Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Dually published here: Fylmic Glory at Fylmz.com

There is already a chorus of great criticism for Children of Men. Metacritic is showing a score of 85. RottenTomatoes is showing a score of 93. I will add my voice to that chorus after seeing the film this evening. Alfonso Cuaron’s take on the P.D. James novel is disturbing, heartbreaking, frightening, and awe-inspiring. There are virtuosic moments surrounded by profound and deeply affecting thematic insights.

With inspired camera control and acting of such a perfect tone, the film immediately pulls you into the dystopian vision it creates. That vision is present in every scene, yet never seems heavy-handed. It merely seems like the terrifying reality that it is. The fascist government of this future creeps in at the corner of every frame. Within this fully-realized society on the brink of chaos, we are met with the spark of humanity and we will do anything to see it protected.

Cuaron easily balances the high-concept political themes with the amazingly realistic scenes of random and explosive violence at its mindless height. When the film might devolve into a mindless action movie, Cuaron pauses and presents us with another nugget of the beautifully horrible possibilities facing the characters. That is, the action is always tempered with moments where the viewer is allowed to contemplate how frighteningly possible this future is.

I’m trying not to give too much away here, so I won’t go into plot details or ruin some of the amazing moments in this film. All I can do is beg you to go see it.

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Originally posted here: Fylmic Glory at Fylmz.com

I just tried to watch Asia Argento’s film “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things .” There’s no doubt that this is filmmaking with passion and a desire to obey the Muse. However, the unsettling subject matter is unceasing and simply leaves the viewer without air or even space to squirm.

The performances are bold and fearless, but that does as much to make me worry about the young actors as it makes me awe at the filmmaking. Sure, editing can be done, and a close eye can see this protective editing and camera placement at work. In Roger Ebert’s review, he laments in regards to the young actors, “…I feel no confidence that the experience left them untouched. ” This makes the viewer complicit in the very cycle of abuse that the heart of J.T. Leroy’s short story, on which the film is based, fights so boldly against.

J.T. Leroy is in itself a bothersome topic. Yes, I said “it.” It seems now that J.T. Leroy is merely the fabrication of an author and her lover. In addition, the supposedly autobiographical story is apparently entire false. This echoes James Frey’s falsehoods , of “A Million Pieces” fame, but it is even more disingenuous because Frey was doing a little embellishing. Leroy is an entire fiction.

This is problematic because the context of the stories is a great deal of the readers experience. Should this be simple fiction, it comes off as exploitative and cruel. In an autobiographical milieu, it comes off as a story of the resilient human spirit and a desire to survive.

So, if the source material is so problematic, why not just change it in the film? Well, that’s one of the few kudos that Argento and crew can happily gather. They are absolutely true to the source material and do nothing to make the story more palatable for the American film audience.

In the end though, none of this mattered. I simply couldn’t watch it. It was too perfect and too real. This is the same feeling I had watching Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream,” which must have influenced Argento’s direction. I simply do not need this darkness. Others may be able to find a salvation in the film, but it must come after the halfway mark, because I never saw it.

I just finished watching a documentary about heavy metal called Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. It's a decent film, but veers way too much to the fanboy side of things for my taste. It does a decent job explaining what there is to like about metal while showing as well what there is not to like.

Sam Dunn, the host and writer, is an anthropologist and he does a great job breaking down the societal and cultural aspects of the musical genre. I did find it a bit disconcerting that all the violence and sex and satanism in the music was touched on, but just winked away by the film as just entertainment. It intimated that those who didn't understand that it was all some great big joke where just "out of it."

I would have enjoyed a little more exploration into the actual musical structure of metal music. There is some discussion of the "devil's note" and the diminished fifth scale, but no real follow-on as to how it plays out in modern metal. Indeed, there is very little in the film about the craft of modern metal. It's really more about personalities and an overview of the genre as a whole, but it does a decent job with that.

The strangest part to me was when they showed George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher of the band Cannibal Corpse. He is almost certainly missing a chromosome or something. The guy is one hell of a frontman, but he should lay off the acid when he's on film.

Mr. Dunn has created a really cool genealogy of metal which appears in an interactive version on the DVD and is also printed without logos in the liner notes of the soundtrack. That little extra is worth the price of admission.
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The Hills Have Eyes

This is twisty, so follow me. If the first director pays homage to the horror films of the 70s as Rob Zombie did in “The Devil’s Rejects”, then if a second filmmaker remakes a 70s horror film and uses similar techniques as the first, such as Alexandre Aja’s “The Hills Have Eyes,” are they both paying homage to the original or is the second director copying the first?

Sure, Aja is no chump with his eye-catching film “Haute Tension” (High Tension) wooing horror and thriller fans both in his native France and here. However, it’s a question that is larger than him and larger than film. It’s about the nature of art and creativity and building on what has been done before or simply copying it.

Art is sometimes evolutionary and sometimes revolutionary. In either case, it is a reaction to what has come before. Movies like Scream and its spawn are reaction to the way the 80s turned the gritty realistic horror films of the 70s into ludicrous money grabs. So, now we are seeing a return to that grittiness and rawness in films such as the two mentioned above and “Wolf Creek.”

My original question still stands though, even my original assertion is in doubt. Are these films homages or simply copycats with no originality? Where does a film like Saw and Saw II play into this?