While watching Lucy, I found it appropriate to juxtapose next it to Under the Skin, the year’s other sci-fi Scarlett Johansson vehicle. While Lucy, a hastily paced thriller with gunfights and car chases, is tonally the opposite of Under the Skin, a psychological horror with an emphasis on stillness, both movies feature a protagonist detached from the norms of the modern day world. In Lucy, director Luc Besson explores the endless stream of knowledge and power humans could possibly obtain. Besson’s never going to be mistaken as the next Martin Scorsese, but to his credit his movies are smarter and more intelligent than those of Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich. The grand ambition of Lucy is proof of that statement, but while Lucy is entertaining throughout its duration, it seems like Besson chewed more than he could swallow.
From its eerie opening of spellbinding lights and screeching strings to its dark and unexpected conclusion, Under the Skin is a distinctively unnerving sci-fi horror that carries no bounds to any source of conventionality. Director Jonathan Glazer emphasizes on creating scenes with Buñuel-style mood and texture, utilizing minimal dialogue to make viewers grow uncomfortable in their seats. Glazer, who has been on hiatus for the past decade, also channels Kubrickian imagery for a glowing emphasis on humankind itself. After watching Under the Skin, I felt bewildered and confused at Glazer’s ponderings but was somewhat satisfied and amazed at this surreal portrait he has painted, which will probably benefit from additional viewings to further contextualize the thematic material the picture presents.
I know my answer sounds a bit bewildering, but I would really like to be Larry David’s fictional self in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry has the unique ability of calling people out no matter how inappropriate the circumstance or the possible concequence, and since I’m often too polite to criticize someone for cutting the line or parking directly behind me, I’d really like to know how that would feel just lashing out against those who oppose my day-to-day social norms.
But who would you choose?
I first read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies back in middle school alongside George Orwell’s Animal Farm. As I dug my eyes into Golding’s novel, I was terrified at the growing anarchy and collapse of discipline of the novel, that young, seemingly innocent boys could be turned into deranged killers and savages. An allegory for human society and governments, Lord of the Flies retains its horrors today through its adolescent ensemble of characters, easy for readers wishing to graduate to more mature books to latch onto the story.
A few weeks ago, I saw Peter Brook’s adaptation of Lord of the Flies. While I admired parts of the picture (I hope to get a review up in a few days), I was ultimately disappointed that it didn’t live up to the high standards of William Golding’s novel, despite being faithful to the story. This isn’t too uncommon, as many movies based on classic pieces of literature have failed to live to their namesakes (Huck Finn, Great Gatsby, etc). While there exceptions to this rule (such as Orson Welles’ The Trial), I think the sky-high expectations to the novels hurt the pictures as a whole.
But what do you think?
The Emmys have never been the gold standard of television (remember, these are the same people who have almost completely ignored The Wire) and this year wasn’t any different. I didn’t watch the show because about a few years ago, I realized how irrelevant the Emmys (and award shows in general) are to judging actual quality. On the other hand, the Emmys still retain its importance to the industry and for that matter they’re worth writing about. So here are my thoughts in bullet points (you can check out the complete winners on the Emmys’ own site).
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A magnificent career was cut short earlier this year when Philip Seymour Hoffman, who almost certainly will go down as one of the best talents of his generation, passed away. While Hoffman still has some posthumous pictures coming out, A Most Wanted Man is the famed actor’s final leading role. Knowing that I was watching Hoffman’s last role made me reflect back on his career, where he played a diverse variety of characters from Truman Capote to Lancaster Dodd. Hoffman’s adaptability and ease into any role is clear as Gunther Bahmann, a German intelligence agent lost in the depths of his job. It’s a performance that’s certainly evocative of Gene Hackman’s turn as a surveillance agent in The Conversation, and while A Most Wanted Man isn’t the finest picture Hoffman has starred in, it’s a triumphant final note.
Sadly, this week we lost one of Hollywood’s most iconic starlets, Lauren Bacall. The famed actress had starred in a great number of classic pictures, including The Big Sleep, The Dark Passage, and To Have or Have Not, her debut. In all three of those film, she starred alongside Humphrey Bogart, whom she eventually married. Along with Bogart, she also bravely fought against McCarthy during the Hollywood blacklisting of the 1950s. In the following decades she had less and less roles (though she was nominated for an Oscar in The Mirror Has Two Faces and had a cameo in The Sopranos), but remained a Hollywood legend.
A great talent like Bacall comes once in a lifetime. So for this week’s question, I thought I’d ask what’s your favorite Bacall role? I think I would say Key Largo; it was the first movie I saw her in and I still remember the picture well. But what about you?
There isn’t another comedian out there quite like Robin Williams. He told jokes faster than Usain Bolt can run, with each punchline coming quicker by the passing second. He was a master impersonator, a sharp comedian, and a unique personality.
Williams was found dead on Monday in an apparent suicide. It was no secret Williams had issues with alcoholism and depression; he went to rehab earlier this summer and talked about his problems earnestly on stage. But his death came as a complete shock for me. I grew up watching Williams, from Robert Altman’s Popeye to Mrs. Doubtfire. Williams’ exuberant personality made him not only a comic icon but a comforter of the masses. As the radio DJ in Good Morning, Vietnam, he helped relieve soldiers from the horrors of the Vietnam war. In Good Will Hunting, Williams’ therapist helped Matt Damon’s struggling and uncovered genius realize his full potential.
Often times, Williams’ sentimental streak came off heavy-handed and cloying in pictures like Dead Poets Society, Jakob the Liar, and, most notoriously, Patch Adams (my review caused one commenter to call me “an angry, pompous, close minded idiot, that is just one of the masses who wants to feel important, all at the expense of others”). But even still it’s difficult to deny how personal and heartfelt Williams was. May he rest in peace.