Posts Tagged ‘vengeance’

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Poachers Tried to Kill Rhinos in South African Reserve. Instead, a Pride of Lions Killed Them.

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On Crackle Now

by Kim Niccolini

I don’t need to tell you that the multiplex is dead. I am a girl who will see just about anything at the movies. I have spent my lifetime going to movies. But even me, the girl who can almost find something remotely redeemable to see at the multiplex, has stopped going. It’s that bad.

So I’m lucky to live in a town that has an independent non-profit cinema –The Loft – which not only shows independent and foreign films but that also screens classic movies on actual film. Currently they are showing a film noir series focusing primarily on tales of cops and corruption. They opened the series with Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953) which tells the story of tough cop Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) trying to take down the corrupt world of the mob and its marriage with law enforcement. Certainly the link between cops and crime is nothing new in the movies. It is as relevant today as it was when it was first explored in early gangster films such as Little Caesar (1931) and Scarface(1932) and when it was so brutally detailed in Frances Ford Coppola’s first two Godfather films (1972 and 1974). If you look to the movies as a model, in the past they have rarely pulled any punches in equating politics with crime and erasing the line between good and bad. Movies have been a great vehicle for showing the inherent corruption of the American capitalist system, whether legit or not. Criminals are cops, and cops are criminals, and in the end all systems – mafia or government – are out for the same things: money and power. Of course, that means money and power for the world of men, not women.

Keep on reading!

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Jodie Foster’s Death Wish

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Everything wrong with this film is summed up in three words by producer Joel Silver: “genre based entertainment.”

I took this as a serious movie, because it features Jodie Foster and in a different kind of role, as a disturbed vigilante.  I too wrote a similar psychological story about a character dealing with violence, a novel that needs a rewrite called American Gun Disorder.  I bring it up for the similarities that stand out: both have main characters in New York City dealing with violence and the desire for personal protection, firearms if necessary, in an inherently dangerous world.  Both main characters devolve and go essentially crazy.

Unfortunately, The Brave One is more of an implausible Charles Bronson Death Wish type plot, for the entire middle of the movie.  In rapid succession, Jodie just happens to find herself in the middle of extreme over the top incidents, where she must blast scumbags left and right.  It’s like the producers called central casting.  They placed an order for scumbag gang, psycho jealous husband, generic gangbanger pair, creepy John and suited elite gangster threatening stepdaughter.  Bang, bang, bang, bang…

What’s more, they took this off the shelf revenge fantasy and threw a British artsy-indie director at it, in order to make it appear more substantive.  Besides insulting the audience, he failed in his stylistic choices.  Such a film where the main character devolves from sane to insane, in way too short screen time no less, really needs to be from her point of view.  It has to be experiential.  The camera must capture experience, real time moments, the personal perceptions of a character.

What we got instead were standard setups, voyeuristic treatment.  The shots are more concerned with making it look cool than the actual psychology of the story.  A style like Black Swan, religiously following the main character throughout, would have been appropriate.  Here, we have a nicely lit commercial TV version of New York City.  It feels absolutely nothing like the actual New York City.  As cinematographer Philippe Rousselot revealed it was primarily shot on long lenses, which of course keep the audience at a distance, and it wasn’t “a panaorama.”  Intimate shooting requires wide lenses, proximity, a feel for the environment.  Long lenses, on the other hand, render the background as less consequential, simply window dressing.

A real character in the actual New York is half your work at selling the fear, the desperate sensibility and feeling of helplessness.  Walking among 40 story towering behemoths makes one feel very insignificant and powerless.  Add to that the hardened, aggressive city denizens, the 24 hour working class struggle and the fringes of civilization and you’re 90% there toward selling a descent into dog eat dog paranoia.  Watch any five minutes of Taxi Driver before you start production.  The Brave One failed glaringly there.  It’s simply overlit and filmed Hollywood style.

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The last problem, judging from bonus feature commentary, was Foster herself.  A “public radio junkie,” she was perhaps the wrong person to be steering this story.  NPR liberal head-nodders don’t walk around the city blasting gangbangers to kingdom come.  It doesn’t compute.  It may have been a good opportunity to show off her vocal talents and trade a radio show for unnecessary voice overs (but came off about the same anyway).  Her character, however, didn’t click for this world, for this story.

Now the film had a shot, and some people liked it – that’s why I rented it.  The beginning was okay, and the end had a little bit of inventiveness, not much, but some; I’d rate it 2.5/5.  The stupid action movie one-liners, “who’s the bitch now?” didn’t help.  The film’s middle, however, had no chance to avoid eye rolling and disbelief.  It’s like the various personalities involved took hold of sections of the film ensuring their concerns were included at certain points: just too many chefs.  In the end The Brave One pandered to rightwing conservative notions of payback and the death penalty, the usual point of these “genre based entertainments.”  No surprises on that front, which was a bit off-putting.  It’s like being trapped by conventions, by the idea that doing it differently is somehow verboten.  I found it an unnecessary, poorly done mimicry of harder edged predecessors, just another vehicle that should have stayed on the lot.

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Like, holy wow.

This ain’t a movie, yet.

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Last Wednesday and Thursday “Diana” boarded a public bus and shot the driver in the head with a pistol and walked away. A witness claims she told the second victim, “You guys think you’re real bad, don’t you?” before shooting him.

She then sent e-mails to Mexican media outlets with the handle “Diana, the hunter of bus drivers.”

“I myself and other women have suffered in silence but we can’t stay quiet anymore. We were victims of sexual violence by the drivers on the night shift on the routes to the maquilas [assembly plants in the city]. I am the instrument of vengeance for several women.”

 

You just fucked with the wrong Chica.

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Well I was pleasantly surprised by this one, certainly a great popcorn movie, more comedy than drama.  But, I was wrong on which direction they were heading from the initial teasers.  Seems JJ and crew managed to pull it off, and even left some simmering issues to ponder over.  Thumbs are up (thanks Roger Ebert, maybe I’ll use this distinction in the future).

So, let’s get spoiling!

But wait – a lot of my gripes are just sort of dumb scenes, perhaps hastily written in order to milk the character developments that occur later on.  I get that.  It’s more Fi than Sci.  As a space comedy it’s up there with Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest, and so the added perspective on war and vengeance is delivered with even more resonance.

 

SPOILERS

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Revised: 9.8.14

Few movies make such an impact and burrow into your brain so deeply as Christopher Nolan’s first real movie with a budget, Memento.  This tale of amnesia introduced Guy Pearce to America, and he is phenomenal as a brain damaged guy who can’t form new memories, but who must find and kill his wife’s killer in the name of vengeance.

This movie made me a Nolan fan.  His next project ripped off a very good Norwegian film that already worked perfectly fine without American studio exploitation.  I took a step back and started questioning Nolan right then and there.

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But Memento stands apart as an original twisted cinematic ride that is visceral and probably Nolan’s best film, although The Prestige may be up there in the running.

 

But back to Memento which brings Joe Pantoliano back to the screen, whom I hadn’t seen much of since Guido the Killer Pimp.  Come to think of it, he’s also in The Matrix.  These two, Pantoliano and Pearce, try and piece together how the hell Pearce has gotten here and why.  But Pearce has covered himself with tattoos to establish the facts of his existence. When he thinks certain of something he draws it into his skin, so that when he inevitably forgets everything he can quickly return to his quest.

Nolan’s got something, and it really operates on a different level than most people.

The style is much like a noir, a flashbacked mind bent noir with big questions at the heart of the quest.  It is, after all, about a blinding drive for vengeance.  The act of vengeance is brought to life in a way that nobody had ever seen before.

Memento is cited by many as a film to put on a list of mind bending titles (my own list). I hope you youngsters are keeping track of these gems … oh wait, Transformers 12 is coming!

 

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This is pretty good after the initial cacophony of soundtracks in the first couple minutes.  Article.