Archive for the ‘Most Confusing Films of All time’ Category

Faces Of The Street – Two Short Films From Minneapolis

Posted 16 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Grinning Faces, USA, 2010

Written and Directed by Noah Tilsen

Street Hassle, USA, 2010

Written and Directed by Roger Davidson

Grinning Faces is a disturbing and impressive film debut from Noah Tilsen.

Here we present a look at two films that many people will not only not “get,” but may have some difficulty in even seeing for themselves, as they are not widely available for viewing as of yet. Noah Tilsen’s Grinning Faces and Roger Davidson’s Street Hassle are two micro-budget indie shorts, both approximately 30 minutes long, made by two of the more promising filmmakers currently at work in the Twin Cities of my home state, Minnesota. Both films are dark (both in cinematography and content), stylish and disturbing, with a bit of gallows humor and a strong sense of impending doom and madness. It is this reviewer’s opinion that short films are too often overlooked, and I try to rectify this oversight by occasionally reviewing them here; in fact, my first article as an official writer for this site was a lengthy analysis of one of my favorite films, Luis Bunuel’s 16-minute masterpiece, Un Chien Andalou (1929): http://moviesididntget.com/2011/01/17/un-chien-andalou-kill-your-symbols/

Full disclosure: though I had nothing directly to do with the making of Grinning Faces, several of those both behind and in front of the camera are friends or acquaintances of mine, which is also true of Street Hassle; additionally, I have a minor, non-speaking role in Hassle, though my influence on the film is so minimal, I feel that it is not a conflict of interest for me to review it here. I thought it best to be up-front and honest about this, and I will do my utmost to provide unbiased reviews of both.

Read More

Birdemic: Shock And Terror

Posted 13 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Birdemic: Shock and Terror, USA, 2008

Written and Directed by James Nguyen

Birdemic: Shock and Terror is probably the worst film ever made.

After years – hell, nearly two decades – of searching, I think I just may have found the absolute worst movie ever made. Though Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), my previous choice, is indeed the most mind-numbing and impossible to enjoy film I can remember seeing, at the very least it has some stellar craftsmanship in the technical departments. James Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror was clearly made without the benefit of anyone who knew absolutely anything about filmmaking within a hundred yards of the set. Witness production values and acting that make Tommy Wiseau’s notorious 2003 classic The Room look like a legitimate masterpiece. Witness sound editing and mixing apparently done by a pair of deaf children. Witness the worst special effects ever seen in a feature film. Witness the musical number “Just Hangin’ Out,” sung onscreen in its hilarious entirety by Damien Carter. Witness the flaming wreckage of a film that is Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

Read More

The Legacy of Silent Film

Posted 04 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Trip To The Moon is one of the best of the very early silent films.

Perhaps one of the main reasons that so many of us, myself included, fail to “get” certain films, or certain aspects of film as a whole, is that we have not spent sufficient time studying the beginnings of the art form. We have not looked to the past. This, then, is a look at the first few decades of the cinematic arts, and the influence of these early films on what we see onscreen today.

When Louis and Auguste Lumiere first showed their short film The Arrival of a Train in 1895, they certainly had no inkling that, almost 100 years later, it would be the film-within-a-film in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Nor could Carl Theodor Dreyer have suspected that his 1928 feature The Passion of Joan of Arc would one day be the major inspiration for Mel Gibson’s hugely successful The Passion of the Christ (2004). But no matter where these and other early filmmakers envisioned the medium in 100 years, or whether they even believed it would last that long, the films we see today are undeniably the legacy of these pioneers of a nascent art form. Read More

Dogtooth

Posted 10 Mar 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Dogtooth, 2009, Greece

Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos

Dogtooth is the best film of the year.

This film is mind-blowingly great, the best I’ve seen in quite some time. The best way to see Dogtooth is the way in which I was lucky enough to: without knowing anything about its storyline. If you have not yet seen this film, I strongly encourage you to stop reading this review and watch it, right now, on Netflix or any other method you might be able to find.

Anyone still with me? I am now going to assume you have seen the film and that it has either blown your mind and made you extremely inspired and reinvigorated about the possibilities of the cinematic art form, as it did for me on both viewings (within two weeks), or it has outraged and disgusted you with its “mean-spiritedness,” as it did for some others with whom I have discussed it. Maybe it has done a little of both. In any event, you have seen the film and I will no longer have to warn you about upcoming spoilers.

Greek filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos has created a film of startling power and striking originality. The closest comparison I can make, both in style and content, is the work of Austrian provocateur Michael Haneke – the brilliant filmmaker behind The Seventh Continent (1989), Cache (2005) and The White Ribbon (2009), to name just a few – but Dogtooth is more perversely humorous than even Haneke’s Funny Games (1997, remade by Haneke himself in 2007), which is admittedly the only one of his films to really utilize humor. As dark, disturbing and sometimes brutal as Dogtooth ultimately is, it is hard not to laugh at some of it, and this is clearly the desired effect. Read More

Loving The Bomb – Technology And Conquest In The Films Of Stanley Kubrick

Posted 11 Feb 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, UK, 1964

2001: A Space Odyssey, UK / USA, 1968

A Clockwork Orange, UK / USA, 1971

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick is the greatest filmmaker of all time. Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was undeniably one of the most brilliant and innovative motion picture directors of all time. His meticulously crafted works have influenced innumerable filmmakers all over the world, from Steven Spielberg to Gaspar Noe. Obviously, entire books have been written about Kubrick’s oeuvre, so let us focus here on the peak of his career, from 1963 to 1971, and the three films that are, arguably, his greatest masterpieces: Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964); 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); and A Clockwork Orange (1971).

Throughout these films are many common themes; prominent among them are technology and conquest. All three revolve around the idea of technology’s relationship to modern Man and his quest to control the Unknown, represented by the Doomsday Machine in Strangelove, HAL (voiced by Douglas Rain) in 2001, and the Ludovico Technique in Clockwork.
Read More

Kaboom

Posted 07 Feb 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Kaboom, USA / France, 2010

Written and Directed by Gregg Araki

Kaboom is a weak effort compared to Araki's previous work.

Gregg Araki’s latest feature is supposedly a return to his roots, a manic, campy dark comedy in the vein of his earliest works, such as The Doom Generation (1995) and Nowhere (1997). I have seen neither of those films and can only compare the new one, Kaboom, to Araki’s last two features, the beautifully sad Mysterious Skin (2004) and the underrated stoner comedy Smiley Face (2007). I am rather unhappy to report that Kaboom is nowhere near as great a film as Mysterious Skin and, to me at least, nowhere near as fun as Smiley Face.

Kaboom is the loose, wildly unrestrained story of Smith (Thomas Dekker), an ambi-sexual college freshman who has an unrequited crush on his mindless surfer roommate, Thor (Chris Zylka); meanwhile, Smith’s best friend Stella (Haley Bennett), who he describes as a “vag-etarian,” has the opposite problem with her latest girlfriend, the clingy and apparently supernatural Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida). Smith eventually hooks up with London (Juno Temple), a free-spirited sexual adventurer who picks him up in the bathroom of a house party and is easily the most interesting and charismatic character in the film. Smith also wants to get something going with Oliver (Brennan Mejia), who mysteriously leaves what amounts to a dating service video on Smith’s personal computer in order to intrigue him. Read More

Enter The Void

Posted 25 Jan 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Enter the Void, France / Germany / Italy, 2009

Directed by Gaspar Noe

Enter The Void is a strange and unique film experience. French filmmaker Gaspar Noe has always been known for the intensity of his vision. His 1998 debut, I Stand Alone, features one of the most unlikable protagonists in cinema history (Philippe Nahon’s brilliantly realized “The Butcher”), as well as moments of shockingly realistic violence and subject matter that includes incest and the brutal beating of a pregnant woman (who, it must be noted, is at least as unlikable as The Butcher himself). His highly polarizing 2002 follow-up, Irreversible, managed to drastically raise the already high ante with its horrifyingly unflinching and lengthy depictions of murder and rape; it may have had more theatrical walkouts than any single film in history, and has only arguably been topped by Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) as the most disturbing film ever shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Now, with his latest feature Enter the Void, Noe seems to be pushing audience tolerance levels even further, albeit in a very different way. While I Stand Alone was essentially a one man show for The Butcher’s virulent hatred of pretty much everything and everyone (kind of like a French Taxi Driver, for people who thought the original was too cute and cuddly), and Irreversible showed extraordinary technical prowess with its impossible camera angles and chronologically backwards narrative (inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Memento), both films show a great artistic restraint and clarity of vision by comparison to the sprawling head-trip that is Enter the Void. For one thing, Void is nearly an hour longer than Noe’s previous features, taking the viewer on a wild and occasionally tedious ride full of even more dizzying and impossible cinematography than Irreversible. The film is nothing if not original, and Noe’s determination to push the boundaries of what cinema can do must be admired. Read More