Abominable. Detestable. Dismal. Deleterious. Humorless. Salacious. Scatological. Revolting. Ridiculous. Vile. Wretched.
Only partially describes this disgusting movie, starring Mark Wahlberg and his foul-mouthed, bibulous , drug-addicted, good-for-nothing, copulating Teddy Bear.
Teddy Bears of the universe unite, join in a class action suit; sue for defamation of character. No matter the monetary reward it will take generations to erase the damage "Ted" has done to your once warm and cuddly reputation!
Achingly poignant, mythically powerful film, told from the perspective of six-year-old "Hushpuppy" (Quvenzhanem Wallis, a forceful sprite with a gift from the gods); living in the disastrously destitute Louisiana bayou; alone, she resides in a shack, next door to her abusive, alcoholic, terminally ill father, "Wink" (brilliant portrayal by Dwight Henry) in an island of muck, detritus, prehistoric, called "The Bathtub" a euphemism for an ark, comparable to "Noah’s"; when the deluge strikes, only the few, the "chosen" and their animals survive. This is a community rarely focused upon (herein lies the genius and prescience of Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar; based on the stage play she wrote, "Juicy and Delicious"); comfortable in their inebriated squalor, entitled in their refusal to move from their doomed environment, weirdly, they demand and earn our respect.
The southern wild and their mythological beasts (aurochs) belong to "Hushpuppy"; she envisions a universe of magical equality, where opposites in nature and mankind find their destiny; she sees herself as a specimen for future scientific studies; her splendid and luminous imagination distance her; hovering far above her elders; she is an observer, and so innately formidable that you never fear for her triumphal survival. She is "the man"!
Hushpuppy, like "Ulysses", is challenged with vicissitudes that would fell most mortals; with each victory she is enhanced to the point of invincibility; she is "Eve" a "Valkyrie" , an "Amazonian" force , nature does not intimidate her, she thrives; she flies.
The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful, reminiscent of the Big Bang Theory when universes collide, glaciers melt, the world is formed and mercilessly magnificent beasts thunder, plunder the land.
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" is profoundly spiritual; humbling in its magnitude; Hushpuppy is a metaphor for endurance, life; she embodies the immortal, and shimmers with divine resilience. We admire her, we are awed by her; from birth she inherently knew that all strength comes from within; she covets, protects and enhances its powers, every second of every day, with each breath she takes; she is mighty, magical, unforgettable.
Steven Soderbergh's intimate portrayal of the lives and performances of "male strippers' was an enlightening, enticing slice of reality for this neophyte; knew they existed, gave them no thought; realized for a certain segment of the female population they were a titillating source of entertainment. I was totally bamboozled, mesmerized and shamefully, overwhelmingly, enthralled with the scenario.
Matthew McConaughey is "Dallas" the owner and MC of Club Xquisite (Tampa, Florida); he slithers and shines as the sculpted, gyrating, teasing, tempestuous, seductor of the screaming, hyperventilating "ladies"; he ignites, and the rest of the "boys" feed their flaming fantasies. McConaughey (you either love or hate him; no middle, lackadaisical ground; I reside in the former) is flamboyant, stunning, slippery and sensational; his modulated, wickedly intoxicating, crooning voice, resulting in resuscitation of the worshipful.
Channing Tatum (who practiced "male stripping" in his juvenile, halcyon years) is incredible as "Mike"; proving once again he is not just a pretty face; an acrobatic moonwalker, sensationally sexy; gifted as he glides, sinfully alluring; no woman immune to his aptitudes ; melting hearts, wilting limbs; he conquers while on stage, but painfully struggling, with his unrequited dreams, when he exits Club Xquisite.
The success of the film resides in "Mike", a good, likeable person; sensitive to the needs of "The Kid" (Alex Pettyfer) a nineteen –year -old college dropout, living with his sister (Cody Horn). Mike's decisions, oftentimes go astray, but his intentions are genuine and spring from the heart; there is something "magical" about his kindness, sense of humor, love of living and quest to design furniture, you care about him and root for his righteousness. Tatum's performance is riveting and real.
Yes "Magic Mike" is raunchy, salacious, chimerical; not for the prudish or squeamish, but a jolly romp in a world few have trampled in; fun and exciting for those who have!
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!
Is an abomination, travesty, an insult to the craft of filmmaking and a humiliating example of a auteur (Woody Allen) gone amuck. Out of respect for my, if at times limited, but still viable insights; I am composing this review in 15 minutes (which is approximately 14 more than it deserves.)
1) All the men in the film are clones of "Woody Allen" at some point in his life.
2) All the women represent the "forbidden fruit" he has either owned or held in a time/share.
3) The blatant metaphors for "fame", "misplaced adoration", "insignificance of the adored", "press power"; are bludgeoning at the Machiavellian, ad nauseam, level.
4) Puccini ("Tosca"), Leoncavallo ("Pagliacci"), Modugno ("Volare") are fortunately not alive to witness the desecration, "drowning" of their masterpieces.
5) Rome did not deserve this, nor did the audience!
ONE STAR! BECAUSE OF THE SOUND TRACK
A supercilious, insignificant, "like-infested" film about 30 -something's with too much time on their hands; not enough intellectual substance, just aimless individuals who have reached a hiatus, a cavernous lacuna that overwhelms them, stymieing their decision -making process or powers. Loss, love, grief are experienced by all; how you deal with the vicissitudes in life make you the person you are. Not holding my breath or anxiously anticipating the onset of maturity for these, not unlikeable, but far from galvanizing individuals.
Looking forward to this film because of its stars: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie Dewitt and Mark Duplass. Alas, a star can never (or hardly ever) transcend a poor script. This script reigns with the "impoverished of the impoverished"; in the running for first place with "The Color Wheel" (reviewed 6/24/12).
The title alone was a troublesome clue, foreshadowing a bland, uninteresting scenario; but optimism is my Achilles heel and I gave it a shot. On the plus side it is very short; fortuitously I only purchased a small popcorn and coke; so for a fraction over an hour I sipped, chewed and groaned through this supposedly unique love triangle. So regretted the temporary hiatus of my "Cassandra" gene.
To conclude, the sister's sister never did appear and the audience is left "filling in the blanks"; in actuality a variation on a theme of complete, pristine blankness; reminiscent of the Black Hole where light does not enter or escape; with alacrity, glee and winged feet I made mine.
ONE & 3/4 STARS!
Winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film and my guess the "Oscar" in the same category.
This disturbing and thought-provoking movie from Iran gifts the viewer a realistic and insightful look into ordinary life of a culture anathema to those who live in the West; it it difficult to rise above your own freedoms and prejudices to grasp the relationships between males and females in a historically male –dominated, controlled society. A society where religion dictates and often smothers individuality.
A conflicted couple, seeking divorce; their 11-year-old daughter ripped asunder; an octogenarian father, suffering from Alzheimer's; a concoction smoldering with angst, intrigue, destructiveness. Director Asghar Farhadi creates a portrait of a family in tumult: "Simin" (beautiful Leila Hatami) wants to leave Iran, seeking a better life for her 11-year-old daughter, "Termeh"(Sarina Farhadi, daughter of the director); "Nader", her husband (Peyman Maadi) refuses because of his ailing father, his stringent inflexibility breeds antagonism and strife; Termeh, confused, stays with her father; Simin moves back into her parents home.
Nader hires a caregiver to help with his father, hence catastrophe strikes and escalates to Shakespearean proportions.
I saw this film a few weeks ago in Los Angeles and the potency of its message has resonated and forced me to reconsider my negativity concerning the restrictions Iranian women are forced to endure: garb, marital constraints, employment, religion; what women in the West recognize as a reduction and diminishment of their rights are willingly embraced by many women in the Islamic world. Western invasion is glimpsed in fissures, flashes: makeup, blue jeans, modification of the chador, hijab, burka; the internet has pulverized boundaries and has leveled the globe.
The most remarkable aspect of the film is its contemporary aesthetic; Farhadi, filming under a political ideology where censorship is undisputed, allows the spectator to divine his/her own conclusions; he is completely nonjudgmental, lacking pedagogy; each character vacillates between life- altering decisions, thick with complexities, frustrations; maneuverability shrinking as the situation escalates and all paths to a righteous, fair solution fade.
From commencement to conclusion the viewer is allowed to "fill in the blanks"; the universality of "A Separation" lies in the dynamics, ethics, conundrums that all share, resulting in unification, not separation.
Dance. Has a "dance" ever changed your life? Were you born to dance? Is it part of your DNA? Dancing has the power to transcend every feeling: heartbreak, loss, meaningless migraines of minutia. Dance can free one of tireless shackles that dampen spirits, cloud vision, bulldoze barriers clutching, smothering youthful vibrancy. Nothing screams love, passion, unlimited joy more than a dance; dancing is a catharsis; the laughter, language, narrative of life.
Anyone who has read the above paragraph and can relate, "Pina" is a must, a bible for the addicted dancer, or aficionado of the skill. Dancing comes from the soul, it has northing to do with "training" or "professionalism"; those who love to dance, understand the mythic energy that invades and conquers one's body; powerless to resist, moving as if your life lasts only for the duration of the song: it is water, wine, sustenance and unmitigated happiness.
Philippine "Pina" Bausch (1940-2009) was the choreographer, dance teacher, ballet director for Tanztheater in Westphalia, Germany. It now carries her name. The film revolves around the employed and gifted dancers she inspired, allowing them to conquest their superlative plateau; the ultimate sphere, knowing they have met and surpassed their wildest, soaring expectations of excellence.
You witness the most innovative choreography involving male/female scenarios, wonderment of landscape, musical accompaniment by master composers; primarily it is a homage to a woman, a visionary so pivotal in the lives of the dancers that the pain of her absence resonates with their every move; robbed of her presence they fly, defy gravity, painting a portrait of sorrow, beauty, respect, love and bereavement rarely, if ever seen, on the screen.
Dancing has been and integral ingredient in most cultures for thousands of years; the first recorded instances were from India, 6000 B.C.; the Hindu god Shiva (Nataraja), "The Lord of the Dance" is often depicted standing on one foot. "Pina" is proof that the vocation keeps evolving , opening its doors to a myriad of entries. See "Pina", and if nothing else your spirits will take flight and dance long after the curtain collapses, the lights brighten; gloom has dissipated, and in the words of Pina, go forth and "dance, dance or otherwise we are lost".
The 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer was a compelling and excellent read. The movie version is immaculately filmed, directed and graced with fine, sensitive performances. Thomas Horn is a genius in depicting "Oscar Schell", an 11- year -old gifted loner, trying to cope with the loss of his father (Tom Hanks). Then why was I bored, uninterested and capable of cauterizing my emotional response?
This question has been sloshing around, consciously and unconsciously for a number of days, searching for a viable answer; sadly, lightening has steered from my path, an epiphany has not been forthcoming, resulting in puzzling and mediocre conclusions and deductions.
Maybe it is because 9/11 has exacted the ultimate toll and all that remains is scar tissue; throughout the world it is hard to find someone who does not know someone, or knows someone who knows someone who was lost on "the worst day" ever visited upon the United States. Perhaps it is Warholian; how many times can one watch two mighty Titans of architecture be torpedoed and topple, disintegrate in minutes; serialization breeds anaesthetization. Possibly it is the optimist struggling to triumph the pessimist; one should never forget, but ubiquitous reminders, deaden sensitivities.
There have been countless books, movies, television shows, personal commentaries; one wearies of the plummeting, searing, torturous tales. "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" is a supreme example of Hollywood pushing an emotional button that has long surpassed its expiration date.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!
Every year at the end of August, the Tomatina Festival is celebrated in Bunol, Valencia (Spain); approximately 15 tons of tomatoes are hurled, squashed, plummeted on thousands of willing participants, joyously sacrificing their inhibitions on the altar of gooey, glorious fun. This vibrantly red scene in "We need to Talk About Kevin" serves as the metaphor for the gruesome, horrific, tale of what contemporary society has had to synthesize; children driven to mass murder; making sense of the nonsensical.
Tilda Swinton is "Eva Khatchadourian" an accomplished adventure writer, deliciously in love with her husband "Franklin" (John C. Reilly, shines), the mother of "Kevin"; the "mother" of the quintessential "bad seed". Ms. Swinton's performance is stoic, comatose; her chiseled, refined, plainly beautiful facade, keeps her intense suffering camouflaged and becomes robotic, zombie- like.
The three "Kevin's" (Rock Duer, Jasper Newell, Ezra Miller) give excellent portrayals as the monster in the making and the final product.
There were too many frustrating, unaddressed questions: Franklin's blindness in recognizing Kevin's problems; lack of the therapeutic process, especially after a second child escalates Kevin's demonic traits; Eva's refusal to move from a place she always despised. Possibly, her penance for giving birth to the devil incarnate.
Because of the times we have been forced to consider and wrongfully judge the parents of nefarious, tainted children; could they have foreseen, envisioned the heinous mission their progeny visited upon the innocent? No, because it was not in their genetic composition; many of these children are prodigious in masking their intentions. Philosophers Plato, Aristotle, John Locke believed that most individuals are inherently good; that goodness outweighs evil. How can decent people spawn a Beelzebub?
Do "We Need To Talk About Kevin"? Not really.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!