the "Exorcist"-esque kid in the car, and so on, and so on. Let us hope at least that after two unmitigated disasters back-to-back (this and Inland Empire) nobody gives Lynch free reign ever again.
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Twin Peaks: Part 13 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 13
Get it done with already
9 August 2017
In one word, awful, pretty much like the rest of the series. The worst offender? There is no story. 13 episodes in and almost nothing has happened. There is a bad Cooper, a good Cooper (still in a quasi-vegetable state), there are coordinates that lead somewhere and, er, that's about it. Everything is so absurd that the suspicion remains that Lynch will eventually turn it upside down Mulholland Dr style and present an alterna-universe, but so what? It will still be an awful series. To add insult to injury, Lynch has forgotten how to direct. His over-reliance on digital technology has created a show with no memorable visual moments. The only interesting scene in this episode was the ring bit. Everything else was so boring that I nearly fell asleep. Gut wrenching tension? Oh please.
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Twin Peaks: Part 11 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 11
As awful as the previous episodes
25 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Twin Peaks" continues it's slow journey into.. nothing really.

Cole and his troupe go to "the zone", where they encounter a huge Photoshop distort > twirl filter and a bunch of these black demonic hobos (one of them kills Hastings). They also discover Ruth Davenport's corpse, which means they now know the coordinates to Jack Rabbit's Palace, which sets the scene for a showdown between them, DoppelCoop (through Diane) and Truman and co.

In Twin Peaks, Becky has a marital crisis. She tries to solve it the American way (with a gun) but fails, which leads to a family meeting between her, Shelly and Bobby. Following Shelly's brief moment with her beau (the drug dealer Red) and Bobby's obvious jealousy, the meeting comes to an abrupt end when random gunshots occur. Bobby goes outside to investigate, and (long story short) comes across a hysterical woman beeping hysterically and a diabolical child vomiting uncontrollably. Kooky and spooky, woooooh (spooky voice).

Finally, the Dougie Jones saga continues unabated, but it's so absurd I don't see any point going into detail about it. For anyone interested there are a lot of detailed recaps online by way too many websites washing this series with preposterous praise and justifying it with pseudo-academic nonsense.
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Twin Peaks: Part 8 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 8
Still crap
27 June 2017
I'll give this a higher rating than the previous episodes because some the visuals were striking, but basically this episode served as an excuse for Lynch to turn one of his experimental shorts to a full feature. The fanboys who compare this to "2001" and "Eraserhead" are once again missing the point. Both "2001" and "Eraserhead" had extremely strong stories to support the abstract imagery. It was the stories that made them powerful, the visuals merely complemented that. The new "Twin Peaks" doesn't have a strong story. In fact the new Twin Peaks doesn't have a story at all. Eight episodes in and nothing has really happened.

This is why most artists should be kept on a leash. Lynch had already become undisciplined with the adoption of digital technology (i.e. with "Inland Empire"). The additional lack of restraint either from the producer or from the network has brought forth this monumental disaster, one of the finest examples of modern-art wanking that I can think of, up there with Godard's "Week-end". Which leads me to my final point. The old "Twin Peaks" was so successful BECAUSE of Lynch's limited involvement. A series comprised only of episodes like 2x22 and 2x02 (i.e. the Lynch episodes), without the more traditional episodes counterbalancing them, would have been a typical one-sided Lynch-ian nightmare, in other words not as good.
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Twin Peaks: Part 7 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 7
As terrible as the previous episodes
20 June 2017
It's extremely easy to recap the last episode of Twin Peaks. Nothing happened. Okay, technically some events transpired on the screen, but for all intents and purposes the story hasn't moved an inch from where it was before. So instead I'll talk about why the new Twin Peaks is such a wreck:

1) There is very little story involved. Seven episodes in and nothing much has happened. Basically all the story until now could be put in two episodes and it would have made for a better viewing experience.

2) What little story there is, is extremely dull.

3) What little, dull story there is, is "told" in an unbelievably tedious "slow cinema" manner by David Lynch. But here's the problem, slow cinema is an extremely difficult genre. Very few directors can make it work. In order to do this, not only you need a story with emotional pull, you also need powerful, meditative images. Tarkovsky can do this, Antonioni can do this (even though they're polar opposites in terms of ideology). David Lynch can't do this. He's just terrible at it. What's all the more mystifying is that never until now has he tried to dabble in said genre. Inland Empire was a mess, but it wasn't slow cinema. None of his previous works were either, let alone his best ones (Eraserhead, Lost Highway).

Whatever. The new Twin Peaks is an unfolding disaster of epic proportions, something which in time will be recognized even by the fanboys.
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Twin Peaks: Part 5 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 5
6 June 2017
Some semblance of regular narrative made this episode an improvement over the blithering episodes 2,3 and 4. Unfortunately, the writing remains poor. Not only is the story uninteresting, the pace also remains absurdly slow. Lynch may be influenced by Gus Van Sant's later works but, like Van Sant, he is terrible at doing slow cinema. Of all the side-plots, the Dougie one remains the worst, but none of the other ones are gripping either. The inclusion of random and pointless scenes, like the argument between Truman and his wife, makes the bad story even worse. Lynch also revisits his usual obsessions: drugs, violence, the dark underbelly of suburbia etc etc. Yawn. He generally appears to have lost his edge. The scene where Evil Cooper haunts the prison he's been held, is taken out of a second-rate horror movie. The unexpected highlight was Jacoby's vlog, a disjointed but entertaining scene. But let's face it, this new Twin Peaks has none of the charm either of the old show, or of Lynch's best works.
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Twin Peaks: Part 4 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 4
30 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A seemingly retarded Agent Cooper is mucking about in rambling scenes, which contain a few meta-references (an owl is flying over Cooper before he enters his home, his kid gives him thumbs up repeatedly, he utters a strong reaction when drinking coffee etc). The absurd "humor" in the sheriff's station scene is mind-numbingly dull. In the meantime, Gordon Cole and his staff engage in some of the most formulaic suspense scenes ever conceived on cinema or television, replete with equally formulaic ambient noise (Lynch is credited with sound design). To add insult to injury, the adoption of digital technology has done Lynch no favors. Whereas before he actually had to think about how to make effects work on film, the easy solution of CGI adds to the cheap feel.
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Twin Peaks: Part 3 (2017)
Season 1, Episode 3
29 May 2017
This is one of the worst things ever been committed on film, or should I say hard-drive, since everything is digital now.

The ridiculous plot (if you can call this thing plot) feels like it was written by a kindergarten student in a napkin over five lines.

The "experimental" direction of the whole Cooper-in-space bit feels like a failed project by an undergraduate in art-college. If Lynch wasn't the director, and Cooper the protagonist, nobody would care.

The Cooper-in-the-casino scene is even worse.

The joke is on the fanboys who are defending this monumental flop. If Lynch isn't trolling everybody here, there is a real chance that he has gotten senile. In any case, he managed the impossible, he made something worse than Inland Empire.

Wake up! The emperor has no clothes!
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Stardust (2007)
Fake stardust
1 February 2011
This movie doesn't quite know what it wants to be: a fairy-tale? A fantasy film? An adventure? A romance? A comedy? It's allover the place. Anyway, it's the comedic bits that stand out the most. There's quite a few laughs to be had here. The romance bits are typically emotive, but that's not so hard to accomplish. So let's demolish them. Imagine, if you will, that instead of a love story between cutie-face Charlie Cox and miss shinny star Claire Danes, you get one between Susan Boyle and Michael Moore. Ouch. That wouldn't be a fairy-tale but a Dardenne Bros film. On the direction front, the CGI range from quite decent, to casual and impromptu.
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Inception (2010)
Inception? No, implementation.
23 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"What's the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Which is why I have to steal it." That is the motto of "Inception". It is a very intriguing idea in itself, but one which the film only goes superficially to explore. To cover for this superficiality, the plot is given a superficially complex guise, but actually it's pretty straightforward.

Leonardo DiCaprio and his team invade people's dreams to steal information from their subconscious. However, their new mission in "Inception" is not to steal information, bur rather to "plant" it, therefore causing the inception of a new idea in the target's subconscious. To do this, they form dreams within dreams (which in the film actually work as three separate dreams rather than actual dreams within dreams), therefore accessing a more vulnerable form of the target's subconscious.

For some reason (which the film doesn't adequately explain) within the dream there is a symbol of the subconscious motive (say, a safe) whereas you can find the desired information, or whereas you can plant the desired information. But there's a catch. If for some reason you "die" in a dream within a dream, you remain in subconscious limbo (which again is not adequately explained) which nevertheless can resemble a form of reality in itself.

Amidst all that, Christopher Nolan makes an action film, with car chases, gunshots etc etc.

Here is the thing with Nolan. As a director he only offers intrigue. He approaches an ambitious idea, touches the surface of it, but then hesitates to proceed any further, and reverts to the action film prototype. Furthermore, he has done it so many times already, that even the action segments look pompous and clichéd (too much reliance on editing and warping of real time).

This is a confused film, which tries to hide it's inadequacies in a needlessly confusing plot.

Once again with a Nolan film, ambiguity prevails. When DiCaprio and his wife are stuck in subconscious limbo, the wife "locks" the idea of doubting an objective reality, and throws away the key. DiCaprio invades her subconscious and replants the idea, thus when they re-enter real life the idea remains. But the idea was there in the first place, wasn't it? The sub-plot with Robert Fischer is stated in such a way so that it impresses with it's artificial "complexity" (in the first "layer" of dream, DiCaprio's team plant seeds of doubt; in the second layer of dream they direct Fischer into facing this doubt; and in the third layer of dream he faces it, duh), but it is suggested that the seeds of Fischer's discomfort were already rooted in real life, with DiCaprio's team merely fast-forwarding them (hence ambiguity again). The icing on the cake is we never learn whether DiCaprio has returned to real life or not (ambiguity).

What a mess. The only thing this multiple dream architecture serves is that it spices up what is essentially a simple plot: that somebody enters someone's dream in order to plant an idea. That's all there is to it.

As it is, ambiguity characterizes Christopher Nolan very nicely, as he seems eternally torn between the commercial action film and.. something else (without that "something else" ever taking shape). Nolan must stop hinting at a grander scope and actually embrace it.
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Let Me In (I) (2010)
Let me out
22 January 2011
This is a remake of a Swedish film, so the rating is provisional until I get a chance to watch the original (if ever). That said, this is a good film. On the surface it's a vampire horror movie, but actually it's borderline art-house, with little action taking place in a leisurely and apathetic fashion (very un-cinematic).

The plot centers around a boy who is being bullied at school, while being neglected by his divorced mother (who is religious and hates men). The boy is a passive character who just takes the abuse, with all the expected effects in his psychology. His alter-ego is a vampire girl, an aggressive character who is practically being served by a father-like figure. For all intents and purposes, the two characters are mirror images of each other. The vampire girl is the boy's violent desires visualized.

This film is more similar (and actually better) to Gus Van Sant's "Elephant", rather than to any rendition of "Dracula" (or any of the neo-glam vampire films of late).
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French Cancan (1955)
Only the French can..
23 November 2010
This movie of Jean Renoir (son of the impressionist painter) uses vibrant coloring to convey a similar impressionist effect, which is only half successful, seeing as the crisp focusing (understandable given the year of release) negates the other major impressionist characteristic, namely the visual haze that represents a unique moment in time. As a result, the scenes where the film really excels are the two scenes that feature big crowd movement: one during the building of Moulin Rouge (almost slapstick), and the other during the theatrical dance apotheosis of the end.

Both of these sequences are visual feasts, whereas the "fuzziness" due to the massive choreography and relentless movement, combined with the intense coloring, conveys an elegant impressionist display.

Visual characteristics aside, the film represents a continuous bittersweet shift between comedic and dramatic elements, as well as a constant parade of love triangles. The ending with the impresario enjoying the show in a melancholic manner in the background is one final touch of class. If you come across it, don't hesitate to watch it.
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Voyage to alienation, via history..
16 July 2010
The plot is basic and ostensible. A director is making a film. This plot-line warps around another plot-line (played by the same actors), which is the most important one: a political refuge from the USSR returns to Greece after 32 years in exile. Upon returning, he doesn't adapt to the "new order" of things around him, and is eventually deported from Greece.

Some background info to understand what is going on here: after the Greek civil war of the mid-40's between the communists and the right-wings, and the subsequent win of the right-wings, the communist party was declared illegal, until it was legalized in the mid-70's, when the new era of Greek democracy started.

OK. However, this film isn't political. It is existential and it deals with dejected people that have been pushed aside as history moved forwards.

Now, at this point of his career, Angelopoulos still has a sharp directorial vision to offer, which he hasn't compromised by routine, mannerism, and lack of clarity as he progressively got more famous and made more money.

This film owes a lot to Antonioni's "The Red Desert", and Angelopoulos is already recycling a lot of his familiar motifs, something which is made even more obvious due to the basic plot. However, like I said, he still has a vision to offer, in powerful, "poetic" sequences of alienation and solitude. More than anything, this is a mood-piece rather than a proper film (especially when considering that this comes directly after his tour-de-force "Alexander The Great"), albeit a strong one.
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Bluebeard (1901)
Georges Méliès, the wizard of cinema..
24 June 2010
Arguably, the first bona-fide horror film ever made. The scene where the wife goes to the cellar and finds the hanged bodies of the previous wives is genuinely chilling, and the eerie dream scene is very well done.

There is really no exaggerating of Georges Méliès' importance in the history of cinema, inventor of special effects, an early expressionist before expressionism even officially existed, a wizard creator of magical worlds, a canny surrealist a full two decades before surrealism was even born, a trickster and relentless comedian that knows no bounds: more than an innovator, Méliès is a genius.
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The Orphanage (2007)
Orphanage of ghosts..
6 June 2010
This horror-drama (produced by Guillermo del Toro) was OK, but nothing extraordinary. The direction was measured, without resorting to any excessive stylistic fiddling, apart from some color filtering (mild saturation mainly), and from the grotesque masks (a cliché) at the guest party. The storyline kept you on your seat, even though you probably guess what's going on, and even though it doesn't resist a few cheap horror moments (the car crash, for example). Overall, the implied overtone is of the heroine revisiting the repressed "ghosts" of the past and making peace with them, but at a cost, since the ghosts "engulf" her (which is why they were repressed in the first place).
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It's only a movie?
2 April 2010
A good film by sleaze-master Joe D'Amato? No chance. Wait a minute, this one actually isn't too bad. Emanuelle's (notice, one "m", not Emmanuelle ©) forays into the aristocratic decay lifestyle get weirder and sleazier, culminating in the snuff footage in the end (modeled after Pasolini's "Salo", how ironical). It's not all bleak however, as Joe has a sense of humor. Case in point, Emanuelle and cohort having sex in the next room to an orchestra playing, and hysterically editing the sex with close-ups of the geek musos playing Ludwig's fifth. Or what about the ending? Emanuelle getting a vacation as a reward for her investigative journalism, only it turns to be a movie decor. It is only a movie after all. Hah.
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Station of life..
19 March 2010
Ostensibly, this is a relatively simple road-movie, with a relatively simple storyline. Making up for it, the direction enhances the film with existential edge. The neo-neo-realist aesthetics, accompanied by the lazy strumming of the soundtrack, provide a zen-like meditation on the flow of life. The slow and poetic gros-plans, traveling and panoramiques (Angelopoulos-ian in nature) further enhance and dilate this feel, depicting the protagonists as helpless travelers in life. One last transmutation happens within the religious/ litany scenes (represented by the woman passing out), the direction now flirting with the same psychedelic feel as in Coppola's "Apocalypse Now". When the movie returns to a realist setting, the protagonists have changed, have assimilated the flow of life within themselves and are now richer and whole, seeing life with new eyes after their long journey.
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Shutter society..
9 March 2010
For American standards, this is a relatively difficult film, with an elliptical narrative, "dead" spaces, ornate direction, slow pacing, and so forth. It is also very uneven, tense and claustrophobic on one hand, but with lots of ups and downs on the other. At it's best, it is very intense, at it's worst, it is downright flat and predictable, and hardly helped by the anemic meaning.

First things first. As a director, Scorsese is probably at his finest here, which is good. Compared to, say, Coppola, he is still evolving, which is the sign of a healthy artist. He is still not an auteur, but this is overall his best direction.

Now, the little trick of having two realities warping around each other is borrowed by David Lynch, and is hardly causing any sort of sensation anymore. The ending with the lobotomy is also borrowed from Gilliam's "Brazil", as is the whole message in general, that in turn is borrowed from Orwell's "1984". The message here is that of a society evolving from the ghosts of a brutal World War II, that is seemingly democratic, but in reality authoritarian and artificial. The subtle references about McCarthyism are nice, but actually the whole message is rather vague, and in the end serves as a pretense for a claustrophobic existential thriller.
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Elephant (2003)
Making art out of the elephant in the room which nobody notices..
28 February 2010
Not good. The emotionless "empty" narrative has been done many times before (from the relatively recent "Rosetta", up to Antonioni's "The Red Desert" from 1964), and while dull may be a point of aesthetics here (i.e. a film without any filmic ornaments), it still is dull. Worst of all has to be the various unrealistic and exaggerated bits, like the video game FPS, or the buying guns online and getting them delivered via mail scene (??!!). In the end this is a bad film that tells us that in a society which bullies, and which also allows gun possession, the victims of the bullying might react by shooting people regardless of whether they are responsible or not (in other words, by wanting to dispose of the race in general, rather than just the culprits). It is hardly a meaningful message, and the film is still bad.
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The Wolfman (2010)
The wolf within man..
24 February 2010
It took a long time for the dynamics of the story to unfold, and once they did unfold, they were revealed to be nothing but a formulaic take on the old werewolf tale. The Gothic visuals are formulaic too. So what's left? Only the vague metaphor of the protagonist being unable to escape destiny. It works like this: the story of the father passing the werewolf curse to the son corresponds with the revelation that the son had been abused as a child by the father. The difference is: the father chooses to let the beast take over and murders his wife (the mother), while the son reigns over the beast but is being murdered by his sweetheart (a replica of the mother). Intriguing but nothing more than that.
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Cross of love
15 February 2010
This ancient Finnish drama is a lost little gem. The direction is a bit sloppy, but quite ambitious, starting with the expressionist overtones (weird angling in location, glitter and blur idyll, menacingly lit theatric face close-ups etc), and without forgetting the iconoclast imagery (the cross of love painting). Actually, it predates trends that would surface in, say, Fassbinder's work. Complementing the visual side, the film explores a number of interesting themes, starting with the father's oppression towards the daughter, the lure of money and the big city, the sleaze of the demi-monde, the feebleness to avoid succumbing to destiny etc. Actually you could say that it works as a kind of metaphor: the father's oppression causes the daughter to mythologize aspects of life (an ideal love, a Cinderella framework); when unavoidably her life comes at odds with the mythology, she becomes a crucified martyr for a world unable to cope with it's own desires.
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Avatar (2009)
16 January 2010
Usually it happens, with films that introduce some technical innovation, that the fascination only lasts for as long as the next technical innovation appears. In Avatar, it doesn't even last that long. Once your eyes get used to the crispy images and colours, you realize that this is really only a cartoon on high-definition.

So on to the film. This is pretty much the Conquistadores versus the American-natives allover again.

So on to whatever ideas are to be found here.

I am willing to indulge the whole philosophy that nature acts as some sort of network and that we should interact harmoniously with it. It's just that the whole idea is leaking in the sense that in a nature that works in a Darwinian framework, it doesn't make much difference if the hunter respects the prey, or if a species is becoming extinct due to extraneous factors. Nature is chaos and you can find all sorts of excuses to justify chaos, or learn to live with it. But it's still chaos, and chaos has no sentiment.

The last part of the film is "Rambo" and "Aliens" allover again, and to be honest, no matter how advanced the computer graphics are, this is less impressive than Cameron's past adventures.
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