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Unter Kontrolle (2011) – 84/100

Director Volker Sattel makes a study of nuclear energy’s aura in Germany by segmenting the film into tours of several nuclear institutions, inside and out. Immediately striking is the grandness of scale captured, the enormous physical tribute made to something totally invisible. Though there are many sites visited, there are four that can be said to thematically describe the entirety of the film.

The employees of the first so called “very modernized” plant give a tour of a mock control room during a simulation of a failure. The room is an exact replica of the plant’s functioning control center, the simulation running is similar to the failure that caused the meltdown at 3-mile island (the employees in training are not successful in preventing a hypothetical disaster). Particularly alarming in the scenario is how immaterial and disconnected the employees are from the problem. Their senses are reduced to a series of dials; their ability to interact, a series of knobs. At the same time, the control room looks just like those from War Games (1983) and The China Syndrome (1979). The technology appears to be very dated, heightening the sense that the situation is out of anyone’s hands. Having been shot on analogue film, Unter Kontrolle overlays grain, dust and scratches (a limitation of last decades’ non-digital cameras) over an image of the bland control rooms that appear to be relics of the past. The huge size of the plant surveyed may have, at first, seemed to physically overshadow the unseen nuclear forces within, but now that the workers and their tools appear helpless, the scale of the plant seems like a comically futile physical compensation for a great intangible threat.

In the past, it has been customary to explain the unexplainable by accrediting the supernatural and spiritual realms. As depicted in Unter Kontrolle, the nuclear institutions start to remind the viewer of religious institutions. For me, this idea became evident during a scene where the camera shoots an eagle’s eye view over the pool of nuclear cooling liquid. The facility is perfectly still, except for one worker taking off his gloves. The facility is creepily peaceful; the only sound is the echoing of the latex snaps of the gloves through the vast cavities of the building, all while the camera centers on the nexus of energy in the facility: the submerged nuclear rods. This peaceful stillness in the face of unimaginable great power cannot help but bring up connotations of the house of God. To name nuclear power plants “The Church of Atom” does not seem to be a stretch within the context of the documentary. Though it has a certain dystopian ring to it, the employees are servants to the invisible force: they respect its power, learn how to worship it, but ultimately all the phenomena surrounding nuclear power are not scientifically known, and the power may be unleashed in ways they cannot anticipate.

In two other locations, direct allusions of dystopia are made by reference to established films in the genre. A waste management plant is shown where workers manipulate mechanical arms that are connected to robotic arms within a sealed containment. This is an exact scene out of Lucas’s THX-1138. Both in the documentary and the 1971 film workers manipulate radioactive fuel sources, the only (possible) difference being that in THX-1138 the fuel powers the workers’ automaton overlords. The other reference is to (one of my favorite films) Gilliam’s 1985 Brazil. This time, Sattel is documenting a nuclear power-plant that has been shut down and repurposed to be a children’s amusement park. Within a giant cooling duct, that like in Brazil, has been painted baby-blue and adorned with clouds, children whirl around on a fun ride screaming for joy. Such a display of happiness can only be horrific in the façade of a deteriorated nuclear plant.

Though by all means neutral in content, the presentation of the film guides the viewer towards a distaste of nuclear power. Although I would initially have been confused and startled to learn that Germany is getting rid of all their nuclear power sources within the next 10 years, after the strong impression of the film, this seems like a natural inclination.

10 More Film Reviews of 2011

Moneyball (2011) – 96/100

Perhaps the best film of the year, either tied for 1st place with Drive, or an overall winner in my book. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are incredible. The dialogue is genuine and funny. This film entangles elements of spiritual type camaraderie with cerebral economics, and with some perfect use of post-rock, it totally absorbs the viewer. Special interest in baseball is not required.

Shame (2011) – 92/100

Fantastic stylized view of a sex addict. It’s surprising, in a way, how such a potentially detestable character becomes so involving and so moving. For me, this film is a very close number 3 for the year.

The Future (2011) – 89/100

It starts off with slightly witty but completely ridiculous humor, and follows with a the dilemma of what to do when there’s nothing to do. If you can’t tell already, this film is totally representative of the current generation (in my eyes). In story and presentation, it is experimental, new, and original. It may seem dissatisfying in that it presents the problem of, but not the solution to contemporary despair, however this does not mean the film is not a unified picture. A very, very close 4th best film for the year.

Melancholia (2011) – 84/100

More disturbing than you might imagine. It is essentially a character study of a severe depressive whose terrible view of the world starts to come true in the events of Melancholia. While everyone breaks down around her at their intense new realizations of illimitable chaos and nonexistent personal agency, the protagonist is unchanged, since this is how she felt about the world in the first place. As everyone’s spirit is pressed down and leveled to a pulp, the protagonist rises above and helps the people around her, comparatively uplifted by the accuracy of her dark perception of the world.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) – 81/100

Subject matter is the draw here. It was a mystery to me when I started watching, and as the story continues, telling the haunting past through intermittent flashbacks from the present, it gets intriguing and horrifying.

50/50 (2011) – 71/100

I had to see this because of my crush on Judd Apatow, and overall, although predictably too unnecessarily crass at times, the film is a funny and appropriate telling of a young man with cancer.

Ides of March (2011) – 68/100

Bad things about this film: annoying recurring inside jokes referring to some massive hidden world of politics (comes across as unconvincing), the only personalization of Gosling’s character is a 5 minute insert about morality (i.e. the protagonist remains totally vacuous of personality), the music, and that the actual specific events in this film are minute and pathetic (only within the shroud of mystery can they function as plot points). Good things: George Clooney appears on screen for very little time appropriately making him seem hidden and powerful, personal manipulation and lack of integrity are shown as the only consistencies of the lonely people in politics, the president to be is portrayed as a figurehead of interest groups rather than an individual decision maker.

Take Shelter (2011) – 68/100

Anything about insane people, I generally like.

Contagion (2011) – 60/100

Just not very exciting. My favorite part was the font, nice spacing.

Adjustment Bureau (2011) – 52/100

The trailer hit hard, made it seem like an emotionally charged story of desperation. However, though I could easily get over the initial plot assumptions, the film doesn’t stay desperate. Although the characters keep running, it feels like it slows down. Ridiculous and not exciting is not a good combo.

The Debt (2011) – 41/100

Terrible. Just terrible. The final climax is laughable while it is taking place. If you want a nationalist film about revenge, specifically for Israel, watch Munich, not this. There are some well directed parts, and some nice fight choreography, but the majority of the story that takes place in present day with the old half of the cast is a boring, slow, and tired version of the 30% of the film with the young half of the cast.

In Time (2011) – 32/100

In Time goes down in flames spectacularly. It starts off with some improbable assumptions, though they are not too hard to come to terms with. Time is literally money, once you accept this, the first 20 minutes are pretty pleasing. It turns into an intriguing darkish sci-fi flick. Then, the story picks up, things start going well for the protagonist. The film turns into a fantasy fulfillment, taking on the “if I were a rich man” spiel. It refers to classic fish out of a barrel, poor boy in a rich world, street smarts trump book smarts, type stories. Though cliche, these remixes of the old are always appealing on the level of day-dream fulfillment. Halfway through, low budget scars signal disaster. Immediately after a not so convincing CGI car crash, the story starts to take a serious downturn. Improbable micro-events, the sort of: “wait how did he get there so fast?” and “how does he know that?” plot holes start showing up. Disgustingly cliche shots start appearing, and the whole naive “crime is fun” attitude is overemphasized. The protagonists appear indestructible, and somehow are excellent shots and naturally intimidating to everyone but the audience. Such great success is unwarranted, and the film starts to seem like empowerment propaganda. Then to top it off, morality is brought into the picture: a fight for personal survival turns into a social quest to redistribute wealth, or in this case time. There is also an incredibly pathetic standoff near the end, which is not in the least convincing, and is too easily manipulated and won by the protagonists.

Of course, sprinkled in between is weak dialogue, and inconsistent arguments of why hierarchies exist and why they shouldn’t. The film can be summed up in that it is a dissatisfied rant: it  voices distrust in capitalism, and competitive systems, with no coherence and under the guise of a poorly cut action flick. Seriously, the scenes are forced together after the 1st hour, in total parallel to a fragmented argument lacking all unity. In Time is a collage of anti-hierarchy sentiments, as shakily pasted together as the second half of the story. I am very disappointed in the film. The trailer looked too low budget, but then I was impressed by the first hour, and finally the second hour was an ideological train wreck of an overtone tainting a very unconvincing series of events. However, I’d like to see Justin Timberlake in some more films. His role in this film wasn’t too convincing, but he has an amiable screen presence. And, Amanda Seyfried is definitely the best part of the film; so so ridiculously sexy.

Drive (2011) – 94/100

Drive is an unbelievable film that though pushed as mainstream media, is a sneakily subversive film. I think that the mass appeal of the film’s story is a misunderstanding, mediated in part by uneven cutting of the film, but mostly due to audiences superimposing the world’s most popular tale over a film that criticizes that very structure. Yet regardless of content, cinematic style is a key factor in this movie’s success.

I’ve heard comparisons to Ryan Goslings character as a “white knight” similar to the nameless hero that Clint Eastwood plays in Spaghetti Westerns, but this is not the case. Ryan Gosling is at least superficially a strong “superman” type character, but what stops the film from becoming instantly kitsch is the lack of any morality. Even before the film’s action starts to develop, Gosling is portrayed as a void and distant person, to such an extent that his few words and strange behavior start to look like symptoms of some social disorder rather than just confidence and self-sufficiency. At a point in the film, Gosling is watching a cartoon with his neighbor’s kid, and asks if a shark is a “bad guy” while the child responds “of course.” This kind of an insert into the film is for me a clue away from the “superman sets things right” impression that many seem to have gotten from the picture.

Another interesting difference between typical “rightful revenge” type movies and this one is the fragility of the world. Injuries that don’t go away, and the incredible ease of hurting and killing people in the film vilainize violence, and separate the human beings that chose to be violent from the rest of the world. The fact that Gosling doesn’t approach a single situation with a firearm, rather a melee weapon, makes each of his kills a display of heightened brutality to ravage recklessly rather than a superior skill used to subdue the sinister.

The delicate condition of the world makes strength peripheral to killing, so is there anything really “superman” about Gosling? An instant response would be his unbeatable driving, but, I was very surprised at how little driving there was in this film. The most exciting car chase showcased Gosling’s lack of fear for danger to a greater extent than his skill. The camera movement, as well as the shrieks of a woman, showed the chase as a chaotic situation that couldn’t affect Gosling, and to me seemed an ode to his lack of connection the the world.

Yet, the film is not even in presenting Gosling. There is a scene where he argues with his boss and seems just like a normal person protecting his interests. Gosling gets frustrated in this scene, and actually has an involved back and forth dialogue. The rest of the film has Gosling sporting an awkward slight smile and scarcely tossing out hollow lines into conversations.

The film shows Gosling as a distant character taken advantage of. His boss tells others of how he doesn’t give Gosling fair pay for his work, and as an employee his talents seem to be milked to the fullest extent in many fields. The violent acts Gosling commits are all reactionary or goal driven in an impersonal way, and are not driven by revenge; he doesn’t kill to get even, but ultimately kills to protect his neighbor and himself. Goslings selflessness is not a trait of nobility, it is shown as an alien quality that exposes him to situations where he must do wrong. People try to make him the victim, but he refuses.

But that’s all content, and though it seems that the message of the film seems quite malleable, the form of it is the real draw. Camera placement and lighting are mastered in Drive. A very dirty Los Angeles River is beautified as a spot to spend an afternoon with your date, sweat drips down to the camera as Gosling stands over a victim to accentuate nerves and fright in a state of apparent power, shadows convey a murder to show how action and movements are only a silhouette of a character. Image choice and manipulation are incredibly powerful storytellers in this film, and I’m sure there’s plenty of photographic choices with a significance that I missed on my first watch-through. Hopefully I’ll glean more the second time round, this is a film I would definitely re-watch, and I hope even the squeamish will see Drive, because it’s thick with awesome-ness.

Mass Review (as its been quite some time)

M (1931) – 90/100

Excellent narrative of a race between a band of criminals and the police to catch a child murderer. Very engaging story even though no single perspective is stuck with for long. Particularly smooth camera work blends the picture into a cohesive story, and especially passionate acting makes this a great film.

Good Bye, Lenin! (2004) – 85/100

Superb music and a unique plot are the highlights of a drama where a son manipulates his mother’s world to protect her fragile heart.

Lola (1981) – 78/100

Unbelievable use of color livens up this film for the most part, but continuously dreamy depictions get tiring after a while. Very well cut, but the subject matter of a sexually free woman reigning over several men’s lives just to prove she can becomes too fearsome, not melancholy, for me.

Veronika Voss (1982) – 92/100

An unbelievable film written and captured perfectly. A great script full of excellent one liners. A perfect dose of subtle creepiness, and a riveting, enigmatic plot about who pulls the strings behind a decaying film star, and a man who tries to uncover the whole crazy yet probable scheme.

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) – 90/100

A very intriguing narrative of a woman and the men she goes through over the years during and after WWII while always acting for her and her husband’s interests.

Wings of Desire (1987) – 84/100

Some scenes are very engrossing, but others feel distant though admirable. Dialogue is a highlight, and once the film switches from black and white to color it becomes much more engaging. Though its relatively slow, it ends too abruptly and feels like a dream thats suddenly gone. I saw this after the American remake, which is very different in mood, but exactly alike in shot composition and roughly in message.

Stupid Crazy Love (2011) – 52/100

I don’t have the heart to say that anything that Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell are involved in sucks, so I’ll just say it sucks except for them. Totally manipulative script set to lure sympathy from the audience instead of express anything, at all. A useless 2nd conflict unnecessarily lengthens the movie, and characters are diluted so as to be overly relatable. Formulaically kitsch.

Our Idiot Brother (2011) – 68/100

Pretty good popcorn flick with a normal amount of laughter. Definitely a new approach to criticizing the modern man/woman’s overly conceited and self-absorbed personality, but it ends with a surprising lack of resolution.

Annie Hall (1977) – 98/100

Pshhhh, perfect portrayal of a relationship by the world’s most likable narrator.

Match Point (2005) – 99/100

Undeniably awesome film about the man we’re all told to be. A lovely highlight on the role of chance in a story of a man’s unrelenting fight for what he wants.

The Shinning (1980) – 100/100

My 3rd viewing of the film. Brilliant. Just Brilliant. Jack Nicholson in his greatest role in the greatest horror flick of all time.

Hanna (2011) – 88/100

My 2nd viewing of the film. Excellent tackling of a trivial plot, if only all action flicks were this heavy on style. Great synchronization of music with action, camera work exemplifies the mood of key scenes, and surreal depictions of other scenes really communicate the feelings of the characters. This film is an analogy of an animal running through a complex maze, and every stylistic choice effectively communicates the flavor of the situations in the film, and leaving meaning to be irrelevant. But, I don’t think this thoughtless depiction of perception comes off obviously enough. The scarce explanation of the plot that there is, intellectualizes a film about feelings, and should have been left out. As is, superfluous elements are introduced to the viewer, trying to justify action. But this is contradictory to the overall message of the film, and muddies it, knocking it down from a home run.

Blue Velvet (1986) – 84/100

Crazy and disturbing view of depravity, and how easy it is to brush away that depravity, in a suburbia near you. Very straightforward for a David Lynch film.

Mulholland Drive (2001) – 86/100

The biggest example for an ending justifying the whole film. Everything will seem terrible and stupid until you reach the last half hour or so. You’ll be convinced that this is another “so-bad-its-good” film, then you’ll reach the end, and everything will make sense.

Cocoon (1985) – 58/100

Weird tales of aliens and old people, not exciting in the least. But, the music from Super 8 was pulled from this, so at least that’s good.

Deep End (1970) – 76/100

Some parts are so good, other parts are so bad. This is due to acting that is very inconsistent, but at least your interest will be kept peaked by an alluring tale of the sexual tension between a young boy and a slightly older woman. Stylistically memorable for great color palettes, and the fact that its an unconventional buldingsroman makes it an “alright watch.”

30 minutes or less (2011) – 15/100

Terrible plot, pathetic jokes, repulsive characters. A lame catalogue of losers doing their thing.

Super (2010) 2/100

This movie is evil. A portrayal of the depravity in an overgrown child in a disgusting style. This movie glamorizes unjust violence, and gives right to the naive taking action when they have no right. And if everything was meant to be sarcastic, I still can’t handle such disgusting subject matter. I just feel guilty watching such pathetic characters, the feeble shouldn’t be glamorized or ridiculed, whichever this dark movie is trying to do.

The Building of a Cinematic Personality – Part 1

I’ve decided to make a list of influential movies, that is, influential to me. These are also films that I consider my favorites, so, I highly recommend each of them. Generally, the older I get, the better the films I’ve watched and appreciated; better as in my opinion and popular/critical opinion.  This is part 1 of an indefinite number, as I tended to watch more movies the older I became and I haven’t made the next parts yet. I’ve listed the films in the chronological order I watched them, along with how old I was, my rating, a short summary and what they changed about me. So, since cinema is a big part of all my media consumption, and since you are what you eat, this list is effectively my personality development seen through movies.

Back to the Future (1985) – Age 5 – 88/100

A high school student’s eccentric and elderly friend invents a device that allows time travel. The teenager accidentally travels to the past and gets stuck there, and his actions start to cause a “butterfly effect” wherein he could be changing his own future. He must both figure out how to get back to his future, and make sure his actions in the past preserve this future’s existence.

The soundtrack, and the lead character himself, are the seeds that sowed a love of rock and roll in me, before I even properly heard it. It established both the genre of sci-fi, and the loud electric guitar playing 80’s rhythms, as the epitome of cool in my head.

Commando (1985) – Age 7 – 85/100

An ex-military man’s daughter is kidnapped by an old acquaintance and used as leverage to convince the man to assassinate a rival political leader in South America. The man goes on a killing spree to free his daughter.

This classic revenge action flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger programed me to love action movies, and inflated an alpha-male mindset in me. Pretty standard boy stuff really.

Gladiator (2000) – Age 10 – 89/100

A man in a high military position in the Roman Empire, betrayed by his boss’ son, escapes an attempt on his life but ends up as a slave who fights others to the death for the Colosseum’s entertainment. His ambition is to kill the man who did this to him, who is now Emperor.

This movie made me obsessed with the Ancient world. I made several gladiator outfits from construction paper and tin foil, models of ancient architecture out of clay, endless lego projects, wrote a screenplay for a sequel, and couldn’t stop drawing ancient military battle scenes. I was so in love with this movie, that I started to become creative and artistic just so I could recreate the excitement I felt from watching the film in everything else I did. To this day I haven’t seen any movie more times than I’ve seen this one, which is 8 times.

The Game (1997) – Age 10 – 88/100

A rich businessman enrolls in a recommended entertainment service that introduces surprising recreational events into his life. These events turn out to be thrilling but quite harrowing. They keep getting worse and he has no idea how to terminate his “entertainment service.”

This drama thriller film is very memorable to me because of the paranoia in it. The “there’s nobody you can trust” theme lingers in me on some level to this day.

The Truman Show (1998) – Age 11 – 90/100

There is a show on TV that documents a human life in a controlled environment, i.e. a giant town-sized studio visible from space. Truman is the center of this show, he has no idea that everyone he knows is a hired actor, and that his entire world is made for him. One day, he starts to suspect his world may not be real.

Before I saw this film, I thought the exact same thing as this movie shows. I had this imagined barrier between other people and myself, where I was the only one who had desires and made decisions, that everyone else just existed and played out a routine that they never questioned (like machines). I thought I was in a giant maze of people and places, navigating my way around them to “the top,” i.e. my idea of success. After seeing this movie, I started questioning this idea. It was weakened, but did not dissolve for a long time; my sense of alienation continued for a bit longer.

Road to Perdition (2002) – Age 12 – 86/100

To some Mike Sullivan is an honorable and loyal hit-man, to others he is an evil cold blooded murderer, but to his son, he is a father. This is the story of the two weeks the father and son spent together on the road in the wake of the depression while hunted by criminals and on a bank robbing spree.

My love of 1930’s style was solidified, and the lines between good and evil were blurred. This is really when I started to become obsessed with melancholy films with a heavy musical soundtrack.

About a Boy (2002) – Age 12 – 92/100

A boy in Britain is alienated at school and feels a disconnect with his single mother parent. He meets one of his mother’s acquaintances, a burned out selfish man living off his father’s wealth, and clings to him as he seems the only one free to hang out and able to teach the boy how to be cool.

Music, really the guitar, as an uplifting tool was highlighted in this film and furthered my desire to play the electric guitar (though it would still take me another 3 years until I got up the courage to ask my parents to be allowed to get a guitar). But most of all it challenged my idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. The lead disconnected and chill Hugh Grant was the aspirational goal that I had in mind for my future. This kind of content loneliness didn’t seem as attractive on screen as in my mind, so I became unsure about my identity.

Brazil (1985) – Age 13 – 95/100

A man living and working in a highly departmentalized and organized bureaucracy that values machinelike efficiency over everything, catches a glimpse of a woman, and falls in love at first sight. He neglects his work, and bends some rules to find her identity and to be with her, all to the discontent of his Orwellian society.

At this age, anything Kafka-esque is appealing, and so I was enchanted by this film portraying a victim of society. It furthered my hate of rigid authority, and heightened my distrust of government. And, though it should have lured me away from being a hopeless romantic, as it is literally the story of a hopeless romance, it only attracted me, as the struggle seemed noble. Most importantly though, this movie gave rise to a significant problem that I would struggle with: the duality between living in my head and living in the real world. It became impossible to ignore the fact that I perceived the world in a certain way, which most likely is not how other people perceive it. So I started to question, how real is my perception? What have I gotten wrong, and is there really a wrong? At this point I became a mix of confusing questions lacking any answer. Thankfully, I would settle and answer these question in a satisfying way eventually. But for quite a while after this movie, my life was rife with uncertainty about practically everything.

Hesher (2011) – 91/100

Hesher is a head thrashing joy with an all-star cast and a hypnotizing subtlety. First of all, Natalie Portman is in this film. Second of all, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in this film. And third of all, the lead youngbull Devin Brochu throws the most justified and least annoying tantrums I have ever seen, and is superb at embodying childlike uninhibited emotions. Plus, The Office’s Rain Wilson is in it! Essentially, this film is perfectly cast and played.

The subject matter is also one of my dark favorites, Hesher is a film about overcoming loss, breaking off self-isolation and self-protection, and embracing the world despite all the pains this journey may be riddled with. The editing of this film was exceptional, and used to a deliberate artistic aim. The end may have been a bit emotionally manipulative, with its use of slo-mo and post-rock dramatics, but, since it was totally agreeable, I condone it.

What made this film so likable for me was its devil may care attitude, and general endorsement of fearlessness and acceptability. At times, title character Hesher’s insane antics were a bit over the top, but such unrestrained vulgarity is necessary to counterbalance his frequent moments of metaphoric wisdom. This is a film riddled with irony, short (90 minutes) and sweet, and strong in point. Some may say it is a crass movie, but only severe shortsightedness and a fixation of the superficial will lead you astray from enjoying this film. Despite its Metalica-esque stylization, an all-black attitude is not necessary to love this film. So please, see it, even if you only have a tiny punk side to you.

Bill Cunningham New York (2010) – 95/100

Bill Cunningham New York is a warmly pleasant biopic about a legendary fashion photographer for the New York Times. Its best to describe it as a film centering around Bill’s presence in the NYC fashion scene, as it doesn’t much talk about his artistic strategies or fashion taste nearly as much as it presents Bill’s passion for capturing the trend on the street.

Its an admirable film for the likeability of its main subject, who puts his work before everything. It was a shockingly heartwarming for me to see how Bill rejected being paid for several jobs, just to keep the message straight: that he was working for himself and no one else. Such passion is a rarity, and an inspiration. The selflessness that Bill exudes, working not to be admired, but simply for the joy of creation and organization, makes this film artistically motivating to watch.

For those with little interest in fashion, know that I am jaded; my mother made clothes for herself and a store before I was born, and after, I was the willing victim of fashion discussions and frequent shopping trips, always jealous of the greater diversity and flexibility in women’s fashion. Yet, the film is more a story of Bill Cunningham’s work ethic, and journalistic talk is just as frequent as clothes talk.

The film itself was laid out in a patient yet intriguing manner, and didn’t linger on anything for too much screen-time. I liked the duality of looking at Bill’s work outings and his home life, which amounted to a discussion of his controversial residence in Carnegie Hall. Though some things in the film seem to be superfluous, everything is entertaining and interesting. For someone to say anything bad about this film would be sacrilege. To say anything against the upbeat and joyful Bill Cunningham  would be a moral offense. So please, for guaranteed heartwarming, go see this movie.

Tabloid (2011) – 88/100

Tabloid is a telling of a single woman’s life story, an eclectic combination of everything ridiculous possible in a lifetime laid out in a wonderfully flowing framework. The greatest merit of this film is its skillful editing. The story progresses thematically rather than chronologically, thankfully so, as time lends no coherent pattern to lead Joyce McKinney’s life. The editing is not only used for organizational purposes, but also for some great comedic effects, where certain strange phrases become key for coaxing laughs from the audience.

I will admit, the trailer for the film turned me off. I thought that the seemingly insane lead woman would be unbearable. But, it is the editing that proved me wrong. Tabloid is constructed as a mystery, hooking the viewer early on, slowly revealing more and more, and building up to several ridiculous climaxes. For this reason, film style rather than content makes it a pleasure to watch. Instead, the content, which is so unreasonable that it is nearly non-sequitir, brings a plethora of laughs.

Though oversimulating, fast paced, and very widely spread, Tabloid is a great film because it is a smorgasbord of the weirdness organized into a painless-to-swallow documentary.

Such great editing makes it clear that director Errol Morris had a clearer picture of Joyce McKinney’s life, than frantic Joyce McKinney did. Tabloid therefore is a wonderfully constructed amalgamation of farcical behavior. See it if you want an example of a very entertaining documentary

Submarine (2011) – 94/100

Submarine is an enchanting film because of its relate-ability and happy realism. It’s a bildungsroman tale made all the more appealing by its characters’s uncanny similarities to my life, and I would believe to very many lives. What makes this film unique and irresistible is the truth that its narrator/lead emanates. That beneath every perception is a wealth of generated interpretation and meaning, and between two people is a invisible unspeakable closeness made evident only in subtle cues, which must be cherished and looked for. At least, this is exactly what you believe when you are a hopeless romantic, like the one lead actor Craig Roberts portrays.

Adolescence is a time for clinging to unjustified assumptions and emotions because of the pleasure they bring, and Submarine brings this onto the silver screen in perfect artistic form. Hopeless romantics may remember the relative debacle of a movie Youth in Revolt, which is a shoddy American equivalent to this film. The two films differ mostly in their portrayal of ridiculous youthful romanticism, which is exploited through the narrator’s perspective. Youth in Revolt was painful because it showed from an outside perspective how pathetic its lead was, how hopeless and futile and downright lost he was. It gave a bad name for young passion. Submarine centers in the head of its hopeless romantic. Everything is shown through the lens of his unreasonably optimistic eye, thus, the viewer falls for the lead, and feels that he is justified. The cinematography and storytelling of Submarine colors the viewer’s vision, for me a mark of beautifully successful film making.

In addition to me loving the romanticization of the film’s romantic character, I love the quirky side details and stupidly funny yet witty dialogue streamed throughout the film. The music, contributed by Arctic Monkey’s lead man Alex Turner reeks of pleasant nostalgia and adds to the genuine feel of the film. Overall, if you have feelings, see this film, as it will stimulate all of them.