Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Kelly + Victor: a most unsexy movie about sex


Greetings, commies!

How desensitized you must be to need drugs and whips and chains to get off? Good question. A better question yet: how much can we romanticize low lives? Nothing shocks modern audiences. Drugs, random sex, torture? Yawn. Kelly + Victor is a desperate attempt to shock the unshockable audiences. 

Synopsis

After meeting at a nightclub, Kelly and Victor are removed from their dull, ordinary lives when they start an exciting sexual relationship.

My thoughts

Why is it that most movies about sex that claim to be "edgy" and "raw" are really so ... not sexy? I don't know if the director did any research, but doing lines of cocaine is a sure road to impotence. The characters are so off putting, makes me want to wash my hands and gargle my mouth. I am not a prude or anything, but hopping into bed with a random stranger you met at some dingy club is a little anticlimactic. You know next to nothing about the characters, so it's hard to become emotionally invested in them. The sex scenes are gratuitous and unconvincing. It's like watching mice squirm on the bottom of a barrel. A general "eeeek" reaction.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Bliss: a Turkish drama of morals


Hello commies!

If you have the stomach for a film that deals with some heavy stuff, if you are willing to engage empathy while suspending judgment, consider Bliss, a Turkish drama.

Synopsis

Adapted from internationally acclaimed author Zulfu Livaneli's novel, BLISS is an unconventional road movie in which the executioner of an honor killing and his victim go on a journey of self-discovery.

When 17-year-old Meryem (Ozgu Namal) is found disheveled and unconscious by the side of a lake, her family believes the worst - that her chastity has been lost and that she has been a willing accomplice in its disposal. They turn to the ancient principle of "tore," a strict moral code governing the rules of sexual practice, which condemns Meryem to death. The duty of defending the family's honor is given to distant cousin Cemal (Murat Han), who must take Meryem to Istanbul and kill her along the way.

The two begin to fall for each other and their journey takes an unexpected turn when they meet Irfan (Talat Bulut), an academic escaping his big city angst, who is also looking for a second chance in life. Set against the impressive backdrop of Turkey's natural wonders, BLISS pits tradition against modernity, urban against rural and East against West, all the while refusing to settle for easy answers.

My thoughts

Turkey is a country of contrasts, as many reviewers have pointed out. Like many Middle Eastern countries, it has a flashy, hedonistic facade that lures in tourists and a savage, dark, cruel underbelly. The most disturbing part is that Cemal is no knight in shining armor, no Western savior for the poor Turkish peasant girl. Even though he refuses to carry out the task given to him, he is not very far removed from the people who condemned the 17-year old to death for losing her virginity. He is one of them. He is "one of the good ones", but he is still one of them. His anger and a sense of masculine entitlement come through on several occasions. That is what makes the viewers cringe in the end. It's not a happily ever after sort of ending. You are left wondering if it's only a matter of time before the beast in him comes out.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Daisy Chain - autism stereotypes meet Irish superstition



Happy Halloween, commies!

Halloween has a noticeable connection to the Celtic pagan tradition, so this year's pick is an Irish horror movie The Daisy Chain. I am not a huge fan of it for a number of reasons outlined below, but it doesn't mean that you won't enjoy it.

Synopsis:

The very nature of evil drives this chilling psychological thriller. Martha and Tomas are a grieving couple who move to a remote Irish village in the wake of their baby daughter's death. Touched by a traumatized, autistic girl whose entire family has perished in tragic accidents, they open their home to young Daisy. Martha believes that with her love, she can help Daisy...

My thoughts:

Sounds like a perfect recipe - insulting, inaccurately executed autism stereotypes are wed to Irish superstition. That's what the world of horror needs: another creepy kid movie. Every known cliche has been utilized: the string of accidents, the clingy foster parent with a tragic past. A touch of "The Omen" and "Rosemary's Baby". Since this flick is made in Ireland and actually uses elements of Irish folklore, so it must be "artsy". I cannot say that the acting is atrocious. There is nothing for an actor to do. Generic, stereotypical one-dimensional characters, predictable plot twists. One thing I don't understand. If the foster parents suspect they have a murderous supernatural entity under their roof, why do they keep going about their business? Shouldn't they be a bit more vigilant?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Borat 2: a much needed laugh

Greetings, commies!

Are you ready to take a break from righteous indignation and laugh at everything that's wrong with this world? Borat 2 is out! Same fake Kazakh language, sane fake folk tunes. Same stitch-popping vulgar humor. Just what the doctor ordered to help your lungs rebuild after Covid!

Synopsis:

Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

My thoughts:

Seriously, do not watch this movie alone. If you choke on your popcorn, you want to have someone there to save your life. And if you like to drink beer while watching comedy, get your Depends on, seriously. You will pee yourself! I feel off the couch a few times. I am of Russian descent, so I got all the messages in Cyrillic. If you speak Russian, it adds another layer of hilarity. This movie came out at the perfect time. It's sooooo insulting to the snowflake crowd. Really pulls no punches, doesn't hold back. Just what we need! I bet many viewers will complain that it "trivializes human trafficking and Covid". It totally does! And that's why it makes it so hilarious.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Pretty Persuasion: deliciously evil and misogynistic

Greetings, commies!

Evan Rachel Wood was born to play mean girls! The meanest girls are not always blond cheerleaders. Wood is brilliant at subtle sociopathy. Frankly, I am surprised that Pretty Persuasion got made and released into the mainstream. Of course, it's 15 years old. No way it would have gotten made in 2020, not with all the touchy snowflakes who are offended by the way someone sneezes. 

Synopsis:

Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood), an outwardly friendly but inwardly cold and manipulative teenager who attends an exclusive private school in Beverly Hills, incites chaos among her friends, and a media frenzy when she accuses her drama teacher of sexual harassment.

My thoughts:

With so much censorship and squeamishness in the world of filmmaking nowadays, with so much paranoia and so many taboos, it's amazing this venomous gem got made in the first place. I have a pretty strong stomach for teenage sociopathy, but this movie made me wince a few times. The world has changed a lot in 15 years. Now filmmakers tiptoe around the topics of school shooters and sexual harassment of minors. If you are having a bad day, if you are angry at the world, consider watching this flick.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Beanpole: a WWII movie - not for prudes or purists

 


Hello commies! 

We have two very spooky events coming up: Halloween and the Election. Hope you are holding up and not reading too much fake news. I have an amazing iconoclastic film to recommend. Most WWII movies that reach American audiences are about the Western front. I am glad to see The Beanpole with subtitles. It highlights the Russian/Soviet experience. We need more of those movies made available to international audiences. 

Synopsis:

1945, Leningrad. World War II has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women, Iya and Masha, search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.

My thoughts:

I am fortunate enough to speak Russian, so I read some reviews of this film on various Russian sites. I noticed, there was a group of viewers who considered it blasphemous. I read comments like, "My great grandfather, who fought in the Patriotic War, is flipping in his grave!" Indeed, the movie depicts certain episodes from post-war Leningrad life that does not jive with the spirit of victory and patriotism. Indeed, patriotism comes with a certain element of prudishness: "Not in OUR country." It's a bitter pill of swallow. Nobody wants to think of military doctors conducting assisted suicide. It's not very Soviet, is it? Just as it's not very Soviet for two women to be in a sexual relationship. Not in THAT country, for which their great grandfathers had fought. 

Some reviewers pointed out that the city does not look very much like 1945 Leningrad. The whole air is anachronistic. And I agree, the film breaks every dogma of portraying that era. The way people talk, the way they move - it's very different from what you are used to seeing in WWII movies from the 1960-1980s era. It's like you are in a parallel dimension. I assume, it's not because the director did not know any better. It's not like he did not do his homework. The casting choices and some of the directorial moves were deliberate. 

One reviewer actually pointed out that the two female characters borrow each other's clothes. One favors red, and the other favors green, and sometimes they swap cardigans, which symbolizes a sort of symbiosis established between them. They have so much pain and anger tying them together, they cannot separate and move on with their lives. And they don't give a damn what happens around them, if it's Leningrad or Berlin. They are stuck in their own personal hell. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Portrait of a Lady On Fire - low budget cosplay




Greetings, commies!

Those of you who have the misfortune of knowing me personally, will attest that I like ridiculing and trashing things that many people find appealing. It's my guilty pleasure to go against the grain. This is why today I am posting a review for the art house Euro flick Portrait of a Lady on Fire. This movie got rave reviews, but I personally find so many things wrong with it.

Synopsis:

Marianne is hired to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse. As the women orbit each other, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse's first moments of freedom.

My thoughts:

The manager of Party City wants the costumes back. Seriously, you'd expect better quality from community theater. And what's with Marianne's mahogany highlights and Heloise's dark roots. This is not a period piece. This is pretentious cosplay. You have two sociology professors dressed in pseudo-period costumes, acting out love scenes in what looks like a warehouse with a conference room attached to it. My favorite part was the apparent lack of social boundaries. The privileged heiress and the hired painter enjoy some girl bonding while hand-holding the mentally deficient servant through an herb-induced abortion. They take her to a shady den and then try to cheer her up with some art therapy. The highlight of the movie was the rapping session around the bonfire. The dialogue ... don't get me started. The predictable whining about "not having a choice". Oh, buttercup ... Not to me misogynistic, but this is what happens when female directors make movies about "female" issues.