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October 2012 Archives

October 31, 2012

The Loneliest Planet

The Loneliest Planet

The city's been quiet and dark these last couple of days, work isn't happening, and there's not a lot to do. If the movie theaters were open this would be an almost perfect scenario, but they're not, so options have been largely limited to 1) TV, 2) bar, or 3) Video on Demand.

One of the new little indie movies that's out right now is The Loneliest Planet, which is about a cute young couple in love, Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg, who are traveling in Georgia (the country) with a local guide. They're into being playful and adventurous and having a lot of sex.

It's a good thing I didn't have anything else to do, because this is a movie where nothing happens. For a good 2/3 of the movie, it's almost an exercise in travel photography, with majestic Georgian mountains and careful composed shots of the lushest, greenest patch of foliage contrasting the girl's flaming red hair. Then something does happen, and it colors the rest of the movie and threatens to permanently mess up the couple and their cute relationship. There are some interesting themes explored, like the struggle to communicate, independence and vulnerability, protection and self-sacrifice, and how traditional gender roles play out in a young, unconventional couple. (Spoiler alert!: very conventionally.)

The problem is that writing those last sentences was the most enjoyable thing about this movie for me. There are momentary interactions between characters where you can tell through subtle gestures that things have shifted one way or the other, and seriously, the only truly fun part of the movie is trying to catch a glimpse of those, then rewinding it when you or your viewing partner misses them. As my friend said, some movies get better when you talk about them afterwards, but they still need to grab you and make you care while you're watching.

This movie reminded me of Kelly Reichardt's movies, which are also subtle, slow-paced, and light on dialogue, but even though not much happens in Wendy and Lucy, for example, I cared about what happened to Michelle Williams every second of that movie. Reichardt's characters are more compelling, the risks are bigger, and even the slow moments where nothing's happening feel meaningful instead of tedious. Reichardt's characters don't talk very much because they express themselves in other ways. In The Loneliest Planet, they don't talk very much because they're terrible communicators, and also kind of immature. The actors were pretty good, but not quite expressive enough to make me care about them when they had nothing to say.

Maybe I just prefer movies where nothing happens and everyone talks non-stop (The Trip, Slacker) to ones where nothing happens and no one talks. Or more likely, maybe slow-paced indie movies should all star Michelle Williams.

October 15, 2012

Seven Psychopaths loves movies, hates women

Seven Psychopaths

I'm a big fan of Martin McDonagh's dark, funny, misanthropic plays, and I went nuts for his 2008 movie In Bruges, which somehow achieved a perfect balance of touching, offensive, disturbing, and hilarious that I don't think I've seen anywhere else. His characters are racist, sexist, angry, screwed up disasters with a strain of morality and sweetness that they can't quite obliterate, no matter how hard they try.

So I was super excited for his new movie, Seven Psychopaths, about a struggling writer trying to come up with a screenplay for a non-violent action movie about murder. Did it live up to my expectations? No! It didn't. This movie explores other movies that use senseless violence and misogyny as easy crutches when filmmakers don't have much of substance to say, which was interesting. But it also relies heavily on that same senseless violence and misogyny in order to make its points, which are confused and sort of sloppy. It's a mess, but a fun mess.

But here are the things I liked: all the references to other movies that show a real love of movies themselves, especially the ones that also wrestle with violence and morality. Sam Rockwell's character is named Billy Bickle, who shares a name with Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle, and is also an unhinged, wildly unpredictable lunatic. I already loved Sam Rockwell, but he captures something really unusually mental in this role as an actor with a single-mindedly passionate interest in getting his friend's writing career back on track.

There's also Christopher Walken and his wife--their last name is Kieslowski, the same name as the wonderful Polish director who explored confounding moral puzzles and the complexities of human relationships in his Three Colors and Decalogue series. Christopher Walken and his wife are the most bloodthirsty, badass couple named after a Polish movie director you could ever dream of.

There's also Harry Dean Stanton as a Quaker psycho out for revenge, who bears a strong resemblance to another menacing man of the cloth, Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter.

These little movie references are all throwaways, and there aren't any big arrows pointing at the ideas they seem to suggest. But they've got to be intentional (who comes up with a name like Kieslowski? For Christopher Walken?) and a deeper level of thought about what it means to make a movie in which just about everyone (SPOILER ALERT) gets brutally killed and all the women characters are flimsy sketches who also get brutally killed. And then to go ahead and make that very movie, and to make it entertaining and funny so your audience is left not sure of what just happened, but totally in love with this image of Tom Waits holding a bunny and a gun next to a woman dressed like Bonnie Parker:

Tom Waits in Seven Psychopaths

As McDonagh said in an interview with the NY Times: "But there's a rabbit in that scene. There's a lovely rabbit. It's not all violent."

October 4, 2012

Horror candy

Combining two of life's greatest pleasures, horror movies and candy, Cadbury has come out with a funny series of ads for its exciting new candy: Screme Eggs. These have been available in the UK since last Halloween, but it looks like we're just getting them for the first time.

Here's my favorite ad, a riff on werewolf/mummy movies, complete with egg gore:

And a good zombie-attack/"Thriller" video one:

And an apocalyptic news cast:

The ads are all on Cadbury's Creme Egg Canada YouTube channel, so I doubt they'll be aired in the US. (Too scary?) Since they were made for Canada, there are both French and English versions, but conveniently, the only line of dialogue in either language is "goo". The international language of candy snot.

Here in New York, they're priced at a borderline outrageous $1.00 per egg, and the only real difference from the regular Creme Eggs is that the cream/snot on the inside is green instead of yellow. And they're still so ridiculously, brain-meltingly sweet that they produce the all-too-familiar sequence of symptoms:

1) euphoria
2) delirium
3) disorientation
4) nausea

Maybe it's best to just stick to the ads.

About October 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in October 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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