ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013) – WITH SUPER SPECIAL GUEST POST!

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Chris and I saw Only God Forgives with our friend Jordan. Here’s what he had to say:

Jordan

Staring into the mirror for an hour, memorizing every detail of your eyes until you’ve fallen deep into the gaze of a face that is not your own, and then walking away with only the faintest memory of what just happened…this is what it felt like stepping out of the theater after viewing Only God Forgives. It’s a surreal experience; a unique seedling of an idea sprouting from the mind of Nicolas Winding Refn. It grows slowly, meticulously, and by the time an hour and a half have passed you’re looking at a fully grown tree of a film. Its pacing is the equivalent of the buildup to the final thrill of a theme park ride, except you never reach that thrill, and yet that is what makes it worth watching. While it deals heavily with consequences, it’s more interested in showing us how each character reaches those consequences rather than dwelling on what happens afterwards. I would be perfectly happy if more films followed this route.

The title of the film appears to describe what occurs within well enough: Only God Forgives. Ryan Gosling’s Julian isn’t a forgiving character. His mother is a ruthless manipulator and her first born son (a title she enjoys throwing in Julian’s face) Billy is the spawn of all she represents, and they certainly aren’t forgiving anyone. Even Vithaya Pansringarm’s Lt. Chang, the so-called ‘Angel of Vengeance’, is one too many steps from true forgiveness. He may believe himself to be the “god” of his own form of justice, but in the end, he acts for his own stilted truth. In an underground culture where few are truly innocent, the plot rotates in a surreal exchange of scenes where each character is killed, maimed, set free or even seemingly dissolved of their sins…but in the end, someone pays their price. No one truly forgives. In the end, only God forgives.

Christopher

I really liked watching this movie. This tied for my favorite Nicolas Winding Refn movie with Bronson.

Only God Forgives is a movie that people are really going to love and have a lot to say about it in terms of technique, story and acting. A lot of people are going to love it and shit on people that don’t.

Only God Forgives is a movie that people are really going to hate and have a lot to say about it in terms of technique, story and acting. A lot of people are going to hate it and shit on people that do.

Don’t be an asshole either way.

Elizabeth
So it’s weird, because I feel like I almost shouldn’t like Only God Forgives. In a lot of ways, despite appearances, it’s much closer to Valhalla Rising than Drive, even though Only God Forgives has Ryan Gosling and music by Cliff Martinez. It’s almost Tree of Life-like; it feels more like a series of scenes strung together more than a movie. But unlike Tree of Life, it totally works with Only God Forgives.
At the risk of sounding pretentious, I think Only God Forgives is more along the lines of a sensory experience rather than a movie. The lighting is kind of incredible; for long scenes at a time the lighting is either very blue or very red. Lighting like this made me feel antsy and weird. Then there’s the lack of dialogue (I would be surprised if Ryan Gosling said more than 10 lines) and the music. The score of Only God Forgives is like the movie: slow, sometimes monotone. The music weirdly lulls you. Between the lighting (I never thought I would be so affected by lighting, except to notice how bad it is in Tyler Perry movies) and the music, I swear I felt like I was completely intoxicated in some way, even though I was totally sober. It was weird. After the movie I felt like I almost didn’t know what happened. But it was too interesting for that to be a bad thing.
Also, I have to say, I was sort of excited to see Kristin Scott Thomas in her role here. I feel like I usually see her as a proper, nice English lady. But in Only God Forgives she’s more of a weird Donatella Versace/Dina Lohan hybrid. It was sort of crazy to see. It was almost distracting at first, but she’s such a good actress that it works.
There’s some interesting Freudian stuff going on here, too, that I feel like I can’t even go into. I really think Only God Forgives needs to be in theaters; you need it to be totally dark around you when you see it with nothing else going on except the screen in front of you. It’s a completely crazy experience.
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LITTLEMAN (2006)

LITTLE MAN

Christopher

I have been wanting to watch this since Elizabeth and I caught a few minutes of it in North Carolina and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! It was kind of this perfect movie to me. It was beyond awful in pretty much every way but it actually had some pretty funny moments. I mean all the funny parts were due to Tracy Morgan being one of the characters, but still it got me laughing.

The biggest trouble with Littleman is not that it’s a terrible movie, it’s that I have absolutely no idea who this movie is for. It’s PG-13 so immediately that knocks out adults, I mean there are no boobs or cursing, not that movies need that, but I think for a Wayans movie to be successful it probably does. It’s not for children cause even though they don’t show nudity this man child tries to sexually abuse multiple adult females. Although this might be why this movie is even better, it’s a total wonder why is was created in the first place.

Elizabeth

Chris caught a portion of Littleman while we were at a hotel a few months ago and has been trying to watch the whole thing since. So I gave in. Mistake? Possibly.

I think the above photo illustrates a lot of the confusion that comes from Littleman. What’s wrong with Calvin (Marlon Wayans), exactly? He’s not a dwarf; according to Wikipedia, “Calvin is a very short thief and convict.” But there’s very short, and then there’s mistaken-for-a-toddler short. This is never really addressed, even though the entire plot of the movie is based around this. It’s troubling, to say the least.

It’s also troubling that everyone goes along with it when Calvin pretends to be an abandoned baby for Darryl (Shawn Wayans) and Vanessa (Kerry Washington) to look after. See, Darryl desperately wants a baby and is disappointed when Vanessa excitedly announces that she got promoted rather than pregnant. Even though Vanessa has assured him that she’ll be ready to have a child in a couple of years, everyone is constantly on her case because she’s too focused on her career and doesn’t want to have kids (yet). It’s totally infuriating. Why can’t Vanessa focus on her career? Why can’t she wait just a couple of years to have a kid? She’s young. Who cares? Obviously it’s because women should have kids, not careers. Great. Anyway, yeah, it’s troubling that no one notices Calvin is actually a 40 year old man. Even the pediatrician they take him to says that “it’s like he has the mouth of a 40 year old man.” When Vanessa asks if they should be concerned about that, or his tattoos, or his scars, the doctor says “nope” and the issue is permanently dropped.

Also, Calvin rapes Vanessa. I’m not kidding. Vanessa and Darryl have sex with Calvin in the room, in his crib, watching. The next morning, a still out of breath (for some reason) Vanessa comments that she couldn’t believe Darryl was able to have sex twice in a row and how amazing it was. Darryl says that they didn’t have sex twice, right when it’s revealed that Calvin is in bed next to Vanessa with a super disgusting look on his face. Although Darryl and Vanessa are unaware that she unknowingly had non-consensual sex with what she thinks is a baby, we do. And it’s funny!!!

Nope.

THE CONJURING (2013)

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Elizabeth

The Conjuring is good as far as haunted house/exorcism movies go. I feel like there’s only so far you can go with haunted houses but The Conjuring manages to feel a little different by not revealing too much or relying solely on cheap scares. Although I have to say, for a movie with a primarily female cast, The Conjuring doesn’t do that much good for women.  The main spirit doing the haunting is a woman who was tried during the Salem Witch Trials, except here she’s actually a for-real witch who later sacrificed her baby to Satan. The ghosthunters also say that demons/spirits tend to prey on the emotionally vulnerable and weak, and then turn around and say that in this instance, it’s always the mothers who get preyed upon so that they’ll kill their children. Put two and two together and that leaves mothers as the weakest souls.

One accidentally funny element of The Conjuring was casting Ron Livingston and having him essentially play his character from Office Space. Whether his daughter was being flung around the room by an invisible spirit or his possessed wife held scissors to his daughter’s throat, Ron Livingston wasn’t all that concerned. He was usually standing in a corner looking confused and/or amazed.

Despite all that though, I tend to like haunted house movies and The Conjuring is a fairly decent one.

Christopher

I wasn’t sure about going to see this movie in theaters, mainly because of our experience of watching Mama. Although The Conjuring was surprisingly enjoyable. It was a bit cheesy and there were the normal cheap scares but I felt that the story was far more interesting than the normal horror story and I feel like this is true because other than the main family the main characters were the paranormal couple trying help. Apparently this couple was real and what I think is the most interesting part of the whole movie is that they have this room where they keep evil objects from past cases. I would love for them to have a movie on each object and I think it would be a missed opportunity for them not to make at least another film.

I think if you are at all interested about this genre then you should check this out.