Despite my better efforts, there are some huge gaps in my film-watching repertoire. Gaps which, since 90% of my friends are just as film-nerdy as I, I am constantly given sh*t for. Which I super deserve. So now, to shut all of them up, I’ve decided to get to work on catching up on these gaps.
This week, we look at 2013’s very think-y “Enemy”, and 2003’s decidedly unthink-y “Kill Bill Volume 1”.
Yadda yadda I’d never heard of this movie before watching it and knew very little about it going in blah blah you’ve heard all this before. I do wish I’d seen the above poster before seeing the movie, though. Partly because it’s a really good poster and partly because it would have given me a trigger warning that this film was going to contain goddamn spiders. I could have used that warning. Like, a lot.
The film, directed by Denis Villeneuve, was based on the novel “The Double” by José Saramago. The novel involves 100% less spiders according to my research. Good. Sorry, getting off topic. Anyhoozles, the film follows high school professor Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal), an introvert who checks out a movie at the request of a coworker. In the movie, he spots minor actor Anthony Claire (Jake Gyllenhaal), who happens to look and sound exactly like him. Adam tracks Anthony down and tries to figure out what’s going on, but when both men begin to grow suspicious of each other, the film takes a dark turn for the paranoia and confusion-inducing. Also, spiders. Did… did I already mention the spiders?
So, this is a movie you really have to pay attention to. Even though Gyllenhaal does a really good job of differentiating the two characters, it’s still a movie about two guys you look and sound exactly alike. At certain points THEY ARE EVEN PRETENDING TO BE EACH OTHER. The only thing that could be more confusing would be if you remade “The Departed” with the Olsen Twins replacing Damon and DiCaprio. Both Gyllenhaals are different enough as to create distinct characters and both characters are interesting in their own ways. Adam is introverted and calm, while Anthony is aggressive and definitely not repressed.
Ok, so now I actually want to address the spiders. Like, in more of a serious context than the jokey one I’ve so far used. So, MAJOR SPOILERS. Normally, I find that spoiler alerts are kind of bullsh*t. I mean, this is a review, duh I’m going to talk about the movie. But in this case, the reason I liked the moment I’m going to talk about so much is because I didn’t know it was coming. So, last chance to move on to my “Kill Bill” review before I spoil this movie. Ok, here we go:
The last moment of this movie earned it an extra star in my eyes. It bumped this movie up from “I liked it” to “I really liked it”. Anyone who’s seen the movie knows what I’m talking about. But in case you didn’t, at the end of the film Adam, who has taken Anthony’s life and wife, decides to go look into the weird sex room Anthony was seen in at the start of the film. Adam turns to leave and enters the living room to find a huge f*ck-off tarantula (like, it fills the entire room) huddled against the wall, acting as if it’s afraid of Adam. Adam gives it an “oh, you’re here” look and then… the movie ends. As the credits rolled, I sat there, completely blown away. Ok, so no, this isn’t the first time spiders appear in the film (there’s one at the beginning and then there’s the city-sized one you see in the poster, but that one stays confined to a pseudo-dream sequence) but it is the most memorable. It completely catches you off guard, like a weird-ass combination of jump scare and punchline.
I’m not even going to try to analyze this film because that would require a ton more viewings and a lot of critical introspection. There are plenty of analysis articles and videos on the internets if you want someone more qualified’s opinion. But yeah, this may be the only thing I’ve ever watched where a spider improved my enjoyment. Seriously you guys, I hate spiders. I hate ’em so much.
Four out of five stars.
KILL BILL VOLUME 1
I have a confession to make. I am have mixed feelings about Quentin Tarantino. The films of his I’ve seen, I really really like, but I will always be wary about blindly trusting him for one reason. And that reason isn’t even his fault. Here’s the thing. Tarantino is one of the most distinctive auteurs of our time. Tarantino is also the patron saint of sh*tty filmmakers. I don’t know how someone as good as Tarantino is can inspire so many bad writers and directors but it’s true. Almost every terrible professional and student film I’ve seen was bad because the filmmaker wanted to be Tarantino. We have a Tarantino, and he kicks ass. Accept no substitutes.
But on to the film, which was written and directed by take-a-f*cking-guess. This is the first half of the double length epic that is “Kill Bill” (hint hint guess what one of the films I’ll be reviewing next week is). The film stars Uma Thurman as The Bride, a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who was betrayed and almost killed by her former teammates. This half, 99.9999% of which is in flashback, is the lead-up and beginning of The Bride’s über-violent quest for revenge.
The movie is Tarantino’s love letter to 70’s exploitation films, and it’s as blood-soaked as it’s influences. I swear to god, there’s enough blood in this movie’s climax to drown a goddamn horse. Honestly, a large chunk of this movie is kick ass fight scenes, which is kinda hard to review. They are very cool, and some of them have some really good emotional weight behind them. I personally really enjoyed the opening fight scene of the film and thought it balanced some rapid tonal shifts really well.
I do have to say I have some very limited criticism of the film. I’ve heard that, because of the way “Kill Bill” was released, both halves have their own pacing issues, and I definitely feel it here. It feels like I just watched half a movie. and yes, I know that’s what I technically did, but look: this was released as a complete movie. I paid for it as if it was a complete movie. I kind of want it to feel like a complete movie. The only other complaint I have is that it feels kind of cluttered. The long anime sequence was cool for five minutes, but it overstayed its welcome. Plus the animation itself was kind of underwhelming. But overall I highly recommend this movie and we’ll see next week if I like its sequel/second half as much
Four out of five stars.
Next week, I’ll take a look at two more fil– oh sh*t, this was supposed to be my Halloween special, wasn’t it? Damn it! Well, there was blood… and spiders… That’s gonna have to count. Stupid Halloween, sneaking up on me.