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Binky International Film Festival: Day Six

Hello and welcome to Day Six of “Binky International Film Festival”! I hope you’re all enjoying the holidays. This time of the year is the time where friends and families gather, the time for joy and celebration. So I thought it would be the right time to take a look at some of the most depressing movies of 2011. šŸ™‚ Hey, it’s easier to discuss these movies when we’re in a festive joyful mood than when we’re actually really depressed, right?

There are quite a few “Depression-Inducing Flicks” that came out in 2011 but I only had the energy to see four of them, because I still like my life and I don’t want to kill myself just yet. Watching this type of movies can be draining… But somebody’s got to do it. So let’s take a look at these four flicks and nibble on those Zolofts, shall we?

“Depression-Inducing Flicks”

Monogamy

Release Date: March 13, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 96 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Dana Adam Shapiro & Evan M. Wiener
Stars: Rashida Jones, Chris Messina, Meital Dohan

I saw this movie because I have such a girl crush on Rashida Jones and because it was part of my “Relationship Breakdown” movie night (this and Blue Valentine will make you want to swear off romance forever), and even though this movie isn’t bad, I kinda regretted seeing it because it’s just so sad. I feel really sad for Rashida Jones’ character, who loves and trusts her fiance implicitly and has faith in their relationship, when all he does is become obsessed with a woman he doesn’t even know. What is it about human nature to be dissatisfied of the good thing we have in favor of something that may only appear exciting and unknown? This movie does make me think though, and makes me realize that part of our problem as a society is our lack of gratitude and appreciation of the good things we already have and tend to take for granted. But still, I wish it could’ve just gotten that message across without making Rashida Jones cry.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Melancholia

Release Date: November 11, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 136 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Lars Von Trier
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgard, Kiefer Sutherland

I watched this movie because it had gotten a lot of praise, not just from critics but from celebrities I follow on Twitter as well. Sure, the Cannes Film Festival premiere of this film was overshadowed by director Lars Von Trier’s idiotic comments about Hitler (yes, that’s the way to get you working in the film industry, Lars, insult the Jews. Nice going), but no matter what your feeling is about this “eccentric” Danish director, you can’t deny he has made some pretty interesting films so far. Dogville was an example that he might just be a genius. Melancholia, however… Okay. How do I put this. I can’t in all honesty say it’s a bad movie. Because it’s not. It’s visually stunning, it’s obvious that Von Trier is a true artist, and Kirsten Dunst’s performance is absolutely poignant here, especially considering she had been to rehab for depression. But I just can’t love this movie or rave about it because it is so nihilistic and non life-affirming that I just want to throw shit at Von Trier after I saw it. I get it, Lars, life is meaningless and then we die. But that’s why we turn to pop culture, to distract us from all that. Come on, at least spread a little joy!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Release Date: December 9, 2011 (NYC)
Approx. Running Time: 112 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Lynne Ramsay & Rory Kinnear
Stars: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

If your child grew up to be a teenage sociopath who decided to wake up one day and killed a bunch of his classmates in a high school massacre, should you blame yourself? What makes a psychopath, nature or nurture? Those are the questions that this jarring movie asks, as it follows Eva (Tilda Swinton), who’s trying to slowly put her life back together after her son Kevin commits a massacre that took the life of several of his schoolmates. The movie goes back and forth in time, chronicling Kevin’s life from when he was a baby up to the moment that he decided to do the unimaginable. Tilda Swinton’s performance was just so heartbreaking and, even though he only played a small role, Ezra Miller’s chilling turn as Kevin once again cemented him as the young star to watch. It is hard to watch this movie, because of its heavy subject matter but it’s worth the extra trip to your therapist just to see their amazing performances.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Angels Crest

Release Date: December 30, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 92 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Gaby Dellal & Catherine Trieschmann
Stars: Thomas Dekker, Joseph Morgan, Jeremy Piven, Kate Walsh, Mira Sorvino, etc

They say that nothing is more painful for a parent than having to bury your own child. So the premise of this movie, in which the disappearance of a three year old ripped through a small community, is already depressing by default. Watching a young – very young I might add – father lose his son that he loved very much is hard enough, seeing his growing realization throughout the movie, that he may not have been the best father and that he has indirectly caused the death of his child, is even harder. It’s always sad when you see people with the best intentions fail not because they don’t love enough or care enough but because they don’t know enough. And that’s what this movie is all about. I would’ve loved it more if the ending was a little bit uplifting, but since it was even more heartbreaking… I say don’t watch it unless you’re in a very emotionally stable state.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

And that concludes Day Six of Binky International Film Festival! Sorry for backing out on my words earlier about posting this on Christmas Day, I didn’t count on my flu getting even worse, not better. But I shall get over this soon (I hope). In any case, I will try to post the next four days of this festival before New Year’s Eve. Come back tomorrow for Day 7 where we’ll be taking a look at my personal favorites of 2011 in the “Repeat Viewing” genre.

Till then!

Binky Bee

Binky International Film Festival: Day Two

Hello and welcome back to the first ever “Binky International Film Festival”! šŸ™‚ Day Two officially begins and this time around we are going to take a look at a few movies that got indie lovers buzzing during the Sundance Film Festival, and I will call this genre “Sundance Darlings”.

As you know, Sundance Film Festival has grown from a little indie film festival in Park City, Utah to the place to scout out the most promising movies of the year. And this year, there are quite a few gems that I highly recommend you to watch, if you haven’t already. What are these promising indie movies? Let’s take a look!

NOTE: (Dec 21, 2011) As promised, now updated with Margin Call.

“Sundance Darlings”

Our Idiot Brother

Release Date: August 26, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 90 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jesse Peretz & Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall. Story by Jesse Peretz, Evgenia Peretz & David Schisgall.
Stars: Paul Rudd, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott etc

Possibly one of the most successful movies to come out at Sundance this year, this lighthearted sibling comedy was the first one bought by a major distributor (the Weinstein Company, no less) and is probably the easiest to market to mass audience. Our Idiot Brother tells the story of a sweet, loving idealist (Paul Rudd) who, after a brief stint in jail for selling pot to a cop, reunites with his three sisters only to accidentally wreak havoc in their already complicated lives. It’s funny but not idiotic (despite the title) and even though halfway through the movie you’d feel like strangling each and every one of the three self-absorbed sister, they manage to redeem themselves by finally banding together as a family and help their “idiot brother” the way he has helped them all along. It’s a family movie for those who can’t stand family movies, and if you love Paul Rudd (and Adam Scott!) as much as I do, I recommend giving this movie a watch. Especially during this time of the year.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Art of Getting By

Release Date: June 17, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 83 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Gavin Wiesen
Stars: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elisabeth Reaser, Rita Wilson, etc

Spoiler alert: that adorable Charlie from Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is no longer that adorable kid who charmed the pants out of Johnny Depp (and all of us). He’s now a tall, lanky teenager who wears a long black coat, refuses to do his coursework, and waxes philosophical debates about life and death and what it means to be a kooky and depressed teenager in The Art of Getting By. If this movie doesn’t make you feel old, then you’re probably still a teenager. The Art of Getting By is a coming of age movie for a generation who has seen too many coming of age movies, and is now lost and wondering if there really is a meaning to all this shit. Life is complicated, and even more so when you’re a teenager and you have no idea what you’re doing. That isn’t to say this movie isn’t enjoyable, it is very much so. It ends in a hopeful note, and at the very least it makes you appreciate being an adult. It’s not perfect, but then again, neither is life. šŸ™‚

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Like Crazy

Release Date: October 28, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 90 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Drake Doremus & Ben York Jones
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence

I was a little scared watching this movie, not because it’s a thriller (it’s not), but because I was all too familiar with the story: I know what it’s like to be separated geographically from the one I love, and not being able to do anything about it. I know the frustration, the loneliness, that overwhelming feeling of sadness from missing that person too much and not knowing what to do about it. In short, I have been where the couple in Like Crazy has been and it was not a fun experience. But I’m glad I didn’t chicken out and decide to watch this movie, because aside from Felicity Jones’ phenomenal acting, this movie gave me a glimpse of what would happen if my ex and I had insisted to stay together against all odds. There are relationships that are only meant to last a season, and Like Crazy shows us what happens if we try to stretch out that season to a lifetime. It can still work out, but you may have to sacrifice your own happiness in the process. So if you’re pining for the one that could have been, maybe this is the movie for you this holiday season, to put things into perspective.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Release Date: October 21, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 102 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Sean Durkin
Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the other Olsen sister, the one who didn’t start out as a child star and become a millionaire before she’s even old enough to drive, the one who hasn’t parlayed her fame into a billion dollar merchandising (and now fashion) industry, and the only one who can actually act: Elizabeth Olsen. At only 20, the younger Olsen sister stunned the world in her breakout role as a traumatized, troubled young woman who has just returned to her family after years living in an abusive Charles Manson-like cult. Her raw yet understated performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene made her the talk of Hollywood post-Sundance, and I hope she’ll be the one Olsen girl that we’ll be taking seriously in the years to come, because she is just that good. But aside from Olsen, this movie is worth checking out for the sublime performances of her co-stars, especially John Hawkes who is even more creepy and unsettling in this movie than I’ve seen him before. It can be a little hard to watch in a couple of scenes, but it gives good insight to the psyche of a cult, and it leaves you with something to think (and talk) about.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Another Happy Day

Release Date: November 18, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 119 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Sam Levinson
Stars: Ellen Barkin, Ezra Miller, Kate Bosworth, Thomas Haden Church, Demi Moore, etc

This is the only one of this year’s Sundance movies that I didn’t hear about until I followed Ellen Barkin on twitter (you should all follow her, she’s a riot – @ellenbarkin) and it’s a shame since everyone is so amazing in this movie, from Ellen Barkin all the way to young Ezra Miller, who you may know as Tucker, Hank’s hemophiliac patient in Royal Pains, or as creepy teen psychopath Kevin in We Need To Talk About Kevin. In Another Happy Day, Miller also plays a complex, troubled teen who makes his mom’s life even harder – and seeing this relative newcomer and seasoned actor Ellen Barkin go toe-to-toe onscreen is just a delight. They both give incredible performances, and surprisingly enough so did Demi Moore and Kate Bosworth (but more surprisingly, Bosworth! She has depth after all!). This family reunion movie may be more depressing than uplifting, but that doesn’t mean you should pass on this Sam Levinson movie, if only to wonder why no one seems to notice how good Ellen Barkin is in it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Margin Call

Release Date: October 21, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 107 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): JC Chandor
Stars: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci etc

This movie is definitely fresh in my mind since I just saw it a few hours ago, but that doesn’t mean I actually get it. šŸ™‚ Not the movie’s fault, I’m just totally clueless when it comes to the financial market. I failed Economics twice in college, and then I had to change my major from Mass Communications because apparently, I had to at least get a D in Economics to be able to survive – and I couldn’t even get that. So, I’m probably the wrong person to judge the movie since I do not understand what the hell is going on half the time. BUT. I do know my pop culture and I know a good movie when I see it, even if I’m a little hazy on the core dilemma that the characters are facing. It’s a very relevant movie in these times, and yet it doesn’t point the finger and play the blame game. Sure, these Wall Street people screwed up. But when they did their job well, we enjoyed the benefits too (at least that’s what I got from Paul Bettany’s monologue). Please don’t argue with me on this, like I said, I am so so dumb when it comes to the financial market, so I may be getting the message of the movie all wrong. Bottom line, what I get is that behind of every crisis, whether it be financial or otherwise, there are individuals who have screwed up and now are trying to cover their asses. And that is human. Doesn’t make it right, but that’s the way it is. See the movie if my review confuses you. šŸ™‚

And that concludes Day Two of Binky International Film Festival, now updated with Margin Call. Also, check back in tomorrow for Day Three, where we will be taking a look at this year’s “Chick Flicks”. There are quite a few to get through so I’ll see you then!

Binky Bee