Two and a half movies in one week is actually pretty good for me, considering the hectic nature of my life right now and propensity to zone out on ridiculous television show X when it is all said and done for the evening. This week in movies had some really surprising highs, some kind-of lows, and the ability to morph my dreams in strange and underwhelming ways.
This is the End (2013) Dir. Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
There is a lot that I could potentially say about this movie. I could talk about its obvious self-referentiality, and whether or not this is smartly done. I could talk about it as a critique of the Hollywood movie industry, or as a deconstruction of the constructed identities of movie stars. I could switch directions and talk about its warped vision of the bible and Christianity, and what this means for eschatological visions of the apocalypse. I could also write about how the movie’s countless references to Pineapple Express acted as a continual reminder of how horrible that movie was.
All those topics are deserving of their own essays, but the thought of writing any of them fills me with dread. This is the End is not a horrible mess. It might even be intelligent and thoughtful. But it takes a special kind of movie to create such high levels of ambivalence.
This is England (2006) Dir. Shane Meadows
A movie that begins with innocence and ends in devastation, This is England is uncompromising in its representation of English Nationalism and its birth in the Thatcher era. Despite its polarizing subject matter (skinheads, militant racism, etc.), the film is never didactic, but rather shows the viewer a complicated global perspective which informs the bubbling, inchoate aggression in a podunk English town. This is England is sophisticated and nuanced in a way that makes a film like American History X look hokey by comparison. The pacing is superb, which makes the final act of violence all the more powerful and unsettling. My only critique is in the ending, where this unflinching film shied away from its own brutal honesty.
Escape from Tomorrow (2013) Dir. Randy Moore
I watched half of this one night, had strange and bizarre dreams, and never finished it. While I love a good Lynchian nightmare, this one was underwhelming, despite its original premise. It was really hard to find something interesting to say about this movie. There was something lurking on the edges about paternalism and how innocent, young boys are turned into violent, sexually-deviant men, but it never gained traction. Instead, the film insisted on showing us scene after scene of giggling, skipping French girls. All with horrible acting throughout.