The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Review, An Emotionally Intense Love Story

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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Directed by: Ned Benson

Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, William Hurt, Viola Davis, and Bill Hader

Claimed to be the “One of the Most Romantic Love Story Ever”, based on the quote from the poster. The movie is the farthest thing from romantic, that’s like saying Blue Valentine is “romantic”. What makes it so good is that it skips the idea of romantic movie, the two characters meet and develop a relationship only to be tested down the road and eventually resolving their conflict, and goest straight to the destruction of their relationship and the ramification of their marriage. The marketing for this movie was terrible, showing us a movie that was completely different from the product but it  subverts your expectations and delivers one of the most compelling character study of two damaged souls trying to rekindle a dead relationship.

Beginning at one of the only happy point in their relationship, as shown in the movies timeline. We open up on Eleanor Rigby (Jessica Chastain) and Connor Ludlow (James McAvoy) enjoying their meal at a local restaurant. Connor asks Eleanor what she would do if he didn’t have the money to pay for the bill. The two decide to dine and dash. After being chased out of the restaurant, Eleanor and Connor run towards Central Park and enjoy the rest of the night in the park.

 We cut to Eleanor riding her bike to the Brooklyn Bridge where she attempts to take her life. We learn that their marriage has fallen apart due to the death of their child which has hurt Eleanor and Connor in different ways. Eleanor believes that her life is no long worth living and Connor has resorted to withdrawing himself from their relationship. After the attempt on her life, Eleanor moves back in with her family and then goes back to finish school. Connor on the other hand has let his bar go into shambles and is on the brick of closing. Both of their lives have taken a turn for the worse and they are lost without each other.

Originally conceived as two separate movies focusing on each others experience. After the premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival the movie was eventually edited into one version called Them. Watching the movie you can tell that each other had a completely different style for their stories. Eleanor’s story was a bit more vibrant with brighter colors and Connor’s story was a little more muted and featured a more grey color scheme. I like this because it shows a lot about their emotions. Eleanor was learning to move on from her wrecked marriage and the cinematography represented her changing view of life. The muted style of Connor’s story showed his emotions towards their situation and how he can’t move on from the turmoil that has befallen them.

In the end each other are still drawn to one another and still feel that the can rekindle their relationship but eventually the move even farther apart. The story telling of this movie is simply amazing. It takes the time to view each others emotion and how they both decide to handle everything. We switch between their perspective and shows what they are going through. Throughout the movie you can tell that it was originally two movie but as one it succeeds at showing pure emotion.

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy both create characters that are fully realized and are able to make you care for these characters and their struggles. Jessica Chastain shows her range as an actress and proves that she is a powerhouse performer and deserves the recognition from her peers. James McAvoy also shows that he has the capability to be an amazing actor. This is by far his best performance of his career. He brings you in and lets you live the character that he has brought to screen. This movie is much more an actors film that a story driven film but with these two performances it completely works.

 I loved the way that this movie was done and I am complete invested in the characters as well as the story. I highly recommend everyone seeing this movie but beware it is a hard experience.

Grade: A

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Eraserhead: The Disillusionment of Fatherhood

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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.

Tom Hardy Actor Profile

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Tom Hardy has been on a hot streak lately. He has been acting for quite sometime but it wasn’t until Bronson that he got noticed. His performance in Bronson is nothing short of amazing. He has a raw intensity that really elevates a rather simple movie. He entered the game in Black Hawk Down and acted in smaller roles is plenty of movies including the main villain in Star Trek: Nemesis but really didn’t get the street credit that he does now. Inception was the next movie where he really stood out. Working with Christopher Nolan really expedited his career in the best possible way. He brought complexity to a character who didn’t get enough screen time. Not long afterwards he played the character Tommy Riordan in Warrior which was another performance showcasing his ability to make a treating and imposing character while also grounding him reality. Before Warrior and after Inception, Hardy was cast as the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, a perfect casting considering his roles in Warrior and Bronson. The Dark Knight Rises made him the house hold name that he is today. He was able to express sincere emotion while wearing a mask that covered the majority of his face.

Even in the poorly received This Means War, Hardy is able to bring some depth to his character. It wasn’t until Locke that he was able to use the extent of his talent. He gives a stunning performance as Ivan Locke, a construction manager and his tough decision between his job, wife, and the destructive force that will tear everything apart. Set in a singular location the entire film rests on Hardy’s shoulders and he is able to carry the movie and elevate his talent.

Even The Drop (review in progress) even with two other fantastic performances from James Gandolfini and Matthias Schoernaerts, who is just as powerful an actor you are unable to take your eyes of his performance.

Sometimes an actor will play the same character in every movie, I’m looking at you Tom Cruise, but you never once think that Tom Hardy is imitating the same character but instead creating a completely new character every time. I think this is what makes Tom Hardy the powerhouse actor that he is.

Frank Review An Interesting Yet Unengaging Comedy

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Frank

Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Scoot McNairy

As soon as I saw the trailer for this movie I was completely sold. It looked like a weird yet quirky comedy that had a quite unique premise. The inclusion of Michael Fassbender as the paper mache head wearing Frank was a stellar casting choice and does an amazing job of making an emotionally fragile musical genius. Sadly once I saw the movie I was slightly disappointed by the outcome. Some comedy films are able to strike a chord with me but the comedy here isn’t entirely for me.

Inspired by the comedian Chris Sievey and his persona Frank Sidebottom, Frank begins with Jon (Domhnall Glesson) staring off into the horizon. He is singing songs to himself in his head trying to come up with the next music idea for him. He runs home, still coming up with other song ideas, and when he gets there he finally hits the mark. Once he begins to write the song he realize just how bad it actually is. Yet again he fails with ideas for his dreams. One day he runs in to the band Soronprfbs lead by Frank (Michael Fassbender) who invites him to join the band after the attempted suicide of their keyboardist.

Jon travels with Frank and his band to the hillsides of Ireland. There they begin recording their new album but due to Frank’s perfectionism they spend much more time in the cabin in the woods than anyone would have expected. At the cabin we begin to learn more about Jon, Frank, and the rest of the band.

The strange thing about Frank is that it feels like two completely separate movies. One is a character study taking place in a cabin and the other is the road movie that leads them to the South by Southwest festival in Texas and the eventually destruction of the band. I was fascinated by the first and second acts and how the characters interacted. It was a deeper look into what went into the process of making an album and the people behind it. It was sad the way that the movie ended up going. Slowly as the movie progressed after this point made me like the movie less and less as it went on. What was an enjoyable hour turned it to a complete downer of an ending that really felt different than the premise and first hour promised.

Other than those problems I had big problems with the tweeting and voice over that is in the movie. It became very annoying every time Jon tweets about the events that take place in the movie. I understand the reasoning of it but I felt that the movie would have been fine without it.

Even though it is labeled as a comedy I don’t know if it was truly that funny. It had it’s humorous moments but it felt more like a quirky drama. I am sure that the audience that this movie is meant for will eat this movie up and laugh their asses off but I am not part of the group of people. I was attracted by the sheer strangeness of the movie and not so much for the comedy elements.

Outside of the flaws of the story I really enjoyed the movie. The first hour is fun and exciting. It showed certain things that we don’t really see about the creative side of art. You get the overall sense that these characters care about what they are doing. During the movie Frank may have wanted to be love by people but in the end he gives up on that venture and goes back to the way things were. He grows as a character and the mask only held him back from his true potential. That side of the story is endlessly fascinating and shows the true power of this movie and that is to make you care about a character that never really shows the audiences his true face. The biggest question that it asks is “can you compromise your life and art for popularity and fame” and I feel that the movie answers it completely.

I can’t entirely dismiss this movies problems that are prevalent in it’s final act but I did really enjoy the movie and found a lot of value in what I was watching.

Grade: B-

http://www.sundaydogparade.com/2014/05/frank-movie-poster.html

Check out Ryan Gajda’s, who created this poster that I used, blog Sunday Dog Parade. He is quite the artist and provides great artwork of great movies as well.

The Double Review, A Visually Stunning Mess

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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

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