12 Years Avoids Oscar’s Paint By Numbers

Pronounce it with me, people. E-Chew-It-Tell Edge-E-O-Four. Bam, who said you couldn’t learn something from my blog?

Sometimes, when I’m out on a date with a hottie with a naughty body, I just know the chick is putting on a facade. The right words roll off her tongue. Her makeup is almost too perfect. And, if she’s exceptionally eager, she’ll even know a thing or two about Scorsese’s career. The point is: everything is flawless but it never seems genuine. It seems like she’s trying to be something that’ll impress me, instead of just showing her tits and actually impressing me. And that’s basically the same feeling I have when I watch certain quote unquote Oscar films.

Take The King’s Speech, I can’t technically say a bad word about that film. It’s a sturdy film. The cinematography is clever. The acting is exceptional. And there’s a clear emotional through-line from beginning to end. It talks, walks, and acts like an Oscar-winning movie should be. And that’s the problem. It wasn’t created out of love. It was assembled to win prizes.

Do you know what film was different, fresh, and exciting the very same year The King’s Speech won? The Social Network. It was a timely parable about greed in America, and the cost of success. And it was unlike anything else nominated that year. But it didn’t walk the Oscar walk. And you know which film won, despite the fact that it didn’t push the art of film forward? That’s right, The King’s Speech.

You see, some movies don’t want to be remembered, or stand the test of time. They just want an award. The creators think if you make it historical, add high-caliber actors with accents, and be long and boring, you can win an Oscar. And they’re generally right. Which is why I was worried about 12 Years a Slave. It looked less like an amazing film and more like uninspired Oscar bait. But, don’t worry folks, 12 Years of Slave is incredibly inspired.

Cause, yes, there’s a lot that’s textbook Oscar in his film. It’s historical. And the cast is downright amazing. They all even use accents of various Southern fried sorts. But director Steve McQueen- (Who, as an aside, directed the equally radical Shame. Check it out, I swear it isn’t just soft core porn.)- isn’t just painting by numbers. His passion for this story really shines through in bold, interesting choices.

For instance, most films dealing with slavery tend to shy away from the actual violence that was part and parcel with human bondage. But 12 Years puts it front and center, almost daring the viewer to look away. There are some scenes of brutality that last a good two minutes longer than they should. And the effect is a strong one. McQueen doesn’t want the viewer to be able to escape the atrocities done to slaves. He wants us to feel them. And, believe me, for the length he holds his shots in this movie, you’d be an emotionless zombie not to feel something.

So, thank the Cinema Gods, 12 Years a Slave actually has some real juice. It’s a great movie that should be required viewing for people with morals. And, come Oscar time, I’m sure it’ll clean up. And, while Gravity is the younger, leaner film, 12 Years is completely deserving of everything it has coming to it.

Grade: A

What Is In The Name World War Z

That’s right, a river of fucking piranha-raptor-goose-monsters, ready to murder some Brad Pitt face.

There’s a lot of power in a word. For instance: I can bang a chick for months, years, as long as the broad wants. But, the second she wants to be my girlfriend, my giant dick gets softer than day old mozzarella. The term girlfriend changes everything. You throw that in and suddenly I’m sitting in the changing room at Macy’s, holding a designer purse, while my “girlfriend” is trying on the same dress for the millionth time. Fuck. That. Shit. One word can change everything. And, in World War Z, that word is zombie.

World War Z is about a zombie outbreak. But it isn’t. Not even close. These things share nothing in common with zombies. They bite like piranhas, swarm like geese, and make noises like raptors. They’re basically invulnerable, they even point out that head shots don’t always work, and can also magically turn into a river of bodies and destroy an entire city in seconds. There’s not much more of a plot beyond Greasy Haired Tyler Durden trying to stop them.

Now, admittedly, World War Z isn’t a bad summer film. It’s pretty fucking fun, honestly. There are some tense set pieces, clear action scenes, and a straightforward plot. It turned out remarkably coherent for all the behind the scenes drama that plagued this film.

But, not to get all nerdy and technical, this isn’t a zombie movie. The entire point of a zombie is that they’re weak alone but dangerous in numbers. These Piranha-Raptor-Goose-Monsters are nearly God like in their power. They seem to communicate telepathically. They can turn into rivers that scale walls. They even show one surviving being burned to an ashy char.

And, for as entertaining as this film is, the fact that they’re not fighting zombies changes everything. For instance, if your zombies can turn into a fucking river, and murder everything in front of it, humans don’t stand a chance. In fact, humanity would be wiped out within a few hours if that was the case. Cause you can’t fight a God damn river, even if it’s a river of dead human bodies.

Thus the Piranha-raptor-goose-monsters terrorize everyone in a way that takes away the entire conceit of a zombie flick, which is, break down humanity and dissect it under a microscope. Because that’s what any zombie movie worth it’s salt is about. It’s not about scares. It’s not about gore, though that’s always welcome. It’s about showing what humans are capable of at their worst and greatest. World War Z misses that boat by a mile. Everyone is too worried about fighting off Piranha-raptor-goose-monsters to actually ponder deep and meaningful questions.

So I guess the success and failure of this film lies with you. Do you like pointless action pieces? Or do you like your film with a little subtext? If you like subtext, WWZ probably isn’t for you. If you like Brad Pitt’s greasy hair, flowing in the wind while attacking invulnerable piranha-raptor-goose-monsters, well then World War Z is probably for you.

Grade: B-

Killing Them Softly

“…So then I says to Mabel, I says, ‘Do I look like a pancake eater to you?'”- Robber Tyler Durden

I don’t want to sound like an old fuddy duddy. But after watching Killing Them Softly, after the events of this weekend, I get a little skived out by violence in the media. Now, of course, I love a good shoot out on film. I’m only human after all. But sometimes, as is the case with Killing Them Softly, they’re just so morally bankrupt that it’s hard to watch.

Killing Them Softly is a movie about these robbers who steal from another robber. So Tyler Durden Robber comes in and all like, “I’ve got to kill all these fuckers.” So he calls up Tony Soprano Robber and is like, “Help me kill all these fuckers.” The rest of the film follows Durden’s quest to kill all the robbers.

There’s no sex, which is a drag. But there’s a shocking amount of violence, which is rad. Except, fuck, the violence is shown with utter disregard for life and humans. If you watch it, and don’t clench your asshole tight out of awkwardness, you’re probably a sociopath.

Sometimes the director decides to slow down a shootout, so you can watch all the blood and violence in EXTREMEM SLOW MO BRO!!!!!! Other times it’s quicker, but equally bloody. Yet, in all cases, the violence is extremely nihilistic. In fact, the entire moral center of the film is completely nihilistic.

Really, that’s the worst fault of Killing Them Softly, I’d love to go off on tangents about how deep and meaningful it is, but it’s not. And there’s not a lot to say about it as a result.

Grade: B-