Archive for death

Screened In Sundays: Margaret

Posted in Drama, Screened In Sundays with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2012 by judsonw

One underseen gem every Sunday.

Director Kenneth Lonergan’s film has taken a long, arduous road to get into viewers’ homes, but it’s now finally available to the public. Shot back in 2005, the studios and filmmakers squabbled over god knows what, which prevented the film from ever getting a wide release. This is surprising because of its star studded cast. Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Matthew Broderick, Allison Janney, Mark Ruffalo, Kieran Culkin.

A pre-True Blood Anna Paquin plays the lead character of Lisa. Seemingly just an innocent bystander, Lisa witnesses a bus accident that ends a woman’s life. The movie goes down many different paths after the accident, but the story mainly focuses on Lisa’s struggle to make things right after she feels responsible for causing the accident. The biggest problem with this? Lisa is annoying as hell. And spoiled. And whiny. And self righteous. And just – ugh. She comes across as very unsympathetic as she makes everything that happens throughout the film about her.

While most movies could not survive such a grating protagonist, Margaret somehow manages to be interesting in every scene. This is kind of remarkable considering the movie is a 2 1/2 hour tale about a teenage girl’s struggles with her past, her family, her friends, and herself. The editing is often peculiar – scenes cut back and forth with no real rhythm or cohesion – which screams studio interference. Apparently, Lonergan originally wanted a 3 hour cut so I’m sure many characters’ arcs were either cut down or cut out completely (e.g. Broderick’s).

While Margaret is by no means a perfect film and is actually quite flawed, I couldn’t help but be sucked into every scene. The acting is superb on every level and the articulate dialogue kept my attention. A film that makes you question your personal views on life and death is always worth a watch.

Friday Faceoff: The Help vs. Final Destination 5

Posted in Friday Faceoff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2011 by judsonw

The ultimate “mom” movie opens today against the ultimate “teen” movie. The Help (73% RT rating) is a literary phenomenon, staying on the bestseller book list for months and months. Its biggest audience has been women of all ages, particuarly middle aged mothers. While movies marketed specifically towards women are few and far between, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of an adapatation from a enormously popular novel. The cast for this movie is very solid with Viola Davis, Sissy Spacek, Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney reportedly giving some career-best performances. And seriously, how can you go wrong with Emma Stone as your lead?

For the first 3 films, the Final Destination series was pretty inventive and acted as the horror genre’s go-to guilty pleasure franchise. However, for the past 2 movies, everything from the story to the acting to the creative deaths has been just plain lazy and tired. Word has it that Final Destination 5 (59% RT rating) is a return to form for the horror/thriller series. Probably not enough for a $12.50 ticket + a (surprise!) $3.50 3D surcharge, though.

WINNER:

THE HELP

When TV is better than movies: Six Feet Under

Posted in Drama, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2011 by judsonw

I recently finished my second go around with arguably the greatest American television show of all time, HBO’s Six Feet Under. The shown ran from 2001-2005, but it still holds up today as an emotionally resonant, instantly relatable piece of art. Before True Blood, Alan Ball was the creator behind this show. His dark humor from “American Beauty” (which he wrote) is very prevelent in SFU’s characters and situations. However, Ball tapped into something all of us experience but are afraid to confront head on: death. It’s been 10 years since the series premiered, but I will always remember the show as a lifelong friend who died far too young.

The blunt realness of the series has all to do with the perfectly acted, deeply written character work. The show focuses on a semi-dysfunctional family called the Fishers who live in and run a funeral home. All their lives are turned upside down when the man of the house, Nathaniel Fisher, dies in a car crash. There’s Nate, the intellectual idealist son who is unsatisfied with his life but very relatable. There’s David, Nate’s gay brother who must deal with his insecurities as well as with running a business his father left to him. Sister Claire is the youngest and manages to be equal measures of sweet, emo, artsy, and insane during the course of show. And lastly we have the matriarch of the house, Ruth, probably the best acted character of them all. The characters are so real and deep that at some point during the course of the series, you will both hate and love every one of them.

The series’ final episode (especially the last 10 minutes or so) have been widely praised as the best conclusion to any series. That’s hard to argue with, as the finality of the show really hits you like a ton of bricks as you permanently say goodbye to this family you’ve come to love. The initial feeling of devestation is quickly replaced by a feeling of thanks that a TV show this good exists. Six Feet Under was much more than a TV show, however. It made me look at a part of myself I always hid from and those experiences in life (and death) that are simply unavoidable. To put it simply, it changed my life. How many movies can you say that about?