UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: Assayas proves, once again, personally emotionally elusive with ‘Personal Shopper,’ but is worth the time anyway because Kristen Stewart is the jam.

Quickly, now, because honestly all I want to do right now (at 12:27 AM on Friday night/Saturday morning) is have a beer (or two), eat some Lay’s BBQ chips, watch Real Time with Bill Maher, and see if the two antacids I just swallowed do anything to alleviate the flatulence I’ve been dealing with for the past 48 hours.

I saw Personal Shopper. It was interesting. It was good. It demands a second viewing, but in a way that makes me feel like I might be a bit disappointed in that second viewing, not that I won’t be thoroughly entertained, but that I won’t get the answers that I seek. But isn’t that kind of the point of this movie? Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, a medium/personal shopper hunting for some sign that her brother’s spirit lives on even after his death. And (well, I guess, I can’t really talk about it too much because if I do I might be giving something away to the few people who read this blog and have yet to see the movie [which is probably, like, everyone who’s reading this because I don’t think it was  Hot Button film to see on the Friday it came out, and also, it’s not in wide release, yet, I think])… But basically the ending isn’t one of those cut and dry Hollywood things, but you knew that going in if you knew who directed this — and if you didn’t I’ll tell you: Olivier Assayas, the man behind Clouds of Sils Maria (also starring Kristen Stewart, as well as Juliette Binoche) and Other Films I Haven’t seen (starring, most notably, Something In The Air [2012], Carlos [2010], and Summer Hours [2008]) but I do want to see.

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Somewhat bizarrely, Stewart smokes like a chimney in Personal Shopper but has a health condition that kind of feels like she shouldn’t smoke that much.

As was the case with Clouds, I throughly appreciated the artistry of Assayas’ Personal Shopper, but something just didn’t quite connect for me on an emotional level. There isn’t a moment of either of these two films where I find myself not invested, or disinterested, but when the credits finally roll, I kind of find myself missing the main emotional crux of it all (as is the case with Clouds) or not quite having the life experience to truly feel it (as is the case with Personal Shopper). See, I’ve never really Lost somebody. The only person I’ve been close to who has died was my grandfather, who passed away from lung cancer when I was about 14. I saw him sparingly during the time of my life when I could make memories (I lived in NY as a toddler, and he lived in NJ, so I saw him frequently then, but otherwise maybe twice a year?) and when I did see him he was wholly consumed by the carcinoma, which I regret to inform I did not fully comprehend the magnitude of at the time. (I could go into a whole she-bang about how, now, I cite him as my first artistic muse, but that’s for another, not-so-late-on-a-Friday-after-another-demoralizing-work-week time.) But anyway, the weight of his death didn’t hit me, probably, until I was in college or so, far past the time that I could even consider him as a spirit (and also I’m far too cynical of a human being to believe in spirits [although I avoid horror movies like the plague because they make me believe in such unbelievable things and then I get terrified at night]). So while I can certainly sympathize with Maureen losing her brother, I had a tough time empathizing, and the difference there, to me, has always been the key when it comes to art truly connecting with someone.

That isn’t to say though that I don’t dislike watching Stewart struggle with these emotions. I remember the days when I used to ceaselessly mock her (oh, High School) for being Bella in all those Twilight movies (man, being someone on the flip side of that when you were a teen was a pain in the goddamn ass). But then she had her whole reversal of, “Oh, wait, I’m actually this stupidly talented actress, and now that everyone knows me as an actress I’m just literally going to do whatever the fuck I want and it’s going to be awesome.” And she is awesome, and she is the best female performance of the year so far (and probably a close second behind Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out who does SO much in his role with so much less [but also more? ah.. too much for now] with which to work). She was enticing in the otherwise remarkably bland Café Society. She was great in Still Alice, too, though obviously shadowed by Julianne Moore’s unbelievable performance. She was my second favorite Actress in a (True) Supporting Role last year for Certain Women (only behind Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea because cumong, man, that’s just not fair). I even almost saw Equals and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk because of her. And she’s definitely found something with Assayas here, where they can explore a character’s resolute reticence for hours and make it enjoyable nonetheless, and I hope this allows her to branch out and work with some other auteurs. God, I’d love to see her in like… I dunno, I mean, obviously a PTA (Paul Thomas Anderson) movie, but also maybe in a good David O. Russell film, like an actually good one? Or I’d love to see her work with Alex Garland? (Ex Machina, the upcoming [which will be really good] Annihilation.)

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Honestly, though, Stewart gets like 97% of the screen time and that’s great.

But I dunno. Something just didn’t connect here. I’m running out of things to say now, which is fine. This is a very pretty movie. There’s this great Kubrickian shot that comes at the climax that is altogether fascinating but puzzling. The camera is always moving, in some way, whether that’s in a pan, or tracking in. There are several montages of Stewart on her Peugeot scooter, which is cool, and this super elegant shot of her naked as well. She also wears a bunch of thrift-store, baggy sweatshirts, which is kind of interesting but also stylish for a personal shopper.

I like this movie. But it still kind of feels like a puzzle. But maybe it’s a puzzle where I opened the box and did everything I could with the pieces available and now I just have to look at this, like, 90% finished puzzle and appreciate it for what it is and stop asking for more.

(FWIW: I’m hoping to write a real review of this over at PopMatters, but we’ll see what I do this weekend.)

UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘Logan’ serves up leftover superhero bits and chooses to shove them down your throat with the repetition of a beating drum if you should be foolish enough to resist

What lies ahead is an unedited jumble of words, thrown onto a blank sheet of paper late at night after seeing a movie. Enjoy at your own risk.

I have a relatively low resting heart rate; I don’t know exactly what it is, but if I had to take a guess I’d say somewhere around 55 BPM. But after sitting through Logan, the new Wolverine (X-Men) film, it feels as if my heart’s been beating at a minimum of 90 BPM for the past 2h 15m. No, Logan, this is not me complimenting you, this is me telling you (well, I guess this is me telling the man in charge of Logan, dir. James Mangold [known for Walk The Line and 3:10 To Yuma and “known for” Knight & Day and The Wolverine]) that you don’t have an ounce of delicacy, an ounce of anything that makes my heart do anything but go thumpthumpthumpthumpthumpthumpthump or THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP or sometimes, but much less frequently, THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP!!! Instead, Logan, you barrel your way through your runtime at a rapid (albeit not really efficient) pace, just as my heart attempts to barrel its way out of my body just so that it can take a goddamn break.

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You will eat what I give you, good sir.

Ugh. I don’t even know if I want to write about this movie. What is there really to say?

(hit CONTINUE READING to find out what more I end up vomiting out about this movie) Continue reading “UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘Logan’ serves up leftover superhero bits and chooses to shove them down your throat with the repetition of a beating drum if you should be foolish enough to resist”

UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: A Brief Rant On My General Issues With ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’

What lies ahead is an unedited jumble of words, thrown onto a blank sheet of paper late at night after seeing a movie. Enjoy at your own risk.

Note: Profanity included. Pictures will be added when I’m on my laptop, not on a toilet on my phone at work…

To The Numerous Fans of John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, Who Baffle Me With Their Tastes:

Y’all are kidding me, right? Y’all are in on this together, just to make me upset, yes? Cause I’m upset.

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I wish Keanu had killed me.

So what the hell am I missing with this whole “John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 are, like, actually good movies!” phase? I shrugged after John Wick, but chalked my disappointment up to seeing it on my tiny television with trash speakers, rather than in theaters. So, of course, I see Chapter 2 in theaters (and not only in theaters, but in glorious XD (!) just to be certain) only to find it does next to nothing for me. Is there something wrong with me? Sure. But is there something wrong with all of you, you consumers of film, for loving this schlock? Maybe? Don’t mistake my anger for real anger. I’m genuinely glad you liked this movie. But I didn’t. Here’s why:

(hit CONTINUE READING to read why) Continue reading “UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: A Brief Rant On My General Issues With ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’”

UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016)

What lies ahead is an unedited jumble of words, thrown onto a blank sheet of paper late at night after seeing a movie. Enjoy at your own risk.

Also, there may be a minor spoiler or two, but nothing really.

Halfway through Rogue One, a villainous Ben Mendhelson meets up with the biggest baddie of them all: Darth Vader. Ben gets a bit tedious, so Vader chokes him with the force and menacingly turns around to state (something along the lines of), “Be careful not to choke on your ambitions, director.”

INSERT GAGGING NOISE HERE.

Yeah, it’s a f***ing horrible line. But even worse is that this moment feels like a bizarro meta statement about this spinoff of the Star Wars franchise and The Force Awakens: that they haven’t really taken many chances since screwing up I, II and III; they play it safe, and they appease their already enormous audience rather than pissing them off again.

The problem is, some of us are not part of that audience. Some of us didn’t see A New Hope until they were already a cynical college sophomore who’d started to take film classes in order to get more cynical and poke more flaws in more things. And with that kind of formulaic, bland attitude, George Lucas and Co. promise not only to refuse to admit new fans to the Star Wars franchise during the Third Age, but also, in the process, send the franchise on a more dramatic downwards spiral than what Marvel is currently experiencing. But whatever. I’m super happy for everyone who applauded at this piece of garbage because at least they enjoyed it. Glad you got your money’s worth. Peasants.

(hit CONTINUE READING to continue listening to me be an a-hole)

Continue reading “UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016)”

UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘La La Land’ (2016)

What lies ahead is an unedited jumble of words, thrown onto a blank sheet of paper late at night after seeing a movie. Enjoy at your own risk.

I just got home from seeing the film that will win Best Picture at the Academy Awards in two-and-a-half months time.

I don’t care that there are still several worthy films still to come (or, rather, films that think they’re worthy, like what I imagine Ben Affleck’s Live By Night thinks of itself, so it pushes for a limited release on Christmas 2016, but isn’t released wide until January 13, 2017, so it obviously cares but like, sorry, Ben, you already got your Oscar and you have yet to prove you deserve another one so moving on…). La La Land will win Best Picture. You can quote me. You can etch that quote into my grave stone if you want. There’s no way a film that is this dazzling and grand, while also playing to the Old Guard so well through its musical numbers and interest in exploring Hollywood culture itself doesn’t win.

It’s just too bad I think it’s only just a good movie.

(hit CONTINUE READING to read about some problems, and also some good stuff) Continue reading “UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘La La Land’ (2016)”