City Of God
Although the 2014 World Cup may have depicted otherwise, Rio de Janeiro isn’t the most hospitable of places. Adapted from author Paulo Lins’ semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, City of God follows a young boy named Rocket as attempts to skirt the drugs, gang violence, and crime plaguing the Brazilian slums he calls home for three decades. It’s both breathtaking and terrifying, with excellent character development, camerawork, and authenticity.
Silence of the Lambs
Described as the ‘last stop at the bottom of the world’ by some of its 6,000 or so hapless and homeless residents, Los Angeles’ Skid Row is a grim circus of pimps, drug dealers, hustlers and prostitutes. For most of the men and women sleeping and wandering the downtown streets of the City of Angels the idea of divine intervention is as distant as the glimmering lights of Mullholland Drive and the Hollywood Hills. Their stories are easy to ignore, which is what inspired one documentary filmmaker to brave the violent, tent filled sidewalks to reveal life for what it is on the mean streets of America’s second city. Director Shanks Rajendran has really taken guerrilla filmmaking to a whole another level.. This documentary is a expose of skid row – the full 100 minutes. It’s raw, uncut and thrilling.
Attack On Titan
People live behind mountain high walls, because on the outside there are hulking; lumbering giants that look like skinless humans called Titans. They breach the wall, and a splatter fest of violence erupts. The only defenses are crews of swordsman that use Bat Grapples and zip line to high altitude to conduct sky scraper murder battles. The animation is frightening and the action is beyond intense. It is unfinished at the moment, but since one of the series writers is from “Berserk”, you know the story will just get deeper and darker.
A talented and attractive but deeply insecure young woman (Diane Selwyn) moves to Los Angeles hoping to become a big-time actress, where she falls deeply in love with a more confident, successful actress (Camilla Rhodes) who helps her kick-start her career and allows her to mix with some Hollywood bigwigs, earning her a few minor movie roles. She is eventually rejected by her fame-hungry lover who becomes romantically involved with a well-known director, flaunting her new relationship in front of Diane at a dinner party. Diane suddenly finds herself alone and scared in the cutthroat world of show business, and feels she is now doomed to failure. Despondent and in a jealous rage, she hires a hitman to kill Camilla, thinking this will make her feel better. However, when she receives confirmation that this has been completed (blue key), the reality of what she’s done hits her and she sinks into a deep depression which eventually turns into a paranoid psychosis resulting in her suicide.
At the very beginning of the movie, before we know of this backstory, Diane falls asleep one last time, her tortured and delusional mind causing her to dream of a world where she is the polar opposite of what she has become. In her dream, she is still a fresh-faced, innocent young girl, confident and in control. She is the one the big director wants but can’t have, only due to circumstances beyond their control (Mafia intervention in the film’s casting process), she is the strong one in the relationship protecting her friend and lover and helping her navigate a dangerous world. Still though, people and places she saw while she was planning the real-life murder keep creeping back into her perfect fantasy world, causing the more nightmarish moments of her dream (For example, the scared man in the diner was a guy she saw paying for his meal while she was meeting with the hitman in real life. In her paranoid state, she seemed to at least subconsciously suspect that he knew what she was up to, this becoming another fear in the back of her mind manifesting itself in her dream). The blue box signifies Diane’s consciousness, the blue key triggers her memory, forcing her to open the box (awaken). She awakens back to her horrible reality and reflects on the events that led her to the crushing emptiness and despair that she now has to live with. Here we see what happened to cause the twisted nightmare we just saw, and eventually her suicide.
David Lynch is portraying the corrupting and dehumanizing nature that underlies the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood film industry. It’s a big middle finger to those in the industry that perpetuate and thrive off what he sees as a soul-crushing environment.
Did it ever happen in your life that you’ve seen such a beautiful movie, such a perfect piece of art, such an unbelievable example of man-made splendor, such a gorgeous masterpiece that it hurt your eyes? Well, I did. And it wasn’t the Schindler’s List or the Lord of the Rings. No, it was the BEST action movie ever made. The BEST interpretation of the Governator. The BEST explosions. The BEST one-liners. The BEST plot. And the BEST tag-line. This movie is like the Art of Japanese gardening. Simple and beautiful. Balanced. Proportioned. There’s just the right amount of everything. And there is just about everything that should go into an action movie: car chases, explosions, drug-lords, sex, an invincible hero, sitting-duck-like enemies, humor, knife duels, fist fights, rocket launchers, blood, death, bullets, glass, pectorals, muscles, some more muscles, explosions and more explosions. You need more? It’s got Arnold. Need more? It’s got Arnold with a sense of humor. Still more? It’s got Arnold with a sense of humor and a rocket launcher. Put these three elements together and try to guess what happens. Destruction. On a mass scale. I won’t give away the plot, because it is too intricate and surprising. Basically it is Arnie on a mission to save his daughter. That’s about it. But what is important is not the fact that Arnie will save his daughter, but HOW will he save his daughter. Oh, are you saying that The Matrix is the best action movie of all time? Does The Matrix have Arnold Schwarzenegger? NO. Does Commando have the Matrix? YES. JOHN MATRIX, in fact. Oh, so you are saying that Neo dodges bullets? John Matrix doesn’t need to. He is bulletproof. He eats bullets for breakfast. Need more proof? I thought so… I gave this Caravaggio painted on celluloid a 10 only because IMDb doesn’t go to 11. This movie is so eye-blindingly beautiful I can’t find the words to properly end my commentary and render justice to this cinematic masterpiece. So I will just use the movie’s tag-line: Somewhere… somehow… someone’s going to pay!