Triple Feature: Cemetery of Splendor, I Saw the Devil, & Rampage

Hear me talk in this episode about hedonism, revenge horror, and humongous animals: this is the good stuff I have enjoyed in the past week or so watching movies. These films really work well. I was able to watch all for free on my movie services: All 3 Films were available on Prime Video or Netflix as of 7/20/18. Listen to my previews of them and then: Check them out!

1. Cemetery of Splendor

I won’t try to overstep my grasp of this film. I figure readers like to read something by a guy who knows what he is talking about and at the very least comprehends what is happening. I can’t say I do 100% in this film. BUT, I will take this review opportunity to tell you exactly how I took this film and the hedonic components as they revealed themselves to me. I call this sort of film impressionistic hedonism and let me tell you, it’s not for everyone. Note this partial genre: fantasy. Available From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video.

I love Thai food. I also love Buddhist temples. There’s one close to us here in Southern California that I have gone to many times “when I was confused” (quote from the film and also my life). What was I confused about you might ask? As in the film, the answer would be “love.”

In the last 1/4 of the film there is this contraption that propels water and yet doesn’t move. Actually it’s impossible to tell if it is propelling or being propelled. It make the sound of a free shooting sprinkler and it’s magnificent. There were many times in this film I got that relaxed feeling you get after a good meditation or even a massage. Thailand appears to be so beautiful. There are numerous scenes that appear chosen in color and framing as if to hang in a temple. The only thing missing is a padded stool and lovely incense. Is there a story here? Oh yes but it’s a lot like the hedonic imagery, you better not make a judgment, better to just relax and accept that everyone around us is dead. Not sad, dead.

Shall we pretend that we’re dead? Like the water propellers, there are a dozen or more deeply fascinating and ethereal objects & images. I collect these types of images in my mind. If you don’t, you won’t get it.

There are a few women, one in particular, who take care of men in a comatose state. We find out why they will never wake up at some point. Then we learn more about the living women and what their life is all about. Or is it life? This film was great for breathing exercises and armchair traveling in my lazy boy. For those who would like that and “get that” I recommend to you 8/10.

2. I Saw the Devil

Revenge at its pinnacle. Starts out a bit tedious but once the ride begins, hang on, strap in, whatever because it doesn’t stop. 10/10. Rent it on Amazon in SD for $2.99.

I Saw the Devil (2010)
Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da (original title)
Not Rated | 2h 22min | Action, Drama, Horror | 12 August 2010 (South Korea)

A secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases.
Director: Jee-woon Kim (as Kim Jee-woon)
Writers: Jee-woon Kim (adaptation), Hoon-jung Park (screenplay)
Stars: Byung-Hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, Joon-Hyuk Lee

Director Jee-woon Kim list of films I will make sure and see them all. How many have you seen?

2016 The Age of Shadows
2013 The X (Short) (as Kim Jee-woon)
2013 One Perfect Day (Video short) (as Kim Jee-woon)
2013 The Last Stand (as Kim Jee-woon)
2012 Doomsday Book (segment “Heaven’s Creation”, as Kim Jee-woon)
2010 I Saw the Devil (as Kim Jee-woon)
2008 The Good the Bad the Weird (as Kim Jee-woon)
2005 A Bittersweet Life (as Kim Jee-woon)
2003 A Tale of Two Sisters (as Kim Jee-woon)
2002 3 Extremes II (segment “Memories”, as Kim Jee-woon)
2001 Coming Out (Short) (as Kim Jee-woon)
2000 The Foul King (as Kim Jee-woon)
1998 The Quiet Family (as Kim Jee-woon)

3. Rampage

This one’s a wild ride. In the spirit of other giant animal movies. There are many more than just a white gorilla. Plot is a little complicated for what it needs to be but still, 8/10. Rent it streaming on Amazon for $5.99.

Rampage (2018)
PG-13 | 1h 47min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 13 April 2018 (USA)

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.
Director: Brad Peyton
Writers: Ryan Engle (screenplay by), Carlton Cuse (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman

 

Body Horror, Podcasting & Banter w my Guest Rik Morgan

Body horror is one of the most disturbing types. In this episode we dialog about it. To imagine being maimed or disfigured with no ability to heal or change back is horrifying for sure. Here are some of the films I had great dialog about with my guest Rik Morgan of “Hail Ming Power Hour,” “House of Whacks” and other great podcasts.

Tusk
The Brood
Alien
Deathdream (Rik recommended to me but we don’t talk much about this one)
The Thing
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Possession
from Beyond
Human Centipede
Rabid
Eyes Without a Face
Videodrome
Shivers

My guest:

In this show I welcome for the first time to my show, podcaster and Youtuber Rik Morgan. I discovered his show looking at my friends’ lists of podcasters on Twitter. The first one I listened to was “Short Bus Cinema” and I about cracked up listening. Since then I have discovered he has many projects the latest of which is a Youtube show called House of Whacks. Here’s the preview, if you have a chance to watch it I hope you enjoy!

Rik is a great talent and I was glad to have him as a guest on my show. Watch for a return visit! And keep your fingers crossed!

The rest of our show today was about body horror films.

Ep. 111: Beverly Hills Cop Franchise

Announcing another great guest! Hermione Flavia ( on twitter @hermioneflavia ) agreed to appear on the show and when we talked about movies to cover, she came up with “Beverly Hills Cop” which I agreed with right away. I had a lot of fun with her recording the show! Have a listen and enjoy.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
R | 1h 45min | Action, Comedy, Crime | 5 December 1984 (USA)

A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills.
Director: Martin Brest
Writers: Daniel Petrie Jr. (screenplay), Danilo Bach (story) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton

I’m a big fan of the franchise and of Eddie Murphy’s work. It was very exciting to rewatch and discuss these films with her! What you hear in this episode is our discussion on these 3 films. We take a few birdwalks but were pretty good about coming back on topic 🙂 WHICH as you may know is a bit of a challenge for me sometimes. She’s agreed to come back and we’re making plans for her to be on the show again very soon.

My guest today is Hermione Flavia from Wildfire Movies. Check her out on Instagram as well: hermioneflavia.

Ep. 110: Wake in Fright

“Wake in Fright” is a brutal, disturbing film with amazing acting that takes you on a journey you may wish you hadn’t. Martin Scorcese said, “It left (him) speechless.” I thoroughly enjoyed this re-released film from 1971.

Wake in Fright (1971)
R | 1h 49min | Drama, Thriller | 9 October 1971 (Australia)

After a bad gambling bet, a schoolteacher is marooned in a town full of crazy, drunk, violent men who threaten to make him just as crazy, drunk, and violent.
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Writers: Evan Jones (screenplay), Kenneth Cook (based on the novel “Wake in Fright” by)
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty

The Damien Riley Podcast of Movie Reviews: Show Notes

Ep. 110: Wake in Fright

The 40th Anniversary of a lost classic from the Outback

“Wake in Fright” was created and released in 1971 but was received poorly and almost never seen again after its initial release. Though most all copies were lost or destroyed, the editor found one many years later and it was sold to a production company that re-mastered and re-released it in 2012. It is a brutal, disturbing film with amazing acting that takes you on a journey you may wish you hadn’t. Martin Scorcese said, “It left (him) speechless” Nick cave called it “The Best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence.” It’s a highly commented on film as well as a widely reviewed film. FYI It’s streaming now for free w/ads on Tubi TV. You can watch it on the internet on any connected device.

It starts out with the most haunting, infectious music. Upon hearing it, I knew something quality was coming. A nice small sample of that is in the trailer for the re-released, re-mastered version 2012 which I will pay for you now:

Play Trailer.

The director did “First Blood” and “Fun With Dick and Jane.” He doesn’t have a long resume. Still, this film watches like a masterpiece. The cinematography of the Outback and the torn up wood towns is worth it even if there wasn’t a decent plot. I found it while doing a “horror” genre search but I don’t know if i would classify it as such. Ty Burr said it is a “Monster Movie” and the monster is US. When you look at the scenes that were disturbing combined with the monster inside idea, I see why it is called horror movie.

It’s a brutal portrayal of a white collar teacher on holiday who somehow gets caught in a rough backwards town in the outback of Australia. It’s sort of like a Twilight Zone episode. Whatever he does to get out backfires and he soon resigns to his indefinite stay in this town. The denizens take him hunting and feed him more alcohol that a human can probably handle. It’s a place in the Outback where men do men things: drink, gamble, eat, hunt and fight. The townsfolk really punish this teacher with debauchery. He is definitely a fish out of water. I found myself wondering if these people were indeed human. The film Deliverance came out in 72 and there are certainly comparisons to be made to the two towns. I would say this town is worse.

Again, I wanted to share with you It’s streaming now for free w/ads on Tubi TV. You can watch it on the internet on any connected device.

Despite looking arcane, the film has three powerhouse Hollywood A-Listers of the 70’s: Donald Pleasence, Jack Thompson and Gary Bond.

Donald Pleasance plays the doctor. Well, it’s not quite as simple as that … Go into parts I enjoyed Pleasance in.

Insert PLeasance scene

It’s starts with the Schoolteacher … He is stuck.

Schoolteacher scene

Part of his getting stuck in the town involves a kangaroo hunt … Footage of an actual kangaroo hunt was seamlessly edited in by Buckley, and a “producer’s note” says this documentary footage was included with “the participation” of animal rights’ organizations, whatever that means. …

Forced drinking … As a guy growing up, there were certain friends that forced me into things I regret. Drinking too much beer was one of them. I think people will relate with the horrific adventures of this poor guy.

I enjoyed this raw 70’s film very much. It reminded me of a western but it’s a disturbing one indeed. As a horror fan, I have come to appreciate a certain type of disturbing film like this. Deliverance is a good example of what it looks like. It’s horror in a shock sense, not a conventional one. Rex Reed said “This film the closest one can get to a primal scream.” It really does qualify as that intense. I like intense cinema, horror fans will likely enjoy this film. I’m a big fan of Donald Pleasance but all the actors did a great job and I was drawn in and shocked by the kangaroo hunt (while watching it I thought it was fake). To quote Ebert: “It’s rare to find a film that goes for broke and says to hell with the consequences.” Overall, I was impressed and entertained with “Wake in Fright.” I recommend it highly for film buffs of horror as well as westerns and gritty storyteller drama and I give it a score of 10/10.

Outro

Ep. 109: Charly and Limitless

My guest is Audrey Fox of 1001 Movies and Beyond and Rated M for McPhail podcast. She’s on twitter at: @audonamission (I love to read and listen to her stuff!) I really enjoyed having a dialog about films with her today. This episode is about the 2 films Charly and Limitless.

Charly (1968)
M | 1h 43min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi | 23 September 1968 (USA)

An intellectually disabled man undergoes an experiment that gives him the intelligence of a genius.
Director: Ralph Nelson
Writers: Daniel Keyes (novel), Stirling Silliphant (screenplay)
Stars: Cliff Robertson, Claire Bloom, Lilia Skala

Today we’re going to talk about the brain in movies and what it can cause people to do when drugs are involved, when operations are involved, basically when humankind intervenes in the natural patterns of the brain.

We’ll be talking about Charly, the psychological suspense thriller from 1968 and Limitless the thriller from 2011. I do have a guest today and her name is Audrey Fox.

Audrey shared she is a “Movie Lovin Millennial.” She has a website and podcast and we first got connect through the LAMBcast and LAMB site where we were guests on a show “Movies That Really Scared Us.” Since then, I have had her on Talking stars as a guest multiple times and today she agreed to be on my own show. She has a degree in film and a very unique and engaging way of talking about movies. I am eternally grateful she was on my show today!

We share some banter on the President and current state of affairs that is causing BOTH of us stress.

Limitless (2011)
PG-13 | 1h 45min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 18 March 2011 (USA)

Limitless is a movie starring Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel, and Abbie Cornish. With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access one hundred percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.
Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Leslie Dixon (screenplay), Alan Glynn (novel)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel, Abbie Cornish

What a topic! Anyway, if you disagree, it doesn’t last forever. I agree with what Audrey says that if you support putting children in cages I don’t care what you have to say. That was good! She has a lot of great things to say. I always look forward to when I can get her on the show.

We review the two films with commentary back and forth and then we talk about what we’ve been watching.

Ep. 108: Director Focus – Lars Von Trier

 

Hi listeners! My guest today is The Vern @cinema_recall & @videovangaurd

It always works wuite well when he guests.

I have 8 other guests lined up for the rest of the Summer so I hope you sub.

NO write up for this one, but I did publish the outline for the show (belo) By the way Lars von Trier has a new movie coming out: “The House that Jack Built.” I didn’t get around to posting the audio of the trailer in the podcast episode but here is the youtube, audio trailer if you’re interested.

I also know you will enjoy my guest in this episode, he is the hardest working man in amateur podcasting! If anybody hits it big of all our friends, it will be him! Enjoy the show and …

Enjoy your day.

~~

Show Notes: Ep 108 Director Focus Lars von Trier

1. I introduce guest.

My guest today is The Vern from Cinema Recall

I appreciate his interest in movies and the energy he puts into his podcasts. I subscribe and listen to his podcasts.

Vern, can you tell us a little bit about your podcasting life and career? How did you get started etc?

We each discuss our individual experiences with Lars von Trier films. ie; Film that had the most impact … Least. What makes him unique. Finally, a preview for “The House that Jack Built.” Some anticipation buzz/reaction about the film.

2. Films: We go down the list discussing if we have something to say(feel free to add movies not on the list)

Breaking The Waves
Dancer in the Dark
Dogville
Manderlay
Antichrist
Melancholia
Nymphomaniac Vol 1 and 2

3. Whatchya been watching segment. Open movie banter.

4. Plugs

5. End.

Ep. 107: We Need to Talk About Kevin & The Conjuring 2

Lynne Ramsay, known for Morvern Callar (2002). Comments on IMDB seem to indicate that she has a small but devoted following. This movie could be considered what got her name into the mainstream.

It was produced by a multitude of people but the name best known to me on the list is Steven Soderbergh, known for Ocean’s Eleven and Traffic. The movie stars Tilda Swinton as Eva Khatchadourian/Kevin’s mother, John C. Reilly as Franklin/Kevin’s father, and Ezra Miller as Kevin as a Teenager and a cast of others. The age old question of nature vs. nurture is a fitting discussion topic after watching this film. Are kids born bad or do we make them that way?

In We Need to Talk About Kevin, we see a mother going back over the events of her life trying to determine what caused her son to commit a mass murder. It is a series of flashbacks. We learn the events of a child’s life that led him as a teenager to commit mass murder at his high school. The main character is the mother whose eyes we see the flashbacks. She trying to understand why her child committed the mass murder. In the end we are left with no real answers but lines that get us thinking. John C. Reilly is the mostly absent father who seems to think the problem is the mother and exalts the son as a very good kid. There is a lot of dark and frightening imagery of blood and sorts of 1970’s style psychedelic spinning rooms. Once all this is digested, the stark, ominous truth of what has happened appears. It isn’t even remotely pretty.

I liked this movie a lot but I don’t think it will be very popular. In a world where Columbine happened, we still ironically have many people who choose to hide their heads n the sand. Rather than blame the devil, we ought to be talking about kids like Kevin who threaten to kill and kill again all throughout the land. This movie doesn’t show us what went wrong with Kevin but it opens the door which I’ll admit opens to a macabre discussion room, one we need to enter. The cast is perfect for their roles. You will likely hate Kevin’s character as I did, I hope they paid Ezra well! You will want to shake John C. Reilly when he acts like there is nothing wrong. I don’t mean to sugar coat this movie, it was uncomfortable to watch. At the same time, I feel it should be watched. From the dream sequence of a mosh pit of blood to the final chilling words of Kevin, this movie is a study that will most certainly keep brave viewers entertained. What’s more, it is a topic for discussion about another one of societies taboos. Having said that, some scenes had unnecessarily gratuitous violence so that is where it lost points.

 

From scares like a creepy toy that plays “The Crooked Man” to a phantom nun with yellow eyes, the Conjuring 2 will please horror fans many times over. Furthermore, I hope a third sequel gets made soon!

 

The Conjuring 2
Cast

Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe

Directed by

James Wan

Written by

Carey Hayes, James Wan, David Leslie Johnson

Other Info

Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Rated R
2h 14min

Like its predecessor, this movie features a story about the Warrens. In real-life, Ed Warren was a WWII Naval officer who, after the war, became a self-taught demonologist alongside his wife Lorraine who is a self-described clairvoyant among other titles. They are highly documented investigators of the paranormal. Ed is the only non-ordained demonologist, or one who performs exorcisms, recognized by the catholic church. They have published many of their famous investigations and claim to have done tens of thousands of them. In the film, Patrick Wilson plays Ed and Vera Farmiga plays Lorraine. The movie is based on their experience with The Enfield Poltergeist.

Director James Wan is well known for scaring moviegoers. His Saw and Insidious franchises have netted hefty sums from the wallets of people looking for that thing they’ve never seen before. He’s a master craftsman of the horror genre. There isn’t nearly as much blood and gore in The Conjuring 2 as you will find in Saw movies. Still, there are well crafted scares throughout. A spinning toy that sings “The Crooked Man” is part of one scare that has stayed with me. Vera Farmiga does an excellent job as Lorraine Warren. You can see in her eyes and movement she has such a profound love and respect for her husband. When he picks up the guitar at one point to bring some peace and music to the haunted place, she is just as captivated with him as the daughters are. It’s interesting how Ed in many ways is the hero of The Conjuring 2. When I saw the first film, I didn’t know he was a real person. Knowing a little about Ed Warren’s history helped me appreciate him immensely in the second film. There is a lot of info on the internet and the Warrens even have their own website that is still up today. Ed has passed on but Lorraine is still with us. She speaks about her paranormal experiences at various events. This film concerns the possession of a young girl and how her family saves her with the help of the Warrens.

conjuring1

There is no doubt there will be another sequel since there are other stories about the Warrens that remain to be told. I think the first two in the franchise are both very scary horror movies with interesting real-life foundations. Because I was shocked and thrilled, The Conjuring 2 loses no stars from me. I highly recommend it to horror fans.

Below is a real treat, an interview with the Hayes Brothers, the writers of the 2 Conjuring films.

Ep. 106: The Man in the High Castle & Excision

In this one I review multi-award nominated “The Man in the High Castle” and the disgustingly cool horror film “Excision.”

I also make the announcement about how I am about to start having guests on the show talking films and TV with me. After over 100 episodes done by myself, I’m really excited about this!

This first tv show is quite good. It was written by Phillip K. Dick, author of the novel that spurned “Blade Runner.” He is as renowned as Ray Bradbury in science fiction circles. It’s a story of an alternate ending to WWII, imagining the Nazis and Japan won. How would the world be different. What results is a land of rebels, spying and sneaking in the Third Reich seeking a mysterious “Man in the High Castle.” The rebels are assigned to bringing him films that appear to be propaganda showing America and her allies winning the war. There’s a beautiful and talented leading actor Alexa Davalos. She is the prime rebel with two other actors holding supporting roles. It’s a science fiction show, remember that. It looks historical and period but it’s definitely science fiction. I am currently in S2 and I hope  it stays as engaging as it has been thus far. Some of the sci fi stuff is starting to reveal itself. So far I give it an 8/10.

“Excision” is a horror movie that premiered on “Shudder.” In the spirit of “Ginger Snaps” it’s a coming of age high school movie centering on an actor who has a sick and demented mind. One quirky thing about it is that Traci Lords plays the conservative mother. The movie has tons of blood and flesh. It contains, as I say in the podcast, one of the most disgusting scenes I’ve ever seen in horror. Even though it has a comedic element, this is creepy horror make no mistake. There is also a secondary element in this girl’s mind of sex. Put them all together, along with her desire to be a surgeon, and you have “Excision,” a darned messed up film and I loved it. I give it a 9/10.

Ep. 105: Birdman & Melancholia

I look at two films that are open to interpretation.

Birdman: I recommend you see this movie with no presuppositions. Even the few small things I mention here should be seen as simply one critic’s opinion. I wrote this review the week of its premiere in 2014. This is a uniquely remarkable film. I highly recommend it.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
R | 1h 59min | Comedy, Drama | 14 November 2014 (USA)

A washed-up actor, who once played a famous superhero, attempts to revive his career by writing and starring in a Broadway play.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu (as Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
Writers: Alejandro González Iñárritu (as Alejandro G. Iñárritu), Nicolás Giacobone

See it with an open mind. To begin: this is not a superhero movie. I purposely did not use a mock Birdman as an image for my post. Instead I used Michael Keaton in his underwear because metaphorically, this is what you get. I feel bad for the kids that may pay to go see this expecting a gritty sort of superhero that mimics the likes of Batman. This is not a lower Batman, this is a lower person and the anatomy of his breakdown. It just so happens that in this man’s life, he played a “Birdman” in a set of sequels. It doesn’t matter to the point. Birdman is a firing of brain cells in the mind of an actor who has wasted his life living for appearances and not for reality. In his words, he “has not been present” for his life. We can all get some good lessons from this movie. It portrays men as egotistical and highly capable of getting what they want at any cost. It portrays women as victims who men fail to support time and time again. The male brain is sinister at times and women find this sad. In fact, the audience is meant to find it sad. At the bottom right of Riggan’s (character played by Michael Keaton) mirror he has a quote taped on that reads: “The thing is the thing, not what is said about the thing.” Could there be an application to social media? To “getting off the grid?” Maybe. You as a viewer decide to what degree.

There is also a dream element that has already been touched on all over the internet so I won’t get too into it. There is a lot about the brain but not in the way you might think. Some see the film as a death bed reflection, others see it as part dream and part brain firing. I do not feel that this movie was meant to be understood. It was meant to be enjoyed and talked about but never fully understood. One thing I noticed that didn’t seem real was when Riggan pulled a cocktail napkin out of his wallet, showing his daughter Sam (Emma Stome) it’s significance to the play. Raymond Carver had signed it for his while he was in a bar with his dad. I din’t know about you, but receipts in my wallet start to disintegrate after a few months. I thought it was bad writing at the time but now I see it could be part of a dream or trick of the brain at time of death. Perhaps the whole movie is that.

You keep waiting throughout the film for it to make sense but it really isn’t until you’ve seen the entirety of it that you can start to form opinions on what just happened. Hallucinations permeate the film so it’s hard to see what’s really going on. I think in the end, the psychiatrists will have the best read of this film. Go see Birdman if you want to see a creative and beautifully filmed movie. It might also appeal to you that Michael Keaton, Zach Galafinakis, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, and Emma Stone are in it. The acting drew me in like a moth to a light. It was a highly enjoyable movie experience but you have to be willing to fill in the mortar between the bricks. Once again, don’t assume it’s about a superhero. The title is extremely misleading. There is a man in a suit but he is the voice in Keaton’s head that tells him things. He isn’t real. He is, in fact, in the movie only about 10 minutes total. Ok, I’ve said enough about that. This is not a superhero film. I feel it leaves too much up to the imagination. It reminded me of the acclaimed Enemy movie that way. Perhaps the director got too close to the material and forgot the audience couldn’t get the ending. It needed to be explained more. For that reason I think a lot of people will be frustrated with this movie. I know I was. It could have said so much more about “being present” in ones life and social media and art and theater. Instead, it tries too hard to be spooky and vague and achieves it, which is also fun when you’re out at the movies. This is at the cost of a star. I give it 8/10.

Melancholia: I must admit I went through the looking glass Lars von Trier films recently in anticipation of “The House The Jack Built,” a serial killer themed film. It should be coming out in 2018 and I am somewhat on the edge of my seat. I think Matt Dillon is a great choice for a killer. “Melancholia” came up in a search and I was eager to watch it a second time. It had been several years since I watched it, around 2012 or so. It is one of those odd, open to interpretation films like “Birdman” that I love so much.

Lars von Trier is a compelling director. He has the amazing sounding serial killer film coming out but he’s already made a name for himself with so many excellent, albeit misunderstood by the masses, films. I like him because he is against the grain in filmmaking. He gets an idea based on his urge to convey it not his desire to make money. Ironically, his films do make money. This is one he may have a message intended for but I must admit, I didn’t try to exactly define it. Instead, I did what I always do with films like this: I let myself come up with what it means TO ME. Thank you Lars von Trier for creating a movie I can enjoy and interpret the way I want to.

There is such a cast of famous and talented actors, for brevity’s sake I hesitate to mention each one. The main three are Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland. Sutherland stands out in his performance as a controlling coward of a man who is not at ease with himself or other people. I find it odd how a man can pay for his sister-in-law’s wedding and when it doesn’t go right, just keep reminding her of the amount he spent.

The sister of the protagonist is Claire. She is the one who takes on all the anxiety of the family, It could be argued she is the strongest “sane” person in the bunch. And then there is Kirsten Dunst’s character. She appears to be mentally ill with depression (Melancholia). At the same time, she has a closeness with this planet that is supposed to spell everyone’s impending doom.

This is the sort of film you really need patience with. A bottle of wine, a special coffee concoction (my choice) and any creature comforts you can summon are in order. I feel she is one with the depression planet and as it is crashing in, she is calm since she is crashing on everyone else already. There is also the message of how life is short and can end abruptly. Therefore, marry only who you truly love and do that which you find utterly satisfying in your time on Earth. I recommend this film if you can handle all that. I give it a 9/10.

Ep. 104: The Tree of Life

We have the technology to see the outer reaches of the universe, and others! The Hubble telescope showed humankind we have so much more to explore. At the same time, we can look at the most minute worlds going on under our feet. This film takes us all those places and then some and poses the question: does any of it make us more content with our existence? And, where do we as humans fit into all this?

The Tree of Life (2011)
PG-13 | 2h 19min | Drama, Fantasy | 17 May 2011 (France)

The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents’ conflicting teachings.
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain

Terrence Malick directed “Days of Heaven” and “Badlands” and many more pictures that I thoroughly enjoyed. He certainly has a gift as a storyteller. This film is a little different, it has a lot of out space and nature scenes. There are even a few dinosaurs and pop up, seemingly in the spirit of “2001 a Space Odyssey.”

Jessica Chastain really plays the mother role well here. Brad Pitt plays the conflicted father who seems discontent with where he has ended up in life. He even tells that to his sons which I found reprehensible. Overall though, we have a sensible healthy family here in this story just trying to make it somewhere between their “nature” and “grace.” This film took some patience and I have to admit I watched it twice before it really appealed to me. In the end, I truly loved it. I give this piece of beauty a 10/10.