Garden State

I bought this movie a while ago. It's been sitting on my table for weeks waiting for me to watch it. Tonight with the Katrina Aid on every channel, I decided to watch it.

The movie is about a guy who has been overmedicated, by his father who is a psychiatrist, for something he did when he was nine. The drugs have kept him numb his entire adult life. On returning home he visits all his old friends, makes a new one, and realizes what's important in life. Overall, the plot was somewhat lacking, but there was much detail in the plot there was. I need to name a genre for this along with several other films I've seen as of late that are very realistic and yet not realistic at all. Surreal kind of, but not precisely.

The cinematography and camera work was pretty good actually. There was one scene in Sam's back yard where the camera flies outward into the sky, which was reminiscent of the final scene in the version of 'Much Ado about Nothing' which features Keanu Reaves.

My one major complaint about the movie, this is probably just me though, is that throughout the entire thing Zach Braff appeared to be wearing large amounts of eye shadow. It was distracting. Also, from a scene where he goes to have a talk with his father until the end of the movie he seems to act overly effeminate, especially when he's saying goodbye to Sam.

Probably my favorite part of the film was the sound track. It was almost as though they took what I was listening to at the time the film came out and used it all in the movie. The Shins, Frou Frou, Iron and Wine all featured.

Me, You, and Everyone We Know

While the number of independent movies I have seen over the years is far from impressive, it was often because I had little interest in seeing a movie that required so much ongoing analysis that I wouldn't be able to simply enjoy myself and have a good time. "Me You and everyone we know" however has given me a renewed interest in independent film for one reason: it was a extremely well shot, edited, scored, etc movie that highlighted the artistic skill of those involved in its production but at the same time was a terrific film that I was able to truly enjoy without being so full of hidden meanings and the such that I had to bend over backwards to keep up.

Don't get me wrong, this is no shallow movie, indeed it is far from it. The script seems to effortlessly timely in its use of humor and drama while avoiding the timeless pitfall of becoming bloated with unnecessary scenes or details. Instead each scene has a clear purpose and every line is used so well that that movie is so clean of wasteful material its nothing short of a breath of fresh air from the often cookie-cutter productions of the major studios.

The story centers on a struggling contemporary artist and a recently divorced shoe salesman who meet due to a chance encounter at the local mall. While some reviewers have come to the conclusion the movie seeks to portray how the difficulty of establishing meaningful relationships in an increasingly "me centered" world, I came away with a different impression. Instead of becoming overly engrossed with the effects of the emerging relationship on the two people involved, the movie also underscores that no relationship exists in a vacuum by using a series of side plots to show just how interwoven our lives are with those of "Me You and everyone we know." From beginning to end, "Me and You and Everyone we Know" remains refreshingly on track, coming together despite a number twists and turns, that... well that to be honest it caught me off guard.

So much of independent film is so artistically focused it becomes more of a chore to watch that few people can relate to or understand it. "Me You and Everyone we Know" skillfully walks the line between art and entertainment resulting in a must-see finished project that leaves you hoping its not the last of its kind.



On the surface this film just seems like another story of two women at a summerhouse retreat and the conflict that arises between the two during their stay, which is nothing tremendously innovative. It wasn?t until I watched it the second time did I really fell in love with it, which is partly do to with the fact that the first time the subtitles were out of sync by half a minute. It was when I watched it the second time and the action matched the dialog that I became aware of what a complex and magnificent story was presented.

The story begins with an actress that suffers a nervous breakdown while on stage and subsequently enters a clinic for treatment. A nurse is assigned to care for the actress so that she may return to the stage. Since her breakdown the actress has completely stopped talking. In the entire film she will only speak once despite being the inadvertent protagonist in the film. Like any other film with two hot Swedish women, they have to go to the countryside to relax with each other, and of course the nurse has to confess her first sex orgy as a teenager. Nothing special about that. The two start off polite, with the nurse very envious of the actress?s big screen life. The nurse, feeling as though she has made a personal connection with the actress, confesses to her a dark secret that she has hid from her husband that is connected to the sex orgy. When the nurse learns that the actress failed to keep her secret confidential, there is a shift away from the polite relationship. The nurse no longer holds the actress on a high pedestal of perfection and innocence. The nurse then goes through a range of emotions from sorrow to rage then to sadness in which she seeks for forgiveness from the actress for her violent outburst during her state of rage. However, this is not the final resolution that one might expect. Another secret is revealed that is equally as dark as the nurse?s secret. It is during this revelation that the audience learns of the actress?s major faults, and through a series of events you learn that while in their public life the two are total opposites that in fact that they are one and the same.

The film starts out with a serious of short clips of seemingly unrelated and confusing events that add the atmosphere and a feeling awkwardness and discomfort that lets the viewer know that all is not well. It also acts as an early hint of the actress?s dark secret, although you are not aware of it at the time thus adding some mystery to the film and makes the latter half that much more magnificent. The true success of this film is that despite taking place in a single environment, with primarily only one character doing all the talking, it still manages to remain a fascinating and engaging experience for the viewer. Furthermore, that the only other character never speaks yet we are still able to get into her personal life and that she still remains a major player in the drama just further illustrates the great skills of Bergman.

Dodgeball (A true underdog story)

Dodge ball is a great movie that knows what kind of movie it is and to its credit never pretends to be anything else. Dodge ball is the kind of movie you sit back, watch, laugh your ass off, and then is so quotable that your friends kick your ass because it's all you can talk about for three days. The movie centers around the owner of a small gym by the name of Peter Mcflur, who must raise 50,000 dollars to avoid being bought out by mega-fitness club chain Globo-Gym and its owner White Goodman. The only way to save the club is to enter into the 50,000 dollar national dodge ball championships televised live on ESPN 8 "The ocho." The movie plays off a number of stereotypes and is a good way to laugh. Note: if you're easily offended by anything that is not politically correct, I recommend you close and lock all your windows and doors, and avoid any contact with the outside world, don't watch this movie, and never go outside because there is a small chance someone may say something you disagree with and you won't be able to move on...

-Paul Johnson will return...

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Mike had screening passes for Star Wars Episode III, which was neat because I got to see it two full weeks before it comes out. I went into this not expecting much, after seeing the first two. I will state this now, George Lucas is dead to me, he was slowly dieing until I bought the original trilogy on DVD and it had the computer animation in it, then he died. This movie was entertainment, little more. It did not try to be a 'The Matrix' and re-explain life for suckers to suck up. George Lucas in some ways did not learn his lesson from the last two though. He did not learn that we do not go to Star Wars for politics, and we don't go to Star Wars for love stories? And it was this ignorance of his that made for some really long and drawn out parts of the film. CGI does not impress me, and as you probably are all aware that's all this movie was. Massive amounts of CGI. I much prefer a beautifully constructed model some artisan spent months on over something made in a computer. The mixing of the audio was quite good on the other hand. Things would come from all directions around you, which shows that perhaps Hollywood is learning that not everyone is def in one ear. Remember the commercials for the increadable hulk where you never saw the hulk on the ground, he was always flying through the air. It was a very similar experience with the computer generated Wookies in this movie. When will Hollywood learn that some people do have a natural sense of physics, and are not fooled by this. Anakin going over to the dark side was far too freaking easy, Senator said come to the dark side, he said no, he said come to the dark side, Anakin said all right, then Anakin goes and kills a herd of children.(I'm not making this up) Then the senator wants to overthrow the council, he goes and says, "I should be supreme ruler, this Republic should be an Empire" and the council was like "Alright, we never really liked democracy any way." Oh, and the worst part of all, Obi-Wan Kenobi spends a third of the movie riding a giant salamander on an ant planet... Overall, I give it a 6/10... I mean had they used models and elaborate sets instead of cheesy CGI (especially the lava part) it almost could have earned an 8, I meen the plot wasn't too bad (unlike the last two, can anyone even tell me what the last two were about?) and it was entertaining. To summarize, the sound was great, the CGI overused, and boring parts long and drawn out.

Offret - Sacrificatio

This is probably the most amazing thing I have ever seen and maybe the most beautiful thing I will ever see. I was literally stunned for 30 minutes after viewing it. Now most of you are probably not acquainted with Andrei Tarkovsky and if your are not don't start with this move. Even more of you are probably not familiar with Sven Nykvist. Both are masters beyond words and This is the only time you will get to see them working together. The plot is hard to describe. Basically Alexander sees visions and thinks that he is the only one who can prevent world war three. The story greatly parallels the story of Job but with the questions unanswered and reward un-given. The larger issue is to explore faith and all the light and darkness that surrounds it. This is at the heart of all Tarkovsky's work and every film is one of those deep edifying experiences that make us all better as people.

Un Chien Andalou

Andalusian Dog is one of those movies that most will fall in love instantly, or find incredibly annoying to watch because of its random and meaningless progression. It truly is a meaningless succession of events, which is exactly what it was meant to be. The movie is the early work of surrealist Luis Brunuel. It starts out with the infamous eye cutting scene, followed by a man dressed as a nun riding a bike, and eventually leads to such scenes as a man dragging 2 priests tied to a piano with a dead horse laying to it.

There is nothing in the film that connects these scenes. If one tries too hard to elaborate on the inner meanings of the scenes, they will be sorely disappointed. The title itself has little meaning. Andalusian is just a type of Spanish horse and the dog is self explanatory. Although there is little to ponder in the scenes, the reason for the chaotic nature has a bit more possibilities. Either it was created purely for the confusing effect that it would inflict on the viewer’s pre-conceived reality, as is the objective of the surrealists. It could be trying to hold on to some of the Dadaists ideals, which by 1929 had already died. More likely it could have been a new director just beginning to grasp his new medium, and Andalusian Dog being the product of his experimentation.

Whether you like it or not, in the end, it still worth watching for its historical value.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

To be honest, I cannot adequately describe how amazing this film is. Raoul Duke aka Hunter S. Thompson is assigned to write an article about some race in Las Vegas. He does, but it's written from the point of view of a mind in the clutches of a hardcore drug binge. It's a wild movie full of bizaar and hilarious one-liners. Just go see it. Now.