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In Time (2011) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl


In Time’s ethos is less carpe than CRAPPY diem.  Something about class and the unequal distribution of wealth goes on in In Time, which led me to whisper-shout “OCCUPY TIME!” at obnoxiously regular intervals throughout it.

The New Yorker review of In Time is a hazard to public safety and so I’m going to take the rest of the time allotted this review and rebut its claims, one by one:

“Andrew Niccol, the genre-twisting director of ‘Gataca,’ delivers another entertaining mind-bender”: In Time is mind-bending only if the last time you experienced your own mind functioning was en route from Pretzel Maker to Auntie Anne’s and were like, how will I ever decide which is the better pretzel store?

“The film stars Justin Timberlake, as an heir to a fortune of extra time who flees the corrupt police force known as Timekeepers”: this bit of innocuous plot explication is so wrong I wonder if Bruce Diones took the time to even watch this abysmal time-waste of a movie.

JT is NOT an heir, but a man accused of stealing time from this rich guy who comes to the wrong side of the time zone because he’s been alive for so long and “people want to die” and so he gives JT his time while JT is asleep and JT tries to use it save his mom but she—zzzzzzz….

“Niccol’s zippy direction, joined to a sleek, rich production design, keeps the movie spinning like a shiny toy”: In Time was filmed on the back lot of the back lot of The Sopranos during stray moments when no one important like Edie Falco was looking.

“It zooms past plot holes”: In Time is one giant plot hole in the middle of a cul de sac it jerks off behind the tree at the end of.

“The remarkably good-looking cast includes Amanda Seyfried”: Seyfried looks like a grotty Skipper doll made of last year’s Top Shop.

“As for Timberlake, he shows some smart acting moves, dialing down his inherent charisma and letting the movie pop…”: Any popping In Time manages is of the white-head-boring-a-hole-in-the-center-of-your-chin variety; when it goes it’s timely, but you wish it had never happened in the first place.


In Time (2011) | Review by Mark Leidner

Amanda Seyfried’s big eyes reflected back nothing but the wrath of time upon our doomed generation.

Every line is a time-based pun like “I’m gonna clean your clock…” and “Time’s up!” and “Looks like we’re making good time…” and “Time to go get some more time before time runs out.” “Not this time!”

Justin Timberlake’s lingering falsetto, erupting at moments of emotional intensity, undercut his ability to wag a gun and grimace convincingly at an adversary.

There were pauses in the dialogue so vast and vacuous, Russel Crowe could’ve piloted the ship from Master and Commander through them.

In Time is a man running a marathon whose legs are suddenly hacked off and instead of going to the hospital, he just worms forward, desperately clutching the earth in front of him while gawkers turn away, covering their eyes with their hands, but their eyes aren’t crying, they’re smoking.

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

“If I am the exact same character in every movie, I can be in every movie.” – Olivia Wilde

Remember the highlighted blonde-poodle haircut Justin Timberlake used to have.

Byron: The world was void, the populous and the powerful was a lump, seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—a lump of death—a chaos of hard clay. The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still, and nothing stirred within their silent depths; ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea, and their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropped they slept on the abyss without a surge—the waves were dead; the tides were in their grave, the Moon, their mistress, had expired before; the winds were withered in the stagnant air, and the clouds perished! Darkness had no need of aid from them—she was the Universe.

50/50 (2011) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl

50/50 is a cancer movie for people who love cancer.

Increasingly the long, flat planes of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s resemble an Easter Island Statue—the child actor petrified in his own talent.

Seth Rogen’s annoying is inversely proportional to his paunch: we almost found ourselves attracted!

Let us consider the effulgent hokum of Anna Kendrick’s career: trapped in a small, chipmunky body, her choice of roles seems hopelessly doomed to that of the good girl, the bitch friend, the single, flowering frond of adolescence waving in the wind—we at once liked her and despised her, her luscious mountain of boob heaving sympathetically, uselessly, at JGL’s precipitous visage, her tight mouth purse…

….

….

….

OMG are we yet fronds in the winds of adolescence, waving?

50/50 is a cancer movie for people who like cancer movies equally as much as they like male sex talk and pot jokes—you do not have to choose: 50/50 gives you insights ranging from “bitches who live with you should be REQUIRED to give you blow jobs” to “do not be afraid to confront the fact of a loved one’s impending death from cancer with them.”

We cried merciless, fecund tears about 7/10 of the way through 50/50; and by “we” I mean Mark and me.

When Mark cries in a movie I can always tell because his breathing gets a little funny, in the way that one’s does when one is trying very hard to disguise the fact that one is crying; but I was also breathing funny, also crying, and at one point I let out a jagged, horrible laugh that I think Mark maybe thought was a great sob of anguish—really I had just endured a vision of our faces if 50/50 were the audience, and we the movie.

50/50 has some woozy shots meant to mimic, I think, the effects of marijuana; these shots in no way made me want to smoke marijuana, nor did they make me wish I had cancer—is this a failure of 50/50?

50/50 was successful as a character-driven movie about potentially saccharine subject matter in that it felt both “real enough” and “enjoyable enough”; while nothing surprising happens in 50/50, you still want to watch scenes to their conclusion.

The qualifying “enoughs” are probably because I am grumpy about the fact that this is yet another movie of “male friendship” in which the inside banter of white, late-20ish men is displayed as though it were some incredible ethnographic find—“Froggy position” you say? Fascinating!

However my normal ire is mitigated because this is a movie of male friendship with the tender edge only cancer can give.

50/50 (2011) | Review by Mark Leidner

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a great actor because he can play both iconic heroes as well as idiosyncratic wierdos; this movie in any other actor’s hands would’ve probably blown ass.

Rogen’s schtick is getting more efficient. It’s like the Jabba the Hutt of cheap jokes started working out; now his puerile misogyny lands 8 out of 10 punches instead of 15 out of 45.  If he’s going to make it into comedy heaven, Rogen needs to focus. In a few years he’ll be too bloated and hamster-faced for any audience to stand looking at, and will go the way of Jon Favreau.

Felt sorry for the bitchy hot chick, whoever she was; there was a creepily rapey scene where the bros destroy her painting by lighting it on fire and throwing axes at it while laughing. Fuck bitches! Men Rule! ‘S’cool cuz he got cancer.

( Has there ever been a Law & Order SVU episode where the perp is motivated by a terminal diagnosis to commit a series of heinous sex crimes, then gets arrested and tried but dies of cancer before the jury can render the verdict?)

50/50’s LOL-factor was one step above mediocre. Angelica Houston is a good-ass actress. She’s the mom. 50/50 made me want to not get cancer.

It  made me happy that I could cry obscenely in such a medium-good movie. It’s been so long since I cried at all, and the last time I cried, it seemed like I would never stop, so it was kind of nice, knowing the tears were the inspired by temporary, external stimuli instead of something you perceive to be permanent and internal.

50/50 contains one of the best murderous screams of  existential torture I have ever seen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a great actor).

Cancer is awful; let us all take a moment in this time of global economical and political turmoil to catch our breaths. Let us remember whatever our differences might be as humans–gender, race, class, language, age, nationality–that death is the common enemy. It is the naturalest and yet oddest paradox that we all degrade, decay, go limp, and plunge back into the nothingness from whence we were summoned, but achieve our highest fulfillment as men and women in the way we attend to others who are closer, or are slipping faster toward the grave than us. Let us not forget the words of me, later, when I say now that whatever is waiting on the other side, heaven can occur on Earth if we all pull together. That doesn’t mean grabbing candy out of our better-costumed neighbor’s bags. That means emptying our own bag on the ground in front of those with no costume at all, walking away into the shadows before they ask our name.

Fright Night (2011) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl

I saw Fright Night 3D on the sensible, square-toed, vaguely designer heels of The Debt. I saw The Debt on the trendy and brandless stilettos of One Day. Thus, I was prepared to endure yet one more sphincter-pinching round of the hot, stinky case of IBS that is Hollywood’s late summer. And yet…something felt almost cool, and nearly refreshing, as I moved my mouth around some popcorn, at once taking in awesomely effective squirts of Sprite and the crispy little tapas of subdivision that graces the film’s opening. Mark will say that FN3D suffered from a droopy diaper of a first act. And yet…I rather liked the scenes of the baked cow-patty of houses flung out into the distance of desert, the lights of Vegas glinting menacingly over the horizon. Though perhaps too much is made of the susceptibility of a “transient population of Las Vegas” to vampires, and the perfect cover that population offers because “they work at night and sleep during the day,” and too often, FN3D earns props for neither overdoing its nascent social commentary, nor indulging too indulgently in the meta-narrative that is de rigeur for horror flicks. Twilight gets its kudos, and some limited fun comes out of guessing which vampire tricks actually work in FN3D’s purposefully bland little world, but the greatness of this movie lies not so much in its willingness to inflect other movies as it does in its tentative steps into a world of its own.

I haven’t seen the original and have no plans to. What I liked about this Fright Night was its ranginess, its ability to juggle competing genres on their own terms. There is comic relief and something maybe kinda sorta about…the internet? our culture’s love affair with vibrant, freakish displays?…in the person of someone who is obviously supposed to be and yet is just as assuredly not Russell Brand. Or Johnny Depp. Or Keith Richards playing an old Johnny Depp playing a young Keith Richards. With Russell Brand on a bicycle doing coke off a tiny bicycle-sized rearview mirror in the background. Whatever. I really, really liked this movie’s willingness to call a spade a spade and go balls-to-the-wall on the casual misogyny. There is a scene were Colin “Feral” attempts to intimidate the main character, but cannot go inside because he hasn’t been invited in (score: that Swedish movie). So he lurks at the kitchen’s edge, pacing a bit and sniffing the air, describing the various scents the main women characters in the film give off. It doesn’t look much like he’s acting. And yet the women are allowed to be charactersas well. They don’t just get talked about and done shit to, they talk and do as well. It’s like: women get fucked, but whatever. When the final credits rolled to some sample of “99 Problems” I realized that I had just watched the nearest thing to cinema verite the vapid, desultory end of Hollywood summer season had to offer.

Fright Night 3D (2011) | Review by Mark Leidner

Fright Night 3D bores you with dumbness until you’re about to give up on it, then it bites into your neck with fangs of crazy bullshit. It pleasantly resembles Insidious in this way. An interesting premise that treats you like you are stupid—because, let’s face it, you are—until you forgive it for merely mirroring the void within. Then it rewards those base impulses with likeable weirdos wielding unconventional weaponry in a spree of set piecey fights. Colin Farrell Depps it up with dope, sprawling moronicness. The other guy who should have been Russel Brand but wasn’t was my favorite character only because he overacted on par with the bar the rest of the film set. The main character, a kind of skinnier, nerdier Shia LaBeouf whose name I forget, or rather, never knew and never will, did okay. It’s one of those movies whose first act is so exposition-packed that I don’t fault the main guy for being a bad actor. While he did not save the unconvincing conflicts at the center of these scenes, at least he did not worsen them.

This summer’s Cowboy and Aliens offers an interesting counterpoint. Whereas C& A opens a tantalizing present of premise to reveal a steaming pile of shit, FN3D reaches into a pile of shit and pulls out $5 you didn’t expect would be in there. Leaving the theater felt like having a slightly shitty $5 bill in my pocket. I was excited about washing it off and using it the next day, but kind of sad I would have to wash these pants before wearing them again because they are my favorite pants and it’s raining, so doing laundry was going to be a problem, since there is no washer and dryer in my basement, which means I have to lug a laundry bag two blocks to the nearest lavaderia. In the rain? Not gonna happen. So that shit would still be in the lining of the back pocket of those pants as they sat on the top of my hamper. And yet, no one comes into my room but me. And I would still have that $5. There’s a lot of things you can buy with $5. Well not a lot. But some things that are pretty good cost under $5. And you can buy one or two of them with it.

Thor (2011) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl

Like adultery, drugs, and advanced degrees in the humanities, midnight showings are great in theory, often lackluster in praxis, and usually leave one deeply regretful come morning. They are a bad idea, neither the cause nor effect of which you can ever remember, and so one which you are helplessly destined to have again and again, like thinking “pot is still fun!” or “a bj isn’t really cheating!” or “oooh, PhD in creative writing….”—movies at midnight sit stupidly in the center of one’s movie-going buffet, a dry, dull cake you somehow convince yourself you will not eat even as you march gustily towards it, suddenly feeling great and what’s this? Hungry! And: Alive! with the pure excitement and adrenaline and pleasantly discombobulating sense of adventure arriving at and entering a mall that has already closed instantly and inexplicably entails. What are we, like 12? Yes; let it be known: Mark and I are like 12. For we went to see Thor with the other 12-year-olds, all of us housed unattractively in the pasty corporeal sacks of our mid-to-late twenties, and we went to see it at midnight—an hour when all normal adults are either drunk, asleep, or mid-coitus with their cougarish comp lit prof.

Thor is like if Kenneth Branagh had riotous, frequent, meth-fueled sex with one of his film-studies undergrads and they decided to make a movie together, but this undergrad was hugely overweight and really into fantasy/comic book shit and also super-gay in an early-80s Freddie Mercury kind of way, and he insisted that their movie be an accurate depiction of ancient Norse mythology and its accompanying world views. And by that he meant lots of capes, curly-horned helmets, and some kind of space-sea-waterfall-scape, as if multiple Yanni album arts had been blown-up and poorly CGI’d together. There are moments when you can tell that someone real directed this film: a few scenes, after Thor has been “cast out” from Valhalla or wherever and deposited into the astrophysicist purview of Natalie Portman (who here plays her one other kind of role—the over-eager, somehow feral Good Girl), smack pleasantly of Branaghian self-awareness; later on, a deliciously inter-textual moment is smuggled in. But alas such morsels are few and far between. Thor is loud and metallic; its savor is like sleeping with a mouthful of popcorn taste, then waking up from a backwash of dreams your subconscious once again got suckered into taking the last swig of.

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