Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Valhalla Rising (2009)
Not what I expected, but just what I needed
Leave your expectations at the door, 'cause this piece of art might frustrate you. I suppose that with a title such as that and the trailer, that clearly highlights the action scenes of the movie, it's easy to expect something that this thing ultimately does not deliver. First of all, this is not an action movie, there are about 3 violent scenes and all of them last less than a minute. Anyone that watches this expecting to see a Tarantino-esque viking movie, is going to be disappointed. It's a very quiet movie, there's barely any dialogue and the main protagonist himself has no lines. Don't get me wrong, there's just enough dialogue and information to let you have an idea of what's going on, but to truly find a meaning in this movie you'll have to adapt to its pace. Personally, I wouldn't consider it a slow movie, but considering the content and the direction, I'd say it can get pretty boring; especially if, as mentioned before, the watcher expected action. However, if one is able to sit through it and adopt the contemplative tone of the movie, I'd say it becomes a good experience.
There's one thing I suppose no one can really disagree about, which is how beautiful this movie looks. The landscapes are absolutely gorgeous, the direction of photography is great. And I'd go as far as saying that the scenery is responsible for a big portion of the substance of the movie. This movie feels like a poem translated to cinema. If the (few) dialogues are the stanzas of the poem, the landscapes correspond to the rhythm. However, as beautiful as they are, the landscapes would have trouble communicating anything if not for the soundtrack. I don't care what one chooses to call it - drone, dark-ambient - I only know that it fits perfectly. It's had to describe, but if I had to risk sounding pretentious, I'd say that the music sounds as if it emanated from that world itself; it feels like a natural element like the mountains, the mist and all else that is concrete, but that the ultimate function is having an inner impact. I won't claim that there is an objective meaning behind how this title is structured, maybe the elements it relies on are too abstract for anyone to be certain, but I feel I was able to grasp something and ultimately find the message. Just as in any other kind of art, the object itself is only 50% of the process, the rest depends on whoever interacts with it.
Putting the abstract elements aside, I'd say that this movie does a pretty decent job with its main themes. We get to watch the ages-old feud between pagans and christians who think they're building the perfect world. One-Eye is an interesting figure because he doesn't really take sides. Originally he was kept as a slave to pagans, but later set towards Jerusalem with the christian vikings. The thing is, it's never truly clear who he is, which side he's standing on. Ironically, One-Eye is the most godlike figure of the story, men seem to fear him for his strength, he doesn't really speak directly to them, his will is put into words by Are, that assumes this prophetic figure analog to the many men who communicated the rest of mankind the words of God. When men kill each other in front of him he does nothing, if they rise against him, he smites them with his wrath. It's very subtle how many elements of the christian lore, and its main figures, are included in the protagonist's actions. If we assume that One-Eye is really an analogy for God, it's even more interesting to notice how undisturbed he is to see men taking the most extreme actions for the sake of their beliefs. Ironically, the main thing about the christian vikings of this movie is that their quest to the holy land leads them to "hell" and, instead of being united by their fate, they end up brutalizing each other in the name of God; or for the lack thereof. So, in the same way one can try to make analogies between the protagonist and God/Christianism, one could also argue that his complete lack of disturbance towards all the chaos that happens is a comment on how ultimately people are killing themselves for nothing, that there is no God and all those acts are meaningless. All the violence, the will to dominate and apply your ideals to other cultures, all in the name of God, but it's also what leads the christians to their doom. All this makes me think of a quote by Nietzsche, "In truth,there was only one christian and he died on the cross."
As for the fate of One-Eye himself, it's debatable. We don't know anything about his past, where he came from or what his objective was. One of the characters tells him at first that there's more to life than vengeance, also the trailer makes it seem like he is a man on a quest for vengeance. Actually, we never really see him get revenge on anyone, he only attacks to preserve his own life. True, he killed the people who kept him as a slave, but that's not vengeance if he was merely trying to get his basic right: Freedom. Was he a messianic figure? After all, just like Christ, he didn't discriminate against anyone, no matter if they were pagans, sinners, or if they were followers. His name, is it a reference to Odin or, if we do some mental gymnastics, an analogy to how God sees us all through a single scope? We're all equal to the eyes of God. His death in the end, the way he sacrifices himself to save Are, is it a reenactment of Christ's sacrifice for the sake of mankind? Too many possibilities, but no objective answer. One might choose whatever they want.
Now, I think it's time to finish this review. I expected one thing but found something completely different, but I'm not frustrated. I liked this movie, it was definitely a type of narrative I didn't expect. I think it's some good food for thought. You get to reflect upon religion, colonization, the violent essence of mankind, the clash between different visions, etc. It's a good movie, I think it's biggest mistake was trying to present itself, and I'm talking about the trailer, as something it definitely isn't. Anyway, good movie and unique execution.
Honogurai mizu no soko kara (2002)
Horror doesn't always have to be scary
Never been a fan of horror movies, but when I started watching some japanese titles I began to realize there was actually some worth to the genre. Yet, I think Japanese Horror is a genre on its own, I can't think of Western Horror coming close to it. Putting aside the debate about which side of the world is better at making movies, I have to say this movie is fantastic. What you will find here isn't that type of horror that makes your heart race for few seconds when something happens suddenly and jump scares you. This isn't a movie to scare anyone, but rather to make you fear. You see, I think scaring someone and making them fear something are very different things; the latter being a true challenge. The anxiety inducing atmosphere of this title is what, in my opinion, places it in the horror genre. Watching Dark Water won't be a scary experience in the common sense, but it will evoke such oppressive atmosphere that it will be hard not to fear. And I'll have you know that it is not only the supernatural that will make you anxious. In this title we follow Yoshimi Matsubara, a dedicated mother who's trying to win custody of her child after divorcing her husband. At first all her problems are things that can be solved by sheer effort, patience, but things start to get harder.
After moving with her daughter to a rather run-down apartment, she will have to face problems that are rather bizarre. At first, things are a bit odd, but nothing more than that. Slowly, but surely, things start to get worse. A lost object, water leaks, a missing girl, how are those things connected? Putting the pieces together doesn't take much long, but that's not really the point. The true horror is watching a mother who's running the risk of losing her most precious thing, her child, trying to fight not only what she knows well but also mysterious circumstances. I think the viewer will realize rather quickly what is going on, but even then that feeling of "What now?" forces you to keep your eyes open, hoping for the best outcome. You won't get jump scared, but the anguish this movie will offer you surpasses any cheap technique. Watching a mother being haunted by real people, but also by unknown horrors, makes this title a rich experience for those who seek something with substance. The character problems are as realistic as possible, but at the same time she's also forced to deal with something that challenges the very fabric of reality. That's why this movie is special, there's something to be afraid of in both fronts. It's easy to feel the characters here, you can't help but live their problems with them, that's why the whole experience is gut-wrenching.
In terms of atmosphere I couldn't praise it enough. The apartment itself isn't anything out of this world, the building itself is just old, but as much as it is ordinary it is also eery. You never really see any neighbours, every colour present in the scenery is so dull. The supernatural elements of the story are used in a way that perhaps not seeing something out of this world becomes scarier than anything; anxiety aroused by anticipation at some point becomes dread. Music isn't always present, but it's mostly quiet which helps a lot. The instruments have a cold feel to them, during some scenes they will only lay down some dissonant notes. The mix is very well done, in a way that most of the time you won't even realize when the music starts or stops. The lack of music in some scenes is also a smart strategy, the sound of rain or daily objects can help keep you on your toes. Again, it's not a movie to feel scared, but it will certainly be disturbing.
I have to say now, since I'm about to wrap this up, that this movie, unfortunately, was disappointing to me. Don't get me wrong, it is definitely worth a watch, but the ending was, in my opinion, a terrible choice. After the all the struggle they've been through, I can't accept the fact that mother and child couldn't be together. It is impossible not to hope for the best when watching them together. The love of a mother is truly one of the most powerful things ever, perhaps strong enough that they'll leave their child behind if that is what it takes to save them. Yet, I can't help but feel bitter even if I understand the circumstances. It felt to me like in the end it was all for nothing, Yoshimi Matsubara lost in both fronts. I guess the hardest thing to stomach for me was how the mother had to embrace the antagonist in order to save her child. True, it was a proof of a love supreme, but even then it broke my heart; they deserved better. I know objectively it was not betrayal, after all it was a sacrifice for the sake of a loved one, but even then it's something I can't appreciate because it felt as if the daughter had her mom stolen from her. But I guess in the end, perhaps the true message has always been about the horror of seeing an abadoned child. The dead girl had an horrible death and before that her mother had left, that scene in the elevator where she switches places with Ikuko made me think that in the end a child is always looking for their parents. Perhaps, there's not really a villain in this, only victims of tragedy; people moved by loneliness. Abandoning and causing a tragedy and then abandoning someone to save them, different effects through the same act. Fair or not, I'd still recommend this movie to anyone interested in the blend of horror and drama. If you're looking for something scary you won't find it here, what you'll get is anxiety derived from the fear of being alone, from the fear of losing those we love. Perhaps, loneliness is so strong it can surpass the supernatural. Definitely a must see if you're into horror with substance.
Tôkyô gûru 'S' (2019)
On my review for the first Tokyo Ghoul live action, I approached the points I thought would be most relevant. I haven't noticed any real change in this title in comparison to the first, therefore, I'll be brief here. The visual effects, which are mostly the kagunes, still have a variable quality. Personally, I think they're tolerable for the most part. Yet, if you watched the first and came here expecting some improvement, you'll have to find it yourself because I couldn't detect any. The cast has not changed much, with the exception of a new actress playing Touka, I haven't really noticed anyone new. The acting quality is still the same, which means it is also variable, but at least in the important moments it is decent enough. The story is really the only thing different, which is quite obvious as this is the adaptation of another arc from the manga. I haven't noticed any major changes here either in comparison to the first, they seem to have preserved the canon. However, this one is a bit slower compared to the first and for those of you who expected it to have more action you'll be somewhat disappointed. Ironically, the moments that would have deserved more time end up rather fast and that's a con. Still, wouldn't say that the movie is completely ruined.
Is it worth watching? If you watched the first one, I don't see why you shouldn't see the sequel. It's not as good as the first, but at least it starts and finishes another arc rather well. Biggest problem is the pacing, but even then it's not so vexing. Decent, but that's all.
Tôkyô gûru (2017)
I'm the kind of person who usually argues against certain types of adaptation. Normally, I'd not spend time watching something based on a manga that has elements that definitely wouldn't fit well in the real world; even if that's the world of cinema. Nevertheless, on a whim I decided to watch this as a joke, or so I told myself, but eventually I realized I was actually enjoying it. As someone that had the chance to read the manga, I'd argue that as far as adaptations go this isn't bad. Of course, might not be as natural as an anime adaptation; after all anime is just moving drawings, not so different from static manga. I'll break down my review on some points.
Definitely, the first thing that causes an impression in movies such as this, with many unrealistic visual elements, are the visuals. Whether you're completely ignorant about Tokyo Ghoul or you're a long date enthusiast, it all comes down to the question: Does it look and feel like Tokyo Ghoul? I'd say it depends. First of all, we have to admit that there's an imposed limitation, both technical and innate to human perception, that makes it hard to take something from a manga - a medium that is pretty much free of limits when it comes to visual representation - and simply display it with real people in a real scenery. Of course, doesn't mean that we need to turn a blind eye and accept things that look bad just for the sake of limitations; after all, it was not our decision to make this movie exist. If you had the chance to read the manga, or watch the anime, you know what a kagune is. When I started watching this my first thought was "If the kagunes look bad, then everything is lost". That is because they're the main fantastic element in that world, it's a constant feature on the story. Time passes and the first kagune is revealed and I have to say it stood like a sore thumb. I said to myself "I'll let this go on for a bit more" and then I realized that for some reason I started getting used to it. Now, don't take me wrong, by no means the visuals are perfect or even subtle enough for them to feel natural, but somehow, speaking for myself, you get used to it. Simple as that, I just told myself that there was no reason to seek much naturality in those things - "It's based on a manga, no use in hoping for naturality" - and then I found myself taking the visuals with ease. Does it mean all of them look decent? Nope, some will look fine, even cool at times, such as Touka's kagune, but others might not be so appealing. So, when it comes to visuals it is nowhere near perfection, but it's not terribly difficult to get used to them; don't watch it if you expect it to be on par with the manga/anime. But nevertheless, I think what made me able to stomach the questionable CGI was the fact that in the end I still felt like it was Tokyo Ghoul. Of course this is completely subjective, no way everyone would feel like that, but personally I got used rather quickly to the visual effects and ultimately felt that they just worked as intended. Would I recommend it based on visuals? Honestly, just watch the first minutes or so and reach your own conclusion - shall not take long for you to decide whether it's worth your time or not. But as far as making it feel like Tokyo Ghoul goes, I'd say it's not bad.
The second concern would be in regards to the plot. And to be fair, I see nothing wrong with it. I'm not aware of any change to major plot points nor characters, no events seem to have been altered. It adapts The initial arc just fine, so there should be no worries about that. The pace was good as well, did not feel terribly rushed for me and in that sense it's on par with the anime adaptation; which by itself is not perfect. As for the characters, they too seem to retain their essence; of course, under the limits of the format and the acting. Tokyo Ghoul has an interesting take on morality, although nothing overly complex. We have a world with beings that need to eat humans to survive and humans who hunt them, both have their own reasons to act the way they do. The manga goes more in depth naturally, but this movie doesn't do a terrible job at presenting both parties and their claims. I can think of one or two details that were different, but nothing that changed the course of the story.
Another point I wanted to comment is about the cast. I think the most uncanny thing about live actions is when you look at someone and can't identify a character on them, but only someone making a poor cosplay job. Does this happen here? Honestly, didn't feel like it to me. Everyone looks good enough, in fact I'd say they nailed the characters' looks. My only problem would be only with overacting, which seems to be a problem with japanese movies in general; especially those who are not realistic. Still, the exaggerated moments are more cringe than irritating, it might ruin your focus for a brief moment, but during the key moments the acting was just fine. Personally, I had no trouble seeing the characters in the actors, their essence, demeanor, has been preserved. Fumika Shimizu, for example, did a good job as Touka and so did Masataka Kubota in playing Kaneki; had those two characters been ruined then it would make no sense to watch. Except for one or two edgy scenes, which the actors are not to blame anyway, the cast does a decent job in giving life to the characters.
If the story and acting are okay and the visuals, with all their issues, are not so off-putting, then I think it's fair to give this adaptation a pass. The essence of the original work was kept, at least that's how it feels for me. In the end it's all subjective, but I had a good time watching this and therefore feel free to recommend to others. Now, if you want to get into Tokyo Ghoul I don't think this movie is a bad choice, but you should be aware it does not retain the quality and complexity of the source material. I have been into Tokyo Ghoul for quite a while now, had the chance to follow the manga and see the series end for good and I don't really feel ashamed to say I enjoyed this; definitely will never be as good as the source material, but I wouldn't be so quick to call it trash as some would, there's definitely some potential for fun here. I picked this movie as a joke and had a rather pleasant surprise. It's has good action paired with an interesting premise, it was entertaining. As far as live adaptations go, I think this one is pretty decent if you're not expecting the new state-of-the-art.
Tôkyô zankoku keisatsu (2008)
Japanese Gore at its finest.
Have you ever wanted to watch a movie in which samurai cops fight mutant criminals? A movie so gory that most shots are of blood gushing everywhere? Tarry no longer, this is the movie for you. If there ever was any doubt that the japanese are especially talented at making weird stuff, this movie should serve to end the question. Tokyo Gore Police brings to the table everything that makes us use "Oh, Japan" to explain oddities.
The story is the basic Good versus Bad narrative, with an equally basic moral inversion twist. On one side we have the private police corporation, a force that replaced the original state police and that focuses now on fighting the engineers. An engineer, as explained in the movie, is some sort of mutant that whenever wounded will simply form a weapon out of said wound. Through the movie it is revealed the engineers' origins, which also connects the dots between our main character and the antagonists. It's a simple plot, it functions well as a background to the nonstop action. The main protagonist, Ruka, played by the beautiful Eihi Shiina, is a cold, policewoman who's hardly fazed by the violence going around her. Her serious expression never goes away, not even when she's showering in the enemy's blood. She leads the investigation to find a serial murderer and the closer she gets to him, the more she learns about her own past. Driven by the will to find her father's killer, she slashes everything on her way.
It's impossible to not have fun with this, unless you're one of those types who takes themselves too seriously all the time. The visuals are far from perfect, but I'd argue that their low quality at times is the icing on the cake. Gore is fun when it's somewhat poorly done, especially when it's designed to be so. There is always some action happening, people getting killed, limbs flying, and lots of blood. This is one of the most absurd representations of Tokyo I've seen, even the television ads are crazy; in what other movie would you see an ad for cute razors to cut your wrists? Again on visuals, this movie is seriously stylish. Yes, it's totally exaggerated but if you never imagined how cool it would be if japanese police officers dressed like samurai, I insist you take a look on what you're missing. Eihi Shiina is a total babe, put a katana in her hands and there's no way for her not to look cool. Ruka is likeable enough as a protagonist, from time to time she lets some emotion show and overall is the only character who doesn't become a joke; which by itself isn't a bad thing that some characters become too absurd, otherwise there would be no fun. The movie doesn't drag, it's like going on a run and not taking breaks - what you see is what you get, read the title. Pair nonstop action with a soundtrack that mixes traditional japanese music elements with metal and you got yourself some easy fun. Gore becomes comedy very easily, it's such a natural pairing that you might forget that you're watching people being split in half with swords. Japan is for me the champion of absurdism, this title represents that very well. So I insist, if you like over the top flicks, and don't mind the gore, although it's so unrealistic that it is not shocking at all, go ahead and enter this world of weirdness.
False news travel fast
No matter how many times I watch this title, it is always gut-wrenching. It's been released in 2012, but remains relevant to this day. Sexual abuse is always a complicated theme, if it involves children it's even worse. This movie provides a different view though, it's about how lies can virtually destroy someone's life. Lucas is a normal guy, working at a kindergarten and trying to get his life together after a divorce. In such small community, where everyone knows each other, a 'small' lie is as powerful as a bullet. Lucas is falsely accused of sexual abuse by his best friend's daughter, Klara. The girl was fond of him, but after being scolded she gets angry, which causes her to lie. Kids lie all the time, they either imagine or distort something someone said or did. Klara saw pornographic images at her brother's iPad, it didn't last much but that brief scene was enough for her to memorize a sexualized way of speaking and sexual imagery. She absorbed those words/images and used them in her lie even though she didn't understand what they even meant. Lucas lost his job, was doubted by everyone and wasn't even given a chance to defend himself. The most frustrating part is that Klara admits more than once that she made things up, but the adults around her insist that children don't lie. Assuming someone is guilty until proven innocent is the worst thing a society can do, but is that not what happens? Men are accused everyday of abuse and see their social life fade away. Most people won't admit, but most men are seen as potential predators and it only takes someone's ill intention to tear them apart. It's a very infuriating movie, things just get worse and even when it's proven that Lucas did nothing, he's still treated poorly by his peers. Not once, people apologize to him. It's very interesting that the movie is called The Hunt, because in fact Lucas is a hunted man, ironically, because they think of him as a predator. At first I did not like the ending, I was hoping that for once there would be real justice but the movie ends abruptly after Lucas almost being shot by an unknown person. The atmosphere of anxiety never goes away, even in the end it's still uncomfortable. After someone is framed for something they did not do, that false guilt follows them to the grave... The hunt never ends for Lucas.
Once Upon a Time in Norway (2007)
Mayhem is one of the most important bands in music history, doesn't matter if you like black metal or not, it's just not possible to deny their relevance in music and to this day as a national icon to Norway. This movie is very informative, it consists on interviews with people who were involved with Mayhem - either former or current band members or just people who saw black metal for what it was. At this point in time black metal isn't underground anymore, the goals and the structure of the genre have changed a lot but for some reason you always trace its roots Mayhem (and the way they paved for the image of black metal). I think it's important to understand that there are two types of history one can tell about this band - the true story or the illusion. In this documentary we get to learn a bit more about Euronymous, the central figure behind Mayhem, and what he achieved as people who knew him try to desconstruct to a certain extent the mythical image of such figure. It's not so rare to see music causing a big impact on society, but few movements stand the test of time like black metal did. What Mayhem brought to the norwegian society will probably never be forgotten, but if it was a good or bad it's debatable; but their relevance cannot be downplayed. At some point in history some kids decided to play extreme music and what did they get? If anything, fame. Mayhem was tragic, extreme, but it will (probably) never die.
One last thing though... what is the "true" Mayhem?
Until the Light Takes Us (2008)
Trve Kvlt Black Metal Doc
Black Metal can be so many things, for some it's like a theme park and for others it's a trve lifestyle that extends beyond music. Truth be told, it's one of the most romanticized genres of music. Who can really say what is black metal or what really was black metal? This movie however isn't a guide, it's rather a collage of events and insights from people who saw the birth of a new movement in music and what they see now. It's a pretty neutral, not really biased, it just gives you room to reach your own conclusions. Fortunately, they picked Fenriz to be the central piece in this - which was a perfect pick considering he's apparently the most neutral guy in the scene, more interested in the music itself. One thing this movie does though is set the gloomy, cold, at times melancholic, atmosphere of the music it talks about - and maybe of Norway itself(?). Norwegian Black Metal existed and exists, but who can tell what version of it is right? Watch and find out for yourself. You won't see glorification of church burnings or satanic imagery, you'll see a vague portrait of something that was/is a monument in music. Was black metal yearning to be heard or upon being heard it stopped being true? Who knows.
Interesting footage, unbiased, good soundtrack.
Låt den rätte komma in (2008)
Probably the best vampire movie I've ever watched.
The vampire genre is a very peculiar thing, it's in a certain sense very easy to write a vampire tale, due to how well known the vampire myth is, but the real challenge is to give it depth. What a lot of authors don't seem to realize is how deep the creature known as vampire can be, which I'm glad to say it's not the case in this movie. This is a vampire tale with depth, with substance, and with a tone that seems like it was tailor-made for fans of the genre who for long awaited for something familiar but at the same time genuinely authentic - something truly artistic.
The plot revolves around Oskar, a boy who suffers on the hands of his classmates, but is unable to retaliate, and Eli, a girl, who just moved next door. Eli is a vampire and she depends on her guardian to feed, as she cannot expose herself. At first Eli states that she and Oskar cannot be friends, but later on she opens up to him and he finds comfort in her presence. Oskar is a boy with a supressed anger, he's someone who's fascinated with the idea of getting back at those who do harm to him, but he's unable to do so. Eli, differently from Oskar, is someone who's capable of doing whatever she must do for her well being; her violent nature, as shown when she kills a man, contrasts with the fact she's after all just a child - which reinforces the idea that vampires, due to their supernatural existence, are forever bound to be dislocated from the rest of the world. The interesting thing here is that what brings Eli and Oskar together is the fact that both lack a sense of belonging, despite the fact that one is human and the other isn't. Eventually Oskar hits back due to Eli's advice to do so, and upon doing so he seems to find release - which could also be seen as the ambiguity of human nature when it comes to violence, proving good and evil are more complex than often displayed. Actually, from the very beginning we see Oskar collecting pieces of journals concerning violent crimes, showing that the idea of violence lingers on his mind constantly despite his non-violent personality.
Usually children are viewed as only capable of doing good, but here we have two kids who swing between good and evil. Oskar learns through Eli how to get his revenge, he finds the strength to do so in her. Eli, as she gets closer to Oskar, seems to be more human than what's expected - she displays a certain loneliness, which can be spotted more explicitly when she asks Oskar if he'd like her even if she was not a girl. It's interesting to take in consideration that Eli in fact is not a girl, but she's not a boy either - as it's shown in the scene she's changing - but another way to see the fact that she's not a girl is because a vampire is not a natural thing, it is not human and therefore doesn't exactly needs to be labeled under human standards. Oskar is also a lonely boy, he doesn't really have friends in other kids and the adults around him don't seem to be realiable enough. So we have here two kids who share a common loneliness, both in a certain way standing apart from everyone else. Another interesting point is that when Oskar, still unaware of what she is, asks Eli if she wants to be his girlfriend and she says she's not a girl, he doesn't really seem to change his mind, confirming what he had told her when he said she would still like her - I guess this could be viewed in a objective way in which he accepts whatever she is to his human perspective of people, but also as a foreshadowing of him accepting her once he discovers all there is to discover about her. Later on when he discovers that she is in fact a vampire, and still sides with her, is the third time he accepts Eli - this time being fully aware of all that she is and all that she isn't.
Good and evil are things that are inherent to every person. Some of us do evil things, but are not evil as a whole, and some of us can be good but are not necessarily good people. The thing is good and evil are mixed in our ways of living and we can't see things as only black and white, sometimes things are grey. Oskar upon figuring out Eli is a vampire seems a bit reluctant to approve of her ways of living, but she manages to show him his own hypocrisy. Eli kills because that's what she must do, whilst Oskar would kill for revenge if he had the chance - both are capable of evil, but for different reasons. When Oskar helps Eli kill a man to save herself, good and evil are entwined - he makes his decision to accept it, he accepts that good and evil need to coexist. Oskar loves Eli, and she loves him, despite everything, which proves that in the end there are complexities to good and evil and more often than not you need to have both in balance; the fact that a vampire, a killer, is able to feel genuine affection for someone goes to show that there's much more than wrong and right, good and evil, feelings are complex and exist beyond certain rules and expectations.
The tone of this movie is perfect. It's a quiet movie with some gruesome moments, but the latter do not break the immersion. The realistic, almost peaceful, tone of the story is captivating. When the night falls and Eli's guardian was collecting blood, making another victim, she was peacefully interacting with Oskar. It's interesting the way it's executed, the horror part of the story is subtle and feels much more dense, much more believable than if it was trying to be shocking. The shots are beautiful, wide and kinda bleak in their own way. I said before that it's believable, and that's a strong point because I feel like a vampire tale benefits a lot from the somber feeling - a feeling that everything happening is being concealed, happening in a world of darkness that envelops the natural world.
The ending was very positive, left me satisfied with what I had seen - although I was also left wondering what would happen next, naturally hoping for the best. I like how every scene seems so carefully woven and inserted one after the other, the pace is so natural. You can feel a lot of sensitivity was put into creating the bond between characters. When Eli enters Oskar's home without being invited, risking her own life for it she proves that the bond between them is strong and real enough to the point she will put herself in real danger for him and his shock after seeing her bleed shows that, despite anything, he really doesn't want her to be harmed . In the end we see a conciliation between a supernatural creature and a human, they contrast but they also blend with each other. Good and evil blend with each other.
I watched this movie more than once and it doesn't feel any less perfect time after time. It is a masterpiece of the genre and in my opinion it's the perfect example of what a vampire movie can be if it's allowed to be more artistic, more poetic. Through a mix of horror and romance, this movie invites the watcher to look upon the nature of good and evil, and gives a lot of space for our own personal reflections.
Possession is the kind of movie you don't try to explain, you just have to experience it. The experience, however, is nothing easy and you're probably gonna feel like you didn't get a single thing right from the whole thing or that you got everything wrong. But the movie is thrilling nevertheless. The major pillar of the plot is the decaying marriage of Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Mark (Sam Neill) and that's gonna be reflected in every single aspect of the movie. But the thing is that it goes way beyond a simple story about divorce. We see how Mark struggles to get Anna back to him, but at the same time that he tries to prove he is a loving and kind guy - going as far as to physically hurting himself, he also shows a possessive and scary side. Anna on the other hand has a totally declining mental state, which later is explained why, but she also has some moments of clarity. Even though they're basically divorced Anna still shows up and every time she does Mark begs her to stay with him. Their son Bob is also a really important part of the story, since it's so surreal to watch Anna and Mark going against each other, it's in the figure of the child that we see how the tragedy of separation is reflected in the rest of the world. So , it's indeed a story about marriage, but there's some more. A lot of the impressions you get will lead to a totally different path you expected. I think the supernatural essence of the movie is rather a plot device than something just to cause disgust or be taken in literal terms. As the situation between Anna and Mark gets more and more complicated, more of the otherworldly plot is revealed; it's as if H. P Lovecraft wrote a story about divorce - and I don't think I'm exaggerating. The type of terror here is very subjective and it's delivered through the flawless expression of the actors, especially Isabelle Adjani. So what once was just the story of a couple who can't really stay with each other anymore turns to be a story in which a husband can't have his wife back 'cause she's having an affair with a monster. However, if you watched the movie you seem that the monster turns to be a copy of Mark - which for me shows that in the end Anna just wanted a ideal version of her true lover which she couldn't love at all. She seems to be very aware of her sins though, but it does not hold her back from doing a lot of atrocities, I think this goes to show that we often find ourselves needing someone who might not really exist in our reality, in this case Anna created someone and that was the ultimate sin for her. Also, in the figure of Helen, someone physically identical to Anna, we observe how Mark also makes up versions of his wife on his mind - I see it as if he's yearning for a ideal wife, who will love him and take care of their son and quit a life of perversion. So the movie doesn't really give you a definitive perspective, it gives you a experience of both extremes. For me the terror in this movie is not real, but rather a metaphor for how terrible and unreal can be the end of a relationship. The ending in which both Mark and Anna die is for me a representation on how no one gets out of a relationship unscathed; this theory is reinforced by the fact that Andrzej Zulawski was experiencing a divorce around the time. All that's left is just the ideal Mark, or rather the monster, and Helen - which you could view as an ideal Anna. For the ideal to thrive, the real must die. Again about the deaths of Mark and Anna, another of my theories is that it represents that their relationship was so corroded that there was no way for them to be together under regular circumstances; that's why they're only really together in an extreme situation such as death. As for their son's death, it's for me a comment on how the separation of lovers can also hurt others; or you could just really see it as an objective comment on how kids are affected. We see that the kid drowns himself in the bathtub after the new Mark arrives at Helen's house, he begs her not to open and runs to his suicide - for me that rejection could represent how the rest of the world reinforces the separation and newfound incompatibility between former lovers. As the monster arrives at the door, the equally unreal beauty remains inside, bombs fall to sign the destruction of the world; the destruction of the institution known as marriage. There's a lot of other stuff and possibilites to find meaning in this movie, but I stick with it as being a portrait of the nature of a breaking relationship, the end of love. At first it is perhaps too odd to be inviting, but it's definitely worth the effort.
Fight Club (1999)
We should actually talk about the Fight Club
Fight Club is one of those movies that hits the spot without missing an inch of it. The nameless narrator (Edward Norton) is an insomniac office worker who lives a materialistic life. From the very beginning the movie comments on the capitalist nature of society by portraying how consumerism moves the world, but is unable to give relief in the end. Flipping through catalogues of new furniture for his apartment is the narrator's only personality trait. To fight against his insomnia he starts attending to support groups. By lying to people, pretending he has conditions he does not have, the narrator finds relief - the emotional acceptance he finds in the support groups is enough to allow him to sleep at night. The emotional complexity of the character is nothing unrealistic. David Fincher makes a subtle, yet clear, comment on the nature of materialist societies where no one really listens to each other nor care about each other. The system doesn't care about anyone, the distance between people - especially enhanced by how they function in the capitalist world - is a major plot point. However, when the narrator is finds someone who's a faker just like him he loses his emotional escape - " Her lie reflected my lie. Suddenly, I felt nothing. I couldn't cry, so once again I couldn't sleep".
Shortly after Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is introduced into the story, the main character loses everything he valued. Deprived of his possessions he seeks solace in the company of a man who is the polar opposite of what he is. If the narrator is a worker who's way too worried about his condo and his job, Tyler is a freewheeling soapmaker who couldn't care less about all those things. The contrast between them is clear; Tyler refuses any consumerist logic from the narrator whilst making he see how futile is the lifestyle he was leading - "Right. We are consumers. We're the by-products of a lifestyle obsession." The characters portrayed here are so different because one of them is free, while the other is not. Tyler, in a nihilistic way, helps the narrator realize that his existence is meaningless enough - something that is clearly displayed in the capitalist world - that all they can do is giving up everything. The self-destruction promoted by the Fight Club is ironically what allows the narrator - as well as many other frustrated men - to find solace in their mundane life. Little by little the narrator is stripping himself off his previous beliefs about job, about behavior and the value of things. It's interesting to note that the narrator doesn't quit his job immediately, picturing how hard it is actually to cut ties with the system - he eventually does though.
Many subtopics are discussed through the movie. We see the narrator and Tyler, now living together, talking about many things. They talk about how both had an absent father, how both lacked a sense of direction in life at some point and were told to follow the common sense - "He says, 'get a job'. So, I'm 25, I call again and say, 'now what?' He says, 'I dunno. Get married". The nature of the system we live in tells us what to do since the moment we're born, while both of them agree on that, they also agree that this is all a great waste of time. It's important to notice though that both them had no significant connections with other people, especially with women as Tyler comments - "We're a generation of men raised by women. I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer we need".
As the club grows the movie delves even deeper in those reflections about what really matters in life - "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s**t we don't need". Tyler becomes the source of inspiration for everyone who attends to the fight club; everyone is much more like the narrator, but they're striving to be more like him. At some point, Tyler decides that the club is meant to be something bigger - what he would call Project Mayhem. While the original Fight Club was something kept like a secret idealized to give some sort of freedom, through self-destruction, to its members, Project Mayhem is about declaring a fight against the system. The frustrated collective consciousness was the straw that broke the camel's back - "We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pi**ed off". However, the narrator starts to slowly go against what Tyler was meaning to do - kinda of recalling a bit of his past self and a sort of respect for the authority of society - and when this happen it's the moment the movie reaches its climax.
The genius of the movie is displayed when we discover that Tyler Durden and the narrator are the same person, they have always been the same person. Due to his declining mental health and his rather meaningless life, he created an alter-ego - someone capable of manifesting everything he wasn't as a system abiding person. The contrast created by Tyler's different personalities is amazing to watch as the truth unfolds; and the ambivalence created when we discover the truth about Tyler Durden is even more marvelous. This movie portraits very well how a person can reach the extremes of their mind in a system that overlooks the relevance of your very existence - when you become just a number, just a braindead member of society, having your hopes and wishes constantly ignored. In the end Tyler recovers his sanity only to see that his actions can't be reverted - so he only stands by and watches. The final scene is beautiful; what could be bettar than watching the system crumbling before your eyes while "Where is my Mind" plays? This movie is a masterpiece and it is so entrancing because of how real it is - in the end the movie shows many things we know and think but tend to keep hidden. It is provocative, funny and thrilling and most importantly: It is so damn real. The plot aged perfectly and I don't think it is going to get old so soon - this movie is a must watch.
True love will find you in the end
When a friend of mine recommended this movie to me I was quite skeptical at first, I could only wonder what kind of content would come out of it. I thought I'd have to face 90 minutes of the ol' boring romance, but this movie is much more than just plain romance.
To begin with we're presented the state of Buenos Aires, a city in which buildings seem to appear every new day. Our first protagonist Martín breaks the silence by talking about the consequences of the expanding verticalization - people confined in small apartments with declining life quality, being estranged from each other by mordern world problems; mind and body getting sick. He he blames the architects and builders for this situation. At the same time, we're presented with a bit of reflexive thinking when he states that the buildings, in all their defects, have a resemblance to our very human nature - "These irregularities probably reflect us perfectly. Aesthetic and ethical irregularities. These buildings which adhere to no logic, represent bad planning. Just like our lives [...]".
Being a designer of websites he's often too connected with the internet, but in real life he fares not too well. Due to panick attacks Martín spent years locked in his apartment. To overcome his fear of the city he started to take photos of the city and its people - "A way to rediscover the city and people. A search for beauty where it's not apparent. Observing is being and not being. Or being in another way".
Afterwards we're introduced to Mariana, an architect that didn't fare well in her role as well as in her personal life. She works designing shop windows - "I think of the windows as lot places. They're neither inside nor outside. An abstract and magic space. They reflect a part of me. At the same time, the anonymity calms me. Maybe it's stupid, but I think: if someone stops to look, they're somehow interested in me."
Mariana knows she's one amongst millions, knows she's a small thing in a vast universe. A key point in the movie is when she's going through the book Where's Wally: "If I can't find a person when I know who I'm looking for, how can I find a person when I don't know who I'm looking for?" - that's the whole point of the movie.
Both Martín and Mariana had their share of personal problems, both came out of crumbling relationships. This reflects directly in how they interact with other people, in time we see both of them going out with strangers that go out of their lives as quickly as they were introduced, but also with the city around them. A city in which everyone is often too close but too isolated is quite the contraditory thing, but it's also often real. It doesn't take long for the film to comment about the internet, the advancement of technology and how it separates us with the excuse to unify us. Maybe the problem isn't the internet, but our falty ways of keeping in touch. At some point the argument sounds obviously as a nod to Zygmunt Bauman's Liquid Modernity.
The movie uses the time very well, not really going into sparkly magic romance but that's why it is so precious to me. We're presented to the characters in alternating scenes, we get to know them and their way of thinking. In a coesive way the movie little by little connects the dots, their motivations, before the fateful encounter. If I were to defined this movie with one scene, I'd pick the one in which both characters are listening to Daniel Johnston's "True Love will find you in the end" - it summarizes pretty well the whole argument. Love is not magic, it won't happen all of sudden but you can't also be hidding from it. You gotta take your time, at some point people find each other as beautifully shown in one of the last scenes where Mariana finally finds Martín dressed as a some sort of Wally.
The last scene is one of my favourite scenes of all time, there's no kissing or any physical display of love, but at the same time it's a beautiful, and funny, moment of two people who didn't even know they were to find each other. Isn't that the point of life? You can never know. The movie is way more complex than it might seem at first, so I recommend everyone to give it a try - do not avoid it thinking it's sugary pop romance. The film comments in many topics, I probably left something out I could go on but this sums it up well enough.