Review: Melancholia (2011)

via IMDb.com

I saw Melancholia twice in theaters. The first time I saw the movie was at an artsy theater in Indianapolis. The audience was quiet, focused, and alert, absorbing all of the subtle and profound emotions portrayed by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The second time was at a theater in a college town. The audience was loud, talkative, and arrogant. And they were definitely more intoxicated than the Indianapolis audience, which is weird because the artsy theater offered alcohol (and the university had a supposedly dry campus). Though, to be fair, I don’t blame the college students. If I was sporting a 1.5 GPA because of a moderate Call of Duty addiction and was going to see a movie about the slow demise of our planet, I’d probably drink too.

What intrigued me, however, was how the different audiences impacted my perception of the movie.

via IMDb.com

Before diving into that ocean of gaudy introspective self-praise, though, I need to explain a little about Melancholia. Lars von Trier‘s 2011 film is a beautiful juxtaposition of the emotional and mental struggles of two sisters and a newly discovered planet that likes to invade Earth’s personal space. Kirsten Dunst plays Justine, a personification of depression and doom. For the first half of the film, the audience watches Justine destroy her wedding bit by excruciating bit. The second half of the film follows Claire, Justine’s sister, as she tries to juggle Justine’s emotional state, a creepily quiet child, Jack Bauer, and a new planet that may end all life.

So when the booze-filled audience burped their laughs, I was surprised. Depression and interplanetary tango is not exactly comedic gold. But, in some ways, it worked. Melancholia offers a dark look at life on the edge (in more than one way), and sometimes mild laughter is a good way to deal with impending doom. Also, if good movies aren’t your preference and you get bored while watching this wonderful film, it’s sort of fun to imagine Spider-Man swooping in to save Kirsten. Or Kiefer Sutherland yelling at someone.

“Life is only on Earth. And not for long,” says Justine with tired eyes.

“Like Hell it is!” growls Jack Bauer, cocking his gun and running toward the sunset.

Lars von Trier: Director

Lars von Trier: Writer

Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Kiefer Sutherland: Stars

Review: Flashbacks of a Fool (2008)

via imdb.com

Flashbacks of a Fool is a coming-of-age tale about forbidden romance, teenage innocence, and the dangers of old sea mines. More importantly, it is evidence that brilliance can exist without coherence or flow.

The movie is about a struggling Hollywood star and his bizarre past. The star, played by Daniel Craig, is a promiscuous, emotionally immature has-been who discovers that a childhood friend has passed away. Instead of casually reminiscing about his childhood while relaxing on his couch or listening to Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” over and over (which is a great way to relax, by the way), Joe Scot (Craig) decides to go for a semi-drunk swim. This, of course, brings about a rather long flashback, a flashback that lasts for nearly half of the movie and includes impromptu dancing, intergenerational intercourse, and unexploded mines.

Baillie Walsh, the writer/director, guides the audience through a beautiful cacophony of settings, camera angles, and storylines without regard for context or flow. This is Walsh’s first and only feature film, but that fact didn’t seem to stop the novice director from peppering the occasionally cliché film with some beautifully absurd scenes. The film is a constant war between art and kitsch, and Walsh doesn’t seem to care which side wins. Using the flashback gimmick as a weak invisibility cloak for randomness, Walsh embraces the kitsch of his protagonist’s childhood, and that willingness to flaunt cinematic spontaneity allows Walsh to blur the lines between gaudiness and beauty. The movie’s flashback scenes, as a whole, are like the contents of a particularly unique party mix—both delicious and unnerving—and their weirdness helps explain the protagonist’s reluctance to relive his past.

Flashbacks of a Fool encourages paradoxical descriptors. It is both fascinating and dull, gaudy and beautiful, kitschy and artsy, ignorant and self-aware, easy and confusing, complicated and simple. The video below (featuring the lovely Felicity Jones) is beauty without context. When the scene first appears in the film, it seems random and spontaneous, yet it is crucial to the film’s ending. Enjoy its beauty. Embrace its absurdity.

Baillie Walsh: Director

Baille Walsh: Writer

Daniel Craig, Harry Eden, and Felicity Jones: Stars

We’re Back! Back with Falcon Fan Fiction

Big B and Mo’ Money

After a long sabbatical, Big B and Mo’ Money are back, and we are pumped to talk about movies. And we will talk about movies. Eventually. But instead of talking about specific movies right now, we’d like to discuss something else.

Fan Fiction

Ladies and gentleman, fan fiction is powerful. It allows devout followers to keep their favorite shows and movies alive. It encourages unpaid writers to continue their trade. And it creates communities of like-minded individuals, lost souls who cannot quench their thirst for scenes simply by watching television. The world of fan fiction is an ever-changing world, a malleable universe that sits atop layers and layers of fabricated content.

Big B has written some fan fiction.

That’s right. Big B has created his own unique fan fiction. You have seen fan fiction for everything from RENT to Charlie Brown, from Ace Ventura to Happy Feet, from Scrubs to Green Lantern.  But you have perhaps never seen fan fiction for this State Farm commercial:

The Vengeful and Well-Insured Falcon

Gregory, the man with the falcon, and his wife, Liz, return home. Liz is obviously displeased with her husband’s purchase, but Gregory doesn’t seem to notice. As Liz washes the dishes, Gregory attempts to teach his falcon how to play foosball. Gregory’s loud attempts to high-five his falcon irritate Liz. After a few minutes, she walks to the living room to confront Gregory.

LIZ

Are you going to help me with these dishes?

GREGORY

Let me just finish this game. I can’t believe he’s beating me!

LIZ

(Lauging) It sounds like you love that falcon more than me.

GREGORY

LIZ

That’s it. We’re getting rid of the falcon. We’re going to take him to an animal shelter tomorrow. I don’t care if we get our money back.

GREGORY

(Turning quickly to Liz) Maybe I should get my money back from marrying you!

LIZ

Wha–

Gregory picks up his falcon and runs to the door. Liz, shocked, places one hand over her mouth and lets the other fall to her side. Gregory grabs his coat from the coat rack. Liz mumbles something as Gregory, maneuvering the bird from hand to hand, quickly puts on his coat.

GREGORY

You know what really kills me, Liz? We could have been happy together. The three of us. We could have been happy.

LIZ

I…

GREGORY

(Standing in the doorway) That’s fine. You don’t need to say anything. You just haven’t found your falcon yet.

Gregory stands in the doorway holding his falcon and looking at Liz for nearly a minute. Just before Gregory turns to leave, Liz’s expression changes. As the door closes, Liz speaks.

LIZ

…it looked at me. It looked right at me.

END

~Big B