Archive for June, 2009

Pineapple Express

Posted in Review on June 23, 2009 by vegabro

Pineapple Express may fool many people into enjoying it as a simple summer romp, like an exquisitely wrapped joint. But the true substance of the film, like the potent titular pot, comes from Dale Denton’s (Rogen) existential crisis and later realization.

At the beginning of the film,  Dale is introduced to the audience as a process server, who comedically changes outfits to trick his targets into allowing him into serving proximity. This is David Gordon Green introducing the audience to the theme he will be working with in this film in a very meta way: to TRICK, like Dale’s serving, the audience into thinking this movie is a simple comedy when it is much more thoughtful. For while this idea is funny and Rogen plays it hilariously, few pick up on the subtext of Dale changing his uniforms being a symbol for the existential confusion over who he is.

Dale doesn’t know who he is and he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in life as he seems to be stuck in a state of arrested development with a girlfriend in high school. He is drawn as almost the epitome of a loser who is not wanted by anyone his age other than his pot dealer. So as he tricked those he served in the beginning that he was someone else, Dale TRICKS people into thinking that he is cool. After all he IS dating the hottest girl in the high school. He does so much tricking of other people that he begins to trick himself. Somehow he forgets that dating a girl in high school, 15 years younger than he is, is a total loser thing to do. So when he meets Saul Silver (Franco), his pot dealer, he sees a loser that he tricks himself into thinking he is much cooler than.

That is, until they go on an ultimate pot-saturated adventure together. There is weed, there is absurdity, and there is a touch of bromance. Those are the things that describe most of what the gut of the film is about and all three are perfectly embodied by the event that kicks it all off in the first act: The Cross-Joint. It is weed, it is completely absurd and as Saul declares, “I can’t light this thing on my own. I need you man.” That really says it all.

So what does Dale learn by the end? Well, he shows up high to his girlfriends house for dinner with her parents and is told to leave. He has the time of his life smoking pot and taking names. And admits to Saul that he has always seen him as a friend, but was too ashamed to admit it earlier. It is in this moment that Dale’s existential crisis is over for when he admits this to Saul, what he is really doing is shedding his facade, ending his trick, coming of age. What he is really saying is that he finally knows who he is: A pothead. And he’s proud of it.

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Lost in Translation

Posted in Review on June 19, 2009 by sly882

Bob and Charlotte are two flawed and damaged people. They need each other, and they just so happen to be in the same place at the same time, and carry the same baggage. They just don’t know it yet.

Bob is lost, both metaphorically and literally. He is overwhelmed by where he is in his life and the situations he gets himself into. The beautiful Tokyo skyline surrounds him, millions of fans acknowledge him as a star; he’s famous, the “Johnny Carson” of Japan, but Bob couldn’t care less. He’s having his “mid life crisis” in the wrong place at the wrong time. Without the comfort of his wife, his home, and someone who can speak English, he is struck with extreme culture shock and a mild case of jet lag. His days are filled with cumbersome photo shoots and frustrating whiskey commercials, only exacerbated by the fact that he has to struggle with everything people say to him getting lost in translation. He is miserable, and just looking for someone to relate to.

Charlotte is just like Bob. She’s married to a successful photographer, and graduated from Yale with a degree in philosophy. But she too is lonely. Her husband is always out working, and she spends her days either looking for something to do or just looking out the window at the city below. She fears she might have married the wrong person, and isn’t content with how her life has unfolded. Her feeble attempts of sightseeing downtown Tokyo can’t fill the void of loneliness and boredom she has within her. As a failed writer, she often contemplates who she is and what she wants. Her days are plagued with ennui and insomnia, and longs for someone to share her pain.

Both Bob and Charlotte are alienated in an exotic place unfamiliar to them. They try to overcome the differences in cultures, but end up being alone and homesick. The hotel they both stay in has all of the luxuries and technologies of the future, the city around them is alive and vibrant, and it seems everyone is enjoying life without them. They try using alcohol, television, CDs, and phone calls from home to cope with the problem, but to no avail. It’s not until they meet do they realize what they have been missing all along. Their close friendship is really the only thing they need, and together they explore the boundaries of companionship and wrestle with the fact that they are in the ultimate catch 22, they are never going to see each other again.

Yet Bob and Charlotte know, more than anything else in the world, that they love each other. But on paper, they shouldn’t be together: they’ve been together for only a week, they’re several decades apart in age, they’re both married to other people, and they have separate lives outside of their relationship. But to them, these are minor quibbles in what is otherwise the most fulfilling and meaningful (not to mention the most unusual) friendship they have ever known. What’s even more surprising is that during the film, when they first meet, Bob and Charlotte never introduce themselves to each other. They simply try to share their brief time together, and come to find they share more in common with each other than their own spouses. What was a coincidental meeting in a hotel blossomed into something more and sparked new life in Bob and Charlotte. They understand that nothing lasts forever, but they can go on knowing there is someone else on this earth that is exactly like them.

Now, it’s the Blog of the Bro’s

Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2009 by sly882

Hello internet,

It’s sly. And I’m now writing for this website. If you don’t know me (which you probably don’t), I like movies. Shocking, I know. I also like telling people I know to go rent Memento. Look out for my reviews every now and then. Hopefully you like them. If not, fuck you.

Let the Right One In

Posted in Review on June 4, 2009 by vegabro

The film starts with the simple frame of a new snow falling. As the snow falls to the ground, it covers everything that came before it. The snow is a symbol of a new beginning, purity, innocence.

Innocent is how Oskar begins the film as well. His father, a symbol of maturity, remains a mystery to him and to the audience.

But Oskar is curious about maturity as he collects clippings from newspapers of horrible murders that have occurred around his village, all of which he hides in a book. He is cautious and secretive about his familiarity with evil. That is until the embodiment of that evil arrives next door to his house in the form of a vampire named Eli.

As the film progresses, Oskar begins to literally fall in love with evil as his relationship with Eli develops. Concurrently, he is being bullied at school and still a child, innocent, he cannot execute an evil act against them. He dreams of it and worries about it but still cannot because he is innocent. Meanwhile Hakan, who has been Eli’s source for bringing blood home for her to feed on has been captured and hospitalized. Eli needs a new way to get blood. This is where Oskar and Eli’s relationship reaches absolute poetry as innocence needs evil as much as evil needs innocence.

There are admonitions to this relationship though which are portrayed by the demise of the characters Hakan and Virginia. Hakan, who unlike the rest of the adult male characters in the entire movie drinks milk instead of alcohol, is weak. He lives only to serve Eli. Hakan is a slave to evil and remains innocent, hence the milk (white as snow), and evil inevitably literally consumes him.

Virginia is another victim of Eli, but instead of being devoured by Eli she is merely infected and begins to become a vampire and evil like her. She too has lived a somewhat sheltered life and has never been confronted with evil like she must now. But the thought of hurting another human is too much for her and she kills herself instead of accepting evil into her life. The point here is that an acceptance of evil in your life is absolutely necessary to survival.

So when Oskar finds out what Eli is and what evil she does as a vampire, he is given a choice as she stands outside his door. She tells him that vampires must be told they can enter someone’s house before entering. The same goes for evil. One cannot simply be innocent one day and evil the next. There has to be a conscious decision to let evil into your life and as Eli waits, that is the coming of age decision Oskar struggles with until he finally lets her in.

With his newfound discovery of evil, Oskar finally faces his enemies and by hitting one of them in the ear with a red pole (a very familiar red pole as it is the same one Hakan uses to hide a body earlier on in the film). But when that kid, ear bandaged, calls his older brother to retaliate, Oskar is put in a position where he is in a lot of danger and cannot escape. Then Eli saves him. Without her, without evil, Oskar may not have survived.

A reiteration of the snowy frame from the beginning of the film highlights again that there is a new beginning, but now that beginning is of Oskar’s manhood as he leaves home by train with a box accompanying him. A tapping from inside reveals Eli is encased as she must hide from the light. As Oskar taps back, he demonstrates his understanding to the key of maturity: be in touch with your evil side, but keep it hidden away until a situation arises where you need to use it.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Posted in Review on June 3, 2009 by vegabro

When battling a ship your crew calls “The Phantom” for its ability to simply appear and disappear at a whim not to mention it carrying a much stronger hull and wielding much more devastating guns, how do you defeat it? When unable to chase a dream specimen, a flightless bird no one else knows exists, how can you wait without being able to capture it? When trapped on a boat indefinitely with a crew that believes you are cursed and causing a drought, how do you live? How does man overcome myth?

As the enemy ship, the Acheron, floats in the ghostly fog just out of sight, the sounds of Bach can be heard consistently through Jack Aubrey and longtime friend Stephen Maturin’s cabin on Aubrey’s vessel, the Surprise. Their musical duet is a symbol of their friendship, for neither can play the piece alone.

Lord Nelson, a man now myth, is someone everyone on the ship looks up to. He is the hero Captain Aubrey always strives to be. Lord Nelson said once, when asked on a night watch if he wanted a blanket. He replied  “No, he didn’t need it. That he was quite warm. His zeal for his king and country kept him warm.” Captain Aubrey bases all his decisions on this man’s strategy and duty to country, but to a fault as his determination to duty threatens his humanity, ie his friendship with Stephen. Aubrey at this point is torn, he would rather follow myth than be man.

Meanwhile, Midshipman Hollom is facing his own myth. A curse, as it is believed by the crew, that is causing drought is brought unto their ship by Hollom. With no friends aboard the ship to defend him, Hollom succumbs to this myth and drowns himself. That scene is shot brilliantly for it portrays how Hollom is consumed by the blackness of the ocean as he descends. This consuming blackness is a metaphor for how he is consumed by both myth and loneliness. Hollom ceased to be a man at this point. From that point on people would only speak of the myth of the curse of Hollom.

Aubrey learns as the movie progresses that a balance of his friendship with Stephen and the taking of the “Phantom” Acheron is needed if he is to survive. So he retreats to the Galapagos where Stephen spotted his bird in an attempt to mend their friendship. Then, although Stephen never does find his mythical bird, what he does salvage from his trip to the Galapagos is a phasmid, stick bug. Aubrey then makes use of this balances as he incorporates Stephen’s phasmid specimin as a reference for battle strategy by cloaking themselves as whalers, which due to another newfound friendship with a shipwrecked bunch, he learns The Acheron has a penchant for. Aubrey replaces the strategy of the mythical Lord Nelson with strategy learned from his friendship his friend and doctor.

So what is the lesson here? These myths are extremely daunting on these men’s lives, so much so that by the end of the film none of them actually do overcome any of the myths domineering their lives. Stephen never finds his bird, Hollom obviously succumbs to his myth and Aubrey never rightly captures the Acheron nor does he ever use Lord Nelson’s strategy or live up to his dutifulness. But the end of the film leaves our heroes on a musical note of hope (beautiful piece btw ‘La Musica Notturna Delle Strade Di Madrid’ No. 6, Op. 30) as together as friends Stephen and Aubrey play their music, on their way to recapturing the Acheron and, a bit later, Stephen’s bird. Friendship is what Hollom lacked and that was his downfall. Without friendship man can never overcome myth.