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All reviews - Movies (157) - TV Shows (4) - Books (2)

Hit Me

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 23 August 2011 05:28 (A review of Fight Club (1999))

David Fincher's 1999 adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel, "Fight Club" is visceral, like a punch in the the chest. It is unapologetic, gritty, subversive, and at times blatantly sexual.

And it's funny. It is a story about what happens when a movement that promises freedom becomes more constricting then confirmatory society ever was. Think 'Animal Farm' with abnormal psychology and bloody, bone-crunching fistfights.

The unnamed anti-hero of this film, Narrator (Edward Norton,) is a disturbed office worker who can't sleep at night. His insomnia presents reality as some kind of waking dream. Well, he doesn't look as bad a Christian Bale in "The Machinist," bu he's still pretty rough in appearance, and he can barely work up enough enthusiasm to go to work in the morning.

Because he works repossessing unsafe cars after fatal accidents, he gets to travel a lot, but his life remains at a virtual standstill. All this changes when he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt,) a nihilist rebel who believes humanity should be reduced to it's most primal state.

After Narrator's apartment blows up under suspicious circumstances, he goes to live in Tyler Durden's home, which must of been a beautiful house at one time but is now repellent in it's decay and inefficiency.

Soon, Tyler and his new house-guest start a Fight Club, which temporarily releases men's feelings of inadequacy minus a few teeth, and might seem like a great idea if you're into boxing and WWE.

Add the Borderlinish, suicidal Marla Singer and the men's own twisted psyches, and you've got a recipe for disaster. The first thing that strikes me about this film is the overwhelming loneliness. Narrator is a cynic, so much so that he alienates himself and everyone around him.

"How could Tyler thing it was a bad thing that Marla Singer was about to die?" he muses when Marla swallows a bottle of Xanax and invites Tyler over for a night of lovemaking.

In my 'Favorite Characters" description of Edward Norton's character, I said this- 'like Chuck Palahniuk's character Victor Mancini, the sex addict at the center of the book and film "Choke," 'Narrator' pretends to hold the human race in contempt, but at the same time cries out in pitiful loneliness, "love me, love me, love me!!" I think us cynics can relate.' I think this is pretty accurate.

Although his character is dark-dark, I cannot help but sympathize with his urge to make things right after he finds out the truth about Tyler. This is not a film for everyone. The violence comes in droves, and no character presents themselves as noble. Furthermore, it is not really a realistic presentation of it content, and is more stylish than literal in it's subject matter.

But it makes you think while it entertains you, and I cannot really find any movie to compare it to. It is utterly original. Note- This film is a work of fiction and any decision to partake in an actual Fight Club would be utter stupidity.

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Memorable Thriller

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 17 August 2011 09:20 (A review of Memento)

Nowadays Christopher Nolan is known and highly respected for the overrated "Inception" and highly popular 'Batman' re-imaginings. Back in 2000 he made a lesser-known film called "Memento," which actually outshines some of his recent work.

"Memento," which was his second full-length feature, was based on a short story called 'Memento Mori' by his brother, Jonathan Nolan. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is revealed as an unreliable narrator, and you have to take what he says a face value.

Hit on the head during an attack on him and his wife, Leonard has no short term memory. It's not amnesia, he explains, but he probably won't remember their conversation in a few minute's time. Actually, it's a specific kind of amnesia, called Anterograde amnesia.

Although it can be implausible at times, "Memento" is no cheap soap opera, nor a cheap exploitation of it's subject matter. Leonard cannot remember anything that occurs after the accident. In order to create 'new' memories, he writes notes or tattoos details on his skin. On his hand is printed 'remember Sammy Jankis,' and a sideplot reveals the sad story of an older man with his condition.

Leonard's mission is to find and kill the men who raped his wife and caused his head injury. He is helped by a suspicious, flippant cop named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) and Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss,) a manipulative she-b*tch whose drug dealer boyfriend is recently missing. He finds neither of them totally trustworthy, and must rely on himself to find the perpentrators. But can he?

The film is cleverly structured and told in reverse, so that you gradually move on to the earlier events in the story. Guy Pearce, a slightly more inconspicuous actor, was picked out by Nolan out of superstars like Brad Pitt. He does a good job, showing Leonard's confusion and resolve, although he remains not a compelling as Ralph Fiennes in David Cronenberg's similarly mind-bending thriller "Spider."

"Memento," in it's darkness and ambiguity, can easily pass as film noir. Another noir-ish element is the dark developments of it's characters. Even Leonard's beloved wife is revealed to not be all she seems. Although one of Nolan's earlier works and not a cinema-packer like "The Dark Knight," "Memento" deserves a wide viewership and stands as a capable thriller with an outstanding twist.

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Disturbing? It's Rumley!

Posted : 7 years, 4 months ago on 19 July 2011 10:52 (A review of Red White Blue)

If you have seen this director's previous U.S.-available effort, "The Living & the Dead," you'll know the drill- everything that can go wrong does, and his films navigate the uncomfortable grey areas of the human psyche. Being a fan of Simon Rumley's "The Living & the Dead," I decided to check it out, despite similarly mixed reviews and a nagging feeling in the back of my gut.

Boy, this film is brutal. If Rumley meant to outdo the violence of nihilistic tone of his previous movie, he succeeded. All the main characters make uniformly bad and immoral decisions, and all of them suffer for it. The movie starts out with a sleazy feel, with promiscuous Erica (Amanda Fuller) getting into bed with random strangers at a nightclub.

Then she meets Nate (Noah Taylor,) who got a honorable discharge from Iraq. Although he tips her off almost immediately that he has a history of torturing and killing animals, Erica is drawn to him, mostly because he is the first man in a long time who doesn't seem to be after sex.

The film then puts a third character into the mix, Franki (Marc Senter,) who is taking care of his sick mother Ellie (Sally Jackson. whose kind and sympathetic character reminds the viewer of Kate Fahy's Nancy in "The Living and the Dead." Franki has a rock band going with his various buds, and hates his father.

The family is thrilled when Ellie goes into remission, but tragedy lurks just around the corner, and Erica's crime has unexpected repercussions. Gandhi's advice, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind," seems to apply here

Like Todd Field's "In the Bedroom," revenge only hurts those who practice it, and no one seems to get much gratification out of it (except for one, who is basically a sociopath.) But even the sociopath is capable of compassion,, which makes the dynamic between the characters all the more puzzling.

I love Rumley's style, with his moral ambiguity, interesting cinematography, and tense situations. But "Red, White, & Blue" has scenes and gaps in storytelling that make it seem less professional. The music during the torture scenes, for instance, are discordant and not in a good way, like taking bad inspiration from "Psycho."

Some scenes open awkwardly in the middle of the action, and end just as uncomfortably. An example is when Erica is almost raped by a co-worker. The beginning shot of the scene takes place in the middle of the attack, and Nate lingers for a moment before hitting the attacker with a hammer (off-screen.)

The next scene shows Nate approaching and sitting next to a teary Erica. But happened to the would-be rapist. Is he killed (and his body disposed of?) Arrested? Taken to the hospital? He disappears without a trace. There are several scenes like that, which leave the viewer rather confused.

Some of the dialogue is rather stiff and drawn out, and several lines sound alien from the way or anyone I know speak. The acting is good, however, whith unknown actors (Amanda Fuller, Marc Senter) turning in capable performances. Noah Taylor, who you may know as the teenage version of the pianist David Helfgott in the biopic "Shine," does creepy and brutal nicely. And the last scene of violence goes above and beyond over the top, amounting to one of the most disgusting things I've seen in a long time.

Should you see it? Despite panning reviews, it's not 'only an exploitation film.' Although it is a bit rough at times. it has a sense of style, and has Rumley's essential humanity, light amongst the darkness. Go see it if you have a strong stomach, and make sure to watch "The Living and the Dead" too, which has classy Gothic atmosphere and more involving, likable characters.

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