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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SPOTLIGHT: Kirsten Dunst

Kirsten Dunst is so much more than Mary Jane Watson.  Yes, Spider-Man’s muse is her most famous role, but Dunst gives terrific performances in several other lesser-known films.  She uses her expressive facial features to convey unbearable sadness as well as inescapable joy.  Though her career is thought to have ended when the Spider-Man franchise went up in flames after the third installment, she’s been doing some of the best work of her career since then.

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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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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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