Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

I'm not certain what they did on Halloween night 1000 years ago, but I don't think it involved children going from home to home asking for candy. But, I think modern trick-or-treating on Halloween is far better than...well whatever they did a thousand years ago. So have fun, stay safe, and apparently watch out for crazy people dressed as clowns. For some odd reason I have been selecting a lot of boring films lately, and I think I could translate that into them being quite dreadful as well. Last night I watched Carol a drama film that takes place back in the 1950's in New York City about two women who fall in love with each other, and how they navigate their lives with this relationship during that time period. Cate Blanchett plays the title character Carol Aird, who is a divorced woman with a young daughter and an angry, possessive, brooding ex-husband. She is relatively high society, or at least wealthy, but comes across as gentle, kind and compassionate. Ms. Blanchett gave a fine performance, although I don't think it was worthy of the Oscar nomination she received; and I have to say that I didn't care for her character, which I also thought of as quite boring and flat throughout most of the entire film. It was only at the end that there was some energy put into the performance. Rooney Mara plays the young lover, Therese Belivet; and wow what a dull character, and what a dull performance. Throughout the entire film she bored me constantly, and her character was flat; there was nothing even remotely good about this character, yet somehow she too received an Oscar nomination somehow.
The film was primarily these two the entire time. Kyle Chandler played the obnoxious, jealous and possessive ex-husband, Harge, but his character was static the entire time save for a brief ten seconds or so. The rest of the cast was unremarkable. In short the film was beyond dreadful, and beyond boring; two hours of nothing really going on, and the irritating thing was none of the performances were even interesting let alone good. Even more astounding was that the screenplay, written by Phyllis Nagy, received an Oscar nomination which boggles my mind, because the writing was boring, flat, predictable, and there was no life in the characters or the dialog. Carter Burwell somehow received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score for his film score, which it wasn't dreadful, wasn't anything even remotely good. Sounded like he borrowed his musical notes from Alexandre Desplat and just re-orchestrated them for this film. Perhaps the only place where the film shined was in the cinematography by Edward Lachman (which was nominated for an Oscar) and costume design by Sandy Powell (also nominated for an Oscar), but other than that, I can't recall anything pleasant or good about this film, even the ending was quite dreadful. I do not recommend this film whatsoever, unless you want something to put you to sleep or out of your misery. There is nothing compelling in this story, and honestly there was so much they could have done with this film, but it was so sedate and....well, simply put it will bore you to death. For good Halloween viewing watch the classic Hollywood horror films like The Mummy from 1932 with Boris Karloff, The Invisible Man from 1933 with Claude Rains, or Dracula from 1931 with Bela Lugosi, and The Horror of Dracula from 1958 with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Carol clip

Cate Blanchett interview

Gilmore Girls Netflix trailer

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Turing Test.

I think I can speak for the average, majority of Americans when I say...thank God that November 8th is almost here, and will soon be behind us....hopefully. Just as usual there isn't really a lot of good news being reported in the world, but I'm sure peppered throughout the world that there are decent, lovely people who are keeping the world from becoming totally dark. God bless them, and hopefully their numbers grow rather than shrink. So recently I watched this science fiction film Ex Machina after having it on my list for quite some time. When I first noted its release, I didn't feel that enthused about seeing it, and after watching the film now I know why I wasn't. It was extraordinarily boring for basically all 1hr and 50min of the running time. For some odd reason it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and who knows why as the writing wasn't that good. The story is basically this employee of a technology company goes and stays with the CEO of the company for a week to work and test on this robot to improve her artificial intelligence capabilities to make her more believably human. However, he begins to develop emotional feelings for the robotic woman, who is more complex than she lets on, or the CEO who designed her. The cast for this film was top notch, although their characters were rather boring, and not fleshed out quite well. Domhnall Gleeson plays the lead character, Caleb, who is the employee that assists the CEO. I thought he was completely miscast, and that actually may have been one of the death knells to the film for me. There were brief moments when his performance of the character was quite remarkable, but most of the time it was dull; also, his character was rather bland to begin with anyways, so he didn't have much to work with. Oscar Isaac played the CEO, Nathan, who was also a rather bland character and although the performance was better than Gleeson's, it wasn't better by much unfortunately. I found his character not compelling at all, or likable to any degree, yet his character had a lot to work with. Alicia Vikander played the robotic Ava, and she was perhaps the best, most compelling, and most interesting character in the film, but all of this wasn't effectively utilized at all in the writing or during many of the scenes. She had the best performance in my opinion, but once again she wasn't allowed to blossom that much. The film was pretty much only those three characters, so that might have something to do with why I disliked it so.

Alex Garland, who wrote and directed the film did a rather atrocious job putting all the pieces of the film together, but the concept behind the film was truly remarkable; he just didn't deliver. The editing also fell through really poorly I thought, and may have been another gigantic reason why the film was so boring; the pacing was very slow and choppy. The music was blandly ethereal with no good emotional anchors to help you fall in love with the characters, or feel what they were feeling. Perhaps the one good thing from the film was the cinematography by Rob Hardy; it was intimate, yet dynamic and edgy at times. The visual effects won an Oscar, which were good, I just don't think that they were that good. All in all, if you never watch it then you aren't missing a thing. I definitely do not recommend this film, even as a film experience unless you want to know what not to do if you make your own science fiction story or film. Well, even though 2017 isn't here yet, I hope that things get better after it starts out as one of the determining factors to a degree is just around the corner. May the Force be with us all.

Ex Machina interview

Ex Machina scene

The Masque of the Red Death
(something for Halloween)