We Need to Talk About Kevin isn’t as much a film as it is a stream of consciousness. Presented in an entirely non-linear structure and forgoing traditional storytelling, one might think Gaspar Noe directed it. Instead, Lynne Ramsay has brought the now famous best-selling novel to the screen, and if this movie is any indication, she is filmmaking force to be reckoned with. This isn’t just a literary adaptation; it’s a cinematic tour-de-force of the most chilling kind, propelled by extraordinary performances from three young men and career-best work from the great Tilda Swinton.
Browsing: Home Entertainment
Don’t go into the woods! The woods are silly with strategically unkempt hipsters carrying out their band practice and there may be no escaping the acoustic driven torture of their emotional warbling! While this was once a problem that mainly plagued the wooded areas of the Pacific Northwest, it has escalated in to a nationwide epidemic of bad beards and skinny jeans. Your best bet is to avoid wooded areas and the five block radius surrounding any Urban Outfitters store so as not to get swept up to become yet another casualty in the culture plague of ironic mustache humor. Vincent D’Onofrio wrote and directed a horror/musical about the dangers lurking in such hipster infested woods, appropriately titled Don’t Go in the Woods. If my facetious introduction isn’t doing anything for you, then try the first part of that last sentence, “Vincent D’Onofrio wrote and directed a horror/musical”. If that isn’t enough to warrant a viewing out of sheer morbid curiosity, then I’m not sure what else I can say to convince you.
The question isn’t so much how to live forever, the question is why anyone would want to live forever. This is the profound existential parable explored in Mark Wexler’s How to Live Forever as he journeys through the bigger questions of life with humor, heart, and a dizzying barrage of scientific tidbits. Mark is unsated by the answers from any one authority and approaches his documentary as an existential journeyman, open to all ideas and avenues for the unanswerable questions that have plagued humanity from its first moments of cognition. Western cultures hide from their own grief as the passing of loved ones offers an unwanted reminder to the citizens of our contemporary culture of narcissism that there is too much work to be done to accept the inevitable. Eastern cultures seemingly relinquish themselves to the inevitability of death’s call as they carry out their daily lives unhindered by the burden of ineffectual ambition. If there is one constant to be found in the key to longevity in any culture, it is in retaining a sense of purpose so that you may continually exercise both body and mind (good genetics and proper diet also don’t hurt).
If you’re like me, you have no idea who “Halston” is and why you should care, but as it turns out he was responsible for the fashion sensibilities of an entire decade as well as the first American fashion designer to gain worldwide prominence. He was a product of the 70s, a burning star that could only shine in a decade of hedonism and superficiality, and was an interesting character that may have been partly responsible for the current structure of the global economy. As it turns out, it isn’t just Nixon that could go to China, and Halston took his “minimalist chic” apparel to a country that was very much culturally isolated from the rest of the world (check the tags on your clothing, I’m sure in some convoluted way he is partly responsible for the fact that your clothes probably came from China). He was a controversial figure and a unique American character that came from an era that is completely alien to the world we now know.
Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, released by the Criterion Collection in a special two-disc set this week, finds him at his most playful in his ongoing exploration of the poetic, poignant lines that separate fiction and documentary, art and life, and now, original and copy. As in previous films like Close-up (1990) and those that constitute his “Koker” trilogy, especially Through the Olive Trees (1994), Kiarostami here puts his characters and narrative in that in-between space of being, which brings into the discussion the set of lines that separate filmmaker and spectator, intention and interpretation. In 2001, Kiarostami said to French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, “The only way to envision a new cinema is to have more regard for the spectator’s role.” Certified Copy is nothing short of an amazing, sensitive rumination on the enigmatic vagaries of feelings and relationships between men and women, in which the spectator plays an active role in the film’s de/construction of meanings.
Ah, new love… It’s a time of elevated hormone levels where you can make unrealistic prognostications about how the entire relationship will be for the rest of your lives together. This time it’s going to be different. You can’t understand how other couples continue with their pointless charade as clearly their love must have run out years ago. Naysayers are just projecting their relationship problems on to you, because despite all odds you’ve found the secret formula that will ensure that the mistakes of your past will not be made again. Unfortunately it doesn’t usually work that way, and if you aren’t prepared for the inevitable discovery that your spouse does not live up to the unrealistic expectations that you had set for them in the first months (or even years) of a relationship, you may not be prepared for the inevitable obstacles that lurk just around the corner.
Man often reproves the world, especially at the time of crisis or after the loss of a loved one. Man with tears question the existence of God sometimes, and some even slowly lose faith. The truth is that life is unforeseeable and it challenges us in many ways. If man decides to turn the pages of history, he will comprehend, and if he commences comparing the history with the contemporary society, he will realize that man, no matter how big the challenges, have always been in the center of battle. Ottway (Liam Neeson) in The Grey helmed by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, The A-Team) is the perfect example. The Grey is about seven oil workers, who are led by a skilled huntsman (Neeson) to survive after their plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness. It is freezing and these survivors are exposed. Not only are they challenged by the impact of the crash and the freezing snow and wind, they are being watched and one at a time hunted by a pack of remorseless wolves.
I was in elementary school during the heyday of the new “Gay Cancer” epidemic that was causing a national panic and rampant homophobia during its initial outbreak. The virus had only been identified a few years prior, and at that time it was devastating but it seemed like a problem that affected “other” people. I remember news headlines and ad campaigns that would show the lesions ravaged faces of AIDS patients suffering from Kaposi’s sarcoma, and I distinctly remember having the impression that was what AIDS “looked like”. It is intriguing from an anthropological perspective to watch a documentary like We Were Here and see the rampant ignorance that was being wildly perpetuated during those years, and the lasting impact that such ignorance had on a lot of otherwise intelligent people. It was a terrifying time and one that would shape the public perception of the gay community in contradictory ways for decades, and go on to change the dynamic of sexuality for gay and straight alike.
My Perestroika starts off with a Technicolor visage of a seemingly unending sea of Lenin’s Communist disciples as an articulate young kid pontificates from the podium. A Westerner during the Cold War would look upon such imagery with quiet terror, as these massive rallies represented a collective consciousness that was diametrically opposed to the Western way of life. Rationality tells us that a collection of human beings of that magnitude sharing a universal political belief system is unlikely at best, but the reactionary subconscious fear that has been ingrained in us since elementary school takes over and we think of the collective as possessing a singular consciousness. Our history books have dehumanized those that lived through watershed political events in the aims of creating a shorthand representation of an entire nation. Those shorthand representations tend to stick with us through adulthood if we don’t explore those global turning points more deeply with a more refined sense of objectivity.
It is truly a wonder that any of us make it through our twentieth year of existence in modern western society. We’re stuck in a transition period with no real sense of self as we drift aimlessly between childhood and adulthood without enough life experiences to contextualize all of the heightened emotions that our hormone addled bodies are experiencing. Such is the case for the characters in Tran Anh Hung’s Norwegian Wood. They are lost souls on the cusp of adulthood, with the urges and means to quench their lustful thirsts, but lacking in the maturity required to find the meaning of it all. Some of us don’t manage to make it through these formative years of post-adolescent development, leaving our peers to suffer the tragic consequences of our permanent and falsely romanticized deeds.