Short comments on ordinary movies

Fp.laussy.jpg Comments are mine.

Good movies

Les femmes du 6ème étage (2010)

Exploration of the theme of the successful man unhappy of his life and finding blessing in leaving a simple, almost ascetic sort of life, set in the context of Spanish emigration of the 60s to find economic relief in Paris. The confrontation of classes on the one hand and of the French and Spanish cultures on the other hand make for an interesting scenario. Acting is fine (not remarkable from Luchini but I like the actor; the Spanish maids are rather convincing led by an efficient Natalia Verbeke). It could have been a masterpiece but some fickleness in the treatment of such serious subjects (the love story included) brings it down to a merely reasonably good movie.

The Wicker Man (1973)

A policeman arrives to one of the hybrid islands in the Highlands to investigate the report of a girl went missing. In this desolate place, everything turns out to be creepy. Not only the girl is now purported to have never existed despite direct evidence of the contrary, but the whole community turns out to practice strange and obscene rituals, reminiscent of the Celtic beliefs. The officer, an abiding Christian, thus finds himself alone in a disturbing setting inhabited by pagans with a repelling folklore (jars of foreskins, people collectively copulating in cemeteries, schoolgirls adoring the penis, learning about snail stones and toad stones and torturing cockroaches, etc.) and whose customs are hostile but not the people in themselves, who are serviceable and friendly. This ambiguity is one to keep you off-guard during the entire movie. The tension increases as the situation spirals into a grotesque ghastly celebration with people wearing masks of animals, and the true role of the policeman is revealed. The movie plays on the fear of the unknown, on the hostility of the cultures of others, on our rejection of the primitive rites and beliefs, and, I believe, a little bit on the chilling that exert the Highlands. It is not very scary but it is quite effective in mixing all this high-level, intellectual fears. The contradictions between the hideous and the enticing that runs through the entire movie also concern the beautiful Scottish landscapes. In this bucolic scenery, there stands the most terrifying, soul shattering wicker man that you will ever see.

Wristcutters (2006)

A nice idea: people who commit suicide all end up in a rather gloomy world, just slightly worse than ours, where, among other things, there are no stars in the sky and smiling is physically impossible. Much of the appeal comes from little details like these, some Douglas Adamesque (such as the black hole below the front seat of the car), others subtle if not erudite (like the soundtrack from suicides themselves), turning a road movie into a voyage of extraordinary depth.

Bad movies

If only (2004)

A bad reuse of the idea of Groundhog day, with a cute main actress put at disadvantage by a miserable acting of the male leading role (playing the sort of jackass character you can't get interested in). Nice filming and views of London and, apparently, Cumbria, although it makes difficult to accept that the characters could reach such hilly sceneries from the capital in hours of the important concert of her life, make such deep connections in the pub, walk in the rain, and return to the evening performance with time enough to stop by home and additional adventures. The whole movie is a bit ludicrous, with a recurrent fairy-tale sort of grotesque taxi driver to add in cheesiness.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

A prequel to a cult movie which has suffered a lot from poor sequels and remakes, so at least the idea of such a variation is welcome. Also, the story is in San Francisco, and a few scenes are stunning (like when we follow the apes below the Golden gate bridge). Some bits, like the first utterance of the chimp, are interesting. Sadly, however, most of the story is slow and boring and what is not is difficult to accept, even when leaving ample room for the wildest science-fiction. The most annoying inconsistencies for me have been the mysterious exponential growth of the number of apes and the rapidity at which their intelligence develops (supposed to be genetic but acting overnight from inhaling a canister). Also, the more the animation is simulated, the worst seems to be the outrage made to the basic laws of physics (we are presented with the dynamic of collision between a manhole and the windshield of a speeding car resembling that of a frisbee getting stuck in putty). It could have been worst and probably will be in the announced sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Drive (2011)

A cheap thriller reminding No Country for Old Men (2007) with much more gore (!?) but much less quality, credibility and respectability in the story. Characters are close to vacuous, with a cold-blood hero who seems more absent-minded than cold-tempered and the caricatured villains making a point of honour to be absurdly violent, forking eyes out and slitting veins open with a razor as they shake hands. While Chigurh's offer of killing the guy anyway if he would return the money in No Country for Old Men was credible, a similar idea here makes everybody looks stupid, as the hero is willing to return the money from the start while the villains insist in savagely killing him before they even recover it. The ending with "Drive" (the main character's stupid name) turning his back to the last surviving villain to open the truck where all the money is, only to be stabbed in the back as a result, is the only consistent part of the story, as there is no reason he would get smart at this point. This is supposed to be one of the best 2011 movie, it is instead the kind of trash TV you zap through on a lazy Sunday afternoon after 5 minutes of car chase (which is nothing particular here either, despite the title).

The Dictator (2012)

While the trailer looked promising, it turns out to be a ludicrous, embarrassing, retarded childish humour on the recent and future targets of NATO with the full force of this cheap propaganda which works the best with the biggest lies and most absurd statements. While there is certainly very ample room to mock middle-east rulers and African dictators, it is here so appallingly crude, made-up, random and clownish, that it restores respectability to the caricatures, precisely by not making the satire seriously, like putting way too much salt in a dish. There is an attempt at self-criticism when the dictator lists the advantages of dictatorship and makes a (long) list of everything that defines the American government, and a few ideas are funny (I liked the line of clowns having the task to amuse a dictator who shoots the artist when annoyed). But as a whole, the acting by the lead actor is surprisingly poor, the plot is banal, the story is boring, and most of it seems motivated by bellicist pro-occidental brainwashing. We are in great need of comedies on the political conundrum of the planet, but clever, balanced and insightful ones, not this type of nonsensical travesty.

I once heard that an infuriated Hitler had the Great Dictator projected twice. Probably the modern targets would snicker at the shallowness of the criticism of Baron Cohen and loose interest in the movie as quickly as anybody else.

Prometheus (2012)

A prequel to Alien. I didn't know that before, although I haven't seen Alien anyway and I don't think it would have helped. This is the typical Hollywood movie where everything is in the special effects and nothing in the story or acting, or whatever else that makes a movie. I didn't understand anything and from what I gathered from the internet, there is not much to understand anyway~[1].

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

An overacted depiction of high school, with a dose of trauma to spice up the idealized life of fake looking characters. Charlie, played by an actor who looks both young and old at the same time, is a freshman who suffers an exaggerated and completely unjustified loathing from everybody, being otherwise perfect: clever, insightful, hard working, friendly, beautiful and other attributes to help the public recognize themselves in a hero who struggles among a crass surrounding of irrational haters. He utters occasional inflated insights, such as "I feel infinite" or "I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how could that be" between various and mixed displays of wisdom, bravery and physical strength. Final year students welcome the young and lonely lad in their circle, being touched by his torments, that are ultimately revealed as repressed memories of abuses of some sort (probably sexual) from a beloved haunt killed in a car accident, accompanied with recent suicide from a best friend and other minor tragedies. Charlie quickly becomes the central character of the more mature group of friends (for his teacher too), even when he performs as the last minute rescue the lead role of the Rocky Horror Show. He goes nuts when the older people move to college and he's left with 1094 days to go on his own. But all gets well in the end because friends visit sometime.