With the horror genre struggling these days we cannot rely on the major studios releasing anything in terms of quality. Some of last year’s “gems” like Annabelle or yet another Paranormal Activity showcases a lack of creativity. Which is why the independent scene is so important because that is where all the scares are. Go to your ‘Video On Demand’ services and you will see a bevy of horror films just waiting for you to explore. A more recent outing you will notice comes in the shape of Spring; a European romance with a sinister twist.
Presented without comment. Okay maybe one thing: I hope that if I ever go deranged and disappear I would like Werner Herzog to narrate it. He seems to be into that kind of thing what with this movie and Grizzly Man.
The Western genre, as a whole, has been monumentally influential to filmmakers all over the world. Directors from the likes of Italy, Germany, and even Japan have given their take on life in the old days of the American West. It is a testament to how much mining you can have with a specific period in history. So that begs the ultimate question: Can the Danish film a Western? We can now answer that pivotal question with the country’s first outing in Kristian Levring’s The Salvation.
If there is one film that hits too close to home its Michel Gondry’s masterpiece. Granted, I did not get involved with a memory wiping company and lost the love of my life. But the emotional pain Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) goes through is so damn real despite the sci-fi elements involved. Not to get too personal but I fell in love with someone that is very similar to who Clementine (Kate Winslet) was. It was never meant to be but at the time I did not rationalize the failed romance as I did today. In fact this film came out very close to the time where this crush of mine made it very clear how she did not feel the same way. So you better believe this movie hit me emotionally at the time.
If there is one thing the film industry can mine like nobody’s business it is Broadway. Whether it is of the musical or play variety we have seen just as many adaptations on the big screen as book adaptations. Musicals are always tricky because not only do you need to pick the perfect actors for each role but, unlike the stage, you have free reign to expand each scene. With Jason Robert Brown’s cult show The Last Five Years not only does the plot seem perfect but the way it is told almost writes itself as a film. While the ingredients are there to make the adaptation a rare, modern musical classic it unfortunately suffers heavily in translation.
The Last Five Years follow couple Cathy (Anna Kendrick) and Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) from romantic beginnings to the crushing inevitability of breaking up. Instead of telling it straightforward though the film showcases it out of synch from both perspectives. While it is refreshing to see a romantic story be told in a unique way for a change there are issues with this. For one thing, especially late in the story, it becomes a bit difficult to tell where we are at certain points. The way Director Richard LaGravenese decides to shoot each sequence is very similar apart from minor details so one sequence that looks heavenly for the couple is actually a dark period for them.
That and, quite honestly, the couple as the focal point for this story are hardly compelling to follow. For one thing it appears that Cathy gets the majority of a negative spotlight while Jamie gets all the positives which feels sexist in a way. Through no fault of Anna Kendrick she appears moody and jealous of her partner which is not enough reason for such a huge split between them. Because of the jagged plot structure it becomes difficult to get a real handle with these two characters outside of their love is doomed. Even the musical components cannot really save the film as most of the lyrics are generic at best. At least Kendrick continues to showcase how she is the best musical actor of our generation by giving her all to her portion of the film.
Ultimately what ruins this film though is how choppy and uneven it looks. This is Steven Meizler’s first film as a Cinematographer and it is quite easy to tell that his past as a cameraman for Steven Soderbergh influenced him greatly. Meizler is hardly Soderbergh though as most of this film is poorly framed with extras or props filling the picture or, for whatever reason, LaGravenese decided to have the widest angle possible for each shot. It is difficult to be in the moment with these characters when it feels like we are watching through a telescope the entire time. That and whenever this film goes into ‘musical’ mode (i.e. extras dancing or cutaways to fantastical elements) it sharply goes away from the realism of the plot which LaGravenese should have known it was not working early on.
When a musical doesn’t work in film it REALLY does not work. The Last Five Years has the story and an amazing, leading woman in Anna Kendrick to make something worthwhile. But with poor characterization, generic melodies, and a confusing way to tell the story it becomes difficult to stay compelled with what is on screen. It would have been nearly impossible to fix anyways if we still had the same poor direction and cinematography like we do now. This adaptation might wind up being the perfect example to showcase that while a show works on stage it does not necessarily mean it will work on film.
This is more of a warning to you fair readers. WWE, yes the wrestling company, has been getting into the movie making business for over a decade now. If I were you I would use this information and do this: Don’t watch their movies. If you want to lose brain cells then go ahead. But they have seriously made some of the worst films I’ve ever seen including….
Today on my GOFUNDME page I talk about my love of Stanley Kubrick. The man who influenced me to become a filmmaker. If you can, I would appreciate giving this page a look and also see your way of a donation. If I want to work in the film industry I need a way to live and YOU can help me get there. So click the link below and give what you can.