Claude Chabrol's The Good Time Girls tells the story of four women: Ginette, Jacqueline, Jane, and Rita, who all work in the same shop for a lecherous supervisor who doesn't live up to his own good standards. Each woman is very different, with the film examining these distinct woman as they navigate their daily lives looking for romance and dream fulfillment. This is a film very much focused on the point of view of woman, with perhaps the greatest attribute of Claude Chabrol's The Good Time Girls being its ability to strip away simplistic, all encompassing notions of what woman want in their lives. Jacqueline is a character who pines for the type of love depicted in movies, searching for that perfect someone who can make her life complete. Jane couldn't be more different, a more permiscious type only interested in finding the next man who can entertain her. Ginette and Rita fall somewhere inbetween, but each and every character is never judged or nor praised, simply presented as a three dimensional character with her own wants and desires. Through the daydreaming, failures, and successes of these four unique characters, The Good Time Girls beautifully illustrates how ones own dreams and desires are often drowned out by the struggles of everyday life, which in this case proves to be a rather scathing commentary on the suppression of the feminine spirit. The Good Time Girls also does a great job at illustrating how so often our own dreams and desires can work against us, blinding us from the potential happiness that can often be right in front of us. Even though we think we know what we want, we can be wrong, and this film illustrates this beautifully. The ending of The Good Time Girls is certainly shocking but necessary to hammer home the suppression of women which takes place in a male-driven world. Claude Chabrol's The Good Time Girls is a film that feels far ahead of its time, examining the lives of four unique woman with great depth and detail.
In the not so distant future, a hostile alien race known as the Formics attack and nearly destroy earth entirely. The heroics of Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham are the only reason for victory. In order to preemptively stop another attack by the Formics, Colonel Hyrum Graff leads a special military unit consisting of highly intelligent young children. Graff is looking for the next great commander to end this war and believes he's found it in Ender Wiggins, a shy but brilliant young boy. Gavin Hood's Ender's Game is a decent bit of blockbuster escapism but it struggles mightily when attempting to provide a morality commentary about war and violence. This is basically a prophecy type story about Ender Wiggin's reaching his true potential as "the one" but I wish the film would have spent more time examining the moral implications of his actions. There are moments that suggest Ender may not be mentally stable but the film assures the viewer far too early that he has a good heart, stripping some of the tension away from the narrative. Ender's Game does features some pretty unique action set-pieces with the Battle School simulations being different enough to remain engaging. Ender's Game has a very straight-forward message that is sorta predictable and too black-and-white for my personal preference but it does provide more brains and unique imagery than the average blockbuster.
Emmet, an ordinary, perfectly average LEGO minifigure, lives a mundane existence as a lonely construction worker. When an evil LEGO tyrant threatens to destroy the LEGO universe as a whole, by gluing it together, a prophecy is foretold of a extraordinary MasterBuilder, who Emmet is mistaken for. Together with a group of other selected heroes, the hopelessly under-prepared Emmet must begin an epic quest to save the LEGO Universe. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller's The Lego Movie is a fun experience that is constantly entertaining due to its assortment of sharp and witty dialogue. The actual story that the movie is based around is pretty standard stuff but the script of The Lego Movie keeps it constantly fresh, slightly off-beat, and fun. The Lego Movie is the perfect example of a movie that could be enjoyed by all audiences because it's simple and silly enough to keep children entertained while also being smart, sassy, and satirical enough to keep adult audiences engaged. The voice talent in The Lego Movie is diverse and well-selected, with Will Arnett really stealing much of the film with his hysterical version of Batman. The Lego Movie's greatest strength is the imagination it exudes, with lots of creative ideas centered around the vast LEGO universe. This creativity combined with its sharp script make The Leg making it one of the better four quadrant movies to come out in recent years.
Francine is a desperate housewife whose life is completely crumpling around her. Her husband, Elmer, runs a pornographic movie theater and while he isn't fighting with the neighborhood protestors, he is sleeping with his secretary, Sandra. Francine's daughter, Lulu, is a massive slut who spends most of her time with her juvenile delinquent boyfriend Bobo. If this wasn't enough already, Francine's son, Dexter, is a glue-sniffing sociopath with a real fetish for woman's feet. Francis life is beyond miserable until Todd Tomorrow, a handsome owner of a local drive-in, enters into the equation. John Water's Polyester is a hysterical black comedy that works as a love letter to the melodrama's of the 1950s. Compared to Water's previous work, Pink Flamingos and Desperately Living, Polyester is a more accessible piece of filmmaking with less grotesque humor. Polyester still feels very much part of Water's other gross-out absurdities but it has a more simplistic structure and narrative, at least by comparison. During its initial release the film was presented in "Odorama", where audience members were presented with 10 snatch-and-sniff patches to smell throughout the running time. Divine has never been better than here, playing Francine in a frantic but very sympathetic way. She is an extremely kind woman who is treated like garbage at every turn and Divine pulls off this performance extremely well. Maintaining John Water's subversive qualities, Polyester is a very funny and energetic experience that pays homage and parodies the complex melodramas of 1950s.
On the surface, Abby Russell is a dedicated nurse who you wouldn't hesitate to trust with your own life. Unfortunately, Abby's nurse career is only a cover for her real job: Hunting down cheating men and brutally murdering them. When a younger nurse begins to uncover Abby's secret, Abby is forced into action in order to keep her cause against chauvinistic men a secret. Douglas Aamiokoski's Nurse is a tedious, tiresome, and schizophrenic film that has no idea what it wants to be. Nurse is basically a complete and utter mess that starts out as a subversive woman empowerment story (think Ms. 45) that turns into something that feels like a bad Single White Female ripoff. Tonally the film doesn't know what it wants to be, but its bigger problem is that it simply takes itself way too seriously. Nurse is a very silly story but the film plays it far too straight-faced, as if it actually believes its story is something unique or compelling. All of these problems aside, the most problematic aspect of Nurse is how gratuitously it objectifies its female characters. For a film about woman empowerment it has a ludicrous amount of objectification, taking every chance it can to show off the figure of its two female leads. Nurse is not a film that is scary nor fun, simply being a film that has no idea what it wants to be from both a thematic and tonal perspective.
Takafumi Katayama is a mild-mannered man who works at a department store. With his wife in a coma, Takafumi is tasked with raising his son alone and the pressures of everyday life are only mounting. In an effort to escape, Takafumi joins a mysterious S&M club where the "Queens" visit their clients unexpectedly, throughout their everyday lives. Initially Takafumi finds some enjoyment out of the abuse and humiliation these Queens provide, but when he's had enough he learns it's incredibly difficult to end his relationship with the club. Hitoshi Matsumoto's R100 is a bizarre and fully unique take on the Sex Comedy subgenre that takes its place firmly among other enjoyable midnight movies. This is my first time experiencing one of Hitoshi Matsumoto's films but it's clear he is a very creative filmmaker. Matsumoto plays with style and form to create a kinetic and engaging experience that's as entertaining as it's absurd. Matsumoto's film is gleefully self-aware, at times even questioning its own absurdity, in a film that essentially pits a mild-mannered family man against an international S&M organization. Hitoshi Matsumoto's R100 is certainly not a film for everyone, as its excessiveness is bound to turn off most consumers, but for those who know what they are getting into, R100 delivers a ridiculous bit of fun.
Jong-du, a young man, has just been released from prison after serving 2 years for manslaughter. Jong-du is not your typical criminal; he suffers from some form of mental shortcoming that leaves him a figety, snuffling, social outcast who cannot seem to get along with anyone. One of his first stops after being released is the family of the victim. He is met with hostility and sent away but not before seeing Gong-ju, a young woman who suffers from a severe case of cerebral palsy. Chang-dong Lee's Oasis has got to be one of the most unique and unconventional love stories ever told. Both Jong-du and Gong-ju find themselves constantly abused by their families, used whenever it's convenient and ignored whenever they actually need help. These two characters are souls who have trouble finding any real connection, with even the most simple of relationships being nearly impossible for them and yet they are able to form a powerful relationship with each other. Oasis is a film that really gets to the core of love examining these two individuals who are completely inarticulate. Even the communication among themselves is minimal but they support each other, take care of each other, and grow stronger together. With everything told through the point-of-view of our two flawed characters Chang-dong Lee creates a mesmerizing plea for tolerance, capturing the indictment of cruelty and indifference that family and society as a whole can have on anyone outside of this preconceived normality.
Based on true events, George Clooney's The Monuments Men tells the story of a group of unlikely soldiers who would risk their lives in an effort to save humanities culture. Tasked by FDR, these men made up of art curators and architects. were sent into Germany towards the end of WW II to rescue artistic masterpieces from the Nazis and return them to their rightful owner. The Monuments Men is a film in which I appreciate its intentions more than its actual filmmaking. For a film of this magnitude, The Monuments Men is surprisingly flat, featuring only a few moments of resonance throughout its two hour running time. With no specific character's point of view, the narrative suffers a bit from ping-ponging between the members of the monuments men which potentially hurt the films ability to affect the viewer emotionally during its intended moments of poignancy. This film is without question heavy-handed, with various characters routinely reminding the viewer just how important art is to our culture to the point that it became quite tedious. The Monuments Men does feature an exceptional cast, and even though it feels flat and a little light given the subject matter, I found myself enjoying most of the film. George Clooney's The Monuments Men is a nice history lesson tat is certainly an easy watch and while Clooney is not a great filmmaker there are a few strong moments of poignancy sprinkled throughout.
Jason, Daniel, and Mickey are three best friends living in New York City. Being twenty-somethings, much of their time is spent at bars where they attempt to pick up woman in an effort to get laid. When Jason, the biggest womanizer of the group, meets Ellie, his viewpoint on relationships and love in general come under question. Tom Gormican's That Awkward Moment is a generic cliche ridden story that we've all seen done a million times. I'm getting really tired of these types of movies portraying this womanizing behavior as the norm among twenty-something males with The Awkward Moment diving headfirst into these outdated gender roles. All of these types of films treat the idea of love and lust as a clear-cut, black and white issue instead of actually examining the fine line that is all the more common. All of that being said, the reason I couldn't enjoy That Awkward Moment at all was it just isn't very funny. A lot of the humor is forced and uneven, relying far too heavily on the charming talents of Michael B Jordan and Miles Teller to help mask a below average script that brings nothing new to the table. All of the characters outside of the three leads are paper thin, with no depth or dimensionality, simply being written in to help serve the intent of the story. That Awkward Moment is an instantly forgettable film that by and large wastes its talented young cast.
Ian Palmer's Knuckle is an exhaustive study of a 12-year feud in the Irish Traveller community. As a way to settle their differences, the feuding families partake in secretive bare-knuckle fighting that's as brutal as it's exhilarating for the winners. The story of Knuckle centers around two brothers from the McQuinn Mcdongh family who fight for their reputation and family name against the Joyce clan. To no surprise, Knuckle is a film that is brooding with machoism but where it excels most is its abilitiy to capture the brief moments of fear and enlightenment that strikes these men. James, a man whose never lost a fight in the Joyce-McDonagh feud, doesn't even have any true desire to keep fighting, often being roped into another fight in order to represent his family's name. James is a man who knows the risk of fighting, understanding how vapid these fights are, and there are brief moments of levity from James whose become a legend among the Irish Traveller community. This mob mentality, fueled by pride, is what forces James back into the ring, often having to accept another fight simply because of the trash talk of these individuals. While most of the film is spent with the McDonagh brothers, Knuckle does spend the time to capture the perspective of both families, as Ian Palmer tries desperately to grasp why this feud continues. Knuckle shows how these fights are part of a never-ending cycle, almost a right of passage for young men to stand in the ring and represent their family against the feuding clan.
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