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Week in Review: 3/2/14

Movies I Watched in the Last Week

1) Detropia - This might sound ignorant, especially since I've previously said that I prefer documentaries that take a neutral, observational stance on their subject matter, but I kinda feel like this documentary didn't really have a lot to say about Detroit.  It was more just a snapshot of the city's problems at the moment.  And while that's fine, I was expecting (or hoping for) more of an analysis and history of the city's financial issues.  On the plus side, there's some gorgeous shots, and I liked the final scene in which a singer performs opera in an abandoned warehouse.

My Rating:  3 / 5

2) Stoker - I was super excited about this movie, so maybe that's why I'm kind of feeling let down by it.  Stoker is easily Park Chan-wook's worst movie (that I've seen).  It's far too slow and it feels bloated even at only 100 minutes.  That being said, though, it's still a pretty good movie.  Like all (most?) of Park's movies, it's "enjoyable" in the sense that it's an incredibly uncomfortable and sobering look at disturbing subject matter, but it's made with some amazing style and flair.

My Rating:  3.5 / 5

3) The Yellow Sea - This is Na Hong-Jin's follow-up to The Chaser, which I also really liked.  And like The Chaser, it's bleak and devastating.  I'd definitely recommend this one, but you oughta go into it knowing that you're going to come out feeling like somebody just kicked you really hard in the gut.  It's not quite as well-paced as The Chaser, but it's significantly more complex and layered.  Come to think of it, I'm not even sure I totally understood the last half hour.  Still, this is a good one.

My Rating:  4 / 5

4) Clockwise - This is a comedy of errors with a non-ending.  I can't tell whether its ambiguity makes it better or worse.  Comedy is an odd genre since it's so fleeting; jokes have such a short shelf life, it seems.  Sometimes, the best you can hope for from a thirty year old comedy is that it holds your attention the whole way through.  This one at least managed that.

My Rating:  3 / 5

5) Craigslist Joe - This is one of those movies where you feel like an asshole criticizing it because the overall messages, themes, and sensibilities are so inspiring and hopeful that the intent is probably more important than the overall quality.  It's an odd movie because it's more a video diary than a documentary, and yet the central figure does not reflect too much on his actions or his journey except for a few scenes now and then.  Also, despite the generosity of the strangers Joe meets, there's never as much a sense of community since everybody's actions are ultimately disconnected when they each go on their own way.  I guess I would've liked to have seen a bit more introspection on Joe's part, or at least an epilogue to see if he stayed in touch with any of the people he met along the way.  Anyway, it's a feel-good movie that made me feel good, so I can't write it off.

My Rating:  3 / 5

6) Hustle and Flow - Sometimes I connect with a movie because of a specific association I've formed between it and a time or place in my life, and I think that's a huge part of why I liked this movie a lot.  I'll have to write about it in more depth later.

My Rating:  4.5 / 5

7) Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator - Man, I should've just listened to the reviews.  No matter how funny a title seems, sometimes you just have to stay away.  This will not make it to the Holy Grail, so I'll be negative for just a second and move on:  It's supposed to be a dark comedy about a bunch of crazy rich people who spend gobs of money on lavish "plays" that are really only meant for their own amusement, since they are both the players and the audience.  But because we are never allowed to get a global view of when their plays are starting or ending, it just feels like a cheap trick so that the director can just have the characters shrug and say, "Next scene!" instead of spending actual energy on any of the three Plots that this movie actually has.  The slow pace doesn't help any, either.

I guess I'd say that this had some really good ideas, but less good execution.  I'd love to see a remake, especially if they focused more on the rich people's lives outside of their performances so that you can have something to anchor yourself.  Later, if you want to try to make a mind-bending, "Is it a performance or is it reality?" statement, then you can at least go back to your anchor and say, "Well, I know that part is true."

My Rating:  2 / 5

Total: 7 Movies

Minutes I Spent Writing in the Last Week

1) Tale of 100 Stories - About three hours of revisions.

2) Some of Them Will Survive - About two hours.

Total: 5 Hours

The Winner:  Movies...

So, I ended up doing a movie-a-day, and that really makes it a one-sided battle.  On the plus side, I actually did some writing this week, so maybe my cold streak is ending.

Wait a minute... cold streak... it's almost springtime... there's some kind of metaphor here.  Give me a minute.

Ooh!  Looks like my writing is really gonna... spice things up!  Yeah!  God damn, I'm great.