Blog Archives

The Lobster

In a world where people are defined by their relationships, we follow one man on his search for compatibility. David (Colin Farrell) is confined to the Hotel, where must find love in 45 days. If he fails to do so, he will be transformed into an animal of his choosing and banished to the forest.

Alas, there is another hope – a group of loveless rebels, “Loners,” also inhabit the forest in order to escape the tyranny of the Hotel, the tyranny of love. Falling in love as a Loner has some gnarly consequences. But of course, we all know that romance can be found in the most unlikely of places.

the-lobster-2015-john-c-reilly.png

Oh, and Hotel patrons hunt Loners for prizes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It’s surreal, dark, and clever – not to mention, social commentary galore. And it prominently features music from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, so bonus points there.

lobster

Will you give me your loss and your sorrow?

When David flees the Hotel, he is stripped from society’s preconceptions, and like the surrounding fauna, is ruled by instinct. Though forbidden amongst Loners, David finds himself drawn to a nameless near-sighted Loner, who I’ll call “Lady” (Rachel Weisz). Of course, Lady is sweet on him, too.

The

As expected, things get pretty dark.

We as people have such strange views on relationships in our society. Decades of advertising have taught us that sex is something we preen for and deserve, lest we end up a sad, lonely loser. The Lobster takes parts of this concept and adds base commentary on objective matchmaking, as well as the addition of children to unhappy homes.

And yet, despite what he and Lady go through in order to pursue what we could deem a “normal” relationship, David is driven by societal standards to make everything worse. This decision in the end is bittersweet: he changes because that is what society has taught him to do, but also by doing so, he can wholly share a world with Lady. Though an abstract portrayal of the things we do for love, I think it’s fair to say that the metaphor is an apt one.

Twisted, strange and oddly beautiful, The Lobster offers all sorts of allegories between the lines. It’s a film that must be watched and discussed. Undoubtedly, it’s something you’ll either get or you don’t – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

 

Advertisements

The Martian

There is nothing more crippling than loneliness. It’s one thing in the existential sense, but imagine being the only person on an entire planet – a planet that doesn’t even want you there. After believed to be dead and abandoned on a desolate planet, Mark Watney (Matt Damon), is forced to survive by any means necessary, namely by “sciencing the shit out of it.”

Pictured: Science

Pictured: Science

Speaking of which, I know that this film has been debated in terms of scientific accuracy – often when compared to Gravity and Interstellar (though I think the latter is solely based on rescuing Matt Damon…in space) – but I really don’t know much about that. Granted, there is a lot of technobabble, but somehow it’s not overwhelmingly boring in any way – in fact, most of the film is overshadowed with more humor than doubt.

What makes The Martian unique amongst other survival films, is the odd beauty that even in absolute loneliness, you are never truly alone. Throughout Watney’s ordeal, his friends and crew never stopped thinking about him. Sure, sure Watney didn’t know, but I guess I’m feeling sentimental. Also, against all odds, he never gave up – especially when that was the easiest choice. It’s also important that there’s no real “bad guy” in this movie – it’s all just rotten luck and circumstance.

In all I found The Martian to be a truly memorable experience. It was absolutely harrowing without being overtly terrifying – the use of humor keep the whole ordeal grounded, and more importantly, human.

Final Grade: A 

I really need to read more books.

I really need to read more books.

WYSHW: Mary and Max

You know how I feel about stop-motion.

You know how I feel about stop-motion.

This is a film I came across some time ago. It stuck to the back of my memory and never left. Sadly, it is no longer streaming on Netflix, but you should see it if you get a chance; Adam Elliot’s Max and Mary– an animated tale of isolation, second-chances, and condensed milk. Among other things.

Mary Daisy Dinkle (Bethany Whitmore/Toni Collette) is a lonely Aussie girl who lives with her alcoholic mother and removed father. Max Jerrry Horovitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is an obese 40-something with Aspergers living in New York.

After a mishap with her mother at the post office, Mary reaches out to Max on a whim, with the hopes of gaining a pen pal. Max obliges, and the two strike a friendship which spans years, complete with misunderstandings and ups and downs – without ever meeting face-to-face.

What struck me most about Mary and Maxis it’s odd combination of charm and crudeness – the same sort of traits found in Elliot’s Oscar-winning short Harvie Krumpet. Additionally, there’s something wonderful, magical even, about the heaviness and intangibility of depression and anxiety crossed with such tangible media as clay figurines. Personally, I’m also a fan of more adult-themed stop-motion films (the more that disbands the thought that all animated features are for children, the better).

Perchance this film is not for everybody, but I think that Mary and Maxis at least worth a glance for the dry wit and dark humor.

Next time on What You Should Have Watched, let’s get some Julie Taymor in here.

Netfix: Frank

I should not have waited as long as I did to see this.

I should not have waited as long as I did to see this.

Bored with his dull suburban life, aspiring songwriter Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) stumbles upon a grand opportunity when an experimental indie band, Soronprfbs, is in sudden need of a keyboardist. Though the gig does not go particularly well, Jon earns the attention of Soronprfbs’ masked frontman, Frank (Michael Fassbender). Jon is invited to join the band, much to the chagrin of Frank’s girlfriend and band theremin-player (thereminist?), Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

As a film, Frank serves almost as an inside look as a achieving art, or perhaps more of the perception of becoming of artist. Throughout the quirks is a story of anguish and expression, with Jon as an apt creative everyman. This is a story of fame versus respect, combined with the internet celebrity zeitgeist – wrapped up in a musical shell. From Jon’s perspective, his venture with Soronprfbs is not unlike a trip to Oz – even with the ending, but I won’t spoil anything.

The Good
Pretty much everything. I’m thinking about getting the soundtrack, even.

The Bad
…I’ve got nothing. Maybe the use of social networking will age terribly in the next few years, but that’s about it.

The Best
It goes without saying that Michael Fassbender is fantastic (as if that’s a surprise anyway); his performance as Frank is wrought with sincerity and a sort of delicate tact. Really the whole ensemble works wonderfully – I really just enjoyed watching them play together and jam.

Tusk

Okay, so remember last week or whenever I posted my podcast-ical fangasm about Tusk? Well, Crom was kind and this limitedly-released feature graced a small theater just a skip-hop-and-a-jump away from yours truly. It was my companion and I, and a handful of others – maybe at most ten patrons total on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Two people walked out during the third act. Clearly, this was not meant for them.

Me, on the other hand? Let’s just say I had a hell of a time.

Granted, my fandom of Smodcast and Kevin Smith films sent my little heart a-flutter, so am I biased? Absolutely. This doesn’t mean I still can’t remain totally objective about the thing.

Podcasting!

Podcasting!

Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) and Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment) are the obnoxious hosts of the infamous Not-See Party – a podcast in which Wallace travels and interviews strange folk and weirdos alike. Wallace’s latest expedition takes him to scenic Manitoba, but when his planned interview goes, well, awry, Wallace is desperate to make the most of his time.

He stumbles across an ad posted by the hermitic Howard Howe (Michael Parks), a retired adventurer looking for a lodger – a perfect interviewee for a podcast. However, Howe reveals a much more insidious plan. He ends up turning Wallace into a walrus. What, was that really a spoiler?

Fortunately for folks at home, the internet has been pretty hush-hush about slipping pictures of the monstrosity – that thing’s nightmare fuel, man.

So here's an adorable baby walrus in a tub instead. You're welcome.

So here’s an adorable baby walrus in a tub instead.
You’re welcome.

Browsing around, I’ve read some harsh remarks about the pointless, gratuitous nature of Tusk. Admittedly, the tone is kind of all over the place, and the ending is sad and empty, I don’t think that the film is necessarily unenjoyable. Again, I am a fan and knew what to expect: a satisfyingly effed-up adventure. Right, right gotta be objective  –

I need those schematics.

I need those schematics on my walls.

I did have a couple of gripes, after all, the devil’s in the details. Is it weird that I wanted to see more of the suit-making process? For instance, what was it filled with? How many other skins were needed (was that even the method)? How did he fabricate the flippers?Also some aging on the suit would have been glorious – maybe an infection here or there, maybe some signs of healing – something! It works for immediate shock value (I know I first cringed looking at it), but after a while the magic seemed to fade.

Justin Long was great. Despite the fact that his character was an annoying ass-hat, his tormented cries and pained post-walrus expressions were impressively disturbing, proving that no man deserved what this guy had just undergone.

Really, everyone gave an impressive performance (so glad to see crazy Michael Parks again). However, returning to the film’s tonal crisis, I feel as if our Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp) teetered a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when Depp hides in a character, but there were times when this character was uncomfortably cartoony, like a drunk Clouseau wannabe (maybe less bumbling). Though in retrospect, I think he grows on you. I mean, I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of this character in Yoga Hosers.

In short, Tusk is a strange tale made on a whim – a labor of love purely for the fans. The story may be paper-thin and there isn’t a “point” per se, but you know what? It’s an enjoyable, messed up little ride, and I want more. Come for the weirdness, stay for the performances. Personally, I cannot wait for the rest of Kevin Smith’s True North Trilogy.

Final Grade: B

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), is a pretty average guy – a lonely workaholic for a dying publication, whose only job is to handle incredible photographs from other peoples’ adventures. Enclosed by his self-made isolation, he spends most of his time escaping into incredible fantasies. When it’s announced that Life magazine will be publishing its final issue, Walter discovers that he has lost the photo for the final cover. Walter takes it upon himself to find the elusive traveler to recover the lost negative, no matter where the journey may take him.

Cool montages and great music galore!

Cool montages and great music galore!

From what I’ve googled, this is hardly anything but inspired by the Thurber story, or the 1947 film starring Danny Kaye – and honestly, I’m okay with that. Perhaps a title change would have been in order, considering that he doesn’t refer to his stories as any sort of truth, but hey, I didn’t make the thing. Instead we get a story of a man who dreams of the impossible in order to rekindle with the extraordinary, bit by bit, taking some chances and having an adventure – first for love, then for obligation, then finally himself – realizing his fantasy world has only gotten in the way of his reality, as well as his potential.

I can’t help but take into consideration the constant backlash over Mitty‘s use of blatant product placement, and personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. Though various brands were mentioned casually, I think it’s fair to say that the biggest offender was Papa John’s. It’s not like the characters were talking about eating the pizza or discussing how delicious that garlic butter sauce is or anything – it was just the first place Walter worked at a young age, setting the stage for his corporate devotion. It wasn’t even positive product placement – in fact Papa John’s was more of a source of resentment, regardless of being a place of familiarity in a foreign environment. Besides, considering that this is a movie that begins and ends with big brands (i.e. Life), why stop at food? As if you didn’t know that a Cinnabon is just frosting-coated heroin.

Get ready to see this face a lot.

Get ready to see this face a lot.

It can also be argued that Walter as a character isn’t too identifiable. Unlike other characters of such caliber, Walter is not boring – he actually does have ideas and dreams and a family – he’s merely introverted. He’s the little guy, pinned against a corporate douchebag (a detestable Adam Scott) – an  antagonist I only wish was entirely fictional. Personally, I think by making real-world references we can empathize with Mitty’s reality that much easier. This is a man who realizes the only thing holding him back is himself – and like the rest of us, all he needs is a little push.

Walter Mitty may be pining for Oscar-bait a tad, but ultimately this is a sweet little film: it’s stylish, sincere, funny, and at times, even inspiring.

Final Grade: A