Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lucy [USA, 2014]

Nine Things About the Movie Lucy

1. This movie is equal parts style and stupidity. It’s fun to watch, but it requires you to power down your brain. Which is ironic, given the subject of the movie.

2. It’s based on the urban legend that humans only use 10% of their brains. Of course, that’s not true, but it doesn’t stop writer-director Luc Besson from using it as the main idea. Besson proves once again that he’s better at action than storytelling.

3. It’s about a young woman named Lucy who accidentally gets forced into being a mule for a synthetic superdrug. When she gets beaten, the drug leaks into her system, it boosts her brainpower, and she becomes magical.

4. The movie is pretty interesting and suspenseful for the first half-hour. Then Lucy becomes indestructible, so all the intensity leaks away. There’s nothing to do except watch Scarlett Johansson kick ass. And apparently the smartest, most god-like woman in the world still likes wearing sexy high heels all the time.

5. The movie makes less and less sense the farther in you get. There are more plot holes in the script than there are neurons in the brain. But it looks cooler and cooler, so there’s that. The ending of the movie is both trippy and ridiculous. Everything comes so unhinged that you have to just roll with it..

6. Morgan Freeman, who is excellent at narrating real science shows on TV, had to be wincing as he said some of his lines, which were so stupid that no brain scientist would ever actually even think them.

7. Every now and then, the movie tries to sneak in a bit of real philosophy. But it’s surrounded by so much lunacy that any actual wisdom the movie tries to impart is quickly lost - or contradicted.

8. Scarlett Johansson absolutely makes the movie. She’s in almost every scene, and she single-handedly holds the movie together with the force of her own personality.

9. I predict this movie will become a new weed classic.  Watching it stoned will increase the film’s trippiness, and make you think the movie is actually deep, which will spark many memorable conversations.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Woman (USA, 2011)

Nine Things About the Movie The Woman

1. This upsetting movie is based on Jack Ketchum’s novel of the same name. If you don’t know Jack Ketchum, he writes award-winning, and controversial, horror novels.

2. It’s the sequel to the movie Offspring. But you don’t really need to have seen that movie first. In fact, Offspring was pretty terrible. This movie pretty much stands alone..

3. There’s a very early scene in the film during a barbecue, when a boy named Brian witnesses a girl be bullied and abused by other kids. Brian just looks the other way and shoots basketball. It’s a very chilling scene, and lets you know right away that something is Not Right.

4.  The main plot is about about a feral woman roaming the woods outside of town (if you have seen Offspring, you get the backstory of that). She is found by Chris, Brian’s father. He is a nice conservative lawyer, and he takes her back home. Then he chains her up in the cellar.

5. Chris wants to make the woman he found “civilized”, which really just means he wants to do terrible things to her. He makes his family witness and participate. He especially wants to make sure his son follows in his footsteps.

6. One thing that makes the movie so disturbing is the way we learn about the rest of Chris’s family - his wife and two daughters. Nothing outright is told to us, but we slowly figure out that the whole family is disturbed… for different reasons.

7. The performances of the cast are all solid. Given the sensitive and horrific subject matter, the actors stay true to their characters. This is especially true of Zach Rand, who plays Brian, and Pollyanna McIntosh who plays The Woman.

8. The final act of the movie is outrageous and savage. It’s a combination of physical violence, psychological terror, and unexpected plot twists that made my jaw drop. It’s up to the viewer to decide if it has a happy ending or not.

9. The Woman goes into the Hall of Fame of dysfunctional family movies. It is mercilessly misogynistic and yet ferociously feminist. It’s not for all audiences. But it is a very effective portrayal of the various cruelties that humans put each other through.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Fountain [USA, 2006]

Nine Things about the Film The Fountain

1. This movie is about a Hugh Jackman traveling through space in a giant snowglobe, talking to a tree and tattooing himself when he’s not meditating.

2. No, actually the movie is about Hugh Jackman playing a renegade cancer researcher who ignores his dying wife and loses his wedding ring.

3. Ok, seriously, the movie is really about Hugh Jackman in the role of a Spanish conquistador looking for the Biblical Tree of Life inside a Mayan pyramid.

4. Director Darren Aronofsky wove these three storylines together, spanning 1000 years, in a hypnotic, gorgeous allegory wrapped in metaphor and myth. Of course, it was a box office flop.

5. The movie does start out very confusing. And if you can’t maintain attention to it, it will remain confusing. But if you make the connections between the storylines, patterns begin to emerge. Aronofsky has called this movie a Rubik’s Cube, which has only one solution… although you can get to it in different ways.

6. The movie is about death. Specifically, it’s a conflict of perspectives about death. Either “death is a disease”, or “death is the road to awe”.

7. From the millenium-spanning, continent-crossing, religion-blending stories, it all ends up centering on a man afraid of the fact that he’s going to die.

8. I think this is Hugh Jackman’s best performance.

9.This is a hallucinatory. philosophical experience that many people will find frustrating for reasons they can’t quite explain. But for those people who can get on the movie’s wavelength, Aronofsky uncovers some core psychospiritual concepts that dwell hidden within each one of us.

Hercules [USA, 2014]

Nine Things about the Film Hercules

1. This is a very interesting version of the Hercules legend. But you need to know, the legend has been reinvented. The trailer for the movie is kind of misleading. This is not the Hercules you are used to..

2. The birth of Hercules, his childhood, and his legendary 12 labors are all pretty much done before the opening credits.

3. In this movie, Hercules is really just a mercenary, with a team of warriors helping him out. His nephew has the sole job of making up the legends of Hercules and spreading them around to give Hercules a badass reputation.

4. It is set in a time when people are starting to doubt the existence of gods and magic, but still need something to believe in.

5. This movie has some really impressive, epic battle scenes.

6. Hercules’s companions are a diverse and entertaining group. Ian McShane is especially good as Amphiaraus, who does drugs and gets “visions from the gods”. Some of these visions come true, and some don’t.

7. The movie does a good job of illustrating that some monsters you have to battle are psychological ones.

8. There are a few moments that contradict the movie’s attempt to stay grounded in reality. That’s annoying. But there aren’t very many of them.

9. If you want a movie full of gods and monsters, you will leave the theater angry. If you like movies set in ancient Greece, with cool military battles, and a reflection on how heroes are made, you may appreciate it. This movie is certainly smarter and more layered than most movies of this type.

Platoon [USA, 1986]

Nine Things About the Movie Platoon

1. This is Oliver Stone's early classic, a scorching view of the Vietnam war. It was the first of Stone's Vietnam Trilogy (followed by Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven and Earth).

2. It is based on Stone's actual experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. This was the first Hollywood film to be written and directed by a Vietnam Veteran.

3. Stone made this movie as a counterpoint to the very pro-military John Wayne Vietnam movie, The Green Berets.

4. It stars a young Charlie Sheen as a rich white boy that drops out of college to volunteer to fight in Vietnam. Stone deliberately points out the class (and racial) disparities of the soldiers who fought in the war.

5.  Far from depicting the American fighting forces as united against the enemy, the movie shines a light on the various political maneuverings inside a single platoon - which is responsible for more than one incident of "friendly fire".

6. Besides the fantastic performance of Sheen, Tom Berenger's portrayal of a soldier who has been in country just a little too long is also memorable.

7. The point of the movie is to show Sheen's character arc. He slowly learns that the men that survive the longest are the ones that give up their humanity and act on bloodlust and animal instinct.

8.  The movie is also famous for it's soundtrack, which showcases one of the most epically sorrowful pieces of classical music ever, "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber.

9. Even now, almost 30 years after it was made, this movie remains one of the defining accounts of the Vietnam War. It's fascinating, tragic, and important.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Y Tu Mama Tambien [Mexico, 2001]

Nine Things About the Movie Y Tu Mama Tambien [aka And Your Mother Too]

1. This is a rare “coming of age” film that dares to explore the topic of young adulthood in a deeper way than most such films do. Honestly, when this movie was released in 2001, I don’t think America was ready to handle it. It’s too truthful.

2. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as Julio and Tenoch, two horny teenage boys who are best friends. The movie opens with two sex scenes - each of the boys is giving a special goodbye to their girlfriends before the girls take a trip to Italy.

3. Once the girls are gone, the boys are bored, so they convince Luisa, the hot wife of Tenoch’s cousin, to go with them on a road trip to a beach - even though they made the beach up in their head. Their plan is to sleep with Luisa during the trip.

4.The boys’ plan begins to work, and of course both boys start falling in love with Luisa. This opens a much deeper well of sexual angst and tension than they are ready to deal with. Emotions become raw and secrets come out.

5.  Every now and then a narrator jumps in to give some background information, or to tell the audience things that the characters don’t know. It’s a weird touch.

6. There is some political subtext to the film, which I admit I didn’t really understand.

7. Bernal and Luna positively shine as the friends who love each other more deeply than even they know. The movie would have been an awkward flop without their emotional commitment to the roles.

8. The movie won a number of international awards. Unfortunately, the films explicit sexual content prevented it from getting a wide release in America. Which is stupid. Yeah, there is a lot of sex, and a lot of nudity (male and female) but it’s not pornographic or gratuitous. It is an integral part of the characters’ development. Anyway, once again, very few Americans saw this film.

9. Even today, there are people who will not be comfortable with this movie because of the open sexuality of the characters, and the way the movie sensitively exposes secret (but common) characteristics of close male friendships. And that's too bad. This is a touching and honest portrayal of young adults figuring out that their emotions are a lot larger and less logical than they expected.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bellflower [USA, 2011]

Nine Things About the Movie Bellflower

1. I usually find romantic dramas to be predictable and boring. But this movie is a rare exception.

2. It’s about two best friends, Aiden and Woodrow, who moved to California together to make their lives different. They spend their spare time (which they have a lot of) fantasizing about what they would do during the apocalypse. They build “Mad Max”-inspired cars and flamethrowers as their hobby.

3. Woodrow falls in love with a girl named Milly, and Aiden starts spending time with a girl named Courtney. They embark on their respective relationships, which are realistic and heartfelt. But halfway through the movie, things go bad. There is cheating, car accidents, brain damage, and betrayal.

4. The last half hour of the movie splits into two different timelines, and it is up to you to decide which one is the real one and which one is imaginary.

5.  The movie works largely because of the two lead actors. Tyler Dawson plays Aiden and Evan Glodell plays Woodrow (Glodell also wrote and directed the movie). It’s one of the best portrayals of adult male best friends I’ve ever seen. They perfectly illustrate the young adult male psyche dealing with love, friendship, and the realization that idealism rusts away, that changing where you live doesn't change who you are.

6.The cinematography by Joel Hodge is very unique. Beautiful macro shots combine with dirty lenses and grungy perspectives to give the film a look I’ve never seen before. It was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography.

7.  No matter which version of the timeline you believe, if you watch all the way through the credits you may get confused again.

8.  The movie shows that some apocalypses really do happen. But they are not global, they are personal.

9. This movie is a beautiful emo-hipster tragedy, and is further proof that some great movies never make it to your local pop culture movie theater.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wild at Heart [USA, 1990]

Nine Things About the Movie Wild at Heart

1. David Lynch is my favorite director. “Wild at Heart” is my least favorite of his films. The movie is still good, but Lynch seems to be forcing things together that don’t really mesh..

2. This is a darkly comic, punk-rock riff on the American Dream. It is Lynch’s funniest film, and has the most quotable lines. Of course, funny is relative with Lynch.

3. The core plot is about Lula and Sailor, two young people in love who are on an “us against the world” road trip. Lula’s insane mother sends her boyfriend off to kill Sailor, and then a hitman off to kill her boyfriend.

4. There are many references to “The Wizard of Oz” throughout the movie, except the ruby slippers don’t work, and you can break down on the yellow brick road, so you have to wander off into the wild. Or small-town Texas.

5. Lula, played by Laura Dern, is the Dorothy character - if Dorothy was raped as a girl and turned into an oversexed chainsmoker that falls for bad boys. Dern’s real-life mother, Diane Lane, is the Wicked Witch character - if the Wicked Witch was a codependent alcoholic with rage issues.

6. Nicolas Cage plays Sailor, a thief and killer who has an Elvis obsession. And Willem Dafoe steals every scene he’s in as a creepy sleazoid. A lot of the rest of the cast comes from Lynch’s other projects, “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks”.

7. The movie is incredibly over the top. Everyone overacts their characters, but in such a specific way that it forms a complete tapestry.

8. There are plenty of Lynch’s trademark visual and verbal non-sequiturs that may or may not make sense, and that you may or may not like.

9. There are several awesome scenes in this movie, and it did win some awards. I really like it, but I can’t help feeling that it is missing some unnameable key ingredient that his other films have.

“The Purge: Anarchy” [USA, 2014]

Nine Things About the Movie The Purge: Anarchy

1. I was one of the few people that really liked “The Purge”. It was sort of misadvertised, so I understand why people didn’t like it. It’s an epic idea - there is one night a year where all crime is legal. But the movie itself focused on one family in one house, so a lot of people thought the movie was wasted, silly, and unrealistic.

2. The reason I liked it so much is because I realized early on that it wasn’t really a horror movie. Sure there is a home-invasion thriller plot, but the movie itself wasn’t about that. It was a harsh allegory of American culture. If you can recognize the political, religious, and classist undertones, the movie unlocks itself for you and becomes a smart, engaging black satire. But most people didn’t recognize that, so they thought it sucked.

3. So for the sequel, they tried to fix those problems, to make it more accessible. So everything becomes more obvious. The social undertones of the first movie become blatant overtones in this one. The action moves out of one house and literally into the streets, where nobody is safe because the cops are all off duty.

4. It’s a decent flick, but they went a little too far in the other direction. There are multiple plots in this movie - each one showing the adventures of a small group of people who find themselves out in the open city when the Purge begins. During the Purge, the streets are run by rival street gangs, religious end-of-the-world nuts, and lone lunatics. There is danger around every corner. Little by little, the characters find each other and try to survive the night.

5. The story mostly works, but it’s really just cobbled together from parts of other movies, and is kind of predictable. Also, given the violent premise of the movie, there is surprisingly little blood and gore. A lot of the violence happens offscreen.

6. Unless you completely turn your brain off, there is no way you will miss the social commentary here. The movie makes bold statements about American capitalism, the merging of religion with national pride, and the unbalanced class system.

7. The ending is a heavy-handed moral lesson about revenge and forgiveness.

8. This movie will play right into the conspiracy theorists that believe America is turning into a police state run by evil super rich people. The “Zeitgeist Movement” Kool-Aid drinkers will think this is a documentary in a few years.

9. This is an entertaining movie that gives you a little to think about. It is louder and dumber than the first one, which many people will appreciate. There are some very chilling scenes, and some good action. But I was left feeling a little empty. It could be a devastating statement on American values. Or it could be a grungy super-violent grindhouse film. But it tries to walk the line between both, so it ends up being neither.
For such an outrageous idea, it’s not a very outrageous movie.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beyond the Black Rainbow [Canada, 2010]

Nine Things About the Movie Beyond the Black Rainbow

1. There are four kinds of drug movies:

a) movies about how terrible drugs are - most movies are of this type.

b) movies that show drugs are funny and harmless - these are the weed movies like “Friday” and “Pineapple Express”.

c) movies that can only really be appreciated if you are on drugs - movies like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, “Brazil”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, or “Apocalypse Now”..

d) then there is the most rare movie of all - the movie that is itself a drug. These are movies that try to cause you to feel the same way that a psychedelic experience will.

2. This movie is in the last category. There is no way to describe this movie in regular language. Combining Kubrick, Cronenberg, Lynch, Burroughs, and Lovecraft, this isn't even really a movie by traditional standards, but an experiment in using cinema to alter consciousness.

3. The director himself called this a “trance film”, and downplayed the actual story for an atmospheric and dream-like experience.

4. It's set in 1983, but the soul of the film is locked in an acid-induced fever dream from 1965. The plot, if it matters, is about a telepathic girl held against her will in a bizarre hospital, while her doctor does strange things with drugs and a glowing crystal in an attempt to find ultimate reality. Or something like that.

5. The movie shows the dark side of the hippy movement. While trying to bring peace and light to the world, the movie argues that hippies did just the opposite, causing people to go too far in their quest for inner peace - whether it was from drugs or occult games. The Balance was upset.

6. There is not much violence, and even less sex, in this film. This film is concerned with issues far beyond such mundane dramas. For example, if you don’t get the reference that the movie’s drugs are provided by a pharmacy named “Benway”... well, then you can’t fully appreciate what the movie is reaching for. I’m sorry.

7.The film uses amazing old-school visuals and mesmerising soundscapes to make the viewer feel... weird. Trippy. Comfortably uncomfortable. The movie exterminates rational thought. Some people will understand this. Some won’t.

8. I’ve seen the film more than once, and each time I swear they changed the movie and added in scenes that weren’t there before.

9. I don’t need to tell you if you should watch this movie - you already know by the time you’ve read this far .If you are questioning whether this movie is for you… well, then it’s probably not.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The New World [USA, Britain, 2005]

Nine Things about the Movie The New World

1. The thing about Terrence Malick is that you are either a fan or you are not. He has made 6 films in 40 years, each covering a different time in American History. But in a sense, Malick has really only made one film - and he’s made it six times. His movies are always basically about the incomprehensibility of the world and our place in it. One could even go so far as to say he doesn’t make movies - he films philosophical poems. And he doesn’t seem to care if anybody understands him. Needless to say, I am a fan.

2. This movie, his fourth, has all his trademarks. It’s full of quiet voiceovers, poetic musings, and images that don’t match the plot. It is gorgeous, lyric, and breathtaking. The soundtrack is hypnotic. Malick once again proves he is a visionary, infusing the mundane with the sublime in ways that cannot be described in words.

3. This movie is Malick’s account of America’s beginning - the founding of Jamestown, and the story of Pocahontas. The surface plot of the movie is not complicated: British settlers come to America, and meet the local natives. Captain John Smith falls in love with one of them, and the cultures clash as they try to work out their differences.
4. But the movie is three hours long. It doesn’t take three hours to tell the story of Pocahontas. That’s because America’s origin story is fertile ground for Malick to ask the Big Questions, even though we will obviously never get the answers. This movie might be the most philosophically challenging of all his films. And that’s saying a lot.

5. The movie asks questions about religion. What is God? One group of people calls God “Father”. The other group calls God “Mother”. How does one’s religion shape the way you see and treat the world?

6. The movie asks questions about love. What is love? Why is it so intense and uncontrollable?
If it’s true that God is love, or that love is truth, then what does it mean when the person you love does not love you back? What does it mean when love goes away entirely?

7. The movie is itself a metaphor for the battles inside one’s own soul. It’s an illustration of how we can never really know any other person - maybe not even ourselves.

8. Predictably, the movie was a box office flop. Audiences (and some critics) were confused, bored, and frustrated. It was given credit for being historically accurate in it’s setting, but disliked for being a complete myth in it’s story. And yet, other critics defended it fiercely. It was even proclaimed by some people to be the best movie of the 2000’s.

9. If you are looking for a historical adventure romance, this movie is way too long and boring to be useful. If you aren’t familiar with his work, but want to give him a shot, this may not be the best movie to start with. However, if you can connect with what Malick is trying to say, this movie becomes a vital, challenging, fundamental study of what it means to be alive.

I Stand Alone [France, 1998]

Nine Things About the Movie I Stand Alone

1. Out of all the countries of the world, only two - France and Germany - produce people that have the unflinching courage to make movies that depict the hellish pointlessness of life. This movie, being French, is one of those movies.

2. In 1991, French director Gaspar Noe made a short, 40-minute movie called “Meat” (the actual French title is “Carne”). It’s about a strange and bitter man working as a horse butcher. He has an autistic daughter, and he struggles to raise her by himself - without giving in to the temptation to molest her. The short film won awards for its unique vision and brutal style, but was never released on DVD, so most people have never seen it.

3. In 1998, Noe made a sequel with the American title “I Stand Alone”. The beginning of it summarizes “Meat” very quickly; but if you have the resources to find the original film, I suggest watching it before this one. It makes it easier to understand the characters and what makes them tick. Plus it gives you a taste of Noe’s unique style - and lets you decide if you actually want to watch the sequel.

4.The main character doesn’t have a name, he’s just a mentally unstable butcher. His life is miserable and empty, and he hates everything, including his wife and unborn child. And black people, and gay people, and rich people, and Nazis. Anyway, after a violent confrontation that leaves him homeless, the butcher strikes out on his own to remake his life. But life has never worked in his favor, and the butcher heads towards a breaking point. He ends up with only a gun and three bullets, and he has to decide what to do with them.

5. Most of the movie’s script consists of the butcher’s internal monologue - he narrates what’s going on inside his head as he bounces between friends, jobs, and bars.

6. While the butcher’s experiences are a commentary on contemporary French life, it could just as easily be a commentary on America.

7. The butcher is racist, homophobic, lusts after his daughter, and believes that life is completely worthless. He is one of the most unredeemable characters in cinematic history. And yet the movie makes us sympathize with him as we understand how he got this way. We recognize that society’s angry crazy people are really just sad and pathetic.

8. Twenty minutes before the end of the movie, the audience is given a warning that they might want to stop watching. This is not because the rest of the movie is too violent to handle (though it is pretty violent), but because it detonates a psychological nuclear bomb, and you are whiplashed through the butcher’s breakdown. You are horrified, then hopeful… and then horrified again.

9. It’s a controversial movie because you get inside this man’s head to such a degree that you understand how violence can naturally seem to be a solution to a life that is so tortured as to be unlivable. This movie is an intimately devastating punch in the throat that dares to show you the black truth sliding in the background of our life.

This is not a date movie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Bunny Game [USA, 2012]

Nine Things about the Movie The Bunny Game

1. This is the feel-bad movie of the year. Maybe of the decade.

2. Filmed entirely in black and white, this movie is partly art film, partly torture porn, partly regular porn, and partly industrial music video. It’s nothing more or less than a depiction of the total destruction of a young woman.

3. The movie starts out depressing as we meet a miserable, empty, homeless prostitute with a drug habit. She feels dead inside and goes through humiliating sexual experiences so that she can pay for her next fix. She meets a trucker and they share cocaine (this is the happiest part of the whole movie). Then the trucker knocks her out and chains her to the back of his trailer. After that, the movie is not depressing anymore… it’s worse. The rest of the movie documents the way the trucker tortures and terrorizes the prostitute in nightmarish, horrifying ways. Well, except for a few breaks when we witness flashbacks of the trucker as he terrorizes, tortures and kills a different girl.

4. The movie should come with a trigger warning - people who have been in extremely abusive situations should probably not watch it.

5. This movie is banned in Britain because of the way the subject matter is handled.

6. The performances of the two main characters are amazing; they are the most talented new actors I’ve seen in a long time. Rodleen Getsic stars as the prostitute. She also helped write the script. Jeff Renfro plays the trucker, and he is one of the most disturbing (and disturbed) villains ever put on screen.

7. As bizarre and vile as the film is, it is also oddly compelling. I wanted to turn the movie off, but I couldn’t, because it’s so stylish that it kind of hypnotized me. I admire the strength of the vision of the filmmakers. It is artistic, brave, creative, and repulsive.

8. The ending of the film is deliberately vague - all you know is how the experience psychologically nuked the young woman.

9. This movie is a fundamental piece of transgressive cinema, and it burned scenes in my mind that will never go away. Most people don’t need to come anywhere near this movie. It’s strictly for people who want to witness the far reaches of human cruelty.

This trailer is not remotely safe for viewing at work, in public, or even at all, really. 
You have been warned.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Zeitgeist: The Movie [USA, 2007]

Nine Things about the Movie Zeitgeist: The Movie

1. The full name of this film is “Zeitgeist: The Movie”.
     It should have been named “Zeitgeist: The Bullshit”.

2. The first of a trilogy of movies by Peter Joseph, this is supposed to be a documentary, but it’s really an excellent example of agitprop. For those that don’t know what agitprop is, it comes from the words “agitation” and “propaganda”. Which means it’s mostly made up, but gets you all upset and hyped and makes you want to do something about the made-up issues.

3. The movie is divided into three, mostly separate, parts. The first part explains how Christianity is just pieced together from other religions, and is a “historical fraud”. There are some true elements in this part, but it way overreaches and goes too far with its ideas. Much of it is based on the writings of Acharya S., a crackpot mystic and conspiracy theorist with no professional training.

4. The second part of the movie is about how the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy, an inside job, as claimed by the “9/11 Truth Movement”, a group of wackos, hoaxers, and idiots.
Every single thing in this part of the movie has been debunked over and over and over. There is not one single conspiracy claim in this part of the movie that is true.

5. Interestingly, the director of the movie, Peter Joseph, has now distanced himself from the second part of the movie and is not claiming a conspiracy/cover up anymore.

6. The third part of the movie is the old “the world is run by a secret society who wants to make us all slaves” routine. This has been recycled many times. In this movie, it’s the bankers that run the world. But in other versions it’s aliens, devil worshipers, or the Illuminati. But it’s all the same conspiracy.

7. The movie is fast-paced, with quick edits, ominous music, and weird visuals, all designed to make you feel uncomfortable. Then the news clips, quotes, and interviews are taken out of context or from random crazy people who have no knowledge of physics, engineering, history, or common sense. It throws a lot at you without giving you time to really think and analyze what they are saying. You just get the general impression that we’re all doomed. The movie doesn’t cite its sources, and they don’t even attempt to get all sides of the story.

8. This movie is paranoia porn. It’s goofy, confusing, and self-contradictory (and it randomly throws in some New-Age spiritual scenes about Love conquering Evil). There are entire websites devoted to showing this whole movie is a lie. And they’re not hard to find.

9. It’s obvious that people that think this crap is real don’t watch actual news or keep up with current events.

Besides, if even half of the stuff in this movie was true, the filmmakers would have been killed and the movie would have disappeared.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Strange Days [USA, 1995]

Nine Things About the Movie Strange Days

1. This movie was a flop in theaters, but is one of the most underappreciated movies of the 1990s. I almost never use the phrase “ahead of its time”, but this movie was ahead of its time.

2. It’s an alternative-history science-fiction thriller set on the last two days of the year 1999. Police technology developed a new version of wiring up informants, but was leaked into the social underground. It allows the wearer to record events exactly as the brain perceives it. Then the recordings are sold to people who experience it exactly like they were there, in the person’s body. Of course, the illicit technology is used mostly to record violence and sex.

3. Ralph Fiennes (you know, you know, the guy from “Schindler’s List”? OK fine, he also played Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” series) plays a sleazy dealer that buys and sells these "experiences" like the best drug dealer you can think of. Although he tries to stay away from recordings of death (called “black jacks”), he ends up in possession of a recording of a brutal rape and murder that has implications on a larger societal level.

4. The movie was made by an amazing group of people in the 1990’s. Not only is Ralph Fiennes in it, but Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis are too (Lewis was in “Natural Born Killers”, “From Dusk to Dawn”, and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”). This was the first role that Bassett had where she played a woman that actually kicks ass, and not someone recovering from being a victim (like her most famous performance as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got To Do With It”).

5. The movie was written by James Cameron. Yes, James Cameron. It was directed by the amazingly talented Kathryn Bigelow, who later went on to direct “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty”. She was the first woman to win the Saturn Award for Best Director for this movie (The Saturn Awards are like the Academy Awards, but just for science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies).

6. The movie depicts one of the most psychologically devastating scenes against women I’ve ever seen. It upset a lot of people. The fact that the movie was directed by a woman and has several strong female characters make it all the more interesting.

7. Most people didn’t know what to do with this movie at the time. It was long and weird. It was a restless, cyberpunk, dystopian future/present that had it’s thumb on social issues ranging from drugs to racism to entertainment to police brutality. It was a mirror of American society in the late 1990’s, and predicted some of the things we are seeing today, 20 years later.

8. You know the 1999 EDM hit by Fatboy Slim called “Right Here, Right Now”? The main lyric was sampled from this movie. It’s Angela Bassett’s voice.

9. This movie is as fresh, if not fresher, than when it was made. It’s relevant, interesting, and creative. I hope someday it gets the recognition it deserves.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [USA, 2014]

Nine Things About the Movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

1. This extraordinary movie is gorgeous, gripping, and better than the first film. It’s perhaps my favorite film of 2014 so far.

2. At the very end of the first movie, you get the idea that the viral drug being tested on apes has escaped the lab and is infecting humans. This movie takes place 10 years later, after the virus has killed most of humanity (including all the people from the first movie).

3. San Francisco is a shell of what it once was, and the relatively small group of humans that were immune to the virus are trying to hold themselves together. Meanwhile, the escaped apes, led by Caesar, are building their own society.

4.The San Francisco people, who don’t know about the evolved apes, accidentally run into them and shoot one. This rather unfortunate meeting of the groups stirs emotions on all sides; the humans and the apes try to decide what to do with each other. There are more apes than humans, but humans have more guns.

5. The special effects in this movie are impossibly good. There were a couple of times that I stopped paying attention to the story because I was mesmerised by the apes. Speaking of special effects, Andy Serkis plays Caesar. He also played Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” movies.

6. While it’s obvious that the movie is making a commentary on war, if you like to read things into movies like I do, the movie is a reflection on so many other things: leadership, forgiveness, fanaticism, sacrifice, revenge, and choice. It really makes you think about where the boundaries are between humans and other animals.

7. There is a deep sadness and melancholy that soaks through the whole movie.

8. This is mostly a drama, so if you’re expecting two hours of violence, you’ll be disappointed. Most of the action comes during the last 45 minutes or so. The first hour and a half does a fantastic job of slowly building up the tension, so that when it blows up, it really blows up.

9. This is an excellent piece of filmmaking, especially considering it’s supposed to be a summer blockbuster. You root for both the humans and the apes, which gets you all twisted up. You are drawn into this dark new world, and you leave it with both your intellect and your emotions affected.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wolf Creek 2 [Australia, 2014]

Nine Things about the Movie Wolf Creek 2

1. Made eight years after the first “Wolf Creek”, this movie continues the adventures of Mick Taylor, the awkwardly charming but brutal serial killer with a nerve-grating chuckle.

2. Like the first movie, this is “inspired by true events”, which means it was partly inspired by two famous Australian killers. But this story never happened.

3. There is a pretty obvious anti-tourist element in the plot of this movie. I might take “visit Australia” off of my bucket list.

4. The first movie was about two European backpackers that are stalked by a killer in the outback. The sequel is about two European backpackers that are stalked by a killer in the outback.

5. Director Greg McLean broke some rules of horror films in the first movie. He also breaks some rules of horror sequels in this movie. So despite having the almost exact same setup, this movie goes in a wildly different direction than the first. It does a pretty good job of subverting expectations and surprising you, at least for awhile.

6. The first half of the movie seems determined to be more violent than the first one. It’s pretty extreme. But it runs out of creative steam about halfway through, and then settles down into your more traditional “terrorize the captive” sequences.

7. Like the first film, the acting is better than you usually find in these kinds of movies. Ryan Corr is really good as the British surfer unwillingly brought into the drama. And John Jarratt guarantees that the Mick Taylor character joins the hall of fame of truly evil villains.

8. There is a very dark and macabre sense of humor to the movie, which lends a somewhat surreal quality to the film. A lot of it comes from Mick Taylor muttering to himself, so unless you are an expert at understanding Australian accents and slang, make sure you have the subtitles on.

9. This isn’t better than the first movie, but it’s not really worse, either. There are some very memorable scenes here. If you are a fan of the first film, you’ll like this one, too. And if you weren’t a fan of the first one, well, this won’t change your mind.