Posts Tagged srs movee is srs


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This movie blew my fucking mind, which is clearly exactly what it wanted to do. You have no choice but to go see it multiple times. Unlike Memento or The Sixth Sense, other mind-blowy movies, you don’t just watch this movie and you get the “a-ha!” ending and you go home and you’re done. You keep going back and peeling back the layers, trying to figure out what the fuck is happening. And the answer is there, you just know it, you just have to pay close enough attention to all the little excruciating details. If only you can knock the rust off your brain, surely you’ll puzzle it all out.

Christopher Nolan continues to do what he does best: admire and respect his audience enough to not spell it all out for them. Christopher Nolan knows you don’t need the whole thing exposited to you; Christopher Nolan knows you’re smart.

Another thing he does exceptionally well is have beautiful people do amazing physical stunts in nifty environments. These people, they are beautiful. I think the person-candy element to this movie is glossed over too often in other reviews. There is something for everyone, and each member of the cast is totally delicious in their own special way. Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears the hell out of a vest while defying gravity, for crissakes. Marion Cotillard is carved from marble. Ken Watanabe just gets improbably hotter with age. All of them: gorgeous. All of them: sharply intelligent.Christopher Nolan does not suffer fools, and would never ask you to.

I’ve read some reviews that accuse this movie of not having enough emotion to it, but I am not sure what movie those reviewers have been watching, because the one I saw abounded with sorrow, devotion, anguish, love and pain. There’s quite a lot of pain in all of Christopher Nolan’s movies, isn’t there? Christopher Nolan knows pain is the common human denominator. His characters can’t sit back and wail about their pain; they have work to do, saving each other and saving themselves. Christopher Nolan believes you can keep up.

This movie fills the brain-puzzles-with-hot-people hole in my heart that was left by the departure of Lost, except it fills it with 14 karat gold and chocolate and puppies. In its daydreams, Lost wants to be Inception when Lost grows up.

A Single Man

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Not a lot in common with A Serious Man, other than the extremely compelling suffering of an attractive white man in the 60s that you definitely need to watch.

Directed by first-time director and famed fashion designer Tom Ford, obviously the clothes and sets were going to be sublime and elegant-yet-manly. He is working with top-notch talent from exquisite source material, of course, but Ford really needs a round of applause for the sheer quality of this film.This does not feel like a first-timer’s movie.

The cast is tiny and perfect; Colin Firth, beautiful and grave as always. I hear he’s really a goofy, rumpled, dirty-minded imp in real life, and that makes me enjoy his tortured, repressed typecasting all the more. Nicholas Hoult you may remember as the boy in About A Boy with Hugh Grant, but he is all grows up, my word. I look forward to him in the upcoming X-Men prequel spin-off. Julianne Moore, exactly as she often is: shrill but absorbing and vulnerably gorgeous. Matthew Goode, in flashbacks as Firth’s dearly departed, is breathtakingly pretty but…I dunno, there’s something sort of poisonous about him that I think is the actor, not the role. Right here and now, I’ve decided that I dislike Matthew Goode. So there.

I knew what the story was about, so I was expecting something much, much sadder than it truly was. True, it is a very sad story – we’re carrying the weight of this man’s grief with him for only a day, and it’s overwhelming. But his story is more about the many ways life and happiness keep trying to reach out to him, and his ultimate success saves it from being depressing.

A Serious Man

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The Coen brothers have this special hand with black comedy that is absolute perfection. I’m not going to say that they’re infallible; I genuinely thought their ship had sailed 10 years ago. The Man Who Wasn’t There was well-made but soul-crushing, Burn After Reading wasn’t nearly as adorable as it thought it was (except for the unexpectedly delightful Brad Pitt), and I was apparently the only person in the Western Hemisphere who actively disliked No Country For Old Men, *ptooie*.

But this movie…this movie is a gem. The story is fairly simple, a basic re-telling of Job. One by one, every part of Larry Gopnik’s nice little life goes to shit, and it is hilarious. You also feel just terrible for Larry, and that somehow makes it okay that you are delighting in his misery. Poor, poor Larry.  A different actor from Michael Stuhlbarg would have made Larry grating, or a loser, or made the whole thing too depressing. But Stuhlbarg’s big blue eyes, full of hope and disbelief make you reluctant to believe that it won’t all work out. He tries so hard to be rational, to do the right and compassionate thing at all times, seeking advice from all corners – surely it has to come right in the end?

Visually, this film is gorgeous and delightful. The cinematography is achingly beautiful in some spots, and set the rapidly-changing moods so perfectly.  The set design and costumes are so much fun! All the actors are enchanting, with this way of seamlessly flowing from a caricature to a deep, real character. I’m going to go ahead and guess that it’s because the majority of them are plucked from theater, not LA, and this is so what the talking pictures need nowadays.

I think there is a special meditation in this movie on the role of suffering, individually and collectively, in the Jewish community. Obviously, I miss a lot of the significance by not being Jewish, but conversely I also think this movie is trying to illustrate it for us non-Jews. The Coens leave a lot of doors open, spots for you to try to figure out what they meant and what might have happened next, and why. There’s a lot of why in this movie.

And if you’re familiar with the old joke about Job, you know both God’s answer to Job’s “why?” as well as the Coens’ answer: “Fuck if I know!”


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I don’t actually like Ben Stiller very much, just in general. I usually find him creepy and angry and strangely square-headed. Apparently, I’m supposed to find him charming and adorable and hilariously funny, so sometimes I don’t enjoy his movies because their premise rests on the audience assuming that he is charming, adorable, and hilarious.

In Greenberg, I am meant to think he’s creepy and angry (he’s gotten very skinny, so his head isn’t so square, so replace “square-headed” with “jutting-collarboned”). So although I don’t necessarily like him better, at least there is no cognitive dissonance to contend with. I do need to make the point that Ben Stiller playing a dude struggling with mental illness/emotional problems isn’t really any different  from Ben Stiller in, say, Meet The Fockers, and that shit is way less funny if you imagine your hilarious protagonist as needing serious in-patient treatment. But I digress…

This is probably a bit of an L.A. movie, in that everyone is pretty dull and detached, and no one really likes anybody else; they’d all be assholes if they could be bothered to try harder. What the fuck is it with that? Is everybody in L.A. autistic or have some kind of pragmatic language disorder? Or do those sorts of people gather together around filmmakers like fruit flies on bananas, so that’s what makes it onscreen? I’ve been wondering this since L.A. Story. Fictional people in New York all seem to have coherent thoughts and look other people in the eye, even while flipping them off and punching strangers in the face. But I digress again…

The girl in this, Greta Gerwig is undeniably adorable, although so dissociative and dense that I started to think she had some kind of  intellectual disability. Rhys Ifans, scruffy and cuddly as ever, seemed to be the only person who could focus his eyes. The tertiary cast is carefully selected from the best of Showtime’s series.

So anyway, this movie is fairly aimless and awkward, but clearly intentionally so, and watching Greenberg alternately try to succeed and try to fail at personal relationships is oddly compelling, even though you’re not really sure where it’s going. There are vaguely humorous moments, but it’s not meant to be funny-funny.

The ending, however, is unexpectedly light and undramatic yet cathartic.  I felt actually pretty positive about Greenberg and his struggles at the end, like he didn’t waste my time or his. But ultimately, I’d suggest re-watching Garden State instead.

There is an ailing dog in this movie, and just as a PSA I want you to know that nothing bad happens to him (because I personally worried the whole movie long).

Up In The Air

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I admit to being really put off by Hollywood hype; it’s really best if I get to the movie ahead of the hype, or else wait several months until nobody gives a care anymore. So I did go see this movie somewhat reluctantly. I did enjoy it, did find it a meaningful and exceptionally well-done film, and do feel considerably more positive about every single person associated with it (especially Jason Reitman and the cinematographer).

What I did not do was feel very involved or emotionally invested in the movie or its characters – ultimately, that’s a testament to the filmmaker’s prowess, because as our protagonist lives his life at a affectionate remove from other people, so I experienced his story at that same affectionate remove. Excellent movie that did not impact or stay with me at all.

John Rabe

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Schindler’s List In China!

powerful and devastating, perfectly choreographed down to the last detail with flawless acting, but has a small uncomfortable whiff of “hey, everybody get off our German balls about the Holocaust! the Japanese did it TOO, dammit!!”

Life Is Beautiful (La Vita e Bella)

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i totally drank the Roberto Benigni kool-aid.

Taxi Driver

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i really like movies about mental illness.

The Truman Show

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This movie is incredible, and MAN, was I not expecting that. Shit, I guess being funny IS harder than dramatic acting. This explains De Niro.

Good Will Hunting

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I hate hype, but this is some good stuff, and everyone is phenomenal in it.