Thomas Bardo (Stephen Rea) is a hard up schlub who is having one shitty day: he’s been kicked out of his apartment, the unemployment office told him they lost his application after keeping him waiting for three hours, and a cop booted him off his park bench just as he was settling in for the night. As if his situation couldn’t get any worse, or more degrading, a fucking car plows into him. It’s not bad enough that his leg is broken and he’s been cut to ribbons, he is actually lodged in the front windshield of this vehicle, and he can’t get out.
When I was younger I remember watching a lot of movies that were not age appropriate for a little boy. One of those flicks I remember was Flatliners. I remember it being slow and boring but it got scary a couple of times. At least that’s how I remember it. Honestly I probably haven’t watched it since I was about six or seven which was the benefit of going into this film. I had an idea about the film but not a clear picture. Perfect. As I began watching, I noticed some familiar themes (of course) yet slowly but surely I felt like I was watching a different film other than something titled: Flatliners.
Flatliners really fell flat for me (pun intended). Ms. Page’s portrayal of Courtney left me wanting more. I really felt like I was watching someone act in a movie – unlike when we saw her in Hard Candy. It didn’t feel real, and she seemed stiff and boring. Her character’s backstory never really went anywhere, and the only clue to why she wanted to explore the existence of an afterlife was a short scene where she was googling “Afterlife theories.” I’m guessing to try to communicate or see that her sister is ok. I don’t know?
As a three year resident of Norway, I had high hopes for this film, and I have been hearing from my Norwegian friends how good the Jo Nesbo Harry Hole series is . . . to read. I was expecting something like Silence of the Lambs meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, what I got was just a convoluted mess of ideas that should have been handled much better! The word that will forever haunt Director Alfredson in regards to The Snowman is “potential.” This story had potential, the characters had potential, the editing . . . well, the editing had no potential, it was an utter failure. Right up there with the piss-poor editing of Seven Pounds, in fact.
I recognize that making a film is challenging, and I hate to just crap all over anyone’s work, but there was just almost nothing redeeming about The Snowman. This director has two strikes and one home run, for me: his breakout masterpiece, the original Let the Right One In, which still kinda freaks me out and his miss being the boring as hell Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN THIS REVIEW!
Blade Runner 2049 is a melancholic noir that follows replicant K as he pursues knowledge of a miracle replicant birth in a sequel that thoughtfully continues the exploration of what it means to be human with what it means to live and love. The designation “K,” while short for a serial number, hearkens to The Trial, a film by Orson Welles based on a story of the same name by Kafka. In it an accused man, Joseph K, attempts to discover the crime for which he is accused and defend himself against said undefined accusation. This inkling of pursuing the unknown in the dystopian The Trial can be felt in Blade Runner 2049, as well.
Definitely worth seeing, Blade Runner 2049 is a towering example of how to make movies with a big dash of how not to make movies. I credit the makers with respecting the audience in their quest to combine art and accessibility. As it turns out, however, the opening weekend was a box office disappointment, in some part due to the R-rating, doubtlessly required for the unnecessary and weak sex scenes. What works in this film is fantastic, which makes what doesn’t work that much more inexplicable and agitating.
Blade Runner 2049 might subjectively look better, or perhaps offer more of what we all love, but it’s not better than the original, nor does it need to be. Where the original sequel fears were justified, and while Villeneuve, himself, said that the chance of success was narrow, Blade Runner 2049 has justified its existence on its own merit by being a very beautiful and worthy addition. In the meantime, before it gets edited seven times, enjoy Blade Runner 2049 for what it is: a torn masterpiece, like its predecessor.
I once wrote that one can’t be a critic and a filmmaker at the same time because the former is reactive while the latter is proactive. Yet, here I am contradicting myself, at least in a sense. While Apocalypto is already known, I desire to produce such short analyses simply out of respect. In his case it is because I believe that Mel Gibson, while already respected as a filmmaker, is actually still underrated. He is on the threshold of deserving the same reverence in film, both as art and entertainment, as Spielberg and Scorsese as great living directors. The masterpiece that is Apocalypto reminds us of his vision and reach.
Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson, produced by his Icon Productions along with Touchstone Pictures and released in 2006, is a film about revelation and revolution. The film follows a young tribesman named Jaguar Paw (Youngblood) as his idyllic life is uprooted by raiders who enslave his people and prepare him and others for sacrifice to Mayan deity Kukulkan. Jaguar Paw’s goal is to survive and make his way back to his expectant wife and their child who are trapped in a pit. Stripped of his tribe and with no home, he transforms from hunted to hunter as he claims his identity in life.