Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MOVIE REVIEWS #96: "ENEMY", "TWO LIVES", "LE WEEK-END", "7 BOXES", "REDWOOD HIGHWAY", "GO FOR SISTERS", "THE PUNK SINGER", "FIVE DANCES" and MORE!

Sorry, I'm late again for this, and no, I'm not trying to make it a habit, I just often have to finish things at a different pace than I prefer/planned. Anyway, not a whole lot was happening, and I'm including Premiere Week in that statement, until suddenly the pastor from "7th Heaven" turned out to be a pedophile yesterday. I'm not trying to be flippant about it, but this sorta shook everybody. What's really somewhat shocking was the reactions about it. Collins was immediately fired from a cameo appearance in "Ted 2", and even more noteworthy though, UP TV, pulled "7th Heaven" from it's schedule. I've heard of networks, firing a popular actor from a currently-running show if for some reason there offscreen behavior brought down the show's credibility, Sasha Mitchell's firing from "Step By Step" comes to mind, but canceling reruns; I guess it was inevitable but that's a new one. I definitely knew about Steven Collins's work, saw him in a few things, he was always good, although I never saw the show, don't really plan on catching up with it either, but I might; I remember it won the TV Guide Award for "Best Show You're Not Watching" once. Collins always came off to me, a little wittier and odd as himself  remember, but this...? And lord knows, with the numerous tales of the Hollywood underage sex rings going around, who knows where exactly this is heading for him and Hollywood. (And how did TMZ actually get ahold of this, come to think of it?) We're gonna be keeping an eye on this one.

BTW, if you follow me on Twitter (And if you're not, why?) , you'll notice I started a new regular feature I call Today's "RANDOM OBSCURE REFERENCE"! #RandomObscureReference. Each day I've been tweeting one Random Obscure Reference from some area of pop culture, film, television, history, something along those lines. I consider it a nice little fun thing to do, see if you can recall or know what I'm talking about or referencing. Or it's just something to look up if you don't know it. Hopefully it'll be a nice little thing to pass around. My Twitter is @DavidBaruffi_EV, and it's like is at the top side, along with the blog's FB page. I'll start putting those obscure references there soon too.

Oh, and if you're in the Vegas area and interested in Creative Writing of any kind, check out the Black Mountain Institute; their website is at the address below:

http://www.blackmountaininstitute.org/

They're associated with the UNLV Creative Writing program, and they're promoting and cultivating many writers and artists now, so if you're an inspiring writer of some kind in the area, they're a good place and group of people to check out, and become associated with. I know a few people working with them now, they're very talented and know their stuff.

Well, that's enough news for the day, let's get to this week's RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS!


ENEMY (2014) Director: Denis Villeneuve


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In his review of "Enemy" on rogerebert.com, Godfrey Cheshire makes an interesting observation about the use of doubles:


"...Stories of doubles, with their long pedigree in literature and cinema, inherently belong to the realm of the fantastical..."

Inherently belong? Considering my favorite film about dobblegangers is Kieslowski's "The Double Life of Veronique," I'm not sure I entirely agree with that. I actually always preferred taking the idea of doubles in a much more literal and realistic sense, specifically because they're a fantastical element (Although not that fantastical, really), it's more interesting to me to place them in the reality of modern times, the way Charles Dickens once did with "The Prince and the Pauper". Has anybody ever read that and thought how fanciful or surreal, 'cause, while it is a fantasy, the best fantasies are about changing the world around you and me. That's not to say I'm against it used in a surreal manner like in Denis Villeneuve's "Enemy", but overall I tend to think it's a cop out. In fact, I know it's a cop out, 'cause I've used that one in my screenwriting myself before, and when I used it, it was an absolute cop out to get me out of a situation I didn't know hot to get out of naturally. (Needless to say, I never submit or send out that script anymore.) Based on the Jose Saramago novel, "The Double", "Enemy" was shot between Villeneuve's most famous films, the Oscar-nominated "Incendies", a great film and "Prisoners," a film I admired more than I liked, but it didn't get released until after "Prisoners" and originally debuted on the internet earlier this year. Taking place in Villeneuve's native Canada, Jake Gyllenhaal is incredibly good with the double role of Adam, a lowly and bored college history teacher, and Anthony, a moderately successful third tier local actor, who Adam sees in a movie one night, watched at the suggestion of a fellow colleague. he's startled to see his exact duplicate and begins trying to track him down. When he calls him, his pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon) answers the phone, and believes it's Anthony and he constantly gets confused for him as he's searching for him. He finally contacts Anthony and eventually they agree to meet, but his wife, who's convinced Anthony's possibly setting up some kind of rouse to hide his philandering, goes and see Adam for herself. After a brief discussion, we see her call Anthony's cell phone as Adam is walking away. Conveniently, he dips behind a wall before Anthony answers. That's not a hint to us of anything it turns out (Thank God) but just more things for Helen's mind to worry about. That's what the movie is ultimately about, this trouble with their identities, and how one can be assumed or another erased. Inevitably, they do seem to be able to switch lives, not because either one or them wants to; it's almost because it's destined or essential that they do, and Anthony does seem to be a philanderer when he ends up in bed with Adam's girlfriend Mary. (Melanie Laurent, who happens to look similar to Sarah Gadon) Overall though, there's better movies and better ways of going about this, and whatever you want to make of the ending shot-, well, if you can make anything out of it good luck, they give us a key, but they don't exactly open anything, let me put it that way. This was more of an experimental filmmaking exercise from Villeneuve who is better when he takes these ideas and struggles about identity and places them in more frightening realistic worlds. "Enemy" feels like a dream he had, the kind that would've only inspired his other works previously, and not literally tried to recreate it. I wouldn't say his experiment failed, but he didn't exactly succeed either. Eh, I'm back-and-forth on this one; I'll recommend it, so everybody else will make up their own minds. 


TWO LIVES (2014) Directors: Georg Maas and Judith Kaufmann

✰✰✰✰1/2




Germany's Oscar submission into last year's Foreign Language film category has one major objective and then a more subtle smaller one. The major one is to be able to tell a new story about the actions of East Germany,- actually, it begins during WWII, but like much of Communist-controlled Germany at that time, paranoia and control were running roughshot through the Stasi government (If you haven't seen "The Lives of Others" you should probably do that now.) and we're still learning a lot of their actions and the repercussions of them. The other part, is to make a surprisingly intense thriller and complex personal drama, within this world of espionage. I'll try to start at the beginning. with a Nazi program called Lebensborn, that in the '30s was created in order to propagate more members of the Aryan race by matching members of the SS up with women with dominate features. Strangely, this actually often included members being with Norwegian girls, because of their Viking background, it was thought they were considered a perfect breed for them, and once German took Norway, they would impregnate the women, and then take their babies away and taken to orphanages in Germany. In the 1960s, some of the children of the Lebensborn tried to escape back to Norway once they found out about their identity, and headed north, usually by small boat, trying to reach Norway, or at least a free country like Denmark to inevitably make it to Norway and find their real families. The Stasi's tried to combat this, but we go into "Two Lives", in Norway, right as Berlin Wall and Communism is about fall, and Katrine (Juliane Kohler) is one of those lucky children who struggled up the North Sea, and made it to Norway and found her family and started a new life there, much to the joy of Ase (Liv Ullmann), her mother who like many of Norwegian women who participated in the program, they were heavily ostracized for it. Now that the end of the GDR is upcoming, these stories about Lebensborn are beginning to come out, and Katrine's called upon to tell her tale, one that's her and her mother have mostly kept private most of their lives. Even their family, only have scant pieces of knowledge of the events, but as the end of the reign comes closer, the Stasi struggle mightily to keep their stories quiet, for reasons I'm not gonna explain, even as the last days come closer, the more that gets revealed of the story, the more shocking it becomes and the deadly it could possibly be for them. "Two Lives" is a surprisingly strong story about a part of the recent past that we're only now beginning to know about and even understand. It's a complex film, and it requires paying attention to fully understand as the ways of the old world, still struggle to clean up the messes they created before making ways for the new. It's also really shows the struggles of identity within the German people over these many decades, particularly in East Germany, and everywhere else that the battlefields of World War II took place on, and those battles after the war as well. Very powerful film.


LE WEEK-END (2014) Director: Roger Michel


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I've seen other comparisons to "Le Week-End", although strangely the film I seemed to run through my head with Roger Michel's latest was John Huston's last film, "The Dead"; it almost felt like that film but in reverse for me. Or, maybe moreso like an afterwords to the events in that one. That movie, based on the James Joyce short story, began with a gathering at a party, and ended with a couple, and a revelation by Angelica Huston that alters what potentially both people in the marriage, perhaps see in each other and about themselves, but yet, leaves what will happen later open-ended. Michel reteams with "Venus" writer Hanif Kurieshi for "Le Week-End" and follows an aging couple, Nick and Meg Brewster (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) two academics who are spending a weekend in Paris to try and relive their honeymoon on their 30th anniversary. They go to the same hotel, and then to a better hotel with a view of the Eiffel Tower, Nick's particularly grabby, hoping to get laid. They head through the streets, and back in the hotel room, where inevitably, they face real questions about their life.  Their kids are grown up and moved out and screwing up their lives on their own. Nick floats the idea of retiring early and then moving to Paris, but Meg, is strongly considering leaving Nick. She even says tells him at one point, but don't let that bluntness seem like this a new George and Martha, they have their moments, like dining and dashing out of restaurants and making out in the alley when they escape. The film has some feel reminiscent of "The Before Trilogy" but the main speech at the end, when they unexpectedly get invited to a book release party thrown by and for a former student and colleague Morgan (Jeff Goldblum) as well as a few other party influences, do we really get the sense of loss time approaching quickly, and the looking back on one's life that I really think makes "The Dead" the appropriate comparative film. This looking back on one's life, their own actions, and as a couple, recognizing the possible mistakes and errors while contemplating your next moves and what they could possibly be, the notion of being madly in love for someone for half your life only to realize that perhaps you don't really know them at all. It's a lot to pack into one weekend, even that last hurrah or new beginning that an anniversary trip to Paris may bring. Michel's been a bit erratic as a filmmaker, but when he makes a good movie, like "Venus" or "Changing Lanes", it's memorable, and usually centers on the struggles of people with separate problems being unable to get together. "Le Week-End", is essentially that narrow struggle, spread out over an entire marriage, just crammed into the weekend for contrivance and conceit, but there's weekends like that as well, everyone's had those. The Brewsters might have had a few before on those quiet campus weekend nights, and might have many more to come. Alone, together or apart.



7 BOXES (2014) Directors: Juan Carlos Maneglia & Tana Schembori


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I'd have to double check to be completely sure, but I believe "7 Boxes" is the first feature film I've seen that comes from the country of Paraguay. So far, I'm impressed by the country's film production with this, the second feature film from the directing pair of Maneglia & Schembori; who are just as well-known in the country for their short films and television work. The movie is fairly simple on the surface, but it brings us into the world of the Asuncion street market, through the eyes mainly of Victor (Celso Franco) a teenage boy who makes money by transporting items on his giant wheelbarrow from one place to another. It's a lively and chaotic place, filled with vendors, pickpockets, police, even a Korean restaurant. It's also a hot and poor place, where everything is essentially currency, and the only thing worth more American dollars in 2005, is a cell phone, with a camera, some of them at the time, going in the thousands. Victor hasn't seen that much money, and for a kid who's fascinated by the TV, the offer of delivering seven boxes from a skeezy butcher to another location, is well worth the risk of possibly his life. What's in the boxes, I won't reveal, although, we later find out that A, the boxes don't have what even the bad guys wanted in there, and B. Victor wasn't supposed to deliver the boxes, and the messenger who has come to deliver, wants his payment, and now, the 7 boxes are the biggest MacGuffin in the film, as everybody's out looking and chasing for them. It begins to get convoluted once more people come in to the picture, and it starts to get difficult even figuring out who wants it and why, and no the mention the geography of the crowded market; the less you try to keep track, the better the film inevitably becomes. More kinetic and thrilling. I'm definitely recommending "7 Boxes" for it's thrilling moments, it's really great set-up, and the look and style of the film, as well as the look at this rare part of the world that we haven't seen much of before. I tend to think of Paraguay as a landlocked desert country in the middle of South America, not too much different than say the Bolivia that Butch and Sundance tried to escape too, but it's nice seeing this laws and ways of the old conflicting within the trappings of modern society and how technology really changes the world. It's a world where a cell phone is a currency that even the police tell the suspects to sell before they confiscate it, suddenly everything can be seen be everyone now on the nightly news, even the seedy underbelly of the Asuncion, Paraguay markets. 


REDWOOD HIGHWAY (2014) Director: Gary Lundgren


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I've seen a few films lately about elder people going on long journeys for one reason or another, Emilio Estevez's "The Way" comes to mind as a good one, but "Redwood Highway", which barely got a limited theatrical release earlier this year, is not one of them, despite some good intentions the film always felt contrived and could never really get out of that mode. It's a touchy area. You want the elder person, in this case an older mother Marie (Shirley Knight) who's beginning to suffer from the early signs of Alzheimer's, to not be too out-of-touch or place to be able to perform the heroic feat, which is an 80 mile trek on foot, across the state of Oregon on the "Redwood Highway", to eventually see the ocean and arrive in time for her granddaughter's wedding, but you don't want her too clear-headed and sharp, or else, even an aged person making that trek, would still be relatively conceivable and realistic. You have to really give her a few scenes of real danger, like walking around steep corners on a highway, where a driver might not be able to see her, or falling back and opening her head, after trying to swing a line for fish. Thankfully, when things get tough, she's got the kindness of strangers to rely upon, while somehow the police are unable to track her from the moment she left the rest home, she stayed at, and her son Michael (James Le Gros) had just visited her. I don't quite know the genesis of the story, it seems to be a complete work of fiction from Director/Co-Screenwriter Gary Lundgren; it's only his third feature film, in the last eighteen or so years. After his debut "Lithium" he primarily made shorts and directed episodes of the kids animal detective series "Critter Gritters", whatever-the-hell that was before making "Calvin Marshall" a few years back, and he seems inspired by these uplifting tales of accomplishment, and peppers his recent films with unusually nice enough people who help his protagonist along the way. They're not all nice, but when you thought back on "Redwood Highway", I had a hard time caring about Marie, or even any of the friends she ran into, including Tom Skerrit as a craft shop owner. Everbody and everything seemed like a cliche or a contrivance, and even at it's best, "Redwood Highway" is ultimately instantly forgettable. A somewhat misguided old woman on a misguided and unnecessary journey, even when she revisits past places she hasn't seen in years,- Shirley Knight really does help this film, thicken up the lack of real drama with a good performance here, but those moments were few and far between, and were not really enough to recommend the film.  


GO FOR SISTERS (2013) Director: John Sayles


✰✰✰1/2



"Go for Sisters" feels like John Sayles took a page from the Coen Brothers' playbook and decided to do his own version of "True Grit". He set it in modern time, but it's essentially a similar enough tale, a young woman is in search of someone and needs to find an old cagey retired veteran, and a convenient and somewhat trustworthy friend to help her navigate difficult terrain of a wild west she's unfamiliar with. It's an interesting take on a classic story, a perfect kind of story we'd expect from Sayles, arguably the most independent of independent filmmakers. Always outside the Hollywood mainstream, Sayles' paced narratives and his willingness to drift into the lives and worlds of his characters instead of forcing a plot through make his movies somewhat hard to stomach for the mainstream audience. They're rarely full of quick cuts or kinetic energy, half the time, he strips so much back as a filmmaker, he practically strips a film of plot. The title refers to the two childhood friends, Bernice (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and Fontayne (Yolanda Ross) who's paths have re-crossed each other in adulthood, as Bernice is now Fontayne's parole officer. When they were kids they often would pass for sisters they were so close, but Fontayne got caught up in the drug world, and struggles to keep herself sober working middle-of-the-road jobs. It's a little "Angels with Dirty Faces", but Bernice is now in worried about her son Rodney, who's a suspect in a murder, and she hasn't seen or heard from him in months. All she knows is that he's gone down to Mexico and found out that he's involved in some kind of illegal smuggling operation, involving getting Chinese people, strangely enough, across the Mexican border to America. Bernice has more connections down there, and while Bernice has some training, she was never a cop, going straight to social worker out of night school, so they enlist an aging and blind ex-detective, Freddy Suarez (Edward James Olmos) to go with them and locate Bernice's son, if he's still alive. They go into Mexico disguised as an wedding band of all things (Olmos plays a mean guitar at one point) and into this unusual underworld they go, as Fontayne and Bernice begin reconnecting through the experiences. "Go for Sisters", like other investigatory films from Sayles, isn't so detailed about the investigation, (In hindsight, I have a hard time recalling exactly how they found out or were able to find out as much as they could, but the journey itself is the key to the film, and that's when it's most rewarding. As with all John Sayles, usually for the most educated of viewers, but worth the journey.


THE PUNK SINGER (2013) Director: Sini Anderson


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One of my closest friends, a musician named Melissa is, still in the Riot Grrrl movement. I think it's fair to say that about her, and don't think it's died down; in many ways it's still catching on. The masked girls of Pussy Riot, actually dawned their masks in honor of the subject of "The Punk Singer", the great Kathleen Hanna, who dawned a ski mask early in her career, as she had set a self-imposed media blackout and would only even appear on a friend's documentary, wearing a ski colored ski mask. She was a former poet and art student in the Olympia, Washington area, who formed her first band, "Bikini Kill", the leaders of the Riot Grrrl feminist movement, which spread across multiple art forms, most important, something called fanzines, (Which I'm a little surprised just now that my Microsoft Word, just took for an actual word on one shot) which are simply fan-made magazines that distributed personal material on anything, although they thrived in this feminist rock underground movement, and the term "Riot Grrrl" was never trademarked, so it can still be used for the movement, (Hence my argument that the movement is still continuing.) "The Punk Singer" takes a look an Kathleen, who, after her 2nd band, Le Tigre disbanded in '05, she suddenly dropped out of sight, once declaring that she had said everything she needed to. This from the most aggressive feminist the rock world had seen, seemed shocking at the time. A woman who openly talk about rape, abortion, (Her owns) her past as a stripper, and pretty much every topic under the moon, the girl who inspired Kurt Cobain (Who also came out of this movement, and not the Seattle-influenced Hesher rock movement most used to credit him with being apart) by spray-painting "Smells like Teen Spirit" on his wall. In "The Punk Singer" we finally get an answer as Hanna reveals that she's been seeking medical help for years, with a constant illness that spreads throughout her body. It was after six years that she was finally correctly diagnosed as having Lyme Disease, and is now in the late stages of it, where it's basically incurable. He most recent tour, which started after this documentary was complete, with her new band The Julie Ruin, named after the title/alter-ego of her classic solo album she did in the '90s between bands, ended prematurely as she wasn't physically able to continue, and had to go in for three months of physical therapy. "The Punk Singer" is an incredibly inspiring and Hanna reveals herself as this mature but rebellious girl who lives on the cutting edge of society, a true artist, one who expresses herself not just through her art, but through her life. In the beginning of the movie, we see a pre-Bikini Kill Hanna, in old video footage, doing a spoken word performance, a poem she screamed with two repeated phrases, "I'm never gonna shut", and "I'm gonna tell everyone", like a rebel call to all, mankind, that women will not be silence. At the end of the movie, a more mature Hanna, in her forties makes a more astute a quiet quote, that I distinctly remembered to write down: "...I just think there's this certain assumption that when a man tells the truth, it's the truth. And when, as a woman I go to tell the truth, I feel like I have to negotiate the way I'll be perceived. Like I feel like there's always the suspicion around a woman's truth, the idea that you're exaggerating. If I don't just sit there and be like, 'this, this, this, this, this,...", there's this whole fear that I'm gonna have finally fucking stepped up to the plate and told the truth, and someone's gonna say, 'Eh, I don't think so.'" Interesting, both of these quotes are in a context of sexual assault/abuse, including her own. Whatever it was to cause Kathleen Hanna to become this angry young woman, a personification of the next wave of feminist, thank god she's around. She's no where a shell of her former self; I'd bet she's just as likely to get in a fight with Courtney Love now than she was in the '90s, but to her now, to have to be limited in her abilities through illness is strange. For someone that rebellious to have not said anything for eight years.... That must've been painful; nothing worst than an artist unable to express her art.  


FIVE DANCES (2013) Director: Alan Brown


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There's a couple things I thought about after watching "Five Dances", the first was how much I really love modern dance and musical theater and yes, I'm even finding myself more and more appreciative of ballet over the years. And I love watching dance on film, and I did during "Five Dances", a movie that not only is about dancing, but stars dancers, not actors, dancers, practicing, performing their routines, struggling, suffering through their lives. Youth, homelessness, homosexuality, love, marriage, and of course, dance. And yet, I couldn't help but think of the great speech, in the deleted scene of "Dogma", involving Salma Hayek, talking about being a muse as how dance was the only art form in which the second you create it, it's gone. That's why movies like these should be made, because dance needs to be filmed in order to be preserved. That said, there's been some special movies about dance lately. Robert Altman's "The Company", one of his last films, also about the production of a show, "Pina" the great Robert Altman documentary. Compared to things like that, "Five Dances" feels even smaller and more miniscule. Clumsy even. The five dances that open each section of the film, are all in a rehearsal space, we never actually see the big production and show they're training to put on, really. It's not that the dancers, aren't actors, in fact, they really are. It only takes a few episodes of "So You Think You Can Dance", to understand that it's not always the most technically sound or skilled dancers that win the show or give the greatest performances; it's often the ones who make the biggest emotional connection to the material and the performance and the audience that people actually remember. And, it is a performance too, you just can't shoot the dancers in their spandex, practicing all day, it just looks like behind-the-scenes footage from "A Chorus Line" after awhile. It basically is "A Chorus Line" actually. Five dancers, performing dances, we see the problems with their homelife, little snippets here and there, and then more dancing, it's basically that, without the headshots basically. The farther away from "Five Dances" I got, the less I liked it. It's from director Alan Brown, who did "Private Romeo," a film I say recently that took "Romeo & Juliet" and placed in a male military school, and there's some sex scenes, both, straight and gay here, although he's probably more considered an LBGT director, whatever that is. I didn't care for "Private Romeo" much, and he uses a lot of the same disjointed storytelling techniques here, and it really takes the energy out of everything you're watching before, and it doesn't really make you care about the characters . There's better movies about modern dance, and as talented as these people are, I think I'd rather wait to see the finished product on stage next time. Maybe I'll film it then; legally, I'll ask permission; don't want that rumor started, but still, for "Five Dances", can't really recommend it.


TOP HAT (1935) Director: Mark Sandrich


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Trying to explain the idiot plot of "Top Hat" is beyond pointless. It's harder to explain why there's any plot at all in these Astaire & Rogers films. Last time, I reviewed, what I imagine is their very best film, "Swing Time". If that's their best and more important and essential film, a close second is probably "Top Hat". Basically, for reasons that are so impossible and ridiculous, Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) has confused Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) for her best friend's husband, and they inevitably have to go all through Venice, to figure out the misunderstanding. (And not like, real Venice either, just an elaborately staged movie Venice. The film got four Oscar nominations including Best Picture, and it's main objective is to string together a plot and story enough to showcase Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Irving Berlin songs are the unique focus in this film, and "Cheek to Cheek" in particular is special. The best dance numbers involve Fred and Ginger, Ginger in riding boots not high heels, under a gazebo, as they argue with each other over whether they can be trusted. There's a few other great sequences, and some of the comedy in between is actually quite sharp and funny; it's always been a little sharper than people recall it to be, like one exchange where Astaire gets away with pretending to be Ginger's rider, and talking about how the horse was the sire of Man-o-War. Another great one involves a butler Bates (Eric Blore) getting arrested after an Italian cop pretends that he doesn't understand English, this after already spotting him disguised as a gondelier. There's a lot of mistaken identities, and disguising as others here in "Top Hat", and that's fun for them. This is second-tier screwball mostly, but "Top Hat" has enough great dancing sequences to make it an essential Astaire-Rogers film to watch, It's not the best of their combinations however, some of those incredible dance sequences, are more than worth a viewing, that's all these films are really for anyway.


REEFER MADNESS
(1936) Director: Louis Gasnier



✰✰✰1/2, I guess? 



(Shrugs) I don't know; it's "Reefer Madness", how many stars are you supposed to give a movie like this? I don't know. Alternately titled "Tell Your Children", "Reefer Madness" is a famous propaganda movie that was made to inform people of the dangers of marihuana, misspelling intentional. It didn't exactly work much as a propaganda film, but now as a cult classic, the kind you make fun of, probably while you're under a few influences of funny things.... Now, I'll be honest and say that despite my long hair, and my occasional wearing of Greatful Dead t-shirts, believe it or not, I've never smoked marijuana. Although I'm pretty sure I got high from watching an Ani DiFranco concert DVD once. I've also never taken any illegal or questionable substances, intentionally. I still have suspicions that my high school friend Falcon put something on a candy cane she gave me one after-school, impromptu Christmas get-together, but I haven't completely proven it, but I have very strong suspicions; she always tried to be a bit of a bad influence on me. Anyway, that said, let's- let's be clear, I'm in favor of legalization marijuana, but I always get irky at my friends that are always posting pot logos or bongs, or news announcements about marijuana curing cancer. Yes, it's got a lot of good uses but, it's not great for you though. I mean, no it won't kill you, but it does kill your brain cells, and it can be addictive, and usually when used by the wrong people, it impairs you, it is essentially a mild form of LSD, and despite some thought otherwise, it's not completely healthy for you. If you light it on fire, and put it in your mouth, it's not completely healthy, just a general rule there, whatever it is. I mean, do what you want but..., Now that said, "Reefer Madness" is pretty damn laughable. Basically, the kids are corrupted by marijuana, which goes hand-in-hand with criminals and jazz music at this time, and it can also lead to multiple kinds of murder, and other kinds of behavioral shifts and changes, some realistic and plausible, other are just preposterous. Although the jumping out of windows thing, that was a reason LSD became illegal, too many people hallucinating on skyscrapers thinking they can fly, and nobody noticing they couldn't. Of course, the true effects of marijuana are somewhere in between, and it took a long time before people realized that a grumpy old school guidance counselor that looks like he came out of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" painting isn't the best person to be telling the youth of America about the perils of marijuana. (Or the perils of anything really, of course, thinking back to those D.A.R.E. cartoons I had to go through, with the junkie Trix Rabbit knockoff) It's an essential film to view for all cinephiles, a relic of an earlier, misguided and unknowing time. Some people thought it was worthy enough to make a musical out of it, eh, I don't know if I'd go that far, but alright, anything to make it more ridiculous I guess, should probably be a plus. 

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