Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Mia is a teenage girl who runs around verbally abusing, sometimes physically assaulting people for no apparent reason.
At one point, she head-butts some girl on the street for not dancing well enough. I found that pretty amusing.
We have no idea whether or not she knows these people. Some of them could be total strangers.
We’re just thrown right into the thick of a typical afternoon sunny stroll of an unbelievably nasty girl. (I mean nasty as in mean to people, not the good kind of nasty.)
For a brief scene about five or six minutes into the film, I think the sequence might last 20 seconds if that, we see that she’s capable of empathy.
And then, just as quick, we’re back. If you looked down to answer a text, you missed it.
Granted, the pity she’s feeling is for a horse and not a fellow human being, but as horrible as she has been (and keep in mind this is after spending four or five minutes, tops with this girl) at least it’s a hint that she might have a soul.
Then, as the story moves forward, we see that her surroundings are as harsh as she is and that her cruelty is most likely a survival mechanism.
There is a scene that’s as suspenseful as in any thriller I’ve seen where her mom’s new boyfriend (two-night stand, really) picks her up and gently carries her to bed.
As he undresses her, I found myself thinking, ‘Oh god, am I watching another one of these movies? I just had to sit through Precious.’
But no, this guy seems to be a decent fellow just trying to get the kid comfortable. After folding her pants and putting her shoes away, he covers her with a blanket, tip-toes out the door and closes it.
The guy dresses her wound and as he carries her on his back, she rests her head on his neck and she has a peaceful and stunned look on her face.
It’s the first time we’ve seen Mia free of hostility.
Then, toward the end of the second act, the film takes an upsetting but hardly surprising turn south.
I had been hoping up until this point, despite the foreshadowing that it wouldn’t turn out the way it did.
Sadly, I was let down by the behavior of the characters in the film which I guess is a testament to how invested I had become in them.
It happens quickly, like a snap.
The third act involves a couple of tense incidents where we’re on the precipice of some tragedy happening.
I caught myself holding my breath a couple of times.
Suddenly, the character study becomes a thriller of sorts, and I’m hesitant to use the word ‘thriller’ because it’s bound to give you the wrong idea.
Suffice it to say a couple of sequences have a sickening level of tension to them.
I’ve been asking myself one question: would I recommend other people see this film?
And my friends, you are about to witness a rare moment when my answer to that question is I really don’t know.
I am glad I saw this film and came to care about Mia, but I’m not sure if I would tell you that you should seek it out.
I suppose at the end, you’re happy for Mia because she seems to have at least gained some dignity.
And it’s pretty clear that she is in fact going to end up being a better person than her mother ever was, as evidenced by their goodbye.
The film seems to hold to the idea that one’s growth takes place exclusively during childhood and adolescence. Once you’re an adult, if you’re not a good person, it’s too late to change.
The scene where she says goodbye to her mother and the two of them just dance for a few seconds before Mia finally just leaves is oddly touching, considering Mia is leaving the home of a mother who actually hates her.
I kept thinking of The Breakfast Club where Ally Sheedy said, “It’s inevitable. When you grow up, your heart dies.”
The moving embrace Mia shares with her sister before hopping in a car to leave forever backs this notion up and serves as the emotional climax of the entire film.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Severe Clear, comprised of clips from a video journal shot by Lt. Mike Scotti has made the festival circuit and is about to see a limited U.S. theatrical release.
Whether it will come to Kansas City remains to be seen.
From the clips I've seen, Scotti and the film's director, Kristian Fraga showed a great deal of courage in releasing footage that shows every aspect of what I can only imagine what it must be like to be over there.
I saw desperation, grief, terror, courage, determination, horror, more grief, more terror and above all, desperation again.
My heart sank as Lt. Scotti told about how he and his squad fired on a car they thought was hostile, but turned out to be a man with his daughter.
He talks about killing and burying a little girl with her pink shoes. I felt anger, grief, hatred, pity and revulsion all within the span of about ten seconds. The rate, range and intensity of emotions was staggering.
And this was in a couple minutes worth of clips that I managed to see.
That's my review of the couple of minutes. Severe Clear has made the festival circuit and from what I've heard, it's amazing.
I'm going to watch it as soon as possible and let you all know how it is.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
To be honest, if I’m not sure if I’m going to be watching a love story or a political drama or a mystery or maybe even a ghost story, it enhances the entire experience and I went into this film completely cold.
The film opens with an ultimately dispensable bookmark. It’s an ominous introduction featuring Christopher Lee recalling the story of a girl who was lost long ago, before the war.
I don’t want to give too much away because I want everyone who reads this to seek this film out and watch it. As far as political thrillers go, you really can’t do any better than this one. It works in so many ways.
There’s a sequence that revolves around taking pets in to be euthanized. Putting the family cats down is incidental to the plot.
But the end of the story itself is perfect. The revelations are timed beautifully and never feel manufactured even for a moment.
So, fans of the Doctor, seek out this film because you miss David Tennant. That’s why I got it. But then find yourself absorbed in one of those rare films that works as a character study, a theme and a narrative.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Okay, yesterday I watched and had my mind a little blown by Robocop.
First, I love this movie and always have. The first time I saw it, I was 13 or 14 and it remains one of the most violent and funny action films ever.
Also, Kurtwood Smith as Clarence Boddicker might just be my favorite movie villain ever.
But what really stuck with me when I watched it yesterday was just how accurate the prophecies of this film turned out to be.
Slyly Marxist both in tone and philosophy, this film is essentially about greed and the privatization of the government.
It’s a world where police forces and the military are run, not by the government, but by corporations.
And there is a sharp warning in here about what happens when those running public services as enterprises find themselves on top with one motivation: making money.
I kept thinking about the last eight years and how much of Verhoeven’s twisted premonition has actually come true.
It might sound odd, but Robocop is kind of a continuation of Eisenhower’s cautionary farewell address.
It’s cheering when you find some of the smartest social criticism in the least expected places, like an ultra violent action film like Robocop or in the political commentary disguised as lowest-common-denominator potty humor of South Park.
Seriously, go watch Robocop and think about Blackwater & Halliburton and get back to me.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
"Lorna's Silence" starts with our heroine, Lorna, who is a profoundly unhappy woman. We don't know what her situation is, but she exudes miser in every frame she appears in.
Lorna has married a Belgian junkie for a green-card and the plan, as it's slowly revealed through the course of the film, involves killing the junkie with an overdose and side-stepping the whole mess of a divorce.
He's a very ominous figure. We only hear to him referred to as "The Russian."
She doesn’t want Claudy to know his life is in danger and she stays silent.
There is an unspeakably beautiful moment that you’ll miss if you blink. It has no significance and only last a second or two, but it’s so tremendously effective.
Lorna and Claudy, her recovering, junkie, fake-husband, have just left a locksmith/pawnshop.
She is off to work and he is going to ride his bike all day to keep his mind off his withdrawal.
They split up and he starts to ride away.
Lorna, who’s been pretty cold to Claudy so far and showed no emotion at all, until the previous night, and is now falling for him, spontaneously turns and chases after him for a few yards.
It is a desperately joyous little moment as she runs after him for two seconds before turning to walk her own way.
It last three or four seconds, but it says so much about the transformation of her feelings toward this man she just met and had thought of, only days before as expendable.
And the way that The Dardenne Brothers cut from this burst of unexpected joy to the aftermath of heartbreak reminds me of what sets these filmmakers apart from others and why I loved Rosetta so much.
(I’ll be re-watching that very soon, I think.)
Of course, people who build up walls around themselves do so for defensive purposes and once those come down, Lorna is incredibly vulnerable.
Her strength was in the fact that nobody knew her.
The film ends ambiguously, but if you ask yourself, ‘What’s likely to be the next thing to happen to Lorna?’ you probably won’t come up with a happy answer.
In reality, it just makes you lonely and weak.
That is what the Dardenne Brothers are saying here and the message comes across beautifully and breaks your heart.