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Movies from The Nutshell (1 Viewer)

JohnRice

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I've been wanting to start a thread with short reviews (and discussion, if anyone wants to chime in) of some of the movies I watch.

My viewing tastes seem to be a little different from most others here, and I wanted to shed some light on the lesser viewed movies I tend to see.

I know a lot of people have a name for their home theater, and mine is "The Nutshell", derived from one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes, from Hamlet.

"I could be bounded in a nutshell,
and count myself a king of infinite space,
were it not that I have bad dreams."


I rarely watch old movies. Besides, Robert Crawford already has a long-running thread that is an excellent source in that area. I tend to focus on lesser-known movies, mainly from the 21st century.
 

JohnRice

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I'll start off with Martha Marcy May Marlene, the 2011 movie that introduced Elizabeth Olsen in her first movie role.

Olsen portrays Martha, a woman who reappears after a two year disappearance during which she lived in a Catskills commune led by the charismatic and malevolent Patrick, portrayed by John Hawkes in one of his many excellent roles. Martha's mind has come away from the experience rather fractured and suffering from the inability to separate present and past. The film is presented from her POV, so the audience is taken on the same disorienting existence Martha experiences, where events are often blended into a baffling montage.

The result is extremely effective, but also the reason many viewers will find the movie infuriating. On first viewing, I was left suitably confused, but on the second viewing, understanding better that was going on, the storyline fell perfectly into place. The reactions of her sister and brother in law (Sarah Paulson & Hugh Dancy), while being understandable, are a perfect example of how difficult a task Martha has ahead of her to find any type of functional life.

This is impeccably written, directed and acted, on all fronts. Impactful, dramatic filmmaking at its best, even if it is extremely difficult to follow the first time through. Of course, that's the point. Don't expect an impeccable visual presentation, though. Contrast is often extremely flat, with drab, grey, muddled blacks and dull whites. I don't know if this is intentional, or just a result of a limited budget. In the end, it shouldn't matter.

Highly recommended.

 
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JohnRice

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I've been watching several of my favorite movies from the last two decades, trying to decide which snobby bit of Sundance bait to write about next. Instead, I decided to go with an example from one of my (possibly surprising) favorite genres. Adaptations of Young Adult novels. There are plenty of them in the dystopian, conquering evil sub-genre, but what I particularly enjoy are the ones that explore the possibilities of that time in life.

There's no doubt that adolescence is often a terrible time, but it's also the time when possibilities are at their greatest. It's just at the cusp of becoming an adult and everything can seem possible. Dreams can be accomplished. There's a sense of wonder and ambition, usually amplified by a hefty dose of adolescent narcissism.

Which brings me to Paper Towns.



Paper Towns is based on a novel by John Green, who also wrote the source novel of the much more popular and well received The Fault in Our Stars. The problem is, I find Stars almost maudlin in its relentless tugging at the heart strings. While Stars is probably the better made movie, I much prefer the less conventional and ultimately more meaningful theme of Paper Towns. What I suspect throws off a lot of viewers is that Paper Towns ultimately isn't about what it appears to be at the beginning. I know that the first time I watched it, I was surprised by the direction it ultimately went. But, like a lot of movies that eventually become personal favorites, it stuck with me. I purchased the Blu-Ray, which absurdly costs less than the streaming version, even though it includes that as well, and have probably watched it four more times over the last few months.

Like with pretty much any movie, it's probably best to know as little as possible going into watching Paper Towns. Fortunately, the trailer is a rare example that doesn't just summarize the entire movie. It conveys the basis, but doesn't spoil any of the real meaning.

For me, the real appeal of Paper Towns comes together during a roughly 20 minute sequence late in the movie. When it changes direction. Something in it is simply a concept that appeals to my middle aged mind. Is that ironic, considering it's a YA novel? I don't know. There are several times I've just watched that 20 minutes by itself. Unfortunately, the impact of that 20 minutes is tempered a bit by the few minutes that finish up the movie. When it takes a much more obvious turn. All in all, Paper Towns is a movie I expect to continue enjoying for years.
 

JohnRice

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Last Friday I watched the NetFlix documentary Behind the Curve, which chronicles the recent growth of flat earth belief and follows a few of its biggest proponents. I find the entire phenomena fascinating. The devout commitment to such an epically disprovable belief. The tunnel vision. The clearly false claims of commitment to science. Most of all, the communal aspect of it. I think there's a lot to learn from the tribal mentality on display. The psychology of it all is amazing. I actually watched it again the following day.

At a time when the ability for critical thinking seems to be at an all-time low, it's also a good exercise to engage in some reality, explore beyond the most fundamentally observable, and exercise your own mind to explain some of the myriad facts which contradict flat earth beliefs. Australia is not upside down. There are 24 time zones. Seasons are simultaneously different at different points on Earth. There are non-stop flights between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. There are non-stop flights which fly across the South Pole. that's just a few.

 

ManW_TheUncool

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I'll start off with Martha Marcy May Marlene, the 2011 movie that introduced Elizabeth Olsen in her first movie role.

Olsen portrays Martha, a woman who reappears after a two year disappearance during which she lived in a Catskills commune led by the charismatic and malevolent Patrick, portrayed by John Hawkes in one of his many excellent roles. Martha's mind has come away from the experience rather fractured and suffering from the inability to separate present and past. The film is presented from her POV, so the audience is taken on the same disorienting existence Martha experiences, where events are often blended into a baffling montage.

The result is extremely effective, but also the reason many viewers will find the movie infuriating. On first viewing, I was left suitably confused, but on the second viewing, understanding better that was going on, the storyline fell perfectly into place. The reactions of her sister and brother in law (Sarah Paulson & Hugh Dancy), while being understandable, are a perfect example of how difficult a task Martha has ahead of her to find any type of functional life.

This is impeccably written, directed and acted, on all fronts. Impactful, dramatic filmmaking at its best, even if it is extremely difficult to follow the first time through. Of course, that's the point. Don't expect an impeccable visual presentation, though. Contrast is often extremely flat, with drab, grey, muddled blacks and dull whites. I don't know if this is intentional, or just a result of a limited budget. In the end, it shouldn't matter.

Highly recommended.


Odd. Coulda sworn I own the BD of this, but it's not in my DVD Profiler -- maybe it's one of the rare cases I missed adding on there... and I can't doublecheck if I actually have it in my collection right now.

It's been a long while since I've watched it -- probably back around 2012 or so during the 1st year of the BD release. Don't remember too much of it anymore, but do recall roughly what you described... and that I appreciated (enough to keep the BD) even if it's not exactly the kind of movie one "likes" or "enjoys"...

_Man_
 

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