Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)



Colin Farrell and Yorgos Lanthimos are back together again after the politely affecting film - The Lobster, with a purposeful stray from comedy with a sociological horror film – The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is about a doctor played by Colin Farrell, who accidently makes an unfortunate mistake and kills a father during surgery. The father’s son Martin, played terrifyingly focused by Barry Keoghan, is guiltily guided by the doctor as a favor for the surgical accident. When the doctor decides to cut ties with Martin, the troubled boy decides to threaten the doctor with a threat of an unknown disease that will plague his whole family if he doesn’t kill one of the members.

Following The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is very much about the existent and the extremes of cultural tradition within mainstream societies beliefs; as in The Lobster dealing with the extreme feelings towards marriage, love and the naturally cultural trajectory of democracy towards cultism, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer is therefore about the extremes of the nuclear family, patriarchy, job hierarchy, classism and the powerful ease of boyhood compared to girlhood that most of society is at the mercy of, e.g. – Martin. Every family member, doctor, male and female do exactly what you’d think they’d do within the confines of stereotypical behaviour when push comes to shove. As such the doctor’s wife played by Nicole Kidman having to sell away her dignity to save her kids, and Colin Farrell’s doctor character seeming calm and control but selling himself into brutal masculine tactics to get his way. Yet Martin is a blank slant saying things threateningly in a calm way, being exactly what he is, an enigma, untouchable and unaffected as a teenage white male who will eventually become a white grown man in charge, as Colin Farrell’s character precedes him. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is absolutely about the banality of male hierarchy, class hierarchy and the banal submissiveness expected of women. Though it’s said this film is based on Greek folklore, it is much more effective as a modern message of what our so called progressive society still perpetuates with gender politics. Further more the film also expresses underlining thoughts about the North American healthcare system, and it’s robotic disconnected, indifferent quality towards the very people it’s created for.

Barry Keoghan portrays a hypnotic creepy performance that oddly goes hand in hand with Yorgos Lanthimos short cut and sometimes comedic directing style, and that metaphorically and accurately portrays the relentless blankly removed/sinister intentions of a trouble teenage male out for revenge in Martin. Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell give thoughtfully quick cut while naturalistic performances, making some of their best acting in the past few years. All this cut together with a suspicious, darkly ominous Kubrick -esq score and steadied shots, and it’s wonderfully intriguing how Yorgos Lanthimos style can switch to funny then horrific.

-          Maurice Jones

Monday, November 27, 2017

Lady Bird (2017)







Lady Bird is the debut film from awkward performing independent actor Greta Gerwig, writing and directing a realistically well-meaning dramedy about a girl who calls herself Lady Bird played by Saoirse Ronan, attending her last year of High School before she goes off to college.



Greta Gerwig who started her film writing career with Frances Ha, does a great job at portraying the scattered desperation of a seventeen-year-old eager live a life other than her own, by using cut away scenes to display the harshness of reality and lingering shots to display the precious realizations of western society. These are coupled with the always whimsical and always emotionally effective musical score of Jon Brion. Whose music immediately elevates Lady Bird from being a typically independent film about a depressed white teenage, by breathing humanity into the films characters and locations yet all the while underlining the unfortunate results of a regrettable decision. Lady Bird is also elevated by a poignant script highlighting the tension of homophobia, racism, sexism, classism and war of the early 2000s that even more so existed back then. Saoirse Ronan effortless sells the desperate belonging and stubborn unawareness of Lady Bird and easily displays her pain with a quiet removed quality. Laurie Metcalf does an equally fantastic job as Lady Bird’s mother, just as stubborn and unaware, both actors brilliantly portraying the functioning of a dysfunctional passive aggressive mother/daughter relationship with a true to life script.



Lady Bird is an important watch and an enjoyable one as well, though slighted by it’s undetailed portrayal of it’s time period of the early 2000s, and of it’s characters personal interests hovering through the film, Lady Bird still accurately portrays the oppression of a female American teen, the working class and the culturally ignored yet manages to be funny, heart warming and unapologetically to it’s protagonist all the same. Greta Gerwig clearly used her life story as the inspiration for Lady Bird, and it shows for the better.



-          Maurice Jones

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Creep 2 (2017)


Mark Duplass is back in the most awkward yet commendable horror franchise yet – Creep 2. A movie that is creepier, weirder, more alienating and outlandish than the original though strangely more heartfelt.



Mark Duplass’ serial killer character is at it again, but this time naming himself Aaron, taking the name of Aaron from the first Creep. Aaron is bored after killing 39 people and wants some sort of appreciation for it, so he decides to lure in a YouTube hopeful named Sara to document the life and times of a prolific serial killer.



Creep 2 is very aware of the social complications involving a male serial killer and a female victim in such a realistically intimate movie premise, that it immediately deals with it head on without flinching, but without going to gratuitous lengths to show how “creepy” Aaron could be in this situation. Creep 2 instead does a great job at rekindling the suspense and tension in the first Creep, by downplaying what was scaring and creepy then. It’s protagonist Sara has a calmer disposition than Aaron in the first one, that allows her interaction with Mark Duplass come off more real and cerebral. You can feel what Sara is thinking in terms of her character inside a situation where a serial killer reveals himself, but most of all Creep 2 goes back and forth with it’s premise, that like in reality Sara isn’t completely sure if Aaron is a serial killer or just really really creepy.



Creep 2 is one of the few movies that gets the feeling of online encounters right, creating a realistic scare for your Halloween night while being also pitch perfect for a Valentine’s Day night in.



See Creep 2…if you dare…



- Maurice Jones

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Lemon (2017)





From the minds of married couple Brett Gelmann and Janicza Bravo, comes Lemon, a dark romantic comedy about a self obsessed actor who under goes an immediate self progression, after his indifferent wife suddenly leaves him. 



Based on comedian Brett Gelmann's most recent work, Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelmann and Dinner in America with Brett Gelmann, as well as knowing his marriage to film director Janicza Bravo who happens to be an African American woman, the topic of racial injustice toward African Americans is very much on Brett Gelmann's mind. So much so to write and star in a feature length film about the subtilizes of racism of Lemon. 





Lemon is a brilliantly and deliberately avant-garde made film that is much about a white actor who gets dumped by his girlfriend than it is about the world of acting. What Lemon actually focuses on is the way supposed white liberals and art types, treat and respond to African Americans. That though the idea is that they understand and recognize the struggle of the African American experience, it doesn't mean they want to be personally integrated with Africans Americans themselves. Lemon uses adoptive parenting, vandalism, art critiquing and media as constant physical means of a white person's ignorance of racism in the 21 century. In the movies opening scene, a television program featuring a black woman describing slave era events of her ancestors is on the TV, as our protagonist is sat up sleeping in front the television with a urine stain on the front his pants. Later through the movie the protagonists sister has an adoptive black child and in a later scene our protagonist bonds the most with a wheelchair bound elderly black woman at an Black populated get together, pointing out the deep down aloofness of Jewish white people only being okay with being in the accompaniment of black children and elderly black people and not young black adults to avoid black culture. 



Lemon also comments about the male Ignorance of misogyny and male dominated spaces, having a female characters lines and scenes cut mid way of speaking to display the indifference towards from the male characters point of view because she's female.



Lemon is the few of it's kind that actually dares to show the absence of blackness and black people in mumblecore films and what happens when they become part of the films focus. Exposing its white plight and without blatancy making for an awkwardly interesting film, that gets under your skin the more you think about it.  


- Maurice Jones

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Elle (2016)




“Paul Verhoeven is back with a possible satire on boredom”

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle is a disturbing story of circumstance about a female video game developer named Elle, who gets raped in her own home. After the fact, Elle begins to receive phone calls from her attacker which leads to a cat and mouse countdown, as to when it will happen again. While this transpires, Elle must deal with disappointment in her son and his abusive girlfriend, disgruntled employees, an ex husband who has moved on, an abnormal mother and her father’s legacy of being a serial killer, whose sinister ideals roped her into a fatal homicidal incident as a 6 year old, turning her into a national pariah.

Elle is a subpar suspense film that reveals it’s self to be an intriguingly complex character study of modern day human clandestine conditioning. The over arching theme being an idea of boredom to reach a certain height, that anything negative yet involved to happen to you, is in some way a blessing to avoid a mundane existence. Such as; garnering a less than substantial job, unexpectedly, excepting a baby that’s not your own and allowing rape to become a sexual fetish of some kind.

The film uses Elle’s video game developing business and therefore video games, as a backdrop to the ordeals Elle and the other characters face. Used as a mocking metaphor of taking on destructive paths within violence and procrastination such as of playing a video game, the idea of real life representing the anti-climatic resolution of beating a video game, and only receiving a title screen/video sequence as a means of reward. As well as an eventual indifference to reoccurring negative tendencies; in relation to the repetitiveness of a video game.

A side plot of Elle is Elle’s relationship with her father, as he roped her into his nihilistic homicidal career when she was a child, instantly creating pathology towards Elle to become a child of nihilism. This adds to the movies theme of invited destruction, as Elle throughout the movie becomes implicit with creating problems between herself and the people in her life for sear pleasure.

This is a mysteriously blunt and clever entry by Paul Verhoeven that organically pushes the point it’s trying to make, while reserved and stylistically stagnant, to make setting contemplations about the films subject matter that can be applied to reality in a modern era.

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       -  Maurice Jones

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Moonlight (2016)





Moonlight is about the career of a black man who from childhood to adulthood, has to navigate his life concealing his gay sexual orientation from the masculine black culture of South Florida.

Barry Jenkins debuted with a quiet frustrated slice of life with Medicine for Melancholy (2008). About a black bike courier who contemplates with a black woman who’s in a relationship with a white man. Barry Jenkins returns to the social struggle of the black experience with Moonlight.

Like Boyhood, Moonlight chronicles the touch stone moments of a boy’s life that add up to who he is. What Moonlight does better is focus in on those moments that turns one into their worst self. Through universal cultural missteps and sub cultural missteps of one’s race. There being a notion of mandatory apparent strength, aggressiveness and violence associated with black males within the black community, also linked to the imperative need for a positive male role model in a boy’s existence. As a partly back person myself, I can a test to this but I would most definitely say this cultural gripe is egged on universally by whites through media as a way to belittle the black experience and once again make being a colored person a caricature.

Moonlight also touches on refusal by the black community to understand gay rights and the possibilities of being black to be more 3 dimensional than 2 dimensional. Having the up-bringing of most black males to be a fight to be who they really are as oppose to an image being projected on to them for societies own indifferent pleasures. The movie’s title reflects on this as pertaining to “moonlighting” as someone during the day and as someone else by night. Also portraying an important scene and plot point of the movie as our protagonist has his first gay experience under the blanket of beach bound moonlight.

Moonlight is a very poignant film for one a like to see, and casts an important light onto the eye opening truths of black stubbornness and incapability to see past a crippling stereotype of their communities, while also being the product of a homophobic and prejudice global society. We need to change things once and for all, towards the betterment of our fellow human beings, young and old.

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 -                 - Maurice Jones

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NJj12tJzqc




Monday, November 7, 2016

Christine (2016) “Get out of your head….”



Christine is a 2016 bio-pic about manic determined newscaster, Christine Chubbuck, who shot herself live on air in 1974.

What’s brilliant about Christine is organic way it makes some characters in the film come off a sinister way, based on Christine’s mannerisms, when in reality everyone is just trying to help. It never tries to make Christine into a victim but presents the evidence of her own insecurities as a shining result. Though things get over whelming, unfortunate and laborious for Christine, the movie begs for her to step outside of herself and “see the bigger picture”. Things build up for Christine without any intake of insight and expansive reflection. Whether or not any of the depictions are accurate to the real life circumstances of real life Christine Chubbuck is unknown, but the film creates an important character study of plausible human behavior. And when it gets to the ever so anticipated, heart-stopping trans-gressive climax, it’s handled realistically without sardonic overtones or melodramatic fallacies.

Christine has uncanny touches to David Flincher’s signature style; IE – Zodiac, of creating a sense of dread, but the films atmosphere is extremely straight forward and naturalistic, and if there’s any misconduct, it’s because Rebecca Hall’s performance alienates her world’s intentions.

Rebecca Hall unflinchingly takes hold of Christine Chubbuck and explores the troubled possibilities and apparent neurosis of Christine, using Christine’s infamous speaking voice to expose even further the cognitive emotional battle bubbling underneath her. With Rebecca’s naturally awkward and quietly anxious acting style, she’s able to congruently parallel the pressure of a fast paced newsroom both athirst and unpredictable like an ulcer, which ironically plays an important role throughout the movie. This is Rebecca Hall at her best, honing her talents to conjure the most absorbing performance of her career - Absolute perfection.

The soundtrack is nostalgically amazing and isn’t featured ironically, just appropriate to the times; but displaying the idea of music (especially in a time like the 1970’s) being the one release in where people were free of thought and “man-made” pressure, and were allowed to be who they really are when they were alone.

Christine is one of the few bio-pics that simultaneously portrayed a real person’s life while making a point about stress, self indulgence, western civilization and the importance of self preservation. It cultivates the TV broadcasting experience in all its hyper glory of local and national awareness and spectacle, conjuring a disturbing tone within the lived through past of an actual era, the 1970’s, all thanks to thoughtful director Antonio Campos.

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-         -  Maurice Jones