Andrés Muschietti’s Mama (based on the short film Mama) has its scary moments, but for the most part, is a fairly calm film. When I first saw the trailer for Mama, I thought, ‘this looks absolutely terrifying.’ The trailer seemed promising with its creepy children, choppy, jarring ghost movements, and star, the very talented Jessica Chastain. All the elements of a proper ghost story were nicely tied together and I resolved that there was no way this film wouldn’t be able to deliver. As I walked into the cinema, I started having my doubts. First of all, the audience consisted of middle-aged to older men and women. In fact, I followed a middle aged, conservatively dressed woman into the cinema and had to recheck the movie poster at the entrance to make sure the cinema was showcasing the film. Secondly, the movie trailers at the beginning of horror films are usually scary and work within the horror film genre. After a trailer for Monsters University, followed by Die Hard, and other non-scary films, we dive into the opening of Mama, and that’s where my hopes of catching an intelligently put together ghost story were crushed.
About a year or so ago I decided I wanted to sit down and make my way through all of the various classic Universal monster pics. I watched Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, and then stopped. Not sure why I didn’t keep going, I enjoyed both of those movies. I probably got distracted by the Starbucks’ Christmas menu or something shiny but either way my journey ended prematurely. Until today!
The Loved Ones tells the tale of that girl we all knew back in high school who was shy but kinda cute, and maybe a little socially awkward, and also kidnapped boys she liked in order to torture them along with her father who she is almost definitely having an incestual relationship with. Fuckin’ high school man, I’ll never forget it.
The Human Centipede answers that age old question of wouldn’t it be shitty if a crazy German scientist kidnapped you and your friend and sewed your mouths and anuses together so you poop into each others mouths while he makes you walk around like a dog and fetch newspapers? Turns out the answer is yes - yes that would be very shitty.
I found myself at the cinema twice to see this exceptional film. An adaptation of a stage play that opened in New York, Roman Polanski’s Carnage does justice to the original script, depicting a story that captures the fragility of relationships as they crumble at two couples’ desire to prove that their kid was in the right. Carnage demonstrates how the civilized easily dissolves into the barbaric, unrefined, crude gestures that are so quickly triggered by the declaration, “I am right!”
With her representation of a controversial figure, Streep gives us a depiction of a human being suffering from dementia. Critics seem to be caught up on whether the film gives us a heroic portrayal of Thatcher, or they seem to dislike the fact that the film itself does not distinguish between an aggrandized or monstrous view of this woman. Sympathetic or critical view aside, what we get is a depiction of an elderly woman grappling with the ever present ghost of her husband (Jim Broadbent) that triggers memories of an exciting and eventful past. We see the person outside of the spotlight, outside of the political sphere, outside of the “madhouse” if you will. I enjoyed this depiction of Thatcher as human; however, the film is preoccupied with the fact that Thatcher is a woman working and prospering in a predominantly masculine domain, so preoccupied that it is impossible to forget that Thatcher is a woman. Although this feminist approach is intriguing, it is somewhat sloppy. By this I mean that we often get scenes with Thatcher making remarks about the “feminine” men, and her ability to defeat them in all matter of politics. The film stresses the fact that she is a woman and you almost expect Thatcher to approach every debate by bursting out with “I am a woman and therefore am right.” Attacks at her masculine femininity are frequent and transparent. These outbursts of “I am woman” are humourous, but unintelligent. Yes Thatcher is a woman, yes she is accomplished, but these outbursts wherein she dismisses men’s potential do not effectively contribute to a story.
It is not often that a black and white silent film gets much attention in our day and age of 3D hype in which a film is considered ‘good’ if it surpasses every other in its graphics. Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist is unique in its style and refreshing in its simplicity. Presenting a story of a silent film actor, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), Hazanavicius reveals the fine line between fame and washed-up and the easy transition from one to the other. Despite being on the cusp of the “talkie” era, Valentin struggles to keep his name in lights, producing and starring in silent films.
I am not familiar with Steve McQueen’s work, but now that I have seen the movie Shame I would like to see some of his other projects. The reason I say this is because I was once excited for the film. After seeing it, I felt as though I was deprived of something. My criticism of the film is not that it was too controversial or that there was too much sex and, “oh bother, my poor baby blue eyes that have never seen such disgusting acts will never be the same.” I certainly cannot complain about seeing Fassbender (all of Fassbender). My critique stems from what was lacking in the film—a story, a plot to complement the beautiful cinematography and acting that was present throughout the film. The problem comes from the borderline between when sex becomes art, and when sex is simply sex.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was a hype machine before it actually came out in theatres. From the initial trailer that took place in almost complete darkness, to the comments that it was rated R based solely on how terrifying it is, well I was psyched. Unfortunately a mixture of poor box office performance and prior commitments such as getting married and going on a honeymoon meant that I was not able to see this in theatres. Some middling reviews were not enough to deter me however and I eagerly sat down to watch the recently released DVD.
You know now that I’m sitting here thinking about it, I really don’t remember all that much about the previous Mission Impossible films. I remember the first one (which I should point out I haven’t seen since maybe a year after it was first released) was really confusing but it of course has several iconic scenes, such as the “oh god I have to be real quiet” scene and the “oh god a helicopter just blew up and threw me on to this speeding train” scene. The second one I remember was surprisingly boring but at the same time, way fucking ridiculous. Instead of kicking people like a normal person might, Tom Cruise would do unnecessarily elaborate shit like kicking off a guy’s chest and then doing a back flip in the air and kicking him in the face. Oh and doves. Doves flying in slow motion. I remember that quite well too. But I mean that’s a John Woo thing more than a Mission Impossible thing. The third one I remember enjoying, but I don’t recall almost any details except that Felicity was in it and Tom Cruise gets smashed into the side of a car by an explosion. Each movie is unique, and each one has its positives and negatives.
All that being said, for this fourth and latest installment, Ghost Protocol, I think I’ll primarily remember that moment where the entire film is really fucking good.