Thursday, February 19, 2015

Best Picture 2015 Reviews

This weekend is the Academy Award so I had to hurry and watch every movie nominated for Best Picture to give a brief review of each.
These were the movies:

American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Birdman
Selma
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Whiplash
The Theory of Everything
 


I don't know what the rules are for nominations are but there can be between 5 and 10 nominees. This year there are 8 and I watched them all as the Internet quality finally recovered here in Latin America. I could buy all these on bootleg DVDs on the street, costing maybe $1 each, but that seems old fashioned  and all the dialogue would be in Spanish. So I watched them all on various streaming services although efforts are being made to shut down these sites because, well, it's blatant copyright infringement. But that's a topic for another day. Right? People are nuts! Christians believe a virgin mother gave birth to the son of the creator of the universe. This man was crucified and then came back to life, not as a zombie, but as a superhero with magic powers of levitation. A woman reports a rape and the same people turn into the world's biggest skeptics and act like she's reporting a UFO abduction. Moses, who lived 120 years, parted the 1700ft deep Red Sea, but 7 billion people driving cars can not affect the climate.  Grown adults are saying, "We should be able to insult all religions equally." and religious zealots promise to kill anyone who insults their religion...and this is somehow confusing for people. There is no predicting human behavior but there are many ways to dramatize it with film.

Film is an approximation of human experience and mostly films fall far short of authenticity. Their reach exceeds their grasp, market research both helps a film find focus and also drains any kind of originality from it. Traditional film theory and traditional story arcs rule cinema in 2015. Veterans like Clint Eastwood and Rookies like Ava DuVernay are almost indistinguishable from one another because all films are boiled down to a common totality. I can hear sweating producers asking, "Where's the Oscar moment?" and the editors scurrying to create one. This is at once required to maintain world order but it also has reduced cinema to an approximation of an approximation, which makes me an approximate pundit of an approximation of an approximation.

These 8 film reviews follow. Spoilers will only be omitted by accident:



American Sniper
Directed by Clint Eastwood. One pundit compared Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle to Adam Lanza but I didn't see that connection. I initially thought Kyle, as portrayed in the movie, was more comparable to John Lee Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, except with better technical support and training. I mean, at least they were snipers. But that comparison doesn't hold water either. No, Kyle was a soldier and this film supports my conclusion that war's first casualty is morality. Maybe morality still philosophically exists but it's in a body bag. Once a massive invasion is authorized against the wishes of many citizens, against International Law, against reason, and based on totally manufactured evidence then I'm not sure anything matters. The puppet masters took control after 2001. Malvo, Lanza, Kyle, Patton, Mao, Bush, Stalin are all soldiers in manufactured wars and once the line has been crossed then comparisons are for smug pundits and tweed jacket historians. The winner writes the history book, is the lesson here. If you enjoy killing then you will find a way to kill and if your job is to kill then you will learn to enjoy killing. My advice to future Armed Forces candidates is to join the military only because you like to kill people, not because you think it's heroic. If you want to be a hero then you'll join the National Guard so you can oppress Black Americans when they peacefully protest for equal rights.

Because the evidence was manufactured, because Iraq's sovereignty was ignored, because civilians were forcibly removed from their homes by an occupying force and the soldiers were told "This city has been 'evacuated' so anyone still here is a terrorist." then I find the U.S. Armed Fores guilty of crimes against humanity. Kyle didn't kill "terrorists" he killed sovereign citizens in their own neighborhood based on fabricated evidence that most sane people, including the entire United Nations Council, rejected as false. There's no scenario where what U.S. troops did in Fallujah is justifiable. None. That campaign was indistinguishable from Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939. You can never go house to house busting doors down shooting or arresting anyone who objects and be considered moral. Hospitals can never be forcibly emptied of patients. No good can come from such a tactic. It's inexcusable state-sanctioned genocide. Worst of all, it won't even be remembered as a war that strengthened America's hegemonic dominance. It attempted to do so, but it achieved the opposite, fueling a generation of justified hatred for the West, destabilizing the entire area, increasing U.S. debt and thus strengthening China's grip on American destiny. But at least Kathryn Bigelow won an Academy Award! 

Kyle was killing because he volunteered and was ordered to kill and the orders came from people who are now playing online chess and have no memory of the event and will soon drift into senility and death. The war was a profit machine and Kyle made money for contractors and got Bush reelected. At least Pat Tillman was in the right country to avenge 9/11. Any talk of heroics is delusional rationalization.

Kyle killed 200 people more or less in 4 years. Charles Whitman killed 16 (14 if we subtract his wife and mother, whom he stabbed or 12 if we subtract the two he killed reaching the observatory area) and wounded 32 more in a mere 2 hours. Furthermore, Whitman followed the "one shot, one kill" hunting ethic and never shot the wounded. So those 14 kills were one-shot kills with a bolt action 6mm Remington rifle from 1966. And he did it from distances up to 500 yards while dodging return fire, alone, with an unfamiliar rifle he had purchased recently so he had no time to practice and knowing he would be killed in a few minutes. And he was a paranoid schizophrenic. Talk about stress! If Whitman had 4 whole years in that clock tower in Austin I estimate he kills 12,000 people. For your information, a movie was made about him too. Are you impressed yet? My point is that you won't get me to moralize warfare when the premise of warfare is incompatible with morality. Once self-serving lies are accepted as truth then you can go ahead and stop talking about morality. Kill in the name of Jesus or Mohammed or Baba ganoush. It makes no difference. Sand will absorb all the blood, borders change, gravestones erode to sand. Serial killing of any kind is all stripped of morality because it is justified within a closed argument. "I have to kill because if I don't kill then I will be killed and I'll be killed because they must kill me before I kill them." Ironically, this is the same rationalization Kyle's stoned paranoid killer used when he killed him in Texas. He decided Kyle was going to kill him, so he had to kill Kyle first. It was preemptive defense and knowing that Kyle had, in fact, gleefully killed over 200 people already, it's hard to conclude his premonition wasn't correct. He killed because it suited him at the time, and that's why anyone kills.

Body count tallies repulse me. The Navy wants to tally up the body count? It's more relevant how many children were orphaned by Kyle. Let's estimate each victim had 3 children. It's feasible there are 600 children with no father because of Kyle. That's excellent, right? At the average rate of reproduction I can estimate an Army of nearly 2000 descendents of the men killed by Kyle will come of age in a few years. I'm sure they won't hold a grudge against the United States for murdering their grandfather or grandmother while defending their own neighborhood. Would you? Of course not. I guess Kyle didn't get the memo that if you kill the father you must also kill the son, because one day the son will grow up. The Navy should go with that statistic because it's a higher number so it's more fearsome. Or we could calculate liters of blood spilled by Kyle. Actually, it would be the same number as children orphaned: 600 liters of blood. Coincidence? 

In my opinion warfare means apes in a jungle swinging bone weapons. Politicians approve military weapons sales that then require oppression of the same people they armed. It happened with Germany, Japan, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. Fuck that ignorance. It's manufactured and avoidable conflict. You want to live by the sword? Then in my book you get grouped with everyone who lived by the sword.

The film itself is generic Eastwood. Thankfully, the loathsome Paul Haggis did not write this script so it's not as tedious as Letters From Iwo Jima or Flags of Our Fathers. It's not pro-war or anti-war, more concerned with psychology and characterization than moralizing. But it fails to dig up anything revolutionary about psychology or character. It fails to illuminate anything about the stoic Kyle. The film actually loses momentum about 40 minutes in and never recovers. Eastwood waters down Kyle's expressed glee in killing Iraq militants and doesn't really know what he wants from this movie, but he knows flag-waving Americans will see it for the wrong reasons and that's good enough for him. The 'enemy' is villainized of course, but all those debates about Eastwood glamorizing war are unfounded. Far from propaganda, it's a modern movie about an ordinary man who became an extra-ordinary sniper in a modern war. Fury was the propaganda tank bullshit movie that no one even mentions as objectionable because it was laughably stupid. Unbroken by Eastwood clone Angelina Jolie was far more polarizing and jingoistic. Multiple scenes in Sniper blatantly highlight the duplicity of war so all scumbag pussy liberal hyperbole about propaganda are without merit.

Eventually a movie will be made about Adam Lanza for basically the same reasons: he's an interesting character in an extraordinary situation. Paranoid psychotic Asperger patients everywhere probably think Lanza is a hero and they want a movie about their hero. Are they wrong? You'd think he was a hero too if you accepted the delusions they've manufactured. One must admit it's a compelling story; Lanza's haunting life has a beginning, a middle and an end, so it will be a complete movie that does sadly have parallels to Kyle's movie: Lanza was fighting some private war that only he understood based on evidence he manufactured against an enemy that he had declared an enemy because he believed the fabricated evidence he had invented; Kyle was fighting a war based on fabricated rationalizations that he accepted because they came from grotesque elected officials, ignoring the abundant oppositional arguments, against an enemy that became an enemy only because he set foot in Iraq, which was a manufactured target. He succeeded because he had the support of the biggest military on earth. On a large scale the Iraq war is like the cop justification, "We shot him because he might have a gun." If a guy defends the neighborhood we invaded then that makes him an enemy? Nice. Once a person accepts lies as truth then morality becomes nonsense. Conservatives loved this movie because they get to applaud Kyle for killing brown people and hate Liberals for objecting to the the rationale behind killing the brown people. It's like multiple orgasms for the flaccid Conservative pundit. The ethics, however, are above Eastwood's pay grade. The movie is average.
Grade: C -


The Imitation Game

Every movie about Britain in WWII has identical cinematography and lighting. I recognize props in this movie from the movie Atonement. They must come from the same warehouse. Has WWII run out of cinematic steam? I doubt it, but the latest offerings, Fury and Unbroken, and The Imitation Game seem like I'm watching remakes of a movie I've seen before. When's the next Holocaust movie coming out? The good news is that the Ukrainian war and ISIS should give filmmakers some more material to work with soon. I promise that if I get kidnapped by ISIS and am about to be beheaded on camera I will shout the speech from Braveheart, "Sons of Scotland! ... MANY YEARS FROM NOW, WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO TRADE ALL THE DAYS FROM THIS DAY TO THAT, FOR ONE CHANCE, JUST ONE CHANCE, TO COME BACK HERE AND TELL OUR ENEMIES THAT THEY MAY TAKE OUR LIVES, BUT THEY WILL NEVER TAKE OUR FREEDOM!" Either that or I'll yell, "Every man dies, not every man really lives!" in a Scottish accent. They'll probably edit that part out when they post it to Al Jazeera, but believe me, I'll say it in real life.

Back to The Imitation Game, I actually tried to get a similar movie made regarding the development of ground-to-air radar in WWII. It wasn't effective enough in 1938 to help in air defense but slowly, in the fields of England, radar was developed exactly at the right time to alert cities of incoming bombing runs from Germans. The same mix of science and technology and 'smart people' racing against the clock is there.  The key ended up being the size of the radar dish and the signal power. Once the dish was very big with high current pushed through then it could 'hear' the ping back of the incoming squadron in time to get ready. I think the material lining the dish also was a factor. But it was perfected almost too late.

I'll bet radar development didn't involve a homosexual code breaker, like this movie, so it probably won't be produced.

This movie did not impress me and I don't think Alan Turing made for a great character, although the story has war, sex, death and injustice. Cumberbatch's portrayal was intentionally wooden, like he was channeling the mildly autistic Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory without any punchlines. While it's tragic that Turing's sexual habits were persecuted after WWII, this movie really fails to explain 1) how the hell he developed a mechanical computer. 2) How that mechanical computer cracked the enigma code. Maybe I'm dumb but the bits of clues they provided were not enough. Maybe I'm slow or smoked too much pot in California but the script glossed over these two critical plot points like they assumed I was too enamored with Cumberbatch's eye color to understand.

Several other plot devices seemed too convenient, forced, Turing gets punched in the face too many times. Cumberbatch isn't interesting. Keira Knightley isn't naked enough and doesn't contribute anything. And I still don't understand how they cracked the fucking code.

Grade- D



 Birdman
This fancy art piece is what all movies would look like if they refused to follow convention. Birdman stops just short of drifting into a realm of unintelligibly. I know what happens, I know what they wanted me to think happened, I know what they wanted me to think about life in general. The single-shot effect is executed very well. I'm favorable to this film even with the presence of the loathsome Zack Gafili-fuckin-akis. I get it. I can't take the time to explain it, but I get it. It wasn't as cathartic as they believed it would be, but it was a good effort.
Grade: B


Selma
I watched this a few minutes ago and didn't fast forward through much. The voting rights of Black southerners is merely one of the obstacles they had to overcome in order to be equally responsible for the pathetic social conditions in those third world hillbilly states. I predict that Muslims in Mississippi and Alabama and all of Bubbastan will eventually be required to wear a patch identifying themselves as Muslims. It might be a big 'M' or maybe a crescent moon. This will take place shortly before the 2nd American Civil War. And if I'm alive I predict I will not go to Mississippi to support Muslims and I will not fight in that civil war for some fantasy concept of "America". No, that kind of obedience is for impressionable killers like Chris Kyle and the bloody battlefield belongs to them. Oh, I'll write some spineless essay sympathizing with the Muslims, but I won't put boots on the ground in Mississippi for any reason. Knowing what I know now, I would not go to Selma and march with Martin Luther King. No. Those places are like Chernobyl to me, like rescuing rats with terminal cancer, I consider those states off limits mainly because I take Patton's advice: "Don't die for your cause, make the other guy die for his cause." Patton used the word "country" but you get the idea. I believe there are scenarios where non-violent opposition is a good path but I reserve that kind of approach for opponents with more potential for sympathy than Southerners. If you seriously believe that 50 years of armed insurrection by militant blacks would not be more effective in securing civil rights then you are an idiot. A rangy bunch of underfunded Mujaheddin managed to defeat the entire Soviet Empire in a mere 9 years. NINE YEARS. You don't beat a bully by endlessly giving him your lunch money. Nope. Blacks are still getting gunned down in the street by whites 150 years after they became equal citizens on paper. Why? Non-violent resistance to intractable southern white power. Don't tell me violence doesn't solve problems. It bypasses morality, but it solves problems. The body count is equally high with non-violent resistance, but the bodies are all one color. I suggest the Holy Bible is the only thing preventing open civil war in Mississippi and that's ironic because the book clearly authorizes, even encourages, defensive violence in the case of the Southern black since about 300 years ago. But selfish zealots like Dr. King have manipulated and twisted the blatantly blood-thirsty message of Moses into one advocating Non-Violence. And it worked to placate embattled blacks! Bizarre.

Every civil right has been wrested from Southern state governments under threat of National Guard force and eventually even those inbred hicks will organize some kind of resistance, probably toward Muslims or white Liberals, and it will get ugly. I've lived in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and I'm telling you that every serious disagreement will eventually end with guns involved. I'm pessimistic because Selma was based in 1964, 51 years ago, and although a Black president was elected, the resistance or resentment to equality is unchanged in the South. Remember, Mississippi and Alabama elected McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. I strongly doubt the quality of life for a black person in St. Louis, Mo. is better today than in 1964. Hell, I don't think the quality of life is better in St. Louis for anyone of any race. Crystal Meth alone is destroying that state.  

I was reading a review of the movie 300 the other day and I found a Persian descent writer who was still bitter at the Spartans. That conflict was in 480 B.C., 2500 fucking years ago! How is it possible to hold a grudge for 2500 years? Well, the animosity I've seen in the South has the legs to equal that, which means we have 2300 more years of bitter hatred ahead of us with or without another civil war.

The movie was pure Oprah Blackploitation History month. Watchable, but an approximation of a paradox; too graphic, but not graphic enough.  Simplified, un-artistic, made-for-tv, soap opera, too much animal-tested cosmetics. I hate movies where women's hair is always perfectly groomed. There was not one afro in 1964? Oprah proves that money can't buy acting talent but it can produce agenda movies. Films rarely do justice to these historical events and while I was glad to see a little Gandhi statue in one scene I've heard all these speeches before in similar tired contexts. The presentation of this story was generic, the movie itself offered nothing new. It was simply a reenactment and Dr. King came across as a guy in a Dr. King costume. My screenplay for Henry David Thoreau's life is one click away if you want to see how I'd approach a similar topic.

Grade C -



 Boyhood 

I should like Richard Linklater's style, but I don't. I think it reminds me too much of my own life so it's not as unusual as he think it will be. In fact, Boyhood has a parallel plot to my recent 3 year tour of Texas. It starts homeless somewhere near Austin and ends up with psychedelic mushrooms in Big Bend and involved several drunken husbands and childish infatuations. But the presentation of this particular Linklater movie was easier to digest than his other offerings. I did not get lost in the intentionally overlapping story lines mostly because it lacked a plot or a generic character arc, as most of Linklater's stories do. No character has awkwardly long speeches in fake accents with artificial vocabulary. I could appreciate the movie more as a documentary or a reenactment of a documentary with prettier people. 

The hook is that all the actors are filmed in real time over 12 years...so they grow up physically as the movie progresses. This is a novelty device that is respectable because if one person dies in real life during that 12 years then your whole hook is screwed. But they all lived so the film was complete. Furthermore, because the movie takes 12 years to film it simplifies each progressive vignette so the filming dates actually took place during Linklater's last 8 other films. So the schedule juggling is intermittent but stretched out over more than a decade. I guess it's easier because if they have to delay a few months, it makes no difference. The principals are aging for 12 years so their exact age remains proportionally the same and a few month either way doesn't matter. I'm sure there were changes in shooting schedule that were greater than a month. This device, a decade long production schedule, is a novelty I'm sure others have attempted or considered it but Linklater actually pulled it off and because it was all edited at once (maybe) there is a continuity and satisfying totality. It's a pretty film, easy to watch, though long and not very exciting. The weakest links are the supporting characters, but the scenarios rang true.

Any film critic will naturally appreciate the dedication by all concerned and for that reason I think this will win the Best Picture. It is the best picture of 2014. Yes. 

Is it a great movie? Well, no. It's still Linklater. My man-crush Jared Leto led a great movie called Mr. Nobody in which he not only plays a character over 100 years, but he plays 3 characters over 100 years. I wish Orson Welles or Giuseppe Tornatore had tried the same novelty device but Linklater's art films are still Linklater art films. In fact, his Before Sunset trilogy is a variation of this device as it's a trilogy involving the same two characters/actors over 20 years. Before Sunrise was the movie that irritated me so much that I decided Linklater had nothing to offer me. That's because I could see all the strings and was bored and annoyed by the writing. Ethan Hawke doesn't help either. The speeches sounded untrue but were making extra effort to sound extra true, so it was extra worse. Boyhood is no better or worse than any Linklater film, but because it took 12 years to make one has to take that into account. It's an accomplishment regardless of the quality of writing or acting. A different writer would do things differently but Linklater stayed true to his style and kept it simple and it is honest.

Grade: B+


The Grand Budapest Hotel

I should like Wes Anderson too, but I don't. And I disliked this movie equally as much as I dislike every Wes Anderson movie. Only the talentless Kevin Smith is more loathsome although Tarantino is in the conversation too. Budapest Hotel is too snarky, too affected, too non-generic. Yet another awful and overpriced attempt to capture the quirky mood of the mismatched Harold and Maude. Production designers must love Anderson because they can hire all their unemployed stoner friends to put up ugly wallpaper in the middle of the night. Armies of production design crew are employed by Anderson movies and I hate that he thinks he can fool me with ugly wallpaper and carpets like I'm some kind of rube with an expensive bag and cheap shoes. He tries so hard to be quirky that he's predictable, irritating, insulting. His plots, though this is based on a book, are intentionally loopy. Scenes that should last 3 minutes last for 25 minutes. He probably doesn't start out with a narrator but later decides his movie is unintelligible unless someone narrates. Anderson desperately wants to be considered an OCD artist so he eschews anything traditional until he's serving the twisted master of his own phony OCD iconoclasm. I promise that Wes Anderson will be the director who directs a movie about a director named Wes Anderson who is directing a movie about a director named Wes Anderson. And it will be a super quirky movie with lots of ugly wallpaper.

Budapest Hotel is a horrible movie and doubly awful because Ralph Fiennes acts like a total idiot in it. I'm sure actors love to work with Anderson because they get to have fun, but his films are like torture to me. He's a fucking phony bastard and he'll probably have his revenge on me for saying that by making a quirky movie called Catcher in The Rye with extra ugly wallpaper.

Grade D-


Whiplash
I covered this already. I appreciate this movie because it deals with Duke Ellington songs and student jazz musicians. But the particulars are more emotional/dramatic than accurate or admirable. Others have pointed out that the performances are not great, "They don't swing" but that's pardoned because competitions are not performed in bars in Chicago or St. Louis. True Jazz is not performed before a seated audience in my opinion. That's the kind of Jazz musicians play before they go play real Jazz in a bar. So their performance is competition style, not art. One must prove the fundamentals before you are anointed. But the mentor approach of the conductor should mirror the approach of Mr. Miagi in Karate Kid (1984), but it doesn't. It actually mirrors Kreese, the evil Cobra Kai sensei. You see? In 1984 Mr. Miagi was the image of teacher in a physical sport of Karate. Firm, but philosophically gentle. But today, Kreese is getting more respect because it's understood students need to be punished and abused to get respect. Really? Arguably, Kreese was simply preparing his Cobra Kai students to become Bush War puppets and go to war in Iraq from 1991-2015 and succeed in hand to hand combat. Who can blame him? Karate was simply a means to develop survival skills in war. Mr. Miagi's students would all die immediately in Iraq. Right? Sweep the Leg!

I'm drifting off...Read my other essay about that movie. Whiplash is watchable but there are too many details that don't hold up to scrutiny. The ending I believe they needed is the drummer throwing his sheet music in the conductor's face (demonstrating he's memorized it all) and saying, "Get off my stage." and the conductor walking off stage satisfied that he's inspired the next Buddy Rich to lead a band. Theater door closes on conductor as drummer cues next song. But no one asked me.

Grade: C. (Take Duke Ellington out and the grade is D)


The Theory of Everything

Jesus, this movie felt identical to The Imitation Game. British accents, tea, smart people, not enough naked Keira Knightley, etc. etc. Stephen Hawking is stricken by ALS while at college and is supported by his saintly wife through a physically complicated, but relatively ordinary, life in England. Take out Cosmology and this movie ends up being a long episode of Dallas. I guess I'm pessimistic and lonely and prefer cheerleader porn, but this movie really didn't appeal to any part of me. Hawking doesn't solve any great riddle to my satisfaction. I think my own theories on the Nature of the Universe are better than his. He might find some peace, but how does that help me? He's not involved in any social movement, his wife's love is foreign to me, he's crippled, he speaks by using a computer. Can anyone relate to this? If Hawking's ultimate realization that "love is important" then pardon me while I puke into my Hallmark-themed barf bucket. Hawking wants to develop a unified theory of the universe. Did he succeed? I watched the movie but I really couldn't tell and honestly I didn't care.

Grade D


That's it. Notable omissions from 2015 Best Picture nominees are  Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy. While Lord of The Rings won all kinds of acclaim, it seems Tolkien's Middle Earth has been ignored in favor of real Earth. For what it's worth, The Hobbit trilogy deteriorated into inexplicable CGI fireworks suitable for 12 year old kids with video game addictions. 

Also, though the actual planet Earth moves closer to climate apocalypse not one movie addressed this topic. I guess Interstellar touched on this topic, but don't worry, NASA is going to locate a time/space anomaly near Saturn and magically transmit the secret to launching a gigantic space ship into orbit. Sure. Earth still dies but mankind lives on...floating near Jupiter...thanks to time travel. Good plan! Who needs solar power when we have time-traveling cowboys? Way to go, Hollywood! 

Cancer deaths are not a focus of any Best Picture nominee though the tedious Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress nominee) vehicle Wild does involve spinal tumors. 

I recently saw The Drop and found Tom Hardy's performance superior to Cumberbatch's so I'm not sure what voters were thinking with that omission. Yes, Hardy is a thug in the movie, but he really digs deep without getting to Ben Affleck levels of absurdity. The Drop could've easily veered into tired lunacy but the musical score and Hardy's performance were in perfect concert. The decision to not get too fancy with the who-dun-it element was the right one. This movie was definitely about Bob giving communion to himself. Usually a character like Bob will be so obvious a "Character" with a capital C (Like J. Phoenix's role in Inherent Vice) that it ruins the mood. But Hardy became that character at exactly the right volume.

Another notable omission is Inherent Vice, though P.T. Anderson was nominated for best adapted screenplay as it's a Thomas Pynchon book. It's notable because it deserves to be omitted. It's a sub-par movie, unimportant, meandering, insolent, irresponsible. Stoner day dreams should not be filmed. Many bad performances with irrelevant material and lackluster directing. Owen Wilson (who whispers unintelligibly for 30 minutes) and Reese Witherspoon and Josh Brolin sink this movie though Joaquin Phoenix carries their dead weight in every scene. Philip Seymour Hoffman was sorely missed. Anderson surely had other ideas but these actors are clueless when it comes to adult characterization so each one tried to steal the show. Once again I must make a plea for Anderson to remake East of Eden properly. He's the only one who can reclaim that movie for lovers of the book. The 1955 Elia Kazan production is disloyal to the book, starting out after Cathy has left Adam. HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU START East of Eden AFTER CATHY LEAVES ADAM? The boys are already grown. Adam's brother is never mentioned. Lee is German? Where are the Hamiltons? Please, Mr. Anderson, if you can adapt Upton Sinclair's Oil, and this shitty Pynchon book, then you can make the East of Eden that the book deserves. You're my only hope.

I haven't reviewed movies in 8 years but I had some time on my hands and no responsibilities so I dusted off my ego and brushed up on my disdain vocabulary for this special redux review post. It should be fairly obvious why I'm not in high demand as a reviewer anymore. It won't be a habit because movies don't interest me lately unless they involve humiliation or jerk off instructions.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.