Random Factoid #405

6 09 2010

Can a movie be too intense?  After premiering at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend, medics have labeled Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” just that.  According to a rep from Fox Searchlight, this is precisely what led to the label:

From what I understand, an older gentleman was light-headed at the first screening (Galaxy) and the medics helped him calm down. Second screening at the Palm was a young woman (maybe 19 or 20) who had a panic attack. Paramedics attended to both people. I didn’t even know about the second incident until after the screening was over and someone told me (I was sitting in the first half of the theater).

The movie is the story of climber Aron Ralston, played by James Franco, who was trapped under a boulder for over 5 days.  He wound up having to take drastic measures to escape, but seeing as he is still alive, it’s hardly a spoiler to say that he was successful.  I won’t ruin how he escapes for those that may not know; however, he didn’t walk out of the canyon unscathed.  Boyle has stated that he wants the movie to be “a challenge for moviegoers.”  I’m very curious to see how he turns being trapped for 5 days into a good movie.  According to the reviews, he uses his typical energetic directing style to do it.

Is there really a need to label a movie “too intense?”  There has been discussion recently to change ratings for 3D movies, which I understand because it can freak little kids out when something comes flying at them from the screen unexpectedly.  But for a hard-hitting, 2D drama film?  Some people can’t handle certain experiences at the movies.  I got motion sickness from “Cloverfield” (as I described in Random Factoid #2–), and it was definitely hard to watch movies with tough subject matter like “Precious,” “Schindler’s List,” and “The Pianist,” just to name a few.

There are certain movies, though, that I believe are made in a stylistic manner that is meant to engage our senses.  The best director out there utilizing such techniques is, in my mind, Darren Aronfosky.  You can’t tell me you didn’t feel a little sick at your stomach watching “Pi” or “Requiem for a Dream.”  I feel like the MPAA ought to include some sort of advisory in their rating that these movies have such stylistic power.

So what do you think?  Does the establishment need to advise the moviegoing public about movies that are going to be intense?

Random Factoid #381

13 08 2010

There are influential movies, and then there are influential movies.

Sound like a profound observation?  It’s really not.  I just think it’s a fancier and more mysterious way of saying that there are two types of influences movies can have on us.

The more deep, lasting influences come from movies I dub “lifestyle influential.”  These movies change the way we think and the way we see the world.  These movies can be as profound as “Requiem for a Dream,” the movie that makes you never want to do drugs, or as hard-hitting as “Schindler’s List” and “Hotel Rwanda.”  On the other hand, I also place into this category movies that have a long-lasting impact on the way you do things.  So I place “Julie & Julia” here because it started me on the whole blogging journey.

Then there are the movies likely only to inspire a spontaneous change; I dub these “behavioral influential.”  The effect of seeing one of these movies is a sudden impulse to act like a character or do something they did.  “Eat Pray Love,” which I saw on Wednesday, can now officially fall into this category.  As Julia Roberts’ Liz Gilbert munches on some delicious Italian food, our mouth waters thanks to some lavish camerawork fondly known as “food porn.”  So when my family went out for dinner yesterday, I insisted on Italian food only because of seeing the movie.  I had a delicious seafood pasta that totally hit the spot.

What movies have influenced your behavior recently?

F.I.L.M. of the Week (June 11, 2010)

11 06 2010

They don’t make movies this powerful and impacting very often.  That’s why “Requiem for a Dream,” an stylistic masterpiece by Darren Aronofsky, is the “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”  I thought I couldn’t be scared by movies after having made it through several horror movies barely flinching.  Yet along came “Requiem for a Dream,” and unexpectedly, I was screaming, shouting, and cowering in fear.

The movie follows four people over nine months as drug abuse affects their lives in profound ways.  It’s a somewhat typical addiction story for Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) and Tyrone Love (Marlon Wayans) who are trying to earn enough money dealing drugs to open up a fashion shop for Harry’s girlfriend, Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly).  But due to various unfortunate incidents, they end up having to go deeper into the drug trade to dig themselves out of a hole.  Meanwhile, Marion has also fallen into a state of desperation to keep up their lifestyle of recreational drug use.

But easily the most powerful and heartbreaking storyline of “Requiem for a Dream” is that of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), Harry’s mother.  A New Jersey widow who has confined herself to her tiny apartment, Sara becomes convinced that she has been selected to appear on her favorite infomercial after a fake phone call.  Trying to make herself look attractive for a television audience, she visits an underground doctor to obtain pills that will help her take off some weight quickly.  She gets what she wants out of the pills but winds up addicted.  It’s tragic to watch the doctor turn a blind eye to her issues when she comes in, clearly unable to address her own problems.  Because she didn’t intend for this to happen, it’s her unconventional addiction story that really captures our sympathy.  We leave all four of them in a state of misery that no human being should ever have to endure.  It is chillingly devastating to watch their lives spiral out of control, and even more so once we reach the unsparing conclusion.

There’s no way to talk about the movie without talking about the incredible acting, particularly Ellen Burstyn.  A role like Sara is risky for someone of her age and stature, and she went all-in.  The result is one of the most powerful performances of the decade, one that should have won her an Oscar.  Jared Leto is scary good as her son, Jennifer Connelly takes her character to the edge just one year removed from winning her own Oscar, and Marlon Wayans isn’t bad!

The tension in the movie is amplified by Clint Mansell’s absolutely terrifying score.  Usually, a film’s score is gravy in a best-case scenario or a distraction in a worst-case scenario.  But “Requiem for a Dream” incorporates Mansell’s music into the very fabric of the movie, making it that much more effective.  The main theme from the movie has become a cult hit, but it’s “Meltdown,” the song that plays during the climactic moments of the movie, that deserves to be worshipped.

But “Requiem for a Dream” really works because of the incredible vision Darren Aronofsky has for it.  He makes addiction real for us and gets us into the minds of the addicts themselves.  It’s the split-screen, the close-ups, and the time lapse sequences.  It’s the quick cuts, the repetitive sequences when drugs are used, and the increased speed whenever the addiction accelerates.  Most of all, though, it’s his willingness to give us the truth about addiction and his unflinching drive to take us where few movies can.  The whole movie exudes his confidence in his vision, and his style leads us exactly where he wants to take us.

Really, if you ever want to scare someone out of doing drugs, you should show them this movie.  There’s no one on this planet who could watch this movie and then want to go do hard drugs.  Heck, it could scare the average person out of taking a pill.  So by all means, if you think you can handle it, I strongly recommend “Requiem for a Dream.”

Random Factoid #291

15 05 2010

Watched “Requiem for a Dream” last night – wow.  Not going out and doing any drugs anytime soon.  Talk about a movie that tests your ability to stomach a movie.

I pride myself on being a fairly tolerant moviegoer.  I can sit through most movies that most people can’t stomach.  Most horror movies don’t disturb me, mainly because they are too far-fetched to have any impact.  I can barely watch movies like “Requiem for a Dream” or “Precious” because I can’t fall back on thinking that it’s not real.  The fact is, people do face drug addictions or abuse.

However, there are some movies that I won’t subject myself to watching.  Mainly, “Antichrist.”