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I am the O-Critic, and this world is a stage full of sights and sounds. Here, I view what's mainstream and what isn't and give my point of view.

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Ed Wood: The Best Movie on the Worst Director

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Ed Wood is distributed by Touchstone Pictures

I’m taking a different route this time by reviewing an older movie. I heard a lot about this one, like how it’s one of the most underrated films of the year. It’s an interesting view of one of Hollywood’s most…interesting people: Edward D. Wood, Jr. Cult film lovers know this guy, but the rest of the world have never heard of him. This guy is hailed as the worst director that ever lived. He made low-budget movies with horrible storytelling and crummy production. He used strange casting decisions in the weirdest of roles. He wears women’s clothing when he’s not filming. All of this plays out in Tim Burton’s unseen classic Ed Wood.

Many people don’t like Tim Burton, but I love his work. Sure, his last movie doesn’t qualify for quality, but he’s made more good movies than you know. That’s the beauty of him: for every good movie, he’s made an underrated movie. For Batman, there was Batman Returns. For Edward Scissorhands, there was Sweeney Todd. For Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, there was Big Fish. Ed Wood definitely fits in the spot of “best movies you haven’t seen” because despite its weirdness and zaniness, there is so much to enjoy. The cast play this ensemble of characters so well that you’d think they were actually the characters. The dialogue can be strange but also funny. The best part is that it’s filmed kinda like an Ed Wood movie. Watching this story, it’s hard to believe that a man like this even existed.

During the 1950’s in the height of science fiction, Edward D. Wood, Jr (Johnny Depp, if that surprises you) decides that he wants to work in film. Inspired by his idol Orson Welles (Vincent D’Onofrio in one scene), Wood directs, writes and produces his movies. With the help of his girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker), some friends and even fallen star Bela Lugosi (amazingly done by Martin Landau, but I’ll get to that later), Wood independently makes movies that eventually stink so hard that they smell like roses. But after hardships occur, Wood has to figure out how he can overcome them and continue his movie-making dream.

Four things stand out the most in this movie. The first is the ensemble. Johnny Depp as the titular weirdo gives him charm and amusement that you wouldn’t expect to find. This character is by far the strangest I’ve ever seen, and I saw him in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Ed Wood apparently filmed everything in one take. It didn’t matter if someone knocked over a prop or said a line weird, it went in the movie regardless. Hell, all of the lines in his movie were weird. “Pull the string! Pull the string!” Martin Landau won the Oscar for his role as Bela Lugosi, and first viewing of this movie can explain why. He doesn’t just play Bela, he becomes Bela. There’s some dispute as to how accurate Burton depicted Lugosi in this movie, but Landau’s performance is spot on. His accent sounded natural as well. With his physical acting, his physiognomies (facial reactions), and his delivery, Landau almost stole the show in every scene. This was a better Bela than Kirsten Stewart in Twilight. After that comes Bill Murray playing a flamboyantly gay man surprisingly convincing. An odd departure from his usual shtick, but nevertheless he does well. The only performance in this movie that didn’t do very well was Vincent D’Onofrio as Orson Welles because you can easily tell that wasn’t his voice. Someone dubbed over him, and it sadly shows.

The second thing that stands out is the story. A hack director making strange movies strangely? It sounds too good to be true, but truth can be stranger than fiction. This story proves two things: a can-do spirit can take you so far, and that it’s always best to do more than one take. Burton also uses this story to glorify the auteur. Welles advises Wood to have full control over his material and not allow the producers to tell him what to do. Granted, Wood perhaps should have listened to his producers, but he probably wouldn’t be remembered if he did. Sadly, few directors stand out as visionaries. Nowadays, most directors serve as the pawns to the producers, and they ironically make worse movies than Wood did. At least Wood’s movies were  entertaining albeit for unintentional reasons. Some parts of the movie do get sad and/or pretty scary, like Bela’s story regarding his morphine addiction. You don’t see him inject a needle, but you do see the holes along his arm.

The third thing that stands out is the dialogue. Actually, make that the delivery of the dialogue. Some lines seem pretty standard to the character, but the way the actors say them make them either funny or just enjoyable. How can no one laugh at how nonchalantly Ed says “I like to wear women’s clothing” or how Landau curses out an admirer for undermining him for Karloff. Much of what is said probably didn’t exist, but does it make the movie more entertaining. The fourth and final aspect that stands out is the cinematography. Burton filmed this like an Ed Wood B-movie which attributes more to its charm and appreciation. It segues a number of Ed Wood elements like fake saucers and a model of the city in the opening credits. You can guess what you’re going to expect in this movie: a king of kitsch at work.

Ed Wood intentionally glorifies someone who probably doesn’t deserve it, but we respect him even more because of it. His movies did suck, but at least we had fun watching them to some extent (probably thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000) This movie probably is the best movie associated with the lunatic behind Plan 9 From Outer Space. The actors give great performances as the strangest lot of people. The story itself either entertains or motivates. It’s odd seeing a biopic for a person like this, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. It’s definitely a movie for film lovers and wannabe filmmakers both in glorifying the spirit of filmmaking and educating us in how NOT to make film.

Final rating: 8.6 (Do Go)

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The Woman in Black: Potter Lives…Barely

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The Woman in Black is distributed by CBS Films

Now that Harry Potter is over, many will wonder what will happen to the actors now? The problem with blockbusters like these is that they wind up killing the actors’ careers before they even start. They find it hard to match the success of their previous role. Daniel Radcliffe would seem to have the hardest time to adjust. He just can’t go from playing The Boy Who Lived to being something completely different…or can he? Will he have life after Hogwarts? Many hoped so with The Woman in Black.

This movie marks the return to Hammer horror and features a lot of classic horror tropes: goth, ghosts, jump scares…so many and so typical that you can predict when they happen. You know those screamer videos where you know something is bound to jump out and shock you? The Woman in Black is a 95 minute screamer video, except occasionally effective in its jump scares. An interesting story and style aside, the movie mostly comes out as a shallow and only somewhat decent horror mystery with only gimmicks and little impact.

Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young father who goes into a town to investigate Eel Marsh Manor. The place is inhabited by the ghost of its previous owner: a woman who lost her son in the marsh. In her vengeance, she takes out the children of the townspeople one by one. Anyone who sees her will know a child will meet his/her end. Throughout the movie, Kipps learns more about her and discovers why she bring s her wrath to the town.

Radcliffe suffers the same problem that Shia LaBeouf suffered in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: he’s sadly miscast but tries nevertheless to make it work. He still suffers from that boyish charm that made him sell Harry Potter. Just like in the ending of Deathly Hallows Part II, he couldn’t convince the audience that he was a father. Despite this youthful handicap, he tries to make an effort. You can see it in his eyes in a number of scenes. With time and age, he might be one of the greatest actors of his generation.

While the story itself provides an intriguing mystery, the delivery turns into a drinking game: take a shot for every scene that obviously leads to a jump. The sudden silence as the movie goes on; the slow movement; the obvious dark scenery and/or cliché setups. You name it, and they have it all. Some jumps actually do freak people out even if you can predict them, but the rest become too easy and too tiresome to care anymore. The delivery of the story gets rather sluggish in the first half of the movie and picks up right around the middle of the film. Too much silence in the house doesn’t seem too compelling. The Gothic style of the movie does fit well with the story, and the costumes and sets really do add to it. If they took out some of the tropes and replaced them with something more interesting, the movie wouldn’t suffer so much. A good number of the cinematography actually provides some good shots, especially those with the Woman putting her influence on the children. Again, the style.

The Woman in Black sadly becomes one of those movies that offer no impact to people despite a number of things. Radcliffe tries to fit but only somewhat succeeds. The jump scares get tiresome pretty quickly. It’s an interesting story but required some reworking to prevent being held back as just cheap entertainment. So will Daniel Radcliffe have a career after Harry Potter? It’s possible, but not in here.

Final rating: 5.5 (Don’t Go)

The Grey: Liam Neeson is Lord of the Flies

forgive my delay as I saw this last week.

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The Grey is distributed by Liddell Entertainment

We’ve seen man have to battle nature constantly, from Tom Hanks to Bear Grylls. It isn’t just that he survives that intrigues us but rather how he survives. How does he cope with the loneliness or the potential possibility that he will die? How does he fight death and, more importantly, does he win? What some of these don’t show is how scary survival can be, especially in cruel places like…I don’t know… the frozen tundra. Enter Liam Neeson with The Grey.

Director Joe Carnahan brings us one of the first films of the year with this one: a psychological thriller that explores not just the man trying to survive but also contemplate the importance of it. In the midst of all this, the experience itself turns out to be pretty decent with a few scary and even powerful moments. Combined with great cinematography, powerful dialogue, and decent direction, The Grey gives a satisfying look on the internal and external struggles out in the wilderness.

Neeson plays John Ottway, a man hired to kill wolves for an oil drilling team in Alaska. While contemplating suicide, he wonders whether or not his life amounts to anything. After his plane crashes (in a pretty intense and nicely done way), he and a group of other men have to battle the bitter ice and a pack of wolves that want to feast on them. In the process, each wonder about the spiritual and the physiological reasons as to why they should keep moving.

Neeson’s played some good roles and some bad roles but still plays them all the same. Nevertheless, he’s a trusted source when it comes to the determined common fighter. If Qui-Gon Jin didn’t make you happy, check out Michael Collins for a much better performance. This role really does fit him even if you can tell he’s playing a role. At times he does grasp the depression and sadness of his character, but most of the time he’s still pretty subtle and incoherent. Good news is you can understand the best lines. Neeson surrounds himself with an ensemble of relative nobodies who manage to capture the realism and interest of the characters. They look and feel like real people bonding with each other.

Joe Carnahan focuses more on realism than exaggerated action or suspense. The things that happen in this movie can possibly happen in real life, such as wolves and getting trapped in the water. The realism does grip the audience into the experience without being over the top, but it does fall victim to the typical jump scare. He tries to make the wolves as the ultimate enemy, but the scariest moments in the movie don’t involve the wolves; hell, they don’t involve the jump scares. Fear needs to linger with the audience without giving them the typical shock and awe. If the entire moment strikes concern as opposed to just one typical shriek, then it’s truly a scary moment. That’s how movies like Black Swan and Fight Club  succeed as psychological thrillers. Seeing how everyone dies in the movie adds more to the internal issue regarding death and, interestingly, helps us understand it. Neeson explains to someone what death is like, and we get to see it in the eyes of one of the characters. This makes the death more bittersweet than sad, although some deaths are.

The most interesting part, though, is how Neeson searches for a spiritual need to live. The most reoccurring part involves a poem that his father wrote. He repeats the line “live or die on this day” which proves more powerful as the last line in the movie than in anything else. It becomes apparent that he’s not only battling the grey of the snow but that of the human will. All of this is captured with simple, impressionist shots of Alaska that take its time in capturing the world around these men; the movie doesn’t leap around like most movies do. It’s not Saving Private Ryan worthy, but it’s refreshing for this kind of movie.

The Grey may seem like another survival movie, but it stands out as something a little more. While it suffers from the tropes of horror movies, the moments that work really do work. Neeson doesn’t disappoint in his role. The realism and impressionism offer a beautiful yet scary depiction of the Alaskan wilderness. It gives the audience a first-hand experience as to what life and death mean and may give the audience a reason whether to “live or die on this day”. It’s not the best movie of the year, but it’s definitely worth seeing once.

 

Final Rating: 7.5 (I’d Go)

 

Top 5 Best Films of 2011

Well, last time I brought you the top five worst films of the year to some complaint (apparently Transformers 3 isn’t half as bad as Jack and Jill, but just because I saw a review doesn’t mean I saw the movie). Now, I present the Top five best films of the year, along with two honorable mentions and a wild card. Let’s start with that first.

Wild Card: Paranormal Activity 3 – Again, won’t come anywhere near anybody’s best list, but it impressed me with the amount of “simplicity” in it. In a year that also brought us Fast Five, Horrible Bosses and Paul, we also had the third installation of the Paranormal Activity franchise. I have to admit, this one was the first I saw, but apparently it didn’t matter because the franchise delineates. This movie happens before the other two. I must admit, it actually came across as pretty scary, even a bit freaky. I really enjoy the paranormal; in fact, I’m a big fan of the show Ghost Adventures. Seeing things like shadow people and poltergeist activity in the movie felt believable because I’ve seen those things happen. It’s a basic horror movie, but it also pokes fun on the typicality of horror movies as well. There are a couple of jump scares, but even those are played for laughs even to the characters. While yes, the ending makes no sense, the movie actually proves itself worthwhile. Let’s just hope the franchise doesn’t wear off its welcome.

Honorable Mention 1: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II – yeah, by putting this on the list, it becomes obvious that I am a fan of the books. I would never dress up for the premieres because I’m not THAT big of a dork, but I have never missed a movie. This one ended the franchise well. We all needed this movie not because it provided the final bookend to most of our childhoods but because the movies had their ups and downs. The first three movies were great, but the fourth and fifth movies proved disappointing when compared to the books. The last three movies returned the “magic” to the movies. We’ve seen these guys for eleven years, and they’ve grown up with the characters. Rupert Grint surprisingly gets better with his character as he matures. Of course, the story’s great and the adventures are unforgettable, but this movie relies on the ultimate battle, and did it pay off. Edge-of-your-seat fights with everyone in Hogwarts, all in the name of defending Harry Potter. Like Paranormal Activity 3, this movie suffered in its ending; also Voldemort started to ham up the movie. When he shouted “Avada Kedavra”, he just sounded weird. Other than that, Part II satisfies in the final brawl that we wanted to see, and Emma Watson still looks great as Hermione.

Honorable Mention 2: Rise of the Planet of the Apes – I barely caught this movie this year, but I finally saw it thanks to a friend of mine who pressured me into seeing it. The apes overshadow the humans in performance and even in interest. On the other hand, they really are the point of the movie. Andy Serkis has to be the greatest actor that you never see perform because he’s brought us some really good characters. Gollum, anyone? He really makes Caesar, the lead ape, come to life: something that almost seemed implausible. The facial movements, the physical acting, this almost seemed unlikely in today’s world of extreme special effects. Most people would make all of that look fake. All of the apes look really cool and very realistic despite being CG. James Franco needs to work on his acting; the Academy Awards doesn’t even scratch that surface. However, the apes and an interesting premise make up plenty for that. On top of that, one moment in the movie just blew me away. Most movies tend to “jump the shark”, well this moment does the opposite; it trenched the shark. It happens in the middle of the movie, when Caesar fully evolved as more human, and it was so amazing that nothing could ruin the movie after it. Many people would think this movie explains how the apes took over the world, but it doesn’t really. It actually hints as to how the human race dies out, and it does so much with the few minutes they used to explain it. Smart, entertaining, great effects and a killer second act, Apes really earns recognition.

now for the top five.

5. Contagion – A new tradition for me is that I reserve the five spot for what I think was the most underrated film of the year. Last year, it would have been Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I knew this movie would be underrated after watching it because few people find this style popular anymore. This level of realism regarding the subject matter wouldn’t survive in this era of escapism, but it really works. Upon hearing the premise of the movie, I thought it would be something like 28 Days Later; and although it wasn’t, I wasn’t disappointed. The story really held together pretty tightly, leaving few loose ends and connecting everyone with each other somehow. Even though it had a number of big names, they blend in to the point of being like one of us. Only a couple of performances truly stand out as a result of it; Lawrence Fishburne as the director of the CDC and Jude Law as a conspiracy journalist were truly superb. Fortunately, it works in this case because the ensemble holds everyone up very well. Steven Soderbergh directed a really interesting, really true account of how we as a society will respond to a potentially fatal disease and even shows how it effects not just the people but everyone trying to combat it. The ending of the movie is by far his most clever part of the movie. Not to spoil anything, but it answers a really big question regarding the disease. Well written, well acted, well directed, and well explained, Contagion is a diamond in the rough.

4. 50/50 – What Bridesmaids failed to do, 50/50 accomplished. It took a rather dramatic subject and brought some positive light to it. It helped us feel better while the main character tried to feel better about his cancer. I must admit that I wasn’t a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The only thing I saw him in other than 3rd Rock from the Sun was Inception, and no one remembers the acting in that. This movie proved him capable of this level of dramedy. Seth Rogen plays himself like he does in all of his movies, but this role may be his most likable. He doesn’t try to hog the movie; he knows his place and he accepts it. Anna Kendrick’s adorable as always. Of course, this was also a diamond in the rough this year as only a few people saw it. It’s a shame because more people need to see it especially in these times. It’s about how one person can cope with living in a terrible time in your life and figuring out how he’s not alone in the pain. Again, nothing can be spoiled, but let’s just say this is a personal story for the writer of the movie. It had some funny moments and some dramatic moments, but it has a lot of charm and heart despite being very dramatic. Like Funny People, audiences shouldn’t see this as a dramatic comedy but rather a comedic drama. That’s really what it is. 50/50 is 50% comedy, 50% drama and 100% satisfaction.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Say what you want about the original movie, but this movie really is brilliant. I’ve already exhausted my praise for David Fincher enough. He’s a great director, probably the best working. Watch his other movies and tell me I’m crazy. The mystery really does intrigue people, but the cinematography and pace make it even more gripping. The intense scenes in the book really are more intense in this film. I already compared the original with the American version, so those who read it know how I saw it. Rooney Mara as Lisbeth deserves recognition not just from the Academy but from everyone. Even Daniel Craig gave a good performance, probably his best one yet. He actually gave Mikael Blomkvist a personality. The stylish depiction of the investigation and the mystery really separates this from the original, but few people actually recognize it enough. Sure, the story’s the same, but the dialogue is much better. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross makes the score subtle, quieter in comparison to their Academy Award winning score for The Social Network, but I think this score works. It’s not ostentatious; it blends in with the surroundings and adds to the Impressionism of the movie. I knew this movie wouldn’t do so well on its opening weeks because of the timing and the nature, but surprisingly this movie is getting a lot of positive feedback from the viewers. Maybe this’ll do better on DVD or Blu-Ray like Fight Club. I don’t care how you see it, you need to witness the briskly paced, beautifully shot, well-acted and very compelling version of the international bestseller.

2. The Muppets – I read that this movie tries to espouse some form of leftist politics to children, but even I say that these people need to lighten up. IT’S THE MUPPETS! Nothing is supposed to be taken seriously. Yes, I know the villain is an oil baron trying to destroy the theater for oil, but that’s Mr. Potter stuff. That’s an old hat. Hell, his name is Tex Richman. It’s not like The Day After Tomorrow which tries to scare us into buying global warming or Ferngully which tries to make us save the rain forest. It’s meant to make us laugh. The whole movie tries to make us laugh, and it really entertains. Jason Segel is a better writer than he is an actor, and it shows in this movie. He’s fun, he’s charming, and he’s brothers with a Muppet (don’t ask how that works. I’m not so sure myself). Plus, he has Amy Adams along. Adams not only is pretty but also very talented, giving her trademark cuteness that made her own Giselle in Enchanted. But this movie really isn’t about them, per se. It’s about bringing the next best thing to Mickey Mouse, the Muppets, together. This creation from Jim Henson never grows old no matter how much we may, and this movie proves it. They provide their trademark humor and charm that doesn’t run out in the movie. What could make this movie even better? Music from half of the Flight of the Conchords, Brett MacKenzie. His songs are fun, memorable and make for some great laughs. “Man or Muppet” probably is the best one of the soundtrack. If you think something’s wrong with this movie, you need to really evaluate yourself. The Muppets is just great fun for the nostalgic and the child at heart.

and the number one film of 2011 is…

1. Hugo – I can’t even describe this movie without using the word “magical”. It’s interesting because it’s directed by Martin Scorsese and looks nothing like a Martin Scorsese film. I never expected the director of The Departed and Goodfellas to actually make a kids movie and really make it an incredible experience. I was wrong. It not only glorifies the human ability to achieve things beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations with a little magic, but it also glorifies the foundations of cinema. One of the characters is Georges Melies, played wonderfully by Ben Kingsley, who filmed the first science fiction movie A Trip to the Moon. However, he’s given up on that dream a while ago until he meets Hugo, an orphan who runs the clocks in the train station. He befriends Melies’ bookish niece, played by Chloe Grace-Moretz, and shows what magic he can procure. It’s a beautiful tribute to the human will and ability to create amazing things. Sadly, this movie isn’t doing so well. People need to see this movie when it comes out to DVD. It has some great characters and great moments. It’s perfect for movie lovers and those who believe that movies need to take our breaths away by what we can do with them. Scorsese proves himself a great director if his past movies didn’t appeal to you (and many don’t to me). It’s a beautiful, fun, well-acted, and magical (there I go again) experience that works for everyone. It definitely is the best movie of 2011.

And that’s my list. I’m looking forward to 2012 and hope that it turns out better.

Top 5 Worst Movies of 2011

It’s 2012, folks. Time to start panicking about that end of the world that probably won’t happen but also to reflect on the past year. I don’t know about you guys, but 2011 wasn’t all that kind to me. Compared to the year before which brought us Inception, Black Swan and Toy Story 3, what did 2011 bring us? Super 8 and…? Most critics usually do a Top 10 of the Best and Worst movies of the year, but I’m doing something different because I didn’t see a lot of movies, most I wanted to see (The Artist, The Descendants, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). So instead, I will do the Top 5 Worst movies of 2011 first. After that, I will do the Top 5 Best Films of 2011 with two honorable mentions and one wild card. That’s a movie that won’t come anywhere near the list but deserves some recognition. Take note that these are all movies I’ve seen, so don’t be shocked if certain films don’t appear.

Let’s start off with The Worst:

5. Bridesmaids – my list, my rules. If this was another comedy that everyone thought was funny and moved on, I may have been kinder to it; the fact that many critics hail it as the best comedy of the year is down right insane. One: the movie wasn’t all that funny. Two: HOW IN THE HELL WAS THAT MOVIE FUNNY? Critics hailed it as the “female counterpart to The Hangover“, but I saw it more akin to Superbad, which from me is an insult. A rag-tag team of girls trying to plan one’s wedding. There’s a premise one would find in your typical chick-flick. Throw in ample amounts of raunchy scenes and awkward dialogue, and somehow this wins enough people to declare it “funny”. People aren’t laughing at these jokes because they’re funny but because they’re stupid. Many of them just come off as forced. Wiig’s drunkenness on a plane? Taking a dump in the middle of the street in a wedding dress? It’s not funny, it’s painful. I hope this “awkward is the new punchline” phase dies soon because I actually miss punch lines.

4. The Hangover Part II speaking of The Hangover, you know that sequel we all were DYING to see? Well, you get what you pay for, folks. Everyone lambasted it for being exactly the same as the first, but that wasn’t entirely the problem. The problem was it tried to be exactly like the first. I’m not just talking about the premise and the formula. Shot-for-shot, moment-for-moment, even the exact detail to the formula emulated the first. No creativity or effort went into this movie, and the stuff Alan says gets old really quickly. It did have some redeeming factors such as Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper, but having the Wolf Pack retrace their steps and running into all the stereotypes of Bangkok is as funny as a bang in the cock…on the receiving end. What made the first movie more pleasant was while it exhausted the typical things to do in Vegas, at least those were somewhat innocent. Stu accidentally marrying a stripper looks like Disney compared to his little encounter with a Bangkok stripper. (P.S. I still didn’t need to see that). On top of all that, Alan in this movie isn’t as likable; in fact, he’s a complete jerk. I know he’s a man-child, but when the character that everyone likes goes sour, you have problems. We all went through the first Hangover; we don’t need another one.

3.Transformers: Dark of the Moon – There’s summer blockbuster, and then there’s summer junk food. Doctors should prohibit diabetics from watching this movie for fear it may elevate their blood sugar. We all use Michael Bay as a movie punchline in the same vein as M. Night Shyamalan, but does that mean we should excuse him from making crap? You don’t go see a movie because of special effects because those age. Ever heard of a 1999 movie called The Haunting? If that alone is why a movie is good, you really need to budget your allowances. I would much rather invest my $15 (because I saw this in 3D) on three albums that I can buy off Amazon than waste it on this. The new chick may not be Megan Fox, but at least Megan Fox had interesting characteristics in the first movie. This chick is so bland and unexplained that it’s just misogynist. I love hot chicks, but I love hot interesting chicks a lot more. If the lack of substance in the story doesn’t get to you, the dialogue will. The development of the plot dies very shortly until you’re just begging for the battles to end quickly. Of course, people are so distracted by the robots that the humans lose all development and usefulness. Shia LeBeouf may be an okay Sam Whitwicky and the robots may look cool, but you will need a REALLY good reason to get me to watch another one of these long, boring, pointless clunkers.

2. The Dilemma – Take note that I did not see either Jack and Jill or Breaking Dawn: Part I, but I would definitely place both of those movies on my list if I did. I did see this movie, though. What makes this worse than Bridesmaids is that the movie only has one joke as opposed to the former’s many. Where you can find some decent jokes in the midst of bad ones, you can’t find any good in one, long, old and unfunny joke: a man sees his best friend’s wife cheating on him and fears telling him. Vince Vaughn’s not a terrible actor but constantly boxes himself in a style that doesn’t work for him; the same can be said about Kevin James. I can’t say the same about Winona Ryder. This little engenue only comes across as an annoying little whiner. I don’t care if that was the intention; it’s chaffing. Her expressions and delivery rub me the wrong way, especially since she cheats on Kevin James for not sleeping with her for six months. Wow, Elizabeth Taylor was more faithful than that. It would help if the characters themselves were funny, but they’re not. Except for Channing Tatum, they have no quirks, no jokes, nothing. If you combined Transformers with Bridesmaids, you’ll get this ninety minute waste of time.

1. Your Highness – Remember when I said that I did not see either Jack and Jill and Breaking Dawn: Part I? Now, I wish I did. Those movies were so bad that they made everyone oblivious to this miserable mess. Here’s something about me: Freddy Got Fingered is my choice for the worst movie ever made because it runs on stupid, childish and gross jokes. Care to wonder why I put Your Highness as number 1? Not only does it also run on one joke, it’s an incredibly stupid joke. A stoner movie in medieval times. Oh, the hilarity. The dialogue and jokes are beyond cringeworthy, especially those coming from the villain (although I do admit enjoying the line “magic…motherfucker”). Everything that came out of his mouth felt like being hit in the head with a giant rock. The jokes are more like bowel movements of actual comedy and are treated just the same. Danny McBride does better when he’s not a poor man’s Will Ferrell; in fact, he should stay as far away from him as possible. But this movie does one worse: it pulls a joke so bad that nothing could redeem the movie’s comedic value. The joke revolves around Danny McBride taking a trophy from a Minotaur he slayed. That said trophy didn’t jump the shark, it pole-vaulted over it. Nothing, not even Academy Award-winner Natalie Portman could save this movie. It is, beyond a doubt, the worst movie I have seen this year.

A Tale of Two Tattoos

Every now and then, The Nostalgia Critic does what he calls “Old vs. New”. What he does in these segments is compare two movies: one original and one remade. Some examples include “Batman vs. The Dark Knight” and “Ralph Bakshi’s version of The Lord of the Rings vs. Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings“. I will do something similar except with nothing exactly nostalgic but rather something that stirs debate today: which version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is superior?

Frequent visitors of my blog know my review of David Fincher’s adaptation as well as my opinion of him; if you’re new to the site, simply scroll down for the review. I hadn’t seen the original Swedish version of the movie until just recently out of the recommendation of a friend (thank you, Nicole Rothschild). I know that so many people defend the original as a “classic”, a movie that needn’t a remake. These people dismiss Fincher’s adaptation as unnecessary garbage even before they see it. I made the statement that it isn’t a wise choice, a statement that I still defend, but who’s right? I must compare the two movies in five aspects: Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander, supporting cast, direction, and overall movie. Which one is the better movie?

Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist vs. Daniel Craig): Hearing that Daniel Craig would play Mikael in the American version didn’t pique my interest so much. I don’t think he’s that great of a Bond, and I never really saw much of his acting to appreciate him. After watching him, he really did pull off a good performance, one of the best he’s done. Michael Nyqvist has the benefit of authenticity: he doesn’t have to work too hard on playing a convincing Swede because he really is Swedish. Craig playing Swedish provided some challenges, namely a convincing accent. His mumbling didn’t really help much either. These little details attribute only to the actors, never the character, which despite being of the same story are different in both editions. The problem with Blomkvist in the book is that he lacks some character; we know he battles the shame of a failed libel case, but we know very little about him as a person. This lack of character really shows in Nyqvist’s Blomkvist (try saying that five times fast, non-Swedes). Nyqvist plays him rather realistically but also rather passively, more like a MacGuffin of a character rather than somebody important. His realism convinces the audience that he is Bomkvist, but it stands in the shadows a mere shadow on the wall. Craig actually made Blomkvist take full control of everything, even added some character to the…character. Craig plays Blomkvist as someone defensive, keeping things close to the chest. And we can see why he would: he was just publicly humiliated. The scene where he finally meets Lisbeth is a good example: he bursts in with coffee and breakfast telling her to kick Mimmi out. Nyqvist didn’t do that; he just came in and said “hey, I know you did this. Wanna help?” Nyqvist may be more realistic and closer to the book, but Craig’s Blomkvist stands out as stronger, more interesting.

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace vs. Rooney Mara): Could there be a more kickass girl in literature than Lisbeth Salander? Noomi Rapace’s performance as the heroine (or anti-heroine however you define it) received widespread recognition and praise from critics and fans alike…but then again, so did Rooney Mara’s. It does make things easier when your character is written the way Lisbeth is. Rapace is still relatively unknown in the United States, her most known role in America outside of Tattoo is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and that wasn’t released until after the former. Mara stunned people in The Social Network despite not having much screen time. The famous opening scene in that movie was half her, and it was a strong half. So who is the better girl with said dragon tattoo? Like Blomkvist, both actresses play Lisbeth differently. Rapace plays her very defensively, more like a punk than really a victim. She’s the kind of girl that always keeps her fists up no matter where she goes. Mara plays Lisbeth defensively as well, but she makes Lisbeth out as the outcast, antisocial savant that Stieg Larsson created. She keeps things close to the chest, and the audience gets the feeling that she experienced her fair share of pain, explaining her character. You don’t really get much of that in Rapace’s character. She plays Lisbeth as someone you want to leave alone. You don’t mess with her, and she won’t mess with you, but Lisbeth also makes some moves that don’t make sense. She has sex with Mikael and then throws him aside; he kisses him and then walks off. She’s one confusing person. Mara makes Lisbeth more sympathetic in the movie, even falling in love with Mikael, which makes the audience feel for her even more. Both films share the same back stories, and yet both Lisbeths come out differently. In the end, it all boils down to which Lisbeth you prefer: the feminist punk in the Swedish film or the victimized girl who’s had enough in the American film. As for me, I find Mara’s Lisbeth connectable and therefore more interesting.

Supporting Characters: While the American version has what appears to be the stronger leads, the supporting characters may not be too easy to pick. For starters, not one movie has all the better supporting characters; where one movie may have a better x, the other has a better y. Case in point: Henrik and Martin Vanger. Christopher Plummer played Henrik very well, probably just as recognizable as Mara did Lisbeth. He even introduced his entire family better than the original which, don’t get me wrong, did well. Both made Henrik rather likable, but Plummer’s Henrik had better dialogue. Martin, on the other hand, has the reverse effect: the original did better than Stellan Skarsgaard. Martin never changed with the adaptation, but Peter Haber made him more interesting and even more threatening. Skarsgaard had the better scene with Blomkvist but still kept him rather deadpan and didn’t show too much of a threat. Haber controls his scene, dancing along that line between genius and insanity and showing no resentment for what he’s done. He even celebrates his “accomplishments”. Skarsgaard’s Martin didn’t really kill anyone except one girl. Haber’s version is closest to the book. To stray away from the Vangers for a moment because there are too many of them to single out, Advokat Nils Bjurman deserves some recognition. The slimeball lawyer gives Lisbeth some “grief” and even gives her the opportunity to show her strength, but the American version makes him more disgusting and loathsome. For one thing, Bjurman in that movie is fat, so having Lisbeth perform on him? Well let’s just say the original seems easier to handle. Speaking of which, Peter Andersson doesn’t really catch that level of disgust for what he makes Lisbeth do; in fact, he looks more like a porn star and a blackmailer than really disgusting. Again, which one do you prefer: the more realistic or the more effective? The original had the better Vangers outside of Henrik and Dirch Frode, but the American version had the better Bjurman and Erika (which didn’t really have much in the original).

Direction: I have sung Fincher’s praises enough, so forgive me if I sound redundant in this. Because the story in both movies are the same, I will instead focus on the way they are told. The original director, Niels Arden Oplev, went more for Swedish realism in his version, which makes sense considering his low-budget. Realism works on certain occasions, i.e. horror, suspense and mystery, but too much realism and not enough intrigue make the movie less exciting. Fincher does the opposite: more intrigue and less realism. He attacks the book for its investigative potential, even showing the exposition as its being told rather than have people tell us like Oplev did. Fincher told his investigative moments in the same style as The Social Network and Fight Club: showing us what’s happening as its being explained. This leaves more of an impression than just hearing about it. Both movies use the investigation that propelled Larsson’s book to phenomena, but the changes in both films either lead to the story’s strength or weakness. In Oplev’s version, Lisbeth makes the big discovery regarding the names in Harriet’s diary. How she managed to make the connection is a bit of a stretch: she might be good, but she couldn’t be that good as to know their actual connection, especially since she doesn’t show any knowledge of its supposed background. Fincher keeps it to the book and therefore has Blomkvist’s daughter make the connection. This works because of her innocence, and that innocence proves enough to send Mikael towards solving this case. Fincher proves to be the superior director not just in capturing intrigue but also in shooting the scenes that don’t seem that far fetched.

Movie: and now for the final aspect of this comparison. The direction differs from everything else in this, even though the director did call the shots. This section covers the writing, editing, score, etc. The technical aspects of the storytelling. First to the writing. While Fincher keeps the book’s story intact, it seems that Oplev keeps the book’s writing and dialogue intact, the same writing and dialogue that American book critics found mediocre. It really does show in that version as the dialogue has some really weak moments, specifically with Henrik Vanger, Erika Berger and Nils Bjurman. Bjurman in the American version had some weak lines as well, but he didn’t have as much. The tattoo that Salander writes on Bjurman in the original also needed modification; for one thing “I am a sadistic pig and a rapist” sounds like she added that last bit at the last minute. It doesn’t pack as much of a punch as “I am a sadistic rapist pig”. In the editing, where the American version moves so quickly that it doesn’t feel like two hours, the original moves more slowly and even edits awkwardly. Some scenes cut at some strange places. The scene after Blomkvist discovers the truth with Harriet ends after she makes a weird face. Other edits feel sloppy and very unprofessional. The same can be said about the scores. The original score seemed louder, something typical of suspense movies; Reznor and Ross’s score in the movie actually blended in with the atmosphere like it actually considered itself part of the movie.

So after all of this, I consider the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to be the better film. I thought it had the better Blomkvist, the better Lisbeth, the better direction and the better…everything else. So my question is what do some people see in the original? I guess is people love it for its “authenticity”. They think that because it was filmed by Swedes for Swedes in Swedish, it truly is a Swedish movie. As authentic as it may be, that alone doesn’t cloud the little details in a movie. A foreign language and foreign people don’t automatically make the movie better. But I am one of a million people with one of a million opinions. While I found the original to be underwhelming in comparison to the people’s response, I can’t rule it as a bad film. Fincher is an amazing director and shouldn’t be ruled out regarding his movie. This is something I’ve tried to tell people: you can’t underestimate him.

If I don’t convince you, then at least see it how I saw it.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Brutally Brilliant

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is distributed by Columbia Pictures

David Fincher ranks high on the list of Hollywood’s greatest minds. His attention to detail equals that of Stanley Kubrick, and his sharp vision is unlike anyone else working. He doesn’t appeal to mainstream audiences, so much of his genius goes underappreciated. What makes him more interesting isn’t just that he has a unique vision but also that he takes risks…and these aren’t risks that other directors would take. The ending in Seven? Almost didn’t happen because the producers didn’t like it. A movie about Facebook? On paper, it seemed ridiculous. Yet, Fincher always knows exactly how to make it work. Case in point: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Here’s an unusual situation: an American adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s bestseller two years after the Swedes filmed their version which already reached critical acclaim. It’s no surprise that fans of the original dismissed this version, but that may not be a bright move. Whether or not we needed an American version of this movie so soon is irrelevant because this movie proves itself worthy. This material is perfect for the director as the initial result is a beautiful, powerful, briskly-moving and impressive movie from the master himself. The movie boasts profound scenery, editing and even acting with a great performance from Rooney Mara and a surprisingly good performance from Daniel Craig.

Recovering from a libel case, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is hired by a Swedish billionaire named Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate a mystery within the Vanger family. Also helping him is the talented but antisocial hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara) who has a rugged past of her own. During the investigation, they discover a harsh secret in the family.

Daniel Craig’s performance as Mikael Blomkvist doesn’t have much facial features but doesn’t lack intensity. Blomkvist keeps things close to the chest, which makes Craig perfect for the role. He makes his presence known in every scene, making Blomkvist more noticeable, never fading from the scenery. While Craig’s performance is noteworthy as the wronged journalist, it’s Mara’s performance as the titular heroine that stands out as the best. Many may argue that Noomi Rapace played Lisbeth better, but Mara remains closest to the source material. She too conveys little emotion which makes sense because she’s erematic. She hates the people around her and fears being vulnerable; and once you see the people with whom she surrounds herself, how can you blame her? All of her acting, like Craig’s, comes from her eyes and voice. She maintains a subtle intensity in her acting while never breaking her Swedish accent. The entire ensemble supporting these two include veterans and non-veterans with few performances requiring criticism. Christopher Plummer as Henrik, Stellan Skarsgaard as Martin, Joely Richardson as Anita, all these performances stand out strong. Those who didn’t didn’t have enough screen time to develop.

Like his previous movies The Social Network and Zodiac, Fincher incorporates a strong ensemble. He knows how to break actors from their comfort zone and make them give outstanding performances, but it’s his narrative style that’s the focus of this movie. It uses the investigative theme of Zodiac with the gruesomeness of Seven and the visual beauty of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. In fact, this film stands out as his most Impressionist. The scenery and the music convey the moods that the characters portray. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the score, but unlike their last endeavor which stood out enough to win them the Academy Award, this score blends into the movie to give its chill in the throat. It’s noticeable, but it feels more natural with everything around it.

The script and story remains faithful to the late Stieg Larsson’s book, so a number of the book’s harsh events come to life here. Many people may not handle the rape scenes because those scenes can be pretty cruel. The story itself doesn’t just move at an amazing pace, it breathes. The two hours go by so quickly that it’s hard to follow at times, but it doesn’t get boring except in the last thirty minutes. Not that the part at the end didn’t add anything to the story, but the loose ends took too long to tie up. Even then, it gave the movie enough time to settle down from its motion.

If people should learn anything about the guy who directed Fight Club is that the aforementioned movie was no fluke. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a powerful spectacle, packing a punch with immense speed and power that you won’t know what hit you. The performances, namely Craig’s and Mara’s, get enough praise from other critics but truly deserve recognition from the masses. The scenery and score paint a portrait as haunting as it is beautiful. The story grips you tight and doesn’t let go, leaving you just as hungry for the answers as the characters.  The original has its fans, but those fans shouldn’t disregard this adaptation as it not only earns a reputation as a worthy version of the book but as one of the best films released this year.

Final Rating: 8.5 (Do Go)

Sherlock Holmes 2: The Game’s Afoot

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is distributed by Warner Bros.

Here’s how I saw the first Sherlock Holmes movie: it’s a Sherlock Holmes movie as directed by Guy Ritchie. Sure, it sounds like stating the obvious, but a deeper meaning lies in the statement. Guy Ritchie makes his name doing action movies, British ones to be exact. His movies involve guns, fights and explosions. So when you hear that he’s doing something like Sherlock Holmes, you know what to expect. However, it does help to keep the deductive manner that made the literary detective so memorable, which fortunately he did. So the first movie wound up being pretty fun and enjoyable albeit uncomparable to the original films about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s contribution to literature.

The same can be said about its sequel: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. It uses that which worked in the first movie and adds little variation. That which is different doesn’t add much punch to the movie, becoming forgettable. But the movie doesn’t stop short from capturing the adventure of being in the middle of a conspiracy, and a life-threatening one at that. Sure, it can barely be considered a Sherlock Holmes movie, and Robert Downey, Jr. can barely be considered Holmes himself; but both Downey and Ritchie put in enough energy and excitement to let it slide.

Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) finds himself against Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris), who rivals him in intellect but opposes him morally. With the unvoluntary help of Dr. Watson (Jude Law) who’s on his honeymoon, Holmes must locate the brother of a gypsy (Noomi Rapace) and figure out how Moriarty fits in a conspiracy between Germany and France.

Robert Downey, Jr. is not a bad actor; it’s just hard seeing him as Holmes. Holmes in both Doyle and under the care of Basil Rathbone always had sophistication and poise with intellect coming naturally. Whenever he deduced something, he made it seem rather simple, hence the catchphrase “Elementary, my dear Watson”. His intellect was strong, and he knew how to make everything seem plausible. Downey on the other hand makes Holmes rather uncouth. He’s a genius, no doubt, but a dirty, unorganized, and even unorthodox genius. He doesn’t fail at portraying him, especially with the scenes where you see how he deduces; but you don’t see Holmes being this unkempt. Jude Law never fails at being Watson. Tall, proper, and eloquent, Law gives the perfect foil to Holmes (probably justifies his character). Jared Harris disappoints as Moriarty. The script writers wrote this character well, easily having him waltz his intellect and craft with Holmes’s, but Harris doesn’t really give his all. Unlike Downey who actually tries to make his character work, Harris rides with the writing.

This was the first time I saw Noomi Rapace, since I haven’t seen the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (P.S. I won’t see that until I see Fincher’s version). From what I saw, she gives promise. In fact, her situation is inversely related with that of Moriarty: she gives what she can with the little she got. We don’t know anything about her character other than she’s a gypsy whose brother plays a part in Moriarty’s plan. In character’s terms, she’s merely a McGuffin: doesn’t really do anything but get the plot across.

The movie has its faults with the characters but makes it up with the action and story-telling. Like any good mystery, Ritchie makes what seems merely pointless play an integral part somehow. Every small piece, including those of chess, has its place in the importance of the story even if its made pretty obvious. In fact, Ritchie really incorporates the Chess motif everywhere. Ritchie’s action scenes really make this fun, but it’s the scenes where Holmes deduces everything that’s the star. The moments when we see Holmes break everything down in his head bridge the gap between Sherlock Holmes and Guy Ritchie. Here is where we see the “Elementary, my dear Watson” at work, even if many of these things require some suspension of disbelief. Ritchie really borrows elements from Zach Snyder, especially in these moments and in the chase scene in the woods (a little of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I in there as well). It’ll be a while before we see the end of this, and I’m pretty sure few will want to see the end of it anytime soon.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has its faults and doesn’t really contribute to the canon, but it doesn’t fail to entertain. The excitement of the mystery and the controversy blended with the action make this movie pretty fun. Where characters fail, the story, cinematography, and even the input from the actors make up. Ritchie sacrifices the mystery for suspense and action, but the loss isn’t too great. If all you want is to see Sherlock in action, then maybe you’d be better off in the old films, maybe even The Great Mouse Detective. If you’re like I, and you don’t mind getting sucked into the mixture, then you’ll enjoy this movie. I do recommend watching this with subtitles because it’s sometimes hard to understand Robert Downey, Jr. in his accent.

Final Rating: 6.5 (I’d Go)

Contagion: Really solid disease worth catching

Contagion review

This past decade has been filled with mostly movies of escapism and fantasy. Very rarely do we find a film based on realism. While there are those few films that surprise us, mostly audiences go for movies that suspend reality as a means to break away from it nowadays. And yet, sometimes reality can be freaky enough. This past decade has brought numerous epidemics and scares from avian flu to swine flu; many of them would be great for a movie. Enter Contagion.

Contagion is a movie from Stephen Soderbergh of Ocean’s Eleven fame. It’s not for someone expecting something like 28 Days Later because there is no need to invent a creature to induce fear. The realism of the whole movie is what makes this story even more interesting, even compelling. Soderbergh uses an ensemble cast of actors to portray more real-life characters and pure reality to get the idea across.

A father (Matt Damon) must protect his daughter after his wife(Gwyneth Paltrow) and son die of a strange disease. It turns out that his wife was the first to contract this fatal disease. As the disease spreads around the world and kills everyone who contracts it, Dr. Cheever (Lawrence Fishburne) of the Center of Disease Control must find a cure. Thrown into the search for a cure are a World Health Representative (Marion Cotillard), a research specialist (Kate Winslet) and a freelance journalist (Jude Law). All must find a means to cure the disease in the midst of panic.

Three things are what make this movie really strong; one of them is a solid ensemble. The main actors go less for extraordinary circumstance and more for subdued concern. This allows for more believability and understanding. These aren’t Oscar-winning performances but don’t need to be. Lawrence Fishburne and Jude Law stand out the most for their performances, stealing every scene that they’re in. Each actor blends in to the movie where just barely you can recognize the actor.

The second thing is the story. This is a tightly constructed story that comes together well, leaving few loose ends and barely any wholes. Everyone comes together and has an important part to the story. Everybody from the journalist to the head of research to the everyman is important to the overall movie. The reality of the story alone can frighten us. This sort of thing could happen because it HAS happened, from Ebola to H1N1. It isn’t the disease that is scary but the fear of death and how society reacts to it. Soderbergh captures that panic perfectly, which leads to the third thing: the direction. Soderbergh gives the audience the ability to see the world through the eyes of the infected, feeling what they feel and reacting how they do. His most clever piece of direction comes from the ending. No spoilers will appear, but let’s just say it answers some really big questions. The only real downside was that the movie did seem to feel longer than 107 minutes, but it fortunately wasn’t boring.

Contagion is most likely this year’s most underrated movie because it’s a pretty solid story told pretty well but may not be for this audience. The ensemble work was pretty strong, the direction was great, and the realism worked. It wasn’t exactly “running out of the theater” scary, but it does make us understand why people would fear this. This is a good escape from all the escapism of Hollywood: no frills, just story.

Final Rating: 8 out of 10 – Do Go

Delicatessen: Wonderfully Strange Food for Thought

Delicatessen is Distributed by Miramax Pictures

America makes some interesting movies, but none quite so interesting as Delicatessen. This movie isn’t an American film; it’s not even filmed in America. Nothing about this movie is distinctly American. I don’t think that a movie like this could even be made in America, not in the way this movie was filmed. It’s bizarre but amazingly fascinating and well-put together. The characters are just as bizarre as the cinematography and the story itself, but it just adds to the fascination of the film. The twisted camera work and the synchronization of the stories add to the amazement of this twisted and somewhat comedic movie.

This is a French movie that came out in 1991. Supposedly, this was influenced by the work of Terry Gilliam, and I guess I can see it. The amount of Expressionism put into this movie is ridiculous both in a good sense and a bad sense. Gilliam has a knack of making some strange films (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, for example), yet his films are fascinating as they are strange. This movie wasn’t filmed by Gilliam, but I can see how it could look like it.

The film’s main story revolves around Louison, (Dominique Pinon), an unemployed circus clown who moves into an old apartment complex run by a butcher named Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus). The butcher’s daughter Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac) falls in love with him but has a secret: her father kills people and sells their carcasses as meat. The apartment has subplots revolving around a man trying to maintain his family, a mentally-unstable woman trying to kill herself, two toymakers trying to make noisemakers, a mailman who loves Julie, and an underground group called the Troglodistes.

Dreyfus is just perfect as the maniacal butcher. He plays his character with such controlled poise but has no problems just losing control. He knows he is in control but maintains a restrained authority. Everyone fears him, and he knows it. Pinon has enough quirky and heart to make his character believable and even likable. His gags and showcase skills give the movie its humor, adding a sense of light to this already dreary setting. Yet, the movie is mainly about Julie, the innocent little ingénue. Dougnac benefits from looking ingénue-like, yet she maintains some subtle range. Her different emotions don’t appear too obvious, and those that are can be over the top. Yet, for the most part, she is subtle in her acting and maintains her innocent appearance.

What sells the story is how well everything comes together. This is a movie with numerous characters in one setting, and somehow each character interacts with each other enough to weave this story into a tight movie. However, it’s how they resolve that is just fun to watch. The suicidal woman tries so hard to kill herself, but every way fails. The final attempt has her in a room with gas burning, a shotgun pointed at her head, pills in her hand, a noose on her neck, and kerosene all over the floor. Despite this elaborate set, it still fails. The gun shoots the noose, causing her to fall, spit out the pills, put the match out and shut the oven. The ending of the movie has the same concept: all of the stories come together and elaborately result to the climax.

Even the most effective stories need proper cinematography, and that is what makes this movie fascinating. I enjoy Expressionism so much because it takes the audience into a new world. Everything is seen differently, even panicky. The exaggerations and camerawork give us this convoluted and disturbed world that would appear mostly normal to the outside world. The best example has to be how everything has to be in sync with the rhythms. Notice how to every squeak of the mattress springs, someone does something to follow the rhythm: Julie plays cello, Louison paints the ceiling, and Marcel pumps air into his bicycle tire. You know that something is going to offset the rhythm, and when it happens, everything happens in their expected manners. The camera adds some bizarre close-ups and bizarre angles that heighten the dark sense of the movie. Clapet wouldn’t be half as crazy hadn’t it been for the camera.

Bottom line: Delicatessen is a bizarre, fascinating, and just cool movie. The acting is good; the expressions are unique; the camerawork is effective; and everything comes together very well. This movie is so wonderful with its blend of exaggerated humor and madness that it takes us into a brand new world. It’s not very Hollywood at all. In fact, Hollywood would be too scared to think about this much less film it. Definitely see this twisted world of post-Expressionist France. You’d be surprised as to what you see.

Final rating: 8 out of 10 – Do Go