Thursday, August 28, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014
I don't think a movie has ever really emotionally effected me quite like this one. After the credits rolled and the film was done, I continued to think about Ingmar Bergman's Persona. I sifted the scenes through my mind, thought about the movie in depth. I found myself shaking. My stomach churned. I was honestly shaken by this movie. It reached into the confines of my psyche and asked me questions about what made me, me. I'm not entirely sure what to make of a film like this. Moments after the movie had finished, I stared at the screen and thought to myself "What the hell did I just witness?". I'm still sort of asking myself that, but in a less condescending manner. Persona is about a nurse (Bibi Andersson) who is tasked with looking after an actress (Liv Ullmann) who, by her own free will, has decided to stop talking. It's about much more than that though. In some ways it's about the human condition and what makes us snap, in other ways it's about films and movies. The film is incredibly aware that it's a movie. At certain points the screen starts rip up as if the film in the projector had caught fire. At another point in the film it cuts to a camera crew and even the director himself, filming the very movie we are watching. I suppose it's the first 'meta' film in that way. I haven't seen anything by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman until now, but if Persona is any judgement of his other work than I'm sure the guy's a genius. Any director that can truly cut to the core of a person through a film is bound to be more than talented. Watching Persona reminded me of another movie I watched this year, Under the Skin. Throughout watching Under the Skin my mind went through a whirlwind of emotions. At first I was confused, and then I kind of liked it, and then I hated it, then I was confused again, and finally I was left in utter shock when it ended, still not entirely sure what my final opinion was on the film. After much thought, I came to absolutely love Under the Skin and have seen it twice now. That's basically how I feel about Persona. A film so strange, off-putting, and hypnotic that I had no idea what to make of it at first but now want nothing more than to see it again. I suppose you could call it a difficult film, and I imagine many people wouldn't like it very much. An understandable opinion, but I do urge you to give it a try with an open mind. It is a truly awesome movie. Some classics, while still good, seem to lose their power with time. Persona is not one of these movies. It is as powerful and scary and interesting as I imagine it was back when it was released in 1966. Practically everything about it is impeccable. The two lead actresses, Ullmann and Andersson, are fantastic. Every scene they're in radiates with dominance and talent. They're in pretty much every scene in the film and really have to devote themselves. They do not disappoint. Bergman, as I mentioned before, does a masterful job really reaching out and disturbing the calm in the audience. He creates such awesome and wonderful tension here that I don't think I've seen in any other films. He can make you sit on edge with nothing more than a closeup. And he holds his shots extremely long, which is very admirable. I often hear people dismiss black and white films, and even more so, foreign films as being pretentious or boring. I do not think Persona is either of these things. It's a classic. What more can I say. A film that's confounding and weird yet so captivating and intriguing. The film is about two different people, a nurse and an actress, who begin to meld personas. What an incredibly strange idea for a movie! But it works very well. And in doing so, creates an experience comparable with nothing else. Persona is a twisted and cool little film I feel will stay with me a long time. I will return to it, and hopefully I'll get even more out of it then. As of now, all I will say is that it is a great movie. I wasn't sure of this immediately after watching it, but am sure of it now. Persona is simply, a masterpiece.
Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies. Happy Viewing.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Before I justify that, let me give you a little background. I've always deeply enjoyed all of the Marvel superhero fare (discounting the hit-or-miss Spider-man movies). Even their lesser movies are always fun and entertaining. Yet, in my mind, they never seem to truly go beyond one liners and explosions. What I mean by that is that the Marvel films always seem like they're kind of all doing the same thing. They're doing it very well, but most of the films are sort of the same in some way or another. Sure it's all fun, but after a while your Captain America: The Winter Soldier's and your Iron Man 3's start to blur together. That's why the newest Marvel tent pole, Guardians of the Galaxy, feels so refreshing. It's different than the usual Marvel stuff. I'm not saying it's groundbreaking cinema or anything (it's most certainly not) but it is a different kind of movie for Marvel, and that really is a good thing. Imagine Star Wars, Firefly, and Indiana Jones mixed together to a soundtrack of classic 70's pop songs and you'll more or less get this movie. But it's not just reheated 80's adventure films. It does draw inspiration from them, but it's wholly it's own film. Flawed? Of course! But not any more than your average Marvel flick. Guardians tells the story of Peter Quill (a very buff Chris Pratt). A kid from Earth who was kidnapped during his youth and is now a space bandit trying to make a living. Through a series of events involving a mysterious orb and some angry space dudes, Peter winds up in a space prison with a talking raccoon-thing named Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a giant tree with limited vocabulary (Vin Diesel), a very large alien with a death wish, and a murderess who's possibly the daughter of the main villain. Yeah, this movie is out there. But in a good way. Obviously Guardians isn't perfect. The villains are lacking to say the least. There's two main villains and I didn't care about them whatsoever throughout the entire film. Not that I cared, the rest of the movie was so fun I didn't even notice the villains. Some of the fight scenes are pretty poorly directed. It was fairly hard to even see what was going on and kinda took you out of the movie. And there were a few jokes here and there that didn't really land. Otherwise this movie knocks it out of the park. Chris Pratt is a great leading star with a perfect balance between jokey fun guy and commanding action hero. The rest of the cast is solid as well. I'm not very familiar with James Gunn as a writer/director. But I already love the guy. You can feel his presence here. Every song choice and dirty joke flourishes on the screen with an awesome effect not often present in the usual Marvel movies. Practically every moment made me smile and giggle. Next to The Grand Budapest Hotel, this is the funniest film of the year. Hell, I believe it's probably the best blockbuster film of the year. While most of the great films released this year have been more independent art-house movies (Boyhood, Grand Budapest, Under the Skin), I do feel the mainstream cinema has been especially strong. The action blockbusters have been excellent so far (Edge of Tomorrow, Snowpiercer). The superhero flicks have been unusually good (X-Men: DOFP, Captain America 2). Even the children's movies have been more than substantial (The Lego Movie). It really shouldn't be that surprising how great this movie is. It makes Dawn of the Planet of the Apes look like a boring cash-in flick. And I liked Dawn! Guardians is the kind of uber-fun and lighthearted space adventure this generation hasn't really had. This movie is 90% joy, 5% CGI, 4% dirty jokes, and 1% classic pop music. It's 100% good. This movie isn't just for over-excited kids like myself, there's a lot of winks and nods that the adults will enjoy too. It's the kind of film we haven't gotten in a while, and I'm incredibly grateful for it. So see it, hell, see it twice. I'm sure you'll want to. I give Guardians of the Galaxy 4.3 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing everyone. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.