Antichrist (2009)

After losing their only child, the couple retreats to a cabin in the woods to confront their troubled lives.

I hate it when people say they don’t like a particular movie because they don’t understand it. So if I’m going to not like something, I want to know that I’m not missing anything to judge it. When I first heard about this movie and all the talk surrounding it I had high expectations playing it. But by the end, I just didn’t understand what all the hype was about aside from some graphic scenes of sex and violence. Yes, the cinematography was very well done, and Charlotte Gainsbourg puts on a great performance. But besides those few well done components I had a hard time liking this movie. I tried to read up on others’ interpretation and analysis of the movie because I was desperate to know why there were so many who call this film a masterpiece. But the lightly sprinkled amateurish psychoanalysis with thin layers of Catholic witch hunt / pagan persecution references wasn’t really doing it for me. The unfocused plot and unlikable characters were like a distraction from the otherwise beautiful (though creepy) ambiance and scenery. Go watch the Exorcist again instead. [4/10]

The Fountain (2006)

Tommy journeys through space, time, and the meta-physical to find a way to save his dying wife.

This is a very hard film to categorize. It is part sci-fi, part drama, and part historical fiction - all running parallel to each other. It is a unique film in a way that only Daren Aronofsky can imagine it. All three stories are told in parallel order, mirroring itself as the movie progresses, even though Tommy’s wife is portrayed in different figures and objects. It is a complicated and abstract plot that could really take many viewings to comprehend, and even then people seem to come to different conclusions. It is beautiful in both its use of complex metaphors as well as in the simplicity of the core premise - that death is part of life. The extraordinary performance of Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman, beautiful score, and stunning visual effects only increases the viewing experience. Some may say that it is a little too dramatic, and the end a little bumpy. But I being very partial to Aronofsky’s work, I must politely ask them to shut their traps. [9.5/10]

Rating Guide

10: Perfect. You are not my friend if you haven’t watched it.

8-9: Awesome. I will constantly talk about it.

6-7: Pretty good. Not the best of the best, but definitely worthwhile.

5: It’s OK. Still worth at least a watch.

3-4: Pretty bad. Toss it back in the $1.99 bin.

1-2: Terrible. If you watch it, you can’t un-watch it.

0: Gouge my eyes out with a rusty fork.

Confessions (2010)

A middle school teacher unleashes a series of brutal revenge in response to the murder of her young daughter.

After reading about how this movie was being compared to Chan-wook Park’s vengeance trilogy I had to check it out. The movie communicates to the viewer by a series of stories each centered around each character of the plot. As the story progresses, fresh new perspectives and details emerge and pieces together with the main plot. Like Oldboy, the violence in this movie is highly stylized, showing generous amounts of blood and graphic images of murder. The cinematography and story telling aspect was superb and refreshing. However, while the movie succeeds in telling the story, I had a hard time accepting the balance of the plot. The idea that an adult would traumatically harm children was something that I found hard to accept throughout the entire movie. I would rate this movie much higher if the characters were of the same age, but this movie still deserves to be watched - just be ready to read a lot as there will be many lines of fast paced subtitles. [8/10]

Following (1998)

A writer obsessed with following people around teams up with a burglar but soon finds himself involved in a murder plot.

Christopher Nolan’s first film, Following, is about a young writer following people around London. Innocently at first, looking for characters to write about for his book, he finds himself being confronted by a burglar. He soon teams up with him to break into houses and shows him how to spot personal items to steal. Everything seems to fall apart when the writer starts seeing a woman he burglarized. It was interesting to watch Nolan’s first film in black and white. I could tell a lot of the non-linear editing has made it to his other movies such as Memento and Inception, as well as his gritty style making it into his Batman movies. However I could also tell that this was his first movie. The plot was formulaic and contrived, and the editing and pacing did seem to need more work. If you are a hardcore Christopher Nolan fan, you will enjoy watching the evolution of his films, but I can’t see myself recommending this movie to the mainstream audience. [6/10]

Visioneers (2008)

An office worker of the Jeffers Corporation becomes more and more unhappy about his workplace amongst people exploding from stress.

An indie flick from the UK, this film stories the everyday life of George, an office worker for the Jeffers Corporation. His workplace seems mundane, sterile, and eternal. There is even a clock on the wall that tells the employees exactly how many minutes of productivity is left of the week before the weekend. George’s life is a constant string of routine and bureaucracy. That is, except for people literally exploding around him due to stress and ‘feelings.’ The movie is reminiscent of films like The Office Space, Brazil, and 1984. And although the film wasn’t as radical and brilliantly done as those films, I did end up liking it. But ultimately it just wasn’t quirky enough to be memorable or unique. Being weird enough to not be mainstream, and not being bravely weird enough to become a cult classic, the movie suffers from a luke-warmness that doesn’t really stand out from a sea of indie films out there. If you think Brazil is too ‘out-there’ and The Office Space a little too everyday like, give this movie a try. Not many flaws, but nothing really that great either. [5.5/10]

The life of Others (2006)

An East Berlin secret police agent secretly becomes emotionally attached to a couple under his surveillance.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw this movie, as I picked it randomly from a list of movies to watch. Was I in for a treat! The story revolves around a secret police agent and a couple under his surveillance in East Berlin. His job is to listen through bugs planted around the house and report everything back to the agency. At first nothing seems out of the ordinary, and Ulrich, the agent, finds himself more and more attached to the intellectual couple emotionally. Later he discovers that the man he is watching is writing for an anti-communism magazine and becomes conflicted in his motives. Although I found the ending to be a little abrupt, and the pacing a little slow, the movie was superb in almost every other way. Even though the main characters never actually meet, the connection between them could be felt through out the movie. As I was watching the credits I couldn’t help but think about all the people who’ve helped me out through out my life, and wondered whether there was someone like Ulrich who sacrificed everything silently, and without reciprocation or even credit. [8.5/10]

The Man From Earth (2007)

John Oldman tries to convince a group of his friends that he has lived through the entire course of human history since he was a caveman.

Wow, now this was an interesting movie. Actually, as a movie, I was a little disappointed. The acting and directing seemed questionable as well as the script and score. To be honest, everything seemed to be put together in an afternoon and didn’t bother with re-takes. The whole movie takes place in John’s living room, and the plot is pretty much non-existent. However, the premise was interesting enough for me to continue watching till the end. The self proclaimed caveman talks about his fantastic, Münchausen syndrome-esque stories about his past life involving Columbus, to Buddha, to Jesus. Considering the writer, Jerome Bixby, also wrote for Star Trek and Twilight Zone, its not surprising that some of the ideas in this movie are great. But in the end, the ideas weren’t cohesive enough; ultimately rendering the movie in to an 80 minute interview. I don’t think this was a bad watch, but it is heartbreaking to see so much awesome ideas slapped together hastily. I’d still recommend this to anyone, but I’m afraid it won’t be liked but a few nerds like me. [6/10]

Cashback (2006)

A story of self reflection, observations, and love told from a perspective of a young art student who can stop time at will.

First, I must shamefully admit the provocative poster and premise of undressing women while time has stopped has drawn me to watch this film. My initial impression of the movie was that the film was an excuse to show racy scenes with cheap comedy mixed in. However there is much more than this film than what its tagline suggests. The best way to explain the general feel of the movie is that it is half Twilight Zone, half Art School Confidential, and err.. half Employee of the Month. The story follows Ben through his relationship with women throughout his life. And while some may dismiss the film as being written by an art school drop out; as a photographer myself, I could actually appreciate a large portion of the main character’s observations of the world around him. His philosophy on art was very relatable in this regard. I did find the concept of stopping time a little odd, and I feel like there could have been better ways to execute this concept without making the film look silly. Despite some flaws I found this movie to be enjoyable, though not very memorable. Recommended for guys who are looking for a chick flick told from a guy’s perspective that is watchable without wanting to blow your brains out. [6.5/10]

For the Bible Tells Me So (2007)

Feature length documentary on several Christian family’s “coming out” stories.

The title of this movie is a bit misleading as I was expecting an anti-religion movie. It turned out the movie was not focused on religion at all. The documentary was incredible in that the director was able to focus primarily on family and the personal experiences within them without turning it into a religion bashing film. Even though the documentary did feel a little long for a series of interviews, I thought the editing was incredible as the director pieces together snippets of interviews into a cohesive, broader story that is shared between all of the families. This film is honest, poignant, and relevant. Please watch it. [10/10]

Cast Away on the Moon (2009)

An unconventional love story between a man trapped on an uninhabited island and an agoraphobic internet addict.

This movie is about two complete strangers; one a man in debt trapped on an island by means of failed suicide, and the other an agoraphobic, social outcast who lives through her fake identity on the internet. The cinematography, acting, directing, and music score are all fantastic, but what makes this movie great is its unique plot and setting. Even though the two characters never meet until the very end of the film, the movie somehow succeeds in making me care about the characters and their strange relationship. Even though the premise seems a little far fetched, and the ending predictable in retrospect, it is incredibly easy to lose yourself in the narrative and enjoy the flow. It even manages to squeeze in some social commentary on debt, social disorders, and cultural issues. If you want to experience something new, funny, poignant, and worthwhile, I highly recommend this hidden gem from South Korea. A great watch for a lazy Sunday evening. [9/10]

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