THE TREE OF LIFE (2011)

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Christopher

I wasn’t sure if I would ever watch this because ever since knowing Elizabeth I have known that she hated this movie. It seemed like us watching it just wasn’t going to happen. For whatever reason the other week she told me to get it cause she was ready to write about it. I was so excited and knew I had to jump on this chance.

When this movie came out I know it created a lot of controversy and a ton of people hated it. I actually saw the last 30 minutes one time when I first moved to San Antonio but it made no sense so nothing really stuck in my memory. Watching the movie now, the last 30 minutes not making sense makes sense because that’s how the whole movie really is.

The way I looked at the film was that it really isn’t a movie. It felt more like someone was trying to film their emotion? I felt a connection to a bunch of the themes of the movie but there was nothing really to follow, just stuff to watch.

I thought all the scenes with the universe and the dinosaurs were the absolute worst part of the whole thing. I had heard all that was in the movie but the dinosaurs looked so terrible it was really off-putting. It felt like we were watching something on PBS. I did, however, enjoy some of the stuff in the Brad Pitt/Jessica Chastain moments but that was all because it was basically just following a bunch of boys around their neighborhood. It felt so American. Now, there still really isn’t much to go on here but a ton of it reminded me of myself growing up. It also kind of reminded me of the boys from The Virgin Suicides and that neighborhood. If this part of the movie had more context and an actual story to follow I think I would of been super into it. Unfortunately what I did connect to is such a small part of this film that just rambles. It reminded me of being in a conversation with someone I didn’t want to talk to but didn’t know how to get away from.

I’m glad I finally saw this but I know it’s not something I’ll see again. The next Terrence Malick movie we watch I hope is The New World. I know people didn’t like it but I watched that after college and I really enjoyed it.

Elizabeth

FUCK THIS PIECE OF SHIT. CALLING THIS THING A MOVIE IS INSULTING TO EVERY ACTUAL MOVIE EVER MADE AND I AM 100% INCLUDING TYLER PERRY MOVIES IN THAT STATEMENT.

THE ONLY WAY THIS THING WOULD WORK WOULD BE IF IT WAS TERRENCE MALICK TESTING HOW FAR VIEWERS’ PRETENTIOUSNESS WILL TAKE THEM AS A STATEMENT ABOUT “ART” CINEMA BUT HE DID NOT DO THAT.

I HATE THIS THING.

 

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THE LONGEST RIDE (2015)

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Elizabeth

What do you do when you’ve written a love story that’s so boring and unoriginal that it couldn’t possibly stand alone, either in book or movie form? Well, apparently if that story is The Longest Ride, you can just tack on a second, equally boring and almost equally unoriginal love story along side it! I think everyone knows that two boring stories equals one awesome story.

So, there’s Love Story 1 – between Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke (Scott Eastwood). Now is a good time to point out that Scott Eastwood is Clint’s son and from certain angles looks exactly like Clint, too. Now, is he the greatest actor ever? No, but it wouldn’t matter in this movie, anyway. Luke is a professional bull rider and Sophia is finishing college. They meet at one of Luke’s shows and on the way home from their first date they come across a car crash. They pull out an old man, an old box, and take the man to the hospital. That man turns out to be half of Love Story 2 – between Ira Levinson (Alan Alda/Jack Huston) and Ruth Levinson (Oona Chaplin).

Love Story 2 takes place during World War II. The box pulled from the car crash contains letters Ira wrote when he was young that very conveniently and chronologically describes his relationship with Ruth. Ira and Ruth got engaged, Ruth said she wanted a big family, Ira got sent to war and was injured to where he could no longer have children, Ira came back and things were awkward. Meanwhile, because Sophia is going to leave in a month to live in New York for an internship, she and Luke both acknowledge the pointlessness of starting a relationship. But they do anyway! They could have just said “Hey, we’re both young, good-looking people. Let’s just have sex for a month!” But because they’re “falling in love,” they decide to stick it out, despite having nothing in common.

Back in the 40s, Ruth is an elementary school teacher who pays special attention to a little boy in her class who obviously comes from a shitty family. She asks the boy’s caregivers if she can start tutoring him, and next thing we know he’s at the table eating dinner with Ruth and Ira. They joke around like they all know each other, so I assumed we were skipping ahead to the future after they adopted the kid, but turns out it was still that first day and she was just tutoring him in their home. The tutoring goes on for an unsaid amount of time, apparently during which time Ira and Ruth try to adopt him, which we never see. Eventually, for some reason, the tutoring has to stop. Ira and Ruth walk around the house with the boy like they’re about to bring him to slaughter. They make such a big deal about how they’re never going to see him again even though no one’s moving or dying. Couldn’t you just stop tutoring him? Without it being a big deal?

Meanwhile, Sophia invites Luke to an art show in Charleston that is hosted by Sophia’s boss. While Sophia excitedly walks around talking to patrons and asking questions, Luke boredly mopes around the bar. He looks at a couple with absolute disgust as he overhears them talking about purchasing a painting. Sophia then introduces Luke to her boss, and she asks him how he likes the show. He says “I think there’s more bullshit here than where I work.” Sophia is horrified and her boss sort of laughs it off. Outside, they argue, where Sophia says something along the lines of “That woman is the future of my career,” and Luke says, “That lady?” Yes, Luke, you racist, sexist, asshole, that lady is shockingly much more important than you in this world you know nothing about. He yells at Sophia about how he can’t pretend to care about scribbles on a canvas . . . the same asshole who went in detail about “nice bulls and mean bulls.” Ugh. Despite Luke’s crazy asshole behavior, they go home together because . . . love.

Right before Sophia is to leave for New York, Luke gets injured and is told he can’t ride anymore and they finally break up. Back in the 40s, Ruth leaves Ira because she can’t stand not having children. Well, until she shows up a week later and they get back together and live happily ever after, collecting art. In the end, Ira says “We were happy just with each other, without children.” But wait, wasn’t that the entire situation all along? So what the hell did you learn? What the hell did we learn? WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT OF THIS LOVE STORY? I guess to tie-in Notebook standards of the 40s and old people in love and dying, as we get to watch Alan Alda wake up to his dead wife next to him while he cries. Typical Sparks.

After Ruth’s death, the now-widow of the then-boy that Ruth tutored visits Ira to tell him of his death and to bring Ira a portrait he painted of Ruth. It, along with Ira and Ruth’s huge art collection, gets boxed up to be auctioned off after Ira’s death. Later, with Sophia in New York and Luke wherever he’s supposed to be (one of the Carolinas, South, maybe?), they each get a call from Ira’s attorney telling them that Ira has died and invites them to the auction of Ira and Ruth’s art collection. They both show up and Luke buys the first painting, one that no one wants, which is the boy’s painting of Ruth. Sophia follows Luke to a backroom where he signs paperwork for the painting and they tell each other they love each other and Luke doesn’t want to ride bulls anymore because he wants to be with her, so they make out. Outside, everyone in the auction house is going insane. Why? Oh, oh, right! That’s because Ira put a clause in his will that said that whoever bought the painting of Ruth would be automatically gifted his multi-million dollar/priceless art collection because the painting of Ruth meant the most to Ira. CONGRATULATIONS, LUKE, YOU ART HATER!!!

So what you think happens at this point? Because I guessed it completely correctly, and that never happens. Of course Sophia leaves New York to open a museum wherever Luke is of all of Ira and Ruth’s art collection. THE END!!!!

Here’s what we learned:

  • If your relationship ends because one partner wants kids and the other partner can’t have kids, just stick it out because you’ll realize art is way better than kids
  • If you have a fling with someone within a month of your moving across the country, also stick that out because you’ll still end up together
  • Those who hate art will profit the most from it

But yeah, I hated this movie because Luke and Sophia didn’t deserve that art, much less did they deserve to live off it their whole lives. Plus sneaking in the pointless Jack Huston love story just emphasized how forgettable the main story is. Worthless.

Christopher

Elizabeth and I first saw a piece of this movie at the YMCA and even though we watched 30-40 minutes of it the film was so bad and hit on a lot of relatable topics, so we had to watch the whole thing. I first wanted to watch this because I had never seen Clint Eastwood’s son in anything and this is another Nicholas Sparks movie. Unfortunately there is no ghost in this movie but that’s not to say there isn’t some gold to be found.

The movie involves a romance between a bull rider and an aspiring art historian (?). Like all Sparks stories it takes place over a summer. The two create a love so strong that they know, even though the road is rocky, IT WILL LAST FOREVER! But why? These people don’t really like each other, they just like having sex with each other.

The story goes that Luke is a bull rider and is having a tough time because he is badly hurt. He finally recovers and tries bull riding again. At one of the events he sees Sophia and gives her his hat. From there on there are a few montages of them falling in love. Really they just ride horses and touch each other. Then more montages of Luke being good at bull riding and moving up the ranks in the world. They travel all over for his shows. Then one day they go to an art gallery that Sophia is helping with. Immediately, Luke is pissed! Why the fuck should he deal with all her art shit! I mean it’s just lines on canvas? Fuck that anyone can do that shit! So he blows up and leaves. Luke and Sophia then have a meaningful fight outside the gallery about coming from different worlds and not being able to make the relationship work. END OF MOVIE! Oh, no? They still stay together? The scene after they say it can’t work they are cuddling with sad faces in a bed? Maybe they signed something that made them stay together? You know what, the movie does take place in South Carolina so there’s probably a state rule about having to marry someone you kiss or something.

While this is all going on there is a whole other storyline. Because if the first is boring why not throw in another mediocre one. That has to do with Jack Huston falling in love with an art enthusiast and creating a giant art collection that defined their love for each other. To be honest it was a much better story then the other but that probably just had to do with the art part. Everything else is boring. They fall in love. They collect art. They want a family but can’t have kids. They can’t adopt. They almost separate? She eventually dies.

There is a lot in this movie but nothing really worth anything. In terms of Sparks movies though I really would say this is one of the worst ones. In that regard it was absolutely worth the watch.

RAN (1985)

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Christopher

In high school Jim Jarmusch was always my answer when asked who my favorite director was. In college it was kind of the same but I didn’t really watch a ton of movies then so I would shy away from answering that question. As I get older and the more movies I see, I really think that I would say Kurosawa is currently my favorite director. There are a lot of factors that go into me thinking that but after watching Ran, it really drove that feeling home.

Ran is a film that’s been on my list to watch forever but it’s taken me so long to watch cause I thought it was going to be hard to get through. You always hear about how epic the film is and to me I thought that would translate to falling asleep immediately. When Elizabeth and I saw it was showing at the Drafthouse it was an easy decision to go. I’m glad we went because seeing this film on the big screen really was the way to watch it.

What’s apparent immediately about this film is the cinematography. From the very beginning the main characters are riding their horses among beautiful green mountains of Japan. The colors of the soldiers’ garments are just brilliant in the sun and surrounding greenery. I wasn’t sure what this movie was about other then it was the story of King Lear and that meant nothing to me at the time. I was really walking in blind. I’m glad I did though cause the story was engaging all the way through. The scale of emotions that this movie takes you through from the beginning to the very last shot is staggering.

It’s wild to watch something like Ran and then something like RV, that Robin Williams joint. Could you ever compare them on any kind of scale? Actually now that I write that I really think they could. Ran is just a great film. It feels like a play (source material) but there are so many character relationships, the scenes are so beautiful and the acting has you engaged from the first scene. RV can’t even get through a scene without something not making sense. Because of that I could see both of these moves helping filmmakers see what works and what doesn’t.

After watching Ran I really hope we watch Throne of Blood soon as I feel like people group them together often. And Kurosawa directed 33 movies so one day we’ll definitely have to watch them all.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

For a long time, I both wanted to see Ran and didn’t want to see Ran. I wanted to see it because of Kurosawa and I always thought the poster was super cool. But then I didn’t want to see it because it’s so known for being a “war epic.” War epics sound A.) Long (duh) B.) Boring C.) Possibly something I won’t understand – even more so if it’s a foreign movie. So that kept me from seeing it for a long time. Of course, had I known that Ran is a loose, but still clear, adaptation of King Lear, that would have overridden my qualms about war epics.

But then Chris and I had the opportunity to see Ran in theaters, and we just couldn’t pass it up. And it really is so great. As a King Lear adaptation particularly, it’s awesome. I love adaptations like this that aren’t so straightforward you’re constantly aware of it, but it’s still there. For example, toward the end of the movie when our Lear, Hidetora Ichimonji, is finally reunited with the only son that didn’t betray him, I was so happy! But then I thought, oh wait, this follows King Lear . . . and the son was killed like two seconds later. Maybe some people wouldn’t like that, but I thought it was really impressive to be able to keep the King Lear thing going when it didn’t seem that clear cut.

Ran is about an old warlord who wants to retire, leaving everything to his three sons. Sounds straightforward enough. Except two out of the three sons hate him, and he banishes the third. As Hidetora goes from son to son, his sons’ lack of loyalty becomes more and more obvious. When he was in power, Hidetora was ruthless and vicious, wiping out whole families for seemingly no real reason. To him, the act of retiring sounds simple enough, but when your career was made up entirely of murder and power grabs, it’s not so simple.

Ran has a lot of amazing scenes, but I think my favorite was at one point, Hidetora recognizes his sons’ betrayals, and in the midst of being attacked and all of his men killed, he decides to perform seppuku. He sort of waits until the last minute until the opposing forces are practically right outside his door. Then he looks around and realizes . . . dude doesn’t even have a sword to commit seppuku. The scene of him desperately looking for something to kill himself with was both sad and crazy to watch. Especially because once he realizes he’s failed even at seppuku, he straight up loses his mind.

The evolution of Hidetora going from old warlord to a crazy old man wandering around aimlessly was both really natural and sort of hard to watch. But anytime I started to have sympathy for Hidetora it seems like all the terrible shit he did was also brought up and that put it into perspective. But really just the makeup here is incredible – by the end, Hidetora looks like the walking dead.

One of the best parts though? Though it’s a war epic, it’s only 2 1/2 hours. That’s a long movie, but I honestly always assumed Ran was like 4 hours long. It doesn’t even come close to feeling like 2 1/2 hours, despite all the crazy stuff that happens. But that’s just Kurosawa for you.