The Double


Film, 2013

The Double has a lot of things going for it in terms of craft, including gorgeous compositions and color, smooth, languid pacing, and nuanced, effortless performances from its main cast (even if the camera movement goes a little overboard occasionally). Unfortunately, it’s all in the service of a feature-length ode to “but I’m a nice guy.” Eisenberg’s Simon is a sensitive soul invisible to those around him, his greatest wish to be noticed and appreciated by Wasikowska’s Hannah, who is more interested in Simon’s confident, successful double, James. How dare she, oh the horror. Honestly, if I never see another filmed POV of a man looking longingly at a woman, as if she’s a desirable object to be attained, I’ll be extremely happy. The movie does directly acknowledge the fact that its protagonist is a huge creep, an outright stalker, but ultimately we’re meant to wish for Simon’s desire to be fulfilled. It’s a notion that, despite the absolutely lovely decoration, comes off as very ugly.

A Dirty Shame

Film, 2004

You know what you’re getting with a John Waters film, the formula never changes. Outrageous subject matter stiffly delivered by unusual character actors, with a thick glaze of original formula B Movie camp shellacked on it. Waters’ hallmarks are the specific style of performance he’s able to get from seemingly any actor, and the plethora of catchphrases they deliver throughout the course of any one of his films. But listen, even someone who’s really god at making a certain type of soup sometimes gets ingredients that are slightly off, and it doesn’t come together. Waters is a human being. So was Mickey Mantle, he struck out too. A Dirty Shame never came together for me. I was pretty bored. The only thing I’ll stand behind is a few catchphrases (“I’m Sylvia, and my clitoris is in crisis.”, “I seen you, Sylvia Stickles, showing your pubic patch to the bus driver.”, etc.) No biggie, we’ve still got Serial Mom. I’ll tell you something though, if I made this movie and the MPAA gave it a fucking NC-17, I’d quit making movies too. If merely talking about sex is considered taboo, and there’s barely any nudity and no sex acts depicted in this film (save for one, clearly faked bit of outrageousness), then fuck you all. You don’t get any more movies.

Barking Dogs Never Bite

Film, 2000

When I get to the end of one of these movies, where we follow around humble characters for a series of occasionally amusing incidents that only loosely resembles a traditional narrative, I often wonder “Why?”, even if I enjoyed it. But not at the end of this one. Here, I marveled at how fully Bong Joon-ho and his actors were able to realize their dull characters. It’s almost as if they chose character types they thought would be hardest for them to pull off, just so they could show how hard they could nail it. Films are made by ambitious, driven people, and the characters that populate them often are as well. It seems rare to see average people depicted so humanely and intricately. This is especially true of Bae Doona, the female lead. If I hadn’t seen her play starkly different roles in other films I would swear she wasn’t acting here at all, and they had just shoved some snot-nosed, empty-headed person they found on the street in front of a camera. When you look into her eyes you don’t see the actor, you don’t see her character, you just see a person. This may be true of some of the other actors as well, but with Bae she’s also so much fun to watch. And maybe that’s not fair and it’s because she’s adorable, but then again, in this case, that should be a hindrance. Which she handily shrugs off.

Irma Vep

Film, 1996

I often read a bit online about any movie I just watched, and it turns out that Irma Vep requires a bit of knowledge about the then-current state of the French film industry to really get what they were putting down. None of that stuff really mattered to me though, so what I was left with was a nice movie about pleasant people that I enjoyed watching for the entirety of its running length. The movie bobs between the hectic whirlwind of being on a film set in France in 1996 and the occasional transcendant moment where the characters and the audience get a breather and a reminder of what it’s like to be alive, before ultimately settling on destroying itself.

The Pleasure of Being Robbed

Film, 2007

People make these New Wave shout-outs, they sure do. I always watch them and am not really sure if there’s something they’re trying to tell me that I’m not getting, but I don’t really care because the pacing is always hypnotic, the music nice, the colors rich and protagonist is always a person you enjoy getting lost in for the span of the film. They’re always good. It’s funny how you never see anyone hack one of these things out. What would be the point? All the filmmaking decisions, from casting, to writing to editing, are purely an expression of the filmmaker’s personality. Any attempt to replicate this formula would be like a forged signature. I’m suddenly realizing that I’m specifically talking about Safdie movies as if they’re an entire, wide-spanning genre. But only the Safdies really do this so well and breezy. Anyway, this one is slightly over an hour of a girl stealing tons of stuff. Is she testing how far out you can extend yourself over the edge of society? She is in New York City, which will extend your reach as far as it can go. Is the a damaged person with a distinct lack of personal boundaries? Stop it. Wait, there’s some sort of statement here at the end of the credits- Shhhhhhhhh.

Grumpier Old Men

Film, 1995

I don’t find inherent humor in the idea that “old” people have personalities or interests, and I think it’s kind of sad that someone would expect me to. 1.5

Love and Other Drugs

Film, 2010

I was hoping this was going to be a satire about the pharmaceutical industry but it’s just Jake Gyllenhall and Anne Hathaway vomiting romantic comedy lines all over each other. But when it starts to look like that was all a ploy to get us involved in a story about a couple dealing with Parkinsons Disease, it tricks you yet again by just being about nothing. 2.5

Jackass 3D

Film, 2010

HAHAHA ha ha ha… hah… ehhh… uhhh… hahaha. 3.5

Daddy Longlegs

Film, 2009

I’m not sure if I’m able to objectively write about Daddy Longlegs, but I could stand to spend some time hitting the ol’ journal examining what it did to me personally. The protagonist seems like a personification of people of a certain disposition’s worst fears of fatherhood. A father with genuine love for his kids, but whose complete ignorance of responsibility causes him to make awful (and I mean awful) parenting decisions. (But you would be wrong to think that the filmmakers were working through these insecurities. The film is actually based on the memories of filmmakers the Josh and Bennie Safdie brothers.) Every wrong turn he makes is a harder punch to the gut. The film draws you in on two fronts; a great performance by it’s lead actor, a bad father whose charm and love for his children makes you want him to succeed, and a lo-fi, intimate style of filmmaking. While watching a movie shot on grainy old film is bound to be nostalgic for people of a certain age, it also produces a warmer feeling just due to it’s look. It’s interesting that filmmakers who lived through this story decided to tell it from the perspective of the father rather than their own, and it’s remarkable that they are able to put you so close to him. 4


Film, 1990

This is one of those movies where a bunch of fancy rich people who love being fancy and rich talk about what it means to be fancy and rich. That’s probably a pass/ fail for you on it’s own, but if you can tolerate that this is pretty good. It deals with issues of upward and downward social mobility,but for the most part is pretty light. It’s characters are interesting and fun enough to draw you into the nonstop dialogue, although said dialogue is a little over the actor’s heads. It’s verbose and heavy, which clashes with the stiff acting, but it becomes more charming as the film floats along. I liked that the rich people in this movie are real people, not just ideals of rich people, which puts it above The Royal Tenenbaums in my book. 3