Saturday, May 28, 2011

So As Not To Break The Rules, This Is A Review Of Kung Fu Panda 2

“Fight Club” is—if such a thing exists—a philosophical action movie. People come to it for different reasons: to puzzle about things like society, boredom, and carnal impulses; to watch bloody, shirtless men hurting each other and to experience the ensuing desire to immediately go out and beat stuff up; or possibly to see it just to say they saw it, since it is fairly unanimous that this is an “awesome” movie, presenting valid arguments appealing to both ends of the moral and social spectrum. 

            The story is about and narrated by a nameless (there’s your first metaphor) corporate minion (Edward Norton) who incessantly attends support groups, though insomnia is his only ailment, and becomes addicted to the emotional vent that they provide for him in an otherwise emotionless life. This he does until a fellow phony named Marla (Helena Bonham-Carter) pops up and ruins his binge. He cannot deal with his façade being validated by the existence of someone in the same boat as him… much less a woman.

            Then he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a macho soap salesman who seems to understand perfectly what is on the narrator’s (and our) minds. He makes things like holding a gun to the head of a store clerk and blowing up buildings seem perfectly logical; you’d be crazy not to do it. Materialism is his worst enemy. He leads the life that we all secretly wish we could lead. Not the carefree life of luxury and indulgence—the life of impulse without consequence. The life where pain is merely a side effect of achievement. The life where fear is overshadowed by adrenalin to the point of nonexistence. Hey, why should we worry about consequences when the worst consequence of all is death, and we’re all going to die anyway, right?

            The truth is, we all have a Tyler Durden inside of us. Freud called it the “Id” and said that if it is gone unchecked we would be a civilization of barbarians. “Fight Club” poses the question, “What if we are a civilization of barbarians? Are we not letting ourselves be destroyed by our own fears and lust for material?”

            It uses the glamorization of violence to ask this and does it so thickly it is sometimes plausible to assume that it is validating the very point that it is arguing against—that we are, in fact, barbarians who cannot balance ourselves between civility and all-out carnage… and given the choice, carnage is far more exciting. Especially when it is done with some fast-paced music, snazzy visual effects, and lots of explosions. 

            Like its narrator, “Fight Club” seemingly can’t make up its mind about the point that it is trying to make. It doesn’t know if thrills are what life is all about or if we need stability; and it isn’t sure if we can do any of it without falling into the leader-follower syndrome where the powerful take control of the weak and mold them into a culture of enslaved, dead minds. It is, often literally, fighting its self. Only at the end do we catch a glimpse of that one entity that may instigate symmetry. It’s not… can it be… love? 

Nah, this isn’t that kind of movie. Is it?

For an analysis far more intelligent and entertaining than the one above, check THIS out.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roses Are Red And Something Is Askew

            Movies are essentially an art of manipulation. The composition of a frame, the angle of a shot, the pace, the score, even the credits are all specifically utilized to bend our perception of the story on screen. The difference between a close up and a long shot is the difference between one awareness and another. In many cases, it is the difference between two stories.
            “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” is a movie completely reliant upon audience trickery. It builds our trust in one character only to betray that trust by impulsively switching perspectives mid-way through the film. It creates a façade and then dismantles it, piece by piece, with head-slapping logic and more than a few psychological jolts. This is a movie you can watch for the first time twice—once you know the secret that even the misleading trailer takes good care to repress, it becomes a completely different movie.
            The heroine is dainty young art student Angelique (Audrey Tatou) who is conducting an affair with Loic (Samuel Le Bihan), a married cardiologist with a baby on the way. She is madly in love with him and their relationship appears to be a mutually happy one until Loic begins to stand Angelique up in favor of his wife. Angelique consequently assumes a painful downward spiral into depression until a startling revelation is made that changes everything.
             Even more shocking yet is that lying just beneath the outer layer of cerebral mayhem is a sort of ironic humor. We have Audrey Tautou, fresh from her career-defining performance in “Amelie”, whose face would likely appear alongside the definition of ‘adorable’ in the dictionary, playing a deranged jilted lover. The reasoning that discloses the true plot is all so simple, you can almost sense the writers giggling at their own devilishly easy deception. It isn’t often you get a psychological thriller this engrossing that simultaneously pokes subtle fun at its own guise as a sappy love story.
            It’s this simplicity that makes “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” such a pleasing movie to watch. We don’t have to work out complex concepts or sticky knots of jumbled up relationships. Though there is just enough left untouched to give it a mysterious air, it only plays coy when necessary while dishing out information with precise timing. The complexity is in its knowledge of the audience’s mind and how to manipulate it with smokescreens and imagery. When you know how a person thinks, it infinitely possible to permeate their mind. This is all the more cunning when your tactics go unseen—good advice for cinematographers and unhinged lovers alike.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011