23 November 2011



I liked Lars Von Trier’s last movie, Antichrist. I didn’t love it. It was certainly a distinct film, and quite an experience to watch, but I’m not the biggest fan of watching people disfigure themselves painfully (well, I loved 127 Hours, but that’s just different somehow). I haven’t seen any other LVT movies though and he’s got a history of getting a ton of nominations and awards for making great movies, so Melancholia was definitely somewhere near the top of the list of movies I wanted to see this year.

Here we have Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg playing unlikely sisters. Kirsten’s character, Justine, is clinically depressed. The first half of the film is a documentation of her efforts to defeat this depression and have a wonderful wedding. The second half concentrates on her sister Claire, who in the preceding act was trying to support Justine, but now faces a different sort of doom that Von Trier is basically using as an analogy for depression.

That might seem a bit boring. Sometimes it is. However, that analogy for depression is a god-damn planet on a collision course with Earth. Wrap that around your head. Von Trier’s excellent knack for visuals makes this conceit beautifully intense, never mind the gorgeous slo-mo prologue. The atmosphere leading up to the finale is very palpable. I’m not sure how I felt about Kiefer Sutherland’s role as Claire’s husband; his actions seemed a bit odd but did add to the sense of desperation.

I’ve been depressed in the past, but I’m fairly certain it was never this bad. I’m thankful that Von Trier was able to make this film to educate people about this illness while wrapping it all in such a beautiful package.

06 November 2011

Some Movies

I’ve decided to forego watching The Walking Dead live tonight live because I figure I’d never sit down to write this stuff otherwise. It’s not that great of a show anyway.

In Time

in-timeIt’s been over a week since I saw this. It’s not that it’s nothing to write about, I just haven’t found the time really. It isn’t a great movie or anything though. It could have been I guess; the conceit was appealing to me at least, no aging past 25 and a count-down until you drop dead, and the director is the guy who made Gattaca, so it’s got some pedigree. Apparently he’s made at least one semi-stinker since then though. Some of his visual style came through in the sets, and it’s got a similar sort of sci-fi societal examination going on. Unfortunately the script is a bit ridiculous. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many puns involving the word “time.” It almost gets comedic. The action is alright, the actors do their jobs, and it’s a very timely (oh crap there I go too) movie what with all this Occupy stuff going on. A decent thing. I’d put it on level with The Adjustment Bureau quality wise, although I think I enjoyed that more.

La Piel que Habito (The Skin I Live In)

antonio-banderas-elena-anaya-the-skin-i-live-In-la-piel-que-habito-01A plastic surgeon whose wife was badly burned and later died decides to create a new skin that can resist fire. That’s about as much as I knew about this movie. I’ve not seen any Almadóvar films before this, and nothing I’ve seen with Antonio Banderas has really given me the impression that he’s a serious actor, but apparently the two have a history. I’m glad I didn’t know much about it; there are a lot of red herrings offered for about the first half of the film, and then the twist happens and everything becomes so much more interesting. It’s a very sexy, strange and creepy thing. If you can handle subtitles and like stuff that pushes the boundaries a bit, I highly suggest checking this out. Just don’t read too much about it.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

C-PRE_zMartha-Marcy-May-MarleneThis was one of the big winners at Sundance this year. It bears a few similarities to Take Shelter in that it deals a bit with mental breakdown and family, and it’s also quite slow; it is however much more grounded in reality. The oncoming storm is replaced by the evil in people, and Michael Shannon is played by Elizabeth Olsen, who is apparently one of those Olsens. You could never tell from this performance. Martha (or Marcy May (or Marlene)) is a sort of a lost girl who thinks she’s found a home in a sort of commune centered around a man named Patrick. As with most communes that make their way to the fictional screen, it’s not really the innocent, idyllic lifestyle she pictured. Her life immediately after her two-year immersion in crazy-land is told in parallel, trying to find a semblance of her previous life with her sister and brother-in-law at their summer home, causing lots of stress and hard decisions. It’s a good, emotional and engrossing film as most psychological things are, but I had a bit of a hard time figuring how she stayed with the crazies that long.

I also watched Splice again today, and it surprised me how many elements it shares with The Skin I Live In. It’s not as good though.