ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD (2007)

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Christopher

Watching this movie was kind of a strange experience. I believe I had seen this movie before but I only remembered a few scenes. I assume I saw this in one of my film classes in college, which would explain why I don’t remember a lot, but I’m really glad we watched this. It’s a movie that’s easy to get lost in and before you know it, the credits are scrolling by.

What makes Encounters at the End of the World so great is its connection to both nature and man. The setup of the film is that Werner Herzog is going to the South Pole to film. That’s pretty much it. But what makes the movie are the types of characters that are in the South Pole and what brought them there in the first place. This movie feels like a way more successful The Parking Lot Movie. Where The Parking Lot Movie is interested in philosophy students/adults parking cars, Encounters at the End of the World has a much more interesting subject base, while still staying focused on one constant, they all ended up in the South Pole. While weaving in and out of individuals’ lives, their stories also reveal the beauty of the South Pole as a giant monument within nature.

This movie is wonderful and really ended before I was ready for it to. This is a movie I would love to see what kind of behind of scenes footage there might be. Along with individuals who might of told a story but ended up on the cutting room floor.

Elizabeth

At this point I’ve probably seen Encounters at the End of the World about five times. Of all the types of movies I watch repeatedly, documentaries are way down on the list. But there’s just something about Encounters at the End of the World; the first time I finished watching it, I just immediately wanted to watch it again.

First, you’ve got the narration of director Werner Herzog. Herzog’s narration is like no other, from the sound of his voice to the shit he says. He’s funny, weird, and completely genuine. He treats the characters he meets with such care and respect that even when he pokes fun at them a little, it seems to come from a place more of respect and awe than actual ridicule.

Then you’ve got the images themselves. There are several long sequences in Encounters at the End of the World that show nothing but ocean life against intense choral music. That sounds boring, and maybe it would be from another director, but instead these sequences just put you in this crazy, nature-induced-trance. Everything looks so crazy and surreal. But of course, there’s also all the shots that take place above water of the seemingly endless Antarctic landscape. The scenery is very beautiful and all the animals are pretty cute, so it’s also not boring. But probably the biggest element to Encounters at the End of the World is the people of Antarctica. I assumed everyone in Antarctica would be some kind of scientist or engineer. While that is still mostly true, there’s also a good amount of just random characters who for one reason or another just sort of ended up in Antarctica, like a long-winded linguist who works with greenhouse plants (as he points out, he found himself to be a linguist in a land without its own language). As much as nature intrigues Herzog, he’s obviously just as, if not more, interested in the people. I don’t blame him, either; so many different people came from such crazy situations to find themselves in Antarctica it would be hard to not just interview every single person you came across.

I honestly can’t say enough about Encounters at the End of the World. Even if you somehow hated the movie, you’d still have plenty of Herzog dialogue to make fun of.

THE ORPHANAGE (2007)

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Elizabeth

Last week Chris and I discovered we had had similar movie experiences in college. We had both scene a horror movie in theaters that we loved but thought was ruined by the ending. We then discovered that I hadn’t seen his movie and he hadn’t seen mine, so we spent a night watching both and seeing how we felt about them now.

For Chris, his movie was The Orphanage. This was one I had wanted to see for a while, but just sort of missed. It reminded me a lot of Pan’s Labyrinth, which I love, mostly in that I think they’re both movies that can be fairly scary in the moment, but in the end are much more sad than they are scary.

I really liked The Orphanage because I liked the story. It wasn’t quite the stereotypical haunted house/murderer thing like other horror movies. There isn’t much (if any) jump scares, which I always appreciate. The movie played a lot on anxiety; most of the action revolves around a couple’s missing child. I guess now that I think about it, the ghost children in the house had been murdered, but there wasn’t a murderer after anyone anymore, not really at least.

There were some weird/annoying things about the movie, like how Carlos (Fernando Cayo), the husband of Laura (Belén Rueda), our protagonist,  leaves her in the house alone on her insistence. She wants him to, but the house is huge. Couldn’t he just stay in a far away room? Because she’s obviously all fucked up at this point. Another thing I thought was weird was this subplot of HIV. We find out that Simón (Roger Príncep), Laura and Carlos’ adopted son, is HIV positive, which makes his disappearance worse because he needs medicine. But then later it’s implied that the medium Laura goes to for help is also HIV positive, and maybe Laura is too? It was really unclear, and maybe it’s a translation issue. I think they wanted to make it seem like Simón was closer to these dead children because he was a child with a terminal illness, but that was sort of lost on me. It was just weird.

But honestly, I sort of loved The Orphanage. I can see why Chris or anyone else would have problems with the ending; it doesn’t negate what happened before, but it’s not really connected to the supernatural stuff, either. But the very end, like the last 2 or 3 minutes, were great, I thought. This is definitely worth seeing, especially if you like horror movies but don’t appreciate shit jumping at you for no reason.

Christopher

This was the second time watching this movie but I have to say it wasn’t as scary the second time around. I remember watching this in theaters when it came out and a few people from college and I went to see it. I remember everyone being freaked out by Tomas and most people finding it hard to sleep that night, except I think everyone had decided that the end was pretty terrible and ruined the movie.

Watching this film for a second time, I mostly found this movie to be boring and frustrating. The movie really isn’t a horror film; it’s kind of a family film in many ways but really, really sad. I will say though that watching it again and thinking about it more the end makes more sense to me now. I still think it’s dumb but it makes sense.

HOLIDAY IN HANDCUFFS (2007)

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Christopher

I will always remember this film as being one of the craziest movies I have ever seen. This is the kind of movie that makes me wonder how someone even wrote it, it makes that little sense. I feel like I have a pretty good imagination but whoever wrote this film easily has me beat.  This movie is about a girl, who was dumped by a boyfriend, who is expected at her parents’ house with a boyfriend so she kidnaps AC Slater, who was waiting at the restaurant she works at to ask his girlfriend to marry him. But what you might not expect to happen does, they fall in love over this tale of kidnap and lies!!! A fine film for anyone that is in love with love stories that could never really happen. It’s on Netflix and it will soon be a movie you might never forget.

Elizabeth

An ABC Family movie about a psychotic woman who kidnaps a man and holds him hostage until his Stockholm Syndrome kicks in long enough for him to fall in love with her. Yeahhhhh not getting those 90 minutes back.

I’M NOT THERE (2007)

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Elizabeth

I purposefully waited a long time to see I’m Not There because of Heath Ledger. When he died, there were just a handful of his movies I hadn’t seen already, including I’m Not There, and I’ve mostly kept it that way so that there are always movies of his that are new to me. This is flawed logic, and eventually it’ll end, but his death hit me hard and this was a way of dealing with it.

But whoa, am I glad that I waited to see I’m Not There until after No Direction Home. Before the documentary, I really knew next to nothing about Bob Dylan’s career as a whole. I think it would be difficult to get through I’m Not There without knowing anything about Bob Dylan. I’m Not There is going to be fractured and experimental no matter how much you know about Bob Dylan, but having some kind of background definitely gives it a bigger impact.

I’m Not There is really unlike any other movie I’ve seen; it follows interpretations of different stages of Bob Dylan’s life and career, all with different actors playing different characters that aren’t Bob Dylan but are representations of him. The most striking was Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn, whose story takes the most from No Direction Home. When I first heard Cate Blanchett was going to play Bob Dylan, I thought it was insane. BUT HOLY SHIT. The fact that Bob Dylan, at that time, looked soooo young and sounded so young, paired with the fact that Cate Blanchett is not super curvy and has a fairly strong chin actually made her portrayal make so much sense. Give Blanchett the right hair and costumes and she does all the rest; after watching No Direction Home so recently, it was eery how similar she was to the real Bob Dylan of that time.

Of course, Heath Ledger’s section (as actor Robbie Clark) also particularly struck me. Not because of his character’s connections to Bob Dylan, but just because the story and performances were so good. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Clark’s eventual ex-wife and their breakup scene nearly made me cry (it really would have if it had gone on maybe 30 seconds longer). God, it chokes me up just thinking about it. It’s intense.

Really, all of I’m Not There is intense. I honestly don’t know much someone would like this if they don’t like or have no knowledge of Bob Dylan. But I still think it’s worth it, if for no other reason to see so many good actors be so good.

Christopher

As I’m writing this I’m listening to The Basement Tapes, a recording done by Bob Dylan and The Band in 1967. Ever since Elizabeth said that she would be down to sit through a few minutes of No Direction Home, I’ve been into this super Bob Dylan mindset. It’s been a few years since I’ve really listened to his stuff, like I did in high school or college, and I kind of forgot how amazing he is and the kinds of emotions I get from listening to his songs. I was thinking about this last night. In many ways now I would say Joanna Newsom would be the number one person I would ever want to see, but I feel like most of that is because I know I will see it (If she ever performs in Texas I will be there) but I’ll never be able to really see Bob Dylan at his prime when I would have liked to see him. I went to see him once with a friend of mine from high school, Todd, but he didn’t really do much and it was kind of more of a concet or his band. But anyway, if I could somehow go back in time when Bob Dylan was first performing his own material in New York or be a the concert where he first played his electric stuff. I think I would just burst into tears, it would be insane. I would imagine I would be in a state that I propably wouldn’t evn be able to enjoy it. I went to see Brian Regan live when I was in high school and I was scared that he would make me laugh so hard that that’s all I would have been doing the whole time and they would have had to kick me out of the place; luckily I was able to contain myself. In regards to this film. I can’t love it enough. It’s essentially an essay on Bob Dylan. Some of it is goofy, I’ve never been a big fan of the covers, but if I ever made a movie I think it would be pretty weird in the same ways. I saw this film twice in theaters. I think the first time was with my mom and the second time a really good friend of mine, Justin, and I went to see some other movie and when we were leaving we noticed that the theater I’m Not There was playing was about to end so we just snuck in, watched the very end of the movie, and then stayed and watched it all the way through. ‘Cause it’s that good! But if you know nothing about Bob Dylan I don’t think I would recommend this to you. I really wanted to watch it with Elizabeth, becuase I love it and I know she loved Heath Ledger, but I knew we needed to watch No Direction Home beforehand. It just makes everything make so much sense in such a fantastic way because everything in I’m Not There is there for a reason and it has so much history and stories behind it. This film is so well researched and molds together in a way that just makes it flow seamlessly. I love Bob Dylan. I contribute much of my personality and my interests in general to him. I feel like before I found his music I didn’t really like listening to music in general. When I think back it was all the generic stuff people my age liked back then. I was kind of into Bob Marley for a while but once I started listening to Dylan he was immedialty my favorite. We really need to watch all of Todd Haynes’ movies.

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY (2007)

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Elizabeth

Full disclosure: we started watching I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry several months ago, but we stopped it about 2/3 of the way through because it was so awful and only now have we picked it up and finished it. Not that that really changes anything about how I feel about the movie.

It’s hard to say something like “The worst thing about I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is . . .” because there about a thousand terrible things about it. But I can at least safely say that one of the worst things about this movie is how desperately attempts to seem accepting when in reality it’s just insanely offensive. Although Chuck (Adam Sandler) regularly uses the word “faggot” in its most negative way, he eventually understands that this isn’t right. But it isn’t until people start calling him a faggot, because of his fake gay marriage to Larry (Kevin James), that he realizes it. And I’m pretty sure it’s not any kind of deep realization, he just gets angry that people are calling him a faggot. Progressive!

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry has all of the terrible homophobia that you’d expect it to have. One of my favorites (aka the worst) is Larry’s son, Eric, who is maybe 10 years old or something, being portrayed as gay because he likes dance and musicals, etc. Chuck makes fun of him for this, in fact. They do realize this is a little boy, right? That he just has interests in things that aren’t traditionally masculine? That he’s really too young to have a defined sexuality? Of course they don’t understand any of this. In the end, Eric is more accepted because after using gay marriage to commit fraud, Chuck and Larry suddenly have a complete understanding of what it’s like to be gay. Right.

But like I said, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was nearly impossible to get through. It sort of makes you want to die. Not really worth it.

Christopher

As I think this blog backs up, I love watching Adam Sandler movies, especially ones with Kevin James. So I have been wanting to see this movie for a while. We tried watching it about 4 months ago or so and a few weeks ago we finally finished it.

I can see what Sandler was going for in this, I think. I think this movie was his way to express to the gay community that he is alright with their sexuality. Unfortunately, as you might have guessed, I doubt people walked away from this movie thinking that. For starters Adam Sandler uses the word faggot multiple times and in a few instances using it the worst way possible. Like most Sandler movies his character starts off mean and by the end he’s a better person and he gets the girl. I would love to hear a real interview with him where he truly talks about the kind of work he’s doing today. I really can’t believe that he thinks he’s doing a good job.

This movie is basically about Sandler and James pretending to be gay lovers in order to cheat certain taxes (I think I really don’t remember, this movie is long). So most of the movie is them convincing the public that they truly are in love. All the while Sandler is falling in love with their lawyer and James is just trying to be a good dad…and the struggles of being fat.

In all I would say this movie was fun to watch but it was easily the most offensive. This is a movie though where I would really like to know what people think about it. Although I’m sure most people wouldn’t waste their time.

BIG STAN (2007)

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Elizabeth

I guess I’m not really sure what there is to say about Big Stan. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with as many rape jokes, so there’s that. I sort of couldn’t believe my eyes when it became clear that the entire plot (at least of the first half of the movie) revolved around Stan (Rob Schneider) trying to not get raped in prison. So he plays a corrupt real estate agent (not sure what that even means) who gets sentenced to prison, but has sixth months before he has to go to prison. So he gets The Master (David Carradine) to train him to not get raped. That’s really for real what happens. This includes such gems as getting some kind of scary tattoo (we never see it, thank god) around his anus and having his wife, Mindy (Jennifer Morrison) have sex with him using a giant, black, lubeless dildo. Okay.

Once Stan is in prison, his training makes him some kind of badass, and the only humor that comes from this is the fact that we’re supposed to believe that Rob Schneider is any kind of badass. He eventually has some giant sit-down with the rest of the inmates where he explains the difference between rape and homosexual sex and bans rape altogether.

It’s up and down after that because apparently everyone in the prison listens to Stan’s every word, so when Stan wants peace, there’s peace and when Stan wants chaos, there’s chaos. I just really didn’t understand the fact that Big Stan got made, until the end credits showed that Rob Schneider also directed and produced it. So I guess if you get rich off of Adam Sandler’s shit, you can make movies like Big Stan.

Christopher

Man, don’t you guys just hate actors like Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, and Bruce Willis! Don’t you wish that there was finally a man to put all these chumps in their place to properly take over the badass role our generation needs!!!! WELL LET ME TELL YOU! This movie is not it but it’s so unbelievable how embarrassing it is that you have to watch it!

I mean there are not a ton of jokes in this movie. If they are it’s pretty deadpan and it’s really not funny in the first place that every scene becomes this strange prison drama. Rob Schneider will be nothing more than Adam Sandler’s lap dog, I think we all pretty much know that and this movie a little too obvious that he’s trying to break out of that role. The whole movie is about how he’s going to go to jail and since he’s so scared that he’s going to be raped, he trains so hard he becomes this badass asshole? So when he goes to prison he just turns into the guy everyone is scared of? Remember this is Rob Schneider!

This movie tries to have good morals, I think? But it fails miserably at that, too. In the end this movie is easily worth watching for its awfulness and hopefully if enough people see it ole Rob will make more movies like it!

HOT ROD (2007)

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Christopher

I really dislike Andy Samberg so I was not really excited to watch this movie. But Elizabeth kept on insisting that it was funny. I suppose Samberg is sometimes funny but the main reason I dislike him is the fact that he was dating and is now about marry Joanna Newsom, easily my favorite living songwriter. So I know my thoughts on him are very skewed but he just kind of bugs me.

In the end, however, Elizabeth was right and I did find this movie to be pretty funny. Especially Samberg’s character’s relationship with his step-dad. This movie is on Netflix and it’s worth watching . Although, I’m sure I was the last person to see that that has any interest.

Elizabeth

I don’t know what Chris is going to say about him, but he hates Andy Samberg and I’m pretty sure it’s almost 100% because Andy Samberg is engaged to Joanna Newsom. So whatever he says about Andy Samberg . . . just know where it’s coming from. ANYWAY . . . HOT ROD IS AMAZING. It’s one of my absolute favorite comedies, because it’s weird and sweet and both realistic and unrealistic and just funny. I don’t really know how else to describe it except amazing.

Hot Rod is full of moments that don’t make sense, or shouldn’t really be there, or go on too long. Doing this is sort of a specific kind of humor (my mom wouldn’t find any of that funny, for example), but Hot Rod is consistent with its style and just goes for it, so it works. It’s also unexpectedly subtle in certain ways, like the relationship between Rod (Andy Samberg), Rod’s mother, Marie (Sissy Spacek), and Rod’s stepfather, Frank (Ian McShane). Their relationships really play with the classic movie/TV trope of a son trying to earn a cold father’s respect with a passive mother. But Hot Rod takes this to the extreme when the plot of the movie turns into Rod trying to raise money for a life-saving heart transplant for Frank just so Frank can be well enough for Rod to kick his ass and earn his respect. They break out into extremely long, sometimes violent fights, all while Marie either looks on passively or just brushes it off. It’s pretty great.

There are too many great moments in Hot Rod to name and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything anyway. Just know that this is a movie that really must be seen.