With Volume II of Nymphomaniac, we learn a crucial part of one of the… MoreWith Volume II of Nymphomaniac, we learn a crucial part of one of the main storytelling elements: we learn that Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), the man that Joe is telling her entire story to, the man who reflects with parallel stories/metaphors through the various books and folklore he's learned about, is in fact an asexual virgin. Hence, the reason he is the perfect man for Joe to tell her story to, since he won't look at it from a primal and sexual point of view, but rather a humanistic and unbiased one. This provided the clarity I needed to rid of the idea that Von Trier was pushing the metaphors on the viewer too directly. With that being said, Volume II is the much darker half of the story as Joe's addiction starts to take a toll on her physical and mental health. We are also introduced to a few new characters and situations that Joe puts herself through. To begin, she decides to have sex with an African man who doesn't speak English. He shows up with his brother, and things get awkward and made me extremely uncomfortable; which is exaclty what Von Trier was going for. Shortly after, Joe visits a man named K (Jamie Bell) who specializes in BDSM, and whips her in order for her to satiate her addiction. Aside from Joe herself, K is probably one of the most interesting characters of the story primarily because of how little we know about him; when she asks him what he gets out of it he tells her not to ask that question, and he clearly has some sort of personality disorder based on his awkward mannerims and "profession". This character is subtly brought to life thanks to a great performance by Jamie Bell, and every scene with him is hard to watch, but fascinating simultaneously. The things Joe sacrifices in order to fulfill her sexual needs are devastating, and make for great drama. The religious and mythological overtones presented by Seligman and Von Trier (which make more sense this time around) are extremely smart and particularly interesting. The ending is brutal, yet provides Joe with a good moral to her seemingly inhuman character, and we're finally given a small sliver of pity for her; just in time for Von Trier to slap us in the face in the very last scene, reflecting the very title the movie concludes, which is The Depression Trilogy. Nymphomaniac is a completely out of the ordinary, yet completely believable story, and Lars Von Trier is one of the only directors who could breathe life into a seemingly bleak and lifeless subject. It's artistic, distutrbing, fascinating, and intriguing storytelling.
Lars Von Trier is one of the most artistic and fascinating filmmakers… MoreLars Von Trier is one of the most artistic and fascinating filmmakers in recent memory. His "Depression Trilogy" ends here, with Nymphomaniac, an enormous four-hour movie (being divied into two parts) filled with profound and graphic sex scenes (I lost track of how many there were). We're shown various shots of both male and female genitalia, and artsy and metaphorical stories that intertwine. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays the adult "nymphomaniac", Joe, and Stacy Martin plays the younger Joe, both of whom give solid performances. Shia LaBeouf plays Joe's first love, and he plays an interesting character; perhaps the most interesting Joe has come across in her campaign of addictive sex. The parallel stories presented by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) and Joe's matching metaphorical experiences is interesting, yet at the same time they feel a little forced. Rather than relying on symbolic imagery, Von Trier chooses to be as blunt as possible about it, through direct dialogue. It's not a bad choice, because it made it a little easier for me to understand, yet it might have been more bold of a choice for Von Trier to find a way to portray the metaphors he presents without being so up-front about them. All-in-all, Part 1 of Nymphomaniac took me by surprise with how graphic and daring the sex scenes were, making it a memorable and intriguing piece of cinema.
Jon Favreau directs and stars in a unique comedy-drama Chef. It… MoreJon Favreau directs and stars in a unique comedy-drama Chef. It touches upon the importance of social media, small businesses, and of course, cooking. I would look at Chef as the live-action adult version of Ratatouille: it's about a chef named Carl Casper (Favreau) who is the head chef of a renowned restauraunt. Like Ratatouile, it features a tough food critic who writes a tough review of Carl's food. Favreau's implentation of social media gives the movie a fresh take on the modern small business, being an essential tool to marketing. John Leguizamo plays his Sous chef and close friend, and the two share some funny dialogue; Chef provides plenty of funny lines to keep things light. The film's dramatic element invloves the relationship between Carl and his son, and it provides a balance which keeps the film going at a nice pace. There's plenty of mouth-watering food on-screen, constantly; Chef was the first movie that I can remember to make me pause the film and seek out a delicious treat for myself. Despite being potentially forgettable, it's a fresh and enjoyable movie.
If it weren't for Eddie Redmayne's performance as Stephen Hawking and… MoreIf it weren't for Eddie Redmayne's performance as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones' performance as his wife, Jane Wilde, The Theory of Everything wouldn't be half as good. The depiction of Hawking's physical deterioration thanks to Redmayne was well-worth the Oscar he won for it. By the end of the film, he's almost unrecognizable. Felicity Jones plays his loving wife, who also turns in a great performance. My problem with the film is understanding exactly what director James Marsh was aiming for: it focuses on their relationship while at the same time focusing on Hawking's revolutionary work. It was sad to see what actually happened to the love that began as an unbreakable force turn into something that lost it's spark. Hawking initially sets out to find an equation that allows him to reverse time so he could find the beginning. The final scene of the film mirrors that with his relationship with Jane. At first, I wasn't crazy about that scene, but I understand what they were going for: going in reverse to show us what Hawking's personal "beginning of time" was. The scene felt a bit sentimental, and perhaps a tad cliche, but it was cute. Maybe the ending of their relationship related to his final thesis: that time is boundless, and so are human beings. The performances and Hawking's final speech are more than enough to warrant a viewing here. I was definitely impressed.
While it did get a few laughs out of me, Talladega Nights is one of… MoreWhile it did get a few laughs out of me, Talladega Nights is one of Adam McKay's weaker films. It did feel like a one-note joke for the most part; Sacha Baron Cohen made up for most of what Will Ferrell surprisingly failed at. His self-righteous French persona is top-notch and, as always, a hilarious performance from Cohen. It isn't as much as the film being flawed as it is being hard to ignore the greatness of McKay's other films "Anchorman", "The Other Guys", and especially the comedy classic "Step Brothers".