It's impossible to shake, visually stunning, and emotionally scarring. This is not a fun movie but remains the scariest movie I've ever watched. The message concerning addiction isn't preachy or cliched but simply moves along towards an inevitable conclusion. The hopes and dreams of Harry and Tyrone in the drug business capitalize on the fact that addicts don't dream of being addicts but of something more only to be left with less than when they started. Particularly stunning is Ellen Burstyn's performance as Sara Goldfarb, a naive older woman who takes a bullshit call to mean that she will be on television. Disgusted by her current weight and receiving no results from a terrible diet, she becomes addicted to diet pills. The imagery of her taunting refrigerator and doctor who might as well be a dealer, never looking at her even when her condition screams for medical attention, help make this movie about the destruction of the mind, body, and soul through addiction ring a bitter but true tone. "Requiem for a Dream" is anything but a fun movie-going experience but is a necessary one for those who like their horror to dig under their skin and dramas to be deeply moving. Aronofsky never tells you to cry, but tears are inevitable. So is the brilliance in storytelling, especially from a visual aesthetic.
What an amazing political thriller The Contender is! Going through issues including but not limited to a tremendous double-standard between men and women in politics, what issues are and are not relevant politically, and political assassination without violence. The first woman to receive the nomination for the recently deceased Vice President is solid on issues but may or may not have participated in a sexual indiscretion during her college days which, while completely irrelevant to her political beliefs, is used in addition to other douchebaggery tactics to destroy her life. The ending is a triumph, showing how pieces fit together into the whole. This is a political film that is not bipartisan which isn't a weakness but a storytelling device. It's not to say that Republicans are evil and Democrats are Godsend but shows problems between the parties and how they are destined to be at constant odds, no matter the issues and what is at stake for the American people. The Contender has a wicked sense of humor and not a boring moment. It is an amazing thriller in that it shows how things would happen as well as what should happen. It is also about dignity and those who will not sacrifice it. If you are in any way interested in American politics, you cannot let this brilliant thriller slip through your fingers.
A truly horrifying movie that manages to take the horror genre in a direction in which it hardly travels. Serving as a cautionary tale of teenage cruelty against a backdrop of religious fanaticism and underlying sexuality, Carrie is absorbing from the first scene to the very last and shot with an eye for detail. How DePalma places cameras and uses techniques such as split-screen doesn't make this an example of a director showing off but of a director who understands the source material so perfectly that virtually every shot could be framed. The heroine as played by Sissy Spacek is a true revelation. As Carrie and Tommy Ross walk up to the stage for what we know inevitably happens, my feelings for the characters ascended meer 'I like them, I hate them' and into more complex territory wherein I truly want to protect Carrie. One particular sequence involves Carrie and Tommy on a rotating platform while the camera moves in the opposite direction, starting slowly and with a hint of the romantic and escalating to something almost out of control. The reason I go to horror movies isn't to see relentless gore but to understand a darker aspect of humanity few consider. That Carrie achieves that almost effortlessly is a major tribute to its brilliant cast and crew. Leading up to the prom sequence (a horror sequence for the time capsule if there ever was one), the characters are rich in their irrational hatred of Carrie or their indifference. Horror is territory for a play in morality and while good and evil aren't always apparent, the sense of dread I feel when I watch this masterpiece never ceases. It is very dark stuff, beginning with Carrie getting her period and reacting with emotions that supercede panic to a feeling that she is actually dying. That the girls (clothed, mostly) laugh, throw tampons, etc. at Carrie (naked) adds to this poor girl's isolation. Her mother, who would make Pat Robertson seem like Richard Dawkins, takes a role that would be way over-the-top (initially, Laurie herself thought the role was meant to be comedic) and makes it visceral and real. The set of the White residence is pitch-perfect from the faded white picket fence to the candlelight dinners Carrie and Margaret share, the house seems almost ready to collapse at any moment. And Carrie's room, by no means a sanctuary in its intentional banality, is designed so perfectly that the movie feels like it's happening right now despite the handicap of being filmed in the mid-70's. Anyone who loves horror or who enjoys a good morality tale or just loves movies shouldn't think twice about seeing this. Do it now.
Moneyball is an excellent film, absorbing and funny while still staying thrilling and uncompromising in its vision. If you take two things I couldn't find less interesting, namely baseball and statistics, I would normally pass the movie and not look back. However, Moneyball embraces these two seemingly conflicting ideas and manages to make an engrossing and incredible film. This is an absolute triumph of spirit and fact. Brad Pitt embraces the role in a way that makes it seem like he was born to play Billy Beane and is able to do so effortlessly. Jonah Hill proves to be more than just a pudgy comedian in his role as a major in economics from Yale who is ostracized for looking at baseball from a completely analytical standpoint. The script is sharp and incredible, and the movie is perfect in its observation of the game.