Category Archives: film

FILM REVIEW: Third Star (dir. Hattie Dalton, 2010)

An ultimately beautiful and affecting film, if a bit lacking in places; ultimately, it reduced me to an emotional wreck in quite an impressive way.

I was prepared for this movie to be a downer. It’s about a man dying of cancer, played by one of my new favorite actors (Benedict Cumberbatch!), so I was prepared to be upset by it. And although the script is only intermittently poignant and seems a bit stretched to fill the already-brief runtime, the final impact of this film was absolutely devastating. And that’s not easy to do, either. Having a heavy subject matter isn’t a guarantee of a strong emotional impact; it’s all about the execution, and despite some lackluster scenes, the movie ultimately comes together to be poetically tragic and affecting. And I don’t say that lightly: I can only recommend this movie if you think you’ll be able to take having your heart run over by a steamroller.

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FILM REVIEW: Melancholia (dir. Lars Von Trier, 2011)

Beautifully symbolic, though occasionally incoherent; intellectually dense; emotionally affecting.

At a certain point in Melancholia I actually started feeling the strange hot-cold waves that precede anxiety attacks: that sense of your body trying to expand beyond itself and inevitably becoming pressurized and restrained within your actual form. On paper Melancholia reads like a disaster movie, seeing as the Earth is completely obliterated in the first few minutes of the film; but all that is actually a metaphor, as it turns out, for depression and anxiety, although how the metaphor operates is up to individual interpretation. Melancholia can be a trying experience if you don’t really feel like pulling threads of meaning out of the tangled ball of string that this movie is, but there’s something about the concept of Melancholia that taps into humanity’s irrational, persistent fear of the universe at large.

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FILM REVIEW: The Elephant Man (dir. David Lynch, 1980)

Rating: 8 out of 10

I don’t think I have ever cried so hard over a movie.

I certainly wasn’t expecting this film to be a light-hearted jaunt, to be sure, but I wasn’t expecting the emotional devestation it delivered either. I have been habitually drawn to characters that are primarily defined by some sort of deformity, but they’re usually morally questionable if not downright evil. What makes The Elephant Man, and indeed the story of Joseph Merrick itself, so heartbreaking is that he was a good, kind person, resulting in Bambi-esque degrees of sadness.

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FILM REVIEW: Drive (2011, dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

7.5 out of 10

I love pleasant surprises.

Because for some reason, I went into this movie thinking it was going to be a mindless, unsatisfying action flick. That’s what the trailer made it look like! However, Drive is actually a dark, contemplative film, constantly threaded with suspense even in the film’s most langourous moments. The film might be a bit of an uneven experience, but it is never boring, and its stylized atmosphere is noteworthy in and of itself.

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FILM REVIEW: Never Let Me Go (2010; dir. Mark Romanek)

RATING: 7.5 out of 10 boats on a beach

Never Let Me Go is a very soft sort of sci-fi. It takes place in an alternate reality where humans are cloned for organ-harvesting, sure, but in the same vein as Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind you won’t see any flying cars or holographic displays here. This world is the same as ours, except for one changed variable in the past that has led to subtle and often unexpected differences in everyday life. The story focuses on the effects of this medical invention on three clones, sticking close to their limited perspective on the world they live in, thus ensuring that the film retains an organic, human center in the face of the kind of antiseptic nausea that could threaten to overtake a story with such an instinctively unpalatable concept. The science fiction element is used simply and precisely as a filter through which we can see certain facets of human life a little differently. The film subtly probes into questions about death, loss, and acceptance– but just out of the corner of your eye, so by the end you’ve been sucker-punched by a poignancy that you should have seen coming, but didn’t.

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