Enemy (2013) Review

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Enemy (2013) Review

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on The Double by José Saramago

Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal
Mélanie Laurent
Sarah Gadon
Isabella Rossellini

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.

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My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see Enemy for ages & it appeared that it was going to be another one of these movies that would never come out in the UK for some reason. Luckily, it got a limited cinema release then was finally just released on DVD here. Was Enemy worth the wait? Hmm…

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I DO like movies that make you think. However, I’m old. And busy. I don’t have time these days to have to “research” something after watching it the way I used to read Lostpedia after every episode of Lost. Ain’t nobody got time for that! So Enemy ended & I went “WTF?” and immediately went online for an explanation because I’m too old & tired to think these days.

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There are a few different theories about the film but they’re all basically the same and do actually make sense if you think about it & perhaps watch the movie again. The problem with this movie is that it doesn’t really hold your attention on the first watch so the thought of re-watching it in order to piece everything together isn’t really all that appealing. I did something I never do and re-watched the very beginning of the movie once I’d finished it as there’s an important symbolic scene at the start that will possibly help you to understand what you’ve just watched. If you care enough to understand. I’m pretty sure most people won’t care, though, which is unfortunate as it’s a good story.

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I can’t help but compare Enemy to The Prestige in my mind, which is a movie I love. Both films give you a lot to think about but, with The Prestige, I wanted to think about it & discuss it afterwards. The Prestige was exciting from start to finish on the first watch & I was more than happy to watch it again. Enemy is so SLOW. I knew I should be paying attention but my mind kept wandering. Both movies are very atmospheric but it feels like Enemy is trying too hard to be that way through the use of muted colors & a suspenseful, almost Hitchcockian score. Enemy is like a weird sort of cross between Hitchcock’s Vertigo and some of David Cronenberg’s more serious dramas such as Crash or A History Of Violence. Oh, and I suppose a bit of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive as well as far as the “mindfuck” plot (Enemy is far less confusing than Mulholland Drive, though). Hmm – I wonder if Isabella Rossellini was chosen to be in Enemy because of her role in Blue Velvet? Anyway, I’m a big fan of both Hitchcock & Cronenberg (not Lynch so much) so I appreciate the effort on the director’s part to try to make Enemy an “artistic” film. Unfortunately, it feels like more effort was put into being artistic than into making the movie an enjoyable watch and it ended up feeling much longer than its 90 minute running time. I actually think it may have been a better experience overall if the director had gone more “Cronenberg WEIRD” and made Enemy a little more freaky instead of artsy & borderline boring…

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Hey, is that the Saul Bass Vertigo poster in the background…?! I just spotted that! I feel smart now for comparing this movie to Vertigo! 😉

Summary:

I think I’ve done it again… I made it sound like I kind of hated a movie when I actually thought it was okay. Considering that I like the movies that it’s trying to be like (those directed by Cronenberg, Hitchcock, a little bit of Lynch), it’s my type of movie and I’ll always appreciate something like Enemy more than most braindead blockbusters that you forget about two months after watching them. I’ve written this review very soon after watching the movie since I’m trying to not fall as behind on reviews as I did last year but it means that I’m still kind of figuring out how I feel about it. I think I’m a little bit disappointed as the potential was there for Enemy to be great but, when compared to similar films that came before it, it really pales in comparison. It could have gone even more artsy or more weird (my vote is for weird) but instead it actually played it fairly safe, making it less memorable than the films from Hitchcock, Cronenberg & Lynch.

My Rating: 7/10

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Top Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

Okay – it was fun bitching about my most hated actors & actresses last week but now it’s time to do another list that Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are has done. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actresses That I’d See In Pretty Much AnythingHERE. So here’s my own list of actresses I love. (Yes – I do love Drew Barrymore!). 🙂

With my favorite actors list, I’ve had to narrow it down by only including living actors so I’ve done the same here. Otherwise, Grace Kelly would be on this list. Now here are The Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order…):

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Amy Adams
Best Movie: Her or Catch Me If You Can but she was lovely in Junebug

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Emily Blunt
Best Movie: Edge Of Tomorrow but I also love The Adjustment Bureau

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Melanie Laurent
Best Movie: Inglourious Basterds

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Jennifer Lawrence
Best Movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Drew Barrymore
Best Movie: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial but I also love The Wedding Singer & Whip It

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Chloe Grace Moretz
Best Movie: Hugo

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Sandra Bullock
Best Movie: Gravity but I do love Speed. (Gravity helped to put Bullock back on this list. But I still wouldn’t watch that thing she did with Melissa McCarthy. Damn! I missed her on my “Most Annoying” list…

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Carey Mulligan
Best Movie: Shame but she was better in Never Let Me Go. (If I’ve forgotten someone, Carey Mulligan would be the first one replaced. I found her disappointing in Shame and beyond bland in The Great Gatsby. Hopefully she’ll have another good role soon…)

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Elisabeth Shue
Best Movie: Adventures In Babysitting

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Michelle Pfeiffer
Best Movie: Ladyhawke

Inglourious Basterds (2009) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Josh of JJames Reviews. He’s already done a review of Apocalypse Now (which you can read HERE). Thanks so much for joining in, Josh! Now let’s see what he has to say about Inglourious Basterds, IMDB rank 113 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Written and Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Starring
Brad Pitt
Christoph Waltz
Melanie Laurent
Eli Roth
Michael Fassbender
Diane Kruger
Daniel Bruhl
Til Schweiger
Gedeon Burkhard
Jacky Ido
BJ Novak
Sylvester Groth
Martin Wuttke

Running Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

Plot Synopsis

In an alternate history mash up, two different groups of assassins plot the murders of important Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler (Martin Wuttke) and Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth). Meanwhile, Hitler, Goebbels and Nazi detective, Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) hunt The Basterds, a group of special forces assassins led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt).

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My Take

Inglorious Basterds bears Quentin Tarantino’s trademarks, mostly in good ways. Using at least three storylines and an episodic chapter structure, it is always fun and suspenseful. Soshanna Dreyfuss (Melanie Laurent), Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) take turns as the film’s protagonist, and each proves capable of carrying the movie, in no small part because all three of the actors are spectacular. Waltz won an Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, and it is easy to understand why, but his is not the only award-worthy performance. This might be Pitt’s best acting since 12 Monkeys (1995) and Laurent shines, as well, especially when she’s opposite Waltz or Daniel Bruhl (Frederick Zoller).

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Even still, the performances are not Inglorious Basterds’ greatest strength. Editing is. Tarantino and Oscar-nominated editor Sally Menke piece together the separate storylines sparklingly well, cutting away from each at exactly the right moments. Even more impressively, they time many takes and shots a heartbeat or two longer than we subconsciously expect, a decision that creates tension and heightens our anxiety. Consider the movie’s opening scene, when Landa arrives at Pierre LaPadite’s (Denis Menochet) home in search of hidden Jews. When the former first meets the latter’s daughters, he politely compliments their beauty, at which point Menke and Tarantino use a wide-angle shot from behind the young women, one that frames Landa’s face with the female’s bodies, thereby ensuring we see the intimidating glare the Colonel gives them. At that point, we expect Menke and Tarantino to cut away from the shot, probably to a close up of Landa, or perhaps LaPadite, but they don’t. Instead, they hold it an extra moment, just long enough to make us feel Landa’s threat. Later in the same scene, the Nazi is centered in the frame as he drinks a glass of milk. While he’s drinking it, we expect the director and editor to show us a reaction shot of LaPadite or one of his daughters. They don’t. Instead, they hold the shot of Landa until the milk is gone, a decision that once again increases our anxiety. Why? Because now we know that Landa can and will do anything he wants, that the LaPadite family is powerless to stop him, and that soon all of them might be dead.

Such brilliant editing continues throughout the movie. Menke lost the Oscar to The Hurt Locker, but she unquestionably deserved her nomination and would have been a fitting victor.

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Tarantino makes other standout directorial decisions. Inglorious Basterds is visually striking, and the sound design is very good. So too are all of the director’s casting decisions. Daniel Bruhl is excellent as the flirtatious but frightening Frederick Zoller, and Michael Fassbender is scene-stealingly good as British soldier Lt. Archie Hicox. Diane Kruger (Bridgit von Hammersmark), Jacky Ido (Marcel) and Sylvester Groth (Joseph Goebbels) all give memorable supporting performances, as well.

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With excellent acting, near impeccable direction and some standout technical elements, Inglorius Basterds has potential for perfection. Unfortunately, Tarantino’s screenplay is uneven. Yes his dialogue is witty and sometimes funny, as it is in everything he writes, but the way he tells this story fundamentally prevents emotional attachment to the characters, something that is all the more disappointing given each of the protagonists’ potential to be memorable. Shoshana is a tragic anti-hero if ever there was one. Raine could be, too. And Landa could be a complex opportunist, whom we never completely understand and therefore whose actions we cannot predict.

But instead, Tarantino chooses to gloss over his three lead characters, assigning each of them one or two traits, and never further developing them. Then, he introduces a bevy of minor characters, some of them historical figures and others not. He gives these secondary players as many traits as the leads, which guarantees that no one is well developed. That, in turn, means we do not care about any of the characters.

And so we do not extrapolate important life lessons from their experiences.

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Conclusion: Inglorious Basterds, then, is a prime example of style over substance. It is entertaining and darkly comedic, just as it is incredibly well made. But, thanks to underdeveloped characters, it is not thematically resonant. Though we can enjoy it, we are not inspired by it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

My Top Movies Directed By Quentin Tarantino

**I updated this list March 2017 to add Jackie Brown & The Hateful Eight and September 2019 to add Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.**

Here we go! Counting down to my favorite (and not including his guest director credit on Sin City, a movie I don’t really like anyway), here are all the films I’ve seen that were directed by Quentin Tarantino:

9. The Hateful Eight (I wasn’t really a fan of this one)

8. Inglourious Basterds

7. Death Proof
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6. Django Unchained
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5. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood

4. Jackie Brown

3. Pulp Fiction
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2. Reservoir Dogs
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1. Kill Bill (both of them – I count them as one)
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Inglourious Basterds was SO close to being above Death Proof, which few people will agree with. First of all, I should probably give Basterds a re-watch as I was especially wussy about violence that day and didn’t watch it closely enough except for the parts where Christoph Waltz or the lovely Melanie Laurent were on screen. It’s a much better film than Death Proof. But… Death Proof was fun and I really liked it. Zoe Bell was cool. I’m a girl and I like girls who kick ass (which is why Kill Bill is number one). So there you go!

AND I have an embarrassing confession to make: I’m a big film fan yet there’s one Tarantino-directed film that I haven’t seen. So I’ll update this list if I decide that Jackie Brown deserves a place in the Top Five. (Update – I’ve seen it now!) 😉

Now off to finally write my review for Django Unchained (Review done now!). I’ll leave you with a shitty haiku summing up how I feel about Tarantino’s crazily violent films:

Tarantino films
Are really brilliant but I
Wish I could watch them

**I need to point out that the hubby and I are having an argument over how many syllables are in the word “brilliant”. I think this is a US/UK difference. The way I say it, it’s two, dammit! Making my haiku correct…

Now You See Me (2013) Review

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Now You See Me

Directed by Louis Leterrier

Starring:
Jesse Eisenberg
Mark Ruffalo
Woody Harrelson
Mélanie Laurent
Isla Fisher
Dave Franco
Michael Caine
Morgan Freeman
Michael Kelly
Common

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

Four magicians, brought together by mysterious circumstances, are investigated by the FBI after performing a magic show together in which they seemingly pull off a bank heist.

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My Quick Opinion:

I’ll keep this short as, unfortunately, there’s not a lot to say about it. I went in with low expectations and knowing it was going to be a simple movie with a bit of magic that would at least keep me entertained for a couple of hours. I wasn’t exactly expecting The Prestige – one of my all-time favorite films. But Now You See Me is a much further cry from the brilliance of that film than I was hoping.

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Everyone does a decent enough job in their roles but the characters are very one-dimensional. I love Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman and always enjoy watching them but they’re wasted in this film. Woody Harrelson is probably the most entertaining of the four magicians but he’s really just doing the sort of role he often does. The actual highlight of the film is probably Mélanie Laurent as an Interpol detective. But that could just be because I have a bit of a girl crush on her… I felt they could have done a lot more with her character, though, as it didn’t feel very well developed. Same goes for Mark Ruffalo’s character. All of the characters in this felt very underdeveloped, actually. Disappointing.

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Summary:

A lightweight “magic movie” that will keep you entertained for a couple of hours but won’t have you leaving the cinema asking any questions. Unlike The Prestige, which I thought about for days afterward. Hell, I still do. I left Now You See Me feeling quite empty, though, like the box after the rabbit has disappeared. (Ha! Was trying to get a “magic” reference in here somewhere. That was pathetic, though. Lol!).

I just expected a BIT more from such an impressive line-up of actors. At the very least, since the story and characters are a bit weak, I expected more really fun and cool MAGIC than we actually get. Mindless fun but a little TOO mindless. And once you’ve seen it, I have a feeling that it’s one where things really don’t add up if you were to watch it a second time. But it’s really not worth the time thinking about too much – this movie isn’t asking you to think about it beyond the final credits. Oh man – I’m being more harsh than I’m meaning to be! It was a fun watch. Nothing less but certainly nothing more. Rent it.

My Rating: 6/10

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Here’s a sexy photo of Mélanie Laurent:

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Beginners (2010) Review

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Beginners (2010)

Directed by Mike Mills

Starring:
Ewan McGregor
Christopher Plummer
Mélanie Laurent
Goran Višnjić
Mary Page Keller

Plot:

This film follows Oliver (Ewan McGregor) as he struggles to maintain a long-term relationship after growing up with two parents whose marriage was loving but distant. Oliver is 38 – his mother Georgia (Mary Page Keller) died five years ago and after her death his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) came out as an openly gay man. He admitted to Oliver that he’d always been gay through his whole marriage to Oliver’s mother. Soon after Hal comes out, he’s diagnosed with cancer. This film takes place in Oliver’s present day life (2003), soon after the death of his father and just as he starts a new relationship with French actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent). Through flashbacks we’re shown the previous five years of Hal & Oliver’s relationship and we see how Oliver dealt with his father’s now openly gay lifestyle and young new boyfriend (played by Goran Višnjić) & his father’s declining health.

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My Opinion:

This is a lovely film. Christopher Plummer won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role & I’m happy to say that it was well deserved. It was great to see Hal enjoying the freedom to finally be himself. Even after being diagnosed with cancer he doesn’t let it stop him using the chance to now fully embrace life & accept being (and be accepted for) the person he’s always been. Goran Višnjić is fine as Hal’s boyfriend but the real focus of the movie is the relationship between Hal & his son Oliver. They grow much closer in the last five years of Hal’s life as Hal can now be fully honest with his son. Their relationship is equally heartwarming & heartbreaking as we know from the start of the movie that Hal has already passed away.

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In present day, Oliver is talked into going to a party with his friends. It takes a bit of convincing & it’s obvious that Oliver is very sad & “lost” after his father’s passing. At the party he meets free spirit Anna, a French actress who also has trouble maintaining steady relationships as her job keeps her from staying in any one place for very long. They start a relationship which is great at first but turns more sad & distant as things become more serious. Through some further flashbacks we’re shown Oliver as a young boy (12ish?) and his mother Georgia. We can see that she’s another kooky free spirit, as is Anna, but she’s also very clearly sad & lonely after being in a marriage with someone who can never truly love her in the way a husband should. I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of the flashbacks with Oliver’s mother – I thought these flashbacks were very good & helped in a way to even better explain why Oliver now has such trouble with his relationships. The only time we see his parents together are in these flashbacks and we’re only ever shown his father giving his mother a brief kiss on his way to work, much in the sort of way you’d kiss a friend. There aren’t many of these flashbacks with Georgia but they’re simple & very effective.

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Although, yes, this movie is very sad it does have some humor in it. It’s a very “quirky” drama. Some of this quirkiness was good but some of it didn’t quite work for me – it felt too “forced”. One of Oliver’s best friends is his dad’s dog, adopted by Oliver after his dad’s death. He’s a cute Jack Russell and he talks. Don’t worry – not in a Bruce Willis, Look Who’s Talking voice! And his mouth doesn’t move or anything – he’s just subtitled. It’s not that often and not too terribly annoying but I did find it a little distracting. Oliver also has a couple of friends (the ones who drag him to the party) who are charming but perhaps also a little too quirky. They all go on little graffiti sprees and spray paint random deep & meaningful sayings that are a little too abstract and not actually all that deep & meaningful. And of course Anna is quirky and Oliver & Hal’s boyfriend are both a little bit quirky. I know I’m using the word quirky a lot but my point is that the movie tries a little too hard to be quirky. It’s not over the top, though – it didn’t bother me too much. I just preferred the more straight forward stuff in this.

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All this quirkiness felt sort of necessary, though, as it could have been a far too depressing movie without it. Oliver & Anna’s relationship starts out great – I loved them together and really bought into their relationship. But as it gets more serious and Anna gets more & more sad & withdrawn it gets a little too depressing. Anna’s reasons for remaining so distant from people aren’t explored as in-depth as Oliver’s so it’s harder to relate to her at the end. She’s an absolutely beautiful French actress and, aside from a little bit about a suicidal father who’s too dependent on her emotionally, it’s hard to see why she’d be so unhappy. Gorgeous. Having sex with Ewan McGregor. Totally can’t relate to that! 😉 Seriously, I think she’s stunning. Look at those eyes:

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Summary:

Beginners is a lovely drama about relationships and how love, which should be simple, can be so complex. The quirkiness is a little bit forced but not in a way that ruins what’s a charming film. The female characters of Anna & Georgia are a little underdeveloped but I guess that’s to be expected as this is more about the father & son. The relationship between Ewan McGregor’s Oliver & Mélanie Laurent’s Anna is sweet & I enjoyed watching it develop but the focus of the movie and what really makes it worthwhile is the relationship between Oliver & his father, Christopher Plummer’s Hal. It’s an equalling heartwarming & heartbreaking film. There’s a shot of Hal smiling at Oliver after a nurse has put some mousse in Hal’s hair & this really summed up the feeling of the movie and how bittersweet life can be.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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