REVIEW: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright (screenplay), Bryan Lee O’Malley (graphic novels.)
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Schwartzman, and Anna Kendrick

It almost seemed as if America had had enough of Michael Cera.  His “quirkier than thou,” acting career had cornered its hipster niche, and then pummeled it with character after awkward character until they just couldn’t take it anymore.  As we saw with his two earlier and still best movies, Superbad and Juno, his comic style’s effectiveness is screenplay dependent.  Thankfully, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘s got one of those, and it doesn’t pummel you with his long pauses or dopey, annoying sensibilities.

Another thing this potent, and fully alive comic book adaptation’s got is a visual style.  I’d rather be pummeled by fantastic visuals than awkward pauses any day, and director Edgar Wright does this.  It can overwhelm at times, and if it were in 3D it would kill you, but Wright effectively makes up for this summer’s lack of visual polish.  You’ll feel like you’re watching a music video and playing a video game, especially if you’re familiar with the artistry of both mediums.

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REVIEW: Inception

Inception
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard

Waves crashing to shore, then a body; these are both one of the first things we see in Inception, and one of the last.  Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated dream-thriller may wow you with its visual prowess, dazzle you with its high-ended concepts, and intrigue you with its heist-style head invading, but it has a typical Hollywood-style circular structure.

If it sounds like I’m already being hard on Nolan and his predetermined masterpiece, it’s only because you need to know right off the bat that it does not reinvent cinema the way it’s publicity campaign suggested.

Many reviews have pointed out all of Nolan’s influences (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix) and for good reason: Inception is chock full of moments where anyone who’s seen a sci-fi movie will chuckle to themselves.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Antichrist

Antichrist
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Written by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg

Much has been made of this visually striking, grotesquely dark film from Danish auteur Lars von Trier.  The rumors are true, almost all of them.  There is a talking fox.  There is a gruesome climax filled with not one, but two, genital mutilations.  If the latter doesn’t draw in today’s torture porn crowd, it’s only because the barbarity doesn’t fall within the tight moral coding and sugar-coated bloodbath of the Saw franchise.

Von Trier likes to think of himself as above mere mutilation for the sake of it, but viewing this film as a tale with morals when the content is so morally reprehensible creates kind of a paradox.  His film is at times visually striking, and at times brutally unwatchable.

It begins with a beautifully filmed yet tragic slow-motion black and white sequence of a couple (William Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) making love while their son sneaks out of his crib and plummets out a window to his death.  Mr. von Trier is not above starting out his film with the most cliche form of tragedy: kill the kid.

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