Category Archives: Blu Ray Reviews

Eraserhead: The Disillusionment of Fatherhood

725_BD_box_348x490_original

Eraserhead

Directed by: David Lynch

Starring: Jack NanceCharlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, and Jeanne Bates

Eraserhead (1977) directed by David Lynch, is a tricky film, it is essential an experimental horror film yet it is much more than that. From the start it feels so close to a dream that you forget that it tells the story of Henry Spencer and his journey through fatherhood. It’s been stated that Lynch’s films focus on the human experience and he himself stated that it is about “dark and troubling things” and if you look deep enough you can see that this movie portrays fatherhood as one of those dark and troubling things. He presents fatherhood as if it is this evil thing that will take over your life and not let you have any freedoms. It takes a subject that films usually don’t present in true form. Parenthood is a tricky thing that causes people stress and angst. It is a hard thing to do in life and most movie don’t present it that way. I feel Eraserhead shows it in a more true and somewhat surreal manner. When you look past that part about fatherhood you are still left to wonder about the beginning and much other things involved with the narrative; the woman in the radiator, the man in the planet, and the weird creatures that pop up here and there. These all are key factors to the story even if it is hard to pinpoint their purposes.

Henry Spencer’s (Jack Nance) life is changed when he gets unsettling news about his girlfriend and her premature birth. He is thrust into the role of being a father without a say in the matter. After a few days Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) leaves because she can no longer take the pressure of being a mother to a baby that shouldn’t be alive. This leaves Henry in the role of the lone parent at which point he escapes into his mind so that he can have his moments of peace. This is when Eraserhead turns into a surreal journey through Henry’s mind and his role of being a father. This when the woman in the radiator becomes important. She is clearly a figment of Henry’s imagination and provides him with an outlet of escaping his reality. They are never really seen together until the end when he kills his child but she is a big part of Henry’s escapism. One scene in particular is when the sperm like creatures, which look strangely like his son, come flying out at her and she keeps killing them all. This makes me think that it is Henry dreaming of a way to end the life of the creature that is his son. It is a heavy scene that gained a few laughs but shows just how much Henry hates being a father. That also brings it back to the beginning when the shot of Henry is superimposed to have the sperm like creature come out of his mouth. It once again shows just how much his son looks like said creature and his disposition with the creature and his son.

Most of the imagery of Eraserhead represents the mind of Henry and what he wants in life, it’s why he has weird sex with his next door neighbor. It is all him trying to escape the life that he is presently living, which it’s an unhappy one. He wants a life worth living and he is stuck raising the son of woman no longer present in the movie. Now some of the images don’t necessarily represent his terrible life or the sounds but the underlying them, in my opinion, is fatherhood and how it isn’t what people expect of it. Lynch himself said the movie was about dark and troubling thing, I think it refers to the fear of fatherhood and how it affects one’s mentality. Eraserhead is more than just a horror movie with a shocking finale but also a good analogy for fatherhood, industrialism, and dreams and there is still alot about this movie that no one will ever know. It is a movie that every time you watch it you find something  new and more interesting than the last viewing and is also why the movie will be able to stand the test of time and affect people now as it did in 1977.

Eraserhead is a true life passion project. David Lynch spent nearly four years making this movie and you can see the love that David Lynch had for the subject. The direction is superb and is something that is replicated in any of David Lynch’s other films.

The story is compelling and really is masterfully told. It requires the viewer to think and observe what really is going on. The mysterious beginning doesn’t provide a single explanation for what is going on and only makes the movie more interesting. The man in the planet can be interpreted as a god like creature controlling the fate of Henry and the rest of the characters within the movie. The sound design of the movie is really interesting. It makes for an interesting experience and makes it seem that there is something much more sinister going on on the outside of Henry’s world. These things are what make this movie even more mysterious. There is always something else going on in this world that isn’t even explored. Lynch is able to hide his true intentions and makes for an incredibly surreal experience. Nothing is as it seems and that is the movies true power.

Criterion’s release is breathtaking and their most anticipated this year. The packaging alone is simply beautiful and the picture is the best that Eraserhead has looked. The features are plenty and give you a thorough look at the making of this movie. I could recommend this movie more and is worth the price of a Criterion blu ray.

Advertisements

The Double Review, A Visually Stunning Mess

the-double-poster2

The Double

Directed by: Richard Ayoade

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Yasmin Paige, and James Fox

Richard Ayoade managed to surprise me with his directorial debut Submarine, so naturally I was excited to see what else he could do as a director. Submarine appealed to me based on my love of Wes Anderson, he is clearly had an influence on this film and it can tell. Although I couldn’t get it out of my mind while watching it, I still found a lot to like about the movie. Now The Double feels like another directors work, Terry Gilliam. Throughout the movie I noticed the parallels it had to movies like Brazil and 12 Monkeys. This really made me realize that Richard Ayoade is seriously lacking a style of his own. His movies feel anything but his own. He may be able to direct his actors well and control the camera well but he seriously needs to develop his own style of filmmaking instead of purely homaging other directors work.

Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) sits alone in a completely deserted subway car. He clenches his briefcase to his chest and waiting to arrive at work. An unknown man approaches him and tells him that he is sitting in his seat. Simon looks around and eventually he moves for the man. This shows us just how timid he is and really shows the audience the kind of person he truly is. Even if there is other empty seats on the train he lacks the courage to tell the man to sit somewhere else. He arrives at work only to get his briefcase stuck in the doors of the train causing him to lose it. He arrives at his work only to get declined access. He can’t help but messing up. He goes unnoticed by his peers and the girl he is infatuated with.  We get a good sense of who he is in a span of 10 minutes and that’s one of the film’s strengths.

We soon meet the girl of Simon’s affection, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), a lonely girl who works in the copy room. He always goes to visit the copy room but never has the courage to ask her out. It is not till a night when a man kills himself in the courtyard in the apartment complex that Hannah and Simon share. Distraught the two end up having dinner together and start to realize that they have a lot in common. A few days later we are introduced to James Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) a lookalike of Simon James who begins working at his job. Not long later he begins to usurp Simon and becoming a formidable force at his job and soon the same thing begins to happen to his life. He begins to go down the dark path of not knowing the difference between reality and what is in his head.

I really enjoy what Richard Ayoade brought to the screen with The Double and even more so with Submarine. The biggest problem with The Double is the story. Based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short “The Double” it tells the story of two doppelgängers battling it out in dystopian like future, which isn’t quite explained. Nothing is truly compelling about the story itself. It was a rather repetitive shallow story about a man losing his life to a “different” person. Simon would interact with James pleasantly in one scene and in the next he is at his throat, it is just a repeat of the same formula. This happens throughout the entire movie, up to the very expected ending that shows just how unimaginative the story actually is. There is not true depth to the story at hand and if you really want to look into it the entire movie is revealed within the first 20 minutes. With Enemy it left it a mystery while on the other hand The Double gives you too much information.

Some believe this to be a comedy, just like Calvary, but I don’t think I found a single humorous moment. I’m not sure why it is being claimed as one but if that is what people are taking away from this movie that it is fine.

Were the story lacks the technical side of the film is amazing. Even though Jesse Eisenberg is able to convincingly play two different characters. He is both timid and mesmerizing. Richard Ayoade is very competent when it comes to directing actors, I don’t think there was a single dull performance. Given that Ayoade is also a very good comedian and I think it helps his directing and the talent that he brings behind the camera.

Even if I feel that the style of the movie is not his own I do still like the style that was brought to the film. The sense of dread and melancholy is shown very well with the sets and cinematography. One of the highlights of the film is the style. Brazil was a heavy influence on the film stylistically and did add to the film. I only wish that Ayoade would pick a certain style and stick with it.

Though it appears that I don’t like the movie that much given the content of the review I did actually enjoy myself watching it. It has its fair share of problems and I feel the hype for this movie really doesn’t pay off in the end.

Grade: C

Enemy Review A Mesmerizing Psychological Thriller

enemy-poster

Enemy

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Jake GyllenhaalMélanie LaurentSarah Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini

Enemy asks the question “What would you do if you meet a person who looked exactly like you?” While it asks the question it doesn’t exactly answer it. It lets you think for yourself and answer the question yourself. I’ll admit that it is a little too vague sometimes but I found myself trying to answer all the mysterious elements that this film contains. Another movie came out this year that dealt with a similar concept, The Double, but never really asked the questions one would think a film like this would. I find the movie to be utterly fascinating but a little alienating towards it’s audience.

The film opens up with a man (Jake Gyllenhaal) sitting in a dimly lit club with men all around him. The man is watching an erotic dance, of sorts. Naked woman dance on stage which ends with one dancer crushing a spider with her heel. We cut to a pregnant woman laying alone in bed.

We are then introduced to Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) teaching a group of students about dictatorships and how they have come to be. He then goes back to his apartment, makes dinner, grades papers, and then has sex with his girlfriend before going to bed and repeating this routine day in and day out.

One day at lunch, Adam is talking to one of his coworkers and he recommends Adam check out a movie called ‘Where There’s a Will There’s a Way’. That night Adam can’t sleep, so out of curiosity he pops the movie into his computer and begins watching it. After finishing it he notices that one of the actors looks exactly like him. From this point out he becomes obsessed with finding out his identity and why they look alike. This leads Adam down a path that he will not be able to come back from.

The true power of this film is that it doesn’t reveal to much. It gives you the perfect amount of information and lets you decide what it means. A common motif of this movie is the use of spiders. There are plenty of scenes within Adam’s dreams and every time there is some sort of reference to spiders, whether it is a giant arachnid walking across the city scape or a woman with the head of a spider walking upside down. There have been many interpretations of this film so far. An interpretation that I read earlier states the movie is about something more sinister than anything I could have come up with. Some believe that the movie is about a dictatorship that is secretly run alien arachnids. Now that seems a little out there.

I can understand the idea that the movie is about a dictatorship and that no one really realizes that they are living in a fascist regime. It is completely plausible given the lectures that Adam gives during the movie. What I feel the movie was about was an identity crisis with this man Adam. One of the things that spider signify in dreams is a want to distance yourself from alluring and tempting situations. Throughout the movie Adam is having a relationship with Mary (Mélanie Laurent). In my opinion Adam and Anthony are the same exact person and, as a coping mechanism, Adam created an entire different personality so that he doesn’t feel guilty about cheating on his wife. This movie is completely complex and it knows that. You can dig deep and look into the film that you can’t for most movies and that what I like about the film. It takes a concept that is rather simply and easy but makes it much more than that.

All around it is a solid movie with subtly intense performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. The entire movie rests on his shoulders and he hits it out of the park. He plays both characters differently and makes them their own but also gives the movie its life. Sadly the other two main actors don’t do much but then again they aren’t given much to do. With what Sarah Gadon is given she does a great job as the pregnant wife of Anthony but in the end she isn’t that well developed.

Mind you the story isn’t that great. It is just about a man in search for answer and that’s all it is meant to be. There isn’t a big story arch or distinct acts but that is the power of the film. It lets the story evolve with the character instead of the other way around. Meanwhile the style of the film is one of the strengths. It makes the city of Toronto feel like this alien place.

The movie does a lot right but it may alienate the audience with it’s mystery and lack of answers. It is a difficult watch but absolutely worth the ride if it is the kind of movies you enjoy.

Grade: A-

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review, A Bad Sequel to a Bad Remake

the-amazing-spider-man-2-spidey-poster

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Directed by: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, and Sally Field

It was a strange decision to hire an unexperienced director, such as Marc Webb, to direct a movie completely outside his wheel house. 500 Days of Summer is a well-built relationship drama, it was a completely different interpretation of the typical relationship cliches. The major thing that Marc Webb was able to bring to the The Amazing Spider-Man was his sense for people and the relationship between characters. Outside of the relationship stuff between Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) and Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) the first movie isn’t all that good. Whereas the original trilogy nailed Spider-Man perfectly but failed to make the chemistry between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) completely unrealistic and kinda fake. On the other hand The Amazing Spider-Man nailed Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey’s chemistry it fails to make the villains and the core story interesting and really ruins this series.

The movie begins with one of the only scenes in the movie that alludes to the mystery behind Peter Parker’s parents. After leaving Peter (Andrew Garfield) with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) and his wife Mary Parker (Embeth Davidtz) try to escape on a plane while uploading Richard’s research. Little did they know that the pilot has been killed and their lives were in jeopardy. Richard does his best to stop the kill only to meet his fate but not before finishing the upload. The plane crashes and then it cuts to Spider-Man chasing down Aleksei  Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), in his worst acted role. During the chase he saves loner scientist Max Dillion (Jamie Foxx).

Meanwhile Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) is at their high school graduation. Concerned, Gwen calls Peter and tells him to get back to graduation. His duties to Spider-Man makes him late but only barely.  Max Dillion, after being saved by the web slinger, begins obsessing of the superhero and wants to get noticed just like Spider-Man does. He is ignored at work and then stuck working late in a lab that he doesn’t know. This leads him to getting zapped by the power cable that was causing all the problems. He then falls into a vat of eel, you know electric eel because why not, effectively killing him. He is resurrected by the electricity that he consumed. He leaves to find a power source that can recharge him. He arrives in Time Square and start causing havoc, leading to Spider-Man showing up. He begins trying to reason with him only to realize that Spider-Man has forgotten who he was. This leads Max to go crazy and leads him to want the fame that Spider-Man has and to get that “fame” he needs to kill Spider-Man

Over at Oscorp Industries, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns to take control of the company that his father started. He is mad at the way he was treated by his father, leading to him changing some of the policies that his father emplaced.  Harry learns that he has the same disease that his father has and realizes that he is starting to develop the same symptoms. This leads him on a quest to find Spider-Man and harvest his blood for his own needs. He eventually teams up with Electro to take down Spider-Man and fulfill their needs to use Spider -Man for their own good.

The story is the biggest problem that this movie suffers. It’s convoluted and doesn’t do anything new or note worthy. Harry Osborn is one note and is essentially a carbon copy of Willem DaFoe’s portrayal of Norman Osborn in the first Spider-Man. His characters evolution is exactly the same. He runs the company only to get fired from the company because he was framed. This causes him to go crazy and gets superpowers from another Oscorp experiment. It is the same evolution of the villain except condensed into 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. Electro is another problem here. His motivations are terrible. He is essentially a Spider-Man stalker who gets superpowers. There is nothing interesting about him and barely does anything to help the story. Just like the first Amazing Spider-Man, this movie promises to reveal more about the story of Richard Parker but only two scenes are dedicated to this plot point and it feels like they don’t know what to do with the material.

I gotta admit that Marc Webb handles the romance material really well. The majority of the story focuses on Gwen and Peter’s relationship, building it up so that you can get more invested in the final payoff of the film. It bogs down an already convoluted and frustrating storyline. It is an interesting look at their relationship but spending the majority of the time on it feels a bit overkill.

The action that accompanies the movie is thrilling and well done but it is so sparse and limited that it doesn’t do anything to save the movie. In the end, Electro’s plan is to steal power from the power plant running the city. His overarching plan for this is so that everyone will notice who he is. Electro isn’t given anything to do but his action scenes are well thought out.

The performances are all across the board. You have some really good performance and then absolutely terrible ones. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have this radiant chemistry that makes the relationships believable. Garfield uses his wit and humor to portray Peter Parker as a typical wallflower kid of his generation. Tobey Maguire always felt old in the role and his chemistry with Kirsten Dunst was a little off. On the other hand the Jaime Foxx was the only actor portraying a villain that actually tried in his role, sadly it was incredible under written. Dane DeHaan, who I usually like, was bland and unnecessary. The limited screen time of Paul Giamatti was a blessing because his corny portrayal of The Rhino was grating and really angered me. As bad as Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans) was as a villain, he looks good compared to these characters.

There were some fun qualities in this movie but all the bad things out stay their welcome and really mess up any potential that this movie had.

Grade: D