Wednesday, June 30, 2010

8 1/2 (1963; Federico Fellini)

I have been struggling to find the inspiration to put more work into this site. In a sort of strange coincidence, I managed to find my inspiration in Fellini's 8 1/2. This is a film so strongly built on incoherency of inspiration that it fit perfectly with my conundrum.

To try and define 8 1/2 in simple descriptions such as mine seems like it would do more harm than good. In the most concrete form, it is a character study about a famous director who wishes to create a film that acts as his autobiography, but at the same time seems to be his last grasps with confronting the life he has lived. As he tries to unveil the scope of his film, he seems to struggle more and more with justifying the events that to most others seem like a surrealistic take on the state of loneliness.

8 1/2 is a film that very much speaks for itself, so my review will be short and sweet. Films such as this are so hard to pigeon hole into categories as they feel so layered and lovingly composed that to skip over any of the content feels like as much as an injustice as trying to tear the film apart. It is a piece that seamlessly blends reality with dreams and than mixes them both into cinema. It makes you question the state of the characters, the state of Fellini, and the state of yourself. The score is phenomenal and it isn't very often you see a film so gorgeously shot that still manages to keep your attention with it's full, gripping content. Despite the hefty length, 8 1/2 flutters by in an instant and will rattle your world.

I really did mean short and sweet, however I hope that the impact of films like this continue to inspire me to write and will hopefully have more up soon.

Score: 5/5

Notes: After rewatching Santa Sangre again recently as well, clowns are more and more becoming everyday occurrences of life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Last House on the Left (2009; Dennis Iliadis)

Let me set something straight. I hate remakes, but I also hate Craven. As far as I am concerned, almost (stress almost) every single Craven film could be improved with a remake so my expectations for this were a little higher than other remakes (i.e. higher than no expectations at all). Just needed to make sure I got that out in the open before I started talking anything in detail.

Two dumb girls get kidnapped by psychos who are on the run. Pretty sure we all know the rest.

The first thing I noticed about the remake is that the two girls are drenched in American culture and my feelings are they deserved a portion of what they got. I choose to look at certain events in a different light and it makes watching this film, and even Craven's original, very tedious. It isn't that I choose to have it out for Craven, but when you make characters like these (which seems to be more and more common) I find it insulting to my intelligence. Not every single American goes out all over looking for drugs and partying with strangers. It brings it to an even lower level knowing that the creators have a full range of control over how they want to craft these girls, but intentionally choose to make them lawbreaking scum bags.

It isn't that they weren't completely aware. They tried to form touching moments for one of the girls by giving her a brief back story about a dead brother who always told her to try her best, but that just doesn't cover it. I find it hard to not spoil things when writing negative reviews as I feel compelled to just pick it all apart, so you might want to stop at this point and know I don't like this movie.

Now for the spoiler moments. That back story is what drove her to give up drugs temporarily and try her hardest to be a great swimmer. However, when it becomes essential for her to swim for her life, she gets shot down and dies. So what does that tell us? Are we supposed to interpret these events as she was a failure? It most certainly seems this way, and in that case, how am I supposed to bond with her? Are they trying to call me a failure too?

The entire film is built around what happens to these girls and the affect it has on the other characters. However, having the entire first segment be a mound of insults to my person and an absolute frustration in general makes enjoying the second segment a stretch. I will give it credit for being relatively solid in the portion dealing with the parents, but it isn't perfect and even if it was it couldn't save the whole from being a mess.

Score: 2/5

Notes: Was it needed to remake an insulting movie into an even more insulting movie?