Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category

La Vie d’Adèle

14 July 2014 at 7:55 pm
by Berck

or, as it’s stupidly known in the US, Blue is the Warmest Color. The original French title not only more suitable, it’s an obvious reference to La Vie de Marianne. Obvious, because Adèle is reading it in class early in the movie, and then encourages her new boyfriend to read it as well. I mention this first because I think the stupid American title negatively impacted my experience of the movie as a whole. You might argue that a title is largely irrelevant to a movie as a whole, but you’d be wrong. Especially during the first few minutes, when all you know of a movie is its title, you interpret everything you see through the lens of that title. The American title is a stupid lens, but through that lens, view it you will. [-Yoda, movie critic.]

I don’t pay much attention to movie reviews, but Jonah mentioned that I would like this movie because, “It’s basically just lesbian porn.” The reason she described it this way is that that’s how it’s been described but much of the popular American press. And I’m never one to turn down lesbian porn with a plot. But that’s not what it is.

To begin with, this is a 3 hour movie. If it were 3 hours of lesbian porn, I’d fear for (even the supposedly prosthetic) genitalia of the poor actresses. Of that 3 hours, there is, according to the internet, a 6 minute sex scene. Admittedly, 6 minutes is an awfully long sex scene. This is not a sex scene you want to watch with your parents. It’s intense, and if you ever wondered, “How do lesbians have sex?” this scene will answer it for you.

But it’s not porn, and the fact that the characters are both women is almost completely irrelevant to what the move is. Fundamentally, it’s an exploration of the agony of love. More subtly, it’s a surprisingly beautiful expose of Adèle Exarchopoulos’s face, especially her lips. Anthony Lane, in the New Yorker, gets it exactly right, “So much of this film is absorbed in closeups that, in regard to Adèle, it all but lays down a law: watch her lips.”

It’s easily the best cinematography I’ve ever seen. I’m perhaps a bit biased, because the film looks like I would have liked to have shot it were I capable of a such a thing (I’m not), but the closeups are amazing, and it’s all closeups.

Most strikingly, to me, is that it’s Monday evening. We watched this film Saturday evening and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s as literary as any film I’ve seen since American Beauty, and I’ll probably watch it again, even though it’s in French, which means excruciating subtitles. I speak almost no French, but the translations were terrible. I can only imagine how amazing this film must be to native speakers.

It’s not an especially happy movie. I can think of no movie with so many tears, and certainly no movie with so much snot. It was clearly a difficult movie to make. 750 hours of footage were hacked down to 3, and that must have been extraordinarily difficult, but nothing compared to the difficulty of acting for 750 hours.

In short, an excellent movie with the right amount of attention for all the wrong reasons. Recommended to those of you not afraid of well-earned NC-17 rating (must be because of all the cigarette smoking?). A.

The Avengers

17 March 2014 at 10:18 pm
by Berck

Some months ago, I decided to add The Avengers to my Netflix queue, I believe solely on the fact that it was directed by Joss Whedon.

That was a serious mistake. After ordering 3 copies of the movie, I determined that the DVDs were not scratched, they were merely encumbered with some sort of copy protection that prevented me from copying them to my hard drive.

This was enough for me. Any movie copy-protected is not a movie worth watching. Jonah disagreed, and insisted that we load it into our inherited blu-ray player and watch it before I sent it back to Netflix. So, I stuck it in the player, hit play, and went to the bathroom.

I also poured myself a scotch. Then lost the scotch. Then found it.

At this point, the DVD had been playing for about 8 minutes. I have no idea what it was playing, but it was not the movie. Instead, it appeared to be promotional material for the movie. But that was okay, because Natalie Portman was in the promotional material.

I eventually coerced the DVD to play in a time-frame that was longer than the insane amount of time it takes to see whatever you payed for at the cinema, and remarked that I couldn’t believe people payed for this experience.

As it started, I asked Joanna if it was an animated film. “Not really,” she said, “but there’s a lot of CGI.”

Yeah. It’s all CGI. I don’t know why they hired actors.

It started off promising with a shot of Robin in a skin-tight uniform with a sidearm. She spent a lot of time nearly, but not quite, grabbing that sidearm.

I waited anxiously for Natalie to appear. She did not, but I eventually noticed that the redhead with an extraordinarily poor command of the Russian language was Scarlet Johanson. So, Robin, Scarlet and Natalie. That’d make up for most things, right?

No. This was easily the most terrible movie I’ve ever seen. I kept thinking I would get up and go to bed, but I didn’t for two reasons. The first was that it was also the loudest movie I’d seen, and there was no way I was going to sleep through the remainder of it, and I know Jonah won’t give up on a movie. The second is that at the exact moment I’d decided to leave, either Scarlet or Robin appeared with their uniforms slightly more unzipped. The progress was agonizingly tantalizing. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere, but boy did those uniforms make it hard to walk away.

And, if you’re one of the three people left in the universe wondering whether you should see this move, that’s what you should do. Walk away.

Moonrise Kingdom

12 July 2013 at 10:19 pm
by Berck

A+. Easily in my top 5 movies of all time. I want to watch it again tomorrow. I don’t want to spoil it if, somehow, you haven’t seen it and don’t know anything about it.

Paris, Texas

17 March 2012 at 12:08 am
by Berck

Fantastic movie. From the description of it, I didn’t think I’d like it at all, but I loved it. Probably in my top 25. I couldn’t believe that anyone did anything like this in 1984. It made sense once I found out that it was a co-production between West Germany and France. It’s set in the U.S., so I didn’t realize it was European. It’s the movie that inspired Joshua Tree.

I’ve also been playing with Criticker. Check it out. Probably a better recommendation engine than others I’ve seen.

Midnight in Paris

27 January 2012 at 11:12 pm
by Berck

You guys have probably all seen it already, but I just watched it tonight. Excellent movie, maybe Woody Allen’s best. I’m amazed that after so many years of making movies, he keeps getting better at it. I sincerely enjoyed it, and it had a spark of narrative truth over literal truth, or actualism over realism, something Nabokov and Pynchon both do that I love. Anyway, A+, rent it if you haven’t seen it.

Also, the fact that I knew nothing about it probably made it even better, so don’t go reading reviews. Don’t even read this one.