Ep. 78 – What You Been Watching Wednesday 4-18-2018

Films Covered: Nowhere Boy, Timbuktu, Milius, Get the Gringo, Bunnyman, Starry Eyes, My Bloody Valentine.
Hope you enjoy!

Damien

Ep. 77 – You Were Never Really Here

My Score 10/10. Now in theaters. At some level we all become the same person trying to get through her/his existence. Lynne Ramsey’s film portrays Joe at that point. He’s good at rescuing sex slaves but can he walk down the street without losing it? I’ve been a fan of Lynne Ramsay since I saw “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” She stood out as a director with something to say, or maybe what she has to say is that we need to be talking about that level we are all on.

You Were Never Really Here (2017)
R | 1h 29min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 6 April 2018 (USA)

A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writers: Lynne Ramsay (screenplay by), Jonathan Ames (based on the book by)
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov

Lynne Ramsay’s career started with her film “Ratcatcher.” Soon after that she directed “Morvern Callar.” These films, as I understand, are also about individuals deftly making it through a seriously fucked up situation. No one can tell these people about the world as they know what it’s about before you start. It’s dark. Still there is a beacon of survival that floats to the surface of the darkness. Her films are not filled with hope per se but they do show a way through. If there is one, we will find it. Is that hope? Maybe. Yeah, I think it is. There is a seriously jaded tone in her work and I am attracted to that. It’s as if she telling her audience she isn’t here to spoon feed them but lead them to drink at their own water source.

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is definitely a seasoned professional, albeit jaded. He’s fucked up in the head from the war but he also knows a thing or two about saving young girls in sex slavery. Can you have one without the other? He’s not hung up on the deadly risk of his work because he seems to invite death. There are borderline hallucinatory scenes throughout. In the beginning we see him taking care of his aging mother and mock-asphyxiating himself in closet plastic. It flashes to a young by doing the same thing. We see him as seriously messed up individual who is making it as best he can unable to shake the demons and responsibilities of this world. When he picks up the hammer to do his “work” we see we’re dealing with a gifted pro but at the same time, he can handle a gun.

Joe’s use of a hammer as a weapon is a way of showing he cuts through the bullshit of appearances. To him, a gun is heavy. A hammer is light and gets it done quick. When he goes into houses, trying to find these girls he;s been hired to find, they are lived in but plain. These look just like “our” houses. I couldn’t help but think if the finger was pointing at middle America and the secret sins it hides at home. When they kill his mom, it’s one of the legs on his mental table. He doesn’t teeter, he crashes mentally. It’s hard to keep the line straight between good and evil, in fact it sort of dissolves into a vengeance chapter. As he lays on the floor with the dying assailant he holds his hand as if to say, “You aren’t fucked up man the world is.” And why does he take so much time burying him in the lake in an almost funeral like manner? Could he be thanking him for taking his mother to a better place? He seems reborn after this event. And how about the beautiful day outside? What was being said there?

I was very happy to see many critics agree this is a 100/100. It’s got very little dialog but the music acts as a narrator. It is incredible. Be ready for a slow burn that doesn’t do the work for you, you have to think and negotiate what this means for yourself. I loved it. 10/10.

Ep. 76 – Static

Listen to my review of:
Static (2012) Currently Streaming on Amazon Prime. My score: 6/10
Not Rated | 1h 23min | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 1 November 2012 (USA)

A couple facing marital problems after losing their child finds their life together further complicated by a mysterious visitor.
Director: Todd Levin
Writers: Gabriel Cowan (screenplay), Gabriel Cowan (story) | 4 more credits »
Stars: Milo Ventimiglia, Sarah Shahi, William Mapother

Ep. 75 – Red State

In this one I review Kevin Smth’s “Red State.”

Red State (2011)
R | 1h 28min | Action, Crime, Horror | 30 September 2011 (UK)

Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Stars: Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, John Goodman

Music By: Creo “Rock Thing” (Intro/Outro)

Ep. 74 – The Chernobyl Diaries

For a low-budget indie based on a sometimes deep other times silly premise, this film is pretty good. Once I stopped trying to figure out a twist, I let myself enjoy it. It also got me very interested in the history. Listen to me talk about that and more on this film in this episode.

Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
R | 1h 26min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 25 May 2012 (USA)

Six tourists hire an extreme tour guide who takes them to the abandoned city Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. During their exploration, they soon discover they are not alone.
Director: Bradley Parker (as Brad Parker)
Writers: Oren Peli (screenplay), Carey Van Dyke (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Olivia Taylor Dudley

Ep. 73 – Ten Horror Movies That Scared Me

I appeared as a guest on the LAMBcast as part of a panel discussing “Films That Scared Us.” I thought it would be fun, as I prepared for that, to write a post about ten films that scared me through the years.

creature

I’ve given 2 categories of scary: 1. Scary Films that are totally creepy in their totality or in a general way and 2. Scary film moments.

Scary Films
Halloween

Tusk

The Descent

Insidious

The Funhouse

2. Scary film moments
The Village – “Creatures that we don’t speak of” walk by.

The Other – Pitchfork jump.

Jaws – Shark eats Quint

Pet Sematary – Zelda

The Silence of the Lambs – Hannibal’s Escape

Music By: Creo “Rock Thing” (Intro/Outro)

Ep. 72 – Elephant

I love movies where I feel like I am among the characters. This was certainly that sort of film. Gus Van Sant must have meant it that way in that there appears to be no agenda presented on how we can stop school shootings. But the shootings are there nonetheless. We track several students and a few teachers and parents going about their morning. Little is explained as everything the director wants us to see is merely shown. This was not an easy film to watch but I like how it allowed me to see inside a school shooting and draw my own conclusions. Nothing was shoved down my throat.

Elephant (2003)
R | 1h 21min | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 14 November 2003 (USA)

Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Elias McConnell, Alex Frost, Eric Deulen

I couldn’t give this film anything less than a 9/10 because it is so powerful and so halting. The director Gus Van Sant, who we know as the director of “Good Will Hunting,” has made a piece of art that shows us what a school shooting scenario looks like. This could be used in think tanks as official people look for solutions and ways to conduct preparation drills. It is just a little more than a blank canvas, we pour our own meaning into it.

The director shows us the shooters at home getting their semi-automatic rifle delivered and then practicing shooting in the garage with no parents at home. He shows the leader playing beautiful piano while the other surfs the web for more guns. But the movie shows plenty of ways and extended moments where armed teachers or staff could take out the killers. In other words, the point of view is not limited to conservative or liberal. Like I said, no solutions are given, it’s not meant that way. If interested you can look at my review of another Van Sant film that works the same way: not a case study just a case of a juvenile to look at. That film is Paranoid Park.

The actors are all unknown to me. I did recognize the drunk dad though he has a small part. I read that Van Sant made enough money off of directing “Good Will Hunting” that he could enjoy the freedom of making non-commercial films. Shouldn’t every successful director see it that way? He has given the world an amazing case to study and come up with its own individualized solutions. This film came out in 2003 and it is made to mirror Columbine. In the years since its release, we’ve suffered so many more school shootings it’s frightening.

Watch this film with high schoolers and ages up from there. It is not for kids younger than that. Have a conversation based on this film. It is an amazing piece. So, why did I give it a 9/10 and not a perfect score? Probably because it truly offers very little hope. I for one would have enjoyed it more if there were some. Perhaps I’m asking too much. My other 9 points I granted it say the rest. I recommend this film 9/10.

Credits
Music By: Creo “Rock Thing” (Intro/Outro)
and Jahzzar “Please Listen Careully” (Bed)

Ep. 71 – A Quiet Place

My score: 10/10. Depeche Mode sang, “Enjoy the silence.” But I really don’t think anyone in this film is enjoying it. We are programmed to yell out when hurt, scared, or shocked. What would you do if that spelled your demise? This is the question I kept asking in in “A Quiet Place.”

A Quiet Place (2018)
PG-13 | 1h 30min | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 6 April 2018 (USA)

A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.
Director: John Krasinski
Writers: Bryan Woods (screenplay by), Scott Beck (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds

John Krasinski is our director and a great one indeed. This is a film of 90 minutes that I literally wanted to be a lot longer. Trust me, my patience for long movies is characteristically low. In this case, it was done so well, I wanted to know what the characters did after the first credits appeared. That doesn’t mean I am asking for a sequel by the way, far be that from me. The central premise of being hunted by sound is powerful and it works so well. After that, the foreshadowing and character development worked together to make this film amazing. Tip of the hat to Krasinkski, who also plays the dad/husband of this family. I am utterly impressed with his work here.

A lot of times these days in films, directors use the rule of less is more when it comes to their monsters. They only show parts of the monster ad then the audience uses their far more powerful imagination. We are given the “full creature” in many scenes and this really makes the film work. We have an idea what it can do and maybe how it can be destroyed. Needless to say I am very impressed also with the CGI of this film. This is mostly because it serves the story.

I kept thinking in this film I was in “Signs.” It was like the same barbecue with different meat. Signs is more of a metaphysical/religious film whereas this one is just suspense all the way. The ending of both are birds of a feather and both films have amazing writing that makes the film worthy.

The acting is equally astounding. Metacritic has given this film an 85 and I must say I disagree. This film should be closer to 100. Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) steals the show. All cast members deserve awards but her work as the deaf loving daughter broke my heart and I am sure everyone else’s in the theater as well. She was amazing and I await great things from her in the future.

Emily Blunt pays the mother with so much to lose if the creatures hear her. You feel her tedium. Noah Jupe is the brave young brother who knows what to do in the cse of a creature attack. This is labeled horror but it’s a lot about family and sacrifice. It’s suspense above all and though it starts a bit slow, patient audiences will be rewarded. In case you couldn’t tell, I recommend this film and give it a 10/10.

Ep. 70 – ‘Ready Player One’ and ‘About Schmidt’

Damien reviews 2 movies in this episode: A hugely popular new one and one from a while back with Jack Nicholson. Join Damien as he goes through these 2 films. If you have anything to add or suggest, that’s what the comments are for! Next Week: Ep. 71 Elephant, Gus Van Zandt dir of Good Will Hunting. Be sure and watch the movie and then listen to Ep. 71, let’s compare notes! Thanks for listening.

Credits:

Music By Creo “Rock Thing” (Awesome right?)

Ad mentioned in the show: @comicswatching on Twitter
feat. Host/Creator Kevin Gootee

Ep. 69 – American Splendor

After picking this film based on its Metacritic score, I watched and learned of a unique talent in our times: Harvey Pekar (pronounced “Peek-are”). Radiant describes it well.

He was a comics artist who lived the artist’s life. I was hugely inspired by his story and specifically, Paul Giamatti’s portrayal of him in this film. I give it easily a 10/10 but be aware it is droll and sometimes very nerdy. In other words, it’s not for everyone. The film really touched me though and I talk about how at length in this episode. Thanks for listening, may Harvey Pekar rest in peace. My next film for commentary is “About Schmidt.” See you next time.