delft_blue

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Reviews

Antiviral
(2012)

Almost has it all.
**SPOILERS** I saw that interview with Sarah Michelle Gellar and agree it was gross when the crowd cheered about catching her cold. As a fan of those late-night talk shows where the crowd cheers like mad for pretty much anything, it kind of blew me away to learn that Brandon Cronenberg got the idea for this film from a comment she made while promoting a film on Letterman ten years ago.

But, on to the review. It's probably unfair to compare this film to anything by David Cronenberg, but the similarities are definitely here. I'm a big fan of Cronenberg Sr. and the body-horror genre, but for some reason, "Antiviral" didn't quite live up to what I was hoping for in terms of plot. You'll want to see this movie for one reason: Caleb Landry Jones. His acting and the banana-bread sermon joke were the two redeeming factors in "The Last Exorcism" and here, Jones is at his best as virus-salesman Syd March. You know nothing about the character. He looks like he could be anywhere from 18 to 40. He's quiet, he's sad, and he's strangely aloof and beautiful. His apartment is bare, his fridge has only orange juice and wrapped egg-salad sandwiches, and his closet contains several sets of the same suit he's wearing in nearly every scene. At work, he's a smooth-talking, creepy outsider who always looks ill; yet he sells his wares with an almost violating sex appeal. He's meant to be the predator on the lookout for the most rabid fan willing to shell out cash, yet throughout the film you see Syd become the victim of a sinister series of events.

Herein lies my disappointment with the movie: the plot and its missing pieces. The most popular celebrity is Hannah Geist. Like Syd, you know nothing about her. Is she an heiress, an actress, maybe a model? All that matters is everyone wants a part of her; she's perfect and her flaws are the stuff of urban legends. When Syd infects himself with Hannah's blood and she dies soon after, he's not only proved how devoted he is to his work, but he's also the fan who is apparently most-obsessed: he's going to share her fate. The story surrounding Hannah and what happens to her has some serious holes. Not only that, but Cronenberg stays true to his celebrity-obsessed vision and keeps the barrier in place between Syd and Hannah. This is a shame because throughout the film you actually see a sort of clinically-sterile love-story develop between Syd and Hannah and it's never realized. The on-screen chemistry between Jones and Gadon is palpable and it makes the film great. But nothing comes of it. It never reaches any satisfying end. It's tragic in the sense that Syd, although he's infected and has access to all of Hannah's illnesses, is no closer to "communion" with her then any other obsessed fan.

I suppose I would have written the story differently and perhaps I didn't love this film because it didn't have the ending *I* wanted. I also felt that a few of the scenes that had amazing potential never came to fruition, mainly the scene where a kidnapped Syd is locked in a "cell" with giant photos of Hannah on the walls. It just never reaches that climatic high that it could have (maybe I've been spoiled by the melting hands and exploding heads of the older Cronenberg…). Regardless, the cinematography is beautiful. You'll get the chills from the dried blood on the white sheets, from the pallid glow of Jones' skin as it's stained with red rash, and from the clash of Gadon's straw-yellow hair and crimson lips. It's genius. I am definitely looking forward to what Brandon Cronenberg comes up with in the future!

The Loneliest Planet
(2011)

Pretentious.
This movie had serious potential. It's filmed in Georgia and the scenery is amazing. You also have three obviously interesting characters but you don't ever get to know them. In fact, I didn't even know their names until I went on to IMDb. Because you don't know anything about the two main characters (other than some tidbits revealed near the *end* of the movie) it's hard to care about them. Are they grad students? Are they American? Why do they like to travel... hell, WHY are they in Georgia? There's no story here. This is why I say the film is pretentious. The people who made the film assume that you can care about the characters without knowing anything about their story. The film is also about half Georgian/ half English with NO subtitles. Now, I get why the filmmakers may have done this. They want you to be as clueless as the two main people when the "misunderstanding" occurs. The problem herein is again, the filmmaker assuming you care enough about their story to *not* be frustrated by the fact you aren't getting any of the dialog. The two main actors speak some Georgian so they know more than we do. They are getting some of what is going on. There's also some Spanish thrown in just for kicks. Your head spins. Like mine did when I found out this was supposed to be a thriller! Huh? If you want an actual thriller about a misunderstanding that happens in this region of the world, watch "Transsiberian". I would also like to point out there are at least two instances where you have the camera pan out and you are forced to watch the characters slowly walk from one side of your screen to the other. If this is a character study, you can observe as much about human emotion by sitting on a bench at the mall on a Saturday afternoon.

Girls
(2012)

I'm really enjoying this show.
I love Lena and I was a big fan of "Tiny Furniture". When I heard this show was airing, I was really excited. My only problem with it is its 30 minute length. Honestly, I wish it was 60 minutes. The characters are all so real. Sure, they are quirky, annoying, spoiled, have low-self esteem, and unreal expectations... but they are REAL. For me, Carrie Bradshaw wasn't real. I'm unlikely to meet someone with the personality of Tyrion Lannister in my day-to-day. But Adam or Marnie, yeah I know a few people like them. The characters aren't supposed to be all likable; but they are supposed to be relatable. The four main girls in the series are going through real problems and real issues that people just out on their own in today's world face. How will I find a job that will pay off my student loans? Do I want kids? Heck, even "why doesn't he return my calls" is a hot topic; unless a million Cosmo readers are wrong.

This show isn't trying to be as enthralling as "Dexter", but it's trying to show some real situations that real people face and help shed a little comedy into these predicaments. I actually think it's awesome that Lena feels comfortable enough going sans clothing when she's clearly not the the ideal Hollywood size 1. It isn't gratuitous nudity either; she's going without clothing to show she's vulnerable in certain situations. She puts up with Adam because she's questioning if she deserves better. I think this show is brilliant. Not for everyone, but brilliant. Hilarious too; keep up the good work, Lena!

Tiny Furniture
(2010)

An excellent look at insecurity and self-realization
Aura is 22, a recent film school graduate recently dumped by her boyfriend of two years, who's left for Colorado to find his family roots. Aura's own family consists of her successful artist mother, who lives in TriBeca and has a studio where she takes photographs of objects next to doll house-sized furniture. Her sister is a pretentious high school student who seems to excel wherever Aura fails. The film follows Aura as she tries to fit back into the life she left behind, and as she struggles to find her way into the next stage of life. This is a really beautiful look at insecurity and the subtle ways that people go about trying to placate and impress others. Aura meets two men, a self-absorbed YouTube "artist" whom she allows to take advantage of her generosity, and a bored sous chef with an appetite for pills. Both men, along with several friends and her own family members, serve to highlight how insecure Aura really is, and show that deep-down she has a kindness that others know how to exploit. As Aura struggles to find herself and somehow realize who she is and where she's going, viewers are treated to a rare glimpse of how deeply sad she is, and ultimately trapped by her tendency to want to please.

Teenage Dirtbag
(2009)

A rare gem of a film
I streamed this film on Netflix and honestly, wasn't expecting much. I figured it would be a "bad-boy likes and gets the good-girl" type of cliché film. Boy, was I surprised. This film is a really good story that pulls you in and holds you until the end. The two main characters are both so intense. You can seriously feel their emotions and you cheer for them, you get caught up in their stories. There were parts of this movie that were hard to watch because they are so true-to-life. The filmmakers also paid special attention to the time period, capturing the feel of the late 90s perfectly. This is how high school was for me when I attended school during this period. I remember like Thayer and Amber, being forced in study hall to sit next to this guy I barely knew, and over the course of the year we became friends, writing notes in our notebooks, taking turns bringing snacks, and finding ways to dodge the attention of the grouchy study hall monitor. I was totally able to get wrapped up in the story. I was really impressed with this film and highly recommend it.

The Exploding Girl
(2009)

Lacks something
I wanted to love this film. In fact, the opening was quite breathtaking with the flashes of sunlight coming in through the car window. I also liked the plot idea of two friends and the possibility they just might be perfect for one another. But, it didn't all come together for me. There was something missing from this film, and the more I think on it, I realize that the only fully-fleshed character was Ivy. Greg, who you never see, is flat and predictable. You only hear him talking to Ivy in broken lies over a cell phone. He's barely explained.

Greg's poor treatment of Ivy is supposed to be in stark contrast to Al, who adores Ivy and has known her since eighth grade or something. I got sick early on of the filmmaker pointing out how they seemed to complete each other with their sharing of a milkshake, pizza slice, cigarettes, earphones, and Al's readiness to come home whenever Ivy wanted him to. It was over-the-top, especially when early on a family friend mistakes them for a couple. I disliked how a conversation with Greg was often followed by a caring conversation with Al. I thought I could figure out on my own who the good guy was supposed to be.

Everything about Al's character seems to have been created just to highlight how perfect he would be for Ivy. His lack of a back story is troubling. Who is he? Why does he not have a place to stay (or, why was his room rented and because of that, no mention of his parents or why he's in the city for the summer)? I wanted to know more about him! Also, why was epilepsy important in the film? I thought this would be central to the plot and it barely is. Ivy goes for blood work that is never reported on, and during a grand mal seizure the camera is angled so that you see the side of Ivy's arm and Al's back.

In closing, though so much is hammered home in terms of how Ivy and Al would be a great couple, a lot of key details are forgotten, or left for the viewer to fill in on her own. You end up ultimately not knowing what this film is trying to say. I left this film caring no more about the characters than I did in the first scene. The filmmaker saturates the story with "look how perfect they are for each other" innuendo, but doesn't quite deliver in terms of other important details. Disappointing.

Fireproof
(2008)

Very very very good...maybe even EXCELLENT?
Yes, this movie was excellent. No, it was EXCELLENT in all caps. I saw a preview of this film on the Hallmark channel and thought it was going to be a cable movie...so I was completely blown away when I saw it was going for major release. I am not a die-hard Christian, let me say that first and foremost. I will not tell you how this movie rocked based off of Bible verses...I will tell you that it was an important story about reaping what you sow and staying true, not just to God (if you don't believe), but to your morals and being a good, kind person.

Kirk Cameron delivered an AMAZING performance as Caleb Holt, frustrated by his marriage and more so questioning himself for why everything he seemed to do was wrong. Erin Bethea was perfect as his frigid wife, who seemed to have thrown in the towel when her fairy-tale marriage didn't pan out the way she imagined it (the film opens with a voice-over of her as a little girl asking her mom about marriage). The supporting cast was great, and I don't know why people thought Kirk was so unbelievable as a firefighter (ok, i admit I don't know A LOT about the ins and outs of their daily work).

There was a "Jesus element" of course...but I went into the movie expecting Bible verses at every turn. Not so. I think my favorite part of this movie was that the people in it seemed like REAL PEOPLE not actors. If was as though people were just grabbed from a regular church pot-luck and asked to play roles in the film (now here I do come from a background of church plays and drama so maybe I am a bit biased). I was really glad I saw this film and definitely thought it was excellent! I would say if you are prepared for a movie with a "lesson" see this...if you want love-making scenes and need lots of blood, swearing, alcohol and hitting people...skip this film. But don't trash it or say it is horrible, insulting, or lame because it has a "be a good person...and here, do that through God" message; it pretends to be nothing else.

Wedding Daze
(2004)

guilty pleasure!
This film is a lot of fun! Okay, it isn't any 10 star flick, but I just caught it on the Hallmark Channel and have to say that I really liked it! I believe that you really can't make a close-to-home, realistic wedding flick because EVERYONE has a different type of wedding/experience. These girls choose the "traditional" expensive outdoor catered wedding with all the bells and whistles...

The film is a bit like Father of the Bride times three (and I'm sure took a beating from critics for that), but the writer manages still to focus on a doting father giving the girls the wedding they deserve and have dreamed of! I really liked how all of the girls had the (unrealistic, yes) spirit of sharing and giving and they DID NOT become self-centered bridezillas come the day of the event.

The movie does a great of showing the importance of family especially making a wedding a FAMILY event. I enjoyed this! I would recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see a fun, comedic movie about a wedding. Any girl stressed about being a bride should totally see this movie...and relax a bit!

A Series of Unfortunate Events
(2004)

How is this a good movie for children????
I am a woman in my mid twenties who went to see this film with a friend (preschool teacher) because I had heard it was very good. Almost immediately into the movie, I began to wonder HOW this was supposed to be a film for children? I am horrified that it is supposed to be a great family film. I would not take children to see this film, nor would I encourage parents to go see it with their kids. The film is about a guy trying to get inheritance from three orphans by killing off the people who get custody of them and kill them too. The movie is very dark and depressing and there is NOTHING happy or upbeat about it. It is also hard to understand the plot (in my opinion). My sister is a fifth grade teacher and said these books are very popular with her class! I think this movie is terrible and would recommend for UPBEAT excitement, take the family to see Harry Potter (still not as family-friendly as The Little Mermaid but not as Prozac-worthy by far!)! You don't need to see the dreary story in this awful film...Lemony Snickett, shame on you!

Twin Peaks
(1990)

The greatest show ever to air...
Back in college, a roommate had these vhs tapes, so I watched the entire series in about a week. I was stunned...everything about this series is stimulating and nerve-wreckingly compelling. Laura Palmer is one of the main characters, yet we hardly see her except in quick flashbacks. Dale Cooper, the agent who comes to Twin Peaks to investigate her murder is hardly as interesting as the town itself, a hodge-podge of crazy rednecks and rich businessmen. This show was undeniably one of the greatest ever to air...but I'm not sad that it ended, because I felt that the series had a perfect run and any longer would have taken away its genius and made it a little stale. "Fire Walk with Me" is like a bad dessert after a great meal though...which is a little sad, but ultimately, the slightly disappointing movie is overshadowed by the shear brilliance of the series.

Whatever
(1998)

A little slow moving and BORING...
Contains spoilers!!!! I picked up this movie while I was on an Indie-film kick and I was a little disappointed because it moved very slow. The whole movie, the main character fretted over whether she'd get into Cooper Union, a VERY prestigious free art school in New York City. As a graduate of an art school, I STILL felt that I couldn't identify with her whiny-artsy persona at all and I felt like screaming to the dumb girl, "LIKE 10 PEOPLE A YEAR GET INTO COOPER UNION SO DON'T THINK YOU HAVE IT IN THE BAG!!!!!" (most people apply to Cooper Union knowing there's no chance in heck they'll get in). Hm, maybe in 1981 one didn't have a .0001% chance of acceptance there? Well, when she doesn't get into Cooper Union the director wants you to sympathize with her moping...hmmmm....I wonder if State College ever crossed her mind? She gets jilted by guy too old for her and mopes about that too. My friend watching this with me left in the middle because she was falling asleep...anyway, if you want a good "coming of age film" I recommend "All Over Me", or looking up some dvds of "My So-Called Life". This film was as exciting as filling out my own art-school applications!!! Grade= D

She's Out of Control
(1989)

an overlooked flick of the eighties!
SOOOOOOO cheesy! This is the old cliche about the ugly girl with braces and glasses getting a makeover and suddenly ALL the boys want her. Basically, Dad, who to me is just Tony from Who's the Boss, takes the backseat in her life and this new "hottie" with no personality gets tons of invites on dates, etc, etc. To me, this movie is priceless because it has a high school prom scene, which, when done is the 80s, was just too cool. NO ONE DANCES LIKE THAT! Heehee. I saw this when I was 9 and remember thinking how cool all the clothes looked. I didn't like the stepmom, because she was just too crazy. Basically, the only good thing about this movie is it's a priceless bit o' eighties history and nostalgic. No one can make a movie this simple nowadays without getting laughed out of the director's office. Ah, those were the days....

Meatballs Part II
(1984)

watch it with a 1984 outlook...
Remember when we used to be satisfied to go the movies and watch bad actors from sitcoms strut around cheap sets and make dumb jokes? Well, if you were born anytime after 1980, you probably don't remember seeing any cheesy 80s flicks in their original context. Meatballs II doesn't claim to be anything other than one of these "campy" movies, so view it with a good attitude and watch to see what actors you recognize. I recently watched this movie for the first time in the 21st century (probably skipping all of the 90s) and, being a good ten years older and wiser, saw it as the bunch of foolishness it really is. However, it's an essential 80s flick full of outdated costumes and corny exercise music. I still have yet to hear anyone use the expression "pinky" in this context. The opening scene still has me rolling on the floor.

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