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.