Movie Selection 03 – Thrilling Quartet

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Thirsting for some intense suspense ? Let me introduce you to 4 movies that each has what it takes to quench your thirst for thrill in its own style. If you are looking for movies with a feel of uncertainty through the whole movie, these movies will do fine as in each of them you are always doubting about who’s the allies and who’s the villain. At some point in the movies you won’t be sure about who’s the bad guy anymore.

XIII : The Conspiracy (2008) :

Starts with the US president being assassinated, national security pursues the fleeing sniper-man. Somewhere else, a man is discovered by an old couple. That’s our protagonist which can’t recall a single thing about who he is or who he was. The only hint he is left with is a tattoo on his neck that reads “XIII”. Furthermore, he is somehow related to the assassination. Action-packed, the thrill develops around the main character’s crisis. On whose side was he ? Was he a villain or a hero ? What path will he choose to follow ?

The Game (1997) :

Wealthy but lonely Nicholas Van Orton is about to get surprised when his brother comes to him with a card for an entertainment service called “Consumer Recreation Services”. Gifting Nicholas with this, his brother promises him a life-changing experience. Thriller manifests itself in this Drama movie where simple curiosity slowly develops into a live-action game where Nicholas can’t be sure of what’s part of “The Game” and what’s not.

Shutter Island (2010) :

Produced by Martin Scorsese, this movie exploits Thriller through the mystery-genre as U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels leads a case about a patient that disappeared from a hospital on an island. As the investigation goes on, doubt installs itself in Teddy’s mind. You will question sanity throughout the whole movie as it’s hard to distinguish whom the term can be related to.

Side Effects (2013) :

I discovered this movie on the plane without having ever heard about it before. I wish the same for you, the less you know the better the experience for this one. Here goes a few word to give you an idea of what you could be missing. The story revolves around a depressed woman who goes by the name of Emily Taylor. Her case becomes problematic as she tries an experimental drug that has special side effects. Seriously, I won’t tell you more about it, it’s killing me to say this less but I do really recommend it to you. The plot is rich, it makes sense and allows you to follow it. The suspense is built through ups and downs where events constantly change your convictions. Plus, the character development is interesting, you’ll take some time before acknowledging your main character.

So that was it for this third selection. I’d love to hear what you think about these movies after you watch it or if you already have, so feel free to leave a comment 🙂

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) – Ben Stiller

The film follows the story of an employee called Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) at LIFE’s magazine. He’s in charge of the negatives films that are to be developed as images for the magazine. Walter is quite the ordinary guy who knows about the average happiness, however he is quite the dreamer, for he usually zones-out and lives daydreaming scenarios that contrast with his everyday routine. This is not fantasy story of a daydreamer that is disconnected from reality. It is but an ordinary tale of a man who gets closer to himself by the end of his journey. There is an excellent cinematographic contrast between Walter’s dream life and ordinary life. With reality being silent sometimes at such a point that it’s awkward and the dream moments where the music pumps up your excitement. The dialogue seems cheesy and the images are sublime during these dream moments. I have read a lot of critics concerning the screenplay and the script that could improve. I’d like to say they are right, but then doesn’t that go to everything else as well ? There is always room for improvement but then would it still be the same story ? These dialogues that seem vague and those scenes that sometimes doesn’t seem right contribute a lot to the progression of the movie. I personally think the movie is fine as it is, it already does a great job in conveying its story.

*Spoilers ahead*

I really appreciate the protagonist’s evolution. The character could have stayed in his fantasies forever or broken out of it with pain and difficulty. But it was different with Walter Mitty, the dream’s purpose changes as the story advances. They are simple fantasy in the beginning but then the first change occurs as Walter’s sitting in the bar in Greenland and Cheryl starts singing Bowies’ song Space Oddity. Walter is indeed imagining that but he wasn’t zoning out for he lived his imagination and ran to the helicopter for real. Then the moment he fell into water and was being attacked by a shark, he was even doubting the moment’s reality. He then realizes the moment was really true. From that moment on, music kicks in as Walter is fully determined to apply an idea of his. Finally he’s able to live memorable events.

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If a life lesson was given to Walter as well as to the public for what one wants to receive, it was about enjoying life. Imagination can be as sweet as it can be bitter. Think of the bad-ass dream life of Walter at the beginning but also remember Walter’s imagination shutting himself from the opportunity to start a relationship with Cheryl because he imagined a scenario where she re-conciliated with her ex-lover. Where an alternate version to that could have been that Cheryl quit the dating website because she met Walter and she responded to no winks although she would have if she had received Walter’s wink. Imagining scenarios is not bad but reality is still an alternate version of that story. All that has to be done to enjoy everyday life is to simply step up and live it the way we see it. That’s the progress Walter has made : living up to his expectations.

Does reality and dream really have to be opposed ? Walter’s relation to Sean made me think that they are complementary. Sean Penn is playing another great role as Sean O’Connell. This man is the one who’s capturing the photos, the one who’s living the moment. And it’s just so great that he doesn’t make Walter inferior to him for Walter is the man who knows what to make of these pictures. Their job are complementary. Short thought on Sean, the moment he’s trying to take a picture of the snow leopard is gold. Why waste time capturing a moment when the ephemeral can only be enjoyed for a limited time ?

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Interpreting the movie on a larger scale led me to admire the message given through the metaphor of the magazine’s name : LIFE. Sean and Walter’s role are as complementary in the magazine’s production as dream and reality are complementary in life. Sean respected Walter’s work for he said Walter knew about LIFE (both the magazine and life) because he understands the motto : “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life”. You can sit back and watch your life emotionless or you could do as Walter on Sean negative #25 : Life is about how you treat the different frames of your existence. The different optical adjustments probably referring to different vision we can have. The ending sums up Walter’s quest. The answer he seeks was himself from the beginning. Life is what you make of it not anyone else.

*End of spoiler*

I was also questioning myself as to whether there was a message from the film writer’s about the name of the magazine becoming LIFE ONLINE ? Is it a reminder of the magazine’s motto in an era where we are locking ourselves in virtual fantasies ; where expectations, true love, authentic happiness, boundless joy are shown through numerical medias as pure ideals that will remain unattainable ? Regardless of whether this was one of the movie’s message or not, I want to remind you, myself, to continue to appreciate life even if relationships, culture and learning exists more and more through internet. Thanks for reading up to this point ! Enjoy ! 😉

Die andere Heimat – Chronik einer Sehnsucht (Edgar Reitz, 2013)

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I have only watched the part I, a friend of mine which has seen the part II confirms that my thoughts on the movie are also valid for the follow-up movie so I guess it can be fine to share this with you guys.

Heimat truly is an exclusive experience. The film is produced and directed by Edgar Reitz and shot in black and white ; except for some particular elements for which the colors has been accentuated in such a way to contrast with the rest of the setting. Every color element (the coin, the flame, etc…) seem to serve a purpose in conveying a certain message. Except for the blue wall, at a moment there was a wall in the movie which was blue during its first appearance and was left black and white during its second appearance. I couldn’t figure why. At the end of the movie, a friend of mine, with whom I watched the movie told me that the blue wall we saw in the movie was colored for the scene during which one of the crew members died, it was an homage to that person.

The choice of black and white is a marvelous idea for it displays an image of high quality where our eyes aren’t mesmerized by the colors of the screen. Personally, I felt like I automatically adjusted to it and even though it was black and white I felt like it was colored in its own way. I could perceive the contrasts and admire a large chromatic scale included in the black and white image.

Leaving aside the purely visual character of the film, let’s talk about the protagonist. I felt like Heimat was a crossover between Into the Wild and Maupassant’s Mme Bovary. For those who don’t know or forgot about the movie and the book. Into the wild depicts the journey of Christopher McCandless who seeks happiness through a reconciliation with nature, during his journeys he crosses the path of many person and always leave them for the sake of persevering in his goal. In the end when he dies alone, he realizes happiness doesn’t exist outside of sharing. As for Maupassant’s book, the protagonist is a woman called Emma Bovary which comes from a medium agricultural background. However she reads a lot and dreams her life as though it were the same as the fantasies written in the books. She modifies the way to she perceive reality to emphasize the illusive elegance. At the end, disillusioned she commits suicide.

*Spoilers ahead*

Now, why do I feel like Jakob is a crossover between the previous two characters ? It’s because he’s floating on a cloud that swifts above the realm of everyday reality. I recall a scene where Jakob’s grandmother was warning someone to look out for the boy for his gaze was always lost somewhere up in the air as though no part of the world of the living. Jakob i indeed quite the dreamer, and throughout the movie we are being played by the director, tricked into thinking he possesses a supernatural power with which his reading transforms reality. It does indeed add a magical aspect to reality that triumphs over mundane routine, but he doesn’t exactly have any concrete power. The power of imagination fuels the mind of this dreamer. He perceives everyday reality in a different way from those around him and seeks adventure or higher purposes like “Liberty” for example. The final scene where Jettchen cries as Jakob gets taken away very well underlines the difference between the world’s mindset and Jakob’s reality. In my opinion, Jettchen incarnates misinterpretation for she thought Jakob got jealous of her having an affair with Jakob’s brother. So did Florinchen that was always worried whenever Jettchen and Gustav both went missing. Courting Jettchen was none of Jakob’s concern from the beginning, she was just someone with whom he wanted to share the enthusiasm of an adventure in Brazil. So by the ending, as the folks around him went into a full small-town drama, Jakob was already pursuing an ideal of his he probably read somewhere in his books.

*End of spoilers*

Having watched it a long time ago, I don’t remember the other ideas, if there were any, that sparked in my mind by the end of the movie. I’d be more than happy to discuss the movie with anyone who wants to. Thank you for reading this comment ! Enjoy !!

Snowpiercer (2013) – Joon-ho Bong

I just came back from watching it. I went to see it with mistrust because the theme of social hierarchy in a fictive universe has been done so many times already. Yet, it pleased me, but once again, it might be me pushing the interpretation too much in a specific direction. So here’s what I saw in the movie :

You know when people say : “It takes a disaster to bring humanity united” this movie rejects the saying by showing that in a post-apocalyptic universe, there would still exist inequality between men born from one’s lust for power. The train is an incarnation of an uni-linear representation of social hierarchy with Mr. Wilford at the tip of the arrow. The movie also depicts an excessive cult of personality resulting in propaganda and a nearly divine idolization of Wilford. Whereas the machine is regarded as something sacred. I viewed the machine as an image of the system. There are people who cherish the system, those who maintain it, those who revolt against it. But all in all, the system is composed of different actors each having a role in the overall functioning of the system.Image

*spoilers ahead*

The lust of power is depicted in a quite realistic way because the low-class people crave the lifestyle of the rich. Notice how often steak is mentioned in the beginning as an ideal meal. Also, when Curtis and his fellows meet Paul. We can see Paul is not in for the insurrection while he has an assured position, he has climbed the ladder and is part of a further wagon. Climbing the social ladder is enough for men to forget about the fight for equality.

I’d also like to put a few words on the drawing artist, I directly identified him as the historian. I enjoyed it even more when Curtis told him don’t draw this when they discovered the true origins of their protein bar. Selective history at its finest.

I think it’s about time I review the notion of sacrifice in the path of revolution. The progression through the wagons was a a permanent test towards Curtis determination to advance. Everyone was psyched at the beginning of the movie about starting the insurrection, while Curtis always waited for the right moment with patience. The scene during which they have a melee combat against the authorities with axes and proceed to butchering each other conveyed a message in its silent minutes where you could only hear the sound of flesh being torn apart. Edgar was gazing at Curtis for a long moment. We could see Edgar wasn’t expecting this kind of horror and yet he realizes as he watches Curtis that there is no surprise in Curtis’ eyes, for the man knew very well what path he was taking.

This determination of Curtis is truly confirmed in the scene where he’s forced to choose between saving Edgar from danger and compromising his mission or going after the high-class woman. Where in most movies the hero will save his companion, Curtis on the other hand proceeds with his insurrection and leaves Edgar behind. Edgar eventually dies and it pays off since they hold a hostage. Curtis always admired Gilliam as the leader of the oppressed but when Gilliam died he was directly chosen as the leader of the movement. This choice is reflected in the sauna scene where we witness the tattooed fighter sacrificing himself in order to protect Curtis. Why did he do that, since he probably is a better fighter than Curtis ? It’s because Curtis has gained a great matter of importance as a new iconic figure for the poor.

During the movie, we get to witness different types of lifestyle and engagement similar to ones in real life. The junkies are constantly intrigued by simple matter, they are distant from the fight and appreciate life in its simplicity. Curtis, represents the engaged men, defending a cause, shutting away his emotional pain. And on the other side, the law, protecting the balance, maintaining the system. As Curtis progresses toward the front-wagon we see the wagon evolving with more and more futile elements to render life more luxurious. I questioned why did they put the party-goers and the junkies in wagons that are after the luxury wagon and high society. I can only come up with the director of the movie categorizing party as the least necessary activity where socialization doesn’t even exist and it’s a semantic void. As he traveled, Curtis arrives at the last door with only Nam and his daughter both tripping because of Kronol.

Remember when Gilliam warned Curtis about not listening to Wilford’s word once he meets him. Gilliam knew the price Curtis will have to pay to achieve his revolution and Curtis did indeed arrive at the end of the road like a lost lamb. At the beginning of the journey they kept asking for the two kids that got kidnapped in the beginning. And you can consider Curtis’ quest start losing all sens the moment he stopped looking for Timothy, for it mattered not anymore. And this is where I will now analyze the opposition between Wilford’s realism and Curtis’ humanity.

If Gilliam had not even been collaborating with Wilford, I’d still consider him like the tail-leader of the train for he knew of Wilford’s realism and tried to talk Curtis into preserving some humanity. What Wilford did when he created the train was preserve the last thing he could for mankind. The gift of life. The very same life that was so dear to many in the movie (to the point they would betray, kill others, eat others, to preserve it). In a frozen world, there would be no way to survive in a utopia where humanity was united and equal, there wouldn’t be order and mankind would be lead to its extinction. That is why Wilford abandoned his humanity, become a monster in order to be able to live. The head of the system, the father of the machine could only be a monster, for he knew guiding the people would require tyranny. When he proposes to Curtis to take his position, Curtis’ eyes already said yes. Curtis knew the answer to the dilemma between dying a human and living a monster. As he was about to adopt the machine and embrace the system, Yona leaps to him and show him Timothy, working the machine. The sight of Timothy brought back the reason of his path, resulting in him switching attitude with humanity taking over logic. This was finally the moment he was more than willing to loose an arm and become the hero he wanted to be. Although, Wilford’s system has its component for every situation. Thus we discover the role of the second boy as an emergency manual pilot for the machine. Wilford is not just evil for the heck of it, it’s a choice he made : to incarnate the hero of evil in order to preserve mankind. Yet, when Curtis’ final resolve is to die a human, he only lets out : “Beautiful”, as his last word describing humanity in a dying breath.

Now, about the ending scene. I somehow knew there would be one of the stoner alive to enjoy the view of the real outside world, for only a stoner can put a good ending to the movie by ignoring the reality of being at death’s doorstep. The music, lighting and the faces of the actor ; it had everything a good ending does in a movie. Yet, I will refuse to consider a good ending, since there is nothing left in the world. With the apocalypse, everything was lost, the warmth of a human heart also (contrasting of course with the metaphoric frozen world), the only thing they could cling to was their life. Plus, I can’t help but ironically consider the mere possibility of Yona and Tim repopulating the earth. If there was anything I’d consider beautiful in the ending, like Wilford  have said, it’s the fact that they put an end to  mankind to render  the  human essence eternal.

* End of spoilers *

All in all, the movie was worth the watch. The intense thoughts only came in the ending, especially during the dialogue between Wilford and Curtis. Although, one can only applaud the director’s choice to convey the film’s violence and deranging hesitation whether to continue or not through the constant languor. The whole train, as a matter of fact, is in fact no more than a paradigm constructed to express different opinions on the value of life, humanity and the will to power.

Warm Bodies (2013) – Jonathan Levine

I saw the poster in the cinema a few months ago and I totally dismissed any interest in the movie. I was wrong, I guess it’s my bad, I shouldn’t judge a movie by its poster 😉 Having a good time viewing a movie sure is a good thing, but let me tell you this, having a good time commenting a movie is truly amazing.

Allow me to lay out what’s basically happening in the movie. A zombie epidemic forged a new world where humans, small in numbers, are barricaded behind fotified walls stiving to survive. Outside the walls, there are zombie whose body are cold, without a heart-beat and crave for human flesh and especially human brain. Only the body of a zombie is dead, the mind however is still conscious, although they pretty much eat humans against their own will because their body need it. “Boneys” are zombie that succombed to their inhuman desires and became monsters that terrify even zombies although they sahre the same interest, eating the livings. The main plot concerns the relationship between a male zombie called “R” and a human girl whose name is “Julie”.

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To this point, the review was spoiler-free. The following content will contain spoilers of different scale. So if you are sure you’ll be watching the movie, go watch it before reading. If not, you might read this because it will be an analysis in majority and it doesn’t explicitly unveil the major parts of the plot. Your call.

“Warm Bodies” suggests a strong reference to the tale of Romeo and Juliet. Most explicitly with the name of the main protagonists : R & Julie. They each come from different worlds : the world of the living and the world of the dead. This incompatibilty between the two kind retells the family feud depicted in Shakespeare’s work. And of course, we find the famous balcony scene where Romeo (in this case, “R”) speaks to Juliet from beneath the balcony.

In addition to the reference to Romeo & Juliet, “Warm Bodies” originality shines out from the perspective. The story is told from the point of view of a zombie. We have access to his train of thoughts, which isn’t only consisted of “Brains, brains, brains …” like it is typically depicted in most zombie movies.

Beyond these two points, what I admired in the movie was its symbolism. This part of the review will solely be based on personal interpretation so you make what you want of it. The movie is a metaphor portraying today’s social interactions. On one side we have the living caracterised by their warmth and aliveness, as opposed to the cold bunch whose hearts are dead. I believe the movie praises the greatness of warmth, notice the insistence through the title itself. Passion is what makes a zombie’s heart beat again. That image of transcendental love was sublime. The zombie’s features criticizes the cold attitude of people nowadays : words are spoken without being used for real communication, people bump into each other and it doesn’t matter, the zombies are narrow-minded with a conscience perverted by carnal desires. This coldness that emanates from these characters also suggeststhe fatality of routine, boredom, emptiness and hollowness. Their existence seems to have lost its meaning. This image of zombies is strong in our world where people are obsessed with technology (phones, TV, computers), we always seem to have things to do while never actually have time to spare and we hardly interact with random people for the sake of talking. Everything seems to be motivated by personal interests and advantageous opportunities.

One aspect of the movie I really enjoyed was the concept elaborated around the notion of brain-eating. Each time the hero eats brain, he is drawn into a colorful world of images. Eating these memories seem to be the only way a zombie has to enjoy himself, his only road to happiness. I presumed that Brain-eating is a visual metaphor of taking drugs. It is a mean of escaping the cold reality in order to access an artificial paradise filled with colors and bliss. People truly feel happy when they take drugs (even be it marijuana for those that don’t consider it a drug) like a zombie truly enjoys eating a brain because it makes him forget the harsh truth of his existence as a zombie that relies on eating flesh as the sole purpose. However, it doesn’t only make the zombie forget the stone-cold reality, it also makes him forget the pleasure of simply living. This is not an essay aiming to criticize drugs. The drugs as portrayed in the movie, is a mean of transportation to explore other horizons, but it still isn’t one’s true self. I think that the given image of Brain-eating corresponds quite well with the reality of drugs in our world.

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The zombie aspire so much to acquire brain because it lets them feel. This is important for creatures that once knew how to feel but now lost the touch of it. But they still possess the capacity of thinking ; that’s the thing that differenciates the zombies from the Boneys. Zombie, like humans trapped in this world of consumerism, frivolity and fake honesty, are still able to think. However the thinking is put to use for making excuses. The zombies, like “R” did in the beginning, justify their brain-eating by saying it is a way to spare the humans from the torment of going through the nightmare of being an undead. By eating their brain they prevent the human from resurrecting in the form of a zombie. Although it is only natural to sugar-coat one’s carnal desire, the zombies aren’t different from humans in some aspects I guess.

All in all, it was a movie I seriously enjoyed both for its renewal of the zombie myth and the Romeo & Juliet scenario, but also for its ideas. Especially the way it defends the importance of warmth, something that today’s society tends to lack. Also, the music in the movie plays such a huge role in creating feeling, which is one of the main themes of the movie itself. The music as used in this movie is a good example of how music can be put to good use in a movie. Hope you enjoyed my comment and above all, I hope you enjoy the movie.

Man of Steel (2013) – Zack Snyder

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Hi again ! Today it’s Superman’s new appearance on screens I will discuss of. Before I start talking about it, I’d like to precise that I’m more of a Marvel fan when it comes to comics. I have read DCs too but a load more from Marvel. However I keep being disappointed with the film adaptations of most Marvel franchise, they don’t reflect the power that truly captivates one’s attention and interest like in the comics. On the other hand, DCs theatrical version never fail to impress me. Especially Christopher Nolan’s skills in bringing back Batman and Superman to the movies. There’s this authentic touch that generates from his story writing that gives so much charm to the DC heroes.

All right ! Quick synopsis of what the movie is about : How did Superman (Clark Kent/Kal-El) end up on our Earth. He happens to become a center of interest when his planet of origin (Krypton) comes to its end.

I enjoyed the movie a lot because it gave away that comic-like sensation of witnessing a hero’s genesis. The storyline was smooth, eventhough I have to admit the plot seemed rash and hasty by the end but that’s the limit of a movie. You can’t tell the integrity of a story the way a comic does. The beginning was executed with such swiftness and coherence. It is great that there hasn’t been too much unecessary combat just to satisfy the public’s lust for action, this kept the plot quite coherent for a movie version of DC’s Superman.

I also credit the movie’s seriousness. It is sometime better for a movie to focus on specific genres instea

d of trying to gain popularity by satisfying the mass’ horizon of expectation. Recent Hollywood movies tend to blend in humour, action, drama, philosophy and suspense too much. Although giving a girlfriend to Clark wasn’t a big necessity because she didn’t fulfill such a supportive role, I still wouldn’t criticize this choice when you weigh this detail with the others greath things accomplished in the movie. I really appreciated that the humour wasn’t farce, but subtle elements that aren’t meant to make you burst in laughters. For example, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw — *spoiler* the accident counter in the construction site go from 106 to 0 when General Zod threw Clark on the building’s pillar during their last fight *spoiler end*

What generated the comic-like sensation was also the combination between the seriousness of the story-telling and the fight scenes filled with adrenaline rush. The fight scenes weren’t saturating the movie and that’s why they are pretty ultimate since the combat isn’t trivialised like in most super-hero movies.

If you aren’t a total fanatic of the comic franchise , you should be ok watching it, I even hope you have a good time viewing this movie ^^