REVIEW: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go
Directed by: Mark Romanek
Written by: Alex Garland (screenplay), Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, and Sally Hawkins

Imagine as a child that your head is filled with ideas of life; of the aspirations and dreams of what it is meant to live it.  Your eyes light up at the prospect of being a doctor, a teacher, or anything else but a kid.  At that age, you’re ready to move on.

It’s not so hard to imagine those notions, because in one way or another we’ve all lived them, and it’s exactly that point that Never Let Me Go wants to hit home.  Though it takes place in an alternate reality where some people are raised to donate their organs to others, these are still people in every sense of the word.  They are allowed to live life, if on a much smaller time line.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale
Directed by: Arnaud Desplechin
Written by: Arnaud Desplechin & Emmanuel Bourdieu
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, and Jean-Paul Roussillon

The French movie character, with its wildly shifting eyes, deep self consciousness, and ever-looming misery, never ceases to be endlessly thought-provoking.  Throw a bunch of these creatures together in the days preceding Christmas, and you’ve got the emotional bloodbath equivalent of Kill Bill.

A Christmas Tale is the typical American holiday drama done elegantly and boldly in the French fashion.  It is a dysfunctional family coming together during the holiday, and yes, mother is dying of cancer.  The movie succeeds because disease is a theme and not a plot point.  Cancer of one form or another has eaten away at this family’s soul for years; Junon (Catherine Deneuve) is suffering from the same form of cancer that killed her four-year-old son decades ago.

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If they were in television… Lars von Trier

Notable films: Europa, Dancer in the Dark, Antichrist, Dogville, Breaking the Waves, and The Idiots.

Famous for: Shocking his audience, controversy, female lead performances, depressing idealism, anti-religious undercurrents, beautifully unique visuals, low budget hand-held camera angles, talking about his fears and emotions, and refusing to watch his own movies.

Hypothetical title: Heaven’s Highway

Hypothetical premise: After being set up for a misdemeanor and kicked out by her polygamist family, lonely widow Gretchen kills her abusive father and flees her small west-coast mountain town.  Emerging from the mountains a completely new person, she begins rebuilding her life for herself, learning her sense of individuality and coming into her own.  However, the past catches back up to her, and she is soon on the run from the law as well as her haunting, abusive past.  She begins seeing delusional crimes committed in everyday life, mimicking both the ones her father did and the way she killed him. When the police catch her, there is no proof that her father was the patriarch of a repressive polygamist regime because nobody in it will talk but her.  She is sentenced to life in prison, but commits suicide after reflecting on how good her life was for those few months.

Cross between: Thelma and Louise, Dancer in the Dark, Big Love, and Dogville.

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If they were in television… Darren Aronofsky

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Notable Films: Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Pi, and The Fountain.

Famous for: Unbearable honesty, emotionally destroyed and hopeless people, gritty surrealism, and intentionally ambiguous endings.

Hypothetical Premise: A cocaine-addicted woman is divorced by her extremely wealthy tycoon husband.  Since there was a pre-nup and she came from a poor and abusive family, she has nothing.  Over the course of the season, she goes from having everything to being a lonely, drug-ridden bum on the streets of Seattle.  Her husband makes sure she never gets a job or has any way to lift herself out of the disparity she’s in.  Then she meets a bouncer at a club, falls in love with him, but he can’t allow himself to love a crack addict.  If there is a second season, she would descend into madness and half of the series would appear to take place in the middle ages.

Cross Between: Requiem for a Dream, Breaking Bad, and The Wrestler.

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