Owing primarily to the contemporary Hollywood paradigm, any film which demonstrates a particularly large quantity of bloodshed is automatically branded with that most unsavoury of appellations: “torture porn”. Martyrs, Pascal Laugier’s 2008 French horror film, is no stranger to this label, its brutality immediately motivating its critics to set it among the ranks of these films largely dismissed as tasteless, tactless, and tawdry satiations of modern audiences’ violent voyeurism.
Someone wiser than me once said that the best brand of humor is the kind a person or a collective group can look at, and find some identifiable truth to. It’s been several hours since I’ve left a packed theater, to have found myself cheated for a meager $10 that I spent to view Todd Phillips’ disastrously bad sequel to The Hangover. Is it the worst thing I’ve ever seen? certainly not. Is it the worst thing playing at your nearest theater, probably so.
At once a caustic political allegory and a compelling study in pathological repression, The Invisible Eye, from 35-year-old Argentine auteur Diego Lerman, bears many of the hallmarks of the brilliant Michael Haneke. Indeed, Lerman’s film – about an emotionally and sexually stifled young supervisor in an elite, junta-era Buenos Aires high school – is particularly reminiscent of Haneke’s celebrated La Pianiste. Happily, neither Lerman, nor The Invisible Eye, itself, are unduly flattered by the comparison.
It is difficult to reconcile the inquisitiveness and doubt that are intrinsic to human nature from an evolutionary perspective. Why did we develop a boundlessly curious nature? What purpose does it serve for the survival and propagation of our species? We put ourselves above all other living creatures in the hierarchy of the living world because we possess consciousness and an insatiable appetite for knowledge and discovery, but what is it exactly that we are searching for?
Johnny Depp sails the seas once again as Captain Jack Sparrow in this the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, entitled On Stranger Tides. In his latest adventure, Sparrow finds himself on a perilous quest to locate the elusive fountain of youth. With Gore Verbinski‘s departure from the Pirates‘ franchise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer has turned to the talents of director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) to carry this blockbuster franchise forward.
Director Kelly Reichardt is a filmmaker that is well known for executing her vision with a certain amount of palpable fervor and conviction. However minimal her films are, Reichardt’s best efforts examine the underbelly of a fractured Americana. Reichardt’s latest effort is a revisionist Western that follows a group of settlers through the Oregon desert in 1845 while they’re frequently pit against harsh conditions.
Andrei Rublev may be one of the few high water marks of cinematic achievement. It is difficult to reflect on the film while resisting the temptation to describe it with overwrought hyperbole. Its masterful use of historical context, religious overtones, and the grandiosity of its epic scale laid the framework for Tarkovsky’s deeply personal and introspective ruminations on the redemption of humanity.
In Scott Stewart’s futuristic western horror, Priest, humans and vampires have been at war with each other for ages. This sustained combat had consumed the Earth; leaving regions uninhabitable. In response to the growing vampire threat, the Church had established a secret society of ‘Priests’ to fend off the vampires and end the bloodshed. Touched by God, these ‘Priests’ were an outfit of elite warriors who used their superior skills and weapons to defeat the vampires, bringing an end to the brutal conflict.
Long has the western genre been plagued by the Hollywood romanticized interpretations of the old west derived from popular Western fiction, including the writings of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. This traditional view of western cinema is largely composed of the iconic cowboy figure, climatic showdowns at dawn, and beautiful desert landscapes.
The movie opens with a sword held at a forty-five degree angle pointing at the mossy ground. Then the knight holding the sword swings slowly at his opponent and severs his head and then the decapitated victim falls to the ground and the blood shoots out like a scarlet spray. Other images of improbable violence follow. Once this litany of gruesome comedy is over, there begins a perverse version of the Arthurian legend, where everything is indescribably wrong, like a film projected at the wrong speed or based on discarded outtakes. An aesthetic that never falters, up to the bloody and severely anti-climactic end, an awkward close to parallel the flying heads and reddish squirts of the first scenes.