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Movie: Reality (2014)
Rating: *** out of *****
Notes: Quentin Dupieux, the man who gave us "Rubber" and "Wrong," strikes again with another nonsensical masterpiece or travesty, depending on how you look at it. Loosely, a cameraman getting his first shot at making a film has 48 hours to come up with the perfect, Oscar-winning groan as the centerpiece of his pointless gorefest. Really, the plot of his movie is pointless, but that's OK because it echoes the tone of "Reality" as well. Dupieux's films are legendary for starting out surreal before going full-on non-sequitur absurdism and this is no exception. Scenes that are presented as occurring concurrently are later referenced meta-recursively as cinema or television within the film. This is initially limited but, when it gets a head of steam, it becomes almost Monty Python-esque and there are some good laughs. The last third, however, turns impenetrable as the protagonist begins to flicker through multiple environments between cuts within the same scene and, while the characters all started out inhabiting the same chronology, their individual stories never tie together in a meaningful way, coalescing like a freakish endless mobius strip instead. Many of the actors are from Dupieux's prior films, like a Jon Waters troupe, and viewers should be on notice that there is a modicum of blood and ick, tho it's presented either clinically or comically. "Reality"'s style is almost unique to Dupieux and it's pure manna for those looking for an experience (and some giggles) instead of a coherent story.

Movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****
Notes: Each Wes Anderson film just seems to get better than the one before, becoming smoother, more polished, and even more delightfully quirky. A man staying at a Hungarian hotel relates his history with the establishment to a curious stranger over dinner. It sounds so banal, but it's instead a fast-paced, madcap storytelling tour de force, featuring weird characters reminiscent of the Coen Brothers' best days, and an art theft caper so fantastically squirrelly that you wouldn't be surprised to see the Muppets show up looking for a baseball diamond. They don't, of course, which leaves plenty of room for big name cameos left and right, some regulars from Andersons retinue, and others as fresh surprises. Unlike "Moonrise Kingdom," this is a story that features adults, which allows for a much more mature tone and humor, a quantifiable improvement if you ask me. While the dialogue can be thrown in such a flurry that you might feel as if you're losing track of important details, the central plot is relatively straightforward. Hugely entertaining and well-worth its Oscar wins.

Movie: The Suicide Theory (2014)
Rating: ***1/2 out of *****
Notes: A contract killer is hired by a suicidal man who asks to be killed when he's neither expecting it, nor when he wants to die, for he is otherwise unable to be killed. This sounds like high fantasy, but it's presented as a dark noir, initially disjointed and out of order, but later more revelatory and with a couple solid twists. There's a large amount of conversational scenes that drag things down a bit, and it's unclear what the film gains from inserting a significant gay angle except to evoke some filler, feel a bit edgier, and make things fit right, as it doesn't appear to evolve the anti-hero at all. There's humor, but it's very black since we're talking about suicide here. That said, it's more sad than bleak, and the big reveals at the end evoke a real change in attitude towards the primary characters once you finally understand their real motivations. You never get to learn the why or how behind the curse, but it's still a puzzle movie in terms of discovering what's really behind what the players don't want to talk about. Intriguing.

Next: Bethlehem, The Suspect, Blue Ruin


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 27th, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
I've still not seen Moonrise Kingdom, and very much want to - but yes, Budapest was quite superb, and a testament to Wes Anderson's directorial skills, which seem only to improve over time. (I'm still fond of the Coens, but I'm feeling they've sort of lost me - Brother was excellent, and of course, there's Fargo, but since then, they haven't really caught me much)

TST reminds me of a couple stories from a particular archive I frequent (with a rather different outcome, it should be noted), but damned if I can find the one in particular I'm thinking of. =:P I suspect I'd quite go for TST's puzzle nature.
Sep. 28th, 2015 12:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, the Coens have drifted from their roots. Whereas they were whimsically quirky, they are now bleak and brutal which doesn't sell as well. Maybe they'll get back to their origins with "Hail, Caesar!" next year.
Oct. 10th, 2015 10:07 am (UTC)
Ahh! I'll take a look at how that's shaping up. ^_^ (Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood, but I actually stopped watching A Serious Man - I just couldn't latch onto the film) How was the recent Fargo TV series, btw? The murmurings I heard seemed quite positive.

BTW, whilst I doubt it's your cup of chai, here's the story I was thinking of Nano, by Alyssa S.
Oct. 10th, 2015 12:53 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I watch extremely little broadcast or cable TV so I haven't seen the Fargo show.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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