Okay... bluuuuuuuurgh... there's not much that can be said after seeing a film like Antichrist. "Pretentious" is one thing, but director Lars von Trier takes it to a whole 'nother ridiculous level with what might be the worst film I've ever seen (judging objectively, of course... nothing is worse than Man of Steel). I think I'm done with Danish NC-17 art house films for a while. Okay, just kidding. I'm never watching anything like this again. What freaks ME out is that in Denmark, this swept the awards ceremonies, taking away Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, SPECIAL EFFECTS... what the hell? The only CGI in this film is a fox that says "Chaos reigns." Yeah, you heard that right. Denmark is fucking nuts.
Antichrist stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as He and She, a couple who are torn apart when their son jumps out a window (probably because they were having sex in the shower). Dafoe is basically cool with it, and exhibits basically no emotions. Wow, what a sympathetic character. If he were Eric Clapton, he'd at least write a song about it. Meanwhile, Gainsbourg whines, wails, and weeps her way through the rest of the movie, giving the audience two polar opposites, neither of whom are even remotely appealing. It gets even weirder when Dafoe starts playing psychiatrist with her and takes her out into a cabin in the woods to help her "overcome her fear," which apparently involves a fear of nature, the garden of Eden, and herself. No... nothing pretentious here.
Clearly, the Danes don't watch many good films, because this is one of the most obvious movies I've ever seen. A man and a woman in the middle of nature, talking about Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden. That's not even symbolism. It might as well be a straight-up adapted retelling of the Bible story, except this time with more torture. How is this deep at all? The religious undertones (or should I say overtones) are painfully obvious from the get-go. The film is CALLED ANTICHRIST, for shit's sake. Although there is no reason for this in the context of the film, it's still a biblical reference. What's far more unsettling than the creepy Christian crap is the misogyny. Lars von Trier must have had a really bad experience with a woman to write a script like this. "A crying woman is a scheming woman." "All women are evil." What the hell? Lars, if you're trying to get over a girl, that's fine. We've all been there. But making torture porn movies about it is not helping. This all comes to a head when we are given a scene of "gynocide." Yeah, you read that right. Don't ask me to explain why any of this is in the film, because unlike legitimately good arthouse cinema, there is no depth to be found here. It's just gross for the sake of grossness. There's not much more analysis I can do here past the fact that even Lars probably doesn't know what any of this means. Wow, what a genius! Let's give him some awards.
The cinematography is total shit, too. The entire intro is filmed in black-and-white, slow-mo, and has ethereal choir music playing in the background. Why? What is the point, other than to pad the run time? 300 gets a bad rap for its overuse of slow-mo, but I think this is worse... way worse. The so-called "techniques" used by the cinematographer here are basically what you'd expect from a high schooler's home video. The camera goes all fuzzy every once in a while, making it look like we're seeing the characters through a dense fog. Then, suddenly, it's a warped wide-angle lens. There's no skill taken to do stuff like this. I could go out to the woods and film a fucking tree falling and call it "art." The fact is that if a tree falls in the forest, and Lars von Trier films it, nobody gives a shit.
So now let's look at the part of the film that everyone talks about the most: The torture. You know, people called Only God Forgives and Valhalla Rising "torture porn" (I should know, I was among them), but you really haven't seen anything until you've seen a Lars von Trier film. This movie is so horrifically graphic I actually had to close my eyes at one point. That is something I never do while watching films. Feel proud, Antichrist, because you're the first movie that has legitimately grossed me out. Honestly though, there's nothing in this film that is really emotionally scarring, because although we do see people bust apart their genitals (in shaky cam, so apparently even Lars chickened out), there is never any emotional depth given to the characters we're watching, so we couldn't care less. The grossness of this film didn't disturb me nearly as much as its ineptitude and stupidity did, but that's mainly because I have a strong stomach for things like this. So please... if there is the slightest doubt in your mind about whether or not you should see Antichrist... don't see Antichrist. Not because it's a terrible film (it is), but because you seriously may not be able to handle this acidic mix of bad filmmaking and mind-blowing gore. It's truly awful.
Final Score for Antichrist: THE RARE AND COVETED DIEGO TUTWEILLER NEGATIVE ZERO OUT OF TEN STARS!!! I've been trying to keep my -0 ratings down recently, but this really calls for it. The fact that people called this movie anything but "retarded" is absolutely beyond me. Nothing is good about this movie, from the boring performances to the shit cinematography to the horrible direction to the unrelatable characters to the idiotic script to the inane plot to the on-the-nose symbolism to the genital mutilation... I could go on. The point is that although this movie is gross on the surface, what's even grosser is that it received any recognition whatsoever as an actual film. Denmark, please, for the love of God... give me a two million dollar grant to make a movie. I will not disappoint. Seriously, if this is what you guys call "genius," I'm sure I can come up with a meaningful, poetic, once-in-a-generation work of art just by filming two people have sex and then kill each other. This movie is not merely offensive on a good taste level. It's also offensive in general that a thing like this could possibly be considered an actual film.
Often times, films are poorly received upon their initial release date, but are soon understood more by the general public and the consensus moves in a direction of overwhelming positivity. Dozens of great classic films had mixed to negative reviews on opening day-- Alien, Fight Club, The Big Lebowski, Blade Runner, 2001-- even Citizen Kane took a lot of time before it was regarded as a classic. And so it may be with Enemy, the latest film to come from director Dennis Villeneuve and star Jake Gyllenhaal (after last year's Prisoners). On its surface, this film is nothing more than a surreal, dark thriller, kind of what you would expect from directors trying to channel David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick. But probe a little more (especially when you get to that jarring and unnerving ending), and you'll see that this film is deep enough to explore with a submarine. Yeah, it's good.
Enemy stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam Bell, a college history professor whose life is extremely dull and depressing. He lives in a tiny apartment and always seems disheveled, but he has a girlfriend who he seems to care about. However, his mediocre life begins to spin out of control when he sees a film in which another man (also played by Jake Gyllenhaal) looks exactly like him. This man is Anthony St. Claire, a married actor with a pregnant wife, whose life is infinitely better than Adam's. Here we're at a crossroads: This film is supposedly about doppelgangers and the questions they raise. But that's a pretty shallow interpretation of the events in the film. There's a lot more metaphorical and political allegories going on here than one might think at first glance.
Firstly, Anthony isn't quite a person as much as he is a metaphor for Adam's bad side-- more of a sin vs virtue battle than your typical evil twin fare. This is brought out when Anthony manipulates Adam into letting him take Adam's girlfriend on a romantic getaway, in which Anthony pretends to be Adam. It's unclear whether or not Anthony is a real person, a metaphor for the innate badness in humanity, or a strange Fight Club plot twist in which both Anthony and Adam are the same person. All of these explanations work well (some better than others)-- for instance, it was hinted that Anthony had been unfaithful to his wife, so perhaps Adam's girlfriend is just Anthony's mistress all along? If we're going to go the split personality route with this, I could expound on every theory's merits for days. But there's something far more interesting to this film than that.
SERIOUS SPOILERS IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH!!! Cinema purists, look away.
Ah yes, those mysterious spiders. Throughout the film, vague references to spiders crop up randomly (the broken windshield looking like a spiderweb, the cable car wires forming a spiderweb shape, etc). This all comes to a head when, at the end, Adam is confronted by Anthony's wife, who has turned into a gigantic spider. Okay, so this is weird. But it's not totally nonsensical. There are many things one can take away from a film like this, but my final interpretation was this: The film is a metaphor for totalitarianism. Adam is a history professor, and he begins the film with a lecture on dictators and how they always oppress any individual expression (emphasis on INDIVIDUAL). The spiders can then be interpreted as metaphors for oppression, control, and everything dictatorships are famous for (especially that imposing spider on the city's skyline...yeek. Kill it with fire).
So is the film's thesis that we are all living in the dictatorship of our own mundane little lives, and that our cities are our spiderwebs? I don't know, but fortunately this is just one of the myriad of interpretations you can carry away from this film. It's certainly a movie that begs some rewatching. Final Score for Enemy: 7/10 stars. Although this film deserves to be regarded as a classic surreal foray away from genre tropes, or at least a cult film, I'm a little worried that it may be forgotten soon (especially with The Double starring Jesse Eisenberg coming out soon). Still, nothing I've seen so far this year comes close to matching the slow-boiling pace, fascinating theses, and great performances of Enemy. Film buffs, you have your weekend homework... see this film.
It was 12:00 midnight on April 4th, 2014, ladies and gentlemen, when I finally decided I was officially done with Hollywood. I watched the Robocop remake last night, and I don't think I've ever been this depressed about the future of cinema in general in my entire life. Not because the film is really one of the worst movies of all time (it's not), but because of the pure and unfettered irony and complete ignorance of the art of filmmaking it takes to make a movie like this one. Making a mainstream blockbuster adaptation of Robocop is like making a TV show out of The Truman Show, or a theme park out of Jurassic Park. It misses the point of the original creation in a way that only money-grubbing Hollywood buttholes could. God, what a depressing turn of events.
The original Robocop is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite movies. Don't laugh, it's true. Although elitist cinema snobs (Cutler) will undoubtedly turn their noses up at Robocop because of its excessive gore and pew pew pews, it's actually far deeper than most people give it credit for. Under the surface of that remarkable film is a startlingly well-thought-out political allegory about America's culture of vapidity and the state of our culture. It is truly the rarest breed of film: Intelligent trash. So how ironic is it that this film that debases the warped, violent culture of America has now been transformed into a film that represents everything WRONG with the warped, violent culture of America? It would probably be funny if it weren't so damn depressing. Not only did the filmmakers totally miss the point of Robocop, but they did all they could to absolutely destroy my enjoyment of the original film. That's the worst kind of sequel, prequel, or remake-the one that prevents you from ever watching the original movie again without your perception of it sullied.
My biggest problem with this film is, as you may have guessed, the blatant commercialization and dumbing down of the source material. Right from the get-go, it's painfully obvious that this film is nothing more than a cynical attempt to turn a sarcastic and sardonic movie into a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster. The original film is practically a parody of the action genre, but this movie ignores those roots and peppers the runtime with unnecessary action sequences, explosions, and militaristically clichéd speeches by Samuel L. Jackson. It's every bit as empty-headed, generic, and silly as the movies that the original Robocop so expertly skewered. Sure, the original had its fair share of gore and violence (in fact, it had to be censored just to retain an R rating), but at least it served the story. The subversive wit and social commentary of it more than makes up for any detours it may have made into generic blockbuster territory. It's not perfect, but it was certainly a lot better than this load of manure.
The performances, as one would expect, are nothing special in the slightest. Joel Kinniman is bland and uninteresting as Robocop himself, giving us very little to root for in the hero. Sure, he's a cyborg... that doesn't mean he can't be an interesting character. Samuel L. Jackson plays the angry black guy again, and Gary Oldman (as always) is the best part, although his character is a stereotypical scientist in the vein of Kiefer Sutherland in Dark City. It would be really interesting to one day have a scientist character in a film who isn't a wimpy, geeky butthole, but apparently scriptwriters these days are more devoted to tropes than ever. I think I can safely say that most of the actors do the best with what they're given, but what they're given isn't much-The story is overcomplicated, the script is generic and dull, and the whole film lacks any of the energy that was put into the action sequences and CGI.
Final Score for Robocop: 2/10 stars. Yeah, this thing is awful. To be fair, this movie is only bad enough to merit maybe a 3 or a 4, but because it so tragically and hilariously missed the point of the original movie, I can't help but hate it. If you want a textbook example of why Hollywood these days is terrible, look no further than Robocop. Otherwise, there is no reason to sit through this lifeless, emotionless, painfully ironic piece of Hollywood drivel. Everything about this movie is by-the-numbers, generic, and headache-inducing, from its lame dialogue to its incoherent action sequences. If you're a fan of the original, definitely stay away. If you're an idiot like Jed who likes remakes more than original films, check it out. All I can say is one thing: It's even dumber than the things that the original made fun of.