Tough Guy Reviews

RSS

Django Review: Copus guest reviewer

  • 12/26/12 12: 17
  • Connecting to World Sim Client…
  • Connecting to Chat Client…
  • World Sim Chat Client Loaded for CC.
  • You have joined the channel.
  • KR: LOOK WHO IT IS
  • KR: CODY CLYMER
  • KR: A GUY I TOTALLY THINK ISNT A DOUCHEBAG
  • CC: Cut it, kid.
  • CC: I’m in no mood for your bullshit.
  • KR: IT IS NOT I WHO WILL HAVE TO CEASE ANY PRODUCTION OF STEER FECES
  • KR: ITS YOU
  • KR: YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS GOING TO STOP DOING THE THING
  • CC: Damn, you got me with that one.
  • KR: SO DID YOU SEE IT?
  • KR: SLAVE REVENGE TEN: BLOOD THE MOVIE?
  • CC: Certainly a lot of blood.
  • CC: And slaves.
  • KR: SO YOU ARE NOT IN THE ‘MOOD’ FOR MY BULLSHIT
  • KR: MEANING SOMETHING MUST HAVE HAPPENED THAT UPSET YOU
  • KR: I EAGERLY AWAIT FOR THE MOVIE CYNIC TO DELIVER UNTO ME A REASON WHY YOU HATE FUN
  • CC: You think Blaxploitation is fun?
  • KR: MAYBE
  • KR: IS THAT WRONG?
  • CC: Are you a white suburban youth?
  • KR: YES BUT I GREW UP IN A BROKEN HOME
  • KR: SORT OF
  • KR: ALRIGHT NO IM JUST A WHITE MIDDLE CLASS KID
  • KR: BUT I LIKE RAP MUSIC
  • KR: I UNDERSTAND THE PLIGHT
  • CC: You’re typing that shit out but not really paying attention, right?
  • CC: This can’t be a serious thing you’re spilling on the screen.
  • KR: I ROOST IN A DIMENSION NESTLED BETWEEN SARCASM AND MILD RACISM
  • CC: Dude.
  • CC: No.
  • KR: WELL YOU’RE WHITE TOO
  • KR: SORTA
  • KR: ONE EIGHTEENTH INDIAN OR WHATEVER
  • CC: One fourth, and I prefer Native to Indian.
  • KR: YOU PREFER A BUNCH OF HORSESHIT I DONT CARE ABOUT
  • KR: I DONT GIVE A FUCK
  • KR: ANYWAYS YOU WERE TELLING ME ABOUT HOW IT UPSET YOUR SENSITIVE BABY FEELINGS
  • CC: I questioned the ending, but it feels like cheating to start there.
  • KR: THEN DONT
  • KR: TAKE ME THROUGH THE FUCKING JOURNEY FROM THE GOD DAMN BEGINNING
  • KR: I WANT TO HEAR YOUR IDIOT TAKE ON THE WONDERFUL MOVING PICTURE SHOW THAT WAS DJANGO
  • CC: Alright, let’s start with how similar it is to Tarantino’s previous film venture—not counting the fourteen films he let them put his name on for whatever reason—and see where that takes us.
  • KR: I LIKE THE TITLE INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS BECAUSE IT HAS THE WORD BASTARDS IN IT BUT WITH AN E
  • KR: SORT OF STICKS IT TO THE MAN
  • KR: CANT ADVERTISE IT WITHOUT OFFENDING SOMEONE
  • CC: Without meaning to, I think you summed it up pretty well.
  • CC: It’s Hollywood’s ultimate revenge story: kill Hitler and some Nazis.
  • KR: AHAHAHA
  • KR: I GET IT
  • KR: HOLLYWOOD
  • KR: JEWS
  • CC: Yeah, real fucking subtle.
  • KR: GOOD THING THE ITALIAN MAN MADE THE JEWISH REVENGE FILM FOR US
  • KR: ALL SPIELBERG COULD DO WAS CONCOCT SOME DEPRESSING HORSESHIT ABOUT QUI-GON JINNS STATIONARY
  • CC: I think Tarantino would rather be black than Jewish.
  • KR: SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT
  • KR: ANYWAYS
  • KR: CONTINUE WITH YOUR INEVITABLY INCORRECT EVALUATION OF THE MOVIE
  • CC: Need to talk about Christoph Waltz first.
  • KR: WHO?
  • CC: The German guy.
  • KR: OH
  • KR: FUCK YEAH HE WAS AWESOME AS ALL HELL
  • KR: I LIKED THE PART WHERE HE TALKED ALL FUNNY AND ALL THE DUMB SOUTHERNERS WERE LIKE
  • KR: WTF IS THIS ASSHOLE DOING?
  • KR: AND THEN HE DISCHARGED HIS FIREARM IN THEIR GENERAL DIRECTION
  • KR: THEN THEY FELL DOWN
  • KR: BECAUSE OF BULLETS
  • CC: What you just said is part of the problem. His character is likely a Jew, serving as a sort of mirror of his role in Inglourious Basterd, still a hunter, still well armed with wit and vocabulary, but this time he hunts bounties instead of Jews.
  • CC: He’s still a man who seems to enjoy his work in exterminating people.
  • CC: Think back to the first scene of Inglourious Basterds. At that French dude’s house. No real hint he dislikes Jews. Yeah, he compares them to vermin, but he’s also honest about the respect he has for them. He likely lacks any real devotion to Nazi ideology—case and point when he decides to turncoat against Hitler towards the end of the movie—and is more of a murderous asshole who just likes his work.
  • CC: He plays a similar character in Django.
  • KR: BUT HE CARES ABOUT DJANGO
  • KR: HES GOT ALL KINDS OF FEELINGS
  • KR: SURE HE LIKES SHOOTING SLAVERS AND STUFF BUT THATS GOOD RIGHT?
  • CC: Don’t know if it is. I guess if his Jew Hunter is devoid of dedication to anti-Semitism then the comparison starts to fall apart, but suppose he was actually against the Jews; this new character would then be a different iteration of the same aggression, hunting down and killing those he hates.
  • KR: SEEMS LIKE HES JUST HUNTING CRIMINALS AND HAS ONLY A PENCHANT FOR GIFTING BULLETS TO SHITTY SLAVE GUYS
  • CC: And maybe the Jew Hunter is just doing his job of hunting Jews and only has a bit of dislike for them.
  • KR: I SEE
  • KR: SO YOURE SAYING THAT TARANTINO FUCKED UP?
  • CC: I’m saying that we’re seeing a different take on the justifications of murder.
  • CC: Though Django had its own influences coming from different films—spaghetti westerns and what not—it didn’t share the same focus on theme that was present in IB.
  • CC: IB = Inglourious Basterds.
  • KR: I FUCKING GOT IT ‘THE RIDDLER’
  • KR: SO YOU DONT LIKE THE SLAVER HUNTER
  • KR: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE DJANGO?
  • CC: He’s alright.
  • KR: ALRIGHT?
  • KR: FUCKING BAD ASS MORE LIKE IT
  • KR: I LIKED THE PART WHEN HE SHOT THE WHITE PEOPLE
  • KR: AKA THE WHOLE MOVIE
  • CC: I get the same enjoyment out of it as watching Brad Pitt kill ‘Nazzeez’ in IB, but there’s something off about him.
  • CC: He’s just really good at shooting people and talking and reading.
  • KR: I SEE THE PROBLEM
  • KR: YOURE A RACIST
  • KR: A RACIST AGAINST ITALIAN DIRECTORS
  • CC: Tarantino is actually part Native too.
  • KR: NO SHIT?
  • CC: Django’s gun fighting skill is never explained beyond a sort of afterthought of his mentor being proud of him. Yeah, they spend some montage time together in the mountains all being pals and shooting frosty the fucking snowman, but it seems like he’s good right away.
  • KR: YEAH
  • KR: AND HE USES THE HIDDEN GUN LIKE A PRO
  • KR: EVEN SHOOTS THAT PLANTATION OWNER OFF HIS HORSE AT LONG RANGE WITH A WEAPON HES NEVER FIRED BEFORE
  • KR: IS HE THE MAGICAL NEGRO?
  • CC: In terms of ability with firearms, yes, he might just be.
  • CC: When DiCaprio’s character asks why the black man hadn’t risen up and killed all the white man, he must have only been asking Django—any other slave wouldn’t have known how to use a gun quite so well.
  • KR: YOURE JUST TRYING TO JUSTIFY YOUR RACISM
  • KR: YOU WANT ALL THE BLACK MANS TO BE DANCING OR WORKING IN THEM FIELDS
  • CC: There’s a scene where a slave woman shows Django around a plantation.
  • CC: Scene is hard to watch because it skirts the line between severe racism and authenticity because of how the woman speaks.
  • CC: But instead of making sense, it just made me wonder how the fuck Django got to be so fucking good at speaking like white people.
  • KR: MAYBE HE
  • KR: UH
  • KR: IS SPECIAL?
  • KR: I DONT KNOW
  • CC: That’s exactly it. He’s special, but not in the way that he’s an individual. He’s a representation of black (men) as a whole.
  • KR: CHRIST NO
  • KR: THIS MOVIE WAS ALLEGORY?
  • KR: AND I LIKED IT?
  • CC: That’s exactly it, and that’s why it all bothered me.
  • CC: Spend two hours building up this character with all the skills he needs to overcome his past of slavery. He gets new cloths, new skills, earns the respect of the man that freed him, and a whole bunch of other shit (admirable shit).
  • CC: The revenge fantasy plays out and we’re sort of happy about it.
  • CC: We’re happy that the black man gets to shoot the white men.
  • CC: And that’s not at all bad.
  • CC: It’s cathartic, and it’s done better than in IG where it just gets a bit silly.
  • KR: I DONT KNOW MAN
  • KR: AT LEAST IN INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS ITS GERMANS GETTING KILLED AND NOT AMERICANS
  • KR: DJANGO IS SORT OF LIKE THE CIVIL WAR
  • CC: Don’t’ get me wrong, 99% of the dudes that get shot in the movie deserve to get shot, but the whole mess is summed up at the end.
  • KR: WELL DONT WORRY ABOUT SPOILER ALERTS BECAUSE I HAVE IN FACT SEEN THE FILM
  • CC: So their plan to rescue Django’s wife has failed but are still getting out with their lives and their prize, just 12k short in funds. Waltz’s character isn’t content. He just can’t handle the clean getaway. It’s obviously not the money that’s bothering him. It’s DiCaprio’s character. He shoots the evil plantation owner because the plantation owner is a prick.
  • KR: YES I AGREE
  • KR: THAT WAS AWESOME
  • CC: Cathartic, not just for the character or the audience, but for Tarantino himself.
  • CC: It’s like he couldn’t resist doing it, writing it in.
  • CC: That scene is Tarantino saying, Hey, I can’t let a scumbag get away with being a scumbag, and I’m willing to sacrifice everything for that.
  • CC: The character’s apology and line of, I couldn’t help myself, is just Tarantino saying the words.
  • CC: Guess we can’t hate him for doing it because he basically killed the bad guy, but think about it.
  • KR: I AM THINKING ABOUT IT
  • KR: HE SHOOTS THE BAD GUY
  • KR: AND THEN THE BAD GUY DIES
  • KR: HMMMM
  • KR: I SEE WHAT YOU MEAN
  • KR: NO WAIT NO I DONT
  • CC: You’re just the worst.
  • KR: IVE BEEN INFORMED OF THIS OPINION MANY TIMES AND STILL THINK THAT I HATE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING
  • CC: When he takes out his frustration on the bad guy, he has essentially doomed Django and Hildy to death. If it wasn’t a movie, they’d die. Like twenty dudes show up, and it’s only through Django’s before mentioned magical negroness that he’s able to get out alive. Tarantino literally has to step into the movie and create a situation that allows for everything to work out for Django.
  • KR: I LIKED HIS TERRIBLE AUSTRALIAN ACCENT
  • KR: HE WAS ALL LIKE, DERP DERP BOOMERANG BUGGER WANKER
  • CC: Really captured the essence of the scene there.
  • KR: I PAY CLOSE ATTENTION WHEN BAD ACCENTS COME INTO PLAY
  • CC: To make it all the more disconcerting, Django is wearing the plantation owner’s clothing and trotting around on his fancy horse like some sort of dumb French aristocrat.
  • KR: HE WAS TRYING TO IMPRESS HIS LADY WITH HIS SICK HORSE DANCING
  • KR: CHICKS LOVE HORSE DANCES
  • CC: He ends the movie by executing another black man while wearing the clothing of the main villain. He’s quite literally become a sort of demon, a white (burgundy) devil.
  • KR: MAYBE TARANTINO THINKS THAT THE BLACK MAN MUST ASSIMILATE OR OTHERWISE TAKE ON ASPECTS OF THE WHITE MAN IN ORDER TO FIND POWER IN THE WORLD
  • KR: THE TRAPPINGS OF POWER ARE ESSENTIAL TO ATTAINING IT AND CERTAINLY KILLING AND THEN WEARING THE CLOTHES AKA THE SKIN OF ONES ENEMY IS A GOOD WAY TO FAKE IT UNTIL ONE PROVERBIALLY MAKES IT
  • CC: Whoa.
  • CC: When did you decide to join the conversation?
  • KR: FUCK IF I AINT ABLE TO ANALYZE YOUR IDIOT THEORY ONCE ITS ON THE TABLE
  • KR: LISTEN SHIT FOR DICKS
  • KR: TARANTINO PROBABLY DOES THINK THAT BUT IS IT SO BAD?
  • KR: BLACK (MEN—IM DOING YOUR DUMB THING WITH PARENTHESIS AND HYPHENS SO YOU CAN UNDERSTAND MY SUPERIOR THOUGHT PROCESS) IN AMERICA ARE SHIT ON CONSTANTLY BY THE ANUS OF CULTURAL SEGREGATION
  • KR: THE SYSTEM AKA ‘THE MAN’ KEEPS EM DOWN NOT THROUGH THE OVERT OPPRESSION OF THE PAST BUT BY TURNING CULTURE AGAINST THEM
  • KR: AS LONG AS THE CULTURE DOES NOT SEEK TO ATTAIN OR OTHERWISE SURPASS SOME SENSE OF STATUS QUO THEN THE EVIL WHITE MAN CAN JUST KEEP ON KEEPING ON
  • CC: That’s some serious conspiracy theorist-level thought.
  • KR: IS IT?
  • KR: I DONT THINK SO
  • KR: YOURE THE ONE THAT BROUGHT UP THIS SHITTY IDEA OF THE TRAPPINGS OF WHATEVER AND THE SOMETHING ABOUT IDEOLOGIES
  • KR: IM JUST SAYING THAT ITS IMPORTANT FOR THE CATHARSIS TO HAPPEN
  • KR: DJANGO SHOOTING HONKIES IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT LETS US GET PAST THE MENIAL REVENGE PHASE OF THINGS
  • KR: THINK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE MOVIE IS OVER
  • KR: BEYOND THE FACT THAT IT WOULD BE WEIRD IF NICK FURY CAME TO RECRUIT DJANGO INTO THE AVENGERS BECAUSE
  • KR: WELL
  • KR: SAM JACKSON IS ALREADY IN THE MOVIE
  • KR: DJANGO JUST RIDES OFF WITH HIS LADY AND THEY PROBABLY LIVE A GOOD LIFE WITH THE BOUNTY MONIES AND HORSE DANCING ROUTINE
  • KR: THINGS WONT BE THE BEST BECAUSE THEY STILL LIVE IN A SHITTY TIME TO BE BLACK IN AMERICA
  • KR: I MEAN COMPARED TO NOW
  • KR: LESS FEAR OF ROPE AND HIGH BRANCHES ON TREES NOWADAYS
  • CC: That’s awful.
  • KR: ITS IN SPIRIT WITH THE MOVIE JACKASS
  • KR: ITS ALL A BIG JOKE
  • KR: A BIG FUCKING JOKE AND AN EJACULATION OF REVENGE FANTASY ON THE SCREEN SO WE CAN MOVE THE FUCK ON
  • KR: DJANGO SURE DOES
  • KR: HE THANKS HIS MENTOR
  • KR: DOES THE HORSE DANCE
  • KR: THEN RIDES THE FUCK AWAY
  • CC: This is your critical analysis?
  • CC: Tarantino is trying to liberate the hatred of the white man through allegorical revenge fantasies so the black (man) can move on and attain the same sort of meaningless status in white-dominated society as a previously slave-holding post-aristocracy man might have?
  • KR: DID YOU REALLY WRITE THAT SENTENCE AND NOT THINK TO YOURSELF
  • KR: THAT MAYBE
  • KR: YOU SHOULDNT HAVE?
  • CC: I’m starting to regret this whole conversation.
  • KR: WELCOME TO MY WORLD OF ALWAYS WHEN IT CONCERNS OUR LITTLE ANGRY TYPE-OFFS
  • CC: Whatever dude.
  • KR: DUDE
  • KR: SO YEAH
  • KR: I THINK TARANTINO IS JUST GETTING THIS SHIT OUT OF THE WAY BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE IS WILLING TO ADDRESS IT OUT IN THE OPEN WITHOUT GETTING REALLY PISSED OFF
  • KR: OF COURSE SLAVERY IS THE WORST THING EVER
  • KR: BUT CHRIST
  • KR: MAYBE WE CAN JUST LAUGH ABOUT IT SOMETIMES AND OTHER TIMES WE CAN TRY TO BE BETTER FUCKING HUMAN BEINGS?
  • CC: No need to forget the past.
  • KR: EXACTLY
  • CC: So when my theater of white dudes clapped for a movie that glorified the killing of a whole bunch of other white dudes, they were really just clapping for their own egos?
  • KR: THAT SURE IS A CYNICAL WAY TO LOOK AT IT
  • KR: I WOULD SAY THAT IS A SURPRISE COMING FROM YOU
  • KR: BUT WE BOTH KNOW THAT I WOULD NEVER ACTUALLY SAY YOU WERE ANYTHING BUT
  • KR: CYNICAL THAT IS
  • KR: YOU ARE A CYNICAL GUY
  • CC: I get it.
  • KR: DO YOU?
  • CC: Yes.
  • KR: GOOD
  • KR: BUT CLAPPING FOR MOVIES IS FOR MORONS
  • KR: LETS AGREE ON THAT
  • CC: I can do that.
  • KR: SO WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE THIS FILM MOVIE IN TERMS OF STAR SCORE?
  • CC: 2.5 stars out of 4.
  • CC: Good acting, good Tarantino dialogue, and some satisfying revenge. Janky camera work, busy scenes, and maybe some confused allegory.
  • KR: I GIVE IT
  • KR: THREE POINT FIVE OUT OF FOUR
  • KR: LOSES POINTS FOR A FALSE ENDING
  • KR: OTHERWISE
  • KR: PROBABLY BETTER OVERALL THAN BASTERDS
  • KR: LESS HIGH POINTS, MORE OVERALL GOODNESS
  • CC: Average of 3 stars. So worth seeing.
  • KR: DEFINITELY
  • KR: BRING THE KIDS
  • KR: FAMILY MOVIE OF THE DECADE.
  • CC:

The Artist

Can’t say I’ve seen a silent film, like a real silent film from back in the day. Maybe a Chaplin piece from a montage, or something else famous I couldn’t give you the name of even if I wanted to. But The Artist aint really a silent film because it got sounds, kind of. It’s mostly a silent film. I don’t know.

 

The film centers around two actors living in Hollywood during the late twenties; George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent movie actor with a canine sidekick that he brings along for all his movies, and Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), an aspiring actress who works as an extra when she can score a role. They two meet and, from then on, their paths in life drastically alter. George finds out talkies are the next big thing and is unwilling to go along with the hype, dedicating himself to silent films to the end. Peppy has a string of successful parts, bigger and bigger, until she finds success in the new talkies.

Man and Dog The dog in the film was actually played by a smug sense of superiority.


It’s a romantic comedy with a plot simpler than anything I’ve seen in a long time. There’s nothing surprising (well, nothing concerning major plot points) and everything plays out light hearted enough to keep you smiling through the entire thing. Story and plot aint what this thing has going for it. It’s not a movie about movies like Hugo is, a throwback, or even a parody like Silent Film; this thing is a silent film that uses modern methods of storytelling to convey meaning through an obsolete medium. Maybe this is the biggest note the movie plays for itself. It’s a story about the struggle against becoming obsolete. Clever, Hazanavicius. Clever.

 

There’s a theme running through the film that director/writer Michel Hazanavicius makes very clear: talking. Beyond the vintage credits, music, and look to the film, there is a lack of sound beyond the score. Seeing a room of people clapping without producing noise felt awkward, but it set me up for the whole silent treatment. Sound is used to convey meaning and plot, with many scenes needing nothing more than a change in music to get you to understand what’s happening. It’s a convergence of mechanics of filmmaking and thematic storytelling. Head spins just thinking about it.

 

John

John Goodman is in this movie for some reason, but I’m not complaining.

Another big theme is George’s pride, that he can’t share the spotlight. There’s a bit at the beginning where George takes the stage after the premier of his latest film to do a little dance for the audience. His co-star, Constance (Missi Pyle) is all upset having to watch the spectacle, obviously believing she is just as important to the film as George is. George brings his dog on stage before Constance, and when he finally does bring her on, he refuses to share the stage and quickly tricks her into leaving. Later on, the only thing standing between George and Peppy is George’s own pride, keeping him from recognizing Peppy’s significance as an artist as he sees himself.

 

Now, I mention themes because theming is this movie’s strongpoint. George’s problems all stem from talking or his refusal to talk. The talkie movies threaten his career, his dissatisfied wife wants to have ‘a talk’ (which he refuses to participate in, instead enjoying playful antics or just ignoring her), and even Peppy turns against him using her voice as a weapon. There’s a strange scene early in the movie, a dream sequence where George is terrorized by a world in which sound exists. This is shown by breaking the fourth wall of the silent film by allowing the world around George to have sound effects. George screams at his mirror, trying to make noise, but is unable to do so. A jarring scene, one I took as a sign of importance; the director is telling me straight on that this is the thing. This is the thing this film is about.

 

Creepy

I think this might have been both the movie’s most important and the creepiest scene.

How the two big themes interact still eludes me to some degree. Can’t get my head wrapped around it; maybe because I’m not enough of a movie critic to spot it, but I think it might just not be there. “A tangential connection” is the phrase me and my friend used to make our conversation sound smart. George’s pride keeps him from talking, from speaking, and by the end of the movie he’d rather burn his failing identity to the ground than change himself.

 

If this don’t win all the Oscars, I’ll be surprised. Don’t take it as a film custom made to win awards (it is) but a simple surface with a depth not often found. I thought Drive was my film of the year, but the more I put my brain to The Artist, the more I’m rethinking it.

THE SCORE

Writing: 3.5- Themes and depth with simple plot.

Acting: 3.5- Gesture and expression without talking.

Directing: 4- Almost perfect.

Bonus points: Not actually a silent film, technically. 

Deduction: Drive not nominated for any Oscars.

Total: 3.75 out of 4- It’s unassumingly impressive and deep and maybe the best film of the year. 

Movie Review: The Grey

Man, this movie. Have you ever sat through a movie with good parts and bad parts, thinking about each and weighing them as each new scene comes up, wondering about how it’s going to wrap up or what any particular shot means? That’s what this movie did for me. It wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve seen nor was it the most entertaining, but it was good enough to make me hopeful of each new scene and flawed enough to make me wonder about intentions.

The Grey is follows John Ottway (Liam Neeson), an Irishman working at an oil refinery in the arctic as a sort of pest controller, except that in the arctic you don’t have to worry about cockroaches and rats as much as you do wolves and bears. He is bummed out about the loss of his lady, spending most of the opening sequence writing/narrating a note to her. I got the feeling he was none too happy about being alive. How’d I get this feeling, you might ask? Happy people don’t stick guns in their mouths. Despite not killing himself in the first five minutes of the movie (it would have been a bold choice), something on high takes notice and decides to help out by crashing the plane he takes back to Anchorage into an icy wilderness filled with wolves and douchebag oil refinery workers. Ottway gets his shit together and tries to survive the cold and the wolves while keeping his douchebag krew from giving up on their way south.

The douche bags and Neeson

The douche bags and Ottway as they march towards their… happy ending.


Now see, this is one of those movies that had shitty trailers. It’s not that the trailers were bad or made the movie look bad, but they made it out to be Liam Neeson Fighting Wolves: The Movie. I can get behind Qui-Gon Jinn jamming those little airplane booze bottles into a wolf’s neck. That’s what the trailer set me up for, but it wasn’t what I got. Instead of an action thriller filled with Liam beating the shit out of snarling wolves, The Grey is an allegorical narrative about a man’s loss, faith, and the battling of inner demons. That sounds crazy, and it sort of is. I’m into crazy.

 

This isn't what the movie is about, however badass it is.

However awesome this looks, it’s not what the movie is about.


I’d go about calling The Grey a ‘psychological thriller’ in the same vein as Alien. No surprise to see Ridley Scott’s name pop up for producer credits, as the whole thing felt very Alien throughout. You got a crew (the before mentioned douchebags) and the creature (the wolves). Latter hunts the former and ain’t nothing they can do about it. Hits me in a good spot: the survivors of the crash can’t do shit about the wolves. There’s a dozen or more of them and they don’t give two shits about the cold or the snow while the douchebags can hardly take two steps without coughing up blood and falling down.

As it becomes clear the wolves are just going to pick off every one of these fuckers until only the most developed characters are left, the movie gives us these conversations ranging from who should be in charge to stories from back home. Writing here is hit or miss, with some conversations delivering witty, fun dialogue while others are stale and cliché. Don’t know what’s going on, but it’s a real mixed feeling as the frustrated jokes about being stranded in the beginning turn into camp-side jokes about fucking fat chicks in the middle. Jarring if you don’t get the whole allegory, which I ain’t gonna ruin for anyone.

No secret, a lot of people die in this one. Normally, discussion about how a character dies in a movie is left to slasher flicks, but it’s significant in The Grey because each death has a part for the overall allegory. Some deaths serve a purpose, like the first death we see on screen, which gets at a bit of Ottway’s naturalist philosophy concerning death and the situation overall. Another good one is a guy towards the end of the movie who—without spoiling anything—dies by the length of a finger, showing the audience just how close to the edge these characters are.

Another movie this reminds me of is The American, right down to the assholes in the theater who couldn’t understand what the fuck was happening and why they weren’t seeing Liam Neeson rescuing his daughter/wife from wolves. A man called out after the last scene, “I had to sit through two hours for this?” I wanted to go up there and slap him. If you can’t understand something then have the god damn decency shut the fuck up until someone with half a brain explains it to you. Same thing with The American. People didn’t fucking get it, at least in my theater. Clooney died at the end, or he didn’t? What will I fucking do if the movie doesn’t tell me what happened? What worth can those two hours have if I don’t get to see Clooney smiling at the screen again? That was another movie with misleading trailers. Made the whole thing look like a Bourne Identity with Clooney instead of Damon, which I guess would be a cool flick, but nothing compared to the great film The American actually was; a close character study of an interesting character with a plot that didn’t rely on guns and car chases but used them to effect. That’s what The Grey does, though not as well as The American. It uses the wolves and the environment not as things to gawk at or be scared of, but symbols of horror and desolation.

I can’t say for sure where The Grey messes up, but I think it’s when it’s not being a moody psychological thriller. The music that plays during the search of the plane crash is creepy, almost more fitting for a horror movie than a thriller. The use of silence is also well done. However, in equal strides, The Grey has scenes with forced sad piano to make sure the audience understands that, yes, this is the sad part.

 

The horror as the realization sets in that he's going to miss this week's Real Housewives.

The horror sets in as Ottway realizes he’ll miss this week’s Real Housewives.

Director Joe Carnahan is a better writer than he is a director, and it shows with all the strands of crap attached to an otherwise excellent thematic script. He even had the writer of the short story this thing was based on help with the screenplay. Many of the apparent flaws (like a lack of three dimensional characterization of anyone but Ottway) turn out to serve the movie’s overall goals, which is the dissection and assassination of Ottway himself.

The Grey’s ending is sure to piss people off, especially if you’re an asshole who likes to shout out your immediate feelings at the end of a movie in a crowded theater like some kind of idiot monkey looking for a banana. There’s this part where Ottway yells at the sky and calls out god to come and save him. You can really feel Neeson as an actor at this point, the struggle with faith the character obviously has because of his past. In the end, you don’t get to know whether he lives or dies, and I don’t think I’m ruining anything by telling you this. The sooner you realize this movie isn’t about how these guys survive a plane crash and a hike through the Alaskan wilderness, the sooner you can start appreciating Ottway’s character and the journey this movie wants to portray as important. It is important, I think, the way The Grey presents a problem not of plot (the plane crash/survival) but of character (Ottway’s depression) with all the plot working to show us why it matters.

There are also wolves.

THE SCORE

Writing: 3- Big ideas

Acting: 3.5- Liam Neeson and the douche bags

Directing: 2.75- Fucked it up sometimes

Bonus points: Psychological Thriller with good jokes.

Total: 3 out of 4- Too artsy for most, not quite artsy enough to excuse the fuck ups, but overall worth the time despite what the guy yelled in my theater.