Before I start rambling inanely about stupid movies, I need to send out a belated thank you to the kind anonymous stranger who extended my core membership by another three months- granting me a reprieve before I return to being just another worthless non-core person... i.e. one of the inconsequential dregs of deviantART society.
Last month, when I thought my core membership was about to run out, I decided at the last minute to start my latest poll, asking how many of my watchers are still watching me. A hundred and thirty one people answered in the affirmative. 131 out of 1,856. That's... okay, I'm bad at math and can't figure out percentages on my own, but it's not great. Well, it's probably partly my own fault for not producing enough art or not enough art of whatever it is that people want to see.
Oy, what happened? I had resolved that this would be the year that I got more projects realized, but my ambition sure fizzled quickly enough.
Anyway, here are some movies I saw recently. Each of my "reviews" is just me grappling with different ways to say the same thing over and over, which is that I didn't like any of them very much. There, I just saved you some time, and now you don't have to read the rest of this.
The Danish Girl
After several false starts, I finally forced myself to go see this on the last day it was playing a the only second-run theater nearby. Part of me almost wishes I hadn’t. It’s not that it was bad, but it was kind of hard to watch. Not because I felt super uncomfortable with the subject matter (unlike, I assume, the old guy I heard awkwardly joking with the ticket guy about how he was weird for seeing the movie and then who then left his seat twenty minutes in and didn’t come back). No, it was just depressing to see all the suffering the characters went through. Maybe I might have known what I was in for if I’d done any research ahead of time, though there’s no guarantee that would have helped, since I understand the movie takes a lot of liberties with historical facts.
I might not have minded being born a girl (provided I could be a lesbian). It’s possible I might have been happier that way. If there was a cheap, easy way for someone to change their sex, I’d be more than willing to give it a shot. However, after watching this movie, it’s more clear than ever that I don’t feel anything close to whatever goes on in the minds of transgender people. There’s stuff I hate about being a guy and I’m far from being happy with my body, but it’s not like I think there’s a woman inside me dying to get out.
That reminds me, I was a bit put off by the way the titular Danish girl keeps talking about herself like she and her male side are two different people. I don’t know if that’s how the real life person this is based on did it, but she makes herself sound as though she has a split personality rather than gender dysphoria. I'm not an expert on the subject, though, so what do I know?
I watched Philomena not that long ago. Now here’s another movie based on a true story about evil Irish nuns who take people’s kids away from them. Well, one of the nuns is evil anyway. This story got entirely too twee for my tastes. Steve Coogan balanced out his cynicism in Philomena by having his title character represent a more positive side of Christianity. But I was really rolling my eyes during a pivotal court scene in this movie when the titular Evelyn finds courage from a CGI sunbeam, which her late grandfather had told her was an “angel ray” or some such nonsense. Even leaving that aside, though, it’s just not that great a movie.
The Ice Storm
I saw a video on YouTube in which this 1997 Ang Lee movie was briefly discussed by a couple guys who complained that they didn’t get to enjoy it fully because the ending was spoiled for them. So, my brain said something like, “Gosh, I’d better check out this movie before I get spoiled. And just to be extra safe, I better not read anything about it ahead of time.” So, I started watching this thing expecting some huge twist or something, and was let down. Their problem was that they knew too much about the movie while I knew too little. I’ve said recently that it can be kind of neat to go into a movie blind, but in this case, I had no clue what the movie was about or even what genre it was and somehow got my signals crossed and expected something very different.
I think maybe I got The Ice Storm mixed up with Snowpiercer, which I know is a sci-fi movie set on a train. The Ice Storm even starts out on a train, adding to my confusion. But The Ice Storm is a drama set in the 1970s about a dysfunctional family. I’m not saying that that’s a bad thing. If I end up liking the movie, then it doesn’t matter if I know nothing about it or if it’s different from what I had in mind, but in this case, I was just bored for a good portion of it.
This is one of those movies that critics fawn over, but just leaves me somewhat cold (no pun intended). The performances are good and all, but I don’t understand why anyone felt like this was a movie that needed to get made or why critics would be so in awe of it.
This Lars Von Trier movie literally made me sick to my stomach. Not because there was any grotesque imagery in it, unlike Von Trier’s movie Antichrist, which I haven’t seen, but I know enough about it to know that my sensitive nature would not be able to tolerate it. It’s just that the shaky handheld camera work made me so queasy, I had tears in my eyes.
Kirsten Dunst plays a woman who is overcome by severe depression at her wedding reception, but receives little sympathy from any of her relatives, including her sister, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. In the second half of the movie, as a rogue planet is on a collision course with Earth, Gainsbourg’s character becomes emotionally unraveled while Dunst’s character, whose depression had previously gotten so bad that she was nearly catatonic, faces the end with a sense of calm.
As somebody who struggles a lot with depression, this movie was of interest to me. The first half of the movie I actually liked for the most part. It actually had some funny moments and I felt sympathetic towards Dunst’s character, even when she was behaving crazily. However, in the second half, I guess I was expecting her to be just more at peace with what was happening rather than practically celebrating it. Levelheadedness during the time of a crisis is one thing, but I didn’t find much to admire about her apathetic attitude about everyone’s impending doom. First, she tells her sister that life on Earth is evil and deserves to be destroyed. You’d think that this might be an attitude I could relate to somewhat, as a large factor influencing my depression this past winter was my increasing pessimism regarding the ability of humanity to rise above the uglier elements of its nature. But I don’t think I would ever be seriously rooting for planetary extinction.
Also, Dunst tells her sister that she “knows” that Earth is the only place in the universe with life on it. I occasionally wonder where all the aliens are, but the universe is so huge, it’s pretty laughable to claim definitively that life only exists here. I hate that the movie seems to want the audience to believe that Dunst’s character is some kind of clairvoyant. It’s like the director was trying to validate her depression.
Lastly, Dunst angrily craps all over her sister’s desire to spend their final moments with a little bit of class- drinking wine and listening to music. Dunst’s character does redeem herself somewhat in the last few minutes by keeping her nephew calm and distracted, but it’s too little, too late for me.
This movie pissed me off, but I don’t hate it for the same reasons as someone who watched it expecting a sci-fi yarn and got a slow, boring, artsy, symbolist narrative about depression instead. I had a pretty good idea what I was in for. I wasn’t mad that everyone died in the end because I knew that was going to happen, too. I’m not spoiling anything because they even show it at the beginning of the movie. It’s just that Dunst’s character was so detestable. Just because she’s not wailing and gnashing her teeth like her sister, that doesn’t make her a superior person. It’s really not a badly made movie- I feel like I’m being a little unfair in rating it so low- but I didn’t like whatever it was trying to say and I didn’t have a very good time watching it. Again, the shaky-cam made me want to throw up in my mouth.
If I’m going to watch people greeting their imminent demise with grace, then I’ll take the end of Life of Brian any day.
Or, for a movie about depression, Ordinary People is way more enjoyable. Also, like The Ice Storm, it’s about a dysfunctional family that’s falling apart, but it's far more watchable. Ordinary People is a movie I have no problem with watching repeatedly. So, it’s not like I’m opposed to dramas, but The Ice Storm and Melancholia both feel more like dispassionate exercises in filmmaking rather than engaging stories.
Dark Angel: The Ascent
Veronica, a young demon, is dissatisfied with the idea torturing damned souls in Hell and runs away from home to experience life on Earth. Seeing how much evil exists on the surface world, she quickly becomes a vigilante killer, brutally murdering rapists, racist cops and also setting her sights on a mayor whose far right political views don’t seem at all removed from some people who have been running for president recently.
This Full Moon film is one I’ve been curious about seeing for years. Anything that doesn’t automatically paint Satan or other minions of Hell as completely evil is intriguing to me. I just feel like it’s too simplistic to paint anyone as pure evil, even if they’re a demon. In this case, it’s expressly stated that our heroine and the rest of her demon ilk are actually doing god’s will, which is kind of disturbing when you think about it, not unlike Bill Paxton’s Frailty, which is a far superior movie to this one. The whole idea of eternal punishment for finite sins seems really unfair to me. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t really have a lot to say about this.
The script could have had more fun with this demon character. I would have made her more of a wide-eyed innocent or fish out of water type instead of so self-assured. It would have been neat to see her trying to adjust to life in the human world… like Madison from Splash, if she was a demon instead of a Mermaid.
It seems as though her character does undergo some sort of growth towards the end of the movie, as she realizes she doesn’t have to slaughter people to get results, but I’m not sure how or when she arrived at this conclusion.
I was reminded of Highlander in a way, since that Highlander also had a subplot that goes nowhere about cops investigating the string of killings that’s going on. There are some funny moments, though not all of them are intentional. It’s an interesting premise, but the execution leaves much to be desired. The film shows promise and it’s okay for a B-movie, but it could have been better. Out of all the movies I've listed here in this particular journal entry, this was the one I probably enjoyed watching the most, though that's not saying a lot.