The Lobster (2015)

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The Lobster is a sci-fi movie set in a world where everyone must be paired up at all times. If you’re single you’re brought to a “Hotel” where you can meet a partner… or be turned into an animal if you don’t. Loners are the scum of the earth: police are constantly asking them for papers, they’re tranquilized and captured like wild animals, and they’re turned into wild animals if they don’t find partners.  In this extremely weird world, we follow a newly single man into the hotel where we learn about the rules and consequences of this society. Scene by scene we’re fed more information until, by the end of the movie, we finally feel like we have the whole picture. There are essentially 3 different sections of society: the Hotel, the City and the Woods. The Hotel is for loners looking for partners, the City is for partners, and the Woods is for loners who want to stay alone. This movie manages to take us through all 3 sections so we can see how each of them live and how each of them might feel about the society as a whole. It also allows the audience to form their own opinions about each of the sections.

While the structure of the story was the strongest part of the movie, I did have problems with some of its details. The first is that I don’t really understand why they had to be turned into animals. It brings up a lot of unanswered questions for me, like are all animals on earth former humans? If that’s the case, then whenever we eat a lobster or cow are we really eating people? Do the animals have memories of their past human lives? One scene in the movie suggests that they do retain some memories which makes the prospect of us eating people even more disturbing. How can a camel survive in the woods? Why would a person want to be a lobster when obviously it’d be cooler to be a bird since you can fly? I wish I knew the answers to these questions, but sadly I’ll never find out. Just like I’ll never find out what happens to the main characters because the movie just ends. I’m really getting tired of movies that end with ambiguity and unanswered questions. I can appreciate this in the right movie, but I don’t feel like this movie deserved that kind of ending. You don’t know for sure whether he’ll end up with her or not. For me it doesn’t work because the movie never played with the “will they, won’t they” story element. It’s sort of tacked on for a cheap ending. Sometimes I don’t always want to make up my own ending for movies, I want to watch the ending that the director envisioned. When the scene cut back to the woman sitting in the booth I had this feeling the movie might be ending and then I saw the black credit screen and I was just more upset than anything.

Aside from the ending and unanswered questions, my other problem with this movie is the fact that it’s supposed to be a dark comedy. I didn’t actually realize this until I finished the movie and was reading other reviews. All these reviews were harping on how funny it was and that’s when I looked back and realized that I didn’t laugh once. I legitimately thought it was a serious movie. I can see scenes that were probably supposed to be funny, but it didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, comedy is very subjective, but as a dark comedy this movie missed the mark which might be a problem since it’s supposed to provide some satirization of our own society and satire generally implies humor.

Lastly, in rapid fire, here are more things I just didn’t enjoy about this movie. I didn’t enjoy the way the lines were delivered, the bluntness of what they were saying, the narration, the fact that a near sighted person can only be with another near sighted person, the weird no masturbation rules at the hotel, and the weird grinding of the men to get them all excited. This movie has some interesting ideas, but nothing felt fleshed out enough for me to really get invested in it. I watched the entire thing but I don’t think I’d ever re-watch or recommend it.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs less bad omen dog killing and more Léa Seydoux being French

Paper Moon (1973)

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Paper Moon is the perfect example of a child actor stealing the show. Tatum O’Neal gave an incredible performance for her age. Her and her father, in both the movie and real life, is Ryan O’Neal and the chemistry between them on screen is so powerful. I really enjoyed this movie so I don’t have too much to say about it. There were a lot of little things that were great, like Addie seeing that one of the families they were going to con was struggling for money and gave them the bible for free. Then with the obviously very rich woman she charged twice the price. She was a smart little hustler like her father and real fun to watch. When Trixie is climbing the hill to talk to Addie and she trips and shouts “Ah, son of a bitch!” that was priceless. She even organized their whole police station escape… she was like an adult trapped inside a child’s body. I might be inclined to say it was somewhat unrealistic that a child would be able to do all the things she did, but she pulled it off and made it believable. Got to admit I was pretty shocked when she started smoking, thankfully she wasn’t smoking a real cigarette in those scenes. The 30s were crazy times…

This is a movie that might have just made it to my re-watch list. It’s fun and a little different, I definitely recommend this one.

Verdict: 8/10 Needs… nothing. Very good movie.

Evil Dead II (1987)

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Evil Dead II is one of those special movies where you need to shut off your brain to be able to enjoy it. The plot is completely nonsensical, the acting is horrendous and the screaming is a crime against humanity’s ears. I suppose that’s pretty harsh, so I’ll go through each of those points in detail so you can get a real sense of what this movie is all about.

Clearly this is a sequel to the Evil Dead, which I’ve seen before and enjoyed enough that I gave it an 8/10. This movie starts off with a recap to the first movie, but it is insanely confusing because Sam Raimi who directed it lost the rights to the first movie and couldn’t do a proper recap. The first 10 minutes is so confusing that there is an actual debate going on whether or not this movie is a sequel or a remake. After the “recap” is over, the movie starts to pick up and have a real plot. This is just a fake out though, there is no real plot in this movie. It’s basically lots of screaming and special effects shots based around some people stuck in a cabin.

The lack of plot could be acceptable if it weren’t for the unbelievably bad acting. This isn’t the kind of movie that’s trying to win an oscar for best actor, but… well I stopped the movie half way through to get some crackers. Can’t have cheese without crackers. It’s a b-movie comedy and part of the original charm was the cheesy acting, but it’s like the sequel decided to move past charm levels of cheese and move into eye-rolling, face-palming cheese territory. This applies to every actor in the movie, not just Ash, even though he was the worst offender.

This point will be short and sweet; the screaming was unbearable. At some point I forgot what real words sounded like. They replaced all dialogue in this movie with people screaming really loud for a really long time. My ears did not appreciate this.

Now I can’t write this review without mentioning the special effects. I’m actually legally obligated to give credit to the practical effects used in this movie. As laughable as it was at times, it brings me so much joy seeing real objects interacting with the actors. I loved seeing what they could do without the use of a green screen and CG. While I’m on the subject of loving things, I did love some of the shots in this movie.The two that come to mind is the one where the camera chases Ash through the house and is moving around the corners and going through the doorways. It’s seamless and perfect and must have taken a long time to get right. The second one I remember well is the one where Ash is on the floor and his hand is dragging him along. The camera switches to this first person view and you get that “I’m being dragged across the floor” feeling.

The bottom line is if you can manage to shut off your brain then you just might enjoy this movie. If you haven’t seen the first movie, then you’ll need to remove your brain entirely. As for me, I remodeled my brain and my brain shut off switch is forever lost in the walls, permanently in the on position.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs more plot and less cheese

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

The most difficult kinds of movies for me to review are the “classics” for the simple fact that they don’t play by the same rules as modern movies. If this movie was made today, I would’ve laughed it off my screen, so I’m going to take some of the jokes with a grain of salt. With all that being said, it was still very enjoyable and some parts really did make me laugh. The actors were so full of energy that the jokes I wouldn’t normally find funny became genuine laugh out loud moments. When Kathy starts laughing at Don for getting his coat stuck in the car door, I couldn’t help but laugh along with her. The same goes for the scene when they’re previewing the new movie in the theater and the audio goes out of sync with the video, the entire audience starts laughing and Cosmo and Kathy even make jokes about it later on. Everyone has such good on-screen chemistry that it brings the movie to life. Apart from the comedic elements, this movie is also known for the dancing and singing… in the rain. The singing I will get to later on, but the dancing was fantastic. Watching them tap dance brought a smile to my face during nearly every number in the movie. It’s even more impressive after learning that Kathy danced until her feet bled and still had that huge smile on her face the entire time. All the dancers really put their blood and sweat into getting it just right, and they very much succeeded.

But as much as I loved the dancing, I really didn’t like most of the songs. The lyrics and sound in general felt so dated that it was hard to enjoy. “Good Morning” and “Singin’ in the Rain” were my favourites of the entire move and probably two of the only songs people remember these days. I really didn’t like “Fit as a Fiddle” and “Make ’em Laugh” since these felt the most dated. There were other songs that were so unmemorable for me that I can’t even remember how they went which isn’t a good thing for a musical. Don was also kind of a jerk for a lot of the movie and was so full of himself. When he met Kathy for the first time, he was shocked that she wasn’t fawning over him for being a huge movie star. Oddly enough, a few scene later she says she’s seen all his movies and for some reason has a complete change in personality. They could have done a much better job creating the romance between Kathy and Don. The was they did it felt too forced.

Overall, if you can get past some of the dated jokes and music then you might really enjoy this movie. It’s full of life and energy, and has some fantastic scenes.

Verdict: 8/10 Needs less naughty-knotty and a hotcha-cha

The Apartment (1960)

Went back a few years on this one and I was pleasantly surprised. This will probably be a short and sweet post since I’m finding it hard to come up with a lot to say about this movie. As is tradition, I’ll start with what I enjoyed. There were some subtleties in the dialogue that I absolutely loved. Near the beginning, when Baxter is talking with Fran you hear him say words like “cookie-wise” and adding wise to the end of other words. Later on in the movie when Fran starts to fall in love with him she picks up the way he talks and starts using some of those same words. It happens a few times, until the end where she repeats one of his lines word for word and you just know that she’s made up her mind to be with him. I found a lot of the dialogue witty and snappy, and Baxter was a great character. He never felt like a cliche or stock character that you see in every movie. He lets his co-workers use his apartment for sex, makes spaghetti with a tennis racket and shot himself in the knee by accident while trying to commit suicide. The way he lets his neighbours think he’s this player that sleeps with different girls every night is pretty great, since he obviously isn’t that kind of guy. The pacing of the story was spot on, at over 2 hours I never felt the movie drag on. Overall, I was surprised to find a movie with lots of implied sex and suicide attempts made in the 1960s since my experience with older movies is that they’re pretty tame. Perhaps my experience needs more experience… maybe by going back in time? Hmm…

…but of course no movie is without its faults and there were some scenes that weren’t so good. When the doctor is trying to wake Fran up he starts slapping her across the face which is uhh… I don’t think that’s how you do it. Then Baxter and the doctor start dragging her around the room trying to get her to walk and stay awake which, again, I’m pretty sure doesn’t have much affect on keeping someone alive who swallowed a bottle of pills. Another piece of the story that I didn’t think was too good was that Fran never called her family to let them know she was okay. She could have called and made up some excuse, it’s not like she had to call and was forced to tell the truth at gunpoint. It seems like the only reason she didn’t was so her brother-in-law could find her and hit Baxter right before their beautiful, candle-lit, tennis racket spaghetti dinner. I suppose some of this is just because it was made in the 1960s and they didn’t have better medicine or excuses, so I’m not really going to let that sway my verdict too much. For now, this movie gets what it gets… and for later, well… you’ll find out soon.

Verdict: 8/10 Needs more coffee