Things I Watched This Week

Here’s a bunch of movies I saw recently that I don’t feel like writing in-depth reviews of:

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013):

Everyone on earth has already seen this movie so at this point it would be superfluous to write a review of it, so here’s a (short) review of it. According to ninety-eight percent of the globe this movie is a “modern day classic”, however, it’s mostly just fluff, albeit entertaining fluff. People have made the obvious comparisons to Goodfellas, but it’s not nearly as good, in fact, I would argue that it rips off that earlier classic in a number of ways (either Scorsese now, somehow, lacks confidence, or has become lazy.) The best scene in the film is when Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio) is trying to “play” and bribe an FBI agent (Kyle Chandler), but has his head so far up his ass he doesn’t realize that the agent is merely playing along. At the end of the scene Belfort tells the agent and his partner to go screw and as they’re leaving he starts flipping bills into the air in a pathetic attempt to affirm his status. However, for the most part, the film gets too repetitive and the characters simply aren’t that interesting. The ending also isn’t very good, with the camera panning toward the faces of people attending a “get rich” seminar Belfort is speaking at, which is supposed to be a commentary on how people want to be like Leo’s character despite everything. It’s a bit too blunt and forced. Still a fun movie, but even if an hour were trimmed-off it still wouldn’t be as great as Goodfellas for we never get much insight into Belfort’s character.

The Piano Teacher (2001):

Another overrated film, but even more so than The Wolf of Wall Street for, while that movie is at least good, The Piano Teacher is a mediocrity. It’s about a repressed, manipulative woman (Isabelle Huppert) who teaches piano at a music conservatory. She’s obsessed with the music of Schubert whom she spouts highfalutin nonsense about in order to make herself seem like she has an exclusive relationship with the music. She’s also a pervert, making regular visits to a porno shop–later, she scolds one of her students after she catches him there, looking at magazines–she also becomes obsessed with a handsome student (Benoit Magimel) who is smitten over her. It starts out as an interesting character study, but then devolves into a trite depiction of obsession and psychosexuality; the ending is also lousy. I guess what saves the film are the performances and some good moments throughout that give insight into the characters. Not nearly as bad as some other critical favorites, like Lincoln (more like Nixon, if you ask me! Actually, Nixon is pretty good so never mind) and American Beauty (more like Boring and Shitty!), but I’m baffled by all the praise its received.

Dead Ringer (1964):

Old Bette Davis film that’s well-crafted and entertaining. A woman, played by Davis, kills her wealthy twin sister and takes on her name and life. It’s a nice little thriller with some decent characters that aren’t merely cardboard cutouts. However, as well-wrought the script is, there are some holes in the plot, the biggest at the end where the main character is sentenced to death for killing, not her sister, but her sister’s husband (who, ironically, she loved); the problem is that the evidence for her involvement is circumstantial, at best, yet she still gets the gas chamber. It’s a movie that’s probably not going to “stay” with me for very long, but at least it succeeds at what it sets out to do, for the most part.

Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014):

Finally saw this one and it was terrible. Jarring cuts, wretched symbolism and cliches up the ass. The plot is nearly the same as Spiderman 2, except that movie didn’t have to rely on ham-fisted scenes to get its point across, scenes like when Peter Parker is on a building’s ledge, watching her girlfriend crossing the street below only for him to turn and see a building on fire. He has to choose between his girlfriend and his duties as Spiderman, decisions, decisions. Can we stop it with the comic book films for a while? Even the supposed “good” ones like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are merely passable. The recent X-Men film was good, but I still think that Hollywood should try milking some other cow to death, you know, to spice things up a little.

Emil Bennett

Is present once again
in his blackened room,
hears songs in the trees.
The window glows: the sun
reaches all, and doesn’t care
about your comb-over.

Darkness leaves the world,
life refills the street:
cars commuting, bodies shifting
across concrete, passing
familiar others. Emil enters.

He watches the girl
over there: greasy black hair,
paled skin. She is pretty
in her damaged way.
Emil shoves away
Those thoughts, bites
into his McMuffin:
these are getting better.

Slow through the park,
Emil lingers. Joggers in their routes,
a Frisbee keeping itself in the air
until sputtering in the trim grass–
Emil overlooks everything.

He sees the marks glow
underneath his secretary’s
sleeves. He staggers over,
smiling, “I heard what you said,
that your girlfriend broke-in
and bit you in the arm.
If you need to, you can
stay at my place
for a while.” She smiles
a smile Emil’s been aware of
since middle school,
when girls wouldn’t even look
at him and his acne-scars twice.

He opens his door, and walks
within the black, only outlines
of things show. He flips the light
switch. Only he can alter this world.