Under the Skin

April 16, 2014

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Despite a very, very limited feature film career (three, actually, with the last one being 10 years ago), Jonathan Glazer can comfortably consider himself the most self-consciously Kubrickian auteur working today.  It’s not an easy style to go after, obviously, and it speaks to his talents that on the basis of, really, two films (Under the Skin and Birth, though I haven’t seen it since it came out I feel Sexy Beast is memorable for a performance rather than visuals) that this quality can be considered a positive rather than an affront.  It’s all the more impressive when you consider the tonal consistency of Under the Skin considering it’s essentially three different films cut into halves.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Joe

April 12, 2014

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Scanning the blurbs on a Critic Aggregate Site sees a lot of talk of David Gordon Green’s Joe being a “return to form” for its star Nicolas Cage, who has been much harried and parodied by the internet and by extension the broader cultural spectrum for some years now.  It’s not without merit, to be sure; his style is often over-the-top, and the often dire material he finds himself working with just to get a paycheck hasn’t invited him to “tone it down”, as it were.  The mistake is assuming that bad material is the same as bad acting, and Cage is not now nor has ever been a bad actor.  Different, to be sure, but “bad” denotes someone without gifts doing something they don’t understand.  I’ve never had that impression from Cage.  Joe is probably his best work when it comes to finding something deeper in the character, but then the material is suited for that.  It’s not a particularly successful film, but there’s a basis for the critical plaudits currently being laid upon it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Young Adult

March 8, 2012

The first thing to get out of the way when dealing with Young Adult is that Jason Reitman is not a good director.  His previous films have been, at best, blandly functional enough for the characters to carry it along without interruption, but at worst he displays little-to-no understanding of how to film two people talking as well as a penchant for jarring stylistic leaps that detract from the story.  There are some of those stylistic leaps that just don’t work in Young Adult, including some awkward handheld shots that don’t fit anywhere into the his already boring visual schema.  Needless to say, he is not up to the task of making Young Adult work the way it should.  As a dark character comedy, there’s a way to handle this kind of awkward humour that he clearly doesn’t understand, and on the other side of the card, there might have been subtle ways to tease out the depth of a number of characters, but we’ll never know because he doesn’t seem to understand that either.  Read the rest of this entry »

The end of any serious relationship brings about a long period of reflection.  Where did it go wrong?  Who was at fault?  What could have been done differently?  Questions like these are almost inevitable.  Some choose to blame themselves and think only of the times they were at fault, either knowingly or with the benefit of hindsight.  Some choose to blame the other party, focusing on their faults, the difficulties they caused, or – perhaps ironically – their inability to see the other perspective.  Both points of view are almost inevitably wrong, or at least not totally right, but that’s how memory and emotions work.  What bliss it might be to have a film of the key events so they can be replayed and understood for future reference or just plain peace of mind. Read the rest of this entry »

The Kids Are All Right

September 1, 2010

A teenage boy, Laser (Josh Hutchinson), has been hanging around a new friend quite a bit recently.  His friend, an unbelievable (literally, he’s so one-dimensional it is almost offensive) douche named Clay (Eddie Hassell) convinces him to look through Laser’s mothers’ bedroom for weed.  They find a vibrator and a porn DVD, and quickly pop it in the laptop to watch it.  For reasons unbeknownst to anyone, the mothers, Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), have it in their heads that their son might be exploring his sexuality with his friend.  Jules, right on cue, barges into Laser’s room to find them watching the porno, which features man-on-man sex.  The mothers sit Laser down, and attempt to broach the subject of his sexuality by asking him if he has anything he wants to ask them.  He asks, quite reasonably, why they watch gay porn.  Nic, the Type A controlling mother tells him that, firstly, they don’t watch it very often, and secondly, he shouldn’t be snooping around their room.  Jules, the more wayward and intuitive mother, weighs in with an amusing and complicated explanation of the sometimes counter-intuitive nature of human sexuality, and that as a lesbian couple they are focused on the ‘inward’ and sometimes get turned on by the ‘outward’.  They resume hinting that he is hiding something, to which he relents and admits that he has met the sperm donor from which he and his sister were conceived.  Responding to the visibly shocked reaction of his mothers, he asks if they thought he was gay.  “No, no, of course not!” they respond. Read the rest of this entry »