Movie Review: Equilibrium

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Nothing says dystopia like repressing emotions and creativity, as well as the need to obey. According to this film, it’ll happen in a few decades. One thing is for certain: we will always have good ol’ Ludwig van in a dystopian society.

An enforcement officer, in a world where feelings are suppressed through medication, misses a dose and sees the world in a new light.

I had not heard of this film until I noticed it was on the roster for this semester in Film Club. I heard, through various people, that this was an overlooked film. Given the recent run of dystopian films, based on books mostly catered to young adults, I thought it would be yet another film but more for adults. Within the first few minutes, I noticed traces of Fahrenheit 451 and THX 1138. I shrugged it off and figured it was best to see what else the film had to offer.

What’s interesting is that there is no futuristic technology, even though it is set in the future. When the film was released, the use of tablets with styluses wasn’t in full swing or as modern was what we have now. Televisions have been and can be large, though the preferred shape is more rectangular than square as seen in the film. It doesn’t date the film as heavily as other future films.

When the majority of an action scene is spent with gunfire, I turn off my mind and just wait for the scene to end. However, the fight choreography is interesting to look at, at least when you can see it. I haven’t seen a gun used as blunt weapon with such force and dexterity.

But why suppress emotions and creativity? Simply put, it restricts dangerous thoughts. Using pills to restrict emotions isn’t anything new, as seen in THX 1138. Unlike the aforementioned film, the feelings are more about caring for others rather than the self.

The soundtrack, while evoking some elements from The Matrix, does become repetitive and intrusive, especially during serious moments. Even when it was quiet, I felt that some scenes were better off without it.

While it does have some things to say, those sentiments have been said before in other works. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by The Matrix because of the fight choreography or from seeing other, better executed dystopian films. In the end, it was like I had taken some doses of that Prozium in the film.

5/10

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Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

 

With only a few months left before the new release of the 1001 Movies book, I assume that this will make the list. I encountered problems before I even put the DVD in the player, problems that would restrict how I would watch it.

Jordan Belfort rises and falls in the world of stocks through copious amounts of drugs, sex, and deception.

The DVD I got was the bare-bones edition where all you got was the film. I figured I could play this on my portable player but then I saw how the disc was made. It turns out that sometime after 2007, Paramount made their DVDs grey and harder to play on some players. This was one of them. I couldn’t watch it on the main TV at home unless I stayed up really late. I had to watch this on a computer with my headphones in.

If there’s one word to describe this film, it’s excessive. From the drugs to the sex, the f-bombs to the runtime, it was a lot to sit through and I didn’t enjoy it. This wasn’t entertaining; it’s just sad. I may have cracked a smile here and there but they didn’t last long. Sure, seeing DiCaprio on drugs may be funny at first but then it just goes on, and on, and on.

While it may be based on a true story, it all seems ludicrous. I tried to accept that some of it was real but because of how it was portrayed, I had a hard time believing it. The movie became a series of buzzed escapades where I begged for the end to come quickly.

The music is all over the map. Some of the songs will stay in your head, like the one used for the trailer. Others seem too similar in style and content. When I heard the cover for “Mrs. Robinson”, I wanted to stop the music. It worked well for The Graduate, but here it seemed really out of place. It wasn’t even a good cover.

After I finished the movie, I went down to Putt-Putt for a weekly tournament. The trailer song and the chest-beating song would not go away. I tried searching for something else to listen to but they kept playing. They cost me a few strokes but it was an average night.

One interesting aspect is the DVD cover. There’s a yellow rectangular border, like a National Geographic magazine. That’d be an interesting issue.

Besides that, I didn’t enjoy it. If it’s on the list, then I can say I’ve seen it. Not sure when I’ll see it again but it won’t be for a long time.

5/10

Movie Review: The Fox and the Hound

 

This film is not the first to answer that age old question that has plagued the greatest minds of all time, “What does the fox say?” If anyone was going to use that as a comment, sorry I spoiled your fun.

A fox and a hound, natural enemies, become friends as kids and then grow up to realize the awful truth.

I only watched this maybe one or twice as a kid but the tape “mysteriously disappeared” for a long time. I dug it out yesterday and watched it with my family. It was interesting how my autistic brother immediately recognized Paul Winchell playing someone other than Tigger. Other than that, the movie itself has some faults.

The screentime is divided in a curious fashion where the film could easily be called A Fox, a Hound, and Two Birds. The relationship of Dinky and Boomer, instead of providing brief moments of comic relief, has more than its fair share of screentime. As I watched their scenes, I questioned what characters the movie was supposed to focus on. I didn’t find them entertaining and I wanted them to vanish with each passing second the movie stayed solely with them.

I thought Chief should’ve stayed dead once he got hit by the train. The damage he takes during his fall was enough to have him out for good. Besides, he didn’t go through a noticeable character arc for the entire film. We see him wrapped in bandages and that’s that.

But what about Tod and Copper? I only remember watching them in their early days, mostly due to one of those Disney Sing-Along tapes as “Best of Friends” was featured. Of course, they’re cute as kids; just look at baby Tod in the picture. Once they turn into adults, their tone becomes more serious when they’re together. It’s quite striking, seeing as how each of their perceptions have changed because they have to follow the laws of nature. The ending does leave them resolved, but to be apart.

It’s just an average film. I suppose it’s fine for kids but probably better with an adult around for the more serious imagery. The fox is cute, no doubt about it.

5/10

Movie Review: Gigi

I’m glad I got this for cheap as I will need to upgrade to a much better print, especially if I do the Pink Floyd sync with this. That’s all I thought about when I watched it. I don’t know what I expected but what I got was not at all pleasing to the eye.

A young Parisian girl is trained to be ready to integrate with high society.

The fact that the tape and package was in pristine condition should have tipped me off to what was inside. I bought the 1986 print (the one with the “Musicals Great Musicals” packaging) for less than fifty cents. The tape was rewound and looked like it was maybe played once. After the tape rolled through the usual logos and stuff, a giant red flag appeared in the form of an oversized MGM lion, the ribbon cut off on both sides. I should have stopped the tape right there as what followed was the movie owner’s nightmare from the days of VHS: pan and scan.

I know what you’re thinking: why would you buy a VHS copy, especially a shoddy one at that, when you can get the DVD? Well, my entire film collection is mostly secondhand. I rarely buy a DVD when it’s brand-new unless I’ve seen the film in the theater and know that it needs to be in my collection. Besides, I have not been able to find a DVD copy of this film anywhere so when I saw it in the thrift store, I figured if it took this long to find a print then I should take what is there. Buyer’s remorse does happen and it hit with this film.

My first bad experience with pan and scan was with the Collector’s Edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The entire film was fullscreen, obnoxious pan and scan that made the film practically unwatchable. THEN, there was a featurette that showed clips from the movie in widescreen as it should have been. My unfortunate viewing of Gigi brought those memories back and I winced each time it happened. In my head, I imagined some kind of low rumble when the camera would pan and scan. It got to the point where I swear I heard it outside my head.

So, what about the actual content of the film? There were some interesting style choices like how for almost every single musical number, the main character is seated. Talk about dynamic. The first number, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”, becomes very creepy when you realize a grown man is in a park surrounded by young girls and singing this. The musical highlight is Gigi singing “The Parisians” in the first act.

While the costumes and set design were well made (as far as I can tell from a VHS copy on a flatscreen, definitely a best use of resources) the story is OK at best. It comes off as a cousin of My Fair Lady and after ten minutes it’s a matter of riding the movie out like a leisurely boat ride at an amusement park. True, the moments where Gigi is training how to be in society are amusing at times, those scenes do not last long.

Also, what is up with that text on the poster? It looks like someone smeared lipstick. My brother, upon seeing the cover, thought it looked like a horror movie. Imagine his surprise when I said it was a G-rated musical.

It’s movies like these who won the Best Picture that I wonder if any of the other nominees were any better or if the year wasn’t that spectacular.

The way a movie is shown, especially for a first viewing, makes a lasting impression. I will need to find a better print. I’ll probably donate the tape to a rummage sale or something or keep it for the Pink Floyd sync (the answer lies on the cover of Ummagumma).

5/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

400 Noms for AFI Top 100 for both years

Winner of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Original Song

Movie Review (of sorts): One Got Fat

 

Nothing says bike safety like dead monkey children. Harsh perhaps? You bet, but you might ask yourself the same question if you saw them.

This cult oddball short involves the depiction of monkey children biking to a picnic but somehow dying along the way, except for the eponymous character who got fat.

I was first introduced to this through Rifftrax on a shorts compilation DVD. Honestly, this isn’t my kind of nightmare fuel but because it’s from the guys at MST3K I played along. Then, TCM aired this at 5:45 one Sunday morning and I woke up early just to see it without the alternate commentary. Such is life.

I’ve seen masks from the 60’s and stuff that surpassed the creepy factor than these monkey masks. Notably, I remember seeing a Mickey Mouse mask from the early 30’s that looked like something from Escape From Tomorrow. Still, you have to admit these masks are very strange.

Honestly, how did these kids ride with the masks on? Not one part is dedicated to wearing a helmet, something that should’ve been listed first. Second would be to not wear masks. Just why?

Kids, don’t wear masks or evolve (devolve?) into monkey-human hybrids. Looks for signs and follow the rules of the road. Run the other way if you see something like this in real life.

5/10