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Super Carnitas reviews La Moustache (2005)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2011 by supercarnitas

Director – Emmanuel Carrere

Starring – Vincent Lindon, Emmanuelle Devos

  I’m going to go ahead and tell you everything I know…or assume to know about this film. Spoilers be damned.

  Now the premise is as simple as it is intriguing. A man shaves off his moustache for the first time in his adult life…and nobody notices. His wife, his friends, his co-workers….nobody notices. Even worse, nobody will even acknowledge that he ever had a moustache to begin with. Hilarious right? When I describe the premise of this film to people they inevitably assume it’s a comedy. It’s not. Or maybe it is…it’s French…who knows what the hell they think is funny.

  The film opens with a husband and wife (Marc and Agnes) in their home. Marc is taking a bath. He asks his wife what she would think if he shaved off his moustache. She responds that she’s not sure….she never known him without it. She kisses him and says that she’s off to the store. She urges him to get ready for their dinner date at a friends house that evening. While she’s gone he finishes his bath….and decides to shave off his moustache…before finishing getting ready.

  When Agnes arrives home from the store…Marc does his best to hide his clean shaven face from her…wanting to surprise her. Finally…he sneaks up behind her while she’s doing her makeup…and reveals himself in the mirror. Nothing. She looks right at him and doesn’t seem to notice. They continue getting ready and the only mention of appearance is Agnes noting how “tarty” her dress is.

As they arrive at their friends house Marc let’s Agnes out while he searches for a place to park. When Marc enters the house nobody mentions his new look. Their friends, a husband and wife and their young daughter, carry on like nothing is new. During dinner it is revealed that the male friend was once involved in a relationship with Agnes. He tells a story of a ski vacation he once took where Agnes manipulated the radiators in the small lodge they were staying in…so that only their room would be heated. As opposed to turning their heat down so everyone would benefit. Agnes denies denies denies. Despite how obvious it is that she did it, and despite the fact that it no longer matters…Agnes denies it.

  On the way home Marc accuses Agnes of convincing their friends to play along with her ruse while he was parking the car. Agnes says she has no idea what he’s talking about. At home, in bed, the argument continues. Marc says she told their friends not to mention that he shaved off his moustache. The joke is old, he says. She admits to doing no such thing…and tells Marc that he’s never had a moustache. She even calls the friends to confirm her statement. Marc, frustrated, gets out of bed and heds to the den. Agnes stews before finally going to sleep. In the den Marc finds pictures of he and Agnes together on vactation in Bali. In the pictures he is sporting a moustache. He brings the pictures to the bedroom and sets them on the nightstand before going to bed. In the morning, half asleep, he notices Agnes take the photos from the nightstand.

  At work that morning….nobody notices. The barista at the local coffee shop doesn’t even notice. Marc begins to think he’s losing his mind.

  At home the tension with Agnes leads him to retrieve the clippings from his moustache out of the trash and to present them to her as evidence. Agnes is afraid and worried for Marc. She tells him so and says that she has “never lied” to him. He says he knows…and curls up on the bed defeated. Soon after this incident Marc begins to smoke again…having quit with Agnes several years earlier.

  Trying to return to some sense of normalcy, Agnes and Marc spend an evening out. While shopping Agnes chooses a hideous jacket for Marc to try on…knowing he won’t like it. He doesn’t…but he pretends to…and purchases it. He wears it to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants that night. They both note that the restaurant has changed. Marc doesn’t mind the changes…Agnes hates them.

  The next day, Agnes asks Marc if they still plan on having dinner with his parents that night. He tells her to call his parents and cancel. She asks him to repeat himself. He does…telling her to please call his parents and cancel. She looks at Marc sadly and says…”Marc…your father is dead..”. He reminds her that she just asked if they were planning on visiting his “parents”. She denies ever saying it. He thinks he’s losing it. The trip to Bali comes up…and she says that they have never been to Bali. The night with their friends comes up…she denies that they even have such friends. Marc escapes to the bedroom to sleep.

  Agnes drugs Marc….and calls his boss Bruno over to their house. Marc wakes up…groggy…and overhears Bruno and Agnes plotting to have him committed to an insane asylum. Marc struggles to his feet, gets dressed, and despite Agnes and Bruno’s protests….he leaves the house. Too disoriented to drive, Marc flags down a cab. He instructs the cab driver to take him to his parents house. Despite living in the same town…he cannot quite direct the cab driver to his parents house. Outside the cab it’s pouring rain. From the cab he calls Agnes and instructs her and Bruno to meet him at his parents house. When they leave he returns home…grabs his passport…and heads to the airport.

  Marc flies to Hong Kong. What? Yeah…anyways…once in Hong Kong Marc boards a ferry…then another. seemingly traveling without a destination. After another ferry ride he pays some fishermen to let him ride with them. On this ride he stares at his cellphone…contemplates calling Agnes…but instead tosses his phone into the river. After exiting that boat, Marc makes his way to a remote hotel and checks in. At some point he writes a postcard to Agnes…describing what she means to him. The next morning Marc walks around the village before stopping to have breakfast. His facial hair at this point is an unruly, unkempt, full beard and moustache. After breakfast he heads back to his room….where he finds…

  …Agnes. What? No really. And she’s acting like they have been there the whole time on holiday. She tells him to get ready as tonight they are going out to meet some friends. Agnes wonders aloud what he would look like without his moustache. He shaves….and shaves it off. She says it looks cute…and tell him he’s handsome. She makes fun of his ugly new jacket. They have their dinner with her friends…and head back to their room. Agnes tells him that if he didn’t like her friends…they wouldn’t hang out with them again. He says they were fine…and at some point along their walk he tosses the postcard he had written to her off the boardwalk and into the river.

  The movie ends with Marc laying in bed…closing his eyes…and the postcard sinking into the darkness of the river.

  ~Fin.

  What the fuck did I just watch? Sitting there in front of my television…I couldn’t figure it out. Was it a David Lynchesque “weird for the sake of being weird” movie? Was it a sci-fi tale of alternate universes linked by one mans facial hair? Was it some Kafkaesque metaphor that I’ll never be cool or hip enough to understand? I didn’t get it. And I’m not ashamed to say that I’m usually pretty good at this type stuff. You know…finding the underlying message in a film. Usually I’m spot on. Heck..I’m pretty sure I was the first one to point out that Jurassic Park 2 was just a metaphor for the Korean War.

  So it stuck with me. Even a few days after I saw it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I think it was the end that was bugging me the most. How did Agnes find him when he didn’t even seem to know where he was going? And why was she acting like they’d been there all along? Hmmm. I was starting to think this movie was like a Rubik’s cube…nobody would ever solve it. I didn’t even have a reasonable theory….at least one that didn’t fall apart at the end. I was focused on Agnes and her role in the story. The whole time it seemed like she was up to something. I just didn’t trust her. Then it hit me. The reason I didn’t trust her is because Marc didn’t trust her.

  Here’s what I think. The majority of this movie…up until Marc steps out to have breakfast in Hong Kong….is just a dream. Or a peak into Marc’s anxieties. But let’s stay here in the shallow water and call it a dream. Marc has some issues. For one…and this is the big one…he doesn’t trust his wife. Not at all. During the entire dream, she is cast in an untrustworthy light. Their conversation about her “tarty” outfits is just another layer of that mistrust. The dinner with her ex, his story from their ski trip, the jacket he buys to please her, they way they each react to the changes at their favorite restaurant….they all tell a similar story. Marc’s marriage is in trouble. Besides not trusting his wife, he’s starting to question his role in the relationship. He’s starting to wrestle with the perceived loss of his personal identity. He’s starting to wonder if he still holds her interest. Call it a mid-life crisis. The dream extends to include his job and his parents. His boss is present when Agnes drugs him with the intention of having him committed. And when he doesn’t acknowledge the death of his father. Marc has some shit he needs to deal with.

  There are a few dreamlike instances thrown in. In the cab searching for his parents house, he can’t see outside his window because of the torrential rain that is pounding on the windows. Water is a big theme throughout the dream. Another example is how a restaurant that is very familiar to them…is suddenly different. I don’t know. I could be wrong.

  La Moustache is a really good movie. The directing, the cinematography, the music, the acting…it’s all top notch. It’s worth checking out and coming up with your own theory. Like I said, it stuck with me for awhile after I watched it. Even though I found it confusing and bizarre….I enjoyed it. I still have a few lingering questions (What was the deal with the postcard?) and i’ll probably never truly understand it. But it was good. You should watch it.

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Super Carnitas reviews The Box (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 by supercarnitas

Writer – Richard Kelly

Director – Richard Kelly

 

The Box is based on a short story called “Button, Button” written by Richard Matheson. It was first published in Playboy magazine in 1970. I’ve never read it. The short story was the inspiration for an episode of the Twilight Zone…the episode was also titled “Button, Button.” I’ve never seen it. Now….if someone had asked me a few weeks ago if I had seen that episode of the Twilight Zone where the couple was presented with a box with a button on it, and they were told pressing the button would make them wealthy…but a random person would die because of it…I would have probably said..uh..yeah..sure. Even though I hadn’t. And it’s not because I’m a liar…but because I’ve seen a shit ton of Twilight Zones. In various states of inebriation. So the odds are…yeah..I’ve seen it. It sounds familiar enough in a Monkey’s Paw-ish kind of way….doesn’t it? But having learned it was an epsiode of the 80’s…color…version of The Twilight Zone…I can say with a great deal of confidence that I’ve never seen it. Now I mention this for two reasons. One – Although I’m aware of the concept, I have no preconceived notion of how it’s going to play out, and Two – maybe there’s a reason the first two incarnations of this story were done in the “short” versions of their respective mediums.

The Box starts out with typed words telling us about an accident involving a scientist. He’s a burn victim and the status of his recovery is mentioned. Some creation of his is also mentioned. It’s vague and ambiguous..but it gives us something to chew on.

The movie starts with a package being left on the doorstep of a young couple. Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden) Lewis. The film is set in 1976 so the couple have no qualms about opening this strange, unmarked box right there on their kitchen table. Their young son Walter even joins in, curious despite his pre-teen aloof-coolness.

Inside the package is a box. A wooden box with a button (under a glass dome) on top of it. There is a key hole on the front of the box…but no key to be found. Instead they find a note saying to expect a visit from a Mr. Steward at 5 p.m. that evening. The family kinda shrugs it off and goes about their day. And here’s where they start to lose me.

Marsden never really looks like he knows what he wants to do with the Arthur Lewis role. He really looks lost and disconnected throughout the entire film. And maybe it’s not his fault. He’s supposed to be a NASA engineer and an aspiring astronaut…but he’s not given dialogue to support his position. We know he had a role in designing a 360 degree, panoramic camera….and umm…we know he spends his work days designing a prosthetic foot for his hot, gimpy wife. We learn his dreams of being an astronaut are shot down because he failed the psych evaluation. And we learn that this kinda bums him out.

Cameron Diaz is simply unequipped as an actress to give life to Norma Lewis. We see her at work as a (philosophy?) teacher in and expensive…exclusive…private school. She’s lecturing her class on the works of Jean-Paul Sartre. Really? (Camus can do, but Sartre is smartre.) Sorry…I just don’t buy it coming from Cameron Diaz. (Scooby Doo can doo doo but Jimmy Carter is smarter). As she is attempting to explain Sartre’s proclamation that “hell is other people” she is derailed by a student who asks about her “limp”. With minimal effort the student gets her to expose her deformed foot to the entire class. “Hell is other people…seeing you as you really are.” Lame.

At 5 p.m. Arlington Steward arrives at the Lewis household and explains the details of the box to Norma. It’s simple really. If she pushes the button..someone she doesn’t know..dies…and she receives one million dollars. Tax free. She has twenty-four hours to make her decision…and she is only allowed to discuss it with her husband. Nobody else. Half of Mr. Stewards face is missing…which is unsettling in it’s own right. He leaves her the key and promises to return in 24 hours.

So we have the Nasa engineer and the deep-thinking philosopher discussing this moral dilemma that faces them. Get ready for some compelling dialogue regarding the consequences of their decision. “So someone we don’t know dies. What if it’s someone’s baby?” “What if it’s a mass murderer on death row?” Ugh. Shove me into the shallow water before I get too deep.

Marsden and Diaz have zero chemistry. I don’t buy the fact that they’re smart, professional people. I don’t buy the fact that they are in love. Not even a little bit. They seem like strangers sharing a house…oh and there’s a kid. Still not buying it. So already..the heart and soul of the movie is lost on me. And that’s assuming this movie had any heart or soul to begin with.

After the deep, existential, discussion on perceived morals and ethics…Norma presses the button. Done and done. A million bucks and someone dies. Mr. Steward drops off the money and collects the box…assuring the couple that the next test subject will be someone they “don’t know”. Oooh ominous and creepy.

From here the film can best be described as a sudo-philosophical, morally ambiguous, sci-fi, clusterfuck. It manages to be both heavy-handed in it’s exposition and confusing in what it chooses to leave unexplained. Oh..you want examples. Okay.

We’re led to believe that Mr. Steward is in fact a Martian. A Martian who has taken over his human form and is now testing mankind for some reason. The simple fact his name is Steward (one who does another’s bidding)…tells us all we need to know. He even explains at some point that humankind will always suffer as long as the individual chooses self gratification over the good of the species. Yawn. Oh I wish I was a better person. Fuck you Martian. Get off of your high horse and stop bitching. We get it. We suck. Shit must be way better on Mars. Dick.

And what’s the deal with the 360 degree camera? The picture in the basement…hey that’s Steward…and….so? What did I miss?

I can’t even explain to you what happens leading up to the end of the film. Most of it doesn’t even make any sense. Steward seems to be able to mentally control a lot of the townfolk. Start counting the nosebleeds. But the shots of the townfolk…almost zombified…turning and staring blankly at the camera. Ugh. It’s been done to death since Invasion of the Body Snatchers…and it does nothing for me anymore. There are these watery pillars and a motel pool that acts as a portal to…ahh i just don’t give a fuck. I don’t care.

That might be my biggest problem with this film. I just don’t care. The film or it’s characters are never interesting enough to suck me in. It never grabs me. An hour into it and I’m already clock watching. It has me hoping someone, somewhere, is pushing a button on a box that will put me out of my misery. God bless em.

The one interesting thing I took from this film….is that 3 people in the movie end up pushing the button. Each of them are female. I can see this being interpreted two ways. One – It’s misogynistic. Insinuating that women are easily lured by material things without considering the consequences of their actions. Our morality is defined by our ability to choose in real situations. In the hypothetical…we’re all saints. When confronted with “real” situations, our choices define us. Kelly could be saying that women lack the moral fortitude to make these choices. Or Two – Women are ultimately the givers (and takers) of life. The closest living thing to God. Only a women can give birth, so only a woman..right or wrong…should be allowed to press the button. Kelly could be putting women on a pedestal here. Or it could all be one happy coincidence.

Whatever it is…it’s pretty lame. There are consequences for pressing the button. Dire consequences. And I’m talking about the “play” button on your remote.

This film suffers from a message that is so heavy-handed that it stops being interesting, and is so confusing that you just stop trying to figure it out. There are some great visuals…but not enough to hold your interest. Comparisons to Kubrick’s work are incredibly generous…but ultimately fall short in every important regard. The concept is great and should inspire spirited debate but I feel it was best presented in it’s intended “short” form. Stretching the idea out into a feature length film rendered it a flimsy, gossamer, version of what it was intended to be.

I think Kelly is best served sticking to the dark humor slash sci-fi films…like Donnie Darko. This film was humorless and just plodded along. I wanted to like it. I really did. But i didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

Super Carnitas reviews The Walking Dead (2010)

Posted in Uncategorized on November 7, 2010 by supercarnitas

Season 1, Epsiode 1

Based on the comic series The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

Brought to life by Frank Darabont

Let me start by saying that I have been a faithful reader of Kirkman’s comic series since it’s inception. I love the concept and the genre. Kirkman is a masterful plotter and keeps the reader hooked with plenty of tension and surprises. Where Kirkman tends to lose me is on the journey from point A to point B, or point L to point M. I often find his dialogue tedious and forced. His characters suffer for it. Conceptually the characters have tons of potential, but Kirkman consistently falls short in making them realize that potential. Don’t get me wrong, I love the comic despite Kirkman’s shortcomings. And it’s not all terrible, sometimes he shows flashes of brilliance. I’ve just always wondered what it would be like if someone else took Kirkman’s ideas…and fleshed them out. Enter Frank Darabont. Let’s see what happens.

Darabont wastes no time in letting us know what kind of show we’re getting. In the opening scene we find Rick…the main character…confronting a zombie at an abandoned gas station. He calmly puts it out of it’s misery with a bullet to the brain. Nice. The zombie happens to be a 5 year old girl clutching a teddy bear. Nicer. Not that I advocate violence against children on basic cable..but she was a zombie. C’mon. It’s here where Darabont tells us he’s not going to pull any punches.

After the credits we get a pre-apocalypse Rick sitting in his police cruiser with his partner Shane. They are drinking coffee and complaining about the women in their lives. In this conversation we learn that Rick’s relationship with his wife is strained. Shane’s complaints are innocuous, but Rick reveals himself to be wounded early on here.

From there we get the setup. Rick gets shot and hospitalized. Shane is shown to be a sympathetic…and true friend. We even see him bring Rick flowers…just before it all goes to hell. Rick wakes up a couple of weeks later and has no idea what is going on. Now we all know what’s going on…zombies…but Rick has no idea. Darabont does a great job here with the slow reveal. The hospital is a house of horrors, and it only gets worse once Rick finally finds his way outside. The landscape is littered with body bags, most showing blood stains around the head.

 

Rick wanders into his neighborhood and finds his house deserted. Confused and afraid he wanders back out into the street…and slumps down on a stoop. He sees a walker in the distance, yet he remains unfazed…still unaware of the danger he is in. If only there was someone to explain it all to him…

 

After a blow to the head Rick gets filled in by a couple of survivors. A man and his young son who have shored up in the house of one of Rick’s neighbors. It takes Rick awhile to come to grips with what’s going on. Darabont doesn’t rush it. His pacing, up to this point, has been perfectly deliberate. The man and his boy (Morgan and Duane) share their sad story with Rick. Soon we meet Morgan’s wife….in the form of a zombie. If it hasn’t sunk in with Rick yet….it absolutely does when he makes eye contact with said zombie through the front door peephole…and with the rattling of the doorknob.

 

As the episode goes on we learn a few things. We learn the zombies have faint memories of their former lives. We learn that there is word out that it is safe in Atlanta. We learn that Rick’s wife and son (Lori and Carl) are camped outside of Atlanta with a group of survivors…including his former partner Shane. We learn that Shane and Lori have become more than friends. We learn that zombies enjoy horse meat. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

After showering, shaving, and arming themselves to the teeth at the local police station…Rick and Morgan part ways. Rick decides to head to Atlanta while Morgan decides to stay back with his son. Rick’s journey begins here and it kicks off with him putting a bullet between the eyes of a fellow police officer turned zombie. Darabont is at his best during this scene. A chain link fence seperates the two. Rick studies his former colleague before pulling the trigger. I expected the scene to cut away with the blast, as the gun was fired, but Darabont stayed with it. We see the bullet explode through the back of the zombies head, and we see him slump down against the fence…finally at peace. Good stuff.

 

As Rick makes his way towards Atlanta he ditches his cruiser (out of gas) for a horse. He spies a helicopter overhead. He’s confronted by a horde…and he eventually finds himself inside an abandoned army tank. Don’t ask. Once he disposes of the zombie soldier inside the tank…he receives a transmission over the tank’s radio. Someone saw him…and knows he’s there.

 

I had high hopes for this series, and I have to say, the first episode exceeded all of them. The zombies were top notch. The crawling-torso woman was a highlight. I was concerned that the gore would be toned down, and I actually hoped they would present the series in black and white so they could get away with more carnage. Umm…turns out it’s not going to be an issue. That poor horse.

 

Having read the comics, it’s interesting meeting these characters for the first time…yet already knowing their fates. I’m curious to see how close Darabont sticks to the source material. Like I said before, there is room for improvement there. I expect to be surprised along the way. I look forward to watching the story unfold. It’s off to a great start.

Super Carnitas reviews Observe and Report

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 by supercarnitas

Writer – Jody Hill

Director – Jody Hill

A funny thing happened in 2009…there were two mall cop movies. I’m pretty sure, in the entire history of mainstream, American film….there had never been a mall cop movie, and in 2009 we got two. One was a light-hearted, marginally successful, cookie-cutter…family…comedy. The other was Observe and Report.

If this film was advertised to show what it actually was…I would have seen it in theaters. But no, the clips and commercials I’d seen made it look like just another Seth Rogen comedy. Which isn’t really a bad thing..I just was in no rush to see it. So I ended up not seeing it…until a couple of days ago. Holy shit.

Now I have to admit…my friend Conor once said to me..something like…”Hey…you should see Observe and Report. It’s pretty dark…I think you’d like it.” That comment has always lingered in my head…but still…I never really made an effort to see it….until a couple of days ago. Holy shit.

Seth Rogen is pitch-perfect as Ronnie…head security guard at the local mall. His role is established early on as we see him dressing down a couple of co-workers and in another scene where he is being interviewed by a local news reporter. The news reporter disrespects him and it leads to the movies first hilarious line…”I’m standing here with this doctor.”.

The story starts off with a flasher exposing himself to women in the mall parking lot. This gives Ronnie something to focus on. A case. It also sets up our introduction to Brandi (Anna Faris)….the makeup girl in the department store. The most beautiful girl in the entire mall…according to Ronnie. And me. Ronnie promises to keep her safe from the perverted flasher. She’s uninterested at best.

So far..it’s pretty much your run of the mill comedy. But then we get a peek at what this movie really is. A tiny peek. Ronnie….and the two Asian twin security guards that work with him…are at a shooting range. They are firing off a variety of assault weapons with deadly accuarcy…and complaining about not being allowed to carry guns as mall security guards. Tazers and mace is all they are allowed to carry. Jody Hill brilliantly sets the tone for the film with this scene.

From here the movie is delivered to us through a series of events. Of course most movies unfold through a series of events, but the events in this movie come at us like the ticks of a ticking time bomb. With each scene we get another tick. With each tick comes a greater sense of unease. With each tick our impending doom becomes more real. Our every instinct tells us to brace for the inevitable explosion…but does it come? Hmmm. I’m not sure it does. Let’s see.

A detective (Ray Liotta) arrives to investigate the flasher case after Brandi….the hottest girl in the mall…is flashed. Ronnie, who has a huge crush on Brandi, promised to keep her safe. He didn’t. His attempts to console Brandi fail simply because he doesn’t have the skill set to console another human being. The detective steps in and manages to calm Brandi’s nerves.

(Tick)

A store in the mall is robbed…after hours. Ronnie arrives on the scene…as does the detective. Ronnie starts tossing out accusations without anything to back them up. In the process he reveals himself to be racist and simple-minded. His intentions are good, but they are clearly lining his road to hell.

(Tick)

Ronnie befriends Nell. A woman in a wheelchair who works at a coffee shop in the mall. She greets him each morning with a free cup of coffee.

(Tick)

Ronnie…in an effort to recapture some of his rapidly dwindling stature…decides to join the police force. He learns that he should take a “ride along” with a police officer to see if it’s really for him. He decides to take an impromptu “ride along” with the very same detective that has been encroaching on his territory at the mall. The detective ends up dropping Ronnie off at a very dangerous street corner where he is confronted by a half-dozen, violent, crack dealers. Ronnie  brutally deals with the crack dealers and returns to the police station. There he hugs the detective and thanks him for the opportunity.

(Tick)

The layers are peeling away from Ronnie.

(Tick)

Ronnie convinces Brandi to go on a date with him. Seth Rogen is at his best here. His intentions are sweet and true. Childlike. We learn that Ronnie was a special needs child….and his special needs drove his father to leave him and his mother. We assume his special needs drove his mother to alcoholism.

(Tick)

The date is hard to watch. It begins with Brandi not even remembering it in the first place, trying to blow it off…then reluctantly going along. She drinks her way through dinner and only remotely shows interest in Ronnie when she learns that he has prescription meds on him. In a seemingly chivalrous gesture, Ronnie gives the remainder of his meds to Brandi…who indulges in them without hesitation. The drugs and the booze render Brandi incapacitated. She pukes as Ronnie leads her to her front door. The date ends with Ronnie essentially raping Brandi. There is a line thrown in to make it seem consentual…but he’s raping her.

I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a rape scene in Paul Blart Mall Cop.

(Tick)

It’s time for the pivotal scene in the movie. Ronnie’s psych exam. Ronnie must pass this psych exam to be considered a candidate for the police force. During the interview process Ronnie tells us about a dream he has “most nights”. In this dream he’s happy and joyful until a “cloud of bad things” approaches. He takes it upon himself to systematically blow away everyone and everything that stands in his way with his trusty shotgun. In his dream he saves the day and becomes everyone’s hero. He ends the telling of this dream by mockingly shooting his shotgun repeatedly at the interviewer..and smiling.

(Tick)

Ronnie leaves the mall and goes to the police station where he learns he failed his psych exam and didn’t make the force. The detective attempts to mock him while delivering the news by having another officer hide in the closet and listen in. In a rare example of a character summing up an entire movie in one line…the officer, as he exits the closet, says “i thought this was going to be funny…but it’s just sad.”

(Tick)

Ronnie, defeated, goes back to his job at the mall. The girl he gets coffee from every morning is being harassed by her manager. Ronnie steps in and defends her.

(Tick)

It’s close now. The bomb is about to go off. Ronnie…near the end of his rope…connects with Dennis (Michael Pena)…his top security guard. The pair bond through drugs and mayhem. At the peak of their bonding…Dennis reveals himself to be a criminal. He offers Ronnie a chance to be his partner in crime. Ronnie refuses…and is knocked out for his decision. Dennis escapes.

(Tick)

Ronnie…at his lowest point, decides to go undercover to catch the flasher in an attempt to redeem himself. Instead he discovers Brandi and the detective having sex in her car. He confronts Brandi in the mall and smashes a jewelry case to illustrate his frustration. Ronnie loses his job….and refuses to leave the mall…the police arrive..

(Tick)

(Tick….Tick…..boom?)

The police try to subdue Ronnie and he attacks them violently. VIOLENTLY. Taking out at least 6 of them with a flashlight before being taken down and arrested.

(Boom)

In my opinion the movie ends here. I won’t reveal the ending, but I believe the conclusion only exists inside Ronnie’s head. It’s his dream…made real. It’s too good to be true. Ronnie gets arrested…he sits in jail…and we’re treated with his delusions to wrap it all up with a nice little bow. The ticking time bomb that was Ronnie didn’t explode in the end…but fizzled out and failed.

I loved this movie. It was mostly sad…but also really hilarious. Really dark too. Taxi Driver in a mall isn’t much of a stretch. Rogen, Faris, and Liotta were all solid in their roles. And the cameos by Patton Oswalt, Danny McBride, and Aziz Ansari were all golden. There are times when this movie almost starts mocking itself…it kinda walks the line but never really crosses it.

In ten years…people should still be talking about this movie. If they aren’t, then there’s something wrong with people.

“I thought this was going to be funny, but instead it’s just sad.”

 

 

 

 

 

Super Carnitas reviews Where the Wild Things Are

Posted in Uncategorized on October 5, 2010 by supercarnitas

Where the Wild Things Are – 2009

Writer – Spike Jonze, David Eggers

Director – Spike Jonze

Based on the book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

I intentionally avoided this movie when it was released in theaters. I suppose it was because I absolutely expected to be disappointed. The book never really left an impression on me as a child. My fondest memory….is really disconnected from the book itself. In kindergarten, the library in my school had a huge mural of Max leading the Wild Things through the forest. Max looked proud and confident….the monsters happily marching in tow. The monsters scared me a bit. A tiny bit. Years later I read the book. I loved the way the book looked. It was different….odd…and beautiful. The story though….it was forgettable. It never stuck with me. The art and the images stayed with me forever.

Plus…the book is so short. In my mind the story was weak to begin with. I couldn’t imagine a film stretching something so thin…without tearing it. Friends who saw it told me it was great. These same friends were psyched to see it months before it was released. I wasn’t convinced.

Were it not for the glory of Netflix I may have never seen this film. I haphazardly add films to my 500 count Netflix queue..and I randomize said queue about once a month. It’s just what I do. Where the Wild Things Are purely showed up by happy accident…or fate. Whatever.

I loved this movie. Love may not even be a strong enough term. I expected nothing but cool visuals from this movie….and yet somehow it managed to kick me in the gut. I sat and watched this movie alone, in my apartment. My phone was turned off…the lights were out…i may have been a tad inebriated…but you know. This movie just floored me. When it was over…I hit stop on the remote…and I just sat there in the dark for maybe 6 or 7 minutes.

I was rattled. I can’t remember the last movie that had such an effect on me.

Where the Wild Things Are is not a kids movie. It just isn’t. And maybe the book isn’t really a kids book…I have yet to revisit it. But I would imagine that kids would be bored with this movie. It’s pace is deliberate and intentional. There is no huge payoff…or clear cut good guys and bad guys. This movie isn’t for kids….yet it was marketed as such. Another reason I put off seeing it for so long.

I’m sorry…but this movie was made for adult men. That’s not to say that women..or girls can”t appreciate Where the Wild Things Are. On some level they can. I’m sure there are guys who appreciated Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants…on some level. I’m just saying, if you’re not an adult male, it wasn’t designed for you. Just like Glenn Beck isn’t designed for smart people…yet some smart people get sucked in.

Wow…have I even started talking about the movie yet?

In my opinion…the angst and confusion that exists inside the mind of a 9 year old boy has never been captured so perfectly. Max starts off immediately feeling alienated. His sister and her friends embarrass him…then his mother makes him feel small…and unimportant. He’s sent to bed early….so he flees.

Max finds himself amongst the Wild Things. His first encounter with them finds him witnessing one of the monsters (Carol) destroying a bunch of huts….much to the dismay of his fellow monsters. Max decides to jump in and help/join Carol in the destruction. From there….the Wild Things (monsters) (demons) eventually decide to eat Max.

Max promises the Wild Things (monsters) (demons) that he has special powers. He was a King before…and he could be a King again. A King of this place. The bones and the crown in the fire pit…tell another story. But the monsters (demons) want to be contained. They want a King. So they give Max a chance.

Now here’s where the movie become something else. Max is King. As King he acts like a nine year old would be expected to act. His visions are grand and self-serving. His schemes short-sighted and ambiguous. He’s confronted with things he’s never had to deal with before. Jealousy, dependence, envy, limitations, and consequences for his actions. His every action falls short…and the monsters (demons) start to doubt him. They press him to show his special powers…and when they realize he has none….things fall apart. He eventually heads home…his mother embraces him…and who knows what happens going forward.

Here’s what kicked me in the gut. I’m no psychologist…or whatever….but this movie tapped into something in me. Something i’ve left exposed and vulnerable. I think it’s about confronting and controlling our demons. Jealousy, alcoholism, fear, hatred, ego, control issues, anger…etc. The bones in the fire pit tell us that sometimes the monsters (demons) devour us. We proclaim ourselves King…but more often than not…it’s not enough.

I love that the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are…never stop being MONSTERS. Even at their sweetest and most concerned…they never stop being monsters (demons). They are imposing, potentially evil, and scary.

Sometimes the monsters (demons) win. I feel Max spent his time learning that simple fact. What happens next is up to him. But what Max wrestles with on his journey can’t help but feel familiar. I personally still wrestle with some of these issues…daily..and it’s been a long time since I’ve been 9.

Where the Wild Things Are struck an chord in me. It really touched me. There’s no way the book can be as good as the film. If it’s even close…wow. I need to go revisit Harold and the Purple Crayon. What have I been missing?

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