Spared or Spoiled Movie Reviews: The Lobster

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

“You can be a loner until the day you die. There is no time limit.”

From someone who spends most of their time alone, and has made peace with the fact that they’ll probably be alone forever, this movie is really fucking depressing.

The Lobster (Picturehouse Entertainment)

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Written by Efthimis Filippou & Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring Colin FarrellRachel WeiszJessica BardenOlivia ColmanAshley JensenAriane LabedAngeliki PapouliaJohn C. ReillyLéa SeydouxMichael Smiley & Ben Whishaw

This movie made me uncomfortable. The Lobster has a few funny moments. A few laugh out loud, what-the-fuck moments. But mostly it’s just cringe-worthy and violent and unwatchable. I guess you have to get the joke. The whole thing about society requiring that humans pair off. And how being alone gets you ostracized. And I guess that’s the case… I guess. In the Lobster this is way way waaaaaaaaaaay over the top with single people being reassigned to live their lives as the animal of their choice (basically an execution). But as “one of the lonely people” I just took all this nonsensical forced pairing crap and ignored it as less of an allegory on our society and more of a plot point about their absurd fictional one. So once that whole part of the movie is disregarded as not being a distorted reflection of us, but a wholesale fiction, then all that’s left of The Lobster is violence and bad behavior and a lack of empathy bordering on the psychotic. It’s not funny. It’s more disturbing than anything resembling funny and it made me incredibly uncomfortable. Let me explain why this movie is depressing and awkwardly unfunny with many many spoilers.

Verdict: SPOILED

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The Lobster is the story of three locations in a dark parallel universe. This doesn’t represent our future. It’s not our future because nothing is more advanced than what we have. In fact the movie is ultra-low-tech. The City, a place where anyone walking alone is asked to show proof that they are in a relationship or are shipped off to the second location. The Hotel, a disturbing concentration camp where the newly single have 45 days to find “love” or get reassigned as an animal (this is basically execution but I guess the story was violent enough) unless of course they can escape to the third location. The Forest, outside of the city, where escapees from The Hotel live as refugees and also where the singles from The Hotel go to hunt down and kill single people to gain one extra day of existence as an unmarried, single human being imprisoned at a sadistic hotel. This is some dark and annoyingly unfunny, absurdist crap.

The Lobster is outrageously violent (like Logan violent) but the filmmakers take pains to show women being the aggressors towards men and not the other way around. Everyone is thirsty. Thirsty for sex. Thirsty for love. And thirsty for blood. At one point a woman, describe in the film as being heartless (but not particularly any more heartless than the other awful characters), kicks a dog to death in order to prove that her lover has emotional feelings for his pet. It’s disgusting and well over-the-top. At one point a woman who runs the refugee camp in the forest blinds another woman for having the gall to fall in love with a man at her singles enclave. This is pointless and cruel. The Lobster is full of pointless cruelty that is only sometimes funny. Dark violent humor that seems more like misplaced anger toward an ex? (who hurt you, Yorgos?)

Guests at the hotel are subjected to forced sexual arousal but restricted from masturbation. This would have been funny except that the punishment for getting caught masturbating is having your fingers burnt off in a toaster. But The Lobster is not all bad. Rachel Weisz is heartbreaking and brilliant as a hotel escapee. And in the middle of this violent nightmare, there is a touching romance between Colin “Hotel Guest” Farrell and Rachel “Refugee” Weisz. Or “un-touching” romance, because they’re not allowed to touch. It is cute and romantic as they make up their own silent language so as not to get caught having a relationship. But this beautiful part of the movie gets lost in all the bleak, violent stuff surrounding it.

One of the actually funny themes moving through The Lobster is the idea that all relationships are built on some common trait. The two leads share a similar visual malady. Other couples can both sing. Or they both have limps. Or both get nose bleeds. Or absolutely anything else. But it’s never about love. This gets blown further and further out of proportion when the main character decides to blind himself in order to stay with the female lead who was made blind earlier in the film. He loves her already but believes that they can’t be together unless they are both blind. It is absurd. And it’s supposed to be funny. But as he directs the steak knife into his eyeball, it did not make me laugh. It made me uncomfortable. Maybe it’s just me but blinding yourself with a steak knife for love is not even a little bit funny.

There are, however, a couple of jokes that hit home. And a couple of themes that resonate. Like when the lonely older woman who is sweet and sexy but depressed because she doesn’t want to die (live as an animal… whatever), throws herself, awkwardly but sweetly at the main character. She’s smart. She’s funny. She tells him all this stuff she’ll do sexually but he ignores her because he instead wants the younger girl who would eventually beat his dog to death. Or the even younger girl with the nose bleeds. This is funny, poignant, and depressingly accurate, as he ignores this possible loving relationship for two horrible… younger women. And there’s this great joke where couples who are having problems are assigned children because that always makes it better. But then the sexy older woman later tries to kill herself and this too would be powerful if she had jumped from a higher floor. But she doesn’t. And she lands on her face and lies there screaming in a pool of her own blood for five minutes of screen time. Wailing and screaming in pain while our hero chats up the future dog murderer. This is also supposed to be funny. This is about as funny as Donald Trump being president.

The Lobster masquerades as a commentary on how our society values people in relationships over those who don’t mind the loneliness of being single. And the movie illustrates this point when guests at the hotel are shown a pantomime of a lonely man dying alone. With no one to give him the Heimlich maneuver, he chokes on his food. Then the guests are shown a situation where a woman walking by herself (in what has been established as an incredibly cruel fictional world) is being sexually harassed and then raped, with no one to come to her aid.

The Lobster isn’t so much making fun of these societal tropes and traditions of the spinster and the hermit and the fear of dying alone as much as it’s reinforcing them. Yet it’s not this heavy-handed loner bashing that’s the biggest problem with the film. It’s the cruelty of every single one of its characters. None of these people are lovable. Not one. The married people suck. The single people suck. Even the animals are complete dicks. Honestly, I was ready for some quality entertainment when in the first scene a woman gets out of her car and shoots a horse in what is obviously a fit of jealous rage based on personal pain inflicted on her by that particular animal. It is an hysterically funny moment and I’m thinking, Great! this is going to be a good movie. No. It just declines from there. It just gets more violent from there. More animals being killed and people being mutilated for masturbating.

The Lobster is a cruel violent movie. Filled with cruel violent characters. Desperately seeking cruel and violent misguided love connections. And even though it can be mildly entertaining sometimes. Most of the time, The Lobster just made me feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortably sad and lonely… and that’s not why we go to the movies.

– Mel

Eight Songs That Make Me Happy

This is a public service announcement… with guitar.

When I suffered from depression music was always my escape. When I was little it was silly songs. There was this Flintstones album in the public library that I wore out. When I was a teenager it was angry songs. Rock, Metal, Punk. Gangsta Rap. By High School and University I was wallowing in depression with dark songs, moody songs, or just some good old blues. But we’re not going to wallow in it today. Not getting angry. Or being silly. We’re going straight to happy.

woo-hoo

“Woo hoo!!”

We do this meditation in the Buddhist traditions where we wish for people to be happy. We think about people we know being happy. How everyone, all over the world, wants to be free from suffering. And why everyone has a desire to be happy. And then we form the resolution in our minds that we are going to make them all happy with our thoughts, with our actions, with our wishes, with our words

And with our blogs.

Yes Buddha does mention blogs in the Sutras. You just have to find the right translation.

snoopy-happy-dance

January 20th, 2017 is fast approaching and we all know what that means. President Donald Tr… I still can’t say it. So it’s easy to let it get you down. But I say screw that.

These songs are my surefire depression busters. I’m calling it my eight-fold path to dancing in your underwear before the world burns.

It’s a temporary fix. But it’ll help you take your mind off of it.

So these eight songs (lyrics included) are designed to put the happy back where it belongs. In your feet. In your butt. And in your face. And none of them are by Pharrell.

happy-minions

“Yebey!!”

Here we go…

First up… Crooning with a smile.

Feeling Good by Michael Buble

“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life. It’s a new life for me…”

———————————-

Next… Some Attitude.

Troublemaker by Weezer

“I’m such a special guy.”

————————————-

And now a personal favorite… I love this guitar riff and this video and Morrissey’s dance moves alone make me very happy.

What Difference Does It Make by The Smith

All men have secrets and here is mine
So let it be known
For we have been through hell and high tide
I think I can rely on you…
And yet you start to recoil
Heavy words are so lightly thrown
But still I’d leap in front of a flying bullet for you

So, what difference does it make?
So, what difference does it make?
It makes none
But now you have gone
And you must be looking very old tonight

The devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole and I lied, and why?
Because you asked me to!
But now you make me feel so ashamed
Because I’ve only got two hands
Well, I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

So, what difference does it make?
Oh, what difference does it make?
Oh, it makes none
But now you have gone
And your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight

Oh, the devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole, and then I lied
Just because you asked me to
But now you know the truth about me
You won’t see me anymore
Well, I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

But no more apologies
No more, no more apologies
Oh, I’m too tired
I’m so sick and tired
And I’m feeling very sick and ill today
But I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

Oh, my sacred one…
Oh…

—————————————–

Now here’s a song about self -love and just being a good neighbor.

Satellite Mind by Metric

Hold it I’m about to drop off
Let me tell you my last thought
Drift into a deep fog
Lost where I forgot to hold it
I can feel you most when I’m alone

Coming home cause I want to
Hang out with a starlet
Stare out at the ceiling
Preview of a screening
Flashback of a feeling
Sixth sense of the call and
I heard you fuck through the wall
I heard you fuck

When I’m bored
I send vibrations
In your direction
From the satellite mind

I’m not suicidal
I just can’t get out of bed
I drift into a deep fog
Lost where I forgot to hold it
I can feel you when I’m alone
I can fell your ghost when I’m alone

Coming home cause I want to
Hang out with a starlet
Stare out at the ceiling
Preview of a screening
Flashback of a feeling
Sixth sense of the call and
I heard you fuck through the wall
I heard you fuck

When I’m bored
I send vibrations
In your direction
From the satellite mind

When your voice
Became vibrations
From the satellite mind

It sounded like mine

——————————————–

Next… A happy tune about getting everything you could ever want for just one dollar. (make sure to read the fine print)

Step Right Up by Tom Waits

“Only a dollar. Step right up.”

—————————————-

Next… Denial (but with an infectious melody)

Everything’s Just Wonderful by Lily Allen

“Oh well I guess I mustn’t grumble. I suppose that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.”

———————————————-

Next up.. a little more self-love (of the less erotic kind)

i (love myself) by Kendrick Lamar

“The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs. But it can do what it want, whenever it want, I don’t mind.”

————————————————

And lastly… The happiest bass-line in the world.

Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz

City’s breaking down on a camel’s back.
They just have to go ’cause they don’t know whack
So all you fill the streets it’s appealing to see
You won’t get out the county, ’cause you’re bad and free
You’ve got a new horizon it’s ephemeral style.
A melancholy town where we never smile.
And all I want to hear is the message beep.
My dreams, they’ve got to kiss, because I don’t get sleep, no
Windmill, Windmill for the land.
Love forever hand in hand
Taking it all in on your stride
It is sticking, falling down
Love forever love is free
Let’s turn forever you and me
Windmill, windmill for the land
Is everybody in?

Laughing gas these hazmats, fast cats,
Lining them up like ass cracks,
Ladies, homies, at the track
Its my chocolate attack.
Shit, I’m stepping in the heart of this here
Care bear bumping in the heart of this here
Watch me as I gravitate
Hahahahahahaa.
Yo, we gonna go ghost town,
This motown,
With yo sound
You’re in the place
You gonna bite the dust
Can’t fight with us
With yo sound
You kill the INC.
So don’t stop, get it, get it
Until you’re cheddar header.
Yo, watch the way I navigate

Windmill, Windmill for the land.
Love forever hand in hand
Take it all in on your stride
It is sticking, falling down
Love forever love is free
Let’s turn forever you and me
Windmill, windmill for the land
Is everybody in?

Don’t stop, get it, get it
We are your captains in it
Steady, watch me navigate,
Ahahahahahhaa.
Don’t stop, get it, get it
We are your captains in it
Steady, watch me navigate

Hahahahaha


I love you guys.

Remember to smile even when you don’t feel like it because it will probably make someone else smile and then someone else… traveling from person to person and before you know it you’ll see your original smile on someone else’s face.

And then you’ll smile for real.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: The Disappearance(s) of Eleanor Rigby

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (The Weinstein Company)

The-Disappearance-of-Eleanor-Rigby-poster

Written & Directed by Ned Benson

Starring Jessica Chastain & James McAvoy

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a two-part cinematic concept piece about love and loss. It is the story of a couple dealing with the death of their infant son. Well-written and well-acted. But as much as the concept of giving both parents their own film helps to convey the emotional state of each, it also becomes a crutch for lazy directing. Not everything has to be a trilogy. Here there are three films when they should have stopped at two. There are two people. There need be only two movies; one for each. But even then The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby gets caught up its own ass. Enjoying the smell of its own flatulence. Because in the end this is the story of self-involved and entitled artsy archetypes that seemingly believe no one else in the world has felt the pain of loss before them. Created by the most pretentious of creatives that seemingly believes no one else in the world has made a movie before them. Great cast. Great performances. Interesting concept. Horrible execution. I wrote down my thoughts between each stanza of this epic poem and yes there will be spoilers. But then again, since these movies don’t really have much of a fucking plot, there isn’t that much to spoil.

Verdict: SPOILED

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain

SPOILER ALERT

editor’s note* From everything I’ve read about this project, I believed this was a trilogy. There were three films. But after looking at the posters, I’m thinking this was originally a two film concept that was “dumbed-down” and edited into a third film. Him & Her are two pretty good films. Or more accurately, separated parts of one film. A nice concept. Them, the third one, is horrible and ruins the experience. I watched it as a trilogy and I’m just going to post my original thoughts unedited. I got really mad. It’s not pretty.

Him (The Weinstein Company)

The-Disappearance-of-Eleanor-Rigby-Him

Written & Directed by Ned Benson

Starring James McAvoy, Bill HaderCiarán HindsKatherine WaterstonNina Arianda & Jessica Chastain

In Him, we meet a young couple who have just experienced a tragedy. They have lost their infant son. We never learn how or why. We just see what this event has done to their relationship. In Him, the husband, played masterfully by James McAvoy, is coping with this loss by trying to move ahead with his professional life.

James McAvoy

He owns a small bar slash restaurant in the village. But like most restaurants, his is slowly losing money. His father, who owns a much more successful restaurant in almost the same area, has offered his son the job of running that one when he retires. Ciarán Hinds plays the father, while Bill Hader gives a fine performance as the main character’s best friend and the chef at his restaurant.

Bill Hader

Him is a good movie. Kind of depressing because of the mysterious loss of the child, but well-written and with some great performances. However, Him is kind of infuriating because of the way it portrays the mother. She is not a real part of the story. She is a force of nature. Unhinged and untamable and virtually unseen. Inconsolable and unconscionable and nearly unnecessary. Jessica Chastain is amazing as this woman who leaves our hero in a lurch to grieve on her own, to grieve on his own, only to come back into his life again and again at loose intervals just to leave him again and again and again, to leave him in a twisted mess, without his child or the love of his life.

James McAvoy & Jessica Chastain

She wants to grieve alone, while he wants to be with her. It’s like they’re two different people who each lost a child and not a couple who lost one together. And because all we see is him and not her (she barely exists in his movie), it is so easy to hate her for the way she treats him. The way she leaves him. This is his story. And from my point of view, she is the villain of his story. We’ll see what I think of her after watching her in Her.

“A shooting star only lasts a second, but isn’t it better to have seen it?” 

Her (The Weinstein Company)

The-Disappearance-of-Eleanor-Rigby-Her

Written & Directed by Ned Benson

Starring Jessica Chastain, Viola DavisWilliam HurtIsabelle HuppertJess Weixler & James McAvoy

In Her we finally get to know the title character. The enigmatic Eleanor Rigby; The disappearing one (sorry Chris). The mother, the wife, the daughter, the pain… THE PAIN. Her opens on a suicide attempt and instantly all the blame placed on her for his torment (the first film) is forgiven. It was easy to hate her in Him. We knew she was in pain. That was a given. But all we saw was the back of her. All we saw was her running away from him. We saw his pain but we never saw hers. And by the end of the first half hour of Her, we realize there was far too much pain there for one movie. They each needed their own.

Jessica Chastain

After watching Jessica Chastain act her ass off, I feel like my heart just ran a marathon. I must be a glutton for punishment because I’m going to watch the third movie after the pounding my heart took in Her. Another stellar cast in this one with Viola Davis and William Hurt and other amazing actors as her friends and family.

The Rigby Sisters

Her is the story of a woman trying desperately to be someone else. Someone other than the new mother who just lost her son. Someone other than the wife who left her husband. Someone else. Her is not a whole movie however. Not a complete story. It is nothing without him. Him is a whole movie, but one where the title character is incomplete. She’s more of an idea than a character. Her becomes a companion piece for the first one. A character study. An entire film dedicated to one character’s development. It is, in fact, what was missing from the first movie. But it is not an entity in and of itself. Without Him, Her is merely a personality test. A description. A snapshot of loss… but so fucking painful.

Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

At one point in this movie I felt like poking my own eyes out. Jessica Chastain is incredible. There’s this firefly motif that runs through both films. And at one point, after her young nephew gives her a “lightning bug” in a jar, she wakes with a desire to set it free. But when she gets to the place she wants it to fly, It doesn’t. And she begs it to wake up. And I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry as much as scream and want to poke my own eyes out. It was so painful as she begs it to wake up. We never see the child. Or the death. It isn’t even discussed in the films. All we get is her begging a firefly to wake up and it’s excrutiating.

Jessica Chastain and Viola Davis

Not much happens in Her. She goes back to school. She goes to France. She walks around aimlessly. But we see how much she loves him. And we see how much she wants to go back to a happier time. A good place. And we see this all through Jessica’s eyes and her amazing performance. The woman is a goddess.

So I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest but I’m going to watch the third movie now and trust that they do something to stop this feeling.

“Tragedy is a foreign country. We don’t know how to talk to the natives.”

Them (The Weinstein Company)

Them

Written & Directed by The same dude that made the other ones

Starring All of the people from the first two films

FUCK!!!! What a waste of two hours. They don’t even add to the narrative. In fact they don’t even edit the stories together. They take scenes from the first two movies and show them back to back. There is nothing new. Even scenes that are in both movies but are seen from different POV are taken from one movie or the other as is. A scene from Him. A scene from Her. A scene from Him. A scene from Her. No real attempt is made to merge the two stories or even resolve the conflict.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Them is an exercise in lazy filmmaking and I had high hopes for this one. The first movie ends with her following him through the park. The second one ends with her catching up to him in the park and getting his attention. (see the progression? The promised resolution?) The third movie ends with her following him in the park. The same bloody scene from the first movie. I thought that at least they would show a conclusion to that last scene. What a sham. Not only is Them a monumental waste of time if you’ve seen the first two movies but if you haven’t seen the first two movies it makes no fucking sense at all.

The Happy Couple

Most of the energy from the other movies is edited out to keep the running time down to two hours (because we have such short attention spans, I guess). And it serves to lessen the emotional impact of the first two parts. Them is a film that makes Him & Her shittier by its existence. Way to ruin a concept with lazy film-making, guys. I mean if you’re going to edit the movies together then do that. Fucking do that. There are scenes in the first two movies that are different interpretations of the same thing and instead of reconciling the differences they just choose one of the scenes (I’m guessing with a coin flip) and they only show that. Nothing new. Nothing learned. Nothing. A waste of my fucking time with nothing to show for it. A WASTE OF MY FUCKING TIME. Them, the third Eleanor Rigby film, is a fat and steaming pile of stinking garbage.

Fireflies

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, as a whole, is a fat and steaming pile of stinking garbage. Unfinished and unresolved. But if you have to watch it, stop at the second one. For the love of god, stop at the second one.

– Mel

i (Love Myself)

This song makes me happy.

I done been through a whole lot
Trial, tribulations, but I know God
Satan wanna put me in a bow-tie
Praying that the holy water don’t go dry, yeah yeah

As I look around me
So many motherfuckers wanna down me
But ain’t no nigga never drown me
In front of a dirty double-mirror they found me

I love myself
The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs
I love myself
But it can do what it want whenever it wants and I don’t mind
I love myself
He said, “I gotta get up, life is more than suicide.”
I love myself
“One day at the time, sun gonna shine.”

Everybody looking at you crazy
What you gone do?
Lift up your head and keep moving
Or let the paranoia haunt you?
Peace to fashion police
I wear my heart on my sleeve let the runway start
You know the miserable do love company
What do you want from me and my scars?
Everybody lack confidence, everybody lack confidence
How many times our potential was anonymous?
How many times the city making me promises?
So I promise this:

I love myself
The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs
I love myself
But it can do what it want whenever it wants and I don’t mind
I love myself
He said, “I gotta get up, life is more than suicide.”
I love myself
“One day at the time, sun gonna shine.”

They wanna say there’s a war outside and a bomb in the street
And a gun in the hood and a mob of police
And a rock on the corner and a line full of fiends
And a bottle full of lean and a model on a scheme, yup

These days of frustration keep y’all on ducking rotation
I duck these cold faces, post up fee-fi-fo-fum basis
Dreams of realities peace
Blow steam in the face of the beast
The sky can fall down, the wind can cry now
The strong in me, I still smile

I love myself
The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs
I love myself
But it can do what it want whenever it wants and I don’t mind
I love myself
He said, “I gotta get up, life is more than suicide.”
I love myself
“One day at the time, sun gonna shine.”

Walk my barefeet (Walk my barefeet)
Down, down valley peak (Down, down valley peak)
I keep my fee-fi-fo-fum (Fee-fi-fo-fum)
I keep my heart undone (My heart undone)

And I love myself
The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs
I love myself
But it can do what it want whenever it wants and I don’t mind
I love myself
He said, “I gotta get up, life is more than suicide.”
I love myself
“One day at the time, sun gonna shine.”

I went to war last night
With an automatic weapon, don’t nobody call a medic
I’m a do it ’til I get it right

I went to war last night
I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent
Duckin’ every other blessin’, l can never see the message

I can never take the lead, I can never bob and weave
For my nigga that be letting ’em annihilate me
And the sound is moving in a meteor speed
From a 100 to a billion lay my body in the street

Keep my money in the ceiling let my mama know I’m free
Give my story to the children and the lesson they can read
And the glory to the feeling of the only unseen
Seen enough, make a motherfucker scream,

“I love myself!”

I lost my head,
I must’ve misread
what the good book said
Oh woes keep me,
it’s a jungle inside
Give myself again
’til the well runs dry.

– Kendrick Lamar