VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Antiviral (2012)

Clint: 4/5 stars, 8/10.
Carolyn: 3/5 stars, 7/10.
Native ratings: 3.4/5 stars Netflix, 5.5/10 IMDB.

This is a sci-fi thriller movie about society’s celebrity obsession. What if people were so obsessed with celebrities that we paid money to have their diseases? What if we could have Lindsay Lohan’s alleged herpes, or have the same flu that Lady Gaga had? Human obsession *absolutely* goes this far. With sufficient technology, and a society that would allow a situation like this to develop — the story in this movie is actually pretty goddamn plausible.

And that’s a commentary in and of itself.

This is the very first full-length film written & directed by David Cronenberg‘s son Brandon Cronenberg. So my first thought was: “Expect weird creepy meatiness.”  And yeah. There was definitely some of that.

Courtney Love’s “Celebrity Skin” album will now and forever remind me of this movie. And don’t get me started on the celebrity-endorsed food products, or the “celebrity meat”.

This movie isn’t very exciting. It’s not an action. It’s very cerebral, a “thinking man’s movie”, if you want to use a tired old phrase. The watching-buzz I got from this was not like that of a comedy, action, or drama. It was is more based on thinking of social and moral situations that the technology in this movie created, as well as thinking about how the sentiment required to make this movie possible in real life exists today. It’s a definite commentary with an interesting plot.

And the ending… wow…

Carolyn adds: (SPOILER ALERT): I feel like there should have been more repercussions regarding his job… I mean, the police were investigating the other guy who was doing similar things. The main guy was just able to be sick all of the time, and barely show up for work, and the boss is like, “OK, that other guy is arrested, so you’re the one who is going to get the blood from the celebrity.” Then the blood never gets to the company, the guy barely shows up for work and when he does, he looks like hell, and can barely function. His coworker mentioned that strings were pulled to keep the main guy from being fired, and that was it… it didn’t make any sense. that was only one aspect of the movie, but it bothered me… They never even showed the boss or made any mention of him after the main guy injected the blood and got really sick. Anyway, it was an interesting premise… I agree with you that it could have been executed better.

Starring Caleb Landry Jones (Banshee in X-Men: First Class, boy on bike in No Country For Old Men, fraternity guy in The Social Network, 2 eps of Breaking Bad) as Syd March.
Sarah Gadon (Beth rom Total Drama Island) as Hannah Geist.
Douglas Smith (he is going to be in Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, but we haven’t seen anything else) as Edward Porris.
Joe Pingue (Repo Men, The Boondock Saints, 1 ep of Puppets Who Kill) as Arvid.
Nicholas Campbell (Hank in Naked Lunch, Goon) as Dorian.
Wendy Crewson (8 eps of 24) as Mira Tesser.
Malcolm McDowell (Alex in A Clockwork Orange, Vater Orlaag in Metalocalypse, 9 eps of Heroes.. and the killer of Kirk!) as Dr. Abendroth.
George Tchortov (Goon) as Portland.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2099556/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Sightseers (2012)

Clio: 2.3/5 stars, 4.4/10.
Carolyn: 2.0/5 stars, 4.4/10.
Native ratings: 3.4/5 stars Netflix, 6.6/10 IMDB.

Bonnie & Clyde meets Dumb & Dumber? If I’d known this was British, I might have [correctly] decided to skip this one. British comedies are rarely as funny. Awkward, subtle, dry humor is indeed hilarious, but overt, in-your-face, ridiculous humor is more hilarious.

This movie wasn’t that good.  We thought it would be funnier, but it was mostly just awkward and creepy.  None of the characters were likeable or relateable — which is okay — but the characters were one of many aspects of the movie that just didn’t do anything for us.  It was slightly interesting at times, but mostly pointless.

Girl meets boy. Roadtrip. Girl finds out boy is serial killer. Girl accepts boy.  That’s the whole movie. Well, there’s some interesting aspects I’m not sharing — and some slight twists that you wouldn’t expect… But for the most part, this is not a comedy. This is just a set of fucked up circumstances that conclude with no more message or afterthought than nihilism itself.

Directed by Ben Wheatley. Written by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe.
Starring the movie’s own writers: Alice Lowe (Hot Fuzz) as Tina and Steve Oram (1 ep of Life’s Too Short, 1 ep of The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret) as Chris.
Jonathan Aris (Gulliver’s Travels, 1 ep of Bob & Margaret–how weird) as Ian.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2023690/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Upstream Color (2013)

Clio: 1.4/5 stars, 3.6/10.
Carolyn: 1.6/5 stars, 4/10.
Native ratings: 3.4/5 stars Netflix, 6.8/10 IMDB.

Written, directed, and starring Shane Carruth, the brilliant director of Primer. And that’s why we watched this.

And damn, what a shock. Primer may be the most confusing time-travel movie of all time, but this movie is way less coherent, and way more confusing!

I sum it up as: “That movie was awful and I have no idea what it was really about.” Carolyn agrees.

Basically, this movie jumps between 4 different substories a LOT. It’s similar to Cloud Atlas in that style, except lacking the coherence of Cloud Atlas (which continually jumped between 6 different stories in 6 different time periods).

It’s actually somewhat skillfully crafted. This image illustrates the concepts in this movie, and how the scenes fed into each other. And in retrospect, it all makes sense: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30585110@N04/8700138325/in/photostream/

…But when it’s so obtuse that the two of us couldn’t even piece that together… That makes it less enjoyable. Carolyn pieced together maybe 25% of it, but Clio pieced together close to 0% of it.

It helps if you are aware of worm charming (wiki that). I wasn’t.

Carolyn’s thoughts:

This movie was pretty bad. It did not compare to Primer. It started out interesting enough, but it got confusing pretty quick. Halfway through, we almost aborted, but then it seemed to get more interesting (with the shared memories between the two characters.) So we kept going, and then it STILL didn’t get good. Eventually, we put it at 1.5X, then 2.0X speed, and we didn’t feel like we missed much by speeding through the ending. IT WAS STILL SLOW, even at double-speed. Unsatisfyingly slow. It just left me unsatisfied.

Clio sent me this this morning: http://briansfinas.com/review-of-shane-carruths-upstream-color/ That review says I’m too dumb to enjoy this movie. Thanks, reviewer, that makes me feel wonderful. Anyway, based on those 2 paragraphs of summary of what happened, I had gotten all that, but there are pieces in between that are still missing.

It didn’t make any sense to me how they were able to find the pig guy so they can free the pigs. (This review says they were able to track him down because they were listening to his music…. That still doesn’t make sense to me.) I mean, it didn’t make any sense how she even went to the pig guy to have the worm extracted in the first place… it was just so confusing, drawn out… there were interesting moments (such as the shared childhood memories), but nothing really solid that this movie could stand on.

Also, I guess you don’t need real actors when there is hardly any dialogue.

Written & directed by Shane Carruth (Primer)

Starring Amy Seimetz (she’s in a lot of stuff, but we’ve only seen Wristcutters: A Love Story) as Kris.
Shane Carruth (the writer & director, and Aaron in Primer) as Jeff.
Andrew Sensenig (also in a bunch of stuff we haven’t seen) as The Sampler.
Thiago Martins (some nobody who has only been in 2 movies (including this one) and 1 ep of a TV show) as Thief.
Kathy Carruth (a caterer for the movie Primer, and other than that, this and Primer are her only movies. And she did craft service in this movie) as Orchid Mother.
Meredith Burke (she’s a co-producer in 3 movies, and this is her only acting gig) as Orchid Daughter.
Andreon Watson (absolutely nothing except for this movie) as Peter.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084989/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: The Host (2013)

Clio: 4.6/5 stars, 8.6/10.
Carolyn: 5/5 stars, 9/10.
Jesse: 3.4/5 stars, 7/10.
Evan: 4.1/5 stars, 8/10.
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix, /10 IMDB.

Written & directed by Andrew Niccol, which had me hyped up to see the movie! We’ve seen every movie he’s directed (Gattaca, Lord Of War, In Time, S1m0ne), and also half the movies he wrote-but-didn’t-direct (The Truman Show, but not The Terminal). It is all excellent stuff, though we enjoyed some (In Time) more than others (Lord Of War, S1m0ne).

This movie, strangely, is based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, the woman who wrote the Twilight Trilogy. Really?? This knowledge alone causes a lot of people to hate on the movie without watching it. Such sheep behavior is sad to witness.

This is Twilight-esque in the sense that teen romance is inserted into a genre that it is not normally so prevalent in. Is that a crime? Is mixing genres a crime? Should an action movie have no comedy? Should a comedy movie have no romance? Should a horror movie have no comedy?

So yes, this is a sci-fi movie about parasitic symbiotes taking over the planet by taking our bodies from us, but it is focused more on a few specific characters, and the love story that ties them together. There are no explosions or big gun fights. It’s about a race taking over humans and controlling them. They aim to live along with us and bring us further than we would get left to our own devices, but they also basically genocide us by killing our consciousnesses and replacing them with their own.

But some of us resist. The alien parasite hears the voice of the original human in their mind. It’s rare. And that is the case here.

Apparently a lot of people just reduce that to “watching a girl talk to herself”, which is a sad reducto absurdum applied to an idea that is actually far more interesting than that. I think it requires a litte bit of empathy that some people don’t have. I don’t find it a valid complaint.

There is REALLY a lot of hate here. The anti-Stephanie Meyer bandwagon is kind of pathetic. It’s like they are scared that someone might like something she’s involved in, because it would invalidate their own opinions — which are often themselves based on groupthink and expressed by people who have never seen one of her movies or read one of her books.

Fuck those guys. This was a great sci-fi, and had an unexpectedly interesting emotional/relationship angle, that most sci-fi movies don’t have. Good for Andrew Niccol — keeping his track record intact. Good for Stephanie Meyer — improving her track record, which needs it.

Evan: “I really liked the concepts and the story was good, but I’m going to have to knock it down a bit for the cheesy teen-movie moments.”

Saoirse Ronan (Hanna from Hanna, the voice of Arriety in The Secret World of Arrietty) as Melanie Stryder / Wanda.
Diane Kruger (Adult Anna in Mr. Nobody, Inglourious Basterds, National Treasure, Helen in Troy) as The Seeker / Lacey.
Chandler Canterbury (Repo Men, Benjamin as age 8 in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as Jamie, Melanie’s little brother.
Jake Abel (Luke in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) as Ian O’Shea, [highlight for spoilers] Wanda’s love interest.
Max Irons (Dorian Gray, 9 eps of The White Queen) as Jared Howem, Melanie’s boyfriend.
William Hurt (The Village, The Incredible Hulk, Dark City) as Jeb, Melanie’s uncle.
Frances Fisher (Sex & Death 101, 1 ep of Childrens Hospital) as Maggie, Melanie’s aunt.
Scott Lawrence (The Social Network, Avatar, Cloverfield, Star Trek Into Darkness, 2 eps of 24, Darth Vader in a bunch of Star Wars video games) as Doc.
Rachel Roberts (Simone in S1m0ne, In Time) as Soul Fleur.
Marcus Lyle Brown (Snatched) as Healer Fords.
J.D. Evermore (Django Unchained) as Trevor Stryder.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1517260/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Spring Breakers (2012)

Clio: 3.4/5 stars, 7.6/10.
Carolyn: 3/5 stars, 7/10.
Jesse: 3/5 stars, 7/10.
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix, 5.9/10 IMDB.

Written & directed by Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy), but to tell the truth, this movie is, to me, exactly what it would be like if Harmony Korine directed a Gregg Araki movie — especially something from Araki’s Teen Apocalypse trilogy (Totally Fucked Up, Nowhere, The Doom Generation). The feel of this movie REALLY reminded me of the fatalistic feeling found in Aaraki’s work.

Compared to Korine’s other work, this had wayyyyy more structure than Gummo. Korine has matured, and his movies now actually have specific plots.

Carolyn thought it was somewhat drawn out with the monologues and repeating phrases. “But it seemed right when I would start to get actively annoyed, they would finally move on.” I really disagree with that critique.

Plotwise, It’s worth watching. An interesting plot that captures the feel of Spring Break, but then diverges into a totally different, crime-related angle. And a strange romance — of sorts. “You guys are my soulmates.”

Ultimately, it is entertaining yet artsy at the same time. Which is what I’d expect.

Also: Bonus points My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic appearing on screen TWICE during this movie! The Elements Of Harmony..Korine!

Outlaw Vern’s got a good review of the movie, which is what caused us to watch it: http://www.outlawvern.com/2013/03/26/spring-breakers/

Starring:
A barely-recognizable James Franco (127 Hours, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Oz in Oz The Great And Powerful, Date Night, Pineapple Express, Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies) as Alien.
Selena Gomez (Justin Bieber’s girlfriend, Barney & Friends, Wizards Of Waverly Place) as Faith (the brunette).
Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, Sucker Punch) as Candy. I think she’s better as a blonde.
Ashley Benson (13 Going On 30, Days Of Our Lives, 75 Pretty Little Liars, dated Justin Bieber’s “swagger coach”) as Brit (the other blonde).
Rachel Korine (Harmony Korine’s wife) as Cotty (the pink-haired one).
Heather Morris (Glee) as Bess.
Real-life rapper Gucci Mane as Archie, Alien‘s rival.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2101441/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Black Death (2010)

Clio: 2.4/5 stars, 4.6/10.
Carolyn: 2.4/5 stars, 5.6/10.
Jesse: 2.4/5 stars.
Native ratings: 3.4/5 stars Netflix, 6.4/10 IMDB.

This was recommended to me. It held promise, but just wasn’t that special. It was way, way too slow (an hour passed without much happening), relyed too much on mood over substance, and kind of droned on.

Jesse seemed to like it about half-way through, but then by the end he had changed his mind and thought he didn’t like it.

It wasn’t very action-packed, except for a few brief, awesomely visceral fight scenes.

Moreso at the beginning, it reminded me of the Dreamweaver album’s plot, which filled me with naive, inspired promise, but ultimately things didn’t go in the direction I’d hoped.

The movie does have a few neat structural tricks up its sleeve.

But still. I’d rather have my time back. I was (unfortunately) reminded of Valhalla Rising.

Directed by Christopher Smith (who directed and wrote Triangle, which WAS FUCKING AMAZING).
Written by Dario Poloni.

Starring Eddie Redmayne (8 eps of The Pillars Of Earth) as Osmund.
Sean Bean (Game Of Thrones, Boromir in Lord Of The Rings, Zeus in Percy Jackson, Silent Hill, Troy, Mirror Mirror) as Ulrich, the emissary of the bishop.
John Lynch (Shades [the one who dropped acid] from the movie Hardware!!!!!!) as Wolfstan, the older soldier who survived to the end and was also the narrator.
Carice Van Houten (Game Of Thrones, Carol from Repo Men) as Langiva (anagram for vaginal?!), the necromancer.
David Warner (Archmage in Gargoyles, Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman, In The Mouth Of Madness, Lord Downey in Hogfather, Sweeney Todd, Avatar, 9 eps of Men In Black: The Series) as Abbot.
Kimberley Nixon as Averill, the Osmund’s girlfriend.
Emun Elliott (Prometheus) as Swire.
Johnny Harris (Snow White And The Huntsman, Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dorian Gray) as Mold.
Andy Nyman (1 ep of Holliston, Death At A Funeral) as Dalywag.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1181791/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Parker (2013)

Clio: 3/5 stars, 6/10.
Carolyn: 3/5 stars, 6/10.
Native ratings: 3.5/5 stars Netflix, 6.1/10 IMDB.

Generic Jason Statham movie.  It was OK, but not as good as Crank or The Transporter.  It was about the action, not the story, and the action wasn’t *that* special.

Directed by Taylor Hackford (The Devil’s Advocate).
Written by John J. McLaughlin (writer of Black Swan, 3 eps of Carnivale).

Based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake. The 6th movie to be based on the same character, but only the first one to actually call him Parker! He was actually “Porter” in Payback!

Starring Jason Statham (Crank, Transporter, The Expendables, Death Race, Snatch, Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels) as Parker.
Jennifer Lopez as Leslie Rodgers.

Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm in the Fantastic Four movies, 4 eps of Family Guy, voice in the English version of Spirited Away, 1 ep of Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles) as Melander.
Wendell Pierce (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, 1 ep of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, 2 eps of God, the Devil and Bob) as Carlson.
Clifton Collins Jr. (we *just* saw him in The FP the previous night, Rules Of Attraction, Crank 2, Star Trek (2009), Traffic, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) as Ross.
Bobby Cannavale (Fake Superman in Movie 43, The Ten, Snakes On A Plane, 3 eps of Six Feet Under, ) as Jake Fernandez.
Patti LuPone (Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Heist, 7 eps of Oz) as Ascension.
Nick Nolte (Tropic Thunder, Hotel Rwanda, 48 Hours) as Hurley.
Daniel Bernhardt (Agent Johnson in The Matrix 2: The Matrix Reloaded) as Kroll.
Jon Eyez (Django Unchained) as Jack.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1904996/combined