Review: A Clockwork Orange

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Facts & Figures

  • Title: A Clockwork Orange
  • IMDB rating at time of writing: 8.5
  • Year: 1971
  • Length: 137 minutes
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Producer: Stanley Kubrick
  • Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Burgess
  • Cinematography: John Alcott
  • Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Michael Bates, James Marcus, Michael Tarne, Patrick Magee, Anthony Sharp, Carl Duering

Plot summary (Spoiler alert!)

In a alternate London, a boy named Alex and his so-called “droogs” Pete, Georgie and Dim are in the Korova Milk Bar, enjoying a milk plus (the plus being various drugs), at the start of an evening of what they call “the old ultra-violence”. They are talking in a slang of English mixed with Russian terms and some made-up words called Nadsat. The violence of the evening starts with the gang beating a homeless guy up, continues by stopping a rival group raping a young girl and fighting this gang until they have to flee the onrushing police sirens. This not being enough violence for Alex’s taste, they steal a car and drive around the countryside, where they find a lonely home with lights burning inside. They manage to gain entry by pretending one of them is hurt and asking for a phone, but quickly break down the door when it’s opened. While kicking and beating the house-owner, a writer called Alexander, Alex rapes the man’s wife in a famous scene, while singing the song “Singin’ in the Rain”. At the end of the day, Alex gets home to his parent’s appartment and falls asleep while listening to Beethoven’s 9th symphony, a piece of music he greatly loves.
The next day, Alex skips school but is visited by a probation officer called P.R. Deltoid, who talks to Alex about how he has been trying to get Alex’s life straight and how he is worried Alex is still into violence. Alex lies about his nightly exploits, but Deltoid easily sees through him and warns him about possible consequences of keeping this behavior up. After this meeting, Alex goes to the record store to pick up a new classical tape, where he also picks up two young girls, who he takes to his house to have sex with.
Later that day, Alex meets again with his droogs, but finds out that Georgie has ideas of taking over leadership of the group to do more ambitious crimes. This leads Alex to attack his droogs to re-establish his leadership. That night, the group invades a new house, the home of an elderly woman who lives with a group of cats. The woman tries to defend herself, but gets beaten by Alex with a statue in the shape of a penis. Hearing police sirens, Alex tries to run but gets ambushed by Dim, who beats him unconscious and the group leaves Alex to get arrested. During his interrogation Mr. Deltoid shows up, telling Alex he is now a murderer, since the woman he beat up died from her injuries.
Being tried for murder now, Our Humble Narrator (Alex) is sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment. While in jail, Alex befriends the Chaplain and takes an interesting in the bible. While the chaplain thinks Alex is repenting and converting to God, Alex mostly enjoys the violent and sex-filled passages and has fantasies about being involved with them. After several years, the minister of the Interior or Inferior arrives at the prison looking for volunteers for a new, experimental technique. Alex, having heard that this method of therapy will let him out of prison after two weeks of therapy, instead of his remaining twelve years, volunteers at once for this Ludovico technique.
Alex is transferred to a new facility, where first he is fed well, gets a comfortable bed and made comfortably. The therapy however, forces him to be put in a straitjacket, and with a device to hold open his eyes Alex is forced to watch scenes of extreme violence and rape while being given nauseating drugs, helping him associate his revulsion with the violence he sees. After one of the scenes is being played with Beethoven’s ninth symphony over it, Alex begins to protest against the association of a piece of music that is such beautiful with the kind of film he is seeing. The doctors supervising the technique see this as a space of improvement, however, and start playing music that Alex loves over all scenes.
After two weeks, when the therapy is supposed to have finished, Alex is brought before an audience to be tested and demonstrated. A man picks a fight with him by shouting and even kicking, but Alex is unable to fight back, becoming nauseated by the thought of it. As a second test, a young and beautiful naked woman is brought on the stage, who starts to arouse him, but a feeling of sickness attacks Alex, preventing him from even looking at the woman. The minister declares Alex cured and orders him immediately released from prison, but the chaplain protests, claiming that Alex has lost all free will.

When Alex comes home, he discovers that all his belongings have been sold by the state to help his victims and that his parents have rented out his room, making him homeless. After this, our narrator wanders the street, where he meets the homeless guy who he beat up years earlier. This time, however, the tides are turned as the vagrant calls his friends and together they start beating Alex (who can’t fight back because of the “cure”) up. Two police officers arrive to break up the fight, but the officers (in who we recognise Georgie and Dim, Alex’s former droogs) drag Alex out to the countryside, where they beat him some more and almost drown him in a water trough. After this assault, Alex walks around the countryside, until he stumbles onto a home where he rings the bell. Quickly let in, fed and given a bed to sleep, Alex discovers his benefactor to be the same Mr. Alexander as the one he attacked years earlier, but who doesn’t recognize him. Now crippled and only living with a personal servant, his wife having died, Alexander discovers that Alex was the victim of the Ludovico treatment, as it has been published in all newspapers. He gets his political friends to meet Alex, to find a way to attack the current regime, but quickly recognizes the tune Alex whistles to be the same as the mysterious rapist of his wife. Wanting to get revenge, the writer locks up Alex in his room and starts playing Beethoven’s 9th symphony at high volume, driving Alex crazy. Trying to escape the musical torture, Alex jumps out of the window, wanting to kill himself.
Several days later, Alex wakes up to find himself in the hospital, being tended to by several doctors. Through a series of tests, he finds that the “cure” has been reverted, and our Alex is able to withstand violence again. After a few days, the minister of the Inferior comes visit, offering his apologies and an important government job. He also has a stereo put next to Alex’s bed, playing Beethoven’s 9th, and Alex discovers that he not only can listen to the music again, he gets visions of sexual pleasure. He was cured all right!

Review

Well, what can I say, it’s Kubrick. I love all movies of this director so much, every single frame is composited carefully and perfectly, creating not so much a movie as a piece of art. However, I’ll try to be objective in this review.
This may be the best performance ever of our main star, Malcolm McDowell. Back in these days he still had a kind of fire burning in him, allowing him to experience every role as it were his life. Unfortunately, mr. McDowell’s performances have been going down over the last few years. The other characters are certainly interesting, from the choice of his droogs (one big guy without intelligence, one sneaky guy constantly trying to take over Alex’s power over the group and one guy that gets between it all) to the writer Mr. Alexander, clearly gone mad with the loss of his wife. One of the better performances of this film, however, must be that of the minister of the interior, portraying a truly political character, that will be ruthless when there are no camera’s around, but full with compassion when somebody is watching.
Esthetically the movie is great. Every set has been carefully constructed, from the statues in the Korova milk-bar, through the colors and lights of the music store, to the clinical location of the prison hospital where Alex is cured. Even the room where he is forced to watch the violent movies, gets turned from an ordinary cinema to something creapy and experimental. As said before, each shot has been planned to perfection, not being one place where the screen is too filled or too empty.
The director uses a lot of different pieces of music to great effect here, but there are two that keep coming back: the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony and the song Singin’ in the Rain, from the musical with the same name. The first of these two is used as Alex’s favorite, but is later used as a torture device to him. In the end, though, he can enjoy his classical music again, even giving him sexual pleasure while listening to this great score. The second part, Singin’ in the Rain, is the tune Alex whistles while beating up Mr. Alexander and raping his wife, but is also the cause of his eventual return to the hospital. This song was used because of two factors: it is simple, innocent and cheerful, in direct contrast to Alex’s ultra-violence, and it was a song the actor could actually whistle. A third piece of music, used to great effect in maybe my favorite scene of the movie, is a remix of the famous William Tell overture by Rossini, played during Alex’s sex-scene with the two girls he picks up in the music store. This whole scene is shots from one angle, with only music and Alex and the two girls in fast forward. The rest of the score of this movie is also a mix of classical pieces and electrical synthetical music by Wendy Carlos, which is mixed to a nice effect in a way that portrays the world in this movie: something from this world, but also something eerie and futuristic.

Here comes the most difficult part: the comparison between the book and the movie. Having just read the book, I must say I loved this just as much as the movie. The greatest difference in these two lies in the fact that Kubrick never used the last chapter of the book, causing a different ending. SPOILER In the book, after Alex gets released from surgery, he forms a new gang of droogs for ultra-violence, but prefers to stay in the background of these acts, watching instead of joining in. The book ends with Alex considering having a child of his own, signifying the start of his adulthood and the end of his roaring pubescent years. END SPOILER
There are many more differences between the two media, but these are generally subtle and used for style, without having much impact on the story. Several notable ones, that do cause a change in story, are:

  • In the book, Alex is forced to go the treatment, for beating up and killing a man in jail, but in the movie he volunteers.
  • In the book, Alex is conditioned against all music, not just Beethoven’s 9th.
  • The girl raped by the rival group, and the two girls Alex takes him from the music store, are 10 year olds in the book. In the movie they are turned to 16/17 and the music-store-girls are volunteers, instead of raped.
  • The song that is whistled during the rape scene, Singin’ in the Rain, is not at all present in the books. There the writer discovers Alex to be the rapist because of several accidental remarks around the incident.

Overall, it is a great pity that the last chapter of the book was never used, in my opinion it portrays Alex rise to maturity much better. Also, the book was built to have three parts (Alex in his normal life, Alex in jail, Alex cured) from 7 chapters each, the number 21 (3*7) being a nod to the age of 21 being the turning point in a person’s life.
The use of Nadsat, the slang that Alex and his droogs speak, is spread throughout both the book as the movie, the entire book being written in this language as well.

Conclusions

I loved this, and I can watch it over and over again. Even though this is not Kubrick’s weirdest (2001), dramatic (Lolita), funniest (Dr. Strangelove) or even most violent (Full Metal Jacket), it combines a bit of all these characters with a great book, excellent acting and beautiful cinematography to create another masterpiece.
This movie really is about what would be better: choosing to be evil and accepting the consequences, or being forced to be good, without having a say in the matter. I know what I’d prefer, do you?

Trailer on Youtube

Links

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Rotten Tomatoes Link

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Categories: Reviews Tags: , , ,

Scarface [1932] and its X motif

October 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Howard Hawks’ Scarface is one of the quintessential classic gangster movies. A story of relentless hunger for power and wealth, carried out with violence, laughs and balls that could only come from a pre-code film. Scarface, helped in no small part by Paul Muni‘s portrayal of the maniacal Tony Camonte, has to be one of the most influential movies in cinema history.

A great little artistic flourish that Hawks integrated into the set design is the “X” insignia visible when a body lies cold by the hand of “Scarface” Camonte . Whether the X is a signature of sorts – the bodies “signed” with an X to match Tony’s scar – or just a literal representation of a killer “X-ing” his victim is up for debate. Perhaps its a nod to journalistic practices at the time which used an X to show where a body lay in photographs. Whatever the reason, it’s a unique feature that has since been imitated and copied in countless other films. Here are a collection of stills which show the technique in effect. If you are planning to see this film any time soon, bear in mind some pretty big spoilers lie ahead.

First, the most important X of all. Tony’s scar:

Tony pays a visit to a victim in hospital, as the mark of death is cast as a shadow on the wall

Another victim of Camonte’s reign of terror lies under the crossed shadow of an undertaker’s sign.

A neon X sits high on a wall as Tony’s crew take out a rival’s car.

One of my favourites. 7 people are lined up against a wall in a representation of the infamous St Valentine’s day massacre. The camera pans up and we see 7 x’s in the roof struts


A beam of light forms a perfect cross on a body.

Here the X is used as a foreshadowing device. No killing takes place in this scene but the ominous X of light clearly shows Gaffney is a marked man.

Gaffney’s cards are marked, in more ways than one. After crossing off a strike on his scorecard, he is in turn crossed off in a bowling alley.

In a dancehall scene, Tony’s sister is the only girl with crossed straps on her back. Another foreshadowing X .

A desk-fan is strategically placed in the background as Tony takes down boss Johnny Lovo.


Two for one in this scene (a visual double-cross?) as Scarface takes down his own henchman Guino.

As Tony’s sister takes a bullet deflected by his shutters, a fallen lamp in the background provides the familiar motif.

I’ll leave you with the trailer, which again is pretty full of spoilers and should be avoided if you plan on watching this great film.

Categories: Articles, Movies Tags: , , , , , , ,

Getting up to date!

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Well I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I don’t feel comfortable doing a huge text about movies lately so instead I’m gonna make a quick review of the latest movies I’ve seen and what I thought of them :p
I know that Asmodai likes to put trailer links but I hate being spoiled something  when watching a bad one so as a general standard I won’t put any trailer 😛

Let’s start by Poetry,

Directed by Lee Chang-Dong, With Yoon Jung-hee, David Lee, Kim Hira …

Country : South Korea, Genre : Drama, Production yeah 2009, Length : 2h19min

Best Screenplay Award at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival

imdb link : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1287878/

I was wondering about this movie as it had so many good critics it felt like too much to be true but I will admit I fell for it.

Poetry is a korean movie filled with subtlety, everything is said without words. You follow Mija, a grandmother trying to make ends meet while taking care of her grandson. But life takes her on a rough path where her beloved kin and his friends have raped a young girl who then committed suicide. Their parents meet and try to find a solution, Mija will have to find money to save her grandson. Before this struggle she had decided to follow a poetry class and this will help her find a way to bear her pain and incomprehension.

More than a regular drama story, there is a lot of layers added to that story, poetry gives a new take on the appreciation of a simple life and a very emotionnal path to redemption. It’s interesting to see how movies are sold in different countries, the french poster turns to life and vibrant colours  whilst the korean focuses on the main character in a darker way.

Amore, original title ( Io sono l’Amore), french title (Amore)

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, With Tilda Swinton, Alba Rohrwacher …

Country : Italy, Genre : Drama, Production yeah 2009, Length : 1h58min

I like how the english poster is so pink 😀 and the original (french goes with the same font) shows exhuberance in a more subtle way circling around the character of Tilda Swinton. And if you do read critics on posters, you’ll see that it is supposed to be “the best sex you’ll get all year”!  Just that ?!

This movie slowly grows on you it starts as a very rich family would expose itself, in a very cold way which slowly melts and let you enter a very rich environment filled up with power struggles to rule the Recchi emporium. Grandpa rules everything, he has to name a successor but instead of daddy he goes for the younger son, who himself aspires for simpler things like a restaurant. Amidst the men is the family mother, Emma, a russian woman who completely integrated the attitude to play pretendof the italian haute bourgeoisie, putting aside herself and her desire. Everything starts to fall apart when the son introduces her to the future cook of his restaurant,a passion will form between the two and will make you feel for her,  the movie then starts to be very emotionnal and involves you somehow in a tornado.

I will not spoil too much, but I will just say that Tilda Swinton amazed me in this movie, she is so fit for the frenzy that it builds the tension of this drama majestically. I’ve always found her a particuliar grace and always knew she was a good actress and yet i was stunned by her performance, the end scene with the family fills you with emotions!

The Housemaid, original title : Hanyo

Directed by Im Sang-Soo, With Jeon Do-Yeon, Lee Jung-Jae, Youn Yuh-jung…

Country : South Korea, Genre : Drama, Production yeah 2010, Length : 1h47min

No I’m not addicted to korean movies, though I could be if they were all that good ! Once again when you look at different posters, different perspectives on the movie koreans care about the girl and we (in this case it’s the french one :p)  care about what she does!

The housemaid, Euny is hired to assist the housekeeper  of a very wealthy family, she is a simple and naive woman who will fall for the charming husband and will have to deal with the consequences for her and her future baby.

Though the plot is simple, its treatment is very subtle, the movie shows a lot of sensibility and portrays very strong ideas. The wealthy consider everything and everyone as objects you can buy, opposite are two employees who follow different paths toward this predetermined order. one follows and is involved in that game and the other tries to find a way out, keeping her freedom and her baby.
Of course such a drama cannot end lightly but it takes a very dark path, being a remake of a classic korean movie (that I did not see) I cannot compare the two, I thought it went overboard, not necessarily a bad thing but certainly goes far.
The set of this wealthy environment is gorgeous and the main actres does an excellent job to portray the struggle of her character.

That will be it for tonight, an exotic selection but all the subjects are urban and deep in our modern society, oddly I now realize I selected 3 different struggles and 3 women carving a path through freedom. Each at her own pace they will take you with them so just enjoy the ride !

The french poster turns to life whilst the korean focuses on the main character.
Categories: Uncategorized

Movieplans for the next month

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I thought it would be nice for me to tell you all about my plans regarding movies the next couple of weeks: especially which I will buy and, most importantly, see. I’ll just make a short list, and feel free to give me your thoughts on them, or any recommendations if I will like certain films!

I bought:
– Barbarella
– Piranha
– Invictus
– Delicatessen
– Family Plot (although that has to be imported so haven’t arrived yet)
– Roman Polanski set with Repulsion and The Pianist

And maybe most important of all:

This baby will arrive tuesday, after which I can finally start collecting bluray for the movies that deserve it!

What I will see:
– In my everlasting quest to finish all of icheckmovies‘s lists, for top 250: Sunset Blvd., Lawrence of Arabia, Paths of Glory & To Kill a Mockingbird
– To clear out my DVD-collection: Leon, De Lift, Zus & Zo & District 9
– To clear out my hard drive: The Yes Men Fix the World, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, What About Bob & Wall Street

What I’m looking forward to in cinema:
– Resident Evil: Afterlife
– The American
– Wall Street 2
– Legend of the Guardians

Categories: Off-Topic Tags: ,

Review: Memento

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Facts & Figures

  • Title: Memento
  • IMDB rating at time of writing: 8.7
  • Year: 2000
  • Length: 113 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Producer: Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd
  • Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
  • Cinematography: Wally Pfister
  • Music: David Julyan
  • Cast: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Stephen Tobolowsky, Harriet Sansom Harris, Jorja Fox

Plot summary (Spoiler alert!)

Because of the non-linear storytelling of this film, I will summarize per scene. This movie alternates between black and white scenes that go forward in time, from the past to the center of the movie, and colored scenes that start at the ending of the story and go back to the center of the movie. This way the whole movie is told, just in a different order.

  1. This scene runs backwards altogether, starting with a man looking at a polaroid of a bloody room, followed by bullet casings getting into his gun and ends with him shooting his victim in the head.
  2. A man wakes up in a hotel room he does not recognize, and tries to figure out where he is and why he’s there.
  3. The man, who is named Leonard, is picked up from his hotel by a guy with glasses. We learn that Leonard has a handicap with his memory, but what exactly is still unclear. They drive to a building, but Leonard has forgotten why, but during the drive Leonard notices that the window of his car is broken. When they arrive at the building, they find an abandoned car next to it. Inside the building Leonard finds a polaroid of the man with glasses, apparently named Teddy, in his jacket, saying that “He is the one. Kill him”. The scene ends with Leonard shooting Teddy in the head, which is also the first/last shot of scene number one.
  4. Leonard goes through the hotel room, and notices a tattoo on his wrist, telling him to remember Sammy Jankis, who apparently had the same problem but no system to make it work. Leonard also sees a piece of paper stuck to his leg, telling him to shave his thigh.
  5. Leonard writes the text on the polaroid, telling himself to kill Teddy. He gets a gun and leaves his motel room, but stops at the lobby where he explains his condition to the man at the desk (and to the audience). He suffers from a condition which prevents him from making new memories, causing him to have a short-term memory of mere minutes, after which he forgets everything. He leaves the motel with Teddy, as in scene 3.
  6. Leonard walks through his hotel room, while his voice-over explains how he makes his condition workable using notes, but for important information tattoos might work better. The phone rings and Leonard picks up.
  7. Leonard comes from a bathroom and finds himself in a diner, which he leaves with keys, a picture of a motel-sign and an envelope. He drives to the motel on the picture, the Discount Inn, and enters a room. In the room, one wall is covered with notes and pictures. The envelope, which reads “To Leonard, from Natalie” is opened, and contains a copy of Teddy’s drivers license, but the name on it is John Edward Gammell. The polaroid of Teddy says “Don’t believe his lies.”. Leonard calls the phone number on the picture, and Teddy answers to tell him he’ll be right over. Leonard undresses for a shower and the audience sees his body is covered in tattoos, containing “Facts”. These facts apparently describe a white man, first name John or James, last name starting with G, who is a drugs dealer with a certain license plate. Leonard confirms that this information is about Teddy, and writes on his polaroid to kill Teddy.
  8. Leonard is on the phone and starts to tell us about Sammy, when he looks in the mirror the audience sees a tattoo saying “John G. raped and murdered my wife.”.
  9. Leonard enters the diner and talks to a woman named Natalie, who has a black eye and a split lip, where is he handed the envelope. The conversation starts to be about Leonard’s wife, and we see a flashback of her.
  10. The phone conversation continues, in which Leonard tells us he used to work for an insurance agency, checking to see if claims were valid. This is where he met Sammy, as his first big challenge.
  11. Leonard wants to start a car, but is stopped by Teddy, who buys him lunch and they talk about how reliable memories are. Lenny gets back to his motel, where he discovers that he is being ripped off by the manager, who managed to rent him two different rooms (since he’d forget anyways). Leonard finds a note in his pocket, telling him to meet Natalie for information, causing him to drive to the diner.
  12. The story goes on about Sammy, who got into a car accident and got the same condition as Leonard: he’d forget any new information within minutes. The insurance sends in Leonard, to discover is Sammy is faking it or if the insurance has to pay up. We are also introduced to Sammy’s wife, who suffers from diabetes and needs regular insulin shots from Sammy.
  13. Leonard wakes up in a strange bed next to a woman, in which we recognize Natalie. The scene ends with a conversation on memories, and Natalie kissing Lenny, after which Leonard leaves and enters his car.
  14. Leonard tests Sammy’s response to conditioning, which should work if the problem was physical, unfortunately Sammy fails the test.
  15. Natalie opens the door to Leonard, who is clearly angry and shows a picture of a bloody guy called Dodd. Natalie explains how Dodd was her problem and how Leonard offered to help. Leonard explains the difference between remembering and knowing things, and the couple ends up in bed together.
  16. Because conditioning didn’t work on Sammy, he also couldn’t get a system to make his problem bearable, like Leonard has.
  17. Leonard wakes in a motel room and discovers a gun in the bedside drawer and a bloodied guy in the closet (Dodd). Teddy shows up and helps with dumping Dodd outside the city, telling him to never come back.
  18. Sammy’s wife is shown getting more desperate to help the poor guy with his problem.
  19. Leonard is sitting in a bathroom, with a bottle of whiskey, but he doesn’t feel drunk. He gets under the shower and finds a strange man in the room, which he hits with the bottle and puts in the closet. He calls Teddy to come help him.
  20. Leonard ends the conversation on the phone, and is shown building a needle to tattoo himself with.
  21. Leonard is running, being followed by some guy shooting at him. He gets in the car and escapes, but finds a note in the car with Dodd’s address, where he goes and ambushes some poor guy because he got the wrong house number. After this mistake he finds the right room, enters and hides in the shower with a bottle of whiskey as a weapon.
  22. Using the home-made needle, Leonard tattoos fact nr. 5 on his leg: Has access to drugs.
  23. It is dawn and Leonard drives off from some abandoned industry park, visibly tired. He is stopped by a man, who threatens him with a gun, shoots the window of his car and runs off after Leonard.
  24. The phone rings again.
  25. At night, Leonard drives to an abandoned area, builds a fire and is shown burning memorabilia of his wife, trying to get more memories of her. He wonders how much times he tried this before.
  26. The mysterious person on the phone tells Leonard something about drugs, which helps in his investigation.
  27. Leonard wakes up to find a woman doing drugs in his toilet, he kicks her out, gets some items from around the room and walks to his car.
  28. More discussion about drugs and Leonard concludes that the murderer is a drug dealer.
  29. Leonard is shown ordering a callgirl, who is ordered to wait until he is asleep, smash the door loud enough to wake him up and spread some random items round the room.
  30. We are told how Sammy’s wife meets Leonard, asking for help to solve his condition, but she only hears that his condition is emotional, not physical.
  31. Teddy tells Leonard not to trust Natalie, but Leonard uses a different handwriting than his usual one. When Teddy leaves again, Leonard crosses out the warning and reads Teddy’s polaroid which tells him not to believe his lies.
  32. Leonard’s next tattoo says never to answer the phone, he becomes suspicious and ends the conversation.
  33. Leonard is frantically looking for a pen to write something down, when Natalie walks in with a busted lip and a black eye, telling Leonard Dodd did it because of Teddy.
  34. The phone rings, but Leonard won’t pick up and leaves orders at the front desk to not put through any more calls.
  35. Natalie gets in, angry and it gets clear that she is only using Leonard to get rid off Dodd. She keeps insulting him, until he slaps her around. After this she walks out, but since she hid all pens before she came in, Leonard can’t write it down in time to forget this happened.
  36. The desk clerk shows up, telling Leonard that a cop is calling.
  37. Natalie invites Leonard in, and Leonard tells us how he woke up to find his wife getting raped by two men. He shoots one, but the other manages to bash his head in and run off. The police didn’t believe there was a second guy and he has been looking for him since.
  38. A note is pushed under the door, telling Leonard to answer the phone. Together with it comes a picture of him, covered in blood, but smiling.
  39. Natalie, working as a barmaid, gives Leonard a beer on the house. They talk about his condition, and she offers him a fresh beer.
  40. Leonard finally picks up, but he is clearly stressed and demands to know who it is and why he’s calling.
  41. Our guy enters a bar, where Natalie is working, who tells him that a cop called about him and his condition, she also asks about someone named Jimmy and Teddy. Natalie draws a beer, telling all people in the bar to spit in it, for luck, and sets it aside.
  42. We hear that after Sammy’s wife talked to Leonard, she went home and told Sammy multiple times that it was time for her insulin shot, in the hope that he would remember she already had one. She never recovered.
  43. Leonard has fact 6 tattood (a car licence number), when Teddy walks in telling him that he’s an informer for the police and warning that a drugsdealer named Jimmy is after him. Leonard drives to the bar, where he is stopped by Natalie who calls him Jimmy.
  44. The conversation turned towards Jimmy (Jimmy G, from the tattoo), who apparently is a drugsdealer. Leonard and the cop on the phone say they’ll meet in the lobby, where Teddy shows up (who is apparently the cop in question). Leonard is given some directions, after which he gets in an old truck and drives to an abandoned building (the one from scene 3), where Jimmy arrives (in the car Leonard has been driving all through the movie). Leonard, believing Jimmy was his wife’s murderer, kills the man. The scene switches color, but goes on, indicating that we have reached the crossing of the storylines.
  45. Leonard changes into Jimmy’s suit and hides the body, when Teddy walks in. Teddy explains that he has been helping Leonard for several times, looking for the real murderer first, which Leonard killed, but forgot. After this they have been hunting down the killer over and over again. He also tells that Leonard was the one who gave his wife the overdose of insulin, after her so-called “murder”, not Sammy. This causes Leonard to put “Don’t believe his lies” on Teddy’s polaroid and writing down Teddy’s licence plate, hoping he would hunt the liar down next time. Leonard gets in Jimmy’s Jaguar and drives off to a tattoo shop, ending the movie.

Plot Summary, chronological order (Still contains spoilers!)

A man wakes up in a hotel room he does not recognize, and tries to figure out where he is and why he’s there. He goes through the hotel room, and notices a tattoo on his wrist, telling him to remember Sammy Jankis, and he also sees a piece of paper stuck to his leg, telling him to shave his thigh. A voice-over explains how he makes his condition workable using notes, but for important information tattoos might work better. The phone rings and the man picks up and starts to tell us about someone named Sammy, but when he looks in the mirror the audience sees a tattoo saying “John G. raped and murdered my wife.”. The phone conversation continues, in which the man tells us he used to work for an insurance agency, checking to see if claims were valid. This is where he met Sammy, as his first big challenge. The story goes on about Sammy, who got into a car accident and got the same condition as Leonard: he’d forget any new information within minutes. The insurance sends in Leonard, to discover if Sammy is faking it or if the insurance has to pay up. We are also introduced to Sammy’s wife, who suffers from diabetes and needs regular insulin shots from Sammy. Leonard tests Sammy’s response to conditioning and the forming of reflexes, which should work if the problem was physical, but unfortunately he fails the test. Because conditioning didn’t work on Sammy, he also couldn’t get a system to make his problem bearable, like Leonard has. Sammy’s wife is shown getting more desperate to help the poor guy with his problem. Leonard ends the conversation on the phone, and is shown building a needle to tattoo himself with. Using the home-made needle, Leonard tattoos fact nr. 5 on his leg: Has access to drugs. The phone rings again and the mysterious person on the phone tells Leonard something about drugs, which helps in his investigation. Leonard concludes that the murderer is a drug dealer.

We are told how Sammy’s wife meets Leonard, asking for help to solve his condition, but she only hears that his condition is emotional, not physical.

Leonard’s next tattoo says never to answer the phone, he becomes suspicious and ends the conversation. The phone rings again, but Leonard won’t pick up and leaves orders at the front desk to not put through any more calls. The desk clerk shows up, telling Leonard that a cop is calling, but he still refuses the calls. A note is pushed under the door, telling Leonard to answer the phone, together with it comes a picture of him, covered in blood, but smiling.

Leonard finally picks up, but he is clearly stressed and demands to know who it is and why he’s calling. We hear that after Sammy’s wife talked to Leonard, she went home and told Sammy multiple times that it was time for her insulin shot, in the hope that he would remember she already had one. She never recovered.

The conversation turned towards Jimmy (Jimmy G, from the tattoo), who apparently is a drugsdealer. Leonard and the cop on the phone say they’ll meet in the lobby, where a guy with glasses shows up (who is apparently the cop in question, named Teddy). Leonard is given some directions, after which he gets in an old truck and drives to an abandoned building, where Jimmy arrives. Leonard, believing Jimmy was his wife’s murderer, kills the man after which he changes into Jimmy’s suit and hides the body, when the cop walks in. Teddy explains that he has been helping Leonard for several times, looking for the real murderer first, which Leonard killed but forgot all about. After this they have been hunting down the killer over and over again. He also tells that Leonard was the one who gave his wife the overdose of insulin, after the recovery of her so-called “murder”, not Sammy. This causes Leonard to put “Don’t believe his lies” on Teddy’s polaroid and writing down Teddy’s licence plate, hoping he would hunt the liar down next time. Leonard gets in Jimmy’s Jaguar and drives off to a tattoo shop.

Leonard has fact 6 tattood (a car licence number), when Teddy walks in telling him that he’s an informer for the police and warning that a drugsdealer named Jimmy is after him. Leonard drives to a bar, where he is stopped by a woman who calls him Jimmy. Our guy enters the bar, where the woman from before is working, who tells him that a cop called about him and his condition; She also asks about Jimmy and Teddy. The woman draws a beer, telling all people in the bar to spit in it, for luck, and sets it aside for a few minutes, after which she gives it to Leonard on the house, who drinks it. They talk about his condition, and she offers him a fresh beer. At her home, Natalie invites Leonard in, and Leonard tells us how he woke up to find his wife getting raped by two men. He shoots one, but the other manages to bash his head in and run off. The police didn’t believe there was a second guy and he has been looking for him since.

The next day, Natalie bursts in, angry and it becomes clear that she is only using Leonard to get rid off a guy called Dodd. She keeps insulting him, until he slaps her around. After this she walks out, but since she hid all pens before she came in, Leonard can’t write it down in time to forget this happened. He is still frantically looking for a pen to write something down, when Natalie walks back in with a busted lip and a black eye, telling Leonard Dodd did it because of Teddy. Leonard gets out and meets with Teddy, who tells him not to trust Natalie and to write this down, but Leonard uses a different handwriting than his usual one, to recognize fact from fiction. When Teddy leaves again, Leonard crosses out the warning and reads Teddy’s polaroid which tells him not to believe his lies.

At a motel, Leonard is shown ordering a callgirl, who is ordered to wait until he is asleep, smash the door loud enough to wake him up and spread some random items round the room. When she does this, Leonard wakes up to find a woman doing drugs in his toilet. He kicks her out, gets some items from around the room, walks to his car and drives to an abandoned area, where builds a fire and is shown burning memorabilia of his wife, trying to get more memories of her. He also wonders how much times he tried this before.

It is dawn and Leonard drives off, visibly tired. He is stopped by a man who threatens him with a gun, shoots the window of his car and runs off after Leonard, who after a brief chase manages to get in the car and escape, but finds a note in the car with the man’s (Dodd) description and address. He drives to the address, where he ambushes some poor guy because he got the wrong house number. After this epic and random failure, he finds the right room, enters and hides in the shower with a bottle of whiskey as a weapon. Forgetting why he is there, he gets under the shower and quickly discovers a strange man entering the room, who he hits with the bottle, gags and puts in the closet. He calls Teddy to come help him.

Leonard wakes up in the motel room and discovers a gun in the bedside drawer and a bloodied guy in the closet. Teddy shows up and helps with dumping Dodd outside the city, telling him to never come back.

Natalie opens the door to Leonard, who is clearly angry and who shows a picture of a bloody guy called Dodd. Natalie explains how Dodd was her problem and how Leonard offered to help. In a conversation, Leonard explains the difference between remembering and knowing things, and the couple end up in bed together.

Leonard wakes up in a strange bed next to a woman, in which we recognize Natalie. The scene ends with a conversation on memories, and Natalie kissing Lenny, after which Leonard leaves and enters his car, where he is stopped by Teddy, who buys him lunch and they talk about how reliable memories are. Leonard gets back to his motel, where he discovers that he is being ripped off by the manager, who managed to rent him two different rooms (since he’d forget anyways). Leonard finds a note in his pocket, telling him to meet Natalie in a diner, for information. Leonard enters the diner and talks to Natalie, where is he handed an envelope. The conversation moves to Leonard’s wife, and we see a flashback of her. After this Natalie leaves, Leonard goes to the bathroom and forgets.

Leonard comes from a bathroom and finds himself in a diner, which he leaves with keys, a picture of a motel-sign and an envelope. He drives to the motel on the picture, the Discount Inn, and enters a room where one wall is covered with notes and pictures. The envelope is opened, and contains a copy of Teddy’s drivers license, but the name on it is John Edward Gammell. Leonard calls the phone number on the picture of Teddy, who answers to tell him he’ll be right over. Looking over his tattoos with facts, Leonard confirms that this information is about Teddy, and writes on his polaroid to kill the guy. He gets a gun and leaves his motel room, but stops at the lobby where he explains his condition to the man at the desk. He suffers from a condition which prevents him from making new memories, causing him to have a short-term memory of mere minutes, after which he forgets everything. He leaves the motel with Teddy. They drive to a building, but Leonard has forgotten why. During the drive Leonard notices that the window of his car is broken. When they arrive at the building, they find an abandoned car next to it. Inside the building Leonard finds a polaroid of Teddy in his pocket, saying that “He is the one. Kill him”. The scene ends with Leonard shooting Teddy in the head.

Review

There is no denying it: the concept of Memento is great and it has been realized in an amazing way, the greatest part of it, however, also is the greatest flaw: the non-linear timeline. When you see this film for the first time, you have no idea what is happening, who this guy is and who wants to use him for what, which is a big piece of what makes this such a great film. When you see this movie again, all this will be gone and it has the potential for just being plain annoying.
Besides the playing with time, this movie is just another movie with ups and downs. Cinematography: great! I especially love the black and white parts, where the contrast is being used to great effect. The acting of most of the actors (besides Pearce) didn’t really surprise me; it was okay, but far from being great and amazing. Pearce himself, however, really pulled off the trick of convincing us that he has a memory problem, by not just acting but actually being confused at times. I don’t know how Nolan shot this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it in order of the film, and gave Pearce only short pieces of the script, instead of the whole thing.

The storyline was good, especially because it uses the memory condition in the movie, making it more than a simple plot device. We all have seen this kind of ending before, where the main character forgot that his own story was actualy about him, but that doesn’t make it bad, because in this case it works. I especially love how small details get explained later on, like the parked car next to the building at the beginning, or why certain notes appear on the polaroids. The great advantage of this kind of movie-making, is that you can see things happen, after which you can see why they happened. The downside is that it only really works to full effect the first time.

The portrayal of the memory condition has met with great professional acclaim, and apparently the condition really happens like the audience sees it: scenes of ten minutes with no idea what happened before, with some thoughts back to the past before the condition appeared.

Conclusions

Nolan did it again, he pulled off a great movie. This would have gotten 4½ or even 5 out of 5 stars, were it not that the greatness only lasts for the first watch, whenever you watch it for another time, the best part is already gone. Even then, though, it is still a masterpiece with great acting from Pearce, beautiful cinematography in the black and white parts and some entertaining moments.

Trailer on Youtube

Links

IMDB Link

Rotten Tomatoes Link

Whatthemovie Link

Icheckmovies Link

Official Site

AllMovie link

New memorabilia!

September 17, 2010 4 comments

I wasn’t going to post about this until I actually received it, but quite frankly I can’t contain my excitement. As of an hour or so ago, I am the very proud owner of this original, rare 11 x 14″ colour lobby card for Hitchcock’s 2nd version of “The man who knew too much”:

Notice those black squiggles? Take a closer look :

That’s right, Jimmy Stewart‘s (and of course the lovely Doris Day‘s) autograph! I honestly can’t believe that I am going to have in my possession a lobby card that has been in the hand of the gentlemanly, legendary (and personal favourite) actor James Stewart! It comes with all the relevant authenticity information from the International Autograph Dealers Alliance, the UACC Registered Autograph Dealers, and the Manuscript society, and is going to be winging its way across the Atlantic on Monday as priority air-mail!

I realise I’m using a lot of exclamation points here, but this is kind of a big deal to me, so let me get it out of my system…
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!JIMMY STEWART’S AUTOGRAPH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cannot wait to get this, frame it nicely with its authenticity paperwork and make it a centerpiece of my movie collection. I’m so overwhelmed by Jimmy’s squiggle that it’s easy for me to forget the lobby card itself is also awesome, from a fantastic Hitchcock movie.

My first piece of genuine cinema history memorabilia. Consider me chuffed to bits.

Trailer review: Resident Evil: Afterlive / Paranormal Activity 2 / Fair Game / The Social Network

September 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Ok, the point of these reviews will be to judge upcoming movies solely on their trailers. Each time I will do the trailers that came with a movie I watched in cinema, so I at least witnessed them on the big screen. I will only comment on things that are in the trailer, NOT any gossip that can be found on the web or reviews from places where they already premiered. At the most, I will extrapolate previous experiences with cast/crewmembers.

These trailers came with the movie “Machete”.

Resident Evil: Afterlive

So, we see a burning city with some decent effects, some nature as well under a dramatic melody, nothing new here. Que a woman talking about how five years ago a virus whiped out the world, the music starts becoming more actionpacked. We see a woman getting out of a small plane on a field filled with other planes, while the voice comments that there is hope.
But then… Mila Jovovich steps forward and the voice tells us that her name is Alice, then it hits: this is the new Resident Evil! The music quickens and action starts to happen (mainly Alice fighting), with sometimes a shot clearly meant to interest us (a guy throws his sunglasses at us, some guy in black in a white marble room). We also get some text-pieces about how the movie was shot with Cameron’s Avatar tricks and some more commercial babbling about great 3D. The first part trailer ends with a shot so blatantly stolen from the Matrix, that I’m surprised there is nobody calling me Mr. Anderson.
Que title: Resident Evil: Afterlife
For those of us who pause to see names: Director/Writer Paul WS Anderson (back from RE1, also did Alien vs. Predator, Mortal Kombat and some more movies of this type), Mila Jovovich (duh!), Ali Larter (that girl from Heroes, redoing her character from the third part of the series) and the rest of the names are not very big names.
Will I go see this movie? Yes, but only because I pay a monthly fee for unlimited movies, I wouldn’t spend extra money on cinema for this. I would surely rent it, though, because movies of this Director and/or series have proven to be fairly entertaining for a popcorn night on the sofa. The trailer didn’t make me curious, but it did show me that I would probably get what I expected: Mila Jovovich killing people (haven’t seen much zombies in this one) with cool action movies, and a movie for some nice shots on Whatthemovie.

Paranormal Activity 2

Too long black screen with some weird noises, this must be another bad horror. Then somebody gets thrown into a camera in a living room.. But wait, didn’t we already see Paranormal Activity (I didn’t, but I know it has been out for a while.)
“In 2009 You Demanded It” …Errr, no I didn’t. I hate it when trailers tell me stuff about me. The rest of the trailer is basically shots of an audience filmed in “night vision”, more shots of a a house and some silly scary moments where things come towards the camera, people suddenly appear after a cut or a dog growls at something we can’t see. Oh, and of course some scary music.
Que title: Paranormal2Activity
Some more of forementioned shots and the trailer is over with just an URL. No names, so probably nobody bothered to get some talent for this sequel.
Yes, they made a sequel. Of course, what is there not to milk out when your movies are cheap to film and the first part made millions! Is it me, or are “horror” (as far as you can call this stuff horror…) loving people really that dumb, that they think that films like these must be good, because the first part got a few good scares and was somewhat original? Will this get as bad as Saw, with 793324 parts where nobody understands what’s going on, nobody cares and more and more bodyparts start flying around?
No, I will definitely NOT go see this movie. I might find the first part on the internet some day, if I am bored, but I am quite sure that it will bore me even more. Movies like this can’t be named film, in my humble opinion, they are just moments of calm with moments of action in between, meant to pump some adrenaline through us, and as extra bonus they are cheap as hell to make!
Oh, and why can’t they give it a proper title? Paranormal Activity 2 would be fine, if you are at a loss of inspiration (although it promises something for the movie if you can’t even make up a good title), but Paranormal2Activity…? Come on, even for stylistic reasons this can’t be forgiven!
The thing that interests me most in this trailer, is wondering what kind of parents would keep their baby at night in the living room, without a blanket, with a dog loose next to it…

Fair Game

Dramatic music, but not in a bad way, followed by shots of Naomi Watts being a housewife and a voice-over telling us she has to be at the airport in 45 minutes. Que cards are shown in between saying “Wife, Mother”. Husband is shown, played by Sean Penn, and there are also two kids. WAIT A SECOND! Why does that girl have a Platypus plush? I WANT A PLATYPUS PLUSH! 😦
Oh, sorry, got distracted.
New que card, with dramatic beat in music: “Spy”.
The music starts to get more exciting, and Naomi is suddenly in the CIA headquarters, being told that something is top priority. First name: “From the Director of The Bourne Identity”. So? Not something to be extremely proud of, but I guess it could be worse. Naomi talks to some guy in a black car with a red laserpointer on the outside of the car. “Inspired by True Events”, yeah right. Apparently Naomi is in charge of an investigation to terrorists building nuclear weapons (ah, it will be one of those movies…). Suddenly Penn is also in Langley, while a voice-over tells us that they turn to him for answers (why? What does he do? Is he in the nuclear weapon business, or does he just know a few terrorists?). Apparently it is his opinion that a sale that size could not have happened. Good. Some guy who happens to be married to a CIA agent must know what he is talking about!
The trailer continues with some more tense discussions, where it is shown that some people apparently don’t want that the terrorists can’t build nuclear weapons. And suddenly is Naomi’s name in the paper, she is uncovered as a spy! Some more tense music, shots of explosions in Baghdad next to shots of conversations and the trailer ends with Naomi telling us she doesn’t have a breaking point.
Que title: Fair Game
Ok… what to say. This looks like another remake of the same movie about a spy who discovers something about her own government, mixed with something about how the war in Iraq was bad, m’kay? But, where others of this genre have failed or were mildly decent, this might actually be a good movie. Why? Well, not because of the director. After The Bourne Identity (which was a decent film), Doug Liman made Mr. and Mrs. Smith (meh, somewhat entertaining but no quality) and then sank to the abismal Jumper. That’s not it. The cast, however, has promise. Sean Penn is one of the best actors in america today, and has managed to avoid being cast in generic action films, but instead always finds scripts where his character really is a human being, as far as I can tell from the trailer, he only has scenes where he can be, well, Sean Penn, having dramatic discussions. The other half of the starduo, Naomi Watts, is less consistent, with tops such as 21 grams and downs such as King Kong.
Will I go see this? I don’t know, it may have some potential but I fear it will be another disappointment. I might go see it, if I have time, or download it some day if I have not. Or I might just forget about it and save myself the trouble, until I hear more reviews.

The Social Network

The first minute of this trailer is solely some nice music and shots of Facebook, the global social network site. Which reminds me, I need to harvest some rice on Farmville, give me a minute…
…Ok, back! Let’s see. Apparently we are in 2005 at Harvard University. We see Jesse Eissenberg behind a computer.. Letthisbekickass2letthisbekickass2! Some shots of student life, including classes, people on the internet, parties and boozing, while Jesse’s voiceover explains that he wants to build a website where people can keep in touch with their friends, upload pictures and have profiles. Basically student-life online, which was a great success. But then, people claim Jesse stole the idea from some other kids, Jesse is seen rowing and then Justin Timberlake (oh damn, I so hoped he quit acting :() tells them a billion dollars is big money (no shit, Sherlock!). The discussion about who stole whose website gets bigger and bigger, ending up in court-threats. The rest of the trailer is basically shots of more student life, but in a more extreme way: nightclubs, burning trashcans, girls kissing guys and shots of people in suits sitting at a table discussing the courtcase, all under this amazing piece of music.
Que title: The Social Network
Well, let’s see here. What just happened? Apparently, the kid from kick-ass made Facebook at college, but somebody else made Facebook first and now people are angry…? I literally have no idea what this movie is about, besides Facebook. The acting looked kinda lame, with Eissenberg (who I just dislike), Timberlake (come one!) and a bunch of people I didn’t recognize. The best piece of the trailer was easily the music! And yet… and yet, I have this feeling this movie will be amazing and thrilling. The shots really looked as if they were taken by someone with good experience at making great movies, the editing of the trailer was good and the subject is new, at least, I haven’t heard of another movie about the creation of Facebook. I will definitely see this, but I don’t know yet if it will be Cinema-worthy…

I just cheated and googled the movie, and apparently it’s the latest project of some bloke called David Fincher.. yes, the one from Fight Club, The Game and Benjamin Button. He brought along the cinematographer of Fight Club and the music is done by someone called Trent Reznor, who was the creator of the rock project Nine Inch Nails. Maybe the best part of the crew is the name of the fellow who wrote it: Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote the great TV-series The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, next to such modern classics as A Few Good Men, The American President and Charlie Wilson’s War. I can’t think of someone I prefer more to write a movie like this, than this man, who has written some of the best discussion scenes that I can remember. I only need to remind you of the great “You can’t handle the truth!” scene, so marvelously displayed by Jack Nicholson, from A Few Good Men.
Now I know this, I will REALLY see this movie.