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Swordfish

Clerk’s Pick

Clerk:
Max, Video Central (Columbus, OH)

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Movie:
Swordfish
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Pitch:
“Believe it or not, it isn’t because Halle Berry  is topless in it. I really like John Travolta’s speeches about movies (and how those sequences are shot). The movie also basically gives away the ending early on, but in a way that you don’t realize it, and it still comes off as a twist. I think it is a more clever movie than it gets credit for, and is worth revisiting.”

Background:

Swordfish tells the story of the planning and execution of an elaborate and technologically advanced heist. The protagonist is a notorious hacker, who has just served a 2-year prison sentence. He is roped into the heist by a mysterious mastermind to handle the programming behind the scenes, but is never given the whole story of what the heist will entail. Of course, the plot features a number of twists and misdirections, and a hearty quantity of explosions.

Swordfish was written and produced by Skip Woods, who has also provided screenplays for Hitman, Sabotage, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, A Good Day to Die Hard, and The A-Team. The director for Swordfish was Dominic Sena, who was also behind such movies as Gone in 60 Seconds, Season of the Witch, and Kalifornia. Likewise, Swordfish was edited by Stephen Rivkin, who has also cut films like Stealth, Avatar, Blackhat, and My Cousin Vinny.

Swordfish required a massive visual effects team due to the complicated nature of a number of the sequences. The team included common elements with films like Avatar, Jingle All The Way, Tank Girl, The Italian Job, Speed, The Abyss, Fight Club, Monkeybone, Minority Report, Judge Dredd, Deep Blue Sea, Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending, and Mystery Men, among others.

The music on Swordfish was provided by Paul Oakenfold, an acclaimed DJ who has had remixes featured in movies like The Matrix Reloaded, Collateral, and Shoot ‘Em Up, and Christopher Young, who has composed scores for films like Sinister, Drag Me To Hell, Spider-Man 3, The Core, and Rounders.

The cinematographer for Swordfish was Paul Cameron, who also shot movies like Deja Vu, Man on Fire, Collateral, and the remake of Total Recall.

The cast of Swordfish is pretty deep, and includes the likes of Hugh Jackman (The Prestige, X-Men, Van Helsing), John Travolta (Battlefield: Earth, Face/Off, The Punisher), Halle Berry (Catwoman), Vinnie Jones (The Midnight Meat Train), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 2), Sam Shepard (Stealth, The Right Stuff), and Zach Grenier (Fight Club, Mother Night, Deadwood).

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Swordfish was nominated for a Golden Raspberry award, which are dishonors given out for the judged worst films and performances of the year. Specifically, John Travolta received a nomination for Worst Actor for his work on Swordfish and Domestic Disturbance, but lost out to Tom Green for Freddy Got Fingered.

The reception to Swordfish has been mixed over the years. Rotten Tomatoes, which primarily tracks contemporaneous reviews of movies from critics, has it at 26% aggregate score.  However, IMDb, which tracks reviews continuously from its user base, has it at a significantly higher 6.5 rating.

The budget for Swordfish was estimated to be just north of $100 million. It managed to make a profit on that with a worldwide theatrical gross of just over $147 million, though expectations for it were clearly higher. For comparison’s sake, The Matrix managed to make well over $400 million worldwide on a smaller budget.

Halle Berry reportedly received an extra $500,000 on top of her salary for the movie to do her topless scene, which she apparently agreed to in order to overcome her fear of on-screen nudity.

The opening explosion sequence was, at the time, one of the most complicated visual effects shots in Warner Brothers history. It utilized much of the effects technology that was popularized in The Matrix two years earlier, and required the use of 135 cameras.

Swordfish released just months before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and is oddly prescient about some of the issues that would follow the event. Notably, Hugh Jackman’s character is said to have hacked into U.S. government files to sabotage a mass program of illegal surveillance of citizens, a program that actually began occurring after 9/11, and was exposed by Edward Snowden.

Review:

First off, Swordfish features too much color filtering, to the point of being obnoxious. That might not have been too distracting at the time, but after years of CSI television shows beating that particular dead horse, it is impossible not to notice. As with many other aspects of the movie, I’m sure this was done based on the influence of The Matrix, which I’ll get to more in a bit.

This might be a bit of a surprise, but I don’t hate John Travolta in this. I always enjoy his hammy acting, particularly in things like The Punisher and Face/Off. However, the writing for his character is incredibly pretentious and sleazy, which I am sure was at least partially intentional. Regardless, he is really easy to hate, but whether that is a positive or a negative is up to the viewer.

In general, the writing for the movie feels edgy for the sake of being edgy, and gives off a tone of pretending to be cooler than it actually is (not unlike Hackers, a similarly computer-themed flick). Everything about the dialogue just comes off as “trying too hard,” which isn’t a vibe you want your movie to give off.

Just about everything about Swordfish‘s aesthetic and style feels intentionally derivative of The Matrix. I mentioned the use of color already, but the music, costumes, effects, and the prominence of computers/hacking in the story-line all combine to make something that looks and feels a little too familiar. This isn’t necessarily objectively bad, and isn’t as noticeable now unless you look into the context of the film, but at the time, all of these similarities would have stood out in bold to both critics and audiences.

Recommendation:

I have mixed feelings about Swordfish. At times, it is genuinely entertaining and interesting, but at others it is unbearably pretentious and hokey. The excessive vigilante patriotism also came off as weird to me, and just doesn’t line up with the hedonistic personality that Travolta’s character was laid out to have throughout the movie. This trait was apparently emphasized more in rewrites on the movie, which resulted in a handful of alternate endings.

If you like heist movies and can handle sitting through the tech nonsense of Hackers, The Net, and The Matrix sequels, then Swordfish is worth sitting through for the occasional good parts. I still think it is more bad than good, but there is definitely entertainment value to it on the whole.

I particularly recommend checking out the We Hate Movies podcast episode on the film for a more detailed walk-through of the movie, and a few other perspectives on the film as a whole.

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It Follows

Clerk’s Pick

Clerk:
Hannah, Video Central (Columbus, OH)

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Movie:
It Follows
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Pitch:
“This movie actually got me. Supernatural horror flicks don’t usually freak me out, but this one did. The way it just sort of slowly walks towards you…”

Background:

It Follows was written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, whose only previous feature film was 2010’s The Myth of The American Sleepover, a teen-focused romantic comedy.

The cast for It Follows is made up of a handful of young actors, none of whom have a lot of film experience: Maika Monroe (The Guest), Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto (Beneath), and Kier Gilchrist (United States of Tara) make up the mainstay, with a handful of others filling in depth roles.

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The special effects work for It Follows is credited to Krisz Drouillard, whose most recognizable credit is likely on Kevin Smith’s 2014 foray into body horror, Tusk. The makeup team included Robert Kurtzman (Bubba Ho-Tep, The Faculty, Spawn, Maniac Cop 3, DeepStar Six, From Beyond, Army of Darkness) and Tom Luhtala (Late Phases, John Dies At The End), and the visual effects crew boasted Ed Mendez (Sin City, The Ladykillers, Catwoman, The Road, Spider-Man 3), Alessandro Pepe (Kung Fu Panda 2, Happy Feet), Greg Strasz (2012, White House Down), Raffaele Apuzzo (Nightcrawler), and Andrea Marotti (Getaway, Dracula 3D).

The distinctive and memorable music for It Follows was composed by Rich Vreeland, an electronic and chiptune artist who uses the moniker of ‘Disasterpeace.’ This was his foray into scoring films, though he provided the music for the hit indie video game Fez in 2012, and has a loyal following.

Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis has a long history of shooting short films, but his only other standout feature is the 2012 cult hit John Dies At The End, which was directed by Don Coscarelli, and also featured a number of common effects workers with It Follows.

It Follows received numerous awards and accolades, gaining praise throughout its festival run. nominated for the Audience Award at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Critics Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, among many others.

It Follows currently holds a rating of 7.0 on IMDb. It also has an astonishing 96% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, though it stands alongside a much lower audience score of 66%.

The film was made on an estimated budget of $2 million, and managed to gross a profitable $17 million in its total theatrical run. However, it was undoubtedly a much bigger critical hit than it was a financial one, and is primarily the darling of critics and horror die-hards.

Review:

I saw this film in theaters, knowing it already had immense acclaim behind it. There is certainly a lot interesting going on in this movie, not the least of which is the fact that it manages to create an effect of unease with both its audio and visual components. I think the score is probably the most distinctive aspect of the movie, and essentially creates something new by delving into something old: the iconic horror scores of John Carpenter. You can tell that the score is a sort of synthesis between Carpenter and the modern electronic drone of Kavinsky, which was popularized in Drive.

Creating ‘new’ out of ‘old’ is more or less the whole gist of the film’s style: the anachronism is even built interestingly into the set design and the background details: characters have modern mobile phones and electronic devices, but all of the televisions are ancient CRTs, the cars are vintage, and the movie theater has a live organist. In many ways, you could argue that we are living in a nostalgia generation, defined by its lust for the past. In that way, It Follows is the perfect encapsulation of our status quo.

I once had a jazz teacher who always gave the advice to his students to listen to and imitate great musicians. “But won’t I start sounding like ‘Bird’?” a student might say. He would respond: “You’ll never sound like Bird. You’ll sound like someone trying to sound like Bird, and that will be you.” It Follows is, as many have pointed out, a mockingbird of John Carpenter, and specifically Halloween. The music, the posture of the creature, the setting, and the shots all function as modernizations of that classic film, arguably more faithfully than the actual reboot of the franchise. However, I don’t think anyone would confuse this movie with a product from John Carpenter himself, in the same way that a saxophone student won’t be mistaken for Charlie Parker. It Follows feels, looks, and sounds like a movie trying to be a John Carpenter movie, and the resulting imitation is something that is both faithful and unique.

When it comes to problems with the movie, I found that the creature lost a lot of its intimidating ability one it was made clear that it was physical and definitively mortal. In general, monsters become less scary as characters discover their weaknesses and boundaries, like sunlight with vampires or silver with werewolves. However, “It” really needed to be unstoppable to be intimidating. Making it susceptible to bullets and electricity took a little too much away from its mystique. I also expected some sort of clever trap for the creature rather than a killing blow, which would have made more sense and kept the monster from losing its edge.

I also wasn’t particularly enthralled with the first kill of the movie, in which a young woman is discovered grotesquely contorted on a beach after fleeing from the creature. The way she was bent around struck me as a bit too comical, and I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of bendy-straw pretzel-making shenanigans the creature had to go through to get that effect. I imagine it wasn’t unlike making a balloon animal.

Back to a positive: I loved the way this movie used the underlying sexual anxieties of youth as a way to tap into a latent social fear. I think the best horror movies always do that to some degree, and it helps the film get a foot in the door to the viewer’s psyche, which makes it more effective at being genuinely horrific and unsettling. That is one of the biggest shortcomings of most Hollywood horrors made nowadays if you ask me.

Likewise, It Follows is very deliberate and creative in its use of color and light, particularly when it comes to shadows and water. Both the back yard pool and the finale municipal pool are shot in ways that are visually striking, and the blues always find a way to pop against the surroundings. All of the interior shots in the various are kept dark and are shot tightly, giving a distinct sense of claustrophobia and discomfort.

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Recommendation:

I can’t recommend It Follows highly enough. For many horror fans, I think It Follows and The Babadook have served as beacons of hope for the genre, and counterpoints to lazy Hollywood horrors like Ouija and Annabelle. I’m a little surprised that audiences haven’t been more receptive to It Follows on the whole. My guess is that the slow build of tension didn’t work for a lot of general audiences, who aren’t accustomed to atmospheric horror, and are more conditioned for jump scares and a simpler horror formula.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

Clerk’s Pick

Clerk:
Max, Video Central (Columbus, OH)

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Movie:
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
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Pitch:
“That ‘Disappearance of Alice Creed’ is pretty great. A fantastic example of fine screenwriting. There are really only those three characters in the whole thing, so it is the kind of thing you could imagine seeing on the stage. There are a couple of twists and turns in there: it is definitely worth checking out.”

Background:

“The Disappearance of Alice Creed” was written and directed by J Blakeson, a man with very few other credits. According to IMDb, “Alice Creed” got him nominations for “Most Promising Newcomer” at the Evening Standard British Film Awards and “Breakthrough British Film Director” at the London Critics Circle Film Awards, and landed him on a list of 10 directors to watch in 2010 in Variety magazine. However, his follow-up to “Alice Creed” (a Columbia Pictures film called “Fifth Wave” about an alien invasion) has only just begun filming, and isn’t expected to be released until 2016. Outside of a handful of short films, his only credits are as a writer on “The Descent: Part 2” and a TV movie called “Mist: The Tale of a Sheepdog Puppy.”

As Max mentioned, “Alice Creed” consists of a bare-bones cast of three. Martin Compston has appeared on a number of BBC dramas and British movie productions, including “Line of Duty,” “Silent Witness,” and “Filth.” Eddie Marsan is a veteran character actor with a list of over 100 acting credits, in everything from “The World’s End” to “Gangs of New York” to “21 Grams,” and also appeared alongside Compston in “Filth.” Last, but not least, is Gemma Arterton, who plays the eponymous Alice Creed. Her credits are more big budget Hollywood than the other two, despite not starting out until 2007. In 2008 she appeared in movies such as the Bond flick “Quantum of Solace” and Guy Ritchie’s “RockNRolla,” which led into 2009 which included “Alice Creed” and “Pirate Radio.” By 2010 she was starring in Hollywood flicks like “Clash of the Titans” and “Prince of Persia.” She most recently popped up in movies like 2014’s “The Voices” with Ryan Reynolds and 2013’s “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” in a lead role alongside Jeremy Renner.

As far as trivia goes, most of the interesting stuff that I could dig up relates to the arduous and accelerated filming process. Not only was it filmed in four weeks, but the casting wasn’t completed until two weeks before shooting. According to IMDb, there is no dialogue until almost the 6 minute mark of the movie, which almost certainly means that non-verbal acting is used extensively to build tension, along with creative cinematography, sound, and editing. The movie includes a number of nude sequences, for which Gemma Arterton declined the use of a body double, apparently so that she could “convey genuine fear.” In addition to that, a number of rumors and tales have come out of the production in relation to her professionalism and dedication to the role, including refusing to be unlocked from her character’s handcuffs while she was on set.

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Critics generally enjoyed “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” more than casual audiences, as the movie scored 82% on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator alongside an audience score of 67% and an IMDb rating of 6.8. Although the film was nominated for a handful of awards in Britain, it didn’t ultimately take any of them home.

Review:

As I expected based on Max’s pitch, this is a movie absolutely driven by the three actors in it. To say they knock it out of the park doesn’t even begin to touch it: they each create memorable, interesting, highly emotional and relate-able characters that are absolutely believable. Credit also has to go to the writing on that, of course, but the whole project would have just fallen apart without the right players in place.

Speaking of the writing, “Alice Creed” is very well crafted in that regard as well. The dialogue is great, but that pales in comparison to the hair-pin turns that are pulled off effortlessly throughout the plot. The twists are well laid-out, but still surprising until you start to think about them. Being able to lay the groundwork for believable plot twists is no easy task, and it is pulled off damn well here.

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Apparently, the theatrical ending to the movie is not the one that was initially intended. Honestly, I didn’t notice, particularly in comparison to other movies that have altered endings at the last minute. It isn’t excessively cheery or anything, but it at least leaves a slight ray of sunshine at the end of a very dark drive.

There are some really good shots throughout the movie, and I particularly enjoyed the dialogue-less opening sequence where the premise slowly shapes together without a single word being spoken. The actors definitely pulled their weight there, but I thought that the shots and the editing were really telling the story throughout the sequence. DirectorJ Blakeson specifically mentions Ridley Scott’s opening to “Alien” as an influence on this sequence in his commentary on the film’s DVD, and I think you can really feel that desired atmosphere there. In any case, it was a great way to set up the tension for the rest of the movie, as well as a way to establish the primary setting.

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Despite having a few highly uncomfortable moments, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” is a high recommendation for me. The pace starts dragging a little bit in the second half, but it never slows down enough to totally lose your attention. You care about the characters, and want to know what happens to them, even when things begin to drag. Top notch performances are had by all on screen, and an outstanding amount of skill is showcased by J Blakeson as a rookie to feature films. I’m looking forward to what he does next year with “Fifth Wave.”

 

Perfume: The Story of A Murderer

Clerk’s Pick

Today, I am kicking off a brand new segment here at Misan[trope]y Movie Blog. I’ve mentioned before that I am a big fan of physical media, and even more-so the culture that has formed around video stores over the years. In keeping with that, I am going to be doing a weekly segment called “Clerk’s Pick”, in which I let one of the clerks at my local video rental shop (Video Central of Columbus, OH) select and pitch a movie for me to review. I’ve always loved recommendations that come from actual people, and they tend to be a little more interesting and accurate than that whole Netflix “Max” thing. So, let’s get it kicked off:

Clerk:
Max, Video Central

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Movie:
“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”

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Pitch:
“Have you seen ‘Perfume?’ It is one of the best films in the store. I’m surprised more people haven’t hear of it. It is a big movie: Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, a whole lot of locations, and the largest orgy sequence I’ve ever seen. The main kid, Ben Whishaw, is the new Q in the James Bond movies. Anyway, it is about this guy who is trying to make a perfume based on the scent of his lover, so he starts murdering people and trying to use their fat and stuff to perfect the smell. You have to see it.”

Background:
Director/writer Tom Tykwer gained considerable international acclaim in 1998 with the beloved German indie “Run Lola Run”, which came about 8 years before “Perfume.” In those 8 years, he failed to match up to the international acclaim of “Lola”, releasing “The Princess and The Warrior” in 2000 and “Heaven” in 2002. Both were well-regarded and acclaimed in Germany, but didn’t receive much attention outside of Europe. After “Perfume”, he directed some larger movies (2009’s “The International” and “Cloud Atlas” in collaboration with the Wachowskis in 2012), but both were box office failures and met with mixed critical reviews.

The other writers on “Perfume” were Andrew Berkin (of “Omen 3 – The Final Conflict”) and prolific producer Bernd Eichinger, who is probably best known as being an EP for all of the Fantastic Four movies (yes, all of them). That said, he has a number of writing credits as well: most notably 2004’s highly acclaimed “Downfall,” which follows the fall of Adolph Hitler. However, “Perfume” was admittedly his dream project. Rumor has it that despite Eichinger being a good friend of the book’s author, the rights to the work cost the production 10 million Euro, a precedent that ultimately led the movie to being the most expensive German film of all time (50 million Euro).

“Perfume” is based on a 1985 German novel of the same name written by Patrick Suskind, which was generally well-regarded upon release. The story has been loosely adapted into television on the show “Criminal Minds”, inspired a song by Nirvana, and was recently debuted as a stage musical in Russia (really?), but Tykwer has been the only person to adapt it to the big screen so far. However, it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

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A movie production of “Perfume” had been planned for years, with names like Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorcese, Milos Forman, Roman Polanski, Ridley Scott, and Tim Burton all at one point rumored to be involved (or actually were in Scott’s case). It is a wonder that such a sought after work landed in the hands of the relative neophyte Tykwer. Perhaps realizing the pressure and expectations for the picture, his ultimate charge of the production was near-Kubrickian in its attention to detail.

The costumes were custom made based on extensive research on the art and history of the period, and the actors were required to live in them to create a more accurate worn appearance for filming. The orgy scene, one of the largest in cinema history, was meticulously choreographed and featured professional dancers on the insistence of Tykwer. Also, as Max mentioned in the pitch, the production gallivanted throughout Europe: while the bulk of filming took place in Barcelona, shooting was also done throughout Spain, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

The cast is mostly made up of somewhat recognizable European character actors, which is in no way an insult: it is clearly a proudly European movie. Outside of Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman, faces are mostly only familiar from German indie productions or the BBC. However, the recently knighted John Hurt does provide the narration, which is a nice touch. Ben Whishaw is given the lead role of Grenouille, a young actor who seems to be a still-rising star in Europe. He has appeared in a number of the bigger Tykwer movies like “Cloud Atlas” and “The International,” as well as the Helen Mirren led adaptation of “The Tempest,” BBC miniseries “Criminal Justice,” the surreal Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There,” Terry Gilliam’s “The Zero Theorem,” and an ongoing role in the James Bond franchise as the new Q.

“Perfume” ultimately grossed $135 million, but a little less than half of that came specifically out of the German market, meaning it didn’t quite get the international steam that was hoped for. Regardless, it made a nice sum of money, and audiences mostly liked it despite critics being mixed (58% on Rotten Tomatoes, against a 74% Audience Score and a 7.5 on IMDb).

Review:

First off, “Perfume” has some really cool cinematography throughout the film. There is loads of visceral imagery, like the filmmakers are trying their best to portray smell via a visual medium. It is impossible not to notice all of the intentional focus on noses, with interesting shots and use of shadows to emphasize them.

There is a good amount of interesting sound editing, and in particular a lot of ambient, discordant music which adds to the intentional discomfort of the film’s atmosphere. Speaking of which, I don’t think I have ever come across a movie that so expertly creates such a sickening, repulsive atmosphere. In that sense, it is beyond a success.

perfume4One of the key complaints that I read about the film was that the script wasn’t quite up to par with the rest of the material. Honestly, I kind of wish there wasn’t so much narration: there is an awful lot of telling when the showing is already doing the job. That said, John Hurt’s voice works pretty well, even if the words written for him aren’t stellar. Whishaw has to do a lot of non-verbal acting in the movie, and he does a pretty good job with it. Without his performance, all the atmosphere created by the sound, the editing, the costuming, the locations, and the cinematography would have been lost. He holds it together, but the beauty is in the trim on this one: he isn’t fantastic, but the work around him elevates the ultimate product. Again, I credit a lot of this to the aforementioned meticulous attention to detail on the part of Tykwer and the crew. Absolutely nothing about this movie is half-assed.

perfume3I’m not sure how I feel about Dustin Hoffman’s performance as the initial perfumer mentor to Whishaw’s Grenouille character. Something just feels off about it, and it is hard to nail down what it is. He is trying to pull off an accent that seems unnecessary, which at least partially contributes to the issue. Part of the problem might also sit in the writing of the character, but whatever the reason, it is a conspicuous weak point in the movie. That said, it doesn’t last very long: for being one of the top bills, Hoffman doesn’t spend much time in the movie. As with most of Grenouille’s masters throughout the film, he is coincidentally and quickly dispatched as soon as Grenouille leaves his company, which is kind of a problem to itself. When the house literally comes crashing down in on Hoffman, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel. It plays almost like it is supposed to be absurdly comical, which definitely does not fit in with the greater tone of the movie.

perfume5The film’s has a couple of women who serve as the principal objects of Grenouille’s obsession, but neither of them get a whole lot of screen time. Both Rachel Hurd-Wood and Karoline Herfurth fit their roles well, even if that role is essentially as a set piece. Of the two, I thought Karoline did the better job with the smaller role. Hurd-Wood just didn’t seem to deliver her lines very well, but it wasn’t so awful that it was excessively distracting. By contrast, Alan Rickman plays Hurd-Wood’s protective father, and kills his role just like he always does. However, just like Hoffman, he only gets a small section of the movie to show what he can do.

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Karoline Herfurth
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Rachel Hurd-Wood

I would be remiss to not mention the bizarre, absurd ending to this movie. Throughout the film, Grenouille is transfixed with the idea of preserving the smell of humans, and is seeking the ability to create the finest smell of all time. Hoffman’s character regales him with a legend of a Pharaoh, who was buried with a perfume so fine that all of the world experienced a split second of paradise when it was released. That story proves to be foreshadowing, as the movie ends with Grenouille finally creating his master perfume: but only after figuring out the logistics of condensing human aromas, a process that required a fair amount of murder on Grenouille’s part. As Grenouille is about to be executed, he releases the perfect perfume, sparking a mass orgy. He is then spared of his grisly fate because everyone is just too damn busy having that previously mentioned perfume-catalyzed orgy. However, Grenoille soon decides to kill himself via adoring crowd by dousing himself in the perfume, which is a rather peculiar way to go.

There is a lot that can be said about the ending. I don’t mind the surreal aspects so much, but I didn’t feel like Grenouille was ever relate-able or sympathetic enough for me to feel anything about his ultimate…sacrifice? I’m not sure if you could even call it that. He certainly never showed remorse or redeemed himself for his actions, apart from cooking up an apparently kick-ass perfume. I would say that the ending is a overall a weak cap on an otherwise good movie.

perfume9In general, I recommend this one with a few caveats. Some of the murder scenes are incredibly uncomfortable, but if you have the stomach for it, the film is a real spectacle to sit through. The cinematography and costuming are the real standouts, but there is a lot more than that to appreciate about the film. The second caveat is that the writing and acting is spotty: the narration cuts in and out and isn’t written very well, and Hoffman is a huge weak spot in the cast. However, the beauty is in the details on this film: all of the little things really add up, and it definitely shows through in the finished product.

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Plotopsy Podcast #2 – BlockBusted

BlockBusted: The Fall of the Video Store

On episode 2 of the (Plot)opsy Podcast, I decided to talk about something a little different. Instead of a movie, I decided to take a look at the aftermath of the collapse of BlockBuster Video, and the current state of the physical media market for movies. There is more to movie shops than just movies, after all: there is the movie shop culture to be considered.

You can check out episode 1 of the (Plot)opsy Podcast, on “Guardians of the Galaxy” and James Gunn, here.


Direct Link

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Potomac Video, of the DC Metro area, shutting down in May 2014.

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A MovieStop location in Huntsville, AL

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McKay Used Books of Nashville, TN
McKay Used Books of Nashville, TN
One of the last BlockBuster video stores, just days before closing in southern MS.
One of the last BlockBuster video stores, just days before closing in southern MS.
Videodrome of Atlanta, GA
Advertisement for Scarecrow Video of Seattle, WA
Video Central of Columbus, OH
Video Central of Columbus, OH

July Hiatus Update: Misan[trope]y on Facebook, Moving to Ohio

Hey! You might notice from the sidebar that Misan[trope]y is now on Facebook!

It turns out that I have a lot of thoughts and musings about movies that aren’t quite detailed or dense enough for an autonomous blog post. Now, these thoughts need not go to waste! I’m going to funnel them through the Misan[trope]y facebook page, where they will both appear here on the sidebar and help me theoretically  increase the awareness / traffic to the site! Isn’t that exciting? Oh yeah, and the FB page means there is now a central, public location for my post updates that isn’t my personal twitter/facebook. That seems important too.

In other news, I am using the July quasi-hiatus to work on some upcoming projects, like a potential on-site “Space Camp” review and starting a sister podcast called “The [Plot]opsy”. I’ve also calculated that despite the July hiatus, I am still on pace to knock out the IMDb Bottom 100 by the end of 2014.  I have a handful of written/recorded Bottom 100 reviews in the wings that should be published over the course of the month, but updates will be spotty until August.


In the meantime, I’m slowly getting to know the film community of my new home: Columbus, OH. It turns out that it is actually quite impressive! Not only are there a ton of excellent Bargain Bin(ge) spots, but Columbus is also home to Ohio State University’s Wexner Arts Center, the gorgeous Gateway Film Center, and the delightful Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse. There is also a spiffy local video rental spot (Video Central) with late hours and an admirable selection of cult / rare DVDs.  So far, Columbus is looking like a delightful new home for the Misan[trope]y Movie Blog, with multiple venues offering B-movie screenings and events in addition to everything else.  Just in the next two days, I am slated to check out screenings of the original Godzilla, Alien, and Cabin in the Woods.

So, please like the page on Facebook, and I’ll be back with regular content as soon as I am not living in an extended stay without a working internet connection.