still is the written word

Tag: movies

movie review: Withnail and I

Handmade films are a special lot.

Every time I watch this film, I feel like I’ve lost a best friend. I waver like a photon, unable to decide if I’m a wave (Withnail) or a particle (I). In the end, the rain decides for me.

Watch this film, for the Shakespeare alone!

I have of late, (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o’er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire: why, it appeareth no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is man, How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, In form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2

movie review: I Kill Giants

Broken does not mean I cannot see beauty. Shattered does not mean blindness. I Kill Giants is a hell of a movie. You should watch it. It is a lie, but a necessary one, I suppose. If you come away feeling it is a movie for kids… you have my sympathy.

Great right up until the end. But of course the Giant is lying when it says to Barbara: “You will be okay.” How do I know its a lie? Well, to state the completely obvious, Barbara is going to die too. Along with her sister, brother, friends, and everyone else. The lie is necessary to keep us all roaming about doing mostly meaningless stuff, rather than spending time contemplating what a life should mean in the context of it’s inevitable end.

A Monster Calls

Lots of people complain that I Kill Giants is a copy of this earlier movie. I would agree the theme is similar, a child dealing with the loss of a parent to illness, but really the movies are worlds apart, and I Kill Giants is superior.

In A Monster Calls the audience is treated like cattle. The creators figure their audience is as stupid as cows, so they put rings in their noses and lead them around the movie, carefully pointing out what is going on and why, and what they’re supposed to think and feel as they go along. Some people need this in their movies. If they don’t get it, they often get cross.

In the end the movie does not hold up, as it is literally dripping with impossibilities and nonsense. For example, if the monster is in Conor’s head, I have to say wow, that kid is a freaking genius. Where does a 12 year old come up with such powerful and complex ideas about the meaning of life and death, and our place in the world? (the answer is, of course, 12-year olds don’t, but adult script writers do). And in the end, we discover the monster was telling stories from Conor’s mother’s art book, which Conor has never seen. Ooops, there goes the reality factor. Seems a bunch of magic or something has been going on somewhere in the background. Too bad none of that magic could be used to save mom. After all, if reality isn’t reality, I’d much rather have my mother back than know the monster who was teaching me might have been real, met with my mother when she was a kid, and passed on her stories to me for some reason. I’d be pretty pissed if I knew this monster could warp reality, but instead of saving my mom from cancer it decided to tell me stories of dubious value.

And the fucking violins. By the end of the movie I was ready to shove a bow up someone’s ass.

In I Kill Giants there is none of this. Reality rules from start to finish. The magical events are entirely in the mind of a 12 year old girl who will not or cannot accept the inevitable death of her mother to disease. You are not led around by a ring in your nose and told what to think and what to feel from minute to minute. It is instead confusing and difficult to figure out what is going on, much like life (see what they did there? It’s called “art”). Like a 12 year old escaping into fantasy, we are not sure how much of this magical world exists. This is especially true when Barbara’s friend comes upstairs with a glass of water and sees the cause of it all, dropping her glass and making for one of the most powerful scenes of the movie, as Barbara, so out of sorts by what that space represents, literally walks barefoot through broken glass to shut the terrible room’s door and protect herself from what’s inside.

The giant, Titan, acknowledges the truth Barbara finally figures out for herself. There will be no salvation for her mother. The giant did not come for her mother, but instead has come for her. And like so many monsters, the death and destruction it represents is metaphorical, as a 12 year old mind is finally able to grasp the truth.

Of course, the old fiction is repeated at the end of both movies: everything will be alright. This is fluff for a vulnerable audience. This fiction is needed so we will get up tomorrow and live our mostly pointless lives, pretending words like growth and capitalism aren’t monsters emerging from the sea to destroy us.

Aww, poor little critics: Dark River review

Poor little critics sitting in their circle-jerk crying “where’s the plot?”

Let me tell you something. Ghosts are made up bullshit, but hauntings are real. More real than reality. I’ve seen dead people that I’ve lost in trauma, though nothing like Alice, the main character of Dark River, and that would be because I was never raped by said haunting when it was alive. But I’ve known someone who was, and the effects of this kind of trauma can’t be overstated.

Alice comes home when her father/rapist is dead. Critics whine in their little bitty voices “but why she comes home we don’t know.” Yes we do, buttercups, she comes home because he’s dead, and the land she earned with the price of her (literal) body and (metaphorical) soul is now hers. But even dead his power controls her life. This is the reality of a child raped by a parent.

“Oh, but where’s the plot,” the critics whine. Abuse is the plot, you dullards. Why do you even watch movies? Go watch Friends or something.

Look at what the abuse has done. Alice is ruined. She’ll never have a life. Look at her brother, Joe, wracked with guilt and shame and anger at Alice because he can’t understand her behaviour. He’ll never have a life, although his final act of redemption to finally protect his sister seems to have saved some of his humanity in the end.

Where is the plot in a life that cannot include human intimacy, because it has been stolen from you when you were most vulnerable, by the very person who was supposed to protect and nurture it? Alice recoils from intimacy. From the moment a friend tries to comfort her when learning of her father’s death, to the emptiness of desperate one-night stands in the cabs of lorries, Alice exists in a world where human touch, human intimacy, love, affection, and gentleness have been taken from her. What the fuck is left?

Maybe they should have had someone at the end, just before the credits, telling us (and lying) everything was going to be alright. Just so the critics could have a little plot.

Everything’s not going to be alright. Not for Alice. Not ever.

The End.

It’s Not All Bad: Public, Meet The Babadook

Anyone perusing my movie reviews will find heaps of scorn, shovelfuls of disgust, and… barf bags. Many, many barf bags.

Not so with The Babadook, an Australian film of pure cinematic genius. Directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook follows the story of a single mother and her son.

Watch this movie. Or don’t. It’s your loss.

Warning, spoilers follow:

The Babadook is Amelia’s dead husband, Oskar. Or, to be more subtle, it is the memory of her dead husband (the actual Oskar is of course worm food, his existence forever expunged from reality, just like all dead people). The premise is a little extreme: Oskar died in a car accident while driving Amelia to the Hospital. He was taking her there because she was in labour with their soon-to-be son, Sam. Not only did Oskar die in the accident, but Amelia got to see him mostly decapitated. And, she gets to be reminded every year on Sam’s birthday about the death of her husband.

If you haven’t suffered the death of a spouse I’m afraid you aren’t qualified to judge. I have. I became a single father to an orphan. And I’m here to tell you, The Babadook is real. The loneliness, the insomnia, the inability to deal with other people, the desire to kill your pets, the loathing of your own child because of what he represents. And it just goes on and on. Years are no match for The Babadook. On and on and on…just be glad the closest most of you will ever come to living in a real horror movie is to be graced with the presence of this movie in your life.

But for “We few, we happy few”, the monster has us forever: “if it’s in a word or it’s in a book / you can’t get rid of the Babadook.”

Enjoy it, if you can. Just remember, The Babadook is real.

Best. Horror. Movie. Ever.

Movie Review: Unsane (or, when stupid drowns a good-idea baby in the bathtub)

How is this movie stupid? Let me count the ways:

Stalker just happens to land a job where Sawyer ends up going for some therapy. He has been there for some time, as other staff members point out and compliment him for his dedication to the job. Question to ask: how could stalker know Sawyer was going to go to this particular clinic, or any clinic at all? That’s a barf bag.

Stalker is able to “hack” the computer system and change Sawyer’s record. Turns out the stalker wasn’t even a nurse. He stole a real nurse’s identity. Good thing there are no qualifications for being a nurse, or knowing anything about the field of mental health, since then he might demonstrate the fact he had no idea what he was doing. And he’s a computer genius. Or maybe all the staff are given access to modify patient discharge records. Isn’t that how all hospitals and clinics operate? Why leave that stuff up to doctors and admins? Question to ask: who runs the IT security for this company, one of the patients? That’s 2 barf bags.

Therapy centre has massive section full of rooms that no-one ever enters. Not cleaning staff. Not maintenance, nurses, doctors, orderlies. No one. Stalker has his own solitary confinement wing no one else on Earth knows about. Question to ask: why is most of the clinic empty but functional, and why are massive wings of the building simply ignored by everyone but stalking psychopaths? That’s 3 barf bags (are you keeping count?).

Stalker is able to physically drag, not one, not two, but three patients out of the ward (maybe he disabled all of the video cameras in the place, and no one at security noticed?). Question to ask: uh, why doesn’t anyone notice that either A) people are being dragged out of the ward by one of the nurses, or B) all of their security cameras appear to have broken at once? Gotta be 4 barf bags there.

Now, why not make a movie about the only interesting idea in this entire hot mess? The idea that private clinics are fooling people into committing themselves so they can gobble up their health insurance, then letting them go when it runs out? Is this a thing? Did Steven Soderbergh just make it up because he needed to pad this motion disaster with 20 minutes of pointless dialog?

If this movie had been made in the 80s I probably would have liked it. That was the era of the absurd killer able to survive situations that should have killed him, to be in places where he could never have known to be, and to follow people unwaveringly without any chance it could actually happen. But that was 30 years ago. Anyone who is not locked in a clinic like the one depicted in this movie should feel like someone who thought they had a ticket to a Ted Talk but finds out the room is rented by the flat Earth society, and has to listen to a 3 hour lecture about how the Earth is, well, flat.

I’m not saying throw the stalker out of the plot. It was a great device. But the actual stalker should have NEVER been in the movie — except for flashbacks and trauma ghosting. Have Sawyer see him as a result of the trauma of being stalked. Have her reactions lead to a spiral of increasing surveillance, length of stay, and medication. This could have been a blockbuster of a movie dealing with salient issues — the plight of women who are stalked by actual mortals, not superbeings — and the stress and trauma this causes in their lives. Couple that with the darkness of a for-profit “mental health” clinic gaming the system to increase profit and market share, at the cost of people’s lives (an old story, that, but a good one and worth exposing).

That’s a whopping 8 barf bags:

Movie Review: Hostiles

Only in America.

Start with crazed Injuns slaughtering innocent white people. Stop by turning off the movie.

What a pile of racist garbage. No redeeming qualities. Historically inaccurate in basic details (1892? why not take the train? It’s 20 years BEFORE WORLD WAR I) and completely ignores the fact white people slaughtered the natives for years before they slaughtered back. Besides, those brave American soldiers had murdered their way through most of the native old people, women and children way before 1892. By this point, there were no natives left to fight. Genocide will do that.

Shame on the filmmakers. Shame on the writers. Shame on the actors for being part of such a racist sham. Shame on the audience for not demanding their money back.

Racist garbage. Shame.

PS: no surprise, awful ending; lucky Injun kid gets proper white mother at the end. I give this film 4 barf bags:

© 2020 kim aaron