Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Perfume" thoughts by Andy

What a strange film! What an intriguing character. The idea that you can be obsessed enough about something beautiful to kill, but not to love, is a concept I haven't seen dealt with in other movies. I thought his acting was fabulous and creepy as hell.

I think one of the things that makes the character so creepy is that he didn't actually need to kill to do his work, but he was so motivated by the need to create and capture scent that he couldn't handle any delay in getting it. It was easier for him to just kill a woman, do his work, and dump the body, than to try and convince her to let him do his work. He tried once with the prostitute, but he didn't have the social skills to convince her to do it. He could have been totally non-threatening, but he didn't care to be so. He didn't get joy out of killing, at it was completely unnecessary to him, but it was the easiest way.

comments by Andy

Chop Shop - comments by Andy

So we're keeping this going, even though I'm pretty sure that Jason and I are the only two people that look at this blog (if I'm wrong, feel free to comment so I know). Frankly, it's one of my creative outlets, and even though I'm not a great writer, I need it.

"Chop Shop" was wonderfully heartbreaking. It's one of those stories where you knew something terrible was going to happen, and you were constantly bracing yourself for that bad thing to happen. I thought for sure that the money he and his sister was saving was going to be stolen. I'm not sure that his luck was much worse.

It also explained a lot about breeding criminal culture. I wish it would have ended up a little better though. It didn't leave me feeling great about humanity or America.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chop Shop Is a Slice of Life — but That’s All

by Jason Pyles

“Chop Shop” can be used to illustrate an important distinction, or at least a clarification, in viewer tastes. Many moviegoers (myself previously included) believe they want to see realism in their motion picture entertainment, but that’s not quite accurate.

Few people lead lives like those found in movies. For the most part, realism reflects the average, everyday life of the common man or woman. It’s that same basic monotony — “the old grind” — that each of us faces daily.

That’s realism, and that’s not really what we’re interested in seeing when we go to the movies, because we live it every day for ourselves. What we want are fictitious stories where extraordinary events happen to ordinary people who must rise to the occasion to overcome them ... or not. We want this dramatic narrative, but we want it depicted realistically — at least I do. So what I truly want to see is realistic fiction, not realism.

Akin to Italian neorealism and neorealism in general, “Chop Shop” gives us slice-of-life reality but without the high-intensity dramatic conflicts. We, as observers, are given fly-on-the-wall perspective that we might peer into the ordinary lives of other ordinary people, much like ourselves. We take a brief break from our struggles for a while to witness somebody else’s.

“Chop Shop” delivers true realism — and it’s intriguingly believable — but not overly entertaining. I kept waiting (and hoping) for a gun to enter the film and for someone to get shot. Not that I like to see people get hurt, but I kept hoping for some more out-of-the-ordinary drama.

“Chop Shop” is impressive in its execution and delivery. Indeed, it calls back to the Lumiere brothers’ early “actualities,” like “The Arrival of the Mail Train” (1896), where we’re given moments of life, recorded in time, like moving photographs or “motion pictures.” But like those films, after a while “Chop Shop” wears thin and holds little water with such a shallow story that lacks dramatic conflict.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Primer and Wonder Woman

by Jason Pyles

I must also confess, like Andy, to falling asleep during "Primer." But after discussing it later with my wife, I just keep coming back to one question: Though many of the film's aspects are difficult to understand, above all, I can't seem to get a clear grasp on why there would be a second version of a time-traveling individual, namely, his present self and his past self.

Allow me to think out loud here: If I were to travel back in time in order to see my favorite toy, a Wonder Woman doll — which is no longer with me in the present — it would, in fact, be found in that visit to the past, circa 1981 or so. Now, since matter does not cease to exist, in present-day 2010, presumably, that Wonder Woman doll must surely still exist, somewhere, and in some form.

Our dumb dog chewed it up only a few days after I got that doll for Christmas, so my parents threw it away. That doll exists in some garbage dump somewhere, deep underground. And since she was made of plastic, which is basically eternal, that plastic doll lies beneath the Earth. So, there's a doll in 2010, and there's a doll in 1981. But there was always just one doll of mine. If I went back to 1981, then that doll would not exist in the dump yet, in that era, until that very same piece of matter is sent there from my parents.

If I hold the plastic dumped doll from 2010 in my hand when I travel back to 1981, what would happen then? On Christmas morning, 1981, the doll existed in its pre-dog-chewed form. But if I'm holding the dirty, futuristic version in my hand, then I suppose there might be two Wonder Woman dolls before me during that time traveler's moment. Therefore, perhaps I can understand a little better how there would be duplicate versions of the time-traveler himself.

And accordingly, then, am I to understand that if time-traveling Jason from 2010 goes back to 1981 and gets little Jason from that era, and then we both travel to 1994 to see me graduate from high school, then I would have three Jasons present, right? Maybe. Just maybe.

"Primer," obviously, is an excellent think-piece of the cinema. It does seem to be the most accurate time-travel film I've seen.