Is this supposted to be the section where we put our main blurb? Sigh.
Well, I like movies. Does that suffice?
Ok, ok. I also like music. And literature. And writing. And dreaming. And believing. And seeing...
In general, life is one hot mess, and movies make an excellent escape from the madness.
I know everyone comes into a film like this with their own life experiences. For some people, they had a happy childhood with no complaints, and this will all sound very foreign and probably overly dramatic. Other people had varying degrees of unhappiness in their childhood, and for those people Autumn Sonata will either hold up as a mirror to conversations they've had with their own parents, or resemble something they wish they could discuss.
Autumn Sonata is the confrontation between a daughter and her mother. It's raw, inconsistent in the way real people are inconsistent, and shakes with bristling questions that go unanswered.
And the movie creaks under the weight. At least for me, having heard these conversations between my father and his parents, everything here is painfully realistic. Or, the beginnings of something painfully realistic. These are good stepping-stone conversations. Essential conversations to rebuilding a relationship.
But what the film misses is a chance to explore the mother character much more deeply. She touches a bit on her childhood, and it sounds much like you'd expect based on her parenting style. (Or lackthereof, if you will.) But these dysfunctional issues flow pretty specifically from generation to generation. After all, if you grow up in a specific family dynamic, that is often your default reaction when placed in the parental role. (And if you're consciously trying to be not-that-parent, you might correct some issues, but not others, and go too far in correcting even other issues, creating a whole new problem.)
So what Autumn Sonata could have done to really make it a powerhouse would be to better showcase the generational links.
Regardless, this is a film that I definitely would not consider fun to watch. But it is a very good film that tackles issues I rarely seen addressed in cinema in a realistic way.
Boy howdy, is this movie a crapload or what? I think this is what happens when you attempt to write a script that is smarter than you are. This whole review is going to be spoilers because I'm just going to rage the whole thing out.
The basic plot of the movie is that a teacher in a classroom presents his class with a thought experiment. He gives them the scenario that life-annihilating nuclear war is going on right now and he has a bunker that will save 10 of them. They have to determine which 10 will be granted life. And then they "logically" play out the scenario based on the 10 people chosen. To add context, each of the students are given a job, then later a sub-trait. Everything else about them is the same--a late person in the classroom is a late person in the bunker.
1. That "teacher" is the worst. He's a bully. He tells you "the answers" (which in this case can't be proven with a right or wrong) and if you disagree with him, he threatens your grade. He doesn't challenge you to think. This should be obvious from the get go when he "shoots" the poet without even allowing for debate.
2. Within a context where a teacher is simply cattleherding students through an idea to reach a predetermined mindset, the resulting scenarios are going to be suspect.
3. Everyone misses the point of the thought experiment. It's not about finding the magical combination that saves humanity. It is about recognizing that there are varying levels of implications to the decisions being made. People and their contributions to society are more than their job. And the teacher even points this out (in his unfailingly unsubtle way) by giving everyone traits that are more than just their job. And the movie tries to convey this by saying that beyond their assigned job and trait, the rest of the student is who they normally are; the whole person is supposed to be considered. But the movie (or the students, or the teacher) never get beyond card-listed traits and "you're gay" issues. How demeaning to boil a whole of a person down to sex issues.
4. The last time when they perform the thought-experiment it is student-run rather than teacher-run. Unsurprisingly, since the script is written by the same person, it is plagued with many of the same problems, just attacked differently on a surface level. Instead of taking the core-skills people, she picks the artists, performers, and the sick. But because the writers seem to not value these people, it ends in the same way--failure. Which I actually wouldn't have a problem with, except the student expects it to fail. It seems inconceivable to everyone that these people would be of any kind of aid to society other than base entertainment. But there are logical reasons to pick them. Who would be better at seeing the world and interpreting it and helping people process their emotions than a poet? On the flip side, how useful would gold and jewels actually be in a world where the only surviving people are this within however many bunkers there are to protect them? A couple hundred people? A couple thousand? Yes, gold and jewels have maintained value throughout wars and devastation, but we're talking about a societal return to a hunter/gatherer existence here. Practical things will be much more valuable. But no, everyone becomes bedazzled by someone who has that stuff.
There's a whole lot more I could mention, but there's no point. If you watch this movie you'll either see the negatives or you won't.
Cursed is... awkward. It's got a clunky script and terrible special effects. (lol, "Special") But at the same time there is something rather charming about it.
It's a movie best watched on a whim, without knowing anything about it, because half the fun is seeing the actors and being like, "What, isn't that...!?"
The plot itself is basically a whodunit in werewolf form. This gives Cursed an interesting flow compared to most horror movies.
Unfortunately the script doesn't play this up to its fullest potential. The big loophole reveal at the end that allows everything to properly conclude would have been much better fit in to the early parts of the movie. Instead of a deus ex machina-esque, shoehorned-in statement that reveals a solution two seconds before it resolves, it should have been a major part of the unfolding of most of the movie.
The characters are all properly performed by their actors. They're cheesy, but in that horror b-movie type of cheesy. It feels appropriate for what the movie is. And as said above, half of of the fun of the movie is realizing who everyone is.
I'll be honest, watching it for the first time in 2014 I didn't really expect much out of it. The Blues Brothers had the same kind of fandom as, say, Ghostbusters, and that's a movie that hasn't held up much at all. (Still has value, I'm sure, as a nostalgia piece... but I don't have the nostalgia for it.)
But this! Man!
It's chock full of so much that it's hard to know even where to begin. And that chock-full-edness doesn't even overwhelm the movie like it should. Any other movie would be overwhelmed right quick.
Part of the reason The Blues Brothers succeeds is that it feels like a love letter to music. And each performance within this feels legit, from John Lee Hooker scoozing his blues on the sidewalk to The Blues Brothers rocking out with Ray Charles in a music store.
There are shades of Police Squad! humor here, though without the frenetic non-stop quality that Police Squad did.