Monday, July 28, 2008

Indochine (Indochina)

So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us,
A wealthy plantation owner (Catherine Deneuve) and her adopted daughter (Linh Dan Pham) are living in French Indochina when civil war erupts. When both women fall for the same French naval officer, their relationship becomes tumultuous. Directed by Régis Wargnier, this lavish, elegant film won both the Oscar and Golden Globe awards for Best Foreign Language Film as well as numerous French Academy of Cinema awards.
And anyone who knows me will know that the idea of a Wargnier film about two women falling in love with the same man is right up my alley. My love for films like Est-Ouest (East-West) and Tmavomodry Svet (Dark Blue World) and their love triangles/tragedy would, of course, pique my interest in this film.

I guess the joke was on me.

And how much did I pay to watch?
With all the Netflix movies I have gotten this month, this individual one cost me $1.21

And what did I think?
This film was SUCH a disappointment. As I already mentioned, my love for East-West probably made me expect too much out of the director. But this film had so many problems.

First, it was trying hard to be epic. The plot of two women falling in love with the same man always smacks of epic love stories/dramas. Then set the film during a changing time in history (Vietnam in the 1950s) to add some historical epic-ness. Then add some striking sets and costumes that are possible because the main characters are all rich, and TA DAH! Epic film. Except not.

The characters were pretty flat, and their motivations were almost entirely unknown to the audience. The lack of development in the characters made me not care about any of them. I wanted someone to befall a tragic death (which would have added to the epic aspirations of the film) because at least then they might have been more interesting and it would have added some sort of emotional layer to the characters. As it was the characters just seemed like bizarre caricatures of some sort of person who should be captivating but wasn't.

The movie just was a colossal waste of time. And the fact that it won both Oscars and Golden Globes was mental. MENTAL!

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
On Netflix I rated this a 2. Two stars stands for "didn't like it". In blogspot terms I suppose I will give it a 2 as well.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Dark Knight

So what is this one about?
You might live under a rock if you don't know about this movie. If you haven't already seen the trailer (or, ya know...the movie!), you can watch it at the Warner Brothers site.

If for some reason you can't watch the trailer (like if you're at work, slacker, or you have an unsatisfactory video capability, come on) I will give you the regular description in words. Wikipedia says,
The Dark Knight is a 2008 American superhero film co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is a sequel to Batman Begins (2005), which rebooted the Batman film series after an eight-year hiatus. Christian Bale reprises the lead role. Batman's primary conflicts in the film include his fight against the Joker (Heath Ledger) and his strained friendship with district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
And how much did I pay to watch?
Well, Jack, my mom and I all went go the amazing Cinema De Lux to see the movie. She paid, but I think the tickets there are like $8.50.

But, like I said, I didn't pay, so zero dollars. (Thats one of the main advantages of seeing movies with my mom. All her gasping and jumping at 'scary' parts...thats not one of the advantages, I'ma tell you that right now!) (Maybe I shouldn't have written that, I gave her the link the other day, but I'm pretty sure she ain't readin' it, so, crisis averted)

And what did I think?
I really liked this. I think probably everyone who sees this is going to like it. (Even right now my mom and brother are yapping about it. Annoying!! What is the matter with them?! I am the only one who is allowed to yap about movies!)

I realize that many people who are reading this may not have seen this yet, and for that I apologize. So this entire post may merit a SPOILER ALERT! I will try and keep it under control, though.

Ok, so the thing I liked best about this movie was the social commentary. The layers, if you will. Though, I realize I need to see it again in order to unpack it a bit more. (The problem with writing a movie blog is I really have to process the movie while I am watching it and trying to get the plot straight, dur). The commentary was something about citizens relying on government and order and the Joker wanting citizens to revert back to their natural state of being, which Locke tells us is "angry, brutish, and short."

I think revenge was another very interesting theme in this movie. You had Batman (who is always sort of seeking revenge) and then Harvey Dent. Just like in Sweeney Todd, the audience sees the destruction of a character because their life has been corrupted by the desire for revenge. It is very interesting. The thing that was cool about this movie (and the thing that everyone has been babbling about for a week) was the Joker and the audience never really understanding his motivation besides the desire for chaos and anarchy. It isn't hard for the audience to identify him as a terrorist and then they can relate to him and to what Gotham is going through because then it can be a mirror for what America is going through. Though, in true grad school fashion I have chosen to focus not on the terrorism aspect but rather the social construct aspect of what society is. But, like I said, I need to see it again to understand it a bit more.

Cinematographically it is a pretty good film. Very dark (my mom crazily said it was one of the most terrifying films she's ever seen...though I disagree) but not overly stylized. Over stylizing things in super hero movies, I think, is very common, but this one didn't really do that.

Lastly, like everyone else, I will say a brief comment about Heath Ledger. I don't know that he deserves an Oscar for this movie like everyone is saying. Frankly, if he couldn't win for Brokeback Mountain (a movie I didn't really care for) where he was amazing I doubt he could even get nominated for a movie that is a "summer blockbuster". But, I will say it was surprisingly sad to watch him in this movie. I didn't even really care for him that much as an actor when he was alive. I thought he was quite talented, but he never made any of my top 5 lists for acting or looks. (Maybe I'll go into those later, but I will say that Gary Oldman is on my acting list). But, when I returned to my hotel one day when I was in Portland, turned on the TV and the news told me that he had died I was sadder than I remember being ever for someone I didn't know. I loved Tim Russert, but when he died I wasn't as deeply affected as I was when Heath Ledger died. I thought it was really weird. Though I guess Tim was an old guy, he'd had a great life, he could have had a longer one but he really had a great one. With Heath it just seemed like such a waste. I guess thats why it made me so sad. (And now I am a nerdy nerd just like everyone else for going on and on about him)

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I don't really know what to rate this. I mean, it was good, but it wasn't great. If I didn't need to see it again to figure out why I thought it had such good social commentary I doubt I would see it again.

But, it seems quite good quality for a superhero movie. But, it wasn't especially fun like other ones in this genre. And it didn't really strike a chord in me at all. So, I guess for the time being, until I see it again, I will rate it a 6.

10 Things I Hate About You

So what is this one about?
Remaking "The Taming of the Shrew" as a teen romantic comedy, 10 Things I Hate About You puts a fresh spin on the tale, updating it to a modern high school setting. Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) is forbidden from dating until her older sister, Katarina (Julia Stiles), finds a boyfriend. But Katarina isn't even in the hunt, so Bianca has her work cut out.
Simple enough, right?

(thanks Netflix, for that concise description!)

And how much did I pay to watch?
I actually watched this on TV. Normally I would never review a movie that I watched on tv, especially not one that I watched on My20 (why isn't it just called Paramount, or whatever it was called, anymore?) Movies on basic cable are always edited weirdly (this one was), but, since I have seen this one a hundred times, and I had the dvd upstairs (I was tempted to go upstairs and put it on because the commercials were irking me) I figured I could cope with basic cable's editing.

So, because it was on tv, I paid nothing. But you know, I had been thinking about watching this lately. And when one of the movies you really like is on tv its like some weird affirmation that the movie actually is good, and even though you weren't going to watch it on dvd the fact that it is on tv shows you that the movie gods want you to watch it. (Now I sound crazy, har)

And what did I think?
One thing I love about movies--like certain songs--is that they can transport you back to specific times and places. For example, 10 Things transported me back to senior year of high school. We did The Taming of the Shrew and Kiss Me Kate as the fall and spring plays. We had on 10 Things constantly in the drama room.

It was so bizarre to watch this at my house, as a 25 year old, and be so deja vu about the whole thing. Especially the music. The music was like being in a 90s time warp. I heard songs that I completely forgot existed, and yet, once I heard them I immediately remembered the last time I'd heard them. (I remember listening to the 10 Things soundtrack on my and Lori's "Spring Break Virginia Road Trip 2001)

Back to the movie though. Teen movies are another genre of film that I tend to have very little patience for. Where romantic comedies are targeted at idiot women who think life always has a happy ending, Teen-flicks are marketed towards and audience that is too stupid to realize how ridiculous the movie they are watching actually is. But, there are a few exceptions in the teen-flick category and they are the ones that are either moderately intelligent or poke fun at the entire genre. I know this will be shocking but Not Another Teen Movie is actually really smart and funny (though it still has a very crass aspect which I have come to expect from the genre.)

10 Things, being an interpretation of a Shakespeare story already gets high marks from me in the intelligence factor. I only vaguely remember the other Julia Stiles Shakespeare movie O but I think I thought it was relatively smart too. This movie is absolutely a teen-flick, but because it has the underlying Shakespeare component that keeps it from seeming too brain-dead and formulaic.

Plus, I played Katherine in the Taming of the Shrew and there is another Julia playing her in 10 things I hate about you. She was bitchy, independent, and women's lib-y and how could teenage me not see herself so much in that character?

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Sometimes you like movies that aren't that great because they strike some sort of chord in you. You just like them. The just make you feel good. 10 Things is only a little better than the average teen movie, but I really like it anyway. It is a good escapist film, helping you think about something else for 90 minutes.

It is certainly not worthy of a 10, but it is much better than a 5. I will give in an 8 (the extra .5 coming from my fond memories of this one)

TV: Tell Me You Love Me

So what is this one about?
HBO describes their show.
A provocative and honest exploration of intimacy, 'Tell Me You Love Me' offers an unfiltered look at three couples as they navigate critical periods in their lives. With a candidness that breaks conventional boundaries, creator Cynthia Mort examines the moments – both significant and everyday – that form the basis and language of each relationship.

Twenty-somethings Jamie and Hugo (Michelle Borth and Luke Kirby), experience the vitality of sex but realize their intimacy serves as a drug-like escape from their disparate takes on fidelity and commitment. Katie and Dave (Ally Walker and Tim DeKay), two happy parents in their forties, instead question why their love and devotion to one another hasn't translated into sexual intimacy in nearly a year. Meanwhile, mid-thirties couple Carolyn and Palek (Sonya Walger and Adam Scott), come to learn how much their efforts to become parents and their inability to conceive has strained the intangible connections between them.

Therapist May Foster, (Jane Alexander) works to carefully guide the couples toward healthier relationships and despite a few unresolved issues within her own marriage, she and her retired husband Arthur, manage to share a partnership that is both deeply loving and passionately sexual.

Capturing both the awkwardness and closeness of each couple, Mort opens a window into the complexities of modern relationships. Thought-provoking, raw and immediate, 'Tell Me You Love Me' teases out the unspoken dreams, hang-ups and fears that materialize when sex and intimacy connect – or when they diverge.
I know that is a long description, but instead of going with Netflix's (which didn't interest me) I decided it would make more sense to give HBO their say, since it was a preview on one of their discs that made me queue this bad boy up.

And how much did I pay to watch?
4 discs times 99.94 cents a disc = $3.99

And what did I think?
At first I thought there was way too much sex in the show. I mean, I guess the show is supposed to be about sex, but it seemed like it was at the forefront of everyone's life in an entirely unrealistic way. Once I got past that, maybe after the first few episodes (the sex didn't taper off, I guess I just got used to it), I really started to warm up to the show.

The storylines are really fascinating and I found myself tearing through the episodes. It sucked because I would watch three episodes (a whole disc) in one sitting and would then have to wait a few days for the next disc to come.

The writing and especially the acting was so nuanced and amazing. Especially the story and the acting in the Katie/Dave story. It was really like I was watching two real people and not actors at all. It was just extraordinary. However, as I was watching the show I kept thinking to myself, "um, so maybe I don't want to get married" because the dysfunction and heartbreak that the characters suffered just painted marriage and relationships in general in really, really unflattering light.

Oh yeah, and the music they used was really excellent.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I keep thinking about this show, I really want to watch it all again. I'm tempted to buy it, in fact, because it really is some high quality HBOness.

For a tv show to be as amazing as any really great movie I've seen (though TV tends to be more awesome because it is longer and has more time to explain and go in depth...) means the show deserves the highest score.

Thus, Tell Me You Love Me gets a 10.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mamma Mia!

So what is this one about?
Once again Netflix comes through with a much better description than both imdb and wikipedia. (Come on guys...)
Based on the international hit musical featuring the songs of pop superstars ABBA, this charming tale centers on a bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried) and her plan to uncover her father's identity by inviting three of her mother's (Meryl Streep) former lovers to her wedding. Produced by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, this big-screen adaptation also stars Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård and Christine Baranski.
(The Internet Movie Database tried to slip this nugget into their summary... "Featuring the songs of ABBA and based on the worlds number one musical comedy which has people dancing in the aisles every night, this movie is sure to be the hit of Summer 2008!" Oh those imdb tricksters!!)

And how much did I pay to watch?
Mom bought the tickets. But they cost $5. Yeah Cinema Arts and their cheap early morning shows!

But, when I got home I did download 5 ABBA songs on itunes (yes ABBA, not songs from Mamma Mia the musical) so that cost $4.95.

And what did I think?
Well, let me just take a moment to tell everyone that I really enjoy a good musical. "Les Miserables" is my absolute favorite, and it is an excellent book too! Movie musicals are a little harder, but my favorites are Hairspray and Moulin Rouge! Oh yeah, and The Sound of Music. Oh yeah, and also Sweeney Todd (I forgot it because I just got in on dvd and haven't watched it hundreds of times like the other three)It is hard to take a stage musical and translate it to the screen, I think, and thats why we've never seen Les Miserables the Movie Musical (though I'd like to try).

One thing you may notice about these musicals though is that they use the music to tell the story. Rather than sort of stopping the action to interject a ridiculous song that doesn't advance the plot--which makes a musical very campy--these others use the songs as the explanations that advance the plot (ok, maybe The Sound of Music doesn't do that as much as the others, but we'll excuse it because it is from 1965 and it won a bunch of Oscars). For example, "A Little Priest" in Sweeney Todd explains to the audience that good ol' Mrs. Lovett is using people and putting them in her pies [oops, SPOILER ALERT!]. In Mamma Mia! (can't forget that exclamation point...ever notice how musicals like to use the exclamation point to denote FUN! ?) the plot is constantly stopping so music can be interjected.

It very much feels like whoever wrote this libretto was sitting listening to ABBA and then decided to somehow push their songs into some sort of form that would tell a story. The movie (and I'm going to assume show) feels very contrived. Besides the music the contrived feeling comes from the situation. I mean, dancing and singing, a wedding, a sunny Greek Island, a comedy of errors, and a gay guy. Thats like the formula for a musical. Pick a fun place (a Greek island), throw in some romance (wedding), then add a little confusion (comedy of errors), sprinkle in some singing and dancing, (preferably done by a character who has a "history" of doing them, and for good measure add a character who is gay and TA DAH! MUSICAL!! If thats not the formula then I don't know what is. (Oh yeah, [SPOILER ALERT] the gay character is played by Colin Firth. I don't believe that for one second. That is pure malarky!)

One of the reasons for this ridiculous screen interpretation, I think, was because Tom Hanks was one of the executive producers. The second I saw his name pop up in the ending credits (which were actually awesome!) I turned to my mom and said "I should have flipping known! This movie reeked of Tom Hanks!!!" Now, Tom Hanks as an exec producer in and of itself is not a bad thing. No. Tom Hanks as the executive producer of a musical is. Did we all see That Thing You Do! (notice the exclamation point?)? Well MM! and TTYD! were absolutely cut from the same campy, everything will turn out ok in the end cloth. And I for one do not need it!

Now, the music itself was not bad--which I guess is evident by my purchasing of the original ABBA songs--but some of the covers weren't great. With that said, though, Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfreid (from Big Love fame) actually had pretty good voices. Actually, I'd say they were pretty great! Amanda really had a pretty voice.

While her singing was great, Meryl Streep's dancing and writhing during the film was uncomfortable to watch. errrrrrrr. As was watching her squeeze into the spandex bell-bottomed unitard (as seen at the top of the page).

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Musicals should be fun and let you forget the world for a time. This did that. Though, there were some serious times where I had to shake my head, smack my forehead with my hand, or throw back my head and heave a disappointed sigh. Some of the movie was just so ridiuclous I couldn't stand it. And musicals are SUPPOSED TO BE RIDICULOUS!!!

It wasn't awful. But, it wasn't that great. I give it a 5.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Flight of the Conchords: Season 1

So what is this one about?
HBO describes its wildly popular new show as,
Flight of the Conchords follows the trials and tribulations of a two man, digi-folk band from New Zealand as they try to make a name for themselves in their adopted home of New York City. The band is made up of Bret McKenzie on guitar and vocals, and Jemaine Clement on guitar and vocals.

Bret and Jemaine have moved to New York in the hope of forging a successful music career. So far they've managed to find a manager (whose "other" job is at the New Zealand Consulate), one fan (a married obsessive) and one friend (who owns the local pawn shop) -- but not much else.
And how much did I pay to watch?
Well, I got the first disc on Netflix. But I liked it so much that I considered buying the dvd set. On amazon it was only $17.99. How could I resist that? So I bought it.

And what did I think?
It took me awhile to wrap my mind around this one. I didn't really get it. I watched the whole season and then I had to do a lot of internets research to figure out what the hell was going on. Turns out, and I'm sure people already knew this, that Flight of the Conchords are actually New Zealand's totally popular folk-parody duo. So they are really New Zealanders, they are really singers, and they do really do the ridiculous music that is in the show in real life.

Awesomely catchy ones like

and amusingly bizarre ones like this

And you can't forget funny smart ones like I mean, "my eyes are just a little sweaty today" CLASSIC.

Of course, you've all probably seen these. Maybe once again I am woefully late in getting tuned into a wildly popular show.

The show is quite infectious. The first time I watched the whole thing I found that the music got in the way of the plot, which is what I was more interested in. Now that I have gone back and watched it all again I am begining to appreciate the music. I think it does take more than one time to get all the quick and small humor. Or, maybe thats just me.

Jermaine is one creepy looking guy, but I think that adds to it. (Because once I bought "If You're Into It" on itunes it wasn't nearly as funny to listen to because you can't see Jermaine dancing and acting like a maniac. Its sort of cringe-com tastic.) Other than that the guys are so earnest and innocent. How could you not find that endearing?

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
One thing that is amazing about this show is the accents. I mean, the accents add at least a point or two to my rating. Man, the accents are AMAZING! I find myself imitating Murray and laughing maniacally. "Well, couldn't Bret be your rapping name?" hahahahahhahahahahahhahahaah!!!

I'd probably give the show about a 7 or an 8. It doesn't have that solid emotional core like The Office which when paired with humor makes it a classic. But it is funny, and smart. Plus, the added point or two from the accents tops this show with a rating of 9. Its high, yes, but the accents really are amazing.

Love Actually

So what is this one about?
Simply, as the plot summary on tells us, Love Actually
Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.
If you look google the movie you will find tons of more descriptive summaries, but I really implore you to watch this one yourself (if you haven't already)

And how much did I pay to watch?
Nothing. Originally I rented it on Netflix a few years ago. But I loved it so much that I bought it for like $7.44 (or whatever that bizarrely low price is) at Target almost immediately after watching it the first time.

And what did I think?
I talk so much shit about romantic comedies. I find them to be so simplistic, idealistic, and unrealistic I can barely stand them. To add insult to injury, they are wildly popular, people love them, and dozens (maybe hundreds) of them are made every year. It is beyond my comprehension.

However, once in a very long while I will absolutely love a movie that bills itself as a romantic comedy. I die a little inside when this happens, but it is undeniable.

There are at least a half dozen love stories in this movie, but the ones that I absolutely love the most are the ones that aren't the typical romantic love stories. The one with Laura Linney (which is bizarre because normally I don't really care for her) and her brother, the one with Bill Nighy and his manager, and the one with the guy who loves Kiera Knightley, but loves his best mate more are the ones that I find most touching. Its the use of love as a theme that elevates this movie out of the realm of romantic comedy vomit to a much more touching piece about the powers of love. (Man, that one with Laura Linney is so good! [SPOILER ALERT!] She wants to be happy romantically, and she is close, but the love she has for her brother supercedes that. It makes the audience a little sad, because she could probably have both, but she chooses the one that will always be there, the one that matters more. Its really touching)

The other stories never seem wildly far-fetched and unrealistic like other romantic comedies (yes, despite my dislike for the genre I have seen other ones). They may be whimsical and unreasonable, but isn't that the point? That love is sometimes actually that way too?

It really is just a great movie. You really have to be cold, I think, to not like this one. You don't have to admit you like it, because trust me, I understand what it takes to admit it, but you'll secretly know that you do.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
One of the things I have really had to come to terms with while thinking about movies in a new way so I can write this blog is the realization that sometimes we like movies that aren't really that good. But because we (as an audience) have some emotional connection to them we overlook their flaws. It makes me feel idiotic and girly to rate a movie like Love Actually a 10, but it is what I am going to do.

The movie fills me with such joy, and sadness (sometimes even at the same time), and gives me such an uplifting and funny movie watching experience that it could be nothing but a 10.

In my defense though, I would like to hear anyone offer some negative criticism of this one. I think it is very Forrest Gump-esque in that the story is so nice it is hard to find technical things that are wrong with it. But please, disagree with me if you can. I'd really like to hear it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wind Chill

So what is this one about?
Netflix hooked me on this one with the description of,
From director Gregory Jacobs and executive producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh comes this chilling highway horror flick starring Ashton Holmes, Emily Blunt and Martin Donovan. While driving home for Christmas break, two college students find their vehicle broken down on a deserted road where the souls of all who have perished there return to haunt them.
I mean, Emily Blunt, and Clooney and Soderbergh as Executive Producers? Sounds good enough for me!

And how much did I pay to watch?

And what did I think?
Well, there was one thing about this film that was amazing. Astounding even. The lighting was so natural and wonderful. Almost the entire film takes place 1) at night, and 2) in a car. Many times, I have noticed, lighting in cars is bizarre because I'm constantly asking "where the eff is all that light coming from?!?!" In the same way with night shots I am always wondering, "wait a minute, its night! Where is all that light coming from!?!?" Then I run around the house in a tizzy, freaking out. Because clearly, I sound like an insane person... I digress.

One of the problems I had with the film was its lack of explanation of what was going on. In the director's commentary they explained that they had originally had more information about what was going on, plot wise, but they took it out. They kept saying they hoped that the plot would still be clear. While I agree that everything doesn't need to be jammed down the audience's throat, it was unfortunate because the audience had to take a guess as to what was happening. My understanding of the plot was correct, I think, but it would have been nice to actually know for sure.

However, the directors made a very interesting point in their commentary. The two characters didn't understand what was going on. Because there was no outside narrator (as their often is in horror movies) to explain the history [indian burial ground, serial killer on the loose, etc] to the two main characters, we as the audience knew as much as the two main characters. This is true, and I forgive the small failing now.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
The movie was good enough, not amazing, but not bad. It wasn't all that scary, but it employed a good amount of tension build-up. Like I said, the lighting was amazing, as was the photography.

I think I'd make a good DP. Thats movie biz slang for director of photography. Aren't you impressed?

I rated it a 3 on netflix, but because of the amazing photography direction I will give it a 6 (rather than a 5).

Rhinoceros Eyes

So what is this one about?
Netflix says,
Chep (Michael Pitt), a bit of a loner, works at a movie prop house and seems satisfied with his monastic existence -- until he falls in love with an obsessive movie production designer named Fran (Paige Turco). Fran's fanatical need for authentic props sends Chep to great (and even questionable) lengths as he tries to satisfy her desire for period props and thus worm his way into her heart … that is, if she has one!

And how much did I pay to watch?
Some special amount, depending on how many movies I watch a month on Netflix. You know how it is...

(Maybe I should just get rid of this section...each time it makes me feel like a cheap whore for Netflix, pimping them out all the time)

And what did I think?
Well, the reason I rented this was because of Michael Pitt. Remember when he played Henry on Dawson's Creek and he was the hot and confident freshman who renewed Jen's faith in men? Man, he was so hot!! I loved that season because of Henry. So when I read the description of this one and saw he was in it I thought to myself, "why the hell not?"

I will tell you why the hell not. Because this movie is nonsense.

First, it is incredibly slow moving. It took me three viewings to finish a movie that is 91 minutes. I kept wondering..."when the hell are you gonna get to the point?!" Well, they got to the point about 60 minutes in. It was very lame.

The plot is manic. Its very slow and drags, and then it escalates and just ends. Its bizarre.

This one reminded me of those annoying kids in high school. You know, the ones who try and be all "unique" and "arty". No one liked those kids. And a movie that acts that way is irritating in the same way. It also had this bizarre Donnie Darko meets The Science of Sleep aspect to it. And being a huge fan of both of those films makes me irritated at a film that tries to take the best parts of those and put it together into a pile of poo.

There was one scene though where the hot and sexy Michael Pitt was doin' it with a lady...and that was nice. Other than that, the movie was bizarre and rather pointless.

Oh yeah, It was also really predictable. I saw the 'twist' coming from a mile away. Miles and miles and miles away.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
As I'm sure you can tell, I was unimpressed. It may be one of the most unimpressive movies I have ever seen. And for that reason, this one gets a 2. (I save scores of 1 for really atrocious movies.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

"I've always felt that the real horror is next door to us, that the scariest monsters are our neighbors," filmmaker Geor
ge A. Romero said in an interview with Barnes & "It's been a theme throughout my work--to bring the horror into our own homes, to fill the stories with brand names that we all use, beers that we like to drink, streets that look like our own."

So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us,
Picking up where Night of the Living Dead left off, this classic horror flick from director George Romero begins with zombies taking over every major city in the United States. Running for their lives, Peter (Ken Foree), Roger (Scott Reiniger), Stephen (David Emge) and Frances (Gaylen Ross) find refuge in a remote shopping mall, only to discover they must fight a motorcycle gang as well as the undead ghouls.
Simple enough, right? However, anyone who knows me in real life will know, and as my facebook 'about me' section can attest, "I love zombie movies with social commentary." Romero is king of this. His Dawn of the Dead speaks to his classic theme of racial revolution--with the strong black hero; womens rights, consumerism, and good v. evil.

There is the immediate layer of zombies, and then the deeper social commentary layer. It is amazing.

And how much did I pay to watch?
This one was a Netflix-er. Over the past 30 days I have rented 13 movies (one of which was damaged and unwatchable). At a price of $16.99 per month that evens out to $1.30 per movie. Not too shabby.

And what did I think?
Man oh man. This may be a long entry. My love and admiration for George Romero grows more and more with each movie I see and each time I hear his opinion about his works. I even ordered two books about him (though one of them got lost in the mail, gd!)

I'm not quite sure where to start. Well, I'd seen this one before. I watched it about three years ago when I was really starting to get into zombie movies. It was really hard to find back in the days of scouring Blockbuster for those hard to find titles. I had seen Dawn of the Dead (2004) in the theatre when it came out and I really wanted to see the original. (I will eventually end up doing a Dawn of the Dead (2004) review because it is one of my most watched movies that I own). I was actually already familiar with Romero because my parents had shown me Night of the Living Dead when I was much younger (I know that seems weird, but it was ok because it isn't that scary of a movie, and as a 12 year old I think I just thought it was lame because it was black and white.) Dawn of the Dead (1978) was a real disappointment initially. My original netflix 2 cents review read, "the color of the blood and of the zombies skin is so weird and technicolor. its bizarre." This original critique still remains factually accurate. The zombies had a disturbing (not scary, just shoddy) blue-grey color, and the blood (which I learned from the commentary was made by 3-M) looked like a magenta paint.

See here...

And here.

The "special effects" may have seemed bizarre and comic book, but that is how Romero wanted them. He says the film was meant to be a satire. That is one of the themes of all his zombie movies.

His social commentary was just as good in this one as it was in Land of the Dead and, his new one, Diary of the Dead. My favorite Romero technique is his use of the strong black hero. He is from Pittsburgh, and in coal mining Pennsylvania I would imagine that there was not a lot of positivity surrounding black men. Romero has always used a strong black hero in his films to go against stereotypes and has had this character be the most capable, the most pragmatic, and the best leader of all the other characters in each film. This one was no different. Peter is the hero in this one. (Interestingly enough, he is also in the 2004 version of this film, saying the same famous line, "When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth", which I thought was beyond fabulous). He was also the realistic one.

One of the scenes I really liked in this film, for its social commentary, was a scene early in the movie. The four main characters are in a helicopter looking for a place to land or refuel. The pilot, Fly Boy, was commenting that they couldn't just land and take whatever they wanted like a bunch of scoundrel hooligans. Peter pipes up and says, "Wake up sucker! We're theives and we're bad guys. That's exactly who we are." This could be read simply in the plot, or it could be read into more deeply (in true grad student style). These four people have already killed dozens of 'people' (who are now zombies), they've left their friends behind so that they can save themselves, and they will do whatever it takes to survive. It is this casual blurring of the lines between good and bad that is one of the skills of Romero.

Another social commentary this movie makes is about the excesses of capitalism. The movie is obviously set in a mall. There were a few parts in the movie when characters were asking each other why and how the zombies managed to find their way to the mall. It was decided, and stated, that the mall had held a special value to them when they were alive. This, of course, speaks to the desire of most people in modern society to shop and own and consume things. Even in 1978 Romero was speaking to this. It is summed up fabulously in a scene where Peter and Roger have just run through the mall, and the horde of zombies, to make it to the JC Penney to pick up supplies. Once they get safely inside the store Roger asks "How are we gonna get back?" to which Peter gleefully replies, "Who the hell cares? Let's go shopping first!!" Even in a time of complete seriousness, the American urge to consume overpowers.

Romero also uses a motorcycle gang in the film to describe the desire to create chaos and destruction when the gang comes in, trashes the mall, and loots it for their personal gain (even though, in a land filled with zombies, what is the point...right??)

This version of Dawn of the Dead was part of a special dvd collection.... the Dawn of the Dead Ultimate Edition DVD. Each of the four discs and multiple versions of the film (including the much shorter European version) have commentaries by Romero. The one on this disc was fascinating, and because I'd already seen the movie, it was the part of this movie experience that I appreciated the most.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
It is nearly impossible for me to rate this movie objectively. As I said already, my love for Romero's films makes it hard for me to critique them in any sort of deep way. I recognized that the makeup and special effects were unimpressive, but I pushed that aside with the realization that it was only 1978.

I liked the 2004 version of this movie much more, because it was scarier, more fast paced, and more realistic (I mean, as much as a zombie movie can be). However, without Romero's original vision that version of the movie wouldn't exist.

It is the mastery of social commentary masked under a horror movie that makes Romero a truly brilliant film maker. It can be just a horror movie if thats what you want, but if you want to look deeper there are smart and controversial layers.

The television spot for Dawn of the Dead says the film "is a horrible, hauntingly accurate vision of the mindless excesses of a society gone mad." I think it is. On an intellectual level I would give this movie a 10. On a film level I would give this one a 5 or 6 (I had rated it a 3 on netflix [out of 5] originally). If I average those scores together I end up with an 8.

An 8 is a rating I feel absolutely comfortable with.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Be Kind Rewind

So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us,
When Jerry (Jack Black) accidentally magnetizes his brain, he inadvertently erases all the videos in the rental store his buddy Mike (Mos Def) runs. To please the store's loyal customers, Jerry and Mike set out to produce their own low-rent remakes of the erased films. Danny Glover, Mia Farrow and Paul Dinello also star in this imaginative comedy written and directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
However, I didn't put this one in my queue on netflix. I actually saw a commercial for this one on tv and that is what made me interested. The commercial did not explain anything in the netflix summary to me, and therefore it was WAY different than what I expected.
And how much did I pay to watch?
This was a Jack free rental from blockbuster. So, nothing.

And what did I think?
Well, like I said initally, this was very different from what I expected. I thought it would be a ridiculously funny movie about spoofing all types of films. I also had NO idea that Michel Gondry was the director. I love Eternal Sunshine (join the club, right??) and Science of Sleep. (Its actually tricky because I love Science of Sleep way more visually but I like the story of Eternal Sunshine). I think Gondry is a truly innovative and beautiful filmmaker. And once I knew the film was a Gondry it was very obvious in the plot line (I mean, magnetized brains...!!!) and the visuals (especially the scene with Jack Black's magnetic pee).

Expecting a really funny movie, I will admit I was a little disappointed. The plot line of remaking all the movies quickly took a backseat to the more serious plot line. The end was very uplifting and heart warming and all that gooey stuff, and it sort of felt like that time on Scrubs when Polyphonic Spree did a little number in the hospital room... which had a really joyous feeling. (I guess that song is from Eternal Sunshine, isn't it?)

As far as the cinematographic Gondry-isms there were some that were endearing. There were also those that detracted from the whole film. In Science of Sleep the use of cutting away to scenes of imagination added more to the movie. In Be Kind Rewind the use of cutting away to black and white movie clips, I feel, made the story convoluted and confusing. It almost felt like the entire film was two, or even three, separate stories put together. It was odd.

The dvd had a little mini documentary about filming the movie in Passaic, NJ which was very interesting and I though sweet of Gondry to do.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Like I already said, I really like Gondry, and I was pumped to see this movie. However, it didn't live up to my expectations, and I didn't think it was very well laid out in terms of narrative.

I give it a 5. A middle of the road, exactly average 5.

Monday, July 7, 2008


So what is this one about?
Wikipedia explains that stop-loss
in the United States military, is the involuntary extension of a service member's active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date. It also applies to the cessation of a permanent change of station (PCS) move for a member still in military service. Stop-loss was used immediately before and during the first Persian Gulf War. Since then, it has been used during American military deployments to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the subsequent War on Terror.

The policy has been legally challenged several times, however federal courts have consistently found that military service members contractually agree that their term of service may be involuntarily extended.

So, Netflix describes Stop-Loss
After a tour in Iraq, decorated hero Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) returns home to his small Texas town and tries to readjust to civilian life. But when he's called up again as part of the military's controversial stop-loss program, he decides to go AWOL. Directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry), this poignant drama co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum as Brandon's war buddies and Timothy Olyphant as his superior officer.
And how much did I pay to watch?
You may or may not have noticed that I posted that this review was coming soon on July 7. Well, as you may or may not know Stop-Loss was released on July 8. So how did I swing this? One of the many perks of Jack working at Blockbuster (perks for me, not for him) is that he can get movies before they are out (I guess the store gets the shipment in a few weeks before they are released) and he can rent them before the 'public' can. So, he got me this one. For free.

And what did I think?
I have many thoughts about this film, but the one nagging at me the most has to do with Abbie Cornish, an actress in the movie who played Channing Tatum's (what sort of name is that?!) fiance. If you keep up on celebrity goss you may realize that Ms. Cornish was supposedly the catalyst for divorce between Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe. This seems mental to me, and apparently to the people at, because Abbie Cornish is busted. I mean, uggo. Wtf was he thinking? She has the unfortunate affliction of fat face/skinny body, whereas Reese is just hot! (On second thought, and while looking for an appropriate google image to link to "skinny body", Abbie Cornish just seems overall fat...I mean, not fat for a real person, but fat for a celebrity... yeah, I'm an asshole) BUT, I have veered way off course here. Back to serious movie reviewing.

Ok. I guess I felt it was unfortunate that the director, Kimberly Peirce went from the extraordinary Boys Don't Cry to Stop-Loss. I always feel a little bad when a director's first movie is so amazing that any other movie they make won't compare. I mean, how could this film compare to the other one? Answer: it couldn't. And I think I was waiting the whole movie for something that would make it stand higher than Boys Don't Cry--though of course we all know that would be absurd.

I also found the political message of the film to be convoluted and found myself asking over and over, "what is the message? what is the point?" Peirce said she wanted to make a movie from the soldier's points of view, but I guess their povs weren't communicated clearly enough. The end of the film left me wondering, "um, wait, why? what just happened?" and I think that was due to lack of a clear pov of Phillippe's character. Why did he make the decision he did? It just didn't seem to fit.

What Stop-Loss does do very well has to do with the actors. I've never really liked Ryan Phillippe because he isn't a very transformable actor. For example, when you watch someone like Chris Cooper you tend to forget it is Chris Cooper because he is good at transforming himself into the character he is playing. Russell Crowe is also ridiculously good at this. Ryan Phillippe can never convince me that he isn't Ryan Phillippe. So, it was shocking when I found myself really admiring his acting in this movie. He was really quite good (beside the end, which I think was a fault of Peirce's writing). Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great in his role (and it was exciting that his wife was played by Mamie Gummer--thats Meryl Streep's daughter for those playing along at home). Even the bizarrely named Channing Tatum was great. I'd say the acting was what saved this movie for me...or maybe it was the actors+their acting.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)

Like I've already said, this one was tough, because it was certainly no Boys Don't Cry. The acting was good, and I like the director, but the movie didn't really have a clear enough message. I think a movie like this is supposed to have some sort of point. Yes, the portrayal of young men (between 18-24 I'd say) destroyed by war was affecting, but you can see the same thing on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams every night. Its clear that war is destroying the men and women who go to fight. It almost doesn't even need to be said. What did need to be said though was some sort of stance on what is happening. I think as a film maker Peirce needed to clearly state, "This is wrong, look what it is doing to the kids who fight", but she didn't.

Because of its ambiguousness I give Stop-Loss a 6.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


So what is this one about?
Well. In 1972 the Israeli Olympic team was murdered in the Olympic Village and Olympia Park in Munich, Germany.
Right here, in fact. (Thats the shadow of the Olympia Turin (Olympic Tower) you see and partial grounds of the Park)

Munich is based on actual events and tells the story of the Palestinian terrorists [who] hold hostage and ultimately kill a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. In the tragic aftermath of the infamous murders, a Mossad agent (Eric Bana) tracks down the assassins. Ciaran Hinds and Geoffrey Rush co-star in this film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner (award-winning playwright of "Angels in America"). (Thanks Netflix!)

And how much did I pay to watch?
This one is tricky. Technically the answer is nothing because the dvd is my father's. However, I think I bought him the dvd for Christmas a few years ago. Not only that though because I saw the movie in the theatre with my mom when it came out, though I think she paid.

So, the answer is nothing, with explanation.

Oh yeah, and this is the second time I've seen it.

And what did I think?
Well, I think seeing it a second time was helpful. The first time I saw it I thought it was good, but I didn't think I caught everything. And now watching it a 2nd time there is still one part I think I may have missed.

Well, I thought it was very long. Clocking in at 2 hours and 44 minutes, its quite long. It holds attention for the most part, but nearly three hours is a lot to expect from an audience.

The cast was excellent, especially Eric Bana, who had a skillfully layered characterization. The music was beautiful and added suspense and sadness to the narrative. The cinematography was beautiful as well, with artistic (but not grotesquely so) shots that looked like photographs. The weaving of the scenes of what happened to the athletes at Munich into the narrative was skillful as well. Especially the last scene where Bana is making love to his wife while visualizing the deaths of the Israeli team. The build and climax of that scene coupled with Bana's tortured acting was brilliant. Just brilliant!

The last scene was the one that I still remain a bit confused about. Bana comes back to New York and lives in a state of constant fear that he is on a hit list somewhere for all the killings he perpetrated. The madness that he experiences was palpable and excellently acted. The last scene though, where he speaks with Geoffrey Rush, is the one there could be some confusion about. [SPOILER ALERT...maybe] Bana asks Rush if there was any connection between the men he killed and what actually happened at Munich, and what Rush explains wasn't clear. Bana's reaction comes off as in he had killed all these men who had deserved to die, but not in retaliation for Munich. It was rather confusing.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I will give this one a 7. The film was skillful, and the story of Munich is fascinating, but I think the long running time...and the thick accents, detract from it.

I would recommend it, but first I would recommend that you get your historical background surrounding the events of Munich well established. I'd check out wikipedia's page, for starters.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher)

So what is this one about?
Well, it was the Netflix description that made me interested in renting this one. (You know, I think with the way I am constantly extolling the virtues of Netflix they should like, I dunno, pay me for my spokesperson skillz.) Another thing that is great about the flix is that they have recommendations like "Since you liked _____, you'll probably like_______" and this movie was suggested for me.

Anyway, the description says, Isabelle Huppert stars as Erika, an emotionally repressed piano teacher still tied to her obsessive mother (Annie Girardot) and fast approaching spinsterhood. When an attractive student (Benoit Magimel) in her class becomes smitten with her, Erika sees him as a potential player in her dark sexual fantasies. Huppert is fascinating to watch in this disturbing character study based on Nobel Literature Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek's novel.

I guess they were fairly accurate in their suggestion.

And how much did I pay to watch?
Since June 10th I have gotten 16 dvds out from Netflix. At $16.99 per month I am averaging $1.06 per disc so far this month. However. It isn't over yet!!

And what did I think?
Well, well, well. Huppert was in fact fascinating to watch in this film.

I think the film really worked as a character study in madness. Huppert said in the commentary that she thought the film was about romance/love and seduction, and I think thats accurate, but I think I'd add madness to the categories too. Erika was a straighlaced, incredibly uptight woman who was in a bizarre relationship with her mother. As a 40 year old she not only still lived with her mother, but was constantly having to justify where she was, where she was going, and what she was doing. To add to the weirdness...and I mean really add to it, she shared a bed with her mother. I assume that upon her father's death her mother told her to sleep in his space in the bed.

Like anyone who is so beholdent to their mother when they are adults, Erika had a secret side. She frequented sex shops, watched couples making out at drive in movies, and had dark fantasies involving domination, humiliation, and pain. These vignettes were stark comparisons to when she was acting as a controlling and overly demanding piano teacher. In one scene [SPOILER ALERT] when she goes into one of those movie watching booths at a porn shop, she watches a porno movie and takes a used tissue out of the trash inside the booth (with, well, you know what is on the tissue) and holds it over her nose and mouth while watching the movie. Her dark fantasies go from this point.

Once her student shows interest in her she resists. Huppert explained that the character wanted romance and not seduction, and that is why she always struggled to be in control. Once she saw that she could control her boyfriend she let him in on all her fantasies (rape, battery, humiliation...etc) and he was horrified. When he rejected her she flipped out. From there the movie switches to a focus on the madness that one can go through when the person they love rejects them. Boy, she does a lot of things to win him back, with horrible results.

The last scene of the film brings the whole movie to a new level. It was so amazing I actually verbalized "holy shit". It was amazing!!

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
This film was totally not for everyone. From the description you should be able to tell if you could watch this one, but if you think you can I would absolutely recommend it. There were scenes in the movie that were very uncomfortable to watch, but they were crucial to the climax of the film.

As I said, the last scene just made the film. It was extraordinary. I rate it a 7.5-8. It was really very good.

Friday, July 4, 2008


So what is this one about?
HBO describes their documentary like this,
Eating disorders affect five million people in the U.S., and more than 10% of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa will die from the disease. Seeking to put a human face on these sobering statistics, acclaimed photographer Lauren Greenfield went inside a Florida treatment center to tell the stories of four women who are literally dying to be thin. The devastating HBO documentary THIN reveals what she found there - and explores the issues underlying their illness.
And they describe the four women followed in the film,
Brittany is a 15- year-old striving to be thin in order to gain acceptance among her peers; her struggle with eating disorders originated when she was eight, first as an over-eater, then as an anorexic and bulimic. Shelly, 25, has battled anorexia for six years, and enters Renfrew with a feeding tube surgically implanted in her stomach. Alisa, 30, is a divorced mother of two who arrives at Renfrew following five hospital stays in three months and claims she doesn't want to recover. Polly, 29, has spent years in and out of treatment and often challenges the center's policies and procedures.
And how much did I pay to watch?
Netflix. (I've gotten a really good per dvd price this month because I've watched so many of them)

And what did I think?
I've really been thinking about how I can review this movie and not sound like a terrible, evil, thoughtless wench. But, I haven't really figured it let the bitchiness begin!!

Well, lets do the positives first. I thought the documentary did a good job of explaining to people who don't know what an eating disorder is like. The stark images of skeletal women who think they are massively obese was well done and powerful while not beating the audience over the head. The narrative of the story and the path it followed was good (it followed the women for 6 months) also. I watched the deleted scenes on the HBO website and they should have been added to the film (I think) because they would have added a more complete documentary story for the audience.

Unfortunately there were some parts of the documentary that I really hated. And I realize its gonna make me sound really bad to say it, BUT, two of the women followed in the story were just horrible. I mean, THE WORST. Brittany was the worst, by far, but Shelly was really irritating too. That being said, the other two women were very sympathetic characters and ones that I feel the audience could really relate to. Once again, I'll start with the two good 'characters' first. Polly and Alisa were sympathetic because as an audience we could see that they really did want to get better. I guess the problem is that once the eating disorder grabbed onto them it was really hard for them to be released from it. Despite being told at the end of the film that once both women were released from the center they relapsed I think everyone would still hold out hope that they'd do better the next time. In the case of Alisa [SPOILER ALERT!!!] she relapsed and then successfully was treated, but in the case of Polly, despite having the most hopeful "once we stopped filming" update the HBO website told me that she ended up committing suicide.

Now, onto the other two. Man, Brittany was horrible. I mean, yes, she is 15, but COME ON! She came to the facility because she'd been hospitalized and her hair was falling out. When your hair starts to fall out of your head when you're only 15 YOU'VE GOT A REAL PROBLEM! And despite all the positive advice she got from all the other patients who were older than her and had been battling an ed for as long as she'd been alive she just didn't get it. A climax scene was a 28 year old telling her how she (the 28 year old) wishes her whole life had been different, that she hadn't lost her life to an eating disorder...and all Brittany could do was sit there and moan and cry about how she just wanted to be thin like all the other thin girls she sees. She sits there crying that she'll never be thin enough. Now, granted Brittany's mom had/has an ED and thats where she got it from, but in that moment when her tears sent eyeliner streaks down her 15 year old face all I could think was, "you know, you'll end up dying from anorexia and you'll totally deserve it." I mean, if she was so unwilling to listen to anyone and be so singularly concerned with her weight, I mean, what else does she have to live for?!

Shelly was a little more annoying that Brittany because she was 25. I mean, 15 year olds are stupid, but its sort of expected. Shelly just couldn't pull herself together. Whine, whine, whine about how she thought her twin sister was so much better than her and thats why she has an eating disorder. Its callous of me to say that because I have no idea how these things come up, but she just didn't take her own recovery seriously. She had had a feeding tube installed in her stomach because she couldn't eat and when she had to get it removed she was mourning the loss of an easy method of pulling food out of her stomach. I mean, someone who feels that was is obviously not serious about recovery. She left the facility, relapsed, and, bizarrely, got married.

And I think to myself....why? It was odd because it was never mentioned in the film that she was dating someone, and once again, it just demonstrated to me that recovery wasn't important.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Its probably pretty clear that I didn't care for the characters in this movie. And my real horror and disgust with Brittany basically ruined the movie for me. I mean, what was it supposed to show me? That some get better and some don't? I guess that is what it was supposed to communicate... but I didn't leave with any sort of positive feeling. Its like when the intervention doesn't work on Intervention. All you can do is shake your head and be dissappointed that it didn't take.

The movie wasn't that bad, it wasn't, but it wasn't that good. I am going to generously give it a 4, because as I was writing I was just more and more convinced that the movie was bad. I'm getting characters confused with the film itself, which was sufficient.

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door

So what is this one about?
Netflix explains,
Inspired by true events, this thriller set in 1958 follows the harrowing story of two adolescent girls (Blythe Auffarth, Madeline Taylor), who upon losing their parents in an accident are sent to live with their Aunt Ruth (Blanche Baker), a sadistic psychopath. Unbeknownst to the residents of the small New Jersey suburb, the girls endure unthinkable punishment at the hands of their aunt and three cousins.
The movie is based on a book by, wait for it, Jack Ketchum.

And how much did I pay to watch?
Again, it was part of my netflix.

And what did I think?
Well, I was looking at some reviews of both the movie and the book and there seemed to be some consensus that a book like this shouldn't be made into a movie. The material in the book is sort of sick, and to see it visually in a movie could be disturbing. Additionally, a lot of people seemed to think that there was no sort of redeeming message that could be taken from the movie once it was made.

I've been having a real tough time trying to figure out how to process all these movies I've been watching. You may have figured out that I haven't been able to immediately write the review once I've watched the film. In the case of this one I think I waited about a week to think through it and write it. The hard part is making sure that someone else's review doesn't color what I write in mine. But thats enough about that...I just wanted to say that its something that I have to contend with.

Ok. So, The Girl Next Door. The thing that was totally amazing about this movie was what it communicated about the way children act when adults either encourage then, or at least don't step in to stop them. Aunt Ruth was truly sadistic, but she was played as a real true believer. Her shaming and humiliation of the older sister, Meg, came across as Aunt Ruth really beleiving that by shaming and humiliating, that she would break Meg of some sort of nasty habits. You know, like when you wash out a kid's mouth with soap they'll think again before they do the same bad thing again. (Not that I have experience with either washing out mouths with soap, or getting my mouth washed out with soap, but I understand what the concept is supposed to do). The problem for Meg was that she wasn't doing anything wrong.

With Aunt Ruth leading the charge against Meg it was fascinating to see her children, and the other neighborhood children, rally to Ruth's cause and participate in and encourage the cruel treatment towards Meg and her sister, Susan. It was incredibly Lord of the Flies, and demonstrated the singular strength of the film--the visual creation of cruel group mentality and communicating the importance of adults setting limits for children.

Oh yeah, and the one good kid in the movie, David, was totally cute. He was such a sweet kid.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I sort of agree that it was unnecessary to make this book into a film, but overall it wasn't so bad. I wouldn't watch it again because some of the torture scenes are extremely uncomfortable and just flat out sickening, but I did appreciate it once I sat down to think about it.

I'll give it a 5.