Monday, February 28, 2011

Cue Oscar rebuttal....aaaaaaand Action!

So maybe my friend and supervisor manfred is right...maybe the oscars are just a popularity contest these days. Will that ever keep me from anticipating and watching them every year...absolutely not. Sometimes their decisions don't always match my particular tastes(shakespeare in love over ryan?...julia roberts over ellen burstyn?), but to be fair cinema like other forms of art is a subjective medium. So who am I to say that the choices made were "wrong"...or "right" for that matter. So get over it, sit back and enjoy the show. Because what the oscars does better than awarding the "right" talent is create a show in which memorable moments are made by the handful....some are painful...(lettermans oprah/uma bit) while others are endearing(adrien brody running on stage overflowing with emotion that he bends halle back and kisses her like only a real hollywood gentleman can). Like I said in my previous post...what better movie night is there than the oscars?.....its not always about being the best but about enjoying cinema in its entirety.

So here are some quick thoughts about this specific oscars and the winners that were chosen.

- Kirk Douglas stole the night....his son Michael had the best line of the Golden Globes about a month ago...and here the father shows the same amount of sophistication and charm as he scores some of the best laughs of the night without being completely self deprecating....his delay of announcing the winner was priceless...Spartacus will always be a legend...

- Bale is such a badass....he's so obscenely talented and I'm happy he fact I should do an article on him because the guys is a Harsh Times, The Machinist, and then The Prestige....his transformations are insane....

- Inception took home four oscars: sound, sound editing, fx, and cinematography....completely solid wins....the effects were amazing and seamless....I would have loved for Libatique to take it but Pfister turned in gorgeous work...and ALL of the praised Nolan above all....damn straight

- Aaron Sorkin name checked Paddy Chayefsky.....if you don't know who that is you're probably the type of person who wouldn't like my blog...and that's fine...but if PTA, Nolan, Fincher, and Aronofsky are inheriting the reins of great american directors(yeah yeah nolan is in there I know where he's from douches)...then Sorkin is definitely Chayefsky's heir to throne of socially relevant and intelligient writing

- Portman for best actress....Ozma has a song dedicated to probably do the same if I could write and/or play music....oh yah and she earned this defining performance...

- Spielberg's list of best picture winners and losers was awesome and gives new meaning to the phrase..."its an honor to be nominated"...or as he put it "you are all in good company"

That's about it...I should have the next movie night up in about a week...I know you're all anxious to read it so I'll try my best to get it out soon

Final thought: Eli Wallach owns....if you only know him from the Holiday please go right now and watch some of his films.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27th 2011... Yawn, Oscars... Who Cares.

With the amount activity going on the world today (such as the Middle East or Wisconsin), I cannot see why anyone cares about the Oscars. Yet, here we are again... It has been a quick year and now the Oscars are back with their rudimentary brand of politics! I better get this diatribe out before I get censored by the music.

I used to love the Oscars before it became an exercise in making sure everyone wins at least once and less on merit. Now, it is simply a popularity contest more in tune with the short attention span of American culture. Seriously... Avatar was nominated for nine awards! Chicago wins Best Picture! Are you kidding me! The Academy has lost touch with its sense of purpose a long long time ago and frankly do not matter anymore.

The worst part of Oscar season besides the lead up to them is the apologists who keep trying to drum up support for them. Case in point, Matt Whitfield's 8 Reasons to Watch the Oscars. I decided to give this a read and even I do not believe this guy is excited about any of these reasons. Also, he strikes me as one of those posers who does not see any of the nominees until they were announced in January. This type of vapid discourse is ultimately killing the art of cinema in the United States. The number one reason to watch the Oscars is "Fashion, Fashion, Fashion," sorry this the last reason to watch this since it is the Oscars not the Lux Style Awards. This is the problem with the Oscars, it has become all about style and not substance.

I do not know about you guys but I stopped watching the Oscars in 2002 and I will not be tuning in because James Franco and Anne Hathaway are hosting. (This actually put me off further because its pretentious nature) Get back to awarding films, actors and such that deserve not because they were snubbed in the past... Then I will watch. In short, LOCATE WHAT MADE PAST OSCARS GREAT... You know, a PURPOSE.

P.S. Whitfield you are an idiot on two counts: One) Obviously the selection of Gervais worked since you are still talking about an awards ceremony that means nothing and is even worse than the Oscars. At this time last year, everyone forgot about them... Some controversy creates longevity. Two) The only time some is added to the in memoriam slideshow is the year they die. Haim did not make it now or ever nor should he... His contribution to American cinema was minimal to say the least and he would simply take up space. Of course, if the Oscars continue to decline in relevance, he has a spot in the 2050 slideshow.

The Conductor Wishes to Alert You That the Film Foray Cavalcade is Leaving the Station!

Film Foray Cavalcade #1:


I love the Criterion collection. There I said it. Of course, their films cost an arm and a leg on Blu Ray but they are worth it for the accompanying essays alone. When they release films they take the utmost care and consideration to release the best product possible, whether it is a wealth of special features or offering the best transfers of video and audio. They have missed the mark some times with such releases as the Rock and Armageddon but overall, their catalogue is unrivaled. One disconcerting thing is the addition of untried --by the test of time-- films such as Benjamin Button or the --focus of this article-- AntiChrist to name a few.

I would like to begin with by explaining that I was looking forward to watching AntiChrist for a long time since I missed it during its short run at a Tucson "art" theater. When I first saw its Blu release, I was glad that my chance had come. I went into watching this film with an open mind, I knew it was going to an "off-putting" and "controversial" from the reputation of the director alone. (The name also helped with this) The film had some decent buzz at Cannes, was nominated for some equivalent of the Oscars in Denmark (which they won all of them) and fizzled here in the states.

I attempted to like this film, it had an amazing video and audio transfer (Thanks, Criterion) and the cinematography was top-notch... Sadly, this was the extent of what was good about the film. There was nothing (and I mean nothing) in the realm of character development. For those not in the "know," the premise is this: a couple's son fell to his death (because they were too involved in coitus to lock their windows), wife has mental breakdown, they visit their cabin, wife goes further into insanity and ultimately husband kills wife. I understand that the loss of a child can be traumatic but at one point, She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) admits that she knew the child could push a chair around and would do so often. At that point, I was done caring and all empathy as a fellow parent was lost.

I must also confess that this is the first film of Von Trier's that I had seen but I did a little background research into his style of film making. I do not consider myself a prude in the realm of violence or sex on celluloid but this was both ridiculous and gratuitous. Case in point, during the opening sequence, let's cut to an unnecessary shot of Willem Defoe's penis penetrating Gainsbourg... Seriously, this serves no purpose as we can see that they are having sex. This film simply pushed the button for the sake of doing. Whether it was the acts of violence, genital mutilation or the multitude of animals giving birth in front of "He" (Defoe).

I had tried to like this film but once the credits rolled, I had one mission... Get this film off my shelf of films. There is no deeper meaning to this film as the lack of character development and realism precludes it. Many people in this world have lost children, I doubt many of the women involved decided on genital mutilation, attaching a carving stone to their husband's leg or going completely psychotic as a means of dealing with it. Oh wait, those are the six, seventh and eight stages of grief.

The are many people out there who feel that this film deserves a second viewing and then the whole film makes sense. How is that possible? At the end, I was hoping that both of them would die because I could not make myself care about the emotional plight they were facing. The lasting impression of this film upon me was one of a misogynistic mess.

The sad fact... When I placed this film on Amazon for sale, it sold in an hour.

Recommendation: Avoid and bask in the time saved... Fly a kite or feed some ducks.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Movie Night #2 REDRUM...REDRUM

Murder intrigues us. We play games where we can play out our craziest fantasies of how to kill, maim, and altogether mutilate our fellow man. As a species we cannot help but be be curious about the forbidden and if there is one universal right and wrong it is that killing another person is wrong. So is it any wonder that serial killers are treated like macabre celebrities? We have numerous tv shows dedicated to this very act and one where the killer himself is the good guy. I want to take a look at serial killers in cinema. "M" is necessary viewing for anyone interested in exploring the genre lets just get that out of the way right now. For this article I will be staying much more contemporary. Specifically I will examine two forms of serial killer film: the procedural realism approach and the high paced mystery adventure. I will analyze the films through the filter of a quote by Commissioner Niemans in The Crimson Rivers which says, "A serial killer kills to exist, this is a pointer, a pointer kills to point us in a direction." I wish to contrast the two and point out what threads are sewn through both forms and at which point these two branch off and become their own entity.

First off let us define what we're watching.
serial killer film - I am going to define this as a film in which there is a series of murders occuring, seemingly connected to which their is an ongoing investigation done with some cooperation by the law. Also the film is much more interested in the case rather than the acts themselves, therefore "slasher" films need not apply.

The four films I will reference are these
Zodiac - David Fincher
Memories of Murder - Bong Joon-ho

The Oxford Murders - Alex De La Iglesia
The Crimson Rivers - Mathieu Kassovitz

To begin with lets tackle the portrayal of the serial killers themselves. In all four of these films the serial killer is elusive throughout the entirety of each film, seen only in glimpses here and there until the end, but we'll get to that in a minute.Doing this accomplishes two things. One, we now have a legend being created before our eyes. Never seeing the killer creates intrigue surrounding not only who he/she is but how they are able to elude our investigators so well. In Memories of Murder bong joon-ho shows the killer only a few times and never once do we get a clear look. The first instance is easy to miss if you're not paying attention as the killer is out of focus in the background rising from the ground only to disappear back to the earth. He reappears a few moments later for a split second, and again the few seconds we see of him show a monstrous body language as he assaults one of his victims.

In Zodiac the killer whenever the killer is in fram his is always hidden in shadow. The one time it is not hidden by shadow is when he attacks a couple during the daytime wearing something you might think a supervillain would wear, complete with symbol on the chest and facemask. By constantly filming the killer as a fleeting object and never letting the audience see them makes them completely unrelatable. It strips them of any kind of identifiable human traits, in fact it begins to force us to think of them as symbols. In both of these "real" movies the murderer becomes a symbol for pure evil, representing the dredges of humanity rising from below the earth, like in the korean film, to commit the most heinous atrocities.

So these two examples present the killer as inhuman, something we could never understand and something we must extinguish. In the adventure movies the killer is almost a formality, a neccesity for the greater mystery to exist. The killer merely serves as a vehicle to drive a much larger puzzle that must be solved, and THAT is what the heroes are interested in. It is the puzzle that obsesses our heros in the ADVENTURE films. The Oxford Murders lays this out and foreshadows the whole movie with the opening scene.The movie opens with a war scene and we have Wittgenstein focusing on a logic problem rather than paying attention to all the killing that goes on around him. This relates directly to how John Hurt and Elijah Wood will try to solve the killers puzzles rather than search out who the killer is or even try that hard to stop them. Much like Wittgenstein they are focusing on how to solve the problem rather than focusing on stopping people from getting killed. While the prior films discuss in great length who the killer might be almost ALL of the conversations had revolve around the killers intelligience and the next move in this complicated game of chess. Relating this back to Niemans' quote we see that these investigators are following the murders to a solution rather than searching out the killer himself.

In both Zodiac and Memories of Murder the directors highlight in detail the different tools or lack of tools detectives have for solving crimes. Fincher highlights the difficulty of investigation in an age without cellphones and modern technology. He shoots numerous phone exchanges between the SFPD and the various other police departments from the surrounding areas. These exchanges are great because we see how overly complicated the whole process is and without something as simple as email these officers have to consistently be making contact with each person to loop everyone in rather than being able to hit "cc." In Memories of Murder we have country cops who are for lack of a better word "brutish." Their detective tools involve intimidation and forcing confessions whenever they can. The directors show us in detail what the detectives go through and we see how slow and difficult the process is. Throughout it all we see the detective begin to crumble psychologically from the stress and dissappointment of the case.

While the real investigators look at the scene of the crime intensely and talk to witnesses hoping to find traces of the killer, the investigators in the other films look for "clues" to their puzzle. John Hurt gets much more excited upon discovering a triangle or other logical symbols rather than finding fingerprints or hairs. This is because he needs to solve the puzzle before he finds the killer. Elijah Wood is there with him in a battle of wits almost racing John Hurt to solve this grand puzzle both becoming obsessed with it. They both follow the killers "points" rather than the murders themselves. This parallels the obsession that the investigators in the other movies feel, but here since the emotion is taken out of it we don't see them begin to crumble like the detectives do in Memories of Murder.

Then you have Crimson Rivers which walks a middle ground in regards to the investigation. The two cops still question witnesses and search for forensic evidence but they are also just as interested in the ovewhelming mystery that is unfolding as a result of their investigation. Now, this film also differs in that none of the detectives begin to get overwhelmed by the case in the way that the heros in the other films do. Cassel and Reno keep working the case and continually make progress until all the pieces fall together in a very fast paced climax. Lastly, this being the film that provided the inspiration for what little focus I have it is also the film in which the characters are the most self aware. These characters understand that the killings are meaningful, but more than that they know the killings serve a greater purpose than just "revenge" or a personification of evil.

Before we finish here I want to look at the resolution of each of the films. In both of the "real" films the killer is never found. They both finish with the investigators trying to track down one last suspect in the hopes that they will finally get some closure. Of course, they never get it, the stories are based on true stories and the killers really were never found. I mentioned before that these films paint these killers as a personification of evil, and of course evil can never be killed. By the end of these films are characters are at a low point. Memories of Murder shows our detectives so desperate to find the killer that they are willing to look past DNA evidence and still pursue the wrong suspect, but ultimately evil lives on.

The other two films finish with a much less ominous message. The Oxford Murders gives us a nice double ending in which we learn that overly complicated serial killer stories are a joke and easily manufactured. The two characters have one last battle of wits as they discuss responsibility and fault. The Crimson Rivers finishes with our serial killer "pointing" our detectives to the final answer. Reno and Cassel find their killer, solve the mystery and everything is wrapped up in a very satisfactory package. While the other two films finish with ambiguity forcing us to think about the nature of everything we've just watched both of these films give us a concrete resolution to the problems at hand.

Obviously the "real" films are going to be much deeper and a more intense experience, but upon closer inspection one can really see how similar traits exist withing the various forms of serial killer films in order to achieve very different experiences. The "adventure" films move at a breakneck pace as we race through amazing settings finding clues and following the "points" that the murders point us to, resulting in a thoroughly exciting film. They may not be the most thought provoking but both of these examples give you some nice entertainment for a few hours. The "real" films succeed on a deeper level and ultimately exist as much better "films" than the adventure genre. Again relatively simple conclusions, but through writing this piece and viewing these films back to back seeing the similarities and differences really prove these theories. So this is the end of part 2. I'll probably continue with relatively contemporary films for a few more entries before i begin exploring some older fare. Thank you all for reading i've thoroughly enjoyed this so far especially taking something that will most likely never see serious criticism such as the two "adventure" serial killer films and searching for some underlying meaning or connection. Or maybe im just overthinking something thats not there. You tell me...please feel free to comment.

One last thought - finally saw Fantastic Mr Fox...definitely going to need to rethink my 2009 best of list now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Gym is a Hot Bed of Conservatism!

I understand that this sounds like the penny novels of yore... You know the ones, "Communists Consumed My Children!" or "My Infant Actively Quotes Rousseau!" to name a few.

It seems I broke my resolution to tone down the awesome as I began going to the gym. Not to lose weight mind you as I am skinny as a rail or Abraham Lincoln but to... That's not the point.

Anyway, the first day, I was working out on the elliptical and was looking at what was on the televisions overhead. One was the local WB affiliate, the other Food Network (That is one way to motivate people to lose weight... Get them salivating over pretentious food) and the remainder are dedicated to perpetuating right wing rhetoric.

Honestly, I could care less... I am more about getting in shape and listening to english rock than trying to stomach the O'Reilly Factor(something that always airs when I happen to work out). This is not a leftist voicing his opposition to Fox News. I could give the slightest of shits. This is the best someone can offer their clientele?

Seriously, someone might try to market some research. You know, find out what those frequenting your gym might enjoy or for the sake of (whatever) percentage of liberals frequent it... Avoid any political voice. I want to get ripped not engage in politics... Regardless of its persuasion.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tickets, Tickets... All Aboard, the Film Foray Cavalcade!

The main goal of PORTEmaus when it was first conceived and developed was to create a forum for politics and culture. Ultimately, for the better part of its first year, it has just delved deeper and deeper into the realm of the poor man's Huffington Post. There is nothing wrong with that but it was neglecting one of the main tenets of this blog. At the start of the year, Bence began the "Movie Night" columns (which are amazing and everyone should check them out... Hint Hint.) I am going to be posting short reviews of movies that I have watched. The main decision behind this move is that I watched an awful movie and the world at large needs to hear about. (Please note: World at Large = the 5.34 people who frequent this page... Keep it up! We love you) So, keep checking out "Movie Night" with Bence and delve into the inner workings and finer aspects of cinema. Then if you are bored, come listen to me rant about bad films.

As always... Who loves you baby,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Movie Night #1 and here ...we....go.

Oscars are on their way and what better movie night is there than the Oscars? So I wanted to give you all an alternative to Oscar night. Im sure all of you are wildly curious to see what else these brilliant directors have put out so im going to suggest we take a quick trip through some back catalog titles of some of the people who were nominated this year

Best Director – Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan

Alternative title – The Fountain

I mentioned before that Aronofsky makes movies about passions that devolve into obsessions. Here it is love and overcoming mortality that guides are hero, Tom. Whatever your interpretation is of the events that take place I believe it is safe to say that Tomas, Tommy and Tom are representations of the same ideal. Each man is on a journey of discovery in order to fulfill his dream of eternal love with his “Isabella.”

This film marks a turning point in terms of aesthetics when it comes to Aronofsky. He’s not messing with film stock quality, nor is he playing around with rapid fire montage cuts. Now anyone who has seen this film knows that it is far from conventional. Here he balances three parallel stories, cutting between the three at will forcing you to question which stories actually exist or which stories are just that…stories.

Aronofsky makes complex and challenging films. So with that comes quite a few interpretations to be had. Rather than attempt to analyze the film in its entirety I’m going to focus on a few things relating to its theme of life and mortality. First off I will analyze Aronofsky’s use of black and white as a metaphor for the journey our heros take but also as a metaphor for the cyclical nature of life. I will also touch upon Izzy’s role as a guide for our hero to find his way to his ultimate fate.

Aronofsky uses black and white throughout the movie to symbolize the journey of life. Our hero in all three stories starts out in low light or shadow, and as his journey progresses each hero becomes closer to “the light”. In the past story we see the conquistador travel through a dark temple until he finds the guard of the tree of life. Aronofsky stages these scenes beautifully almost as if he was trying to bring ancient paintings to life. His composition of scenes clearly sets up Tomas as the “hero” of the story. He is constantly center in the frame or posed directly opposite his enemies, such as his fight with the guardian of the tree of light. Here he overcomes the flaming sword and walks out to the tree bathed in light. Upon opening the tree it begins to spew the purest of pure white sap. Here he has found liquid creation. It is also here that we discover that the colors of black and white do not necessarily mean life and death in a strict interpretation of the words. Tomas falls down and becomes part of the earth and new life erupts from inside of him. Sporting white flowers no less.

The story taking place in the present is the most subtle of the three. Dr. Tommy is racing to find a cure for his wife. We constantly see him walking through halls which parallel the conquistadors journey through the Mayan temple. Libatique lights these scenes very precisely, as Tommy moves we see the light begin to flicker over him more and more as he gets closer to the "cure." In the modern story Izzy tells the story of Xibalba and how one had to die in order for a new universe to be created. So we begin to see that whereas “white” is creation it also demands destruction. This view of life and death is repeated throughout the film as seen first with Tomas and the tree of life and now here Izzy spells it out for us.

In this story Izzy is constantly trying to get him out into the snow, or trying to pull Tommy to the light. Her clothes are almost exclusively white showing us how close she is to the end of her current life that she is beginning to understand what happens at the end. Combined with the story she tells about Xibalba we really begin to see that Izzy is our heros guide. She has already made the connection between life and death and it is represented by her constant desire to be in the snow and be dressed in white. Seemingly making the beautiful statement: love guides us through life and will endure throughout time.

The last part of this story shows us, presumably, the last man alive flying through space with the tree of life and the spirit of Izzy. The man we can presume is tommy who has managed to live forever and is completing the mythical journey his wife told him about. Again our hero begins in shadow, so extreme at one point we only see a silhouette of him against the stars. He now is dressed in white similar to how Izzy was dressed in the modern tale. We are led to believe that he has accepted his fate and is trying to make this last ditch effort to be with his beloved for eternity.

More than anything these future scenes bring together the past and present stories....we see the tree and ancient tools but we are located within a hyperadvanced space ship with Izzy again motivating him to keep going.

So I'm going to discuss the last few shots of the movie so if there's anyone who hasn't seen it...sorry. the astronaut gets flung through the space as they enter xibalba in an awesome array of light and the tree is reborn.

Back in the present Tommy stands at Izzy's grave and looks up and Xibalba isn't there anymore....he picks a seed and wipes the grave of his beloved free from snow and says "I know how it ends." All this happens rather quick but it all has so much symbolism embedded in it. The seed is obviously new life but now we see that Tommy realizes what Izzy had realized. That life and death are not endings. They create one another in an endless cycle. Her black tombstone covered in snow is another example of this relationship with life and death. We see how even though she died already the light has moved in and is beginning to overcome once again.

Lastly I want to talk about the credits. As Tommy looks up coming to terms with everything he's learned the screen goes white. Creation. Then black begins to seep in and we see slowly before our eyes a universe the end of the credits the now black sky is filled with stars. Now this had me recall a previous scene where Tomas goes to see his queen and to get to her he must traverse a huge hall full of hanging candles....little spots of light in the darkness. I mentioned before that Aronofsky had adapted what he learned from Pi and Requiem to fit this movie, and here in an amazing dispkay of craftsmanship he uses repetition so well to subtly drive home his theme. Izzy was his love and guide the whole time. From the beginning he was willing to travel to the stars if it meant being with her forever, and in doing so he learned that life and death do not have to be so precise, when love is involved they create endless cycles of life they even create new universes.

Best Picture - 127 Hours dir. Danny Boyle

Alternative Title - Sunshine

Danny Boyle has been enjoying some great acclaim at this point in his career. I've been a fan for years so its nice to see such an eclectic director get the recognition he deserves. Boyle has never really stuck to one genre moving from zombies, to dark comedy, to drug soaked drama. Within each genre he refuses to make anything "typical", instead approaching it with a seriousness and intelligience which usually results in something special. Not to sayy all of his films are dead serious, only that he has a reverence for film and enjoys exploring the genre within which he resides.

Sunshine is his science fiction film. He knocks this out of the park, creating an amazing atmospheric sci fi film that asks some serious questions about the importance of life and what responsibility we all have for sustaining it. At least up until the last half hour when the movie inexplicably becomes a zombie slasher film. Make no mistake I highly recommend this film, he does such an amazing job for most of the movie that it still gets a positive response from me. Now with this film I'm going to talk briefly about what he got right and then discuss just how bad he stumbles the landing.

The film begins with a single point of light and as it gets bigger we realize we're looking at the sun reflecting off the spaceship. He nails the realism right from the beginning. Like I said he takes everything so serious and here he creates a story very much based in reality. This group of astronauts are on a mission to kickstart our dying sun, which is actually inevitable. Whether a nuke could kickstart it well that's one problem that even the crew discusses within the film.Boyle adds so much detail to this world to make it feel real. The hyrdoponic center is very apt solution to creating renewable food and oxygen on year long missions. He has the servers dipped in a freezing solution given how hot they would have to run in order to support the ship and its proximity to the sun.

He uses a very calm camera for most of the beginning not moving it too fast or cutting harshly between scenes. He takes us through the ship smoothly letting the viewer take in the beauty of the ship bathed in golden light and admiring the interior of his ship.

He introduces us to each of the characters and makes they are all individuals. Garland created a nice mix of personalities without having to resort to extremes from michelle yeohs hopeful botanist to cliff curtis(from The Fountain!) Psychologist who is obsessed with bathing in the suns light. The standout performances are those of Chris Evans' pilot and Cillian Murphy's physicist. There relationship creates much of the drama on the ship and they both turn in some strong and subtle work.

Chris Evans is completely underrated and I blame it on Not Another Teen Movie. If you doubt his ability he owns this movie all the way to the end even in the face of sun zombie attacks. His character is often the voice of reason, he makes hard decisions and is fully ready for the responsibility attached to them. He is ready to die for this cause, but he believes everyone should be ready to die to. To him nothing is more important than the mission.

So now we get to the end, along the way stuff has gone wrong as it always must in deep space. Ship malfunctions begin occurring they take a detour from the mission which was obviously a bad idea. Then all of a sudden sabotages occur and we find out its a captain from a previous ship burnt to a crisp by the sun running around causing havoc and killing people. Yes it actually is that confusing and jarring when it happens.

So here's my biggest problem with this. We've been watching this movie and up until this point its been great, stuff has been "going wrong" for awhile and I don't see why he needed to bring in the space zombie to explain some of the malfunctions. The audience would've just as easily accepted that system failures were occuring naturally. The ship had been in a serious crash with another ship, its shields weren't in the appropriate setting, and its getting closer and closer to a dying star. OF COURSE STUFF IS GOING TO GO WRONG. All the havoc that sun zombie wreaked could be explained by natural causes, he really did committ suicide, the servers really did malfunction, the air locks did get messed up.

Alas, that is the movie we have. I still like it, I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a good science fiction film. As ludicrous as the film gets, the pros ultimately outweigh the cons and it lives on as one of the most confusing pieces of almost brilliance.

Best Foreign Film - Biuitiful dir. Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu

Alternative Title - 21 Grams

Wow this movie is emotional hell. Inarritu definitely does not make movies that most would call enjoyable. They are difficult films to watch as he explores the trials and tribulations of humanity within each film. Here we have three people bonded by tragedy all struggling to find meaning and a connection in life.

Inarritu continues the trend he started with Amores Perros in that we follow three parallel stories that weave in and out of each other and are shown to us out of order. He uses the same muted color tone and to represent the dreary almost hopeless lives that our characters live. We have Sean Penn who is on his death bed for most of the movie, Naomi Watts who is a drug addict facing a relapse in the face of current tragedy, and Benicio Del Toro a reformed convict who can’t seem to find any luck in life.

I know I started out by describing this movie as emotional hell, and it is, but when you get past that this movie shows some amazing performances of people trying to have a good life. All of them just want to be worth something. Naomi used to be a drug addict and she made it out of that lifestyle. She had a family, house, husband and happiness and she spends the movie trying so hard not to fall back into her old ways. Benicio is much the same as the reformed convict who has a second chance but fate won’t make it easy on him. Sean Penn just wants to feel love again. He loves and respects his wife but not in a romantic way, now that he has a heart again he wants to have that feeling.

In a very roundabout way this movie is somewhat hopeful. The ending is not happy by traditional standards, but we see that the hardships these people go through are not necessarily in vain. Inarritu makes sure we feel just how hard each of those tribulations is and he also makes sure our focus never veers too far, to the point that we never even see the tragedy of the film happen. He knows that this film is about the effects this tragedy has on the people who survived. The closest we get is seeing the truck speed by and then the first witness rushing off camera t o the scene. This scene shows us exactly that it isn’t about those that die, rather those who continue to live.

The title refers to mythical weight of the soul and just exactly what that means. Sean Penn makes a speech about what that soul is worth at the end of the movie as he lies on the hospital bed dying. Rather than the contempt we see in the beginning his face now shows relief. Naomi’s family is starting again and we see Benicio forgive himself and rejoin his brood. Inarritu does not make the journey easy, but through his impressive storytelling and actors we are treated to a film that ultimately praises life and gives us a realistic view of what a happy ending looks like. It just so happens that sometimes that happy ending is release from a disease after feeling love one more time.

So that’s about it for this first installment of Movie Night. In writing this I never meant for all the films to ultimately be about mortality and the worth of human life, but getting to the end that’s kind of what this turned into. I gotta say I’m rather happy with that. That’s exactly what I was hoping I could accomplish with this column, exploring films and in doing so come to some sort of connection or interesting discussion about them. Sorry about the length I’m going to try and work on my editing for the next one but I hope you all enjoyed it and as usual please respond add comments email me your hatred I’d love to hear from all of you and continue this discussion.

Last Thought: Dogtooth is on Netflix instant watch. It’s been nominated for best foreign film, everyone should check it out. It’s quite a disturbing extremist take on home schooling.