Archive for the ‘Film Criticsm’ Category

Towelhead: Innocence Distorted

September 17, 2008
Racism comes a'knockin'.

Racism comes a knockin'!

There are so many places I wish to begin with this review, which as I write it becomes much more involved – more of an essay. So to keep my thoughts somewhat cohesive, I’ll just start over again whenever I feel like it…as a forethought, you may want to see the movie before reading this. It goes into details about themes and characters that may reveal plot elements. This is a movie to experience first if it’s something you want to see at all.

Alan Ball likes things that provoke (before they evoke – though surprisingly the film draws very genuine emotions out of the viewer by the end), or situations that perchance titillate in an uncomfortable way, but that’s a thought I’ll come back to. His new film, which is also his directorial debut, Towelhead examines the unfortunate sexual awakening due to racism of a 13-year-old Arab American girl, Jasira (Summer Bishil), as she finds herself suddenly thrust into the heartland of Texas.

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The Cognitive Dissonance of Batman’s Dilemma or Why did it end that way? **Major Spoiler’s Included**

July 26, 2008
What to be or what not to be...a split identity.

What to be or what not to be...a split identity.

Below is a comment/question from a reader about Batman:The Dark Knight, one that a few people have asked me, so I imagine it will be on the minds of many more people, and so it should probably be addressed with an article unto itself. Watching the film again you’ll notice that everything dealing with Bruce Wayne throughout the film leads to what we’re about to talk about. While my answer may not be sufficient for some, it will give you something to chew on. ***And yes there are spoilers that give away the end of the film included in this post!!!*** If you want to read my spoiler free review go here. But avoid reading the comments at that post because this question is included.

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“Wanted”, “Fight Club”…cinema of the depressed

July 24, 2008
Like the Narrator in "Fight Club", corporate shenanigans weigh down on our hero.

Like the Narrator in "Fight Club", corporate shenanigans weigh down on our hero.

Jim Emerson has a post on his blog SCANNERS (here) that talks about how and why the film Fight Club made such a strong impression on him. As the narrator deals with depression so does Emerson. It’s a strongly written piece and one that sums up my feelings not only for Fight Club, but also for my feelings concerning Wanted.

As in most super hero films if you can’t connect with the hero’s dilemma as a normal person you won’t feel as drawn to him trying to break free from that prison he finds himself in. For Wesley, McAvoy’s character, it’s his depression. His inability to feel anything. To feel something – even anger, is a freeing thing. Anger can in fact be a great thing to feel. It’s both Fight Club‘s and Wanted”s notion to take that initial breaking free point and carry it through to an extreme. And they realize that those extremes probably aren’t the healthiest way to deal with things.

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“I Live in Fear” of “The Happening”: The Art of Boldness, Kurosawa, and Shyamalan

June 23, 2008

I Live in Fear

It would be easy to point out Akira Kurosawa’s great films like Rashomon or Seven Samurai as examples of his work, but there’s something to be said about his lesser known films – films that speak volumes and contain moments that are difficult to find anywhere else. He makes as a director and storyteller and he has his actors make very bold decisions. More often than not these choices will make an otherwise mediocre or common melodramatic film quite remarkable and incredibly memorable.

Take for instance Kurosawa’s I Live in Fear starring Toshiro Mifune. Mifune plays Kiichi Nakajima the elderly owner of a foundry. Wanting to preserve his family’s lives he wishes to move them all, lovers and bastard children included, to South America so as to avoid a Nuclear holocaust in Japan. Needless to say this story takes place post World War II. But his children will have none of it and take him to court, so that they can prove their father incapable of handling the family’s fortune.

It’s an interesting enough idea for a film. Kurosawa introduces us to Nakajima’s family through one of the Domestic Court Counselor’s put on the case, Dr. Harada, a dentist played by another Kurosawa mainstay, Takashi Shimura. We follow Harada as he leaves his family dentist business and goes to the court. Next we’re introduced to the squabbling family members, who seem more concerned about how they’ll continue making money for themselves than they are about the wishes of their Father. They are quick to apologize for belittling Harada before knowing who he is. But you still don’t get a sense of who’s film this is. Harada is shot from behind, a silent observer…very meek, humble.

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“The Happening”: Meaning in the Mess

June 23, 2008

The Happening

My friend would argue that there is no meaning in The Happening. But a lot of people are stumbling over my little blog looking for the meaning. They want to know JM! (You can also check out my later post in which I talk about the boldness of directors like Shyamalan, and I continue to do some dissecting of this film.)

The reasoning for the events are given to us in the first ten minutes of the movie and repeated again later. The talk of the bees becomes a larger metaphor for the reaction of the foliage. The reason is…unexplainable. An act of nature. Sure people can point fingers, but they’re all just guessing. In many ways this movie is the same thing; we can guess and assume what Shyamalan is up to or why he chose to tell this story in this fashion, but when it comes down to it, none of us will ever really know. (more…)

Trying to find meaning in “The Happening”

June 22, 2008

The Happening

Why write so much about a movie that probably doesn’t deserve it, because lessons can be learned more from a film that’s lacking that something than by one that’s got everything. Jim Emerson has an interesting write up at his blog Scanners, with a lot of nice comments in return. This was my comment to him, and my own way of continuing to work out what worked and didn’t work in Shyamalan’s new film The Happening. If you want to read my original post, here. And a later post that’s about the boldness of directors like Shyamalan and further talks about why this film may not completely work.

Jim,

I kind of completely agree that there is no logical reason for this movie to have been made like this.

Because I also agree that he’s attempting things that other filmmakers would not and in ways they probably would not approach it. The idea of the film alone would have been scoffed at by most people. It’s almost an experiment unto itself and took true cahones to even attempt to pull off. That doesn’t mean Shyamalan does pull it off. Or that he successfully pulls off his attempts to stage things differently.

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