Last night was a quiet, warm summer evening. I worked out, grilled some burgers, and relaxed with a movie. As I stated in my last post, this is the last free summer of my life before becoming a slave to my Step 1 score, the ensuing clinical rotations, residency, a career, retirement, then death. After working extremely hard this past year and devoting so much time to school, I’ve decided that I can be completely lazy, lounge around, without a care in the world, freed from any sort of guilt that might accompany lying on your couch and watching movies all afternoon.
So, aside from lifting, working on my tan, reading books,
watching a few Sketchy Videos, doing weird things at music festivals, getting drunk with my friends, working on medical research, and bartending once in a while, I’ve been nurturing my inner cinephile by checking out an array of different movies every week to fill the void between Twin Peaks episodes.
I enjoy putting my thoughts and opinions on music and movies into word format, but I don’t have the time to write an entire post reviewing each movie, nor do I have the energy to write that much on most movies without being redundant. While I could easily churn out 10,000 words dissecting Mulholland Drive, ain’t nobody got time for that. So, I came up with the idea to write short reviews on the last few movies I’ve watched, while assigning a numerical value from 1-10. There is no rhyme or reason behind my rating system. Just here to give my honest take on recent movies I’ve watched, and hopefully give ya’ll some good recommendations.
47 Meters Down (2017)
Everyone has favorite genres and themes in the movies they like to watch, and I am a sucker for space movies and anything that has to do with the ocean. So, 47 Meters Down seemed like a good pick for me. However, all you have to do is watch a preview to know that this wasn’t going to be some Jaws level work. I was interested to see how they’d stretch a story about two young girls trapped in a shark cage surrounded by ravenous great whites into a full length film. Perhaps an air tight script? No such luck. The script was so laughably bad that it was hard to take seriously. It seemed that every single line coming out of a character’s mouth was blatantly obvious foreshadowing for something that was bound to happen within five minutes. The film starts out with some poor attempts at character development in which the dialogue is so corny and juvenile that you simply can’t wait for someone to be eaten. In most shark attack movies, you’re on the edge of your seat rooting for the main characters to reach land safely, but very early on in 47 Meters Down, you find yourself yearning for the more annoying girl to be chewed up by one of the sharks so that you don’t have to hear her speak anymore. Nevertheless, the movie had some cool shots, a little suspense, quite a few laugh out loud moments, as well as a predictable, yet non-Hollywood ending, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
I’ve heard a lot about Videodrome, seeing it hyped up by horror fans for years, and after putting it off forever, I decided to finally give it a shot late night last week. The darkly erotic 80’s horror flick didn’t exactly keep me completely entertained throughout, nor was it particularly enjoyable to watch, but I have to admit that Videodrome made me feel more uneasy than anything I’ve seen in a long time. So that’s dope. The premise behind the movie is that anyone who watches “Videodrome”, a series of videos depicting real snuff murder, torture and rape, it brainwashed in way to become a slave to hallucinations and mind control by the people who run it. Kind of had a Robocop meets Halloween III: Season of the Witch feel, and the actual horror in the movie isn’t particularly gruesome, gory, or traditionally “scary”, but the theme of our society’s obsession with the exploitation of other’s pain coupled with the notion that the media controls our minds was a pretty inventive and original story. The film really prods at our mindsets of murder, death, torture, and pretty much taunts us for how desensitized we are to such atrocities. While Videodrome tells the story of a man watching torture being brainwashed to kill, to a lesser extent you can see the parallels to modern corporate brainwashing on an economic scale. (Look, Kylie Jenner is so plastic and perfect and pretty, spend your money on her products!) Not something I want to watch again, but I’m definitely glad I saw it and all of its fucked up glory.
The Belko Experiment (2016)
Group of people report for work at their corporate office one morning, only to become trapped inside by their employers and instructed to kill each other to survive. Intriguing premise. The first half of the movie builds tension, but midway through you start to realize that the movie runs out of ideas very quickly and devolves into a Saw sequel on a larger scale. Who will live? Who will die? Who is willing to kill to stay alive? While The Belko Experiment tries to make you question what you, a (hopefully) sane, moral person who isn’t completely comfortable with the idea of stabbing your coworker in the eye with your pencil, would do in a situation where you were faced with the choice of brutally murdering an innocent person to save your own life. But once you learn to stop caring about the characters, the movie becomes comedy-horror in which half of the gruesome deaths are downright hilarious. Major points for Dr. Cox of Scrubs (John C. McGinley) becoming the most hate-ably funny psychopathic villain in a horror movie. But still, the gore, humor, and plot line aren’t quite enough to make up for the lack of ideas as the movie becomes redundant. The final twist at the end is also incredibly predictable, and leaves you with many unanswered questions. And not in a cool open-ended Lynchian way. Just seemed like a lazy gory horror comedy. But if you hate your coworkers and daydream about ways to murder them all with various office supplies, look no further!
As I previously stated, I’m game for just about any movie set in outer space. I heard mixed reviews about Life, but space and a solid cast and aliens meant that I had to give it a shot. There’s nothing really groundbreaking or remarkable about this movie – no crazy special effects or mind-blowing visuals coupled with a routine story. Alien aboard a spaceship. The astronauts fight to stay alive. The alien monster was pretty cool. Some pretty gnarly deaths throughout. Highlights of the movie include the first death. Without giving anything away, it’s pretty unexpected and a ballsy move by the folks who wrote the movie. Points there. There’s a cool twist and unexpected villain towards the middle. Points there as well. Lastly, I didn’t see the ending coming and I love when a big-budget Hollywood movie doesn’t fall victim to predictability and cliches, so I can safely say that Life is a fun spin on a traditional story. Definitely not a can’t-miss movie, but worth the watch.
25th Hour (2002)
Another movie I had been meaning to watch for years. Spike Lee’s masterpiece follows Edward Norton’s final day as a free man before reporting for a seven year prison sentence. Lee captures the New York grit with anxiously gloomy cinematography and explores the relationships between Norton’s character and the people he surrounds himself with, providing a captivating glimpse into the dynamics of friendship, love, trust, and loss. While carried by another solid Edward Norton performance, the support of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, and Brain Cox provides the film with an immense amount of depth and character in the 135 minute runtime. Barry Pepper’s scene and confrontation with Rosario Dawson in the bar is just one example of the great writing throughout the movie. All in all, this is one of the best movie’s I’ve watched in a while and I highly recommend it.
That’s it for the first round of my movie reviews. During my mostly lazy summer comprised of sleeping, working out and drinking, I’ve really enjoyed being a bum some nights and turning on an interesting movie without a worry in the world. I’ll post routine installments in this series once I’ve watched another handful of movies. While I hope to give people some good recommendations, please feel free to recommend some movies you think I’d enjoy in the comment section below.
If you enjoyed reading my takes on movies, be sure to check out my previous article on some of my favorite movie scenes of all time.