Thursday, September 17, 2009

Has it really been 3 months?

For those of you that have deeply suffered from my lack of blogging, I do apologize. I figured I should at least make an anniversary post.

I recently saw "Frost/Nixon", a movie with a number of powerful actors, mostly Frost (Michael Sheen) and Nixon (Frank Langella). Langella really captures the spirit of Nixon, a highly functioning, but socially inept old man who's one desire in life (other than bugging hotels) is to be liked. He constatnly makes bad jokes and rationalizes why things did not go his way. Sheen is not without due credit as he portrays just what Nixon wants to be, a playboy with more charisma than he knows what to do with. The film has a very smooth flow to it and is easy on the senses. We see a pre and post Watergate Nixon split into two characters, (Nixon and his assistant Jack Brennar). While Nixon is somewhat defeated, though not very, from the years of exile on the highly despised West Coast, Brennar brings an aggresive spirt that could be interpreted as that of a teenage son.

Frost's story of immense sacrifice and endless struggles to get these interviews out to the public are made apparent. The first three days of interviewing make Nixon look like a revived man, a man running for President once more. He becomes a devil in a tuxedo. However, cognitive dissonance and alcohol make Nixon call Frost just in time to deliver an inspiring speech to motivate him to burn him in "the trial he never had" on the final day of interviews. As Frost succeeds in making Nixon look awful, a beautiful speech delivered by Sam Rockwell's character (James Reston) looms in the back ground tells of the amazing feelings of bliss the entire world (in the circle of the characters and the United States at large) experiences.

At the end of the film, Nixon is propping himself up with a golf club, looking an awful lot like a geezer with a crutch. Even in his finally big speech, Nixon seems like a loser trying to look cool in front of Frost. Another insignificant/significant (depending on your level of apathy) symbol breifly making an apperance in the film is the bright light bulb that resembles that of te TV lights that made Nixon sweat into defeat back in 1960 on national television. Coincidentally, it bursts on the fourth day of taping just as Frost's luck turns around.

Overall I must complement Ron Howard on a fine film, he pulled out all the bells and whistles to make a quality film. I hope Mr. Bennet is enjoying his retirement and tat all but a few of the students from our superb class are having a ball in college. It was a great way to spend 40 minutes a day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good Bye Mr. Bennet +Taking of Peldham 123

Just because class is over, doesn't mean all the blogs have to be long pieces of sentiment to the retiring Mr. Bennet. That's not to say I didn't appreciate the class, it was the height of my day during school. I will miss Bennet greatly, and if I wasn't so lazy from my day and a half of summer vacation, I'd steal a few quotes from Danny White's and Mr. Bennet's latest posts.

Now then...on to the movie. The first thing I noticed about this film after I finished watching it was that all the details of NYC were 100% dead on. The 6 train went to Peldham, they explained the heirarchy of the subway workers system exactly as is. They even got the Dow stuff right (except for the figure, it hasn't been 12,000 in like 2 years)I also noticed that the music was energetic, full of guitar heavy rock. The best of the soundtrack was in the opening credits when we hear a Jay-Z, Linkn Park combo (they are the Run DMC/Aerosmith of their day)

This film has a poorly lit mis-en-scene, to portray the relatively cynical view of New York that drives the plot. Denzel Washigton, though largely out of shape and bald, puts on a fine performance. It seems somewhat acting 101 with the long pauses and seemingly cliche lines, but it was satisfying. His marriage seems to be based more on his love for his children than his wife. He takes a bride to pay for his kid's tuition. When he tells his wife that he must go negotiate with a terrorist his wife tells him "we need milk", he does not call to warn her that the house will be searched by the police, she has to call him after they show up, when he explains why he took the bride Travolta says "that's love", Denzel responds "No that's marriage, that's completely different."

John Travolta's nut job character puts on a delightful "I'm black and I'm crazy" type of persona. A lot of street like cursing, probably to show his reeducation in prison. He won't win an Oscar for best original character, but it is a good fit for the heist genre. There is even some anti-New Jersey propaganda, turns out Travolta's character is from across the Hudson. He is also a devout Catholic, ironically as he kidnaps and holds ransom 19 New York subway users. This is meant to add cynicism to the film. Everybody is dirty, even Denzel who we learn took a $35,000 bribe.

As the film progresses, we learn that there is a recovering drug addict on the train and he is the only one willing to be a martyr. Travolta shoots him when he is holding an 8 year old (I assume) boy at gunpoint. This nails the point in, the scum of the earth are the best of us. There's so little unity among us that something like this could happen. On an unrelated note, there are shout outs to Bloomberg. James Gandolfini, who plays mayor, says that he only receives $1 per year for his service, and that as soon as he ends his term, he'll never ride a subway again (if you recall the whole "Even I ride the subway" bs)

Though its not a great film, it is an exciting one. I recommend it to forget about life for two hours. Farewell SIT film class of 2009, I'll miss some of you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

30 Days

If you loved Super Size Me, you'll like Morgan Spurlock's other major project: TV show 30 Days. A show where an average shmow steps into the shoes of a certain subculture for as many days as the title implies.

The episode I saw most recently had to do with a stressed out, overweight middle aged working man, Brian, trying the "new age" lifestyle. From the first day, Brian is optimistic, but his girlfriend, Lindsay, acts as hostile as Nazi Germany over the fact that he won't be up to his usual routine.

The show goes through a very similar structure as Spurlock's attention-grabbing feature film. It goes deeply into the situation, defining every stray term and explaining the persepctive as well as an "objective" human can. There are numerous interviews, cartoon executions, and Morgan's quirky sense of humor.

Brain tries a number of holistic approaches to stress relief and life in general. He recieves a life coach, who is calm and helpful enough from the very beginning to win over everyone (even Lindsay around Day 15). As he moves into a new house in suburban New Jersey, services like reike, yoga, some odd form of dancing and a few quasi medical treatments help transform Brian from an angry, sweaty bafoon into a calm, reasonable, and all around pleasant human being.

As far as this experiment goes, it proves that anyone of us can benefit from some new age know-how, as long as we are open minded enough to give it a try. Spurlock creates similar caliber episodes for just about any walk of life that come sto mind: illegal immigrants, minimum wage workers, coal miners, homosexuality, Arabic Americans, outsourced jobs, prison, off-the-grid living, pro-choice fundamentalists, animal rights activists, etc. I recommend anyone of these episodes as they are stimulating to the mind and very informative. Without stepping out of your shell, you can experience a path through life that just might interest you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Hangover

When I first heard the plot for this film, I was not to impressed. It sounded cliche: Four guys go to Vegas for a bachelor party, they get wasted on drugs and alcohol, wake up after an insane night and don't remember a thing. The only twist is that the husband-to-be is missing in the morning. The execution, on the other hand, is phenomenal.

When Phil, Stu, and Allan wake up, they find a destroyed hotel room which includes a hospital tag, a baby in the closet, and a tiger in the bathroom. But wait, there's more, turns out one of them married a stripper and lost a tooth, and they apparently stole a cop car. The trio go on a journey to find not only their friend, but also to get to the bottom of these bizarre results. Along the way, they get stunned by tazers, attacked by chinese gangsters, must cheat a casino to make $80 grand, are involved in a kidnapping of a drug dealer and even meet Mike Tyson. This is only part of the action, see the movie to learn the rest.

The entire film, I was bothered by the characters. Of the four, Phil is only one that is remotely cool or normal, he holds the idiocy together. Allan is just plain strange. Though there is some rhyme to his reason, he does not appear to have much in the way of guiding principals or steady logic (even on his level). The character that is supposed to be the "normal guy", Doug, comes of as too much of a pansy and has virtually no depth. More importantly, Doug seems like a carbon copy of a different character, Stu, just a few years earlier. Stu is also less than respectable, he remains with a cold and hating girlfriend, even though she has cheated on him. The only character that I actually liked in this film was the drug dealer that was kidnapped, also named Doug, even though he was in the film for a grand total of ten minutes.

Character flaws aside, the rest of the film was well made. The cinematography makes the viewers appreciate Vegas' aesthetic qualities, both man made and natural. Like in The Seventh Seal, a number of shots could have been excellent still photos. The plot runs smoothly, but has enough unexpected turn of events to keep the audience confused, but begging for more. The jokes range from low brow to high brow, they are often hard to foresee, and produced by quality writers. Though the soundtrack consists mostly of popular music, it is selected well and placed in the best parts for any given song. The producers of he film have already received a grant to make a sequel, and if this is the result of their work, it is the only reasonable step to take.

Inside the Special Forces

Though there has been much criticism of the United States armed forces due to the unpopular war, most would learn a new respect when they saw this National Geographic hour long documentary.

This special presentation is styled like an article from National Geographic magazine. It begins with a scene in the middle of Iraq, beautiful mountain vistas that parallel the pictures in the magazine as well. A story is developed, we meet several sergeants, commanders, etc. As a disembodied voice narrates the extraordinary events that these soldiers must go through on a daily basis. A 360 degree overview of the U.S. Army Special Forces is presented. History, protocol, a day in the life of..., etc.

As the documentary goes on, more and more information is presented from numerous interviews and fact statements by the absent-bodied narrator. We meet people inside and out of this advanced branch of the military. It becomes somewhat of a pro-Iraq showcase as these individuals are presented in a positive light. Calling it bias, however, would be going too far. As always, Nat Geo proves to be bipartisan, presenting only what is objective.

National Geographic once again pulls off a good showing. Though there is room for improvement (slightly dragged out, and therefore slightly boring), the viewer leaves his/her seat at the end much more informed on this nation's military elite.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Quotes from the bomb

An argument I have heard in the past, but only occasionally agree with, is that a movie is only as good as its quotes. Though Dr. Strangelove is more than the sum of its parts, one can't ignore the dialogue when searching for the soul of the movie.

A fine quote for the era of the film's setting is "deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy...the FEAR to attack." Perhaps if we applied this philosophy, Hitler would not have run such a muck. Fear, as we all know, is one of the most powerful weapons an army can possess. It is the only real reason that the final scene was not ours. Strangelove later argues that the Doomsday machine should have been announced to the world.

For all the polygamists at heart, there is "the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship." As Mr. Bennet mentioned, this movie is all about sex. The point of sex is to reproduce, which is the point of life, from an evolutionary stand point. Perhaps this is Stanley Kubrick's philosophy on love (With eccentric films like "A Clockwork Orange", "The Shinning", and "2001: A Space Odyssey", it would not surprise me).

The capitalist can appreciate this one: "Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?"
Like much of the film, this is a satire. Fluoridation is one of the most harmless communist concepts that exists. Because it is a public project that would influence everyone in a given nation. It is merely the level of control that would frighten the die hard anti-red person. The fear discussed in the first quote is responsible for both the inability to attack and the desire to do the opposite.

Finally, the historian gets a bone too: "[C]ome over here, the Red Coats are coming!" Ironically, the color of the enemy that began and ends our existence is red. The director chooses this line, probably to show how our roles as the victim, and now the bully, has changed over the centuries. We are the ones attacking the Russians and we have the nerve to call them red coats, though we technically did that to them too, but we had better reasons.

What I can gather from these quotes is that "How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb" is a satirical, yet deep film. Though it pokes fun at the military institution of the 1960s, it also puts it in perspective.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Simple Plan

The irony of the title shows, as well as anything else, just how complex people can be.

My interpretation is that Jacob is supposed to mirror Amanda, Hank and Sarah's new born daughter. Jacob is a largely unorganized, simple person. Though we see that he's capable of dark acts, like smashing old men over the head with a tire iron and shooting his friends, those are more actions of instinct then of character and they are always with the idea of saving his brother in mind. He has a high affinity for love and empathy, all human contact treated as valuable. His character is meant to show that the world will take anyone, no matter how innocent, and proverbially shoot them. Jacob gets Hank to kill him because that innocent little baby inside died after seeing two too many people murdered and being told that those are the rules of this world by Hank.

The fox and the crows represent the wild side of man and are placed at the beginning of the film in order to foreshadow the wild deeds that are waiting to take place. They acquire additional meanings as the film goes on, like those mentioned in class today.

Sarah's monologue about not splurging on desert might sound very silly and snobbish of her, but this seemed to be more of a social commentary then a straight speech. She has long accepted her place as a lower middle class wife and mother. When you realize you are trapped in a situation, you go along with it. Such is the case in suburbia, even the quasi-suburbia of this film. Since another theme of this film is that we live in a competitive world, it fits that Sarah's "animal instinct" to live larger than her neighbors is so fierce.

This movie reminds me a bit of Macbeth, here we have a man that is well-enough-off and he stumbles upon a fortune that requires murder. His wife is little eager to pick up the gun herself, but much more so to tell him to do it. At first it is just one murder and they are home free with the prize, but the guilt inside them takes on a disgusting form. Soon, the closet gets overstuffed with skeletons and in the end the main character dies (though just figuratively). In the end, the prize that they desire ends up being in their possession for a very short period of time and they never get to appreciate it. Banquo's ghost does not appear, but the rudimentary theme is the same.

The final scene that Mr. Bennet analyzed with us today got me looking at it in a different angle. In the black hole that is the old window, I see a white blotch in the center, resembling a person from the shoulders up. Simultaneously, the old curtain blows gently out the door, this coupled with the blotch gives me the impression that this is the ghost of Banquo so to speak. Hank and Sarah are haunted nearly every day with their terrible actions and the deaths of all five people they killed. This is the only manifestation of the guilt that we see.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


A great film needs to be able to hold its viewers captive. Everything else, though damn impressive, is extraneous. Not to say that Memento was lacking in other fields. The plot, needless to say, is at or near unique. The soundtrack did not stick out in my head, which usually means it was good because it did not draw attention to itself, much unlike certain Belorussians in our class. The acting was certainly on par and beyond. The ending is nothing short of beautiful (excluding morally).

A Memento is an object that serves as a reminder of something. What does the director have in mind when he chose this title? Was it "remember Sam Jenkins"? Was it one of Leonard's photographs? (Teddy would be the most likely match if it was). Perhaps it was his "John G." tattoo. I also wonder, if Lenny is such a diabolical villain, then why did he take that picture of dead Teddy at the chronological end? This would only stand in the way of his sick purpose in life. Is his conscious battling him, or is the burned picture of Jimmy getting lonely? If you dig deeper, you can say that this is a representation of his forgotten conscious, the sins he'll never regret. Was Christopher Nolan making a statement about the sociopath? The one in a million warped human mind that cares for no one and might as well forget everything he/she does because they hold no weight on their soul. Leonard is not a sociopath, at least not entirely, because of his deep love for his wife and the remorse he appears to feel for killing Jimmy. From the beginning of the movie, I had a feeling that Teddy had been wrongly framed. The guilty man would have been more suspicious than he was. He would not have slept in his car waiting for him. In the final scene, before we learn of Leonard's more deplorable mental illness, we see Teddy have his keys taken away and thrown in a bush like he's a schoolyard nerd. His futile search for them with the crowbar only makes him look only more pathetic, maybe it was just me, but he exuded this sort of "pathetic-ness" throughout the film. Of course, this could have been used to try to convince the viewer that he is a dirty little worm with no boundaries to his disgusting manipulations.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dark City

In the final scene of dark city there are several minute details that have me asking myself if they are significant or if I am delving too deeply into a film that supposidly made John Murdoch's room number 614 by accident.

First of all, why is the clock in the final scene at nine instead of twelve. If it was supposed to be a "new hour" when John rescues the city, why is it three hours back? Shouldn't it be forward? And why three hours to be exact? Is this supposed to be a clue to how long ago they were abducted? Three weeks, months, years?

Next, the title of the film that is playing at the Fremont theater where Anna/Emma is napping on the job is "Book of Dreams", is this implying something? Is this all just one of the character's dreams? Or is that what makes up the human soul, according to the director (if only partially). Furthermore, why name the theater the Fremont? Fremont is a city in California, a neighborhood in Seattle, and a casiono in Vegas. Head west young man? Is Alex Proyas glorifying Hollywood, or is he just gratifying the roots of his industry?

The cloud over the city at the end is not the familiar Fibonacci spiral, but insteasd a star shaped spiral that curves inward, perhaps an alternative form, but not the same one as in the rest of the film. Is this also suggesting that there is a wind of change with John's triumphant victory or is this just the special effects guy on his worst day?

Finally, underneath the bridge that John and Emma/Anna walk underneath in the final shots of the movie, there is some sort of metal railing taht is conspicuously shaped like a double helix, the shape of our ever important DNA. Is he suggesting that there is, in fact, a genetic aspect to who we are in addition to our memories and soul? Is there something to read into in this or is this full blown Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Holy Mountain

Like Danny Sandbeg jokingly said as we were watching this film, finding objective meaning in such a surrealist film is silly. Though there are certain messages that can be derived from this movie, it is largely subjective and should not be too adequestly reviewed in all fairness. To keep it simple, Holy Mountain is a movie that questions what is the correct path to find immortality, if not physically at least spiritually. Our Jesus-like protagonist meets many INTERESTING characters along an equally interesting journey as he tries to find a place resembling nirvana or heaven. It takes on a buddist tone, preaching to forget the past and to disconnect yourself from all emotions. If for no other reason, this film should be viewed for its outrageous details, director Alejandro Jodorowsky does nothing better than stimulate his audiences mind, for better or worse.

The Moral Trifecta

The idea of morality can be viewed narrowly, either something is or is not acceptable. Three films I viewed this weekend showed just how complex of an issue this can be.

In Asphalt Jungle, the question of morality has a number of different perspectives. We see characters as simplistic as the ditsy Angela that will tell the police a lie or the truth depending on how stern her lover is being. Mr. Emmrich seems content with not only ignoring, but deeply loving, his wife, letting others steal from banks for him and then attempting to double cross them. Protagonist Dix is a hardy criminal, but mostly a petty one. Though he commits to his image as a badboy, his dying wish is to go back to childhood innocence, if only for a moment. Then there is Commisioner Hardy, who's black and white view, though practical, defines no one is this film, or probably in the world.

In Rodger Dodger, cool talking Rodger Swanson (Campbell Scott) gives his visiting newphew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) a crash course in getting ladies. In the process of the film, we learn that despite his great bedroom successes Rodger is isolated from his family, no speaking to his grandfather or his sister and seeing Nick for the first time in three years. Just what is this guy trying to Dodge? He is also sexually attached to his boss, who feels he should find another mistress. Nick seems to connect emotionally with a pair of attractive lounge bunnies while Rodger only drives them away (intentionally for Nick's carnal benefit). As a last resort he takes Nick to an underground prostiution ring, which Nick gladly rejects. The director uses blurred street nights as a symbol for questioning whether Rodger's methods are ethical. The nighttime sceneary is another such tool. By morning, they have apoligized to each other for overboiled emotions from the previous evening. Rodger even begins talking to his sister again (because apparently, Nick did not bother to tell his mother that he was going to visit his uncle).

Even comic book nerd can get in on this morality question. In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the namesake character's settings reflect the deepest question of the film: should you release the animal inside of you? Wolverine first tastes blood when, as a ten year old boy, he beleives that a man has killed his father. This takes place deep in the woods where his home had been up until that point. In the second scene, the ageless future X-Man, goes through three wars (WWI, WWII, Vietnam) murdering as efficently as the weapons he carries but does not use. The wilderness of Africa is a place where his brother, Saber tooth, almost murders a few women and children when the main character stops him. After he decides such behavior is unneccessary, he runs of to the Canadian Rockies with a lover for six years. Though he has a job as a lumberjack, a home, a car, and is going about life normally, the rugged terrain that surrounds him shows what is repressed inside of him (a fight that nearly breaks out is an indicator). It also forshadows just how much of an action flick this is going to be. The specai effects are nothing short of wild and other untamed locals include New Orleans and a nuclear plant.

In this age of a dead God, morality is a constantly question. Who has it right? Because of such uncertainty, films like these can arise to put our curiosity into perspective and crystalize them for all to appreciate. The fact of the matter is that it is a pressing, complicated question and each of these films offer a different take on it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Requiem for a Dream

No public service announcement can convince you as effectively to not do drugs as well as this Darren Aronofsky film. Requiem for a Dream is a story of four individuals linked either by blood or water that watch their lives fade to tragedy as they are out chasing their desires via narcotics.

Friends Harry (Jared Leto) and Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) are partners in dealing and using. They ambitiously play small time gigs in back alleys of Brighton Beach with the hopes of eventually attaining the elusive "pound of pure." When they get this they will be set and Harry can help his fellow dope fiend girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly)start a fashion design business. All Harry really seems to want is Marion, a dream that shows her standing at a Coney Island pier waiting for him. Tyrone also has a simple dream, his mother's warm embrace (how he plans on attaining this by selling heroin, I do not know). Harry's mother Sarah (Ellen Burstyn) has so little to live for that she spends almost all of her time in her apartment watching television, more specifically an recurring infomercial about weight loss that plays like a drug in that it strives to get you addicted. She holds on to a single memory of her and her deceased husband at Harry's high school graduation. When she learns that she might be on television she goes on a crash diet including a prescription weight loss drug that turns out to be good ole dope.

The film is divided into Summer, Fall, and Winter. An initially dark film grows more morbid with each passing season. The dreams of these four Brooklynites go suffer as time goes on. After brief success by all of them (either in the form of moeny making or losing 25 pounds), they quickly begin to deteriorate. Lack of buyers, and more importantly, lack of drugs to satisfy their own addiction causes strife between Harry and Marion. Tyrone begins to feel more and more isolated and tries to fill the void with, presumably, easy women. Sarah clings tighter and tighter to her fantasy of being on the infomercial to tell the world how great her life is. She falls apart mentally and physically, she becomes delusional, stops eating at all, doesn't listen to anyone, and babels incoherently about her dream.

Towards the end, Harry and Tyrone go on a road trip to find a stash when they are arrested. Tyrone is put on, what is the equivalent of, a chain gang and Harry is sent to the hospital to have his severely infected junkie arm amputated. Marion resorts to prostitution, at first to a family friend, then to a stranger, and then put on display in front of a private crowd where she performs numerous tricks for all perverts to enjoy. Sarah is admitted to a mental hospital where she is forced fed, and eventually is treated with shock treatment that leaves her as aged (from stress) as the typical granny.

Not that my blogs are particularly good to begin with, but this review does not do the film any justice. This is just a brief summary of what occurs in an emotionally raging movie. It is a drama that combines powerful and haunting violin music with cinematography that shows reality in the film as very dark and the dream scenes as obnoxiously over lit by comparison. The characters deliver long speeches about their true motives and hopes in life, they give you a wonderful picture of who they are. This makes the Requiem part of the film that much more dramatic. An all around attention seizing story, it's piece la resistance is its very late climax scene where all four of our fellow New Yorkers go through intense suffering that effectively kills everything good about them, it is madness at its absolute finest. The dreams our protagonists are very simple (though Tyrone's is poorly developed and therefore the least likely to receive sympathy) they all just want the love of some other person. The movie ends with Sarah imagining, for the umpteenth time, that she and Harry are reunited on the infomercial set, hugging and exchanging kind words. The broken dream is best conveyed in Marion's final appearance where she curls up into the fetal position with her bag of crack, lying on the couch as her numerous fashion drawings lie scattered on the ground beneath her.

Though beautifully made, Requiem for a Dream is not a film I would recommend to half the people in my AP Lit class.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Mr. Bennet has said that signs is a non-existentialist film. However, that statement, like the whole issue of religion, is subjective.

In the film, Graham suffers the loss of his wife becuase a very overworked doctor falls asleep behind the wheel. After her death, Graham loses his faith becuase of the absurdity of the event. When the aliens come, it is not a prayer to Jesus that keeps the aliens from killing the Hess family, but boards and nails. The news report after the attack ends states something about middle eastern cities. Incidentally, this was where gun powder was invented, again, save yourself. The alien that almost kills Morgan is only defeated when Merril "swings away" with his record setting baseball bat. The aliens do not attack with magical super inventions, but with some sort of simple poison, they can not regenerate lost limbs, or do anything miraculous. They have a hard time with turning door knobs (for God's sake). The water spilling to kill the alien was not a literal device, so much as it was a caricature. Set up to poke fun at what religion promises for those that stir trouble, as it appears very silly on a literal level.

To say outright that this was an atheist film would be a stupid thing to say. There is way too much just beneath the surface that supports the idea of a greater being governing the universe, but after a close look at the film it would be unfair to say that there is nothing pro-existential about the movie either. MNS probably intended it that way.

A guide for the married man

It has been said that men cheat for the same reason that dogs lick themselves in unsavory places: becuase they can. If that is so, then it was only a matter of time before a film like this came out.

Paul Manning (Walter Matthau) is the average subburban husband/father, who finds himself unstimulated by his attractive and loving wife Ruth (Inger Stevens) and is constantly tempted by the seemingly endless supplies of young butts (there are dozens of shots of the postyerior in the film). Paul employes the help of his friend Ed to show him how to cheat in an elaborate and secretive fashion so he may get the best of both worlds.

The film is filled with (but not dominated by) little vinettes of numerous nameless men's methods of the ups and downs of infidelity. In every scene, Paul is taught a different lesson about "the game." Never bring the affair home; if you're married, don't venture outside that realm; it's for the good of your arraige. With every passing scene, the fine line between saying monogomous and disregarding marital vows gets smaller and intensity grows. Paul's carnal lust becomes all the more powerful, but Ruth's simple loving loyalty keeps bringing him back to her.

Eventually, he meets an allimony client that becomes very interested in him. Just as he has her in the motel room, all the windows covered, the doors locked, every detail from the previous few months carefully orchestrated for him to finally take this other plunge, he backs out. In the knick of time too, they barely escape the motel room as his pal Ed is caught by his picture snapping wife, presumably leading to a harsh divorce.

Relavtively stiff Paul is scarred stiffer by the incident. When he sees a room full of women, he avoids entering. An elevator exclusively consisting of X chromosomes results in his taking the fire escape. He speeds home from work everyday to see his wife and children and as he enters the door, little sing along words appear at the bottom to emphasize that the director does not believe in the moralistic message he has just presented.

Paul looks like a less attractive version of Richard Nixon, and Ed like a not-too-aesthetically pleasing JFK. Perhaps because this director wishes to indicate that no one is clean, and all have their little secrets. The disproportionate physical apperances of the men and women in the film shows two things:
1) director Gene has an affinity for blondes (as there is not a single unattractive one in the film).
2) The looks of men is unimportant, these older married gentlemen seem to pick up women far out of their leagues with relative ease.

The doom of Ed is spelled out for anyone watching when he and Paul are in the steam room, when Paul is reconsidering being dishonest with Ruth. The fog in the room suggests that Paul is being misguided, and that Ed does not know what he is doing.

If you're not a frustrated married man, then this film is still worth watching for its comedic value, interesting opening quotes, and its solid story.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Seventh Seal

It would have been slightly eerie if my seventh post for a seventh period class would have been about The Seventh Seal, but alas, it is my eigth. A cinematographically flawless film, I enjoyed the setting (and symetry) of the first and last scene, being on the coast. This is a place that is constantly battered by the sea, a force more powerful than any seagull, crab, or rock that inhbaits that area, thus being symbolic of death's universally overbearing role. In addition, death erodes our lives and changes our schemas.
The director makes it quite blatant that the central theme of the film is death. He is personified, takes just about everyone in the film, and ultimately shapes the lives of them all. Antonius is scarred by what he sees in the Crusades, the unnamed girl dies believing that there is no heaven and that everything is governed by absurdity, and Squire Jons understands this as well in his "conversation" with the corpse. This movie presents our infatuation with death as having only two solutions: fighting, as does Antonius, or partying, as do the people in the bar and the church painting character. Death appears in every scene and in even the most obscure places, both directly and in the forms of other people. I can not figure out why both forms are neccessary other than to fill up screen time. In addition, I would like to ask why the silent girl that Squire Jons does not rape is the embodiement of Christ? She has a single biblical line in the film, but she does little else to resemble our lord and saviour. It should be noted that one of the lines that death's lips utter in the film is "nothing escapes me." Blok tries to correct him in saying "no one escapes you," but the fact of the matter is that even abiotic items are eventually destroyed as well, which is supported by the coastal opening and closing scenes. Nobody escapes death, but that is exactly what the Jesster and his family do, these are the little battle that we can win (refering back to Runaway Train) or the games of chess we can play before the inevitable catches up with us.
I must say that the ending dissapointed me. Though the hand holding vision has it own purpose and offers us a suggestion that heaven is real (suggestion because it is a light filled scene, but is seen through the eyes of the sometimes innaccurate jesster) it would have been much more satisfying if the director had not sparred us the scene of physical death that he had no trouble showing us numerous times throughout the film.

Monday, March 23, 2009


A movie that begins with a scene of gray clouds floating across the screen is a fairly straightforward foreshadowing that this is not going to be a happy movie.
What movie is this, you may or may not ask? It is Andrzej Wajda's 2007 import "Katyn."
Taking place in one of Poland's worst five year spans (1940-45), it is the story of a woman named Anna (Wiktoria Gasiewska)who watches her husband Andrzej (Artur Zmijewski) go off to fight Soviets on the country's eastern front. She and their daughter Nikka must escape to Krakow, one of the only major cities in all of Europe not destroyed by the Axis, but they must dodge Nazi fire as well as Soviet fire along the way. This one story becomes several as Andrzej and his army is defeated and captured by the Reds and sent to a POW camp where he is selected as one of over 22,000 lucky winners who are later transported to the Katyn forest to be shot in the back of the head. This happens, chronologically, early on and it takes a long time before his family finds out. Anna and Nika escape with the skin on their teeth from the Soviet forces several times in the film, because they are the family of a top army officer. Andrzej's father is also executed, along with his colleagues, because he is a professor at a university. As the movie progresses, an additional mother and daughter are thrown into the plot, who also suffer the loss of their military father. Another woman and child are executed. With every scene, the madness of the communists increases. The most central example of which is the reason that gives this story historical significance. Upon invasion in 1940, the Soviets committed the murder of those 22,000 people and then attempted to brain wash the nation to believe that it was the Nazis all along. After all, a scape goat is always appreciated when you're trying to control a rebellious nation in an "orderly" fashion. It seems that no one in the film believes them for the obvious reason that they just experienced it several years ago. This does not stop the Soviets from attempting to kill everyone, including a young man who is applying for college (who lost his father in the tragedy), a woman that quotes Antigone (because they do not allow her to bury her brother because his tombstone reads that he too died in Katyn), and numerous others.
The film ends on a very dark note, the actual murder of the Polish army in Katyn. How it is done shows the general mood of the movie. They all have their arms tied behind their backs and shot in one spot in the back of the head, in between each murder the blood is washed or swiped aside and the body falls in the trench. Each soldier killed on screen says part of a prayer, together saying one completely, except for the big word: Amen. This, and a cross that a corpse is holding on to but loosens his grip on after a few moments sends one message: God left this place (just as the atheist Soviets begin their reign). The whole film is about murder and suppression of the truth and intelligence. Andrzej's journal only makes it back to Anna by chance, but was meant to be kept away because it contains threatening information as far as the Russians are concerned. All the people that are killed hold some piece of the puzzle. The officials in power are always the common stupid folk that have been granted power by the reds and therefore would not speak against them. Even Jerzy, one of Andrzej's army buddy's commits suicide when he realizes society has ostracized him for attempting to set the record straight. All this lying, deception, and taking of life is done in a very clean cut, bureaucratic sort of way. These are the regulations and all who obey not only live, but they do it becuase it is their job.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Reader

A film about post-WWII Germany is not exactly an original idea, neither is an adolescent boy having a steamy affair with an older woman, for these reasons I would not nominate "The Reader" for best original screenplay.
The movie begins in a excessively white apartment in 1995 Berlin. A man, Michael, watches his one night stand leave his residence when he has a flashback induced by the structure of the untidy bed covers. We are transported 37 years back to see our protagonist as a miserable (the rainy scenery, cold induced red nose, and downward slumping posture would suggest this) youth with poor self esteem ("I didn't know I was good at anything" he later mentions). As he tries to find his way home in what later turns out to be a fever, he is assisted by a serious looking blond (Hannah - Kate Winslet). Months later, upon recovery, he returns and finds her to thank her (with red roses). Surprising as this is, it is a nonchalant comment about not even being able to read when sick that gets Hannah hot for the 15 year old. Soon, they are meeting on an almost daily basis. They meet in the tram carts, Michael spends less time with friends and family. His life is nothing short of miraculous. However, Hannah does not give it away for free, she makes her lover read to her. The Odyssey, The Woman with the Little Dog, Mark Twain, and numerous other classics. The director does not make it terribly difficult to notice, but Hannah turns out to be illiterate. She orders what Michael orders at restaurants, she refuses to look at the books he reads to her, and having him read to her, of course. The affair only lasts for a summer, but years later this tiny fact comes back to haunt both of them. When Michael is in law school, a professor takes the class to view a controversial case concerning ex-guards at a concentration camp. One of them just happens to be Hannah, which naturally brings stress upon Michael despite years of absence. The trial is brought to light because a former prisoner wrote a book (ironically enough) naming eight women who had been employed by the SS. It is in this scene that Winslet won her Oscar. She puts on a persona of a pure Hitler youth. She states in a naive tone that control over prisoners is more important than their lives. She gives brilliant looks of perplexity when the court is shocked and appalled by her words. Fear and confusion emulate her. The woman accused conspire against Hannah and forge a confession that names her as the one responsible for leaving prisoners locked in a church after it catches fire (another poignant symbol). The judges asks Hannah for a hand writing sample, but she is too proud to admit her illiteracy to a court full of people. Throughout the trial, the law professor gives philosophical musing about law and society, stating that the laws shape a society more than morals, thus explaining why so many (like Hannah) were so willing to assist the Third Reich in its destruction. Hannah is imprisoned for life. She would likely have killed herself early on if it were not for Michael sending her cassette recordings of all the great novels that he once read to her. With both written and spoken words at her disposal, Hannah's confinement in prison is actually a release from the prison that has tormented her all her life. She slowly begins to learn to read and write, and continues to contact Michael to keep sending more. He puts so much energy into it that he loses his wife and comes off as cold to his daughter. The passion of their youths is felt in a much more mature manner here. Eventually, Hannah is due for release for good behavior and you'll never guess who her only contact on the outside is. Michael meets her as a very old woman and this brings him down to earth. Her granny appearance makes him act standoffish, reminding us that the affair they had was just that (despite the profound feelings he clearly has). On the day of her release, she stands on a pile of books and hangs herself. Ironic, since they were the objects of her internal resurrection (Note the Bible is nowhere to be found is the film, though it fits in quite a few places).
Overall, this is not a film that will be remembered as a classic decades from now, but it deserves the credit of being called an interesting plot. The entire movie has an element of secrecy, the affair, his being dishonest with his family and friends, her dishonesty about being what boils down to a Nazi, and the theme recurs in all the books that he reads her. It is when the truth begins to come out that people become miserable, quite parallel to Hitler's Germany. The sun naively shines on most of the film. "The Reader" is not a masterpiece, but has plenty of things to look for and is a good way to forget about life for two hours.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Madea Goes To Jail

To contrast the artistic films that we have been watching in film class, I decided to pick Tyler Perry's most recent film about the craziest elderly black lady that ever roamed God's green earth.
Granted this is nowhere near "Mr. Bennet levels" of film quality, but it is not entirely fair to dismiss this film as something worth raising your nose to. Through previous films, like Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Daddy's Little Girl, it is evident that Perry's greatest attribute as a director, writer, producer, what have you, is his ability to tell the story. He often multi-facets his plot to leave his audience (whatever quality they may be) thinking. This particular story is about a lawyer in Atlanta (the setting of all his films and shows) named Joshua, who is soon to marry a fellow attorney Linda, both of whom are quickly rising in the city's legal institution. All seems well until he finds himself defending a college friend that has since become a prostitute. This bothers Josh not because he is such a naturally nice guy, which the film completely justifies, but because the two were at a point inseparable and it all fell apart one night in college when Josh unknowingly left Candie at a party with his football teammates who then raped her. Josh carries this guilt all these years and fights for her freedom to the point that his fiance actually fluffs up the charges against her in hopes of increasing her jail time. Where does Madea come in all this? She mostly serves as comical relief; the stereotype that Perry has grown comfortable with. She bumps around life from one crime to another, not in hopes of gain, but in hopes of revenge. Every time someone wrongs her, she feels the need to wrong them back a few times (this is done mostly in the form of shooting at and beating the tar out of agitators). The modern Hammurabi, if you will. After destroying a woman's car with a fork lift for just that reason, she is finally sentenced to jail after a life time of dumb luck with judges. Madea and Candie meet in jail and begin helping each other out in the day to day grind. Another character in the film is a prostitute-turned-preacher named Ellen who reverbrates one of the themes of the film. Straight out of the Bible, one forgives others not for their sake, but for their own. Carrying hatred in the heart is no way to go through life. No matter where we have come from or how bad our conditions may be, we have the choice to act in accordance with our morals. I won't spoil the ending, but believe me when I say it isn't much to spoil.
Perry is quite talented in showing the meager life that exists in the city. Prostitution, drug addiction, constant fear of invasion (by any number of forces), arrest, etc. Perry shows that every level of society experiences corruption. The lawyers at Josh's firm cheat and lie, Josh has a dark past, even the company that tries to employ Candie (as part of community service with Ellen's ministry) does not willingly take the battered Candie for a job unless she is willing to perform sexual favors on the employer. He does however offer a light of hope in Josh, Ellen, and even Madea, who is crazy but by and by a good person that does very much of her questionable behavior for the benefit of those around her.
The camera work is virtually nonexistent, only a shoulder high shot of the characters speaking is consistent, the rest of the time it is simply sowing the scene for the sake of showing the scene. The lighting is equally complex. This film offers little for the artistic mind, but Tyler Perry has grown somewhat as a movie maker. He does use symbols such as rain to show when life seems to be at its worst for Candie. The pimp that hunts for Candie drives a Cadillac Escalade while Joshua drives a Chevrolet Tahoe. Physically, these cars are virtually the same, thus suggesting a very thin line between the two extremes of good and evil. That idea is further reinforced by everyone exhibiting some jarring flaw, be it Madea's lively behavior, Linda's fraud, another lawyer's cheating on the LSATs, or even Joshua's college regret concerning Candie. Perry even pulls a Spike Lee by making Linda, the least likable character, a very pale shade of black. The prison to which Madea goes to is incidently more white than black. Coincidence or not, it can be suggested that Perry has some issues with racism (understandably so if you've ever read biographic work concerning him). However, he is no racist as a fellow jailbird (white) that starts out as a royal pain in the neck soon becomes friends with Madea and Candie.
A certain history teacher will have to forgive me about my choice of film, while I do not view this as a memorable film by any stretch of the imagination, it is a work of art nonetheless. There need to be at least twenty Madeas for every Slumdog, Reader, or Revolutionary Road. Discrimination is not my policy and I choose to evaluate every film with any shred of objectivity I may or may not have been blessed with.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The root of all evil makes for a good movie

Not that I want to ride the bandwagon, but I only recently saw Slumdog Millionare for the first time. I also don't want to ride on the coat tails of Citizen Kane, but there is one sentence that almost sums up the whole movie. One of the security guards is listening to our protagonist Jamal Malik's life story and he nonchalantly says that most of life's problems stem from money and women. Almost from the moment we are introduced to the five year old Jamal, we see that one force or the other is dictating the course of his existence.
The first chronological action of Jamal's that we witness is him and friends playing cricket on an empty airport runway because their local slums do not have adequate room. When he jumps into an open air public toilet to receive his hero's autograph, his brother waits only a few hours to steal the photo and pawns it. His mother's death is one of the few exceptions in the film. That tragedy is a result of uncompromising hatred. I could make the argument that this is a result of an equal and opposite passion to that of love, which is what is really meant by "women" in the phrase, but I won't because I don't believe this. What follows is certainly money related: Living in a box cart, which is exactly where the other problem maker rears its head. Jamal and his brother Salim befriend Latika, a fellow slumdog that also lost her family to the anti-Muslim riots of that day. They quickly become loyal companions and are all sucked into a camp for training beggars by the gangster Maman, who is obviously in it for the money. The sweet taste of the Coca Cola he offers the boys when they meet is symbolic of legal tender's constant presence in the movie. In fact, rupees are so important to the movie that Salim almost has his eyes cut out in hopes of arousing sympathy in beggars. When the brothers escape, they leave behind Latika unintentionally, setting up the women troubles to come later in the story. As for the Maliks, they travel in the roofs of trains in hopes of swindling food, they steal shoes and give phony tours at the Taj Mahal. They even get in trouble with the brutal police in front of rich Americans in hopes of getting a few dollars in exchange for a bruised eye. The movie shows the life of crime as quite appealing to the alternative. An honest Joe seems to be a hungry one. They eventually end up as restaurant workers. Once again, they are in a position where they are surrounded by those that are "better" than they are, enjoying the sweat of their labor. After years, they decide (mostly by Jamal's heartache) it has been too long since last seeing Latika, so they go back across India in search of her. They find that she is the star of Maman's exploitation ring. The only reason they escape with their lives is because Salim pulls out a colt .45 and ruthlessly kills the gangster. His last action is to hand over his wallet to the gun blazing adolescent, so they are able to rent a hotel room that night. Of course, money is power is embodied in Salim's bullying of his brother out of the room at gun point so that he may be alone with Latika, presumably to rape her. Because she intervenes voluntarily, as oppose to watching her friend be shot, Jamal feels betrayed and heartbroken. For years, he is separated from his brother. Once reunited years later, the only slightly bitter Jamal finds that his brother never lost the addiction to money and power that he adopted that night. Salim works for a different gangster named Javed. Who should this rich man's wife be, but the emotionally distraught Latika. Jamal is still very much in love with her and tries to reunite and runoff with her, but Javed sends his men (including Salim) to abduct her and bring her back to a different and well guarded house.
Jamal decides to go on an Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" Somehow believing that this will help him find her. In a show where the whole point is to make money (one of the questions is who is on the American one hundred dollar bill), Jamal consistently risks everything rather than getting away with a smaller amount of money, as if he is stalling to give Latika time to escape and find her way to the most televised place in India. Even the host wants to screw over hero out of the money he deserves, feeding him wrong answers he does not take, and having police accuse him of cheating in hopes of not letting him get rich like he did (as he was also a slumdog). Eventually, even Salim feels the love for both his brother and Latika and helps her escape. In a blatantly symbolic manner, Salim gets into a bath tub full of money after his epiphany and awaits his death. What killed him inside years earlier, is now his tool of literal suicide. After a number of heart pounding questions, Jamal finally wins the twenty million rupees, becoming the show's first winner in India. However, it wouldn't be a sentimental movie if he was not sitting at the train station he wished to run off with Latika at, looking horribly depressed (as if his recent victory were not rich enough for him) and then seeing the love of his life approaching him and ending the movie with a kiss.
I assume that yellow is the Indian color of love, or something to that effect because she wears a top of that color in every fantasy Jamal has of Latika in the latter half of the movie and is the last thing she wears for the final thirty or so minutes of the move.
Money is the root of all evil, is strongly supported in the film. Money causes Jamal nothing but trouble and never amounts to anything positive, making his long face at the train station justifiable. However, love is given way too much credit for happiness (as it usually is in just about every story). He does suffer for his love but eventually is rewarded for it, but the same can be said for money as he becomes affluent in the end. Danny Boyle's ultimate message for the movie is that love conquers all, though money plays an important role, it can not solely make one happy. As cliche as it is, all the gangsters and Salim either die or very despicable characters. Only Latika and Jamal make it out uncorrupted and full of bliss, making it a very Bollywood ending (the dance scene certainly added to this).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Comedian

"Watchmen" is a well crafted film that spares neither expense nor time (2 hours 45 minutes) to develop every detail of the story. The most critical element of any story is its characters. Though he does not receive the most camera time, the super hero known as "The Comedian" is arguably the most important character in the film.

The movie begins with this "hero" suffering a brutal beating from the hands of a mysterious murderer. Though it is evident that he knows how to fight, he is aged and ultimately is bested and thrown through a plate glass window thirty or forty stories up. As he hits the ground, a smiley face pin he was wearing falls next to him. In addition to having a single droplet of blood trail diagonally from the eye, the pins is engulfed in a puddle of the same liquid within moments. Blood is one of the key motifs in the film, it is symbolic and characteristic of the movie's mood of gross cynicism. The Comedian, ironically, embodies this better than any character. If the death of the Comedian, or Eddie Blake, is less than family appropriate, than his life is arguably sinful enough to put the devil to shame: Burning Vietcong alive with a flamethrower, pushing away all the heroes he fought alongside, raping women (and producing illegitimate offspring), shooting pregnant women, shooting the President (hint: grassy knoll), and other moralistic acts. Such behavior might be deemed madness without method, but Blake is sick of society. He watches it destroy itself as the years progress. He, like everyone else, is force fed the despicable stories of murder, fraud, perversion, and the likes, that the media has adopted to sell more papers, magazines, commercial time, etc. The degradation of society inspires him to, as an equally cynical character Rorschach puts it, be the ultimate parody of it. With all his actions, he has a philosophy behind it: the country is falling apart because the American dream came true, and violence is the only way to protect America from itself. The week before he meets his untimely death, Blake breaks into his archenemy's (Malik) home and breaks down in tears. He scalds himself for his deplorable actions and admits that Malik is the closest thing to a friend he has, embodying the crowded isolation of modern society by doing so. In the flashbacks to the 1940s, when the Comedian is a young member of the watchmen, he wears a colorful costume, yellow, purple, green, and so on. However, he never goes through a stage of innocence that turns to pesimism, he is always the conscious lacking troublemaker we see through the whole film. Suggesting that you can dress up sin any way you'd like, but there is no hiding it. Perhaps he realizes this as the film chronologically progresses when he adopts a suit of black comando style armor. The attitude remains constant, but the costume change is seen first when he is fighting in Vietnam, hinting to the shell shock so many veterans suffered. His assasination of Kennedy symbolizes what little hope there is for a beam of light to shine upon the world (though some political scientists might disagree). In a scene where he murders a vietnamese woman, he accuses a fellow hero of being every bit as bad as he is for standing by and watching as he commits the act.

The Comedian is not just the reason for the plot dynamics, he is also a warning. It is the director's tool to help audiences realize what is happening to society as a whole. Excluding saints, the Comedian represents all of us in some way or another. The smiley face he wears is a skin deep aesthetic, a collectively unatainable desire, just another one of his jokes. This caricature is meant to awaken us from our naivete that everything is not alright, far from it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blame the Parents

When watching the movie Citizen Kane a question that is on the mind of probably every viewer is why does Kane act the way that he does? Why does he launch a nationally printed newspaper? Why does he build an opera house for a wife that can't sing? Why does he try so hard to attain the love and respect of everyone that he meets and everyone he does not?

As a teenager, I feel very comfortable saying that it's all mom and dad's fault. When we discover Charles as a young boy in Colorado, he is the victim of a violent father. This is evident through his mother's emotionless demeanor, no doubt the result of years of abuse. She loves her son so much that she is willing to send him away to live with a distant relative just to ensure that the father can not continue his abuses. In that same scene, as the circumstances are being explained to little Charlie, he is quick to distance himself at the very sight of his patriarch. He takes comfort only in his mother's warm embrace just as that scene is ending. However, momma Kane is not blameless and the shutting of the window at the beginning of that scene should be a hint. Though she does help her son to a brighter future, with countless oppurtunities, she never again sees him. She still lives many years after Charles Foster Kane becomes a success. She could have tried to find him in all that time, but she did not. There must have been some underlying strife between them. If anyone wishes to make the argument that she was probably poor and could not afford to take a sabbatical to find her child, then why didn't Kane look for her? He had all the time and resources in the world and could have easily hunted her down even if she left that little town in which they once lived, which is unlikely. Kane only attempts to reconnect with his mother after she dies by going to a warehouse where old possesions were stored. Ms. Alexander is enough of a distraction to prevent him from going. It is hard to say who dislked whom, but all was not well between any of the Kane family.

Kane understood early on that he was not loved, so he decided to compensate for this by winning over everyone else. He does this in possibly the best way, by starting a chain of newspapers. This is a medium that just about everyone was using on a daily basis, so if he could keep the readers' attention then he would capture what he desired. The fact that the readers' care is fickle worked out beautifully for Kane becuase he would have to put out a new issue everyday. it is this lack of permanent popularity that drives him throughout his life. As time progresses with both of his wives, he goes from desiring and interested to bitter and unpleasant. This is because he has attained, in his mind, permanent love from them. With that kind of security, he would be able to focus on others' transient affection. I found it appropriate that he should bring a new woman (Susan Alexander) into his life just as another one (his mother) leaves.

Kane is eventually destroyed by Susan rejecting him for two reasons. First, a love that he thought certain was permanent is now gone and there is no blatantly obvious reason (like an affair) for it (at least to him there is not). Second, it is because he is quite old when it occurs. He is bald, fat, and decrepit to the point that he seldom leaves his chair, much less his home (hence why he fills it up with every imaginable pleasure). He understands that Susan was his last love because he does not have the vigor, in any sense, to go out and find another "singer" for himself.

He dies in a realization that since rosebud he has lived a loveless existance, one full of delusion and self centered power struggles. Such a film only strengthens that power of "daddy never hugged me!" It can lead a man on a life long journey for something so basic, yet so apparently unattainable. He never recieved the foundation for human empathy (only in the emotional sense, since he gives $25,000 checks to fired close friends and opera houses to wives with only distant fantasies of actually using it) so he struggled his entire life to express something he always had. His parents left quite the profound effect on him (as do all our parents). His mother gives him his emotionless caring nature that is present in the way he treats his close firends and his family. His father gave him his violent tendencies like hitting Susan or destroying her room after she leaves him. It all starts in the nurturing phase, when we are blank slates waiting to be bombarded by the world around us. No doubt that is where Kane's greatest strenght and weakness developed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I knew it in the first thirty seconds

How do you know that the movie you are watching is complete garbage and will never be remembered beyond three months of it exiting the theaters, except for in the circles of stoners around the country? I can't boil it down to a science, but for anyone that has I'm sure that Paul Blart: Mall Cop fits the criteria perfectly.
I will not judge this trashy "comedy" on the basis of artisticness, meaning lighting and camera angle, as there was basically none except to show just how large the West Orange pavillion mall is, so that must mean that they paid a huge sum of money to be featured in this film (yet another advertising film, right up there with greats like Talladega Nights and Click) but the story, which could have been solid, was far from it. The jokes were lame and the plot was nothing that has not been done with other dumb comedies that have an idea for a character, but no story to go with it. The entire movie seemed to be a whimy, fat guy joke. This is funny the first time you see it (in your life, not neccessarily in the film) but the director insists on milking it throughout the entire movie as if it were fresh.
What disappoints me greatly about this movie is not that it was made, but that it is so popular. All art is valid, but this movie has been number one at the box office more than one week. This proves the point of cynics that people are stupid. This movie about the faliure at life that comes out on top by saving the day (in this case from highly organized theives) is a disgrace to the genre of the underdog story because of the stupidity of how it happens. The only thing enjoyable about the movie is not the end, but that it ends.