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Ignore my pre-2020 reviews (and also post-2020 reviews).
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Documentaries are not included. Neither are shorts, TV movies, or anything unofficial.
Documentaries are not included.* Neither are shorts, TV movies, or anything unofficial.
Rewatches are included because episodes are relatively forgettable.
Documentaries are not included.* Neither are shorts, TV movies, or anything unofficial.
Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
Adequate Edutainment, But There's Something Missing
Daniel Kaluuya delivers an appropriately rousing performance as the slain leader of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party, whose fervent speeches give life to the civil rights movement. At the forefront, however, is William O'Neal. LaKeith Stanfield, too, elevates the material as the car thief turned criminal informant. Shaka King's film chronicles O'Neal's infiltration of the Black Panthers and subsequent betrayal of its electrifying leader.
One of the first things one notices is that the politics are markedly skewed. The character depictions here are shockingly (Shaka-ingly?) black-and-white. Hampton is presented with little nuance or shade; his only flaw is his trusting nature and unwavering devotion to the Black Panthers. This is his hamartia. The Panthers seek to achieve their goals through the use of force, but those means are justified again and again. The film suggests that the police is an inherently flawed and malicious institution that perpetuates systemic racism, but even the individual cops twirl their mustaches at every chance they get. (At one point, one catcalls a Black woman, hollering, "Hey, Aunt Jemima!") Instead of being a force in the background silently pulling the strings, J. Edgar Hoover appears as the embodiment of pure evil. The movie chooses to present the Panthers as Mary Sues, more or less, and maintains the reductive mentality that all police officers are vehement racists. But viewing the movie purely as a standard criminal informant movie, the beats are remarkably familiar.
In one sequence, a Panther questions O'Neal's identity, and forces the informant to hot-wire a car. The lack of self-awareness or subversion in the utilization of this trope proves especially laughable when one recalls 2016's Keanu's satirical take on it. In that movie, it works; it's played for comedy. King plays it completely straight, however, and the scene lacks any real tension. The outcome is nothing short of predictable, and demonstrates a reliance on the sociopolitical commentary to hold the real weight.
By having a public speaker at the center of your movie, you effectively have a mouthpiece to explain the themes to the audience. And that's all Hampton feels like: a device. O'Neal is nothing more than a device used to explore Hampton, who, in turn, is a device used to explore the ill-fated leader's ideologies. There's a complexity on display in the clip of the criminal informant featured at the end of the movie that is nowhere to be found in the actual narrative. The O'Neal character is integral when the characters are largely limited to depictions of saint Black Panthers and downright evil cops. Yet, he is underwritten. He never feels like a real person, let alone a multifaceted figure. Perhaps a protracted mini-series could properly develop these characters and make their struggles feel real, but the two-hour runtime simply doesn't cut it.
Hampton is precocious, but he is also incredibly naive. He urges his brethren to fully embrace and espouse communism. Capitalism is heavily flawed, but communism is as well (that social and economic freedom comes at the expense of social order; living conditions in China or Cuba, for example, are far from ideal). The movie dramatically undermines the naïveté of Hampton and O'Neal by casting actors in their thirties. What could be a complex portrait of this twenty-one-year-old virtuoso ends up as a matter-of-fact recreation of the events that unfolded during the time period devoid of any real depth or careful consideration.
Sean Bobbitt has made a name for himself working with Steve McQueen, but the cinematography here is a far cry from that seventeen-and-a-half-minute long shot in Hunger. The fact that this is King's second feature is made evident by the over-reliance on close-ups and lack of things to look at in every shot. The body language and nuances of the performances are imperceptible. The sophomoric use of close-ups creates another problem. In addition to the grandiose speeches and monologues that tell the viewer exactly what the characters are thinking and feeling at any given moment, the lack of space between the characters and camera forces the viscera. It's an easy tactic that reflects poorly on the director, but it puts the emotion right on the surface and disallows the audience from gaining anything more from looking deeper. The direction tells the viewer exactly what to think with a guiding hand.
In recent years, Hollywood has received an influx of mere recreations of historical events lacking any real personal insight. Judas is no exception. The movie presents Fred Hampton's ideologies as its own themes, and treats both Hampton and O'Neal with a shocking lack of deference by painting them as mere devices to advance the plot and verbalize the themes. Other reviews have praised it for serving as a history lesson on an event schools seldom and not very thoroughly delve into, but Judas hardly transcends simple edutainment.
Maternal Figure Rehashes Decades-Old Formula in 'Peppermint'
Peppermint wisely starts in the action, but the confined space in which the opening fight scene takes place coupled with the lack of buildup are emblematic of the film's many issues. Similar to a John Wick movie, it cares little about developing the characters; unlike that series, however, it fails to provide elaborate action set pieces or meticulously choreographed and filmed action sequences. Director Pierre Morel's earlier effort, Taken, was a hit not for its action, but for an engaging premise and Liam Neeson's cold delivery of threats to the baddies. Here, we have a maternal figure rehashing a decades-old formula.
Peppermint follows Riley North, a mild-mannered and caring mother, as she seeks revenge on the men responsible for the deaths of her husband and young daughter. The antagonistic forces are irredeemable Mexican gangsters who comically adopt sinister, Grinch-like grins when Riley is mocked in the courtroom and deprived of justice. She soon steals a large sum of money from the bank in which she works as well as an arsenal of assault rifles and becomes a globetrotting killer. After ritualistically slaying the three men directly responsible for her suffering, she sets her sights on Diego Garcia - the drug lord who ordered the hit - and an over-the-top cartoon character without any shade or nuance.
Whether intentional or subliminal, the condemnation of the Hispanic characters and romanticization of the gun-toting lead character appeal to the gun culture and xenophobia deeply ingrained in the United States. The gang's mercilessness is matched only by their stupidity. They are continually outsmarted and outgunned by a single individual, who - contrary to John Wick - lacks any formal training. In a particularly baffling scene, Riley invades a piñata store complete with Latin music playing perpetually. She gets injured, but there's no deeper conflict for her to resolve. Her skin may not be impenetrable, but her mind is restricted to unbridled thoughts of revenge. Any potential commentary on vigilantism is drowned out by pervading conservative values.
Many will inevitably draw comparisons to another film that glorifies the vigilante at the center - especially with the Eli Roth remake coming out the same year - and they're not unjustified. 1974's Death Wish follows the same basic premise, but after years of milking the franchise, the formula feels fatigued. Despite the proliferating body count, Peppermint is an excruciating bore. The film is wholly devoid of stakes or compelling characters. Riley's motivations are as simple as seeking justice, and Diego's are as simple as restoring order to his drug business. There's no humanity.
The only attempt to humanize the villain is the blink-and-you-miss-it appearance of his daughter, which quickly reveals itself to be yet another ploy to delay his fate and thus pad the runtime. She is not established previously, nor is she utilized at any point later in the film. Peppermint is achingly transparent.
Morel's latest may not be the greatest display of ineptitude, but the lack of ambition and passion from all involved coalesce in a subpar action movie. While one may expect a revenge flick released in 2018 to comment on the futility of vigilantism, blur the line between hero and villain as the protagonist's actions become increasingly macabre, or delve into the cyclical nature of violence, Peppermint is concerned only with pandering to America's unrivaled affinity for guns and aversion to immigrants.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
The cause of living in the past is dying right in front of us.
In an examination of the United States following the Civil War, Gone with the Wind explores how different walks of life were affected, focusing on the lives of plantation-owners as they adjust to a world without slavery. Victor Fleming's 1939 classic follows capricious Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara as she navigates her life and relationships during the Civil War and subsequent Reconstruction. Scarlett insinuates herself in the lives of several men throughout this time, including the honorable and earnest Ashley Wilkes, the respectable Frank Kennedy, and the charismatic, wealthy and dishonest Rhett Butler. Scarlett ruins her marriages with Frank and Rhett due to her unrequited love for Ashley. Scarlett clings onto the Confederate South - clings onto Ashley - as her world is upended. The war leaves Tara, the O'Hara plantation, in shambles, and the family itself disoriented and stricken with poverty. The film is - on its surface - a tale of survival in the face of difficulty and uncertainty. Gone with the Wind is no stranger to censure; the film has long been criticized for its alleged romanticization of the antebellum South. After all, the film takes a look at the Civil War and Reconstruction through the lens of an affluent family in the South who has slavery to thank for their riches. But even though Scarlett is the protagonist, she is not meant to be seen as likable and only sympathetic to an extent.
Victor Fleming was born in La Cañada Flintridge, California. Fleming worked as a mechanic before meeting director Allan Dwan. Dwan gave Fleming a job as a camera assistant - his first foray into the film industry. Having worked with Clark Gable in Red Dust in 1932, and Test Pilot a year earlier, and having directed a screenplay written by David O. Selznick in 1935, the masculine and abrasive Fleming was set to replace the openly-gay and sensitive George Cukor on the films Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Cukor was originally brought in to replace director Richard Thorpe on the latter, only to leave soon thereafter to fulfill prior commitments on the former. Fleming was then brought in to finish The Wizard of Oz. According to the producer, David O. Selznick, Cukor was fired as his sexuality prevented him from directing the love scenes between Rhett and Scarlett. Fleming was then brought in to finish Gone with the Wind. The premiere was held in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 15, 1939. African-American members of the cast and crew - namely Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy - were prohibited from attendance in accordance with the Jim Crow laws of the time. Fleming deliberated chose not to attend the premiere, attributing it to a falling out he had with Selznick.
Scarlett is a deeply flawed and very human character. She will never be happy because she will always be drawn to what she can't have. Even after the war and her poverty, she is still inexplicably infatuated with Ashley. It is only until Mellie dies and begs Scarlett to take care of Ashley that she shifts her obsession to Rhett. Even if she was successfully able to repair her relationship with Rhett, she would simply no longer desire him. Scarlett is clinging so closely to the past that she is wholly motivated by the restoration of the Confederate South. The themes of survival are more accurately of self-preservation; insisting that the filmmakers are condoning slavery would be to imply that they're condoning Scarlett's deplorable behavior. The purported claim that the film glamorizes the Confederate South is merely an act of misconstruing the film's condemnation of its protagonist, and a broader critique of humanity as a whole. Historically, humanity has not demonstrated a penchant for change. We invariably hold on tightly to what we know, and for Scarlett, that happens to be the antiquated ideologies of the South. The Civil War signaled the end of an era, and Scarlett is being left behind. Her own greed causes her to alienate herself from everyone in her life; for her, manipulation is intrinsic. Despite being marketed as a straightforward romance set against the backdrop of the Civil War, Gone with the Wind takes a complex look at two people who frankly despise each other. Scarlett and Rhett gnaw at each other to fuel their own self-destructive impulses.
There's a telling scene involving Scarlett and Ashley. Scarlett has just purchased a fistful of African-American prisoners to work at the mill for - as she puts it - "dirt cheap." Both are made aware of the poor treatment that the men would undergo while working at the mill. Ashley feels conflicted; his honor won't allow him to knowingly subject these individuals to exceedingly cruel conditions just to save a few dollars. Scarlett, on the other hand, takes no issue with the arrangement. Having been raised on a plantation, she has grown accustomed to the use of slaves and doesn't view it as a moral dilemma. Again, she is sticking to what she knows, and - at least from per point of view - slavery had never been a question of ethics before. Money - she learns - is the most important thing in the world, and she doesn't intend to live without it. It's this rapacity that makes her a reprehensible figure. Of himself and Scarlett, Rhett says, "We're not gentlemen and we have no honor." Indeed, these characters are able to accumulate vast amounts of wealth - all possible because they are not well intentioned - because they do not have honor. This notion has been demonstrated throughout history; people succeed thanks to their disregard for the sanctity of human life. But the earnest and honorable Mellie struggles to make ends meet, ultimately leaving little behind upon her death. It's not too much of a stretch to suggest that Ashley would suffer the same fate.
Scarlett is portrayed as a manipulative, rapacious, and downright deplorable character with an equally dishonorable fondness for the pre-war South. Scarlett first marries Charles Hamilton to get back at Ashley, and later her sister's beloved Frank Kennedy in an attempt to save Tara. She is left apathetic following their respective demises - only concerned for her own well-being. To actress Vivien Leigh's dismay, Victor Fleming had no interest in presenting the character as sympathetic. Fleming understood that the ideologies this character grasps onto are representative of the old South before the war, and are therefore detestable. The film has been the subject of much criticism - particularly in recent years - for its depiction of African-Americans. After the Union soldiers leave Tara in ruin, the house slaves are all that remain. The end of the Civil War, of course, signified the end of slavery in America. Mammy and Prissy, in particular, decide - on their own volition - to stay with Scarlett after she hits rock bottom; they seem utterly disinterested in liberation. Prissy, namely, has been criticized for her complete lack of intelligence. It would seem, though, that she is merely feigning ignorance; in one scene, the viewer can clearly see her counting down the days until her emancipation. But playing the devil's advocate is not an easy role, seeing as the film contradicts itself by having Prissy choose to remain at Tara. While it would seem that the more or less racist caricatures in the film are untenable, context matters. The film did not receive a wide release until 1940 and was in production years prior. Before then, African-American representation in Hollywood was a shell of what it is today. Gone with the Wind should be commended - at least to some degree - for the audacity to devote this much screen time to the characters played by Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen and Oscar Polk. One could drone on about how the glorification of the antebellum South is derived from the backgrounds of the filmmakers, but not only did they not have any connection to the South, but the sentiment is objectively untrue. Context matters; yes, Scarlett is a bad person, but the filmmakers aren't trying to convince you otherwise.
In summation, Fleming had made no attempt to make Scarlett appear likable, and throughout the film, makes it abundantly clear that she is a disgraceful character willing to make others suffer for her own gain. Fleming paints Scarlett as a stand-in for the Confederate South - a racist relic of an era that has fortunately ended. Yet she is grounded in reality in a way that enables the viewer to attach themselves to the character; she suffers from many of the same vices as any of us. It would seem that finding yourself in a world that has left you behind is simply a facet of life, and in that way, we can all see a piece of Scarlett in ourselves. Although that may be too scary a notion for some, this is a rewarding film for anyone willing to overlook its shortcomings, and appreciate the point the filmmakers are attempting to make about mankind's inherent aversion to change, and the allure that comes with what we can't have.
À bout de souffle (1960)
What Breathless Has to Say About Masculinity
Breathless gets much attention for its contributions to film as a medium - and rightfully so. But something missing from the conversation is the film's scathing indictment of toxic masculinity.
Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless follows a criminal (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who - after stealing a car and subsequently killing a police officer - tries to muster enough cash to flee to Rome with his love (Jean Seberg). The film has been praised for deviating from typical narrative conventions - for breaking all the rules. Breathless was shot on-location in Paris, casted unknown actors, was largely improvised, and had little plot - all unprecedented - thus cementing the film as the catalyst for the French New Wave.
Detachment. It's easy to criticize the film for its cold and distant protagonist, but isn't that the point? Michel isn't the suave bad guy; he merely sees himself that way. He admires Bogart and bases his idiosyncrasies on the actor. But it's all a facade. When pursued by the police, he kills an officer out of fear. Michel is scared. Thus, when he chastises Patricia for her alleged cowardice, he is projecting his own insecurities onto her.
"You make me want to puke," Michel tells Patricia at the very end. He loves her so dearly and it's killing him; even after her betrayal, he's completely and utterly lovesick. Michel is a hopeless romantic with a cordial center, but this facade perpetuated by the media has convinced him that's not what women want. He adopts this facade out of fear, but manages to alienate himself from the woman he loves. Even after his death, all Patricia will ever see is the prick.
Breathless is reasonably presented in film schools throughout the world, but maybe for the wrong reasons. It is important to recognize the film's historical significance and contributions to cinema, but the social commentary and subtlety by which it is told is what makes the movie feel more than just homework for aspiring cinephiles. Breathless certainly has a distinct style, but that shouldn't distract from the timeless substance the movie has to offer.
More so incoherent ramblings than a structured review, but let's gooooo
Dom Cobb is a man filled with guilt, regret, and forced to confront the ghosts of his past. Cobb retreats into his memories and fantasies to escape the guilt that pervades him. He has alienated himself from the people in his life that he loves - all that's left are the memories. In Sergio Leone's mobster epic Once Upon a Time in America, David "Noodles" Aaronson has the same arc. After getting his lifelong friends killed and driving a wedge between himself and the only woman he's ever loved, he passes out in an opium den and drifts off into a drug-induced fever dream that alleviates him of any wrongdoing. The key distinction between Noodles and Cobb is subtlety. Everything revealed about the Dom Cobb character is done so thorough exposition. There's a scene in Inception where Cobb relives moments shared with his late wife and small children. We are told early on that architects are not to design dreams from memories - to only use small details - never the whole area. "They're memories," remarks Ariadne. That much is obvious. "You said never to use memories." That, too. Nolan's superiority complex seems to bog down his movies, especially this one. With the incessant exposition, you'd expect the plot to be very intricate and esoteric - but to any 10-year-old exultant to be watching a PG:13 movie, it's quite simple. Thematically, surely there must be some depth. Well, no. The only character that doesn't exist merely as a device to further the plot and give out information is Cobb. Cobb is the only character with any semblance of depth. Cobb is the only character Nolan makes any attempt to flesh out. Cobb is the only character with any characteristics. And yet there is no subtlety. Through heavy-handed, expository dialogue, we learn all there is to possibly get out of the character. Admittedly impressive practical effects can only go so far. If you want an entertaining popcorn flick to pass time, look no further. But if you're in the mood for a challenging film that will stimulate your brain and linger on your mind until you've dissected every frame, Inception isn't for you.
Inception isn't complex. Not in its plot and certainly not its themes, but one moment in the film has led to confusion amongst viewers. That moment, of course, happens in the last two seconds. Because the film is sostagnant, the first time that I watched Inception, I simply didn't care whether or not the ending was a dream. I thought, 'Well, the kids are wearing the same clothes and appear to be about the same age - it must be a dream.' According to Nolan, that is not the case. Regardless, though, what actually are the implications of the scene taking place in reality? Well, since the kids haven't aged much, what little of an impact was left dwindles even further. He's been gone for what - two months? Cobb's relationship with Mal has some interesting ideas, but his dynamic with his children extends to 'he loves his children very much.' That's it. He loves his children and can finally see them. Oh, but I'm not getting it - Nolan is Cobb and his alienation from his children is reflecting on the director's devotion to his work and subsequent time away from the home - during a crucial period of development where they need him the most. But all of that is incredibly obvious from just watching the movie. It doesn't take years of marinating for that conclusion to be drawn.
Restraint in a director is commendable. That's why Denis Villeneuve's Enemy and the recent I'm Thinking of Ending Things are so effective. What could easily be these grand reveals that call attention to themselves are instead left symbolic and ambiguous. They reward the viewer for thinking about the movie. Inception has not one, but two twists: one, Cobb is responsible for his wife's death; two, Cobb performed inception on her, ultimately leading to said death. Inception isn't a film that rewards the viewer for thinking about it for a prolonged period of time; you enjoy it while it lasts, but it isn't substantive enough to remain in your mind for five minutes before you realize there's nothing here that hasn't been done before much better.
A Rise-and-Fall Story Without the Rise
Capone stars Tom Hardy in a biopic about Al Capone, the notorious gangster who amassed a staggering fortune in racketeering during Prohibition. That cemented him as a formidable crime boss, a reputation that reverberates even today.
But in the latter half of his life, Al Capone -- once synonymous with power -- is reduced to a shell of his former self. After serving a decade in prison for tax evasion, the once larger-than-life gangster becomes afflicted with dementia and neurosyphilis, and is plagued by the ghosts of his past.
The premise alone is brilliant. Writer-director Josh Trank should be commended for assuming the daring responsibility of assigning a certain humanity to an individual looked up on as a god. This is a rise-and-fall story -- the likes of which most filmmakers would be afraid to tackle.
The main issue, however, is the absence of Capone's rise. The movie works on the assumption that the audience has a preexisting knowledge of Al Capone. In this way the character has no arc, and worse, none of the beats feel earned, and the impact is lost. Imagine if the last half hour of Martin Scorsese's recent epic The Irishman was isolated and prolonged to feature length. The result would feel manipulative and disingenuous.
Everything that the viewer does learn about the ill-fated legend is explicitly told to the audience, either in the opening and closing titles, or through exhaustingly-expository dialogue. The dementia-ridden former-criminal is haunted by hallucinations of the people in his life that he has wronged. These apparitions include Johnny Torrio (played by Matt Dillon) and a boy carrying a gaudy balloon. It's not until well into the second act that we learn who Dillon is meant to be playing, and the reveal is wholly auditory as Johnny explains to Capone (or rather the audience) how he had skimmed a little off the top and in turn met a grisly fate at the hands of the Tom Hardy character.
Of course, we never see this scene play out, nor is the relationship between the two characters even remotely fleshed out. The boy, who the viewer can guess early on is Capone's son Tony, wanders in and out of the hallucinations holding his golden balloon. The audience is never questioning the sanity of the protagonist; the dream sequences are in no way grounded and are without fail interrupted with Hardy gutturally moaning as he squirms around on the floor, leaving no room for interpretation.
The notion of Capone wandering through different memories as his mind deteriorates theoretically could work, but who the characters are is cloudy and the cinematography sticks to stationary medium shots devoid of personality -- a far cry from the Lynch films director of photography Peter Deming has worked on in the past. The aesthetic mirrors John Travolta's reviled works The Fanatic and Gotti. The character is treated with as much nuance as a tommy gun to the face. Tom Hardy gets lost in the character, but his unintelligible speech and grotesque actions (he defecates in not one, but two scenes) create a performance that is nothing short of laughable. There is an overabundance of Oscar-baity films each year, but Trank's latest bizarrely seems to be catered to the Razzies.
The Guest (2014)
What does war do to a man?
Adam Wingard's The Guest is an entertaining thriller, but if there ever was a film about the debilitating effects of war, here it is. The action sequences here are no different from any other action movie of recent years, but the underlying themes add an extra layer of meaning.
The movie follows a soldier who appears at a family's doorsteps claiming to have fought alongside their deceased son in the army. The soldier, played suave, if not charming (and appropriately unhinged later in the film), by Dan Stevens, is welcomed into the family and allowed to sleep in his comrade's childhood bedroom. Soon, the family's daughter begins to suspect his involvement in a series of deaths that hit close to home.
The soldier, a man by the name of David Collins, insinuates himself in the family's lives. David makes it his mission to ascertain whether they feel loved by the lost son, and improve their lives to the best of his abilities. The father - after multiple beers - confides in David and confesses to him his insecurities at work. The son, Luke, is inhibited and bullied, and the daughter, Anna, is stuck in a plodding relationship. The dad's superior is found inexplicably dead, the bullies are hospitalized, and the boyfriend is being penned for a murder he did not commit, with evidence heavily suggesting otherwise. Anna has her suspicions.
There's a fine line being drawn between a hero and villain. Like a hero, David's actions are intended for the betterment of the family, but like a villain, the means are increasingly macabre. The fight scenes in the first act look on the surface to be badass, but the violence is not to be gawked at. For example, in an early scene set in a bar, David attacks a group of high school students. Many will invariably deem the fight "cool," but what we have here is a grown man bullying kids. The morality of the students is questionable, but the course of action is gratuitous, nonetheless.
There's the usual stuff like the convoluted and over-the-top reveal that David underwent a special intelligence experiment (technically a spoiler but I won't divulge the specifics). There's the obligatory scene where the daughter overhears the guest calling a hit. And there are some equally clichéd scenes sprinkled throughout.
But protruding past the frankly familiar facade, the film offers a scathing look at not just what war does to soldiers and their families, but the damage the military itself does to people.
David is a man made into a weapon by the military. This disregard for the sanctity of life is prominent throughout the film. A teacher is brutally stabbed by David and the camera pans to the corpse - lingering - to suggest that the bloody death is not a product of mental illness or substance abuse, but military intervention.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
"Everything is connected."
An "atlas" is a book - one containing maps, pictures, diagrams...a "cloud" is an ill-defined shape of visible water vapor.
I haven't read the book, so I cannot say that the concept of it all works well as a novel. Having seen the film, though, I must say that it is a great film - not in a traditional sense, but rather for how the movie successfully makes the best out of itself.
Various notions simply cannot be crammed together to be put into the form of a story. A "Cloud Atlas" is not much more than the interaction of humans with one another, and their correspondence and importance to upcoming and previous humans. But just like that, it's not that simple.
The film offers false hope, that once we die, a door will open; one side to represent the death, but the other to represent - well - our connection to other generations.
The fact of the matter is, the film could represent a well worthwhile experience if it were hypothetical. Unfortunately, it's not. It is somehow unpretentiously commanding, more or less, its audience.
Through all of its flaws, the film makes no mistake to convey its most main message; at times, it is made difficult to determine who all plays who. This is obviously not accidental.
"What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?" This line signifies how our single contributions, together, have a mighty effect.
This review is a collection of various notions crammed together; no, it's not of the same quality or tier of the film - but this took 10 minutes to write - not 172 to tell.
Smart, sad, and slightly depressing--these words describe the main character as well as the film, overall.
The worst part about 'Her' is that it explores so many concepts and ideas. All the while, the best part about the movie is how they explore those notions.
'Her' is a brilliant drama about a depressed, hapless man undergoing a divorce. He, Theodore, eventually forms a friendship with an operating system. As odd as it sounds, the OS symbolizes and simulates a person's perfect partner. This is the same for Theodore and is why Samantha, his OS, is a female. In time, their relationship becomes much more personal and they really feel a connection to each other. And while Theodore still mourns over his ex leaving him, he's happy--the first time since he and his wife split up--because he realizes that she's not the only one who can bring joy and meaning to his life.
Director Spike Jonze makes a movie about inner-beauty, and this idea is expressed and represented by the love Theodore shares with Samantha. In a way, Theodore and Samantha have sex; she doesn't have body, but it provokes no limitation to their love, sexual or not. Theodore loves her immensely--unlike he's loved anybody else before. She's real; even though Theodore can't see her, he can feel her--and that right there is love--true love, if you will.
"I'm not tethered to time and space in the way that I would be if I was stuck inside a body that's inevitably going to die," she says. This particular quote makes you realize, if not question, how we all are stuck within ourselves--hurt, loved, hurt more . . . and finally taken away--along with everything we love.
And so the film embarks, giving a message, once again--this time about technology-- improving, advancing technology--that takes over our lives and current states of mind. Of how we become ever so dependent on what we don't need, but want--of how pure guilt takes over innocence . . . like 'WALL-E'-- but more beautiful.
American Beauty (1999)
A hilarious yet relatable drama about inner-beauty.
To start this off, I truly believe it is a 10/10 movie--it's my favorite movie of 1999 (the year it was made) and my favorite movie of all time. My review will not be biased, so please continue reading.
The plot: a man in his early 40s (played by the amazing Kevin Spacey) is possibly the most average man of his age that you could think of; he lives in a suburban house with his wife and teenage daughter, to whom, do not care much for him nearly as much as they used to. Lester Burnham, the 42-year-old main character, works as a sales agent, where he has worked for the past 15 years. Lester is simply tired and bored of his life, and wants more--he wants a wife who is willing to please him sexually, a daughter that loves him, and a job that's flourishing with excitement and overall, much different from the one he has now. His wife is a real-estate agent who seems to care more for her competitor, the Real Estate King, more than him. After going to his daughter Janie's cheerleading event, he spots her friend--Angela Hayes- -the girl who is exactly what Lester needs in his life; he falls in love once again, this time to a teenage girl who claims to be a sex-crazed person with aspirations of being a model. In hopes of revving his inner-self, he develops an obsession for the girl.
Okay...so why is this so good? Well, first of all, Lester Burnham's words are like poetry--his monologues emphasize how you must get the best of life before it's over--after all, it could abruptly end tomorrow--it doesn't matter when you read this, the sad truth is that you could die whenever. The atmosphere in the film is marvelous; it shows how everyone has their strengths and their inner-weaknesses; it also depicted just what makes a person happy, and how that affects everyone else around them. It really is a gem of a film, both inspiring the audience whenever possible, and allowing them to laugh at the relatable truth about life and human-beings.
I'm not telling you to go watch it--but you should. Even if it doesn't change your life forever, you'd honestly be entertained for the entire 2-hour movie.