i often say i’m a sucker for a good premise. boy did i ever get suckered on this one. it’s a great premise and truly awful execution. so disappointing.
a group of job candidates are sat in a room with an exam sheet before each of them. they’re given some simple rules (which importantly includes not asking the administrator for help), and told to begin. they each flip the sheet over and find that it’s blank.
it could have been such a fun, simple puzzle. instead the director raises the stakes far beyond credulity can bear first by devolving the candidates into a bizarre lord of the flies participants so fast they make the cast of the real world look well adjusted, and second by creating a sci-fi futurist setting that’s mentioned so briefly it’s as thin as the test papers. i won’t even get into the lack of craftsmanship in all the other facets of this movie. those concerns pale in comparison to how brutally and unnecessarily that fun premise was trampled.
- i’m sure you’re proud of your one-room set, and to be honest it was quite nice, but i don’t need thirteen establishing shots to start the movie. if i’m going to spend the next 101 minutes in that room, i can notice the details on my own.
when harrison ford was trapped by tommy lee jones at the edge of the dam, peering down into the churning water far below, i half expected carrie fisher to appear and say, “what are you doing? you’re not actually going to jump off the dam,” prompting ford to reply “he’d be crazy to follow me, wouldn’t he?”
- smoking a cigar near the hounds that are trying to track your target seems like bad practice.
- i’m guessing jane lynch put the “hate is not a family value” pin on her doctor coat herself.
The Adventures of Robin Hood
the dialogue in this movie is unbeatable. robin’s playful wordplay contrasts perfectly with the stuffy nobles/gentry who are aghast at his irreverence. and lest robin get too full of himself, will scarlett is always nearby with a biting quip of his own. banter abounds, and that’s always a good thing.
- i think this movie holds the record for most backhanded slaps.
- splitting an arrow is amazing, but how is that a winning shot? it seems like it would clearly be a tie.
it’s unfortunate how this movie’s legacy has suffered at the hands of its sequels. it was a huge hit, and while a segment of critics were unimpressed, it became an instant classic for the sci-fi action genre, with an especially fervent following amongst young people. 15 years later, those young people are now becoming the mainstream but i don’t feel like this movie is getting the remembrance it deserves. i can only think that this is because of the bad taste left by its two sequels. but they don’t change how great this movie is, just like jaws 3d doesn’t change how great jaws is. it deserves classic status.
- of all the famous choreography in this movie, i think the orchestrated movements of neo’s escape from his office might be my favorite.
imagine taking the instrumentation of a mariachi band, having them play music with the rhythm and chord structure of polka, but with the lyrics of gangsta rap. just try to wrap your head around that. it’s one of the most bizarre musical concoctions i’ve ever heard, and it serves as a symbol of how the violence of drug trafficking has invaded every segment of life in some parts of mexico. i’m not quite sure how to feel about the existence of this genre of music. on the one hand, it is deplorable that the purveyors of such grisly and merciless violence and oppression get glorified like that, but on the other hand, there are so few jobs for people in that area, it’s hard to tell a musician to turn down that money.
- this movie is quite topical with the recent arrest of el chapo, as many of the narcocorridos are written about him.
- burberry bulletproof vest. seriously.
this movie has a lot of cross-generational, cross-cultural family interaction that i find very relatable. the scenes that had me rolling in knowing laughter were the ones that involved a large group of people on couches, staring blankly at a television and failing to maintain a conversation because everyone finds the tv more interesting than each other. the camera is placed above the tv, so we can see a wide shot of their faces, which are all expressionless except for that of will forte, who pretends to be watching but seems to be more amazed that everyone got together to stare at the light-up box.
- bruce dern is phenomenal. that just slightly “not there” quality of old age is so subtle and hard to fake, but he never slipped.
- kate’s interpretation of the phrase “pay respects” is unorthodox.
The Fifth Estate
it’s rare that i find a movie so visually awful that it threatens to overshadow everything else about it. this movie looks like it was made by people who had just received their first camera and editing software and wanted to play with all the features. they use whip pans like homer simpson uses star wipes. even when a shot is held, the camera is jiggling, like it’s mounted on a bobblehead doll. the visual distraction is exacerbated by this movie adding its name to the long list of movies that try in vain to make computer use cinematic. neon monochrome interfaces, huge blocks of code whizzing through the screen on a loop, text projected onto actors’ faces, nonsensical cgi representations of software, this movie does it all.
- for all its visual bombast, it does have a good conversation on the philosophical hypocrisy of wikileaks and whether doing a good thing so badly is ultimately good or bad.
- i wonder if this movie is so over-edited as a commentary on how wikileaks “doesn’t edit” their documents (except when do).
The Talented Mr. Ripley
i like that this movie is as duplicitous as its title character. there’s almost two different movies here: a quixotic romance about a meek sycophant trying to get with a flashy playboy, and a tense thriller about a murderous usurper being hounded by guilt, police, and inevitable truth. there’s a symmetry to it.
- the shift in ripley’s face when he decides he’s going to kill freddie is perfect.
- what is the deal with the italian clergy singing so fully through their noses that they sound like human bagpipes?
- philip baker hall is channeling his bookman character from seinfeld.
for my money, the saddest scene in this desperately sad movie is the hardcore match. he wants so badly to still be a part of the industry, he’s willing to do literally any gig he gets offered. even more depressing than the shows in basements and the conventions in vfw halls is the match that is all about him mutilating his body rather than any type of athletic performance. it’s truly a bottom of the barrel moment, and yet it’s still not enough for him to just go back to the grocery store.
- todd barry is so great in this movie. i knew someone who had that job and behaved startlingly similar to the sociopath portrayed by barry.
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
i spent some time thinking about why i disliked this movie; why it was so unpleasant throughout, even when the plot became momentarily interesting. the problem, i realized, is that this movie has no protagonist. it has an antagonist and an array of minor characters that are either complicit with or victims of the antagonist. you keep waiting for someone to come along who will fight the good fight, but when someone does, they are swatted away with minimal effort. about halfway though, it becomes clear that the only person who can stop this man is himself, but the movie exists in a world so overrun with negative forces that it doesn’t much matter if he self-destructs or not.
- the lead actor’s grating monotone half-shouting that he maintains for a large majority of his lines made me feel like i was watching the movie next to a table saw at full chat.
- the writer created a ridiculous straw man rather than provide any real commentary on police and political corruption.
- i did like the score. i can say that.