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Gaspar Noe’s ‘Love 3D’ Is Not One Worth Pursuing

Gaspar Noe’s ‘Love 3D’ Is Not One Worth Pursuing

Gaspar Noe’s ‘Love 3D’ Lacks Emotional Punch

French director Gaspar Noe has won fans in these parts with risk-taking filmmaking featuring ingenious camera work and script construction in the past with Irreversible and Enter The Void. His latest effort, the long gestating Love 3D, aims to push further boundaries and effectively portray emotional sex (unsimulated) in a relationship on screen. The results are sure to divide, but in this estimation, that’s hard to imagine.

Love stars Karl Glausman (Murphy) or in some ways, more specifically, his Johnson and acting newcomers Klara Kristin (Omi) and Aomi Muyock (Electra) and their respective bodies. Murphy is stuck living with Omi due to an unwanted pregnancy (and subsequent birth of son Gaspar) and the failure of his relationship with Electra. The film opens with Electra stroking Murphy in bed in full view and if you’re the type of viewer who would feel uncomfortable watching this sort of thing, you might as well tune out now. The sexual relationship between Murphy and Electra is told in flashbacks as he dwells on his past to forget about his present with Omi and son.

A rare non-sexual moment in 'Love 3D'

Love is a mix up of sorts of both his aforementioned films as well as 2011’s Shame and 2013’s Blue is the Warmest Color. The film has a chronography that eventually you kind of get into but the storyline of their relationship is rail thin, evoking what was said to be a 7-page shooting script. The largely poor dialogue seems improvised, acting weak and the sex is beyond gratuitous. Perhaps most disappointingly, Noe fails to show off his usual visual flair, sticking with more basic one shots of coitous and its varieties. Yes, you get your expected 3D money shot as well as 69, head, group sex and transsexual interactions. All very appealing, I’m sure.

It might be worth enduring if there was more of a story to follow. You certainly don’t care about the characters. Murphy regularly calls both of these women cunts, for no specific reason in the case of Omi. He simply detests himself and his situation as near as I can tell. You have no sense of why he fell in love with Electra or whether it was genuine love or not. The couple repeat young love mantras of sticking together and never leaving eachother, yet each fool around with other people, perhaps to show the challenge of monogamy. None of this adds up to anything of substance. FWIW, the 3D portion of the film adds very little, save for your requisite, well, you know.

In the end there are a few messages hidden throughout (European vs. Western philosophies) and a theoretically emotionally wrenching finale, where the toddler Gaspar (is this autobiographical in some ways for the director?) shines in a sterling acting role. If this was earned it would hit home, but as it is, it’s a limp finish for one of the only times in the film. Snicker, snicker. Love fails to capture the title or the director’s intent and is the lesser of all the other titles mentioned in this review. Emotionally charged it may be, but it’s ultimately too hollow for anyone to care.

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A Long Road to Nowhere: The Experience of Watching ‘Boyhood’ – A Review

A Long Road to Nowhere: The Experience of Watching ‘Boyhood’ – A Review

A Long Road to Nowhere: The Experience of Watching ‘Boyhood’ – A Review

Considering the critical praise that has been leveled on the odds-on Oscar favorite Boyhood, a viewer can surely go in hoping that film would be a worthwhile experience. With Patricia Arquette, director Richard Linklater and the film itself bagging award wins everywhere, I wish I could say I did not expect the film to be what it is – a snoozefest leading to nowhere. I hate to be that guy – the bearer of bad news – and hate being right sometimes.

Boyhood spans twelve years, capturing a boy and his somewhat dysfunctional family’s experiences over that time frame. The film felt like it took twelve years (2:45 runtime to be exact) to finish with zero payoff. I think Linklater is being lauded for presenting life as he believes the experience to be like. Kids and parents growing up or growing old and little experiences along the way that shape who they are and what they do or do not achieve. This may be true on a surface level but is certainly not something that any of us need to watch to capture.

The boy dramatically changes hairstyles and fingernail color, throughout 'Boyhood.'

The boy dramatically changes hairstyles and fingernail color, throughout ‘Boyhood.’

Arquette plays a mother to a boy and his sister; she is divorced/separated from Ethan Hawke, the boy’s father at the beginning of the film. Hawke spins his wheels while the single mother Arquette soldiers on. We see her relationships with men and the effect it has on their kids. All of this is in theory fine and dandy. The problem is, there is no captivating storyline to keep us engaged in the proceedings. Again, I see Linklater winking at the audience (“just like life!” he says), alas, that is not entirely true. Life is far more interesting than the stilted dialogue and overhyped performances seen here. The boy is by no means good, while Arquette and Hawke are serviceable, but the concept is clearly what has attracted audiences to this film, but…nothing happens.

I can in no way recommend this movie. Regardless of the director’s intentions and meanings, movies should generally have some narrative, but this doesn’t. One could argue that taking a child and having him eventually move out of the house to become an adult is narrative enough, but the wooden performances from nearly everyone involved has me seriously questioning Linklater’s talents as a writer and director. Speaking of directing, the film lacks any flair or visually interesting shots. To that end, I truly believe that a film school student could do just as well as this in most cases. I’d like to say I am shocked, but my faith in the film and those that heap praise upon it has long ago been swallowed up by the drain hole. To review this on a bad/good scale is almost pointless. It simply is not that well done, conceived or most importantly, entertaining. Skip it and live your own life instead.

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AFI Fest Movie Screenings: Read About Mary Elizabeth Winstead in ‘Faults’ Review

AFI Fest Movie Screenings: Read About Mary Elizabeth Winstead in ‘Faults’ Review

AFI Fest Movie Screenings: Mary Elizabeth Winstead in ‘Faults’ Review

As anyone who likes movies knows, there are times when what you enjoy differs far from the rest of the populous. With a film festival, rarely do you have other opinions to go on. You have to just scour the descriptions and maybe see a trailer in order to determine which films to see. In choosing to see “Faults,” I was not hamstrung by such little information. I did have a recommendation. It was from the same person who drove me to see “Wild Tales,” which I loved. “Faults” was supposed to be a thriller about mind control. It happened to star one of the biggest names (in an independent film) in the festival, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The cast spoke during a Q&A afterward, one of them being Lance Reddick (Cedric Daniels from “The Wire”), all waxing rhapsodic about how urgently they wanted to be involved based on the script. To be honest, it knocked my respect down for him a peg. At least with Winstead, she has built-in excuse of being the writer-director’s (Riley Stearns) wife.

Winstead is not the problem at all here. Nor is her co-star, Leland Orser. In fact, they’re commended for doing yeoman’s work with the material. Orser plays Ansel Roth, a pathetic and broken down mind control “expert.” At least that’s how he passes himself off. He’s written a couple of books and used to have a TV show, but has fallen into such a downward spiral (perhaps caused by an unfortunate incident with a subject years beforehand) that he performs seminars at hotels for crowds of less than twenty people (if you can call less than twenty people at a seminar “a crowd”; some people think three is enough). He has no money to pay for food, attempting to reuse a free-meal hotel voucher he cashed in the day before. He wears the same lifeless brown suit on a daily basis. And he owes a financial debt to his manager under the threat of physical force doled out by Mick (Reddick).

Ansel is given life when, during one of his seminars, he is approached by a couple who feels they’ve lost their 28-year-old daughter, Claire (Winstead), to a cult called “Faults” (put an article like “the” in front of their name and be verbally beheaded). Ansel is hired to find her, deprogram her warped mind and restore the child her parents know and love. They’ll pay handsomely enough to remove Ansel from his underwater finances. However, the stress of his past failures entangle him with Claire to the point of where it’s no longer clear whom is controlling the mind of whom.

“Are you seriously asking me to give my best for this thing?”

The pity prize of the day is that at least the film looks good. Thanks to the progression of digital cameras, no longer are film festival indies reduced to looking like as ragged as Kevin Smith’s “Clerks.” But, that hasn’t been the case for a while now.  Visuals need to be supported by other storytelling elements. I mentioned acting was not the issue. In fact, I would say it’s superb. Stearns was smart enough to turn the camera toward his wife and let her give a performance she’s not often afforded the luxury of being able to give. A big hand should be given to Orser, too, whom I only recognized from a line or two in “Saving Private Ryan,” but has the leading man qualities actors normally given those roles lack. I’d be very pleased to see him have another starring turn.

As for the film, I’d be just as pleased to never see it again. Stearns said afterward that he was obsessed with cults and mind control when he was younger. Obsessed-over subjects turned into movies tend to go just a couple of ways. They can excel as a labor of love or the filmmaker can assume the audience knows just as much about the subject as they do, barring the viewer from ever actually stepping into their world. It’s certainly more the latter than the former. Although the cast raved about the life the script had, it appeared stillborn when committed to screen. The experience was devoid of little suspense or tension, just a few bouts of weirdness and a twist about as shocking as a little hand buzzer you might encounter at Spencer’s Gifts for a dollar. Someone please send Ansel Roth to deprogram this movie from my memory.

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Danny Boyle’s ‘Trance’ Puts Viewers in Mind-Spinning State: A Review

Danny Boyle’s ‘Trance’ Puts Viewers in Mind-Spinning State: A Review

Danny Boyle’s ‘Trance’ Puts Viewers in Mind-Spinning State: A Review 

Simon (James McAvoy) is an auctioneer indebted to criminals in Trance. When an absurdly expensive painting is stolen by Simon to help clear his debt, an accident occurs (he gets knocked in the dome) which leads to his obtaining amnesia. The rest of the film deals with uncovering the whereabouts of the painting.

To find out where the painting is, the criminal group, led by Franck (Vincent Cassel), goes the usual rout of torture. When that doesn’t work, they enlist a sexy psychiatrist/hypnotist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to unlock Simon’s mind. Eventually, she becomes embroiled in the plot heavily, trying to help find the painting due to her own boredom (or not). The plot weaves tangled strands of yarn in various directions as the con-game is played out in the film and on the audience.

‘Trance’ attempts to metaphorically blow minds. Subtle.

Trance is stylishly shot, with neon hues and warped camera work, and includes a solid, pulse-pounding soundtrack. The beauty can’t cover up its convoluted plot that shows itself layer by layer until all is “explained” in the end. These sorts of films can work (Confidence comes to mind), keeping the audience guessing in a whodunit fashion. However, Boyle’s piece seems too contrived and focused on style over substance.

This was billed as a return to Trainspotting-like form for Boyle in some parts. Alas, this simply is not the case. Perhaps the blame lies with the script, based on heavy trickery and deception. Perhaps Boyle deserves some wrist slapping too, since a director of his caliber should be able to do better. Films that need this much explanation rather than simply having the audience watch something unfold tend to fail. Regardless of Dawson’s full frontal sighting, Trance will leave you less dazed and more confused than Richard Linklater’s coming of age classic. In the end, that is simply not enough.

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Vince Vaughn Backed ‘The Internship’ (2013) Movie Review

Vince Vaughn Backed ‘The Internship’ (2013) Movie Review

Vince Vaughn Backed ‘The Internship’ (2013) Movie Review

Reliable comedic duo (depending on who you ask) Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, re-team for the fish out of water comedy, The Internship. The movie delivers a storyline that their aging stars and many Americans alike would theoretically be able to relate to, that of a changing world after losing the only career that they’ve ever known. Cast away to a world where their skills may not be needed, the friends seek to put their lives back together after an ouster from a luxury watch company.

The Internship, which serves as a large-scale ad for Google in many ways (not a good one, I might add), sees the affable duo improbably land an interview (with fake resumes in part, which are never called into question), then an internship with a shot at full time jobs at the tech behemoth. Google is a corporate playground run by kids with no life experience and that is the advantage the leads can play to survive.

Internship Movie Geeks

The star interns look the part at Google in the bland ‘The Internship.’

The movie was shot for a reported $58mil and made $44 domestic and $93 total after international receipts. The script was penned by Vaughn, which was surprising to me. In many ways, he is the only thing going for it, as it’s cast of geek stars are lame and caricatures at best, with wooden, one-note performances, most notably from Max Minghella (The Social Network). The script is bland and by the numbers with only its stars doing their best to save it from oblivion. Alas, Owen Wilson’s schlubby-schtick is way past its due date, so Vaughn has a go alone and can really only do so much. Rose Byrne co-stars as well.

Directed by Shawn Levy (Night At The Smithsonian), there is nothing notable or particularly poor from him, other than letting a night club scene go on far too long with predictably feeble results. The film tries to tell an uplifting tale about continuing to fight the good fight, but with the end predictable from word one, there is nothing really to root for here. The Internship can’t be saved by semi-genius cameos from Will Ferrell and more shockingly, Rob Riggle. You get a handful of laughs at best, but the cringe-worthy, eye-rolling moments far outnumber them. There’s no way these guys deserve the job or your time.

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Lukas Haas & Madeline Zima Led ‘Crazy Eyes’ Movie Review

Lukas Haas & Madeline Zima Led ‘Crazy Eyes’ Movie Review

Lukas Haas & Madeline Zima Led ‘Crazy Eyes’ Movie Review

Adam Sherman’s 2012 “just another love story” Crazy Eyes is a classic example of how to blow money on a film. The Lukas Haas and Madeline Zima (Californication) led vehicle is about two twenty-somethings looking for love in all the wrong places. Haas’ Zack is a millionaire with a sick bachelor pad in the Hollywood Hills. His spare empty home hides the fact that he is continuously lonely and therefore seeks out companionship from his vast network of trollops a dial away on his cell phone.

crazy eyes pics

Potentially interesting leads go to waste in the dismal ‘Crazy Eyes.’

One such dame is Rebecca (Zima), who like most young adults, particularly in a city that can be as disconnected as L.A., can’t make up her mind about what she wants. Thus, Zack and Rebecca may be perfect for eachother, if we (or they) really cared to find out. Crazy Eyes, Rebecca’s nickname as well as the title of the film, is a series of alcohol-fueled attempts to get laid between Zack and Rebecca. Zack endlessly pursues her (for no discernable reason, other than possibly physically, though he has several others to fill that void) and continuously comes up short. The film is supposed to be fun, real or both, and while it serves a slight glimpse at dating in the modern era in a big city, the script and execution is such a mess it’s a head-scratcher at best.

Crazy Eyes cost a reported $10 million to make. It’s shot in LA and New York, but with the vast majority of scenes filmed in a bar and a house, it’s hard to envision where that money went. Alas, this film is a classic example of “the script, the script, the script” rule, where no amount of money or talent can overcome a bad screenplay. The film earned a whopping $6,106. Yes, you read that right, a massive $84 earned in its “2nd weekend,” consider it a blown cost and a frustrating example of things gone terribly wrong. How the producers and filmmakers could come to an agreement that this was a quality penned film is beyond me. For those wanting to waste 90 minutes and learn what not to do in a movie, feel free to feast your own crazy eyes on this one. Ugh.

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Master of Schlock Spielberg Ups The Ante, A ‘Lincoln’ Review

Master of Schlock Spielberg Ups The Ante, A ‘Lincoln’ Review

‘Lincoln’ Review: Director Steven Spielberg Mocks Audiences & Filmmaking With Biopic

Steven Spielberg has made hands down one of the years most boring films with his awards contender Lincoln. The film, which chronicles the passing of the 13th amendment to the constitution, where Lincoln and constituents freed the slaves, has about as much drama as paint drying. This is a shame, particularly considering the multitude of acting talent that is present for the film, including the sterling lead Daniel Day-Lewis. His Lincoln is unfortunately a reserved, understated gentle man whose convictions manifest themselves in one of thousands of diatribes throughout the picture.

Did I say diatribes? Yes, this film is almost entirely made up of scenes of Lincoln talking to those about the slavery issue with requisite arguing back and forth. Scenes go from the white house to the courtroom to the senate and house floor and on and on and on. No fewer than four different people were heard audibly snoring during the film for a reason. The film has a serious tone and one stamped by a continuous score that tells the audience how we should feel during each scene. A stirring speech about why there shouldn’t be slavery is given, set to the appropriate orchestral backdrop, repeat ad nauseum. Goodness.

Lincoln holds court with the powers that be in a riveting scene. #OrNot

Lincoln did an amazing thing by freeing the slaves. He did the right thing, the constitutional thing and the difficult thing, particularly given the times and opposition he faced. What the audience unfortunately faces in Spielberg’s picture is one that should have been made for the history channel, not on a large screen in a medium far underused for the purposes of this piece. Virtually no scope is to be found in Spielberg’s direction that made this worthy of being a big screen endeavor. The largeness of the ideas at play are ruined by the smallness of his film. It’s remarkable if not entirely predictable.

Spielberg has done this sort of thing before, with Amistad and Schindler’s List coming immediately to mind. The films don’t allow for the viewer to experience any feeling on their own as the themes and strings hammer home the point for you. Spielberg’s film should not be an Oscar contender in many instances (save for costume or set design and DDL’s performance) and the way he has made it, should not have been made for the silver screen. Viewers are left to shake their heads at this missed opportunity.

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Another Earth Movie Review

Another Earth Movie Review

Movie Review of 2011’s Indie Another Earth

When the discovery of a mirror Earth is found in the sky, MIT-bound student Rhoda (Brit Marling) is driving her car, only to look up into the sky for the discovered star. Her distraction from the road causes a fatal accident when her vehicle slams into another, which is carrying a family of (soon to be) four. Rhoda lands in prison for a 4-year stint and her life changes drastically. Another Earth is an ambitious film that takes chances in telling its tale of a possible mirror existence and the outcome of actions.

Upon release from jail, Rhoda is withdrawn and distant, preferring a flat air mattress on a hard floor in the attic to her old cushy bed and bedroom. She takes a janitorial job far beneath her intelligence level, simply to remain as isolated as possible. Ultimately, she becomes curious to meet the man (William Mapother) who survived the coma from her fatal crash and lost his wife, child and child to be in the accident. Their relationship begins slowly but goes to different areas of growth and consequences.

Another Earth Has A Big Story and Performance but Small Budget

First time director Mike Cahill, working with a limited budget (the film is notably grainy and was supposedly shot in 720p) keeps things moody. The film asks several questions about the mirror Earth and would we would do if we could meet ourselves. What type of questions would we ask? What would we say to ourselves? What about alternate universes? Another Earth blends sci-fi, drama, a redemption story, exploration and a love story into a jumbled mix. Cahill knows this all too well, which is why the film ultimately fails. Cahill knows that the film can’t be properly marketed and audiences “won’t get what they are expecting.”

Brit Marling in Another Earth

Brit Marling's Rhoda wonders if those birds are from Another Earth or Winged Migration extras.

The movie is held together by a strong performance from Marling, who seems central to nearly every scene and was also a co-writer of the project. Mapother, better known as the cousin of Tom Cruise, gives his character weight and the appropriate mood shifts, but he seems to be punching a bit over his pay scale here sadly. Maybe it’s the material, maybe it’s him and while it’s a tough acting role, it’s still a bit hard to tell.

Unfortunately, what Another Earth offers is a multitude of questions asked with little answers. Along the way, the story remains slow and mildly engaging, but not enough substance keeps the audience moving forward with the characters. Discoveries lead to more questions not answers and even though that is really the point, a book might do the material better justice than this film. The budget constraints probably don’t help matters, but the film has to be judged on its own merits and sadly, it doesn’t quite live up to anything transcendent. Despite having no expectations, it’s hard not to feel let down in the end.

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