Earthlings (2005)

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Earthlings is easily the most disturbing, sickening movie I have ever watched. It is absolutely disgusting, even more so because it’s all real footage. I sort of knew what I was getting into when I set out to watch this, but it’s one of the top documentaries and I do my best not to leave anything out… so here goes.

The first 10 minutes lull you into this false sense of security… you think to yourself, “Well this isn’t so bad, I don’t see what all the fuss it about.” Some of the comments I read about this movie claimed that they almost couldn’t make it past the first 20 minutes and now I completely understand why. It was heart shatteringly sad and made me leak clear fluids from my eyes. I questioned whether I could make it through this, but dammit… I have sat through the worst of the worst and I wasn’t going to let this movie get the better of me. When they get past the Pets segment and get into Food that’s when things take a turn for the worse. Food and Clothing especially were incredibly difficult to watch and left me feeling completely numb inside. One scene made me particularly angry, and that was when the man was beating the pigs because they weren’t moving fast enough. I hope everyone he knows saw this movie and disowned him. The way some of the people in this movie go about their jobs like they’re a cashier at a grocery store scanning items is appalling. To make things even worse, in the Entertainment section when the guy was telling the new trainer how to “train” the elephants, I was actually kind of hoping the elephants would just stampede out of there. Really, there is no excuse for treating animals that way and I can’t imagine any argument that could justify a single minute of that footage. I don’t care if it’s more cost effective to kill them a certain way, have some respect and empathy. Some documentaries I can look at and criticize for not showing the whole story and yeah this movie is very one sided, but let’s not kid ourselves here… there is no other side. Even if a pig killed a man’s entire family, it doesn’t deserve to be treated the way it was treated in that footage. What happened to that dog, you’ll know the one if you’ve seen this movie, has absolutely no justification.

Look, I’m not a vegetarian, not an activist… nothing of that nature, but I think this movie should be required viewing for anyone that owns a pet, eats meat, wears leather or goes to zoos. I don’t know whether this movie will make me a vegetarian or not, but I do know that I don’t plan on ever buying leather or fur, or going to any kind of park where they parade animals around for our amusement. It’s time like these that I wish I really were a robot so I wouldn’t have to be grouped into the same species as these monsters.

Verdict: 8/10 Don’t eat before you watch this…

Back and Bigger and Badder than Ever!

Ok well maybe a slight exaggeration there… I’m back and the same as ever. It’s been awhile since my last post and I’ve watched many movies (27 to be exact) since then, but haven’t been able to find the words to review them. Fear not, my ability to put thoughts into words has returned! I will be rapid firing off some short, quick reviews of the movies I’ve watched that I can still remember well enough.

Casablanca (1942)

casablanca I think this is the one that broke my blog writing spirit. Such a classic, but honestly not very enjoyable for me. It suffered too much from a case of unbelievable romance. For a movie in the romance genre, if I’m not buying it… I’m not enjoying it.

Verdict: 7/10 Meh


 Ex Machina (2015)

ex_machinaOn the other hand, this is the one that almost re-invigorated my blog writing spirit. I was looking forward to this one since I saw the trailer, and it did not disappoint. I loved every minute of it. That house was beautiful and the story was very intriguing. I’m a huge sucker for these sci-fi movies and with AI in general, so it really hit home for me. The implications of the ending completely blew my mind and made me look twice at every one I pass on the street. Who really knows? I sure don’t! For all I know, you’re a robot scanning the internet for information to one day enslave the human race. And for all you know, I’m a robot who literally lost their ability to put words into thoughts and was out getting repairs this entire time.

Verdict: 9/10 I’m keeping an eye on you…


The Imitation Game (2014)

imitation_gameAnother of the movies I was looking forward to. Sadly, in this case, it did disappoint. It disappointed hardcore. If they gave an award for most anti-climactic movie, this one would definitely be in the running. It just ended… that’s it. The pacing was way off and it was hard for me to stay interested in it. It was another of those movies with scenes that are tossed in because they need to quickly advance the plot. For example, Turing’s girlfriend, Joan, gets in a fight with him and tells him he is wasting his time. He will never solve the problem. This shows us that there is some turmoil in the relationship. That is a great little scene to toss in, but then immediately after this he asks her to marry him. If they were going to show us problems in their relationship only to have them instantly be mended, what was the point? Either split that scene up and sprinkle that seed of relationship doubt throughout other scenes, or ignore it completely and just have them be “happy”.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs to come with a free extra large coffee


Pitch Black (2000)

I knew exactly what I was getting into when I watched this movie and it actually wasn’t too bad. As an action type movie, it was interesting enough. Yeah the special effects were pretty awful, but I’ve seen a lot worse. I would recommend watching this with someone else just so you can laugh at the cheese factor together.

Verdict: 7/10 Entertaining enough


Enemy (2013)

doubleIf you’ve heard of this movie, you’ve probably also heard, “Wtf was that spider at the end?!” so I’m not going to go there. Yeah, the ending is a little weird, and the whole movie might also be a little weird, but it has a Fight Club type appeal for me. I didn’t realize what was actually happening the entire time with the whole double thing, only after I was reading posts about the movie did it finally click. I think you’re better off not really understanding the movie, then understanding it and then watching it again through a different pair of eyes. This is exactly what I plan to do at some point… until then the verdict will be pretty average, but this is an interesting little movie for sure. Jake Gyllenhaal is awesome!

Verdict: 7/10 Weird, but interesting


Honorable Mentions

Tokyo Godfathers (2003) Verdict: 8/10 Make it through the first 10-15 minutes and you’ll get into it

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Infuriating and sad

Citizenfour (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Very interesting and informative

Still Alice (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Sad… really abrupt ending though

OXV: The Manual (2013) Verdict: 8/10 Really weird, just stick with it and it gets better and better

Rebecca (1940) Verdict: 8/10 Entertaining and likeable characters


Dishonorable Mentions

Serpico (1973) Verdict: 6/10 Bad music, slowly paced, semi-anti-climatic ending

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Verdict: 6/10 Willie is one of the most annoying character I’ve watched, the rest of the movie is pretty solid though

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Verdict: 6/10 Wasn’t as good as I was expecting, might re-watch at some point

Fitzcarraldo (1982) Verdict: 5/10 Just really boring, a pain to sit through

Rashomon (1950)

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There isn’t much else I can say other than this movie has messed with my head. I wasn’t really too interested in it for the first 20 minutes or so, then I started to realize what the plot was about and began enjoying it more and more with each version of the story that was told. This was like Life of Pi but with even more versions of the story. Normally I don’t like being lied to or tricked in a movie cause usually it’s done in a cheap way to throw some twist in because the writers got lazy. In this case, the trick/twist/lie was that the guy with the axe that found the body didn’t tell the story as it really happened. I pretty much assumed that it happened how I saw it on screen, only later did I realize that the whole movie was about as accurate as a friend telling you a story about something amazing they did 20 years ago or a 5 year old telling you how your new 60″ TV screen was cracked. People have a tendency to lie to cover their asses or make themselves seem better than they are. This movie really played with that and by the end had me scratching my head. Maybe one version was right, maybe none of them were right. I feel like the woman’s story was more accurate because she admitted to killing someone which I don’t think a lot of people would do in court… especially if everyone else was saying how she didn’t do it. Although, if everyone is saying it wasn’t her then maybe her saying it really was her is a lie and she really didn’t do it. Or maybe the movie was saying that men lie and women tell the truth, but that they’re cold blooded killers. Quite the puzzler and is worthy of a repeat viewing down the line.

Now, if I may, as is tradition I will go into the things that I somewhat disliked. The laughing was incredibly over the top and actually pretty annoying near the end. I suppose in everyone’s version of the story they may have embellished things a little to make Tajomaru seem more insane and evil, but that doesn’t really explain why he laughed like a madman at the court. Perhaps he is just a madman after all, it doesn’t make the laugh any less annoying though. I was also not too impressed with the court scenes. I guess this movie was 12 years older than Harakiri, but I loved the talking scenes in that movie so much more. In this one it was very one sided… almost as if we were the judge… woah. You know what, that was actually kind of awesome. And the “judge” never asked the questions, it was always the one telling the story that sort of repeated the question and then answered it. It was like we were in the movie the entire time! Ok I guess I can’t say anything bad about that, but this next part I really didn’t like, I promise. The scenes like when the guy with the axe was walking through the woods reminded me a lot of a silent movie. Exaggerated movements, no speech and constant music. I will admit here that I am not a fan of silent movies. I’ve seen 3 or 4 of them and it just didn’t do it for me. A lot of the comedic elements in this movie didn’t really do it for me either. Maybe you had to live in Japan in the 40s to truly get that kind of humor, but I didn’t and it pulled me out of the movie whenever it happened.

It took quite a bit of pondering to write this post and as a result of that and of my mid-sentence realization I have decided to give a better verdict to this film. For a 1950 movie, I think the story was excellent and the camera work was just as fantastic. I can see why this movie is on so many top lists now. It wasn’t my favorite old Japanese movie, but it definitely makes me more interested to watch the others I have on my list.

Verdict: 8/10 AHAHAHAHAHA

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

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A James Bond movie, how can you possibly go wrong with that? Well, the answer is simple, you sort of can by having a completely insane plot. But let me discuss something else before I go down that road because there is something positive I would like to say about this movie. Replacing Sean Connery with George Lazenby was a good move for my enjoyment. I never liked Connery as Bond, maybe it was just because of the decade it was made but he was a real jerk to women. I mean the woman says no I don’t want to have sex with you and then he pretty much does it anyways… I think that’s called rape. But he’s Bond so we let that slide I guess. Hard for me to get past that. Not to mention, I didn’t find him attractive in the least so it wasn’t believable to me that he got all those women. Lazenby was sort of weird but he was at least a likeable guy. He wasn’t as smooth and cool as the other Bonds I’ve seen though, he seemed too nice at times but then he’d throw some guy off a really tall cliff to his snowy death… there was a little give and take there. I liked the direction they were heading in this movie away from how Connery acted towards women, even if another guy did knock a woman unconscious so she would get into the helicopter.

Now to talk about something that really turned me off from this movie in the first half. Bond was undercover as a gay genealogist named Hilary and wore a kilt. Maybe in the 60s this was the epitome of suave cool manliness like Bond is supposed to be, but… uh yeah not doing it for me. The whole “I only sleep with men” thing seemed entirely unnecessary since he almost immediately slept with 2 different women on the same night he got there. Fine, I can excuse that as long as the rest of the movie is reasonably plausible. Nope, he is at a clinic that tries to cure women of their allergies. At dinner everyone was eating the food they were allergic to, like the one woman with a plate of corn on the cob or the girls that were allergic to meat, and were suggestively eating it in front of Bond. Is that supposed to be some kind of innuendo, like “look at me, I love eating meat, isn’t this so sexy?” One of the women’s reason for coming to the clinic was because she worked at a chicken farm and was allergic to chickens… did the woman allergic to corn work on a corn field too? They should have saved time by making all the women allergic to men then they’d have to eat Bond at dinner and we wouldn’t need to suffer through all that nonsense. I will say though, the idea of Bond getting married was sweet, and Lazenby was really good in those scenes. I leaked some sort of clear fluid from my eyes at the end, made a doctor’s appointment to get that checked out. I will also mention that I liked the bobsled fight scene and even some of the skiing. The green screen was obviously hilarious and fake, but still much better than a CG fight scene where you can’t even tell what’s going on.

The first half was just awful but I liked the second half more and I would have liked to see Lazenby in another movie over Connery. Connery’s Bond movies had a better story, but Lazenby was a more likeable guy. Because of the ridiculous story, I was going to give this a pretty low score but I did like that ending so I have no choice but to raise it up a little bit.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs less men named Hilary and women with chicken allergies

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

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Well it’s been awhile, the past 2 weeks have been pretty crazy and I haven’t had too much time or desire to watch or review any movies. But this is a very special post because it marks my 700th watched movie. I feel this weird mixture of pride and shame, but nonetheless it is a milestone movie. I picked carefully from my list of movies in queue and I thought I had a winner on my hands. However, for a movie so well liked, what Cool Hand Luke had was a failure to communicate with me. I faded in and out with this one and just couldn’t seem to stay invested. The biggest hurdle to me enjoying this movie was that I wasn’t too interested in the characters. Since this is mostly a character driven story revolving around Luke, I’d say that’s a problem. Luke was interesting, but everyone else I honestly couldn’t care less about. To me they were just a bunch of nameless prisoners who liked to play poker and watch a woman provocatively wash her car, both of which I am not that interested in.

There were some scenes that I really enjoyed watching, particularly the egg scene. The first time I saw this scene was on Malcolm in the Middle where Francis tried to eat 100 Peeps on a bet and I had no idea it was a spoof of this movie. The scene was entertaining enough and one of the more memorable moments in the movie. Aside from that scene, I enjoyed the last 45-ish minutes of the movie when Luke really started breaking out and getting caught. I found this is where it picked up and I became more interested in the characters. I thought the entire movie would be more like the last 45 minutes but they spent so much time building up the characters and setting the stage that it just didn’t work for me. If they had flipped the structure around and had 45 minutes of character setup and then an hour and 20 minutes of the parts I found more interesting well I think I’d be inclined to give it a better verdict than what it has now. Maybe this was one of those guy movies and I just didn’t get it.

For my 700th-movie post, I wish I had more to say. I picked a middle of the road movie where there wasn’t much that I liked and not much that I could really dive into and complain about on a high level. I have literally had this post open in my browser for 2 weeks trying to pick my brain for something even remotely intelligent to say other than “Meh.” Did I accomplish that goal? I don’t think so. Did I make it over this hurdle so I can move on to other movies? You bet!

Verdict: 7/10  Meh

Zodiac (2007) Take #2

zodiac

I feel like shaking things up a little bit so I’m going to write a review on my first re-watch of Zodiac. Sometimes when you re-watch something you pick up on all the things you missed the first time around, whether they’re good or bad, so Zodiac will be appealing its original verdict in hopes of coming out with something a little higher.

Take #1 Verdict: 8/10

I remember the first time I watched this movie I was pleasantly surprised. It held my attention the entire time and it even made me curious enough to read up on the real Zodiac killer. I’m a fan of the who done it, find the perp detective movies and this movie really delivers. It has the right pacing, good characters and acting in general, and has a bit of humour to break the tension. I particularly liked the interactions between Paul and Robert like the discussion about Robert’s office nickname and when Robert orders the Aqua Velva drink, although I’ll never understand people that order a drink and then leave some left in the glass… they wasted so much alcohol. I mean you see the waitress walking away with a couple glasses in her hand and there are some left on the table, I bet that’s almost a full glass that they wasted. And it must not be very strong because neither of them look too drunk after drinking 3-4 glasses each…

But moving on from the weak wasted drinks, something that equally disturbed me on take #2 was the stabbing scene by the lake. I’m not really squeamish when it comes to that kind of thing but I found it incredibly hard to watch. It was entirely too realistic sounding and looking for me to be able to activate my desensitization powers. Yeah so what, I covered my eyes and couldn’t watch it… I’m only human dammit! But one of the things I like about this movie is that the murders were all tastefully done and they didn’t try to gore it up or do it for the shock factor alone. Every scene had its place. However, some of the suspense was lost on take #2, specifically in the basement scene near the end. Obviously for take #1 I had no idea what was going to happen so my eyes were glued to the screen, but I knew Robert wasn’t about to get Zodiac killed this time and I could relax a bit. The rest of the film though was just as enjoyable as I remembered it being the first time around.

David Fincher is making a run at becoming my favourite director because for some reason I end up liking almost all of his movies, with the exception of The Game which was pretty awful. All the main characters were great in their roles and the story was captivating throughout it’s entire 2h 42m runtime. With that in mind, if I could give out partial points for my verdicts I would, but the rules are pretty strict in these cases and I am left with no choice but to affirm the original verdict… but damn was it close to moving up a point.

Take #2 Verdict: 8/10

The Best of Youth (2003) Part 2

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What a movie. I am actually amazed that a movie like this could have ever been made. Throughout the entire 6 hour runtime, this movie never dragged or had me looking at my watch. Now I normally give away free spoilers without a care in the world but I wouldn’t feel right this time. If you plan on watching this movie then just stop reading now.

Ok… now that they’re gone, here is why I think this movie is brilliant. I didn’t see Matteo’s suicide coming at all. When he jumped off the balcony my jaw literally dropped in shock and after thinking about it some more I kind of realized that was how his family felt. They didn’t see it coming and were in just as much shock when it happened. I didn’t really even believe it or process it until his brother, sister and mom were walking outside his apartment and started crying. It was amazing how much the movie managed to pull me in and feel how the characters felt. Another great decision they made was to do it about half way through the second half. I looked at the time and thought how will they do the rest of the movie without him? You got so used to him being in the movie and expected him to be there to the end much like his family expected. I don’t normally analyze movies like this, but this was done so perfectly I can’t help it.

Another thing I really admired was how Nicola set Giulia up to be caught by the police so she wouldn’t kill anybody. He really did love her and only wanted the best for her, it’s too bad she didn’t see it. I hated her character for most of the movie, but I guess she is just as human as anyone else… she was so lucky to have a daughter that was willing to forgive her. Her character arc came to an end with her playing the piano for her daughter which was so beautiful and I couldn’t have imagined a more fitting end for her. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed with the end of Giorgia’s story. It was nice that she got out of the hospital and gets to start her life, but I wish she had gotten a little more screen time and had the chance to see Matteo again.

I could go on and on about this movie because… well… there’s a lot of material to talk about. The characters and storytelling were top notch and this movie just goes to show how you shouldn’t judge a movie by its cover (or length, genre or language). If I ran away scared like my instinct told me to, I would never have watched such a great movie.

Verdict: 9/10 Needs nothing