In this gigantic mansion, practically a wet dream for those turned on by wealth porn, cloaked and masked figures stand by the perimeter, watching as Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) is asked to doff his own disguise, after having explored rooms that seemingly fulfilled his erotic fantasies. These dreams, crafted by Stanley Kubrick, at first exemplify the Freudian assertion of wish fulfillment and then transform into nightmares that exist plainly as perilous reality, bouncing around ideas of gender politics, desire, and monogamy. Through heightened fantasy and looming danger, Eyes Wide Shut asserts that wish fulfillment isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Read the rest of this entry »
It seems relatively fair to posit that Taylor Swift has made some of her career based on the image that she’s America’s Sweetheart, the Girl Next Door, and any number of very gendered archetypes which put her into a box of Innocence and Purity. In David Fincher’s Gone Girl (written by Gillian Flynn and based upon her best-selling novel), Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) similarly has that kind of porcelain face, and, even more so, has had to live up to the same standards that society has set for her. Hiding behind those masks, though, is something else. All you have to do is watch the video for “Blank Space” and Gone Girl. Read the rest of this entry »
Foxcatcher either doesn’t care or doesn’t want to establish exactly from whose perspective the film is, which is, in a way, a double edged sword. So much of the film takes pleasure in lacing every frame and action with ambiguity that it does, understandably, get frustrating. It at once wants to become intimate with its characters – Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), two Olympic gold medalists in wrestling, and John du Pont (Steve Carell), the “rich old guy” that recruits both of them to help his Team Foxcatcher to become best in the world – and get inside their heads, but these characters seem to push back against that very idea. So far as understanding them, we get nothing, which is a good thing. Read the rest of this entry »
A haze of smoke uncoils and dances in the air, slinking out from of the mouth of Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), part-time private investigator and, ostensibly, full-time pothead. So light and loony this character (and film) is, Inherent Vice almost comes as a surprise to those following the career of Paul Thomas Anderson, whose last few films have fit, for the most part, comfortably within a mode of seriousness. Vice, while hard to describe as frivolous, is not as married to that tone, instead taking on something goofier, funnier, and consistent with Anderson’s work; something enjoyably off-kilter.
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It’s rarely a good idea to walk into a film with preconceived notions, but it’s rarely something a person can help unless they’re able to go completely blind. But, unless you’re at a festival, it’s hard to do that these days given the advertising saturation film culture. Even if you’re not intentionally surrounding yourself with it, chances are, it’ll still be in the background. So, that being said, I walked into If I Stay, a YA weepy movie based on a YA weepy novel by Gayle Forman, with average to low expectations. I thought, At worst, it’ll be forgettable. And somehow, I was so, so wrong.