Next to Normal: When are we OK with weird movies?

By looking at the title of this post and choosing to read on, you are, at the very least, open to the idea of a weird movie.  This is an important step, I think.  “Weird” is an abstract concept, one that for the purposes of this post means where what you’re seeing collides with your perception of reality.  Think of the final minutes of 2001: A Spacey Odyssey or, more recently, the beginning and the end of The Tree of Life.

What makes us associate the weirdness with those examples more than, say, traditional Hollywood comedy?  Comedy is rooted in expectation.  When a situation defies our expectation of what we think should happen, we laugh.  You don’t expect Brad Pitt to bite the bullet in Burn After Reading so quickly and brutally, so when he does it comes off as comical, but him walking on a beach with other lost souls in Tree of Life is just out there.

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Five movie characters who are older than they appear

This post is inspired by a recent cameo in X-Men: First Class that confirms for the film series what followers of the comic  have known for a while: Wolverine is older than Professor Xavier.  We thought it’d be fun to take a closer look at characters in movies that are much older than they actually look.

Wolverine (X-Men)- You wouldn’t think Hugh Jackman would be older than Patrick Stewart, but in the superhero universe anything is possible.  As Wolverine, he slices and dices through countless enemies (in a very PG-13 way, of course).  It’ll  come in handy when he needs to wait in line to sign up for Social Security.

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The Big 10: No Easy A’s

Out of the dozens of reviews we’ve done since we started this blog, we’ve had only 10 A’s.  For a movie to deserve a perfect rating here, it doesn’t have to be perfect: it needs to be different.  It has to bring something new to the movie table, or do something old so well that it feels new.  Here are our 10 ‘A’ reviews, as diverse as an obese teenager’s quest for societal independence or a man avenging his father’s death in 19th century America.  (Side-note:  though we rarely hand out straight A’s, we’ve also only awarded one F… to a movie ironically called The A-Team.)

Amélie

Being John Malkovich

Casino Royale

District 9

Gangs of New York

A History of Violence

In the Loop

Precious: Based On the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire

Up in the Air

Where the Wild Things Are

ARCHIVE REVIEW: Being John Malkovich

Being John Malkovich
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Written by: Charlie Kaufman
Starring: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and John Malkovich

For fans of the work of Charlie Kaufman, a predisposition to a realm of absurdity is often acquired after watching one of his screenplays unfold.  Approach any of his works with the intention that you will be taken somewhere new, and that that place will be filled with wonder, terror, and more honesty than reality could ever contain.

In Being John Malkovich, Kaufman has crafted his magnum opus.  Inside the expansive confines of his world lie countless punchlines, absurdities and insights, most of which deal with the nature of identity.  This is a world filled only with people who go for what they want, because those who don’t don’t matter.  It’s extremes like these that guide the often childish characters through the narrative and ultimately to a conclusion that offers no simple answers.

It begins with a puppeteer named Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) realizing his dream is impossible in his own body.  He decides to apply this childish pastime onto something in the corporate world.  He gets hired as a file clerk (because of his fast fingers) on the 7 1/2 floor of a gigantic office building.  While working there, he falls immediately in love with Maxine (Catherine Keener), an attractive, manipulative, and greedy woman who leads him on, and then ultimately cuts him loose.  This is until he discovers the portal.

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