Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

CATFISH (2010)
This was a surprising movie. It's one of those character-piece-documentaries, about a photographer who is contacted by an 8 year-old prodigy, a child painter who paints his photographs. He soon becomes friends with her older sister and the two fall in love. The only catch is, they only know each other from Facebook and phone calls, and after a while it all begins to unravel and the whole thing turns out to be... well, not a hoax, but a woman escaping into fantasy and, unfortunately, breaking a young man's heart in the process. What's interesting to me about this movie is that the filmmakers seem to want to laugh at/get creeped out by the woman who did this, but the photographer just wants to talk to her and figure out why she did this. When he confronts her, it's not with yelling and swearing and anger, but with an attempt to understand, and that means a lot to me. I found myself oddly moved by it, and that to me outweighs the controversy over whether or not parts of the movie are staged or what. What I see in the movie is what I see in the movie, and in the age of the character-piece-as-documentary (examples: How Much McDonald's Can Morgan Spurlock Eat?, Watching Morgan Spurlock Aggrandize Himself by Pretending to Be All Concerned About bin Laden, and Morgan Spurlock Gets a Movie Studio to Pay for a Spa Day), that's all I really care about. ***1/2

Surprising, funny, even touching. Mark Duplass stars as a man whose brother has died. He's in love with his brother's girlfriend (Emily Blunt, much more bearable when films aren't insisting that she's breathtaking and funny) and feels guilty about it. She offers to let him stay at her family's cabin, where he runs into her lesbian sister, Rosemarie DeWitt (love her), and sleeps with her, only to have Blunt show up. Sounds like a forced farce or a trite, male wish-fulfillment fantasy, but somehow it manages instead to be very much about human personalities, messy complications, and self-revelation. It's also very pretty to look at, I should mention. ****

This film starts off in 1980 with several happy, healthy gay men reading the first story in the New York Times about some kind of "gay cancer," and then follows these characters in scenes through the next decade--dropping in on them once in each year--and shows us what happens as AIDS disrupts, unsettles, reorders, and sometimes ends their lives. I think it gets a little bit preachy at the very end, but after going through AIDS in the 80s, how could it not? The movie wants us to understand and do something, damn it. It had such an effect on people and on society, in so many ways. I remember being in 6th grade, in 1986, and having that day when the boys were put in one room and the girls in the other, and we all had sex education. What I remember most from that day is watching a film strip about AIDS that was very informative, showing us in animated detail how it attacked the immune system. It was very scary. This film really reminded me of that, that terror I felt, as AIDS takes this community apart but also bands it closer together. This film is emotionally devastating and uplifting at the same time, not really letting us off the hook for the details or the tragedy of its characters, while ending on a cautiously hopeful note. I'm glad I didn't see this film until I was an adult. I never went to a funeral of someone I cared about until 2000, and the way I relate to death is so much different and based on the last 12 years of terrible experience. I lost it in the scene where Bruce Davison tells his lover that, after two years fighting this disease, it's okay to let go. That's as powerful a scene as I've ever seen. ****


Kal said...

You are totally right about Catfish. I could have been a trainwreck but Nev, the guy at the center, isn't an angry guy and that changes everything. Did you know he has a TV show on MTV where he helps people meet their online crushes. It facinating to watch how easily it is for people to buy into the fantasy that comes from an intense online relationship. The first two episodes didn't end well and I hope in the future they show people that connect in person as much as they did on the computer.

SamuraiFrog said...

I saw the first episode; you can see right there when the girl has her fantasies shattered what could have gone wrong in the movie. It was so uncomfortable to watch, where she immediately attacked that other girl and assumed it was some kind of "sick lesbian" thing.

Kaylah said...

Thanks for the reviews! I haven't seen any of these movies yet, but they do definitely sound rather interesting! I'm probably most intrigued with checking out Catfish though, because I just watched the first episode about Sunny earlier today with a gal I work with at DISH. I had no idea of its existence just like with the movie, but now I'm very curious to see how it all plays out! I'm going to go add all three of these movies to my Blockbuster @Home queue from DISH right now with Catfish at the top of my list. It’s always nice to come across movies I haven’t heard of that sound interesting enough for me to rent and not have to spend a movie ticket on. :)

Hobgoblin238 said...

Love longtime companion. Especially the song at the end of it.

SamuraiFrog said...

That was a really nice song.