Archive for romance

The Shape of Water :: Drama :: 048

Posted in Drama, Fantasy, romance with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 03/29/2018 by joycereview

The Shape of Water (2017) My favorite drama of 2017 (because Jordan Peele’s Get Out! is Horror) is, hands down, Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece, The Shape of Water. Reviews have been heavily on the positive side, but negative ones, in my opinion, have been based on trivialities. Dramas that hit on the fantasy level require that the audience suspend at least some disbelief. Just know that this film is beautiful in countless ways, ways that few can dismiss – not to mention it recently won 4, well-deserved Oscars.

Though director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has some gripes about the film, I don’t feel that del Toro plagiarized Jeunet. Someone who knows film can easily say, “Isn’t this just a cross between Splash (1984) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)?” It did remind me of Jennet’s Amélie (2001) in that it had French music and a specific color tone. Amélie liked simple thing like putting her hands in something soft and cracking crème brûlée. Elise liked hard-boiled eggs and masturbating in the tub.  Though there may be similarities, I believe these were simply chosen to create an atmosphere, styling, and sense of connection to the audience that suited to enhanced the story. Do knowing these similarities detract from the movie? For some people it definitely does or will. In my opinion, not at all.

One thing that really stood out was the remarkable acting of Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer – though Michael Shannon’s character of Strickland is the Molotov Cocktail behind the film. It hasn’t been since Joffrey and Ramsey of Game of Thrones has someone been so hateful.

Yes there are a couple of things that stick in my craw, like would a janitor be able to have her lunch break inside a top-secret laboratory and could you really fill up a bathroom full of water? Definitely a no, but does it really detract from the beauty and entertainment of this movie…. again, no.

Overall, this was a magnificent movie that you are bound to watch more than once. If I were you, I’d go out and get a copy for your movie library.

“Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.”



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Posted in Drama, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/26/2009 by joycereview

The second film installment of Stephenie Meyer’s grotesquely popular vampire series has certainly raised the bar from it’s previous and highly-mediocre (many say “dreadful”) first film.  Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, The Nativity Story) is out of the director’s chair for this one, and is replaced by the slightly-more-polished, Chris Weitz (About A Boy, The Golden Compass)… why?… supposedly because of “time constraints”, but my inner opinion poll says otherwise.  Critics and vampire fanatics are, again, having a field day with the emergence of New Moon.

A money machine – New Moon placed third on the all-time domestic chart, bested only by Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million in 2007) and The Dark Knight ($158.4 million in 2008).  It’s amazing that, with the amount of money that Twilight is pulling in [$69.6 million in the opening weekend (Twilight) compared to $142.8 for New Moon], the studios couldn’t find a more seasoned director, however, the studio’s choice in Chris Weitz turns out to be a wise one.

After being briefed the story by my girlfriend (who has read the Twilight Series) I had the gut feeling that I’d hold this particular film in higher esteem.  I consider myself wildly romantic and have no problem sitting down and watching a well-done love story (i.e. The Notebook, Sleepless in Seattle).  I had, however, become quite tiresome of the Edward and Bella’s “You’re my life… You are my soul” talk.  Then they attempt at a kiss… sometimes convulsing with pleasure and, per example (in the New Moon), performing what I call “The makes-me-giggle kiss of whimpering-ecstasy.” (giggles continue just thinking about it)

New Moon limits the amount of quasi-kanoodling and vomitous lubby-love-talk by Edward (Robert Pattinson) proclaiming to Bella (Kristen Stewart) that they “Can never see each other again.”  Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder?  Bella then drops into a mad, heroin-junkie-like depression, that is, until she finds out that she can can connect with Edward by walking towards the dark edge of death (i.e. motorcycles, ocean-side cliffs, etc.).  And then comes the fangirl moment, when native american-werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) strips off his shirt in stripper-fashion to blot Bella’s motorcycle injury (let’s not go even go there!).  It’s all doggy-style from then on, until a misunderstanding leads Edward to think that Bella is dead.  And the rest… you’ll have to see for yourself.

The acting is much improved and has the added stardom of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) as Aro of the Volturi and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, Push) as Jane, the sadistic and tele-destructive dark vampress.  With Chris Weitz at the helm, the film is expertly paced with the script, and this enables his actors to take control by acting (not by drowning the performances with unneeded, swirling camera shots).  The CGI of the werewolves still leaves the techno-realist in me wanting more wolf, less animation, but perhaps, we are just not there yet.  How can they make a 40-ton King Kong that would make Diane Fossey pee in her pants, but we can’t do the same for wolves?  Maybe they just hooked up with the people that did the Coca-Cola polar bear/penquin commercials and said “They will be fine.”  Still enjoyable, but if you are wanting me to believe in werewolves, you’ve got to do better than that.

There are two shots that I particularly liked – the first being an encircling shot of heartbroken Bella as she sits in her chair, each rotation giving rise to a change of season.  And two (where the CGI shines), on observing a painting of the Volturi (the vampire equivalent of high priest councel-ruling class) the facet and crosshatch lines of the paint smooth as the camera lens zooms, becoming as a real-time window into the Volturi life.

The truth of the matter is that New Moon didn’t need to do much to outdo its predecessor.  I think we all realized that.  Critics will undoubtedly scream that the story is diving away from its source; that being the relationship between Edward and Bella.  But even the critics must not take these events, characters and dialogue too seriously….  For it seems that, some of the its flaws, are designed to help keep it as authentically real as possible.  Because only a character like Bella can say:

(Bella to Jacob) : You’re so warm! You’re like your own sun.

We forgive her every oddity and we should, because despite some pretty wack lines, Stewart carries the movie on her shoulders.  And with a red-headed and revenge-driven vampire still on her tracks, and my girlfriend’s assurance of “more Dakota Fanning to come”… I’m sure to be another warm body in the theater seat for film number trois.

Please give your thoughts on New Moon below!  I’m eagerly awaiting my feeding… of fresh comments.  Cheers.

For those wanting to see the review for Twilight, click here.

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Posted in Drama, Fantasy, Foreign with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/18/2009 by joycereview

Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), a suggested viewing by another film critic, completely got my blood flowing (much unlike the teeny-bopper Twilight series).

The film opens with the reflection of a young, towheaded, swedish boy, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), as he somberly looks out his window to the dark, snow-laden ground below.  We learn that he has much to be melancholy about – His parents are divorced, has no friends, and he is constantly tormented by a gang of bullies at school.  One day he meets a 12-year old (more or less) girl (although she says she “isn’t a girl”) named Eli (Lina Leandersson) that doesn’t think too much of the cold and has a funny smell about her.  As mysterious murders plague the town (a “girl” has got to eat!), Eli and Oskar become friends, learn Morse Code together and she helps him find the courage to stand up for himself.

What I enjoyed most about this film was the story.  To often we, this incubus-fantasizing-society, fixate on the vampire’s religious alienation and lecherous associations of sexuality and not necessarily on the messy reality of what happens during “meal time.”  In the movie, Interview with a Vampire, feeding was clean, as if their incisors were slurpy-straws.  How would this type of forced killing feel to a young person – even one that has been a young person for a long time?

We don’t think too much of loneliness and isolation with kids that are able to go to high school and later, conduct jobs (except on days of sunlight) like the characters in Twilight [who oddly enough aren’t expelled for skipping too many days].  But if we ask ourselves, “How would it affect me if I had no one?  How might I look at killing (if I’ve always been a vampire)?”  The film shows us that there is a humanistic compulsion that resides deep within the pale skin of Eli; that she doesn’t want to spend eternity alone.

The second question that arise is one that I am glad this movie brought out.  At one point in my life I wanted to try and become a vegetarian.  Time and time again I would try and fail.  In a conversation with a vegetarian friend of mine, he said, “most people these days, if personally killing a cow all by yourself , would turn away from meat.”  Meat is murder*.

But alas, we are animalistic in nature and designed for the hunt.  Eli feels that way about what she must do to survive.  There is little (if any) remorse for the dead.  The world is her dinner plate and we are but tender, succulent morsels on it.  Of the people that walk, cattle-like, in the snowy landscape, it is not surprising that she desires one as a “pet.”

Staying to the Joyce Review code of “no spoilers,” is hard with this one because, as a vampire film that quickly became my favorite vampire film, I have a vampire’s compulsion to tell the story to everyone I see and talk with.  One thing I will say is that I enjoyed the ending a great deal and I plan on reading John Ajvide Lindqvist’s book of the same title.  I cannot say enough that, if you are a fan of vampire films, you are bound to enjoy this one.

Watch before they give it a Hollywood remake – which I hear is already in the making.

I leave you with the last words communicated in the film.  Figure it out if you can.

[In December, I’ll write in what it was (for those that are too lazy to figure it out on their own).

* dot * dash * dash * dot

* dot * dot * dash

* dot * dot * dot

* dot * dot * dot

Lines are open! ….

*In Swedish. [Enlish Subtitles]     114 minutes.

*Meat is Murder is a song by one of my favorite singers, Morrissey.  He’s a vegetarian and believes strongly in that eating meat is a vile thing. [don’t know if that had any significance or not].  The title of the book (and the movie) Let The Right One In was taken from Morrissey’s song “Let The Right One Slip In.”

*The Morse Code at the end of the movie spelled the letters P-U-S-S.  Stop right there you dirty-minded people… “puss” the Swedish word for “KISS.”  Awww… now isn’t that a sweet ending?