Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tusk: A Review


While I'm a rather big fan of Kevin Smith's, there's no denying that sometimes he just misses the mark. Let's talk about Tusk.

Specifically, I want to get into this still/promotional image that has been peddled all over the internet, hyping this film to gargantuan proportions. Tusk stars Justin Long as an asshole podcast host and comedian who is abducted in Canada by a possible subject of his show. This man, being the fucking insane psycho that he is, has been turning men into walruses, unsuccessfully for the most part, for years. Lucky for him, he has comedy stud Justin Long fall into his lap. He performs a surgery that turns "Wallace" (Justin Long) into a human/walrus mush of skin. 

On the surface, this sounds like a fucking awesome gore/comedy crossover, a la Tucker and Dale but on a level that's way more sick and twisted. Let's face it, that's what we're all looking for in a movie, right? Well for the first 30 minutes, that's what you get. Gut busting comedy delivered by Long and his counterpart, Michael Parks. They vibe off of each other in a very suave way, bantering back and forth as Long obviously starts feeling the effects of his chloroform tea. (Chloroform tea fan or nah?) GREAT! I'm on board, let's dig into the bastard! 

Theeeen, the movie kind of does a bad thing in it's bedroom with the door closed. Bringing me back to this still that I saw so much of prior to putting my ass in a theater seat, I got about three seconds of that in the actual film. I was expecting from an image like that, and hoping with all my girlish heart, that I was going to get a drawn out, gory, visceral, emotionally toiling surgery with a fully conscious Long to agonize on the operating table. That image makes me crave a seething gore scene progression in which I get to watch Long's character, Wallace, descend into madness. What was Wallace doing during the surgery? SLEEPING! I only got to see two real character transitions from Long: losing his leg and waking up as a walrus. What I didn't get was the slow burn of a really good gore.

So yeah, I don't regret spending my ten bucks to go see the newest Kevin Smith movie, especially not with that cast, which was a hell of a surprise. I laughed. I cringed at the walrus. But on the drive home I couldn't stop hoping that Tusk had been so much more. So much more than a horror/comedy, Tusk could have been the cult gore of the decade, in my humble opinion. But unfortunately, Smith takes a bow to films like Hard Candy and Tokyo Gore Police in the "fucked up and bloody" department. I'd love to see him try his hand at a film like this again but let the buckets of blood flow from within. Use your strength to make you stronger, Kevin.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blue Valentine

This still from Blue Valentine really captivated me. In both a "damn, that's a good shot" way and a "I GET IT. I GET THE TITLE" way. *Love it when that happens* But not since my first viewing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has a film left me so completely heartbroken over love and not being able to make up my mind as to why. Blue Valentine stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple whose marriage is falling apart. Interspersed with flashbacks of the beginning of their relationship, I think what the film does best is highlight a realistic unwinding of a relationship that begins as this magical leap of faith. The film essentially begins where most romance movies leave out: happily never after. 

The similarities between Blue Valentine and Eternal Sunshine are many, but the unique way in which each film tells this anti-love story sets them apart in a way that feels very genuine. The biggest difference between the two are the reason each film works so well, which is the style of dialogue. Eternal Sunshine is a very lyrical, poetic film and so the script lives up to that. It even goes so far as to quote an entire passage of poetry that frames the plot and title. However, Blue Valentine hits very raw and real conversational patterns which I think is why it hits closer to home with a wider variety of people. It's not concerned with the artfulness of words or the flowering of language; it creates lines of dialogue that leave you asking yourself if Derek Cianfrance didn't just vomit an actual series of arguments into Celtx. Because nobody writes like that, but real people talk like that. How do you write an argument between two people when neither of them know what to say because they can't figure out why they're even fighting? The shots were all amazing, but in all honesty the writing and banter between Williams and Gosling is what really blew me away. 

My thoughts on Derek? What a stubborn man to spend 12 years on a movie. Keep making films like this, and you'll go far. Just, you know, try not to take 12 years this time.