Rough Cut Film Review – Zero Dark Thirty

Our second installment of the new web series is up! In this episode we talk about the Oscar worthiness of Zero Dark Thirty, the perceived political controversy surrounding the film’s content and discuss whether the film portrays America as bullies.

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The String Puppet

A personal fave from the 2008 Berlin Film Festival. Check it out.


There’s something about this short that stings me in a good way. The first time I saw it, I was honestly surprised and the short film format is the perfect way to work that angle. Quick, yet lulling; playful, while startling.

Directed by Swiss first-timer Alexander Frank, I can’t seem to dig up any more recent film work by him. Let’s hope this is only because he is hard at work on his next picture. I remain intrigued…

Valhalla Rising

The austere world of 1000 AD looks an awful lot like Braveheart’s Scotland. Valhalla Rising is nothing like a Mel Gibson film though. Instead, director Nicolas Winding Refn gives Valhalla an overall sensibility that it feels like it should be in a museum, each frame of the film separately indicated alongside each other on the bare white walls. Scan your eye across the whole room really fast and you’ll have created the flickering film image right in front of your eyes. Refn might have colored each of the frames by hand they look so deeply saturated and dark. Nearly every skyline has thick, viscous clouds hanging in it, and nearly every horizon has black mountains which attempt to choke the blue sky.

Like a museum, the film is presented in sections, time periods almost, for the trajectory of this film feels much larger than its letting on. There are six chapters (sadly, I assumed this number when watching because what other number really seems so threatening?). Each chapter is named after something almost akin to Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist; they are: Wrath, Silent Warrior, Men of God, The Holy Land, Hell, and The Sacrifice.

The film is really more an effort in visual presence and less than impressive on story or concept. We’ve seen it all before really: lone Viking (ok, maybe the Viking part is new), with the power and irreverence of an antihero; threatening in the greatest of ways; but, also becoming a pseudo father figure for a young boy who neither seems afraid of nor looks up to him. You can almost tell this boy has every bit the potential to grow into the very warrior he follows so closely throughout the film.

Watch Valhalla because it’s slick, stylized, and cool in that European-tinged-violent way, where you’ll just recall a couple scenes that were most striking, not because you think you’re going to even remember it’s meaning the next day.

3D Makes Everything Better

Just saw Avatar the other night and now I wish everything was in 3-D. Actually, at first it made me a little nauseous, reminding me of those days as a child when the last 3-D movie I saw was at a Florida theme park. I never could get used to the feeling of wearing those perforated, red-and-blue-lensed, cardboard glasses. Just never sat right on the bridge of my nose or tucked right behind my ears. Anyway, don’t have to worry about that anymore since now you get real, Elvis Costello-channeling-Lou Reed, rectangular, plastic-framed glasses inclusive with your admission fee of $15.

What fascinated me for nearly the first twenty minutes into the film was how wide these damn glasses are now! It’s like they finally thought to make the glasses widescreen for your widescreen experience. I didn’t have to keep moving my head all over the four corners of the screen to prevent missing something in glorious three-dimensional Technicolor. Speaking of that, what’s up with all the fluorescence in Cameron’s saga? No one in the film mentions anything about the bio-luminescence phenomenon that seems to be taking place on this freaking planet, so are we supposed to not be impressed by it in 2156?

The beauty of the film is that it is entirely reminiscent of a theme park ride. It never lets you down. Everyone knows that Jake Sully is going to redeem himself in the end somehow or another, but yet we still remain enthralled to follow a story that we’ve seen unfold numerous times. The visuals were amazing indeed, but the analogies for what the world is like today were timeworn. Humans = America and Na’vi = the rest of the world. Sully as a character was clearly in need of anything to make him feel like he belonged to something larger them himself. His body had failed him and the only thing he ever knew was the oppression of any individualism he might have had, it was obvious all along that inserting himself into an unknown and unique world was what he’d ultimately need.

Avatar is an awesome, visual and imaginative creation from the mind of James Cameron, maybe destined to win awards on its conceptualism, but it falls short on story and anything deeper than what’s on the other side of those plastic glasses.

Generation Metal

Darkness
Imprisoning me
All that i see
Absolute horror
I cannot live
I cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell

Landmine
Has taken my —

Oh, apologies. I couldn’t help but think of “One” all through this video you’re about to watch. Maybe you’ll have the same problem I did. Maybe not. Either way, you can’t deny that the fact the great Dogme95 director of The Celebration has seemingly sold out. Thomas Vinterberg made this metal-music video version of a Generation Kill episode in which, not only are we – the unsuspecting viewer – supposed to believe that the California desert is really the Middle East, but we are supposed to be affected by the slow motion build up to whether or not a US soldier shoots a burkka-draped woman point blank in the face.

You know, for all the unoriginal shit these guys do, you’d think they’d at least give some of it away for free once in a while.

The Politics of Dancing

The Coldplay video for the “Violet Hill” track off their forthcoming “Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends” album, set to drop 6/17, is anything but amusing to me. As much as I love to laugh and/or rant at the things politicians say/do, I find the exploitation of cheap shots at them worthless. If Coldplay want’s to make a political statement that means something, it should look less like this

and more like this.

War & Disease Is So Last Year

War, Inc.

Is it just me or does this look like a sequel to Grosse Pointe Blank? Plus, I know we’re already at the point in cinema where we’re all comfortable making (generally) serious films about the war, but are we at the point where we can make such light of it? All this film’s missing is Jeremy Piven and a post-punk soundtrack.

Blindness

Someone gets infected with a virus. Virus spreads among the greater population. Greater population is quarantined (until further notice). Seen this movie before? Well this time the infection doesn’t make its host want to eat or dribble bile, but instead go blind. Yes, blind. That should make for at least 30-35 different metaphors on America and the war and all the atrocities of the world, right? Fuck it, I’ve just decided I’m going ahead with my uncontainable disease flick idea on a virus that induces deafness. Think of the plot and sub-plot line possibilities!

However…

Quarantine

Now here’s a uncontainable disease flick I can get into. Plus since when is handheld night vision anything but scary? I mean just look at The 4 Dreams of Miss X!