Movies

Martyrs (2008) vs. Martyrs (2015)


This October on my horror movie quest I was picking movies from They Shoot Zombies, Don’t They? and I came across the movie Martyrs. I saw some good ratings and lots of comments saying how this was a modern masterpiece. With reviews like that I was excited to give this one a watch. I didn’t know any details or why this movie was so highly recommended to horror fans but I decided to dive right in. I started the movie up and…. realized I accidentally got the 2015 remake. So I went back to get the original and… I absolutely loved it. The more I thought about it the more I loved it. Since I’m a glutton for punishment I went in cold on the 2015 remake this morning since I already had it, just to see how it compares. That movie made me so angry I was yelling at my TV. I want to discuss these movies side by side to really compare the differences between them. As a fair warning, this will be a longer than normal post because I can’t stop talking about these movies.

They both start off very similar with Lucie escaping then the girls becoming friends as children. I liked the look and feel of the 2008 version much more than the 2015, but I had no real problem with the opening. The 2015 version was more direct when showing the girls becoming friends through the use of cookies while the 2008 version took a more subtle approach by showing the majority of it through old video clips.

Cut to present day and this is where the differences really become apparent. In 2008, you spend 3 minutes with the suburban family. They joke around with each other, you learn that the daughter is a talented swimmer, the son isn’t doing well in school, and the mother is into DIY projects at home. You get to know these people and become invested in them. Then the door bell rings and the shooting starts. Lucie takes her time and you can see her really struggle with killing the children. The emotion is intense and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Now let’s transition over to the 2015 version whose same scene starts with a brightly light idealistic home and, aside from the father digging up the yard, the entire “get to know the family” scene takes not even a minute before the shooting starts. The only thing you learn about this family is that the mom is one of those control freak moms. The kids act like their 2008 counterparts but with much less back story. As a result, I don’t care in any way for these people. When the killing started I didn’t really care so much if she killed the kids because I didn’t know them. You also don’t have any connection between Lucie and the mother like you see in 2008. The shortening of this scene really took the punch away from it, and for such a pivotal moment it was a big mistake.

Next we have the introduction of adult Anna in 2008; she’s nervous and looks like she’s  just waiting for Lucie to call. From the dialogue we learn they’re working together and she’s trying to help Lucie find the people that hurt her. Whereas in the 2015 version, it looks like Lucie woke Anna up from a peaceful sleep. There isn’t any indication that Anna knows what’s going on and the whole scene takes about 30 seconds which is about half the time and contains 1/10th of the dialogue from 2008. So again, you lose some of that connection with the characters.

Here we are back in the 2008 house with Lucie for some character development. You see scars on her arms and are treated to an intensely gory suspenseful  introduction to her demon. She clearly suffers from some PTSD and you see flashbacks into the torture she endured as a child. The flashback torture scenes are pretty disturbing and sad to watch. They’re blended in really well with sounds from the present that act as the trigger. This scene in the 2015 version is, as you might have guessed, shorter and less complete. There is no flashback and you don’t get any connection between her demon and her past. The gore is dialed back quite a bit, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing but I preferred the 2008 amount myself. 2008 Anna even has bandages and first aid equipment like she’s handled the aftermath of Lucie’s demon before. You see her cleaning, stitching up and dressing Lucie’s wounds while in 2015, Lucie just has bandages on her wounds in the next scene which I guess she put on herself.

As for the relationship between the girls, in 2015 they seem very distant for two people that are supposed to be close friends/lovers. I mean that both figuratively and literally. They constantly stand apart from each other and I’m not buying into their friendship at this point. For all I know, Lucie phoning Anna was the first time they’ve talked in years and with the way they’re acting towards each other that could very well be true. In 2008, you have a scene where Anna and Lucie are dirty, bloody, crying and comforting each other while surrounded by the dead bodies of the family. It’s this moment when you realize that Anna loves Lucie and can’t stand to see her like this. I didn’t feel any of that in 2015 since the connection between them was that Anna gave her cookies as a child, so how that translates to “I will help you clean up dead bodies” is pretty far fetched. What this comes down to again is that 2008 takes the time to build up the characters because when you really care about them the suspense is intensified immensely. This whole section of the movie in 2015 felt like they took jot notes of all the lines and emotions they wanted to hit then filled in the gaps, while the lines and emotions in 2008 felt organic and well deserved.

I’ll fast forward now to the part of the movie where the torture rooms are discovered. In 2015, Anna becomes a stand in for the audience wherein she never actually gets tortured. She listens to the exposition, and becomes the hero of the movie. It’s a really uncomfortable thing to watch a character you’ve grown to care about become completely powerless and just give up. I don’t know if the 2015 version didn’t want to put the viewers through that, but the 2008 version certainly did. I was always hoping that Anna would make it out alive, but as time went on I started to feel hopeless right along with her and because of that her destruction was believable. The suffering in 2015 was of people I didn’t know and felt more like it was used for pure shock value rather than trying to evoke real emotions.

The last thing I want to compare is the actual explanation and meaning behind the tortures. In 2008, it makes sense that they would take Anna and continue the torture with her because in their eyes Lucie and the previous girl were failures. The girls were damaged people and were never going to become the martyrs they wanted. Now they needed a new subject and they had her. In 2015, they flipped this idea around completely and Lucie was not a failure, she was actually seen as the next martyr. There is no indication throughout the movie that there is something special about Lucie. If it’s because she sees things and hurts herself, then I don’t understand that. If I were the torturers, I would see that as weak minded which doesn’t fit their criteria for a martyr. The martyr is supposed to endure the pain and suffering, not escape it in their minds. They have to really suffer to be able to see the afterlife. Whether or not you can buy into that is up to you, but I did in 2008 so I don’t see why they had to switch it around entirely in 2015.

Overall, the 2008 version had a much better story with fleshed out and interesting characters. It was a roller coaster ride from one scene to another and even though it sickened me to the core, it left an emotional impact that’s keeping me thinking about it days later. The 2015 version was toted as more of a re-imagining rather than a straight up remake. I tried my best not to judge it too harshly in comparison but I think as a movie without even comparing it to the original it fell way short. The characters were boring, uninteresting suburban girls. I didn’t believe any of this could actually happen and I also just didn’t care. The only part that made me cringe or feel anything was the skinning scene, but even that was watered down and pointless. There was no build up to it, and the aftermath was very confusing. I feel like they threw it in because the original had it and audiences were expecting it. As a horror fan, I would definitely check out the 2008 version, especially if you enjoy watching great characters. I don’t think there’s any real value in watching the 2015 version since it just guts everything that made 2008 great while adding nothing new or exciting.

2008 Verdict: 9/10 Don’t eat before watching this

2015 Verdict: 4/10 Don’t watch this period.

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Movies

High and Low (1963)

This is going to be an uncharacteristically long review this time around because I have a lot to say about this film. High and Low, or Tengoku to jigoku, is a film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It’s about a man who loses everything when his chauffeur’s son is kidnapped and held for ransom. The movie is essentially broken up into 3 acts: the ransom, finding the kidnapper and arresting the kidnapper.

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In the first act, Gondo is a high up executive of a shoe company who is attempting a take over so that he can create quality shoes that he believes the public deserves. Right off the bat, he’s a very likable and heroic character. He stands up against all the executives who are dead set on producing the cheapest shoes for maximum profit. This man actually has morals and a good work ethic, and I was really rooting for him to take over the company. Of course that isn’t going to happen because he gets a phone call saying that his son has been kidnapped and to get him back he must pay 30 million in ransom. Very quickly, he finds out that it was actually his chauffeur’s son instead and he says something to the chauffeur to the effect of, “It’s okay, he’ll let him go when he realizes he has the wrong kid.” It’s this false optimism you get when you know something bad is coming, and you just don’t want to face the ugly truth until you absolutely have to. After the police are phoned in, they tell him things aren’t going to work out that way and the kid isn’t going to just be released. The next 20 or 30 minutes of the film are intense as Gondo slowly comes to the realization that he has to pay the 30 million. He knows that his life is ruined whether he pays it or not, but he can’t just let a child be killed. I felt every minute of this movie up until the boy is re-united with his father. It was just great writing and acting all around.

However, I wouldn’t be me if I couldn’t find something that made me scratch my head in confusion. Once Gondo realizes that he has to pay the ransom, he phones up his bank and almost word for word says, “It’s Gondo from National Shoe. I need 30 million delivered to my house in non-sequential bills.” And they actually give it to him! No security question, no pin number, they just hand it right over. If it’s this easy to have 30 million delivered to your house why didn’t the kidnapper just spend some time learning to mimic his voice then make the call himself? Even for 1963 this seems a little ridiculous.

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I can look past that though and move on to the second act which is about the police trying to find out who the kidnapper is. They have a large team of detectives on the case that use interesting clues to start building up a profile on the guy. They use the different sounds of trolleys, the placement of the sun when the ransom call was made, and they even stopped every car of the model they were after just in case the plates were changed. I found those little details quite entertaining and for me it injected some realism into the film. Now, I’m not sure if this was just the subtitles that I was using, but one guy stands up and says, “I met with The National Shoe executives. What a bunch of assholes,” and I just laughed out loud. His deadpan delivery and the fact that they seriously are a bunch of assholes was perfect. At that point, I was pretty much convinced that it was someone in the company that kidnapped his son, or one of them hired someone so that Gondo couldn’t purchase the shares to take control of the company. The timing of it all seemed too perfect. Literally, right as he is getting the money together, he gets this phone call out of nowhere. Sadly, it started to look like I was wrong as they closed in on the man responsible and finally got a name.

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This leads into the third act where the movie started to slow down a little bit for me. They know who the kidnapper is and now they’re trying to arrest him. However, they don’t want him to just get 15 years, they want him to be executed. The way they go about it didn’t really work for me because they pretty much bait him into trying to re-kill the heroin addicts that he killed earlier in the movie. I’m not a detective or anything, but I feel like this is entrapment. I don’t think you can try to coax someone into committing a crime and have it hold up in court. Not only that, but a woman died because of it. If they just arrested him immediately she would still be alive, albeit still a withdrawing heroin addict, but at least she wouldn’t be dead. The ending just left me feeling sad for everyone involved. Gondo sounded like a man who started at the bottom and worked his way up the ladder through hard work, but the kidnapper just sees him as some rich guy that doesn’t deserve what he has. This guy was clearly mentally ill, and because of that, Gondo’s, and even the chauffeur’s, family has to suffer.

Even though the third act let me down, I really did enjoy this film. It was exciting, interesting and well written. I highly recommend this movie if you like crime dramas.

This is Bwaffles from the Waffleton Post, can I have a Verdict of 9/10 delivered to High and Low?

Movies

Love is in the Air

So it just happened to work out that the next two movies I watched were both romances. Unfortunately that’s where the similarities ended as they couldn’t have been executed more differently. One turned out mindblowingly well and the other left me wondering why I even bothered to watch it.

Room in Rome (2010)

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Room in Rome is about two women who spend the night together in a room… in Rome. I heard about it from a list of movies to watch on Netflix (that have sex in them). This was one of the few that caught my attention so I decided to give it a go. The whole premise of this movie is that these two women fall in love during that one night. There were parts of the romance that felt genuine but then the next scene would undercut it with either bad dialogue or just bizarre character actions. Case in point, nothing in the movie was surreal or hallucinatory up until the very end when Alba gets shot in the heart with an arrow. I understand they were trying to go for a cupid type thing, but it’s too late in the movie to change things up that drastically. The movie was artsy up to that point, but everything was very much real. I lost any emotion I was feeling for the characters and just kind of laughed to myself. The absolute worst, most laughable part of the movie was when Alba tells Max that Natacha is a tennis player and tells Alba that he should check her arms to see if one is stronger than the other. That has to be the laziest way to find out more about a character. Alba just guessed tennis player out of every profession in the world? Clearly the only way to check for tennis players is to compare their arms because no other profession in the world would cause that. Do football players and pitchers have one arm bigger than the other too? Maybe she’s a professional softball pitcher. Give me a break, I’m not going to suspend my disbelief enough for that one.

I was in the perfect frame of mind to invest in this story. I’ve been in situations where I’m with someone and have to leave knowing I won’t see them again. I know how heart wrenching it can be, but they never built the romance up enough for it to work. I couldn’t see how the two of them would ever make it work and I felt like the only reason they didn’t want to leave the room was so they didn’t have to go back to their lives. I don’t believe for a minute that Natacha would leave her fiance for a woman since she was so against it for the first half of the movie. Obviously a few short orgasms is enough to change someone’s mind. Straight my whole life, but sure I’ll switch teams and destroy my life for a person I barely know. The only reason anyone seems to promote this movie is because of the sex and nudity. Without that, it’s a completely uncompelling story and I don’t know why I even bothered to finish it. Blue Is the Warmest Color did everything much better: longer sex scenes, straight and lesbian scenes, more authenticate romance, sadder break up,  and more interesting characters.

Verdict: 5/10 – Watch porn instead


Once (2007)

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Once is about a man who meets a woman while he’s playing guitar on the streets. They start spending time together and she ends up helping him professionally record his music. The entire movie is scored with the most beautiful soundtrack I’ve heard in years. I hadn’t even heard of this movie until a few days ago. I had finished watching Moulin Rouge! and saw this on a list of best music movies. After scrolling through, this one stood out to me and seemed to have decent comments. I was skeptical for the first few minutes and wasn’t really paying attention. That is until the man starts to play Say it to Me Now. Half way through it picks up and once I heard it, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t take my eyes or ears off the movie from that point on. The music just blew my mind, so much so that I’m listening to the soundtrack as I’m writing this. The man and woman in the movie have great musical chemistry and their songs are so beautifully sad and romantic.

Aside from the musical aspect of the movie, the romance is subtle but so present. It’s always there beneath the surface but never spoken about. It seems the two of them enter the friend zone when it’s so easy to see they both want to be with each other. Something is just holding them back from making a move. When she tells him she loves him in Czech it just broke my heart. She didn’t even have it in her to see him off before he left for Dublin. Compared to Room in Rome, I absolutely believe this romance and understand why their parting was so difficult. This movie didn’t have the allure of sex to draw in viewers, it relied on the music and story to spread the word. It’s 9 years later, and it definitely worked on me.

The premise reminds me of Before Sunrise where the two characters are together for a short time and don’t end up together. A sequel worked great for that movie, and I think it’d be perfect here as well. I’d love to see how the man’s music career turns out and see what becomes of the woman and her life. Sequel or not, this one tops my romance list and this soundtrack just made it into my music library.

Verdict: 9/10 – You’ll be falling slowly in love with this movie

Movies, TV

Catching Up

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything here. I haven’t felt the desire to really put my thoughts about what I’m watching into words. Not to say I haven’t watched things lately that weren’t worth writing about. I’ve slowed down a lot on movies, but I’ve watched some great TV Shows. I’ll do another quick fire of things I’ve watched recently to get my juices flowing. Then the next movie I plan to watch, At Once, will hopefully have something worth writing a full post about.

The Newsroom (2012)

This is a TV Show that aired on HBO for 2.5 seasons. I watched the first episode and was hooked. I actually couldn’t make myself stop watching it. I watched the first season and a half in just 2 days. I thought the premise to try and run a news broadcast that focuses on the news and not ratings was interesting because I hate watching the news for that exact reason. I immediately fell in love with the ideas, the characters and the dialogue. I’m a fan of the fast talking sarcastic quips they do fairly often. I laughed a lot and ended up caring about almost every character on the show. Season 2 was brilliantly laid out and made it so I had no choice but to keep watching. They start off somewhere in the middle of the season’s plot and then fill in the pieces with each episode until you’re caught up. I watched the first episode and just had to know what could’ve possibly happened that was so bad. Season 3 took a little bit of a dive with the first 2 episodes feeling dull, and the series finale wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t that great. If they were able to do a full last season and finish it off stronger I would have given it a perfect score. It’s definitely worth a watch, just make sure you have a couple hours set aside cause you won’t be able to watch just one episode.

Verdict: 9(.5)/10 


carolCarol (2016)

I absolutely loved this movie, it’s now one of my favorites and is on my regular re-watch list. I’ve seen it twice and am probably going to go for a 3rd watch soon. Maybe tonight because writing about it makes me want to see it again. It was so beautiful and restrained, nothing felt forced or unrealistic. It was slow but it sucked me in completely. Carol is kind, sophisticated and knows what she wants. There is something about her that just draws you in and it’s easy to see how Therese felt drawn to her. The movie had ups and downs that kept me emotionally invested and I felt so much throughout the entire movie. That feeling of thinking you found something special and then having it ripped away from you is devastating. I don’t want to say too much on the plot cause I think not knowing how it turns out really amplifies every decision the characters make and leaves you in suspense. It’s one of my top favorite romance movies and 100% recommend it.

Verdict: 9/10


hushHush (2016)

This is a horror movie where the main protagonist is both deaf and mute. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. As far as thriller/horror movies go, this is one of the most suspenseful and thrilling ones I’ve seen. I really wanted the main character, Maddie, to succeed and get out of there alive. Every scene is straight out of all the other horror movies out there, but it’s elevated to a new level when we know she can’t hear anything. He could be coming up behind her and she would never know it. When she’s trying to be quiet walking on the roof, she doesn’t know if she’s making lots of noise or not. That unknown makes it all the more suspenseful. Not to mention the fact that they inject some realism into the story with her not being able to load the crossbow.  Great, she got a weapon, but she’s still just a regular person and didn’t immediately become some badass who can shoot a man with a crossbow from across the room. Not that I don’t love that, but when I don’t have to suspense my disbelief as much, I enjoy movies a lot more. This one is on Netflix and is definitely worth the time.

Verdict: 9/10


10_cloverfiled_lane.jpg10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

As I was writing my other reviews, I realized a common actor among them–John Gallagher Jr.. He was in the Newsroom, Hush and in this review’s movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane. This is a “sequel but not really” to Cloverfield which I liked a lot when it came out. I didn’t know much about the movie before I started watching it and felt myself getting frustrated wondering when the Cloverfield things were going to start happening. So much so, that I almost couldn’t finish the movie because I thought it was crap and a waste of time. So I paused it, went over to IMDb and realized that it’s a standalone movie that merely exists in the same universe as the other. Once I understood that, it became a lot better of a movie. It was suspenseful and mysterious. I kept going back and forth in my mind wondering if John Goodman was telling the truth or if he was lying to keep her imprisoned. If it were me in that situation, I wouldn’t want to believe him because all I could think is that I’d end up as some idiot who was tricked into living in a bunker for 10 years. Momma didn’t raise no fool, so I really felt her predicament. On the flip side,  I’m really crushing on John Gallagher Jr. now. He was so sweet in this movie as Emmett and in the Newsroom. Ok sure, he was like a serial killer in Hush… but he was also in Short Term 12 which was an equally amazing movie. It all balances out in the end and I loved his character in this movie. When Emmett, let’s just say, was no longer part of the movie my jaw hit the floor. I love when movies have balls and just shock me with a plot decision. Overall, this was a really cool standalone movie that I will definitely re-watch.

Verdict: 8/10


And lastly, one sentence verdicts on some of the other movies I feel deserve a shout out.

10.000 km (2014) – Another great romance movie, except the characters start out in love and the movie progresses from there. Verdict: 8/10

Victoria (2015) – A 2h 18m movie all done in 1 continuous shot with strong characters and plot. Verdict: 7/10

Moulin Rouge! (2001) – A loud, obnoxious, annoying movie with weak characters and plot. Verdict: 5/10

Ant-Man (2015) – Pretty boring super hero movie that was lacking something that I just can’t put my finger on. Verdict: 5/10

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Great movie but needs a re-cut without the Mr. Yunioshi scenes… Verdict: 8/10

Movies

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

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Kramer vs. Kramer was a movie I decided to watch on a whim and the fact that it won a few Oscars back in its day didn’t hurt. On the one hand, I was excited to see this movie because I heard there’s a courtroom scene and courtroom dramas are one of my favourites, on the other hand, if I’m being really honest, whenever I hear Dustin Hoffman in a movie it makes me think of Rain Man and, depending on the movie, kinda ruins it. I’m glad to say this movie wasn’t Marathon Man or The Graduate for me, and Dustin Hoffman was very un-Rain Man like. Not only was he not Rain Man, he was one third of an amazing main cast. The acting in this movie blew my mind. What blew my mind the most was the ability of the actors to express their emotions with just their body language. Those lingering shots of tears welling up in  their eyes made them well up in mine. I’m pretty sure I cried during three scenes in this movie. The script and acting was so well done that I couldn’t help but feel the reality of the situation. I’m fortunate enough that my parents never divorced so maybe I’m off base a little, but this movie seemed like a very realistic portrayal of the effect that a parent abandoning a family can have on everyone involved. I loved the trainwreck of a breakfast Ted made when Joanna first left and seeing the progression and teamwork he and Billy had at the end of the movie when they made the same breakfast. The best part of that scene was that no words were needed. It was bittersweet because you see just how great of a father Ted has become but you know that it will come to an end soon.

All the characters in the movie really grew from who they were in the beginning. Joanna became more aware of her needs as a woman and a person, but at the same time she realized that what she did really hurt her son and that she shouldn’t hurt him again. Ted had the most growth, going from a workaholic father who ignored his family to a loving father who would do anything to be there for his son. All of this was amazing, but it was really Billy who pulled it all together. The performance he gave as such a small child was incredible. It was him that really sold the story and it was him that made me cry the most. His reaction when his dad read him the letter from his mom, when his dad came into his room in the middle of the night after their big fight to make up, and when his dad was explaining that he had to leave to live with his mom were all done so masterfully. Whether or not people think this deserved to win any Oscars, it’s hard to deny the fact that it is a great movie.

But it wasn’t all good because the scene when Billy falls in the park was cheesy to the point that it made me laugh. It was done so it could be used later in the court scene to show that Ted is a bad father for letting his son get hurt, but I feel like they could have found a better way for it to happen. This is definitely one of those scenes that would have been much different if they had cell phones. Instead of Ted running to the hospital with his son in his arms, he would have just called an ambulance. Another face palm inducing scene is when Phyllis runs to the bathroom completely naked and meets Billy in the hallway. She knows there’s a kid in the house, maybe best to play it safe and put some clothes on when you leave the bedroom next time.

The negatives in this movie are just small cheesy potatos though; the positives make up a giant mutant potato that leaves me feeling very satisfied. I enjoyed this one a lot and definitely recommend this if you’re in the mood for a movie that has a great story, great character development and even greater acting.

Verdict: 9/10 Don’t you eat that ice cream!

Movies

The Maltese Falcon & Citizen Kane (1941)

There was a time before I started my crazy journey where I couldn’t sit through a black and white movie. Now, I’m starting to almost like them more than colour. Maybe it gives my mind something to work for by trying to fill in the colour blanks… maybe it’s simply the style of film that happened to be around during the black and white period. Who can really say for sure? Regardless, I took a double dip into 1941 today and watched 2 black and white classics.

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The first is The Maltese Falcon, a film-noir about a private detective who gets caught up in the middle of some murders and a statue of a bird. I’d say I’ve really enjoyed about 50% of the film-noir’s I’ve seen. This movie fits right in because I enjoyed about 50% of it. I liked the beginning up to about half way then I started to lose interest. I’m not a huge fan of the film-noirs that in the last 10 minutes have the main character figure out the entire mystery. It’s kind of like most of the movie is just to entertain then at the end they go “Ok, so here’s what happened if you were still interested.” It just seems like lazy writing to me that they feel the need to explain everything at the very end, instead of giving us pieces of information throughout the movie so that maybe we could piece it together ourselves. Or, they could’ve had Spade talk more about his theory a little earlier. The bottom line is that this was just alright for me and that’s really all I have to say about it… it’s time to move on to something a little different.

Orson Welles standing on stacks of newspapers in a scene from the film 'Citizen Kane', 1941. (Photo by RKO Radio Pictures/Getty Images)

The second movie I watched is what some consider the greatest movie ever made. Yeah, you know the one… Citizen Kane. How can I even go about discussing a movie with this kind of reputation? Well, I’m reminded of a post I read where someone mentioned how they never met anyone who legitimately liked this movie and could answer the question “What did you like about it?” without regurgitating lines about cinematography from articles or reviews. So that is exactly what I’ll do. Here is why I liked Citizen Kane, regurgitating only lines from my own brain.

The pacing and execution of the story was, for the lack of a better word, rhythmic. It was like being caught in wave after wave of exquisite storytelling. The movie starts off (after the whole Rosebud scene of course) with a really broad summary of Kane’s life–this is the bottom of the wave. The reporters read from his father’s memoirs which gives them a run down of his life from when he was a child. We get more details that flesh out the initial summary that was given, like how Kane got his wealth and how he got started in the newspaper–this is the top of the wave. As the memoirs go on, the details start becoming more vague–bottom of the wave again. The reporters then go talk to his friend who knew him at the paper and we find out some of the details behind the headlines we saw while we were on the last wave–back to the top of the wave. Near the end of this one, we get some vague details about Kane and his opera theater–brought down once again. Finally, the reporters go and talk to Kane’s ex-wife who fills us in on the details about the opera theater–brought right back up. After her story, we are suddenly thrown from the top of the wave when we hear the reported at Kane’s house say that we may never know just what Rosebud means. Just as suddenly, we’re picked up and taken to the top of the final wave in the very last shot of the sleigh on fire. Any movie that manages to leave me at the top of a wave will keep my brain thinking after the credits have rolled and that’s usually a very good thing.

However, story alone does not make a movie great… so it’s a good thing this one also had some pretty good dialogue, acting and camera work. My favorite line is from Kane’s father, “He thinks it’d be fun to run a newspaper…” Why is that my favorite? I guess because I wasn’t expecting it and it made me laugh. When he delivers it, he breaks the fourth wall and stares right into the camera at me. My favorite moment of acting is after Kane’s speech when he is talking to Emily in the car. She asks him if he will come with her to see his “mistress” and he doesn’t say anything right away, but you can see it in his face. You know how they say acting is about action and reaction? This is a great reaction… you can read the scene right off their faces, no words are even needed. He’s thinking “Oh shit,  the jig is up.” and she’s thinking “You asshole, get in this car right now… I know what you did.” Finally, my favorite shot will have to be when the camera starts on the roof of the El Rancho and zooms in through the sign then looks down through the glass roof and transitions into the interior of the building all in one mostly fluid shot. It was one of the shots that stood out for me and was pretty nice for 1941.

I can’t lie and say I was exactly looking forward to watching this movie, but I have to say it more than lived up to it’s reputation and some day in the future I think I will watch it again. The Maltese Falcon, not so much.

The Maltese Falcon Verdict: 7/10

Citizen Kane Verdict: 9/10

Movies

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