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

5 Quick Reviews of 5 DVDs (Double-Sized Edition)

Long time. No DVD reviews.

"Where you been?"

“Where you been?”

I’ve been working on my novel. Don’t shoot.

I’m sorry I’ve neglected you guys.

I’ve watched a lot of DVD screeners since my last review. (which I think was my Oscars post. Sorry)

So here are some of them in one big blog post. (With my Behind the Candelabra review tacked on to the end)

To the reviews…

Parker (Sierra Entertainment)

Parker

Directed by Taylor Hackford

Screenplay by John J. Mclaughlin

Based on Flashfire by Donald E. Westlake

Starring Jason Statham & Jennifer Lopez

The movie Parker is a swing and a miss.

Jason Statham is as stoic and badass as ever but Jennifer Lopez is under-utilized and doesn’t come in until the second act. Also when you have two beautiful lead characters you want to see them get it on. They do not get it on. So if you’re thinking of renting this to see Jen and Jason getting busy, don’t waste your time. They kiss once. Parker is a fun heist movie but for me, it was advertised as a different film entirely. I expected something more like Out Of Sight. Not even close. However, if you’re a Jlo hater, rest assured that she is not in it very much. There is enough badassery and shoot-em-up scenes to satisfy the gun action fans but there is nothing else of value here.

Skip it (unless you just want to see action and don’t care about story then)

Rent it (but I warned you).

Warm Bodies (Summit Entertainment)

Warm Bodies

Written & Directed by Jonathan Levine

Starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer & Rob Corddry

Warm Bodies was actually pretty good. I was surprised. I usually don’t like it when writers change the rules on classic monsters to the degree that this movie does however the changes help to sell the romantic elements of the film. And I liked the romantic parts. It is a sweet film about the love between a living human girl and a zombie human boy.

Good music. Good story. Good actors. A fun and sweet light-horror romance.

Rent it

Oz The Great & Powerful (Walt Disney Studios)

OZ The Great and Powerful

Directed by Sam Raimi

Written by Mitchell Kapner

Based on the Oz series by Frank L. Baum

Starring James Franco, Mila KunisRachel Weisz, Michelle Williams & Zach Braff

Oz the Great and Powerful is just awful. The acting, writing & directing are just awful. There are too many actors that I admire in this film for it  to be this bad.

But it is… JUST HORRIBLE. Franco? Weisz? Mila? Michelle? Sam Raimi?  I kind of  think that Disney should have just gone and made an animated film.

Skip it.

A Good Day to Die Hard (20th Century Fox)

A Good Day to Die Hard

Directed by John Moore

Screenplay by Skip Woods

Starring Bruce Willis

So bad. This movie is so very very bad. Enough with these movies already, Bruce. What kind of father & son relationship are they showing us? What was that? So badly written. Oh dear god is it badly written. The one-liners are all so cornball. You can say what you will about Schwarzenegger but at least his one-liners are always entertaining. Bruce Willis comes off in this as curmudgeonly and abrasive.

Skip it.

Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Beautiful Creatures

Written & Directed by Richard LaGravenese

Based on Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Starring TWO GENUINELY AWFUL CHILDREN & Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann & Emma Thompson

BOOOOORINNNNNGGGG!!!

What a boring and stupid story. Must have been a better book (Like Cloud Atlas I suppose). Beautiful Creatures is bad and boring. What a waste of good actors. The premise is weak. The effects are goofy. The movie is unsuccessfully carried by two awful young actors and supported by great talented actors who are rarely used. So very bad. This movie is so bad. I had to turn it off and watch something else. I went back to finish the film, just in case it got good for the climactic ending. IT DOES NOT. There was no climax.

Avoid this movie like the plague.

Killing Them Softly (The Weinstein Company)

Killing Them Softly

Written & Directed by Andrew Dominik

Based on Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins

Starring Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini & Ray Liotta

Killing Them Softly is fantastic. Brad Pitt is sensational as always and the pacing of this film is brilliant. I enjoyed it profusely. A realistic and gritty mob film and heist movie. Just brutal and just awesome.

Rent it.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Paramount Pictures)

Hansel & Gretel

Written & Directed by Tommy Wirkola

Starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen & Peter Stormare

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is kind of a fun movie. If you don’t let it’s general stupidity get to you. It’s pretty easy to follow and not too… oh what’s the word: Thinky. It’s kind of a dumb popcorn movie with a few cool supernatural effects filled fight scenes but mostly it’s really dumb. So, if you’re not prepared to turn off your brain don’t watch it.

Rent it.

Movie 43 (Relativity media)

Movie 43

Directed by Everyone

Written by Everyone

Starring Everyone

This movie is disgusting at times and it misses the mark more times than it hits the bullseye. However there are several times that Movie 43 is funny as all hell! Times when I thought I was going to die laughing. Movie 43 is a bunch of comedic short films from some famous comedy directors starring quite a few a-list stars.

The first one sets the tone with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz on a blind date. Hugh has testicles hanging from his neck. It is hysterically funny for a while… but it goes on for too long.

The next two are total misses and I don’t even remember them. But then it gets really good with several in a row that are incredibly funny including: One with Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin that is genius, A coach’s pep talk to the first all black basketball team to play against an all white team with Cuba Gooding Jr., And one with a man who has a sadistic cock-blocking cartoon cat that’s got Elizabeth Banks and Josh Duhamel and is outrageous.

I didn’t like the order or the insipid teen prank that ties them together. BUT… Mixed review alert! If you can get through the bad ones the good ones are worth it.

Rent it (but I apologize for the really awful ones)

Stand Up Guys (Lionsgate)

Stand Up Guys

Directed by Fisher Stevens

Written by Noah Haidle

Starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken & Alan Arkin

Pacino and Walken

Stand Up Guys is a great film about geriatric gangsters who after a long time away from the action get together for one last adventure. It is wonderfully written and directed with three outstanding performances from Pacino, Arkin & Walken. Just like Killing Them Softly, it tries to be as realistic as possible with its violence, which I like. It is a funny and at times painfully heartbreaking film about old friends; An elderly gang of criminals that haven’t been together for decades. So good.

I loved this movie.

Rent it.

Jack Reacher (Paramount Pictures)

Jack Reacher

Written & Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Based on One Shot by Lee Child

Starring Tom Cruise (as Jack Reacher… I guess)

Frankly, there was nothing in Jack Reacher that hadn’t been done before and a heck of a lot better.

Skip it.

Behind The Candelabra (HBO)

Behind the Candelabra

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Written by Richard LaGravenese (The guy who directed Beautiful Creatures)

Based on Scott Thorson’s book

Starring Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, Rob Lowe & Debbie Reynolds

Behind The Candelabra is a great film about a twisted relationship from its beginning to its tragic end. It is not a biopic about Liberace. It is more of the story of Liberace’s lover. A man who he molded in his own image. (It brought to mind Michael & Diana… that twisted worship that leads to plastic surgery).

Michael Douglas

There was a complaint that the film was too gay for some audiences. It is not too gay. People need to grow up. In my opinion, it is just the right amount of gay, maybe even not gay enough.

Matt Damon

There are a few love scenes and some kissing and quite a few flamboyant outfits… but it’s Liberace.

He’s not Liberace.

He’s Liberace! 

There was no closeted celebrity gayer than Liberace.

Liberace

Michael Douglas deserves all the awards he is sure to receive (Perhaps both an Oscar and an Emmy) and Matt Damon more than holds his own opposite Mr. Douglas’ best performance of his life. A cadre of great character actors rounds out the all-star cast. Dan Aykroyd as the slimy manager. Scott Bakula as the slimy pimp and Rob Lowe as the slimy doctor & drug dealer.

Fantastic film.

Rent it.

So to recap…

The Good Movies: 

Warm Bodies; Sweet and Romantic,

Killing Them Softly: Dark and Gritty,

Stand Up Guys; Cool Story with Great Performances, and

Behind The Candelabra; Great Movie with Fantastic Performances

The Mixed Review Movies:

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; Fun Movie but Dumb Movie,

Movie 43; Sometimes Funny but Sometimes Just Wrong, and

Parker; Nice Action but No Substance

and lastly

The Bad Movies:

A Good Day to Die Hard; I Didn’t Expect Much and Got It,

Oz the Great and Powerful; I Expected Better and Was Sorely Disappointed,

Beautiful Creatures; I Didn’t Know What To Expect and Didn’t Like What I Got, and

Jack Reacher; I Expected Good and Original and Got Very Bad and Unoriginal

"We're going to the video store to get brains."

“We’re going to the video store to get brains.”

See you next time,

– Mel

 

5 Quick Reviews of 5 Movies on DVD this Month: Turn Off Your Brain Edition

This month I bring you 5 Turn Your Brain Off Movies. Just sit back and enjoy them but don’t think about these films too hard. They either have plot holes, are incredibly silly, are mindless fun or weren’t very good at all.

You want me to turn off my what now?

You want me to turn off my what now?

Not you Alice, sweetie. Just keep doing what you do.

You’ll see that, for 3 of these movies I was able to turn my brain off and really enjoy myself but for the other 2… I was not.

To the list.

First up…

The Bourne Legacy (Universal)

Directed by Tony Gilroy

Written by Tony & Dan Gilroy

The Bourne Legacy

Starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Ed Norton & Joan Allen

Action Spy Thriller

I tried to enjoy this movie (I love and own all three Matt Damon Bourne flicks) But I was bored.

Rachel Weisz & Jeremy Renner

Rachel Weisz was good (as always. She is an amazing actress) however Jeremy Renner was bland and Ed Norton was just average and I was bored.

Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy

There are some really fine stunts and action sequences. And I liked the way they showed you where the Jason Bourne story was in relation to each act of this one, but it only served to remind me of how much I missed Matt and wished this was a JASON Bourne movie. maybe I’m just biased because I loved the first three movies so much but I never got into this one. I would have rather read the book.

Rent or Pass (It doesn’t really matter. I was bored)

Next we have…

Looper (TriStar Pictures & Alliance Films)

Written & Directed by Rian Johnson

Looper Poster

Starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (but not his nose) & Emily Blunt

Science Fiction Time Travel Thriller

I really enjoyed this movie but it is, at its core, an exercise in not thinking too much. It gets a bit Timey-Wimey (If you know what I mean… Whovians know) And you have to stop yourself from contemplating the paradoxes or you will end up in a loop of your own creation.

Bruce Willis & Joesph Gordon-Levitt

But Looper is so well-written, well-acted, well-directed and just an overall fantastic film, that it doesn’t matter. If you can ignore its paradoxical nature, you will find that it is one of the best movies of 2012. Having said that, if you think about it humongous plot holes appear (unless you consider over-lapping universes or branching timelines – something not mentioned in the story) I like a good time travel story. And this is a good time travel story.

Rent (I may buy this one. I liked it a lot)

Next…

Resident Evil: Retribution (Screen Gems)

Written & Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Resident Evil: Retribution

Starring Milla Jovavich & Michelle Rodriguez

Science Fiction Action Horror

The latest installment in the Resident Evil franchise is fun, if also very dumb. But still… fun. It must be hard to make a good video game movie because there aren’t any. And this is no exception. But it has fun fight scenes and cool shootouts and great casting (all of Alice’s past foes are back). So, it’s a pretty good movie.

Milla Jovovich

However, there are continuity issues throughout (she destroys her car door on a motorcycle and then it miraculously reappears in the next scene, for starters) But Michelle Rodriguez is hot as fuck and Milla still kicks serious ass.

Michelle Rodriguez in Resident Evil: Retribution

And even with the blatant Alien & Aliens rip-offs in the story-line, this was a decent, while still mindless, video game movie.

Rent

Next… oh no not this one

Men In Black 3 (Guys in suits w/ small minds)

Directed by Somebody

Written by Some Other People

Men In Black 3 Poster

Not the Men In Black 3 Poster

Starring the usual suspects (There’s a good movie. The Usual Suspects. Rent that instead)

Unnecessary Sequel

My review is as follows… NO.

Stop making these Men In Black movies. They are a waste of money. The first one was sort of good. The second one was redundant but at least it gave us Rosario Dawson. This one, however,  is clearly just so that there’s three of them. You know, the whole trilogy thing.

The Best Scene in the MIB3

Not a picture of Will Smith & Tommy Lee Jones or Someone Else Who Should Know Better Than To Do Another One Of These from the movie Men In Black 3

There’s 3 of them now, guys. You can stop.

Please stop.

Pass on this – OBVIOUSLY

Next up some comedy…

Ted (Universal)

Written & Directed by Seth MacFarlane

Ted Movie Poster

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane & the wonderful Mila Kunis

Romantic Fantasy Adult Comedy

Ted is so fucking funny. I Love Seth MacFarlane’s humor and Mila Kunis (can’t never get enough Mila). They are so funny, it almost made me forget that I was watching Mark Wahlberg (Though he’s a pretty decent straight man).

Ted & The Girls

There are plot holes in this one as well but they are acceptable because it’s silly and so damn funny. In fact my only real problem with this movie, if I had to find one, is that Ted (the talking teddy bear) sounds so much like Peter Griffin from Family Guy (also voiced by MacFarlane) that it threw me off a little. But in the end this is a very funny, sort of sweet, semi-romantic but hysterically fucking funny movie.

Mila Kunis in Ted

What about me, Mel.

And Mila Kunis. We must never forget Mila Kunis.

Rent this one but turn off your brain first.

So to recap:

  • The Bourne Legacy is a great story yet I think they go out of their way to make sure that Matt Damon can come back & it suffers.

But rent it anyway

  • Looper is a great story yet because they don’t try to explain away the time paradoxes, you have to do it yourself.

But rent it anyway

  • Resident Evil: Retribution is a great video game story. Swarm Levels, Boss Battles, Co-op Modes & Finishing Moves, yet it is mindless.

But rent it anyway

  • Ted is a great story yet it can be silly, juvenile, crass & fantastical.

But rent it anyway

And a 5th movie that I can’t remember right now.

Fuck You Men In Black 3

Fuck You Men In Black 3

Oh yeah.

See you at the movies

– Mel