FlixChatter Review: The Lobster (2016)

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When I first heard of the premise of this film, I was already sold. Then I saw the trailer and I knew it’d be a bizarre film, but nothing could prepare me for how bizarre it turned out to be. The film is set in a dystopian near future where it’s unlawful to be single according to the laws of The City. So they’re taken to The Hotel where they have to find a romantic partner in 45 days or they’d be transformed into a beast of their choice and sent off into The Woods. You’d think that’d be easy but they have to find partners who share their unique characteristics.

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We first see David (Colin Farrell), a recently divorced architect and his dog who’s actually his brother who didn’t make the strict 45-day rule. Even the conversation with the hotel clerk is so off the wall you can’t help but laugh. Later on I realize that David is the only one who has a name in this film, the other characters are only credited with their unique traits, or you could also say affliction. Ben Whishaw is the Limping Man, John C. Reilly is the Lisping Man and so on. The fact that the film is played straight with the actors delivering the weirdest dialog in a deadpan way makes it so hilarious. I find myself chuckling at the sheer peculiarity of it all, but yet I know there’s more to this than just a series of outlandish scenarios.

The film is inherently a comedy but it’s not just frivolous silly movie, but it’s a clever and unique way to make you think of relationships. The first half of the film shows the strict rules and customs of The Hotel, managed by the always-entertaining Olivia Coleman. Then the second half takes place in The Woods where single-dom is celebrated and romantic/sexual activity is severely punished. I have to admit that the film seems to lose its footing a bit in the second half as it’s not as engrossing. It also grows more sinister and there’s a pretty violent scene that made me wince. In the Woods is where we meet its leader (Léa Seydoux) and the Short-Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) with whom David forms an attachment.

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Now, to say more would be a disservice to those who haven’t seen this. I think it’s best going into this not knowing much about it other than the basic premise. The way things unfold is so amusing and it’s open to your own interpretation. Greek writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos who co-wrote the script with Efthymis Filippou doesn’t spoon-feed you what he thinks about relationships. He doesn’t take sides on couple-dom vs single-ness, but he presents things in such a way that make you ponder about it for days. I really don’t know how I could survive in either scenario as there are dire consequences for your actions in both places. I appreciate Lanthimos’ style and this is certainly one of the most original concept I’ve seen. I’ve loved sci-fi concepts that’s more grounded in its presentation and the world the characters inhabit in this movie certainly looks plausible. The cinematography is beautiful with natural light and has a rather somber ambiance that stops just short of being morose. 

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The acting is brilliant all around. I’m most impressed with Farrell who’s perhaps at his most understated here. He looked so pudgy with a huge belly, a physical look I haven’t seen before as he’s not quite the shape-shifter like say, Christian Bale. His character is mostly passive and reflective, as he internalizes everything as he observes everything that’s going on around him. It’s quite interesting to watch his journey through the film, going from compliance to defiance to rebellion, right down to its ambiguous conclusion. Rachel Weisz is wonderful as always, she’s got many intriguing projects recently and she’s an actress I’ve grown to respect even more.

The finale proved to be rather frustrating and I think that’s what the filmmaker intended. It seems as if David was set out to do something really drastic, but the film ended before we know if went through with it. [SPOILER ALERT – highlight text to read the following sentence] As David brought a fork and knife, it seems to suggest he was going to blind himself so he’d share the same characteristic as the now blind Rachel Weisz, though I wonder why as he’s already escaped the strict confines of both The Hotel and The Woods.

Despite my frustration with some aspects of the film, I still have to give it top marks for originality and thought-provoking ideas. This is the first film from Lanthimos I’ve seen so far, but his previous films (Alps, Dogtooth) also have a peculiar concept. This is definitely unlike anything I’ve ever seen and I’m glad we have a filmmaker like him that pushes the envelope. I’d say if you don’t have an aversion to strange films, I highly recommend this one and you’d be glad you did.

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Have you seen ‘The Lobster’? I’m curious to hear what you think!

THIS JUST IN: Total Recall (2012) Full Trailer

All right, after the stupid trailer-for-a-trailer thing that Sony released last week, this time we finally have the real full-length trailer! I’ve actually been looking forward to it since I saw the Hall H panel at Comic-con last year. Sheesh, it took ’em almost a whole year to finally release the trailer??

Just like the 1990 original film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, this one is based on the Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. This time it’s Colin Farrell in Arnie’s role of Douglas Douglas Quaid, a bored factory worker who buys a ‘holiday’ from Rekall Inc., a company that sells implanted memories. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, somehow Quaid finds himself hunted down by the police — and his own wife — and ends up teaming up with a rebel fighter.

Anyway, check it out below:

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I think the trailer looks pretty good, and some of the rough footage shown at Comic-con look far more polished here. I’m a sucker for action sci-fi laden with special effects, and this one certainly offers plenty of that. The futuristic cars and hovercrafts displayed at the convention look pretty darn cool, hope they’re put to good use in the movie.

Len Wiseman directs his gorgeous wife Kate Beckinsale once again, seems like he’s always cast her as some bad ass fighter just in those Underworld movies. Now guys would probably look forward to her fight scenes with Jessica Biel, ahah.  Nice to see Bryan Cranston in the trailer this time, but no sign of Bill Nighy anywhere. The rest of the supporting cast include John Cho (sporting Billy Idol hairstyle), Ethan Hawke, and Bill Nighy.

This looks to be more serious than the original. Now as a fan of Equilibrium, I am hopeful that writer Kurt Wimmer will deliver something worth remembering. Let’s hope that this is a step forward from Wiseman, though most likely it’ll be more escapist entertainment at the movies than a sci-fi classic.


I’m game for this one come August, how ’bout you folks?

Weekend Roundup and The Way Back review

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Hope everyone’s had a lovely weekend. I definitely enjoyed my 3-day weekend though it sure went by real fast. I took a much-needed break from my computer which including blogging and reading other people’s blogs, though I had planned on seeing more movies but only managed to see two of them. One of them is a repeat as one of my good friends hadn’t seen THOR and since we quite enjoyed it the first time around, we saw it again but in 2D (which looks just as good as the 3D one). I still like it the second time around, and I absolutely LOVE the music. In fact the soundtrack is playing right as I’m writing this. After seeing the post-credit scene, I’m excited (mostly out of sheer curiosity) to see The Avengers! Check out this fan-art poster already circulating online, I think it’s a pretty decent Photoshop job.

The other movie I saw was The Way Back. I posted the poster and trailer last year and remember being really intrigued by the story, which was inspired by real events. I’ll get to my short review in a moment but first let me just make a couple of announcements. My good pal and fellow cinephile Paula G. has joined FC as a regular contributor! Please extend your warm welcome to Paula and visit her own page on FC to find out a bit more about her. As always, you can visit each FC contributor’s page by clicking the Contributors tab at the top of the homepage. I’m so excited to have her on board as she’ll introduce a new blog series as well as reviews of various movies.

The second announcement is that the highly addictive and fun Anomalous Material’s Hollywood Fantasy Draft has begun, this time in its third installment! Last week, I spent a few hours drafting my cast for my next movie pitch along with other fine movie bloggers, click on the link to see which actors/directors we’ve selected for our fantasy movie. Look for my dream cast post this week ahead of the actual pitch itself that will go up next Monday, June 6.

Now, on to the review…

THE WAY BACK(2010)

This Peter Weir film is inspired by real events, loosely based on The Long Walk written by a Polish POW in the Soviet Gulag (labor prison camp). The film tells the story of about a half dozen men who escaped the Siberian prison in 1941.

But the escape itself was just the beginning, the much more grueling task is ahead of them as they’d have to find a refuge in a land that’s not yet conquered by the Communist regime. That means covering 4000 miles of treacherous trek that includes the Gobi desert and the Himalayas mountain on foot! If you’re doing a marathon or triathlon this Summer, you might want to watch this film for inspiration… whatever journey you think seem impossible to conquer will undoubtedly pale in comparison to even half of what these people had to go through. Check out the map of their journey from Google map. Seems too good to be true, isn’t it? Well, again it’s said it’s inspired by true events, so we don’t really know what the actual length of the walk really happened.

The time in the prison itself felt rather fast, perhaps even a bit rushed. Presumably because the filmmaker would rather focus on the harrowing journey, which naturally is the heart of the film. The small band of escapees are led by a mild-mannered Polish man Janusz  (Jim Sturgess) who was accused of spying, his own wife turned him in by way of torture. In the camp, he met an American transportation engineer Mr. Smith (Ed Harris) and a tough Russian criminal (Colin Farrell), among others, who later became part of the seven-band of people who made the prison escape. Australian director Peter Weir always aimed for realism in his films, so the film looks appropriately gritty and somber. The actors speak using the accent of their characters’ nationalities, supported by subtitles, which I think is an effective way to get the audience absorbed in the environment.

The acting is really good all around, British young talent Sturgess is quite compelling as the kind-hearted Janusz, whilst Colin Farrell stole scenes in the relatively small screen time he’s in as the brutish Russian criminal who isn’t exactly a people person. It’s quite problematic when you’ve got a small band who must stick together to survive, but he later proves to be a loyal man and actually pretty funny as well, I grow fond of his character as the film progresses. Ed Harris is someone you can always rely on to provide screen gravitas in anything he’s in, and he’s perfectly cast as the weary and cynical Mr. Smith. Speaking of reliability, 17-year-old Saiorse Ronan once again impresses as a runaway girl Irena, who joins the group midway through the journey. In fact, it’s Irena who lets us in on the back story of each escapee, providing us some of the most memorable and heart-wrenching scenes. The other lesser-known actors are pretty good as well, especially Zoran, the Yugoslav accountant who provides the much-needed comic relief.

Another strength of the film is the cinematography by Russell Boyd, whose attention to detail to the overwhelmingly beautiful yet harsh scenery adds so much to the film. National Geographic Society is one of the film’s sponsors, so I guess that’s to be expected. This movie is impressive in many levels, but in the end, I didn’t find it as engaging as the previous Peter Weir’s film I saw, Master and Commander (view trailer). Don’t get me wrong, I’d still give this one high marks, I’m just surprised I wasn’t as emotionally-invested in the characters as I thought I would considering what they had gone through. Nonetheless, it’s a worthy survival tale that paints a convincing narration about human endurance.

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Any thoughts about the movies I mentioned above?  What movie(s) did you get to see this weekend?

Conspicuous Trailers of the Week: Ondine & The Joneses

I’m breaking tradition with posting TWO trailers this week, but I talked about these back in September ’09 as one of TIFF’s buzz-worthy movies. While I’ve seen three of the movies I listed: Bright Star, The Young Victoria, and the Oscar nominated Up in the Air, a few others have not even been released, yet. I even sort of forgot about them until last week when their trailers surfaced. They both happen to be independent flicks but from two completely different genres.
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Ondine
The story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a mermaid.

Director: Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, The End of the Affair)
Cast: Collin Farrell, Tony Curran, Stephen Rea, Alicja Bachleda

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The Joneses

A seemingly perfect family moves into a suburban neighborhood, but when it comes to the truth as to why they’re living there, they don’t exactly come clean with their neighbors.

Director: Derrick Borte (debut film)
Cast: David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Gary Cole, Lauren Hutton

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I think they’re both look interesting (read: worth-seeing), though Ondine looks kind of bizarre and Collin Farrell’s accent is a bit intelligible to get the real gist of what the movie is about. The Irish scenery once again makes it look forlorn, with a rather grim feel to it, similar to The Eclipse trailer that’s also set in Ireland.

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The trailer for Leaves of Grass has also been released, which I actually been anticipating since last July, where Edward Norton plays a dual character of twin brothers: One an Ivy League professor, and the other a small-time pot grower. Written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, it also stars Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Keri Russell.

Unfortunately, the profanity-laden trailer of this dark comedy actually leaves me cold, though I have to admit Norton definitely pull off the dual roles really well. You can see it on YouTube if you’re interested.