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I am a college student who has some free time, and an insatiable, ravenous obsession with film. I have a wide variety of tastes and I try for quality films, and I almost never say Not Interested. I love mind bending films, screwball comedies from the 30's and 40's, romantic comedies, classic and low budget horror, coming of age films, silent slapstick, feel good, and generally 70's cinema. I rate films with a mixture of "What the film is" versus how much I enjoyed it. If you want to read about my opinions on modern film, here's a link to my column in my college newspaper:
There's nothing better than a revenge fantasy film. Tarantino is possibly the most famous, recent, purveyor of this genre with his revival of grindhouse and exploitation films, but "Blue Ruin" is its own strange, gothic ride through Southern crime.
The film follows Dwight (Blair), who has been made an outsider after the murder of his parents, some odd years ago. Reclusive and feral, in many respects, Dwight has no qualms about exacting revenge on their killer, who has just been released from prison. With very amateur skills, and no help from anyone else, he tracks down everyone who may wish harm to his one living relative, formally taking down an entire family of killers. There's very little explanation into the backstory of how Dwight's family was ripped apart, and we don't get to know much about Dwight's character either. The film instead focuses on how cunning he is, though he is always frightened at the prospect of death, and the eventuality of a showdown between him and his pursuers.
This film is filled with memorable scenes, quick action, formidable villains, and harsh realities. It is always tense and full of extreme suspense as we watch Dwight fight against his baser instincts. Director Jeremy Saulnier has been credited with bringing this story to Cannes, and winning acclaim from pretty much every critic who has seen this film thus far. While Macon Blair delivers an extreme, beatific performance as Dwight, it is Saulnier who creates the eerie, often caustic mood that follows its characters around like a perpetual shroud.
This is a must see for those checking off the best of 2014, as well as those who want to see the capabilities of indie filmmaking at its best.
As Roxane Gay notes in her book of essays "Bad Feminist": "Tyler Perry loves to tell a good morality tale." This has hindered me from watching a Tyler Perry production since the 2005 film "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." That film was filled with forced morality, and stifling stereotypes. This film, too, has its moments of morality, especially when it comes to caricaturized men who are made unnecessarily villainous to suit a woman-power narrative. The women have to fight against ex-husbands, addict ex-boyfriends, institutionalized sexism, and poverty. Each of the women in this film learn a lesson, spoon fed to the audience with each guiltily soapy scene. The women's interactions with each other often revolve around complaining about men, their children, and their lack of support. I'm not even sure that this film can pass the Bechdel Test, or if it does than it's by a narrow margin. While it's nice to see a film helmed by women, I just wish their characters are explored beyond their families. While Jan (McLendon-Covey) has a major plot with her job, it's quickly abandoned, because she is portrayed as a harried career woman who is completely closed off and man hating. It's much better than past Tyler Perry films, but not by much.
This film hinges on one inept joke: Good girls act appropriately, and all others are whores. Seriously, that out of date set of gender politics frames this entire film, and spawns most of the jokes as well. Elizabeth Banks is giving it her all here, but it's hard to work with such a piteous script and this inept direction. The little that is good about this film relies in the great chemistry between Banks and Marsden, who seem to have a rock solid attraction, though formulaic in its approach. Nobody saw this film; nobody bought it, lent it to a friend, or talked about it outside of berating its creators and stars. Not only does this film suck, but it's detrimental to women for its sexist depiction of them, and blatant sexualization as well. Please don't see this film. No good will come of it.
Whatever you were expecting from this maudlin horror schlock, it doesn't pack much fear into its runtime. Instead the film quickly devolves into a manhunt for the tiny deformed infant. Instead of being framed as a creature feature, it's a film about a runaway baby out to kill all those that get between it and its family. It's hard to believe that anyone would instantaneously believe in the mutated killer baby angle, but they do. Suspense of disbelief is always needed when watching this film. Otherwise, the baby itself isn't even that horrific. Yes, the amazing Rick Baker did the makeup, and the animatronics, but the baby is always half-hidden in shadow. The deaths aren't that authentic or original, the acting is bland, and the set-up is wanting. While the concept may have been unique, and its most infamous scene is worth watching, this is an otherwise run of the mill creature film.