Even More Laughs.

I know it’s not a “film”, but 30 Rock is one of my favorite TV shows EVER (alongside The Office & Mad Men).

It’s no surprise that Tiny Fey created the show as the absolutely genius writing and a distinctively clever sense of humor are the show’s trademarks, as well as the brilliant cast, which includes the unapologetically bold (and hilarious) Alec Baldwin.

(episodes are on Netflix but it plays on NBC on Thursday evenings)

If you’re into witty, satirical and sometimes totally absurd comedy, get into this show.

Here’s a clip of some great Liz Lemon moments (bad quality, I know). They get so much more ridiculous than this, but you’ll have to watch some of the episodes to know what I mean! 😉

If You Want Some Laughs…

sit back with a friend or two and watch “Mary and Max” (2009) together. (It’s on Netflix!)

Yes, it’s clay-mation (clay animation). All of it was wonderful and I had a great time watching and rolling around in laughter.

It’s clever, especially in how it deals with a lot of somber, heavy topics with a light-hearted attitude. The clay animation also adds to that comical, light feeling in the film. You just can’t help but notice the little details that make everything so adorable and more visually fun than had it been filmed in “real-life”.

Mary & Max are pen-pals who both just want a real friend; their writings to each other helps them grow through the years and deal with all of the miserable situations in their lives. (how’s that for a succint summary?!)

It’s pretty hilarious and not meant to be taken too seriously, despite the variety of depressing topics it brings up. I know it looks grey and dismal (i like to think that the brown & grey themes merely help to illustrate the personalities of the two main characters), but it’s actually a great stylistic choice.

Watching this last night was a pleasant surprise since I had never heard of it before, so…..Thank you Claudia for sharing this gem of a movie!

We Need To Talk About THIS:

By “THIS”, I mean the film:

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

which is now my favorite film of the year! (i know, its only january, but so far, this is the STUFF)

In brief: superb everything. Superb script (based on the fictional book by Lionel Shriver), superb acting (Tilda Swinton, anyone?!), superb cinematography (it’s pretty much visual poetry)…I was hooked from the very first scene of Tilda’s character, Eva, in the midst of a mass tomato fight (probably the annual one in Spain): bodies squished together, the color red forming the canvas of the scene, Eva blissfully splashing in the red juice…it’s stunning.

[I posted a trailer for the film in my previous post; go look at it]

The plot unfolds in the same manner that one would think back upon the past in a stream of consciousness; the chronology is broken, certain moments are slower and emotionally-heavier, the present interrupts abruptly as Eva is thrust back into cold reality.

I keep hearing people say its a film about a sociopath/psychopath/murderer and yes, thats one of the main elements of the story-line, but I found the themes of GUILT & PARENTHOOD much more interesting in this film. How is a parent to feel when they think they have done everything right in raising a child only to see that child become a nihilistic murderer?! Are they to blame? Is there a level of responsibility that the parent must face? How are children reflections of their parents?

Perhaps Eva’s uncertain and ambivalent approach to parenting is so obvious to her son; from the very first days of being a mother to Kevin, Eva is in agony and isn’t enjoying one bit of it, as much as she tries to pretend. Even Kevin picks up on this as a child and tells her that she is only “used to him” but doesn’t like him. Kevin, on the other hand, seems to have this strange resentment for his mother and is always opposing her and doing everything he can to upset, annoy and frustrate her. His life goal is to push Eva to the brink of despair and bring out the worst in her. And Ezra Miller is chilling as Kevin; his smirks and arrogance make Kevin almost comical until you remember that he’s a sociopathic murderer.

Kevin’s last line (I think) in the film is so simple but relates to Eva’s decision on motherhood. When Eva finally asks him “why?”:

I used to think I know. Now I’m not so sure.

Maybe she felt the same way about having children. In any case, his motivation for battling his mother all of his life has seemed to dissipate at the end of the film after being in prison for 2 years. His previous explanation had been something akin to wanting attention from the masses; the kind of attention that criminals and psychopaths on TV shows get from audiences. I’m still ruminating on those lines…

To add to the psycho-horror feel of the film, Lynne Ramsay (director) lets the mystery of the vague and unexplained seep into the plot. There’s always greater fear in the anticipation of what the audience expects and greater horror at what hasn’t been shown but only hinted at. For example, a brief scene at the beginning of the film shows Celia, Kevin’s little sister, sitting at the kitchen counter with her back to the camera, singing a song to her stuffed animal. The camera moves closer and closer to Celia until she turns around and looks into the camera… with an eyepatch. *chills run down my spine*

Film Critic Dustin Putman puts it nicely: the film “has a fitting title; once seen, it will be impossible for viewers to hold back on their conversations about it.” And he’s right! Go watch it and just TRY to not talk about it.

A Fantastical Comedy, A Chilling Psycho-Drama, and A Tweaked-Out French FairyTale

I am adding these 3 films to my must-see list for this year. Check out the trailers for these ones (strangely, Tilda Swinton is in 2 of them), which are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in style & substance. All of them look so visually captivating and enchanting; it seems to me that all 3 will have distinctively styled cinematography. I don’t think any of the 3 directors will disappoint in stimulating your eyes and your mind. Yay for trailers!

P.S. The 3rd one, The Sleeping Beauty, is on Netflix! 🙂

[I’m also super excited for Django Unchained and The Great Gatsby releases this year!!! 2012 is going to be an amazing year in film!]

Shame: Well-Made Film, Difficult to Watch

I know it’s been a few weeks since my last post, but I do intend on posting a little more frequently, especially since I have been seeing and will be seeing at least 2 or 3 films a week. That being said, I bring you… Shame. 

SHAME (2011)

I finally went and saw this last night with a hesitant friend (Nc-17 rating) and while I will applaud the style & substance of it and say that it is a super well-made drama, I must warn you that I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It’s one of the most intense and heavy (speaking of content matter) films that I have ever seen and it’s not for the light-hearted. It definitely fits into the stereotype of British films as dealing with some of the most depressing and melancholy topics ever. 

[This British-made drama, directed by Steve McQueen, is about a NYC yuppie sex-addict and his increasingly uncontrollable desires. After his unstable and needy sister temporarily moves into his apartment and tries to connect with him as a sibling, Brandon (main character played by Michael Fassbender) sees his seemingly stable and perfect life break apart.]

The title says it all. The sense of shame and disgust is constant; no part of Brandon’s lifestyle is depicted as fulfilling. Maybe it was just the effect the film had on me, but I only saw the character and his life as pathetic and off-putting; the one time Brandon attempts to be romantic and have a “normal” date with a co-worker, he is completely awkward and unnatural. Fassbender’s acting was perfectly chilling and reminiscent of Christian Bale in American Psycho. As Brandon, he has this strange way of keeping his composure on the surface while revealing that there is something darker hidden beneath his reserved mannerism.

Most of the film’s color is muted grays and blues. It kind of parallels Brandon’s unemotional, dispassionate character. I noticed that COLOR is introduced onto the screen when Brandon’s sister (played by Carey Mulligan) comes into the plot and interrupts his life.

She stands out completely, and especially from her brother. Aside from their strange closer-than-most relationship, Sissy is an extremely emotional, needy sister who ends up being the agent of exposing Brandon’s addiction to himself; she is the one that demands attention and a sense of family and identity with her brother, which tugs Brandon away from his self-absorbed life. I thought it was really interesting that Brandon had to let go of his lifestyle in order to really care about and care for his suicidal sister.

This film definitely brings up a lot of questions that are normally ignored or shrugged off, aside from the issue of sexual addiction. I thought it was a totally fresh and much-need perspective on an issue that today’s technology and society has only normalized and made it easier for people to become addicts.

…So I would only recommend this film to those who are able to handle this kind of topic; I still think its very well-made and I appreciate it as powerful cinema.

I’m going to try to steer clear of gloomy films for a while (aka no British films! :p) since that’s all I’ve been watching for the past week or two.