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A History of Violence (2005)
An amazing film with depth, sensitivity, intensity and superb realism in its acting and message!
A History of Violence is a film almost for thought and not meant to be picked apart and analyzed by everyone who sees it. It embodies so much depth in not only in the way the film is done but in the nature of the human race also. In this there should really be two reviews to describe David Cronenberg's quiet and superb film lying under the radar of the mainstream media at the moment.
The film opens with a stoic scene; drawn out and quiet. Two unknown men outside a motel, getting ready to leave, but soon enough the motel office opens up to a horrific scene caused by these two men, but the mood and character of the scene stays constant. It's now that the audience know that this is not just going to be a psychological thriller, but a film with a social commentary that is highly disturbing and not easily understood.
The catalyst for this commentary is Tom Stall, a man who kills the two men from the first scene when they try to rob and terrorize his quaint diner is Millbrook, Indiana. Instantly, he's a hero, but questions rise as the agile way in which he killed these two men is noticed. The movie begins to unfold, with Ed Harris mistaking Tom for a man named Joey who, back in Philadelphia, was the trouble maker of some sort of crime organization. Tom's son also has to deal with the aggressions of a cliché bully. And the fun begins.
David Cronenberg has been deemed one of the best directors for gore and violence. In this movie, when there is violence, it's noticed. The amount is not overwhelming, but it certainly makes a statement with its gritty realism, graphic and extremely well filmed feel. In a sense, the whole movie is like that. The intensely dramatic story of Tom Stall in accompanied by very real and very sensitive depictions, usually involving his wife. The audience ends up relating to the situation more than they ever though they could. You begin to think that this could happen to you.
Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello made the movie exceptional rather than great. They complimented each other completely and brought the intensity and also contemplation of both roles to life. Viggo's complexity was confusing and overwhelming at times; he was a character that should have been feared yet couldn't be by anyone viewing the film or by his wife. Maria Bello played a wife unlike any character I have seen before, she is the other half of the film. She plays the role perfectly, and with as much vigor as Viggo, and in the end she has you wondering about her state of mind more than his. Both actors should get nods from the Academy and although it's too early to tell, wins too.
The film focuses on not only the extreme depiction of one man's 'History of Violence' but it captures it within society and human nature. The ever-present inclination towards aggression and the knowledge that it is present in everyone. Tom Stall represents a passive, loving, middle class America kind of man, and it is disturbing in the fact that he doesn't transform into something different, it is that he always has been. The real complicated twist is not only this message of disturbing facts, but the message of acceptance and defeat when faced with this violence and aggression. A contrast of resistance and temptation is depicted in the movie also. In the second of two extremely graphic sex scenes, the passion of hatred and violence clashes with human sexuality and is mirrored within it. Human sexuality and violence in the movie particularly between Tom and his wife are so realistic and so human that the audience can't do anything but realize the proclivity of human nature is dark and disturbing, and social, civilized societies are simply masking the degradation and passion hidden within every Tom Stall and family.
Aggression is repressed, and let out when it can't be controlled anymore. Therefore, are we nothing more than animals? If not, are we not lying to ourselves by accepting these discrepancies or are we slaves to them and can do nothing more than try to absolve ourselves? Why do we react the way we do in these circumstances? Why can't we stop it? A+
A Lot Like Love (2005)
Wished it was better.
I had anticipated this movie as my generation's "When Harry Met Sally", as that is one of my favorite movies and "A Lot Like Love" seemed to be it! I do like Ashton Kutcher, especially when paired with above average actresses like Amanda Peet.
The movie wasn't horrible, it was cute, had a few heartfelt themes, wonderful chemistry, good performances and a story that should have promised two characters that you would never forget. Unfortunately, the plot didn't hold up, and in all, if the script had been better, all of these things could have been accomplished. It doesn't let you become as close to the characters as you'd like, no depth is depicted, and all though a few cutting edge dialogue scenes, it fails big time in the sharp conversational aspects that "When Harry Met Sally" thrives on.
It was disappointing, underwhelming, but if you feel you can relate to the characters, see it for a relaxing, think-free trip to the theater, as I did enjoy Ashton, perhaps out of my own bias, but he did what he could with the material and will make you fall in love with him.