June 2015 Media Round-up (Movies)


Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Elizabeth Olsen’s face was magnificent, but the movie itself was…not quite for me? It’s one of those movies (or rather, Films) that a specific type of person will say they loved and you’ve got to wonder if they actually enjoyed it or if they just thought that they should and so convinced themselves that they did. It definitely nails the creepy and surreal atmosphere, and cults are always a fascinating subject, but it was pretty slow, and I wish there had been a bit more dialogue. But right, I guess that’s the difference between movies and Films.

24 Hour Party People (2002)

Stylistically, pretty cool. I do enjoy biopics that are not just straight-up biopics (see: Bronson) and I’m a huge sucker for fourth-wall breaking. However, this movie does presuppose a level of knowledge about the 1976-1992 Manchester music scene  that I totally did not have—I put 24 Hour Party People on my “Movies to watch” list at some point over the past few years, but I don’t remember why and I didn’t look up a summary immediately before watching it, so the only thing I knew going in was that it was a comedy. It would probably be a more interesting or meaningful movie to someone who has at least heard of Tony Wilson and is familiar with Joy Division and New Order, beyond just “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Blue Monday.” Although that’s maybe part of a larger discussion about the Purpose of biopics that would almost definitely lead us to Lisztomania.

Pusher (1996)

Man, not into this. The scenes of gangsters just shooting the shit were fun, but I think we never get to know the main dude well enough to get invested in the plot, and the plot isn’t interesting or unique enough to watch for its own sake. And it’s not at all as stylized as Bronson or Drive, which is probably a reasonable choice if one is going for gritty realism, but it’s not really what I’m interested in seeing. Apparently Pusher II focuses on Mads Mikkelsen’s character from this movie, so I may try it anyway.

Dope (2015)

Really enjoyed this, but don’t have too much to say about it? It was not the movie I was expecting; whatever promotional materials I had seen for it made it look like a stylish but ultimately pretty fluffy coming-of-age comedy, and while it certainly had some elements of that, it also had much more. Maybe too much more—I think it’s gotten some criticism for being overpacked/trying to do too many things, but that’s way better than the alternative, so whatever. Excellent costuming, well-written dialogue, compelling plot, and, maybe the most noteworthy for me, a non-cringeworthy (and plot-integral) portrayal of modern technology (social media, smartphones, etc.).

Eden (2015)

I like this a lot more in retrospect than I actually did as I watched it. In theory: I like the idea of following around this dude over two decades as he achieves mild success and then a sort of slow decline as he fails to adapt to the times and his behavior becomes less flattering without youthfulness it back it up. I really like the idea that this a movie that features Daft Punk as characters but is not about Daft Punk—the main character is friends/friendly acquaintances with Daft Punk, so their formation and rise to fame is happening on the periphery of the action (or lack thereof), which leads to some of the funnier scenes in the movie. But let’s remember that as I watched this in the theater, I was just waiting and waiting for something to happen that would make me feel like “oh, so this is why this movie exists” or at least give me a sense of how long was left in the movie. That moment never came, and as I checked my phone at the end of the movie, I was shocked to find that it had only been a little over 2 hours and not, like, 4+ hours.

Also a similar thing to my issue with 24 Hour Party People: this is a movie about a specific music scene (in this case, French house-music from the ’90s to now) that probably requires some familiarity with said scene to truly enjoy the movie the way it was meant to be enjoyed. And I totally lack that familiarity, which is on me and not the movie.

Manhunter (1986)

Already discussed at length here, with some bonus Red Dragon.

Wilde (1997)

Jude Law is attractive in this, but other than that, eh. So many scenes of Stephen Fry saying famous Oscar Wilde quotes to great laughter and applause that just felt so artificial. Yes, he’s playing Oscar Wilde, but something in his delivery or the context of the script just makes these moments feel like the quip-pause-laughter rhythm of sitcoms filmed before live studio audiences. It may also be an issue of the characters acting with a certain awareness of posterity, if that makes sense? I mean, I don’t know how many of these were one-liners that Wilde dropped intentionally (like a joke in a stand-up comic’s set that they perhaps hope will become iconic and quotable) and how many were taken from letters or speeches or works of fiction and stripped of context. If they’re the former, then maybe the movie’s way of incorporating them is actually appropriate.


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