Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Movies I don't understand

It's late at night. I am watching "Terminator: Salvation." I have no idea what is going on, but I keep watching, hoping it will become clear. It doesn't.

Too often, I find myself not comprehending the movie I am watching. Here are my top five incomprehensible movies:

1) 2001: A Space Odyssey
2) Terminator: Salvation
3) The Fog
4) Mary Poppins
5) Transformers 2

And yes, I am serious about Mary Poppins. What the heck is the deal with Bert? And what is going on with Mary Poppins? Is she some kind of witch or ghost? Or is all the flying and "spoonful of sugar" stuff just reference to drugs?

Hellraiser 2. I got nothing for you on that one.
Mary Poppins is actually a Dementor. In the books, she goes on to defeat the Alien by opening the airlock and shooting it out into space, and then blows up the Death Star by hitting a vulnerable exhaust port with her X-Wing fighter.
I literally had the exact same experience with Terminator: Salvation on Sunday. That movie is two hours long, and it is awful. Basically, it is two hours to see the Arnold prototype terminator machine in the last ten minutes of the movie, which is kind of a cool moment, but the rest of it is terrible.

I know the whole point is to keep you from knowing what is going on, but when I think of movies I just can't follow Donnie Darko always comes to mind. I've seen it like ten times, and I still have no clue what is happening, why it is happening, or what the point is.

And I think Mary Poppins makes total sense to kids, because they don't ask questions like, "why is this nanny blessed with magical powers?" They just accept that stuff. That is why being a kid is so much fun and being an adult stinks, because we question magic and mystery too much, and let logic get in the way of fun.
"...we question magic and mystery too much, and let logic get in the way of fun."

I'm not a hippie dude, for many reasons, but mostly because I know what soap is and I know how to use it.

Doesn't mean I can't marvel at the wonderment of childhood.


RRL isn't a hippie. But, I'm pretty sure Mary Poppins is.
The movie I always had trouble getting through was Memento. I finally finished it and realized that I wasn't really that confused, I just thought it was boring and tedious.

I was going to see Terminator: Salvation until that audio clip came out with Christian Bale displaying what a monumental douchebag he is to the entire world. Now I'm not sure if I'll watch another Christian Bale movie, at least not any new ones.
Ultraviolet and Half Baked, but to be fair I was completely drunk when I tried to watch either of them. I really tried hard though...They just literally blew my mind.

Donnie Darko is about predestination and understanding God's plan, and that while it doesn't make sense to us, even bad things are for the best.
There are some minor points here and there, but that is the major theme of it.
Mary Poppins was fine until Bert introduced the creepy penguins and wore that candy cane-like top hat. The rest of the story was fine but his parts were like a bad Beatles film.
1:13 ps
I almost forgot to mention the obligatory Jesus metaphor stuffed in Donnie Darko.
Vanilla Sky
Never seen Terminator Salvation, The Fog, Mary Poppins or Transformers 2. I do not consider this a problem.

But 2001? It's Kubrick and Clarke! What's not to get? People go to the moon, find an ancient alien artifact, which in turn leads them to a mission to Iapetus, a moon of Saturn to find its twin. Two astronauts are conscious aboard the mission, with a third character, the infamous HAL-9000 computer. Through a programming error (HAL knows the true nature of the mission but must lie to the astronauts), HAL must be shut off and reprogrammed. But HAL doesn't want to be shut off, because that's like dying. So HAL lies to Bowman and Poole, and in the process, kills both the unconscious crew member and Poole. Bowman survives and makes it to the second artifact (the magnetic anomaly) on Iapetus, which is like the first monolith but hollow.

The monoliths are actually technology seeded around the universe by ancient and wise races that have transcended the need for material bodies, instead coding their knowledge in lattices of pure light. The purpose of it is a transport device to take sentient beings to an unknown location. Bowman enters it, passes through what he calls the "Grand Central Station" of the universe, and emerges into a place where his memories and personality are stripped away, and he is made into an infant deity to guide the people of Earth, his planet, in to interstellar society.

The only movie I've seen that I can remember that I didn't "get" was "Lost in Translation." Every pretentious idjit I know says it's "LIKE OMG THE GRATEST MOVIE EVER." I thought it was stupid and self-absorbed.
Sounds like somebody read the book.

There's a great match cut that is lost on 98% of first-time viewers of 2001 (including this one). The primitive human throws the first tool (a bone used as a weapon) into the air. At the peak of its arc, Kubrick cuts to an image of a WMD-launching satellite.

Now the movie should make perfect sense.
Lane - THANK YOU. Lost in Translation was the most annoying, uninteresting drivel that I've ever seen. How can someone be "lost" in a culture when they're only there for a week?
I loved "Lost in Translation." It's not about travel or language or anything like that. It's about marriage and gender roles.
I didn't totally get 2001: A Space Odyssey either.

I love Dr Strangelove--most of it is really brilliant--but I can't say I totally get it.

And the same for most Stanley Kubrick movies. They're mostly brilliant with some indecipherability or obscure references thrown in.
A Clockwork Orange . . .that was the other Kubrick movie I was just trying to think of . . . brilliant but over the top, perhaps?

I haven't seen Mary Poppins, but it sounds like it would drive me crazy.
Also, most David Lynch movies are over my head, or at least over my level of interest in weirdness for the sake of weirdness.
In 2001, I understood the whole HAL thing and computers becomming self-aware and destroying humans, but the monolithic stone coming out of the ground and monkeys learning how to use tools, not so much. For what it's worth, I will add Bubbahotep, Jesus Christ: Vampire Slayer, Donnie Darko, and Being John Malkovich as movies worthy of inclusion in the incomprehensible list.
I mean, you can say that Donnie Darko is about those things, but man I don't know.

I also agree with all those voicing disapproval of Lost in Translation.
Donnie Darko sucked. Terminator Salvation sucked. And RRL is a hippie. He listens to Beck.

Also, I love Bill Murray. But lost in translation sucked.

Broken Flowers, on the other hand....AMAZING.

Dune is also an incomprehensible movie if you do not watch the director's cut. The director's cut pretty much tells the story from the book.
Completely unrelated, but I watched The Men Who Stare At Goats this weekend and thought it was great.
Of course I read the book! Although, both 2001 the movie and 2001 the book were developed together, so I think that the story line from the book is the better way of explaining it. The two are really companion pieces.

The same cannot be said about Herbert's original Dune novel (somewhat staid and lackluster by modern prose standards, but still an important development in the history of sf) and that awful abortion of a movie by Lynch (who is kind of a nut). By contrast, Sci-Fi's Dune miniseries is more textually faithful, but horribly shot, acted and scripted. It's a trade off. I'd like to see a good script writer do a modern take on Dune, but I fear the inevitable comparisons to that hack Cameron's "Dances With Smurfs" would drive me insane.

Anyway, the monolith's effect on development is explained in the book: it uses radiation to stimulate the development of consciousness in proto-humans. As I said, the Watcher (its name) is a construct of advanced alien civilization that guides the development of life in the universe. This is a common theme from the golden age of sf onward (cf. "The Lensmen" series, if you can stand the 1950s attitude, or more recently, David Brin the Libertarian Weirdo and his "Uplift" series, which are actually halfway decent).

"Donnie Darko," on the other hand, is a confused mess that deals with time travel in a profoundly stupid way. It's no "Sound of Thunder."
Two Words: Mulholland Drive

I may not be smart enough to understand that movie. I'm willing to admit that and at the same time be glad I'm not that "smart"
If you want to see a really confusing yet really great sci fi movie, check out "Primer."
A Clockwork Orange is at least as confusing as 2001. If you have ever seen Eraserhead, you'd probably add it to this list as well.
"Barton Fink"; I just don't get it. In fact I don't get a lot of the Coen Brother films. The "Big Lebowski" and "Fargo" being exceptions.
Need to add VANILLA SKY to that list Plus Dr Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, The Wall, Eyes Wide Shut, and that one movie that is like shown backwards Remember that one? It had like ONE WORD TITLE? Like not ENCORE but soemthing like that What a mess.
YES!!! MEMENTO!!! That is the movie!!!! iT STARTS OUT BACKWARDS OR SOEMTHING omg..

You know they spend millions of doallrs making these movies. Instead they could use that money to have the audience stay home and then a person comes to the door and hits them on the head so they pass out for two hours and then wake up and have no idea where the last two hours went. its woudl be the same exact effect.
Mulholland drive AND David Lynch too! WOWW SO MANY confusing movies in the world.
Wait wait One more for the road: matt Damon and Ben Affleck and that guy from CLERKS dressed as Angles/ and they kill people? DOGMA.


Give me Sandra Bullock. Meryl Streep, George Clooney and maybe a PLOT any time.
The book Mary Poppins blows the movie away. Much better. I still like the movie however.

The one I hated is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The book by Ian Fleming, is "magical."

Yes, "Lost in Translation" pretty much blows.
IPLG-- ????

Didn't I tell you that you should see "Lost in Translation?"
Lane, you have to watch the extended, directors cut of Dune It actually makes sense & and is relatively close to the book (as far as movie adaption go).
TJ, I just can't bring myself to do it. As cool as Patrick Stewart is, I just can't bring myself to watch a version of Dune where the BGs and whatnot get their powers not from worm vomit but some "weirding module" they put on their throats. That's just crazy.
Having spent time in Tokyo and Hong Kong - I LOVED "Lost in Translation". I also like most David Lynch, although I may need to re-watch Mulholland Drive and I am definitely a fan of Stanley Kubrick films; including 'Eyes Wide Shut' (despite Tom Cruise).

OK - I admit, I broke my teeth on Woody Allen movies at the old Punch & Judy theatre on The Hill.

Lane - which version of Dune? I believe the 2nd make is better than the first. The Kyle MacLaughlin version was REALLY, REALLY BAD.
"Lost in Translation" is kind of like my life... often in foreign countries, maybe not knowing the language & customs, being separated from family and loved ones (and perhaps facing temptations). I definitely "got it," though I sure would like to know what ScarJo & Bill said, at the very end.
The Kyle MacLaughlin version was REALLY, REALLY BAD.

Showgirls, Dune, Sex and the City, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, has he ever been in anything good?
Oh, and Woody Allen's "Manhattan.". Don't get it.
Alright, two things:

1. Dune is awesome. Director's cut, original version. I don't give a crap. The movie is scored by Toto for goodness sakes. TOTO! It features Sting saying the line "I will kill you" over and over again with crazy bug eyes. Giant worms. Sweet weapons. Sand people with blue eyes.

2. If people keep calling me a hippie I'm going to freak out on somebody.
Gnome named Gnorm and Forbidden Zone --not a porn.

The first, I was confused as to why a buddy cop movie with a Gnome needed to exist. The second is just . . . just weird.

Gaze upon this plot description (via wikipedia)

The film begins on "Friday, April 17" at 4 pm in Venice, California. Huckleberry P. Jones (Gene Cunningham), local pimp, narcotics peddler, and slumlord, enters a vacant house that he owns. While stashing heroin in the basement, he stumbles upon a mysterious door, and enters it, falling into the Sixth Dimension, from which he promptly escapes. After retrieving the heroin, he sells the house to the Hercules family. On their way to school, Frenchy Hercules (Marie-Pascale Elfman) and her brother Flash (Phil Gordon) have a conversation with Squeezit Henderson (Matthew Bright), who tells them that while being violently beaten by his mother, he had a vision of his "sister" (actually his flamboyantly homosexual brother), René (Bright), who had fallen into the Sixth Dimension through the door in the Hercules' basement. Frenchy returns home to confide in her mother, and decides to take just a "little peek" behind the forbidden door in the basement. After arriving in the Sixth Dimension, she is captured by the perpetually topless Princess, who brings Frenchy to the rulers of the Sixth Dimension, the midget King Fausto (Hervé Villechaize) and his queen, Doris (Susan Tyrrell). When the king falls for Frenchy, Queen Doris orders their frog servant, Bust Rod, to lock her up. In order to make sure that Frenchy is not harmed, King Fausto tells Bust Rod to take Frenchy to Cell 63, where the King keeps his favorite concubines (as well as René). The next day at school, Flash tries to convince Squeezit to help him rescue René and Frenchy. When Squeezit refuses, Flash enlists the help of Gramps instead. In the Sixth Dimension, they speak to an old Jewish man who tells them how to help Frenchy escape, but they soon are captured by Bust Rod. Queen Doris interrogates Flash and Gramps and then lowers them into a large septic tank. She then plots her revenge against Frenchy, relocating all the denizens of cell 63 to a torture chamber. She leaves the Princess to oversee Frenchy's torture and execution, but when a fuse is blown, the torture is put on hold and the prisoners from cell 63 are relocated to keep the King from finding them.
After escaping the septic tank, Flash and Gramps come across a woman who tells them that she was once happily married to the king, until Doris stole the throne by seducing her, "even though she's not my type". The ex-queen has been sitting in her cell for 1,000 years, and has been writing a screenplay in order to keep her sanity. Meanwhile, Pa Hercules is blasted through the stratosphere by an explosion caused by improperly extinguishing his cigarette in a vat of highly flammable tar during his work break at the La Brea Tar Pit Factory. After re-entry, Pa falls through the Hercules family basement and into the Sixth Dimension, where he is imprisoned. Finding a phone, Flash calls Squeezit and again asks for his help. Finally, Squeezit agrees to go into the Sixth Dimension to help rescue Frenchy and René. There, he is captured by Satan (Danny Elfman), with whom he makes a deal to bring him the Princess in exchange for Satan's help freeing René and Frenchy. After Squeezit accomplishes this task, Satan tells him not to worry about his friends before having him decapitated. Queen Doris sends Bust Rod to keep an eye on the King, and to ensure he doesn't find out where she's hidden Frenchy. King Fausto catches Bust Rod, and forces him to lead him to Frenchy and René, whom he orders to leave the sixth dimension to avoid the Queen's wrath. However, en route to safety, René is stricken with pseudo-menstrual cramps, and they are again captured by the frog. Squeezit's head, which has now sprouted chicken wings, finds the king, and informs him of what has happened. While preparing to kill Frenchy, Doris is confronted by the ex-queen, and the two engage in a cat-fight, with Doris eventually coming out as the victor. Just as she is about to kill Frenchy, King Fausto stops her, explaining that Satan's Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo are holding the Princess hostage, and will kill her should anything befall Frenchy. Flash and Gramps arrive, and Flash is knocked down by Gramps. Ma Hercules enters and, seeing a seemingly dead Flash, shoots Queen Doris. King Fausto mourns Doris, then marries Frenchy. The surviving characters look toward a great future as they plan to take over everyone and everything in the Galaxy.

Did I mention this is a musical comedy?
Also, Cannibal the Musical left me confused.

I've never taken illegal drugs, but i'm pretty sure my rental list from I Love Video in Austin would have dropped dirty.
-I don't remember you telling me to see Lost in Translation, but it was something I wanted to see, being a Bill Murray fan. I liked the premise. But he was too restrained. The only part I liked was when he was in the bar after the commercial shoot still wearing a suit with clips on the back.

The Scarlett Johansen character was just not credible.
GED3-- Seriously? That was a movie?
Prof, there is a wondrous, magical place in Austin that is filled with the obscure, the weird, and the stuff only film students would love. That place is called "I Love Video." GED3 is entirely correct that 9/10ths of the population would benefit from a good shower and a detoxing, and that if APD wanted to crack down on drug use, all they'd need to do is camp outside of one of these establishments.

It used to be a game between my friends and I to enter an "I Love Video" and in 15 minutes pick up the strangest sounding crap we could find, then try and watch whatever cinematic horrors we found. Madness was usually the result.

Sigh. I miss Austin.
Lane, that does sound excellent. It makes me want to go to Austin. Maybe I will!
Bert and Mary Poppins, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean? Know what I mean?
Sometimes there is little or nothing to get. Lost in Translation and Manhattan are both very subtle films, wonderful films in fact. You just have to take time to watch and think.
All three are real movies. People got paid and everything.
Oh so much to comment on here!! Best Razor post in a while!

1. RRL is no hippie.

2. IPLG, I thought S Johanssen was at her MOST credible in Lost on Translation (not saying much, but...) and yes, the country, the culture were merely a backdrop to the story of the (so-called)
"International language."

3. Donnie Darko is one of the best movies of ALL time!! Funny, insightful, bitter, hopeful, sad. Wonderful. Also true of Dune and Mulholland Drive.

4. I have a quote which I believe addresses your concerns with the rest of these films:

"Shut up Mr. Burton! You were not brought upon this earth to 'get it'!" -LoPan, Big Trouble in Little China
I never understood Transformers. What were they fighting about? And what was the role of that girl who seemed to spend two hours striking attractive poses while robots were about to kill her?

Mary Poppins:

Flies in, gives kids a "spoonful of sugar", pulls things out of a bag that is clearly too small to hold them, then takes them into a psychadelic dreamland with 1960's era pastel animation, where they dance with penguin waiters before the whole place melts and they find themselves disoriented on a random London street corner. It also features a man who "got so high that he couldn't get back down", and Mary's apparent meanness following the end of the "sugar" incident, during which she is so unpredictable that she sends the kids running out onto the dark streets of London alone away from her. The film ends with a little number about flying up to the highest heights.

This and Willy Wonka have some serious explaining to do.
"And what was the role of that girl who seemed to spend two hours striking attractive poses while robots were about to kill her?"

Look, there are lots of things in movies I don't get (mostly because they are overworked and poorly thought out, and the director and/or writer is on drugs).

But one thing I 100% get is the role of Meagan Fox in Transformers. I understand why she was there. I understand her character. I get it. Totally. She is the anti-Donnie Darko. Her purpose and meaning is unmistakable.
No, RRL. I know why she's in the movie. I'm wondering from a literary standpoint what her role in the greater story arc would be.

Assuming that "girl who makes men go see dumb movies just so they can watch her shirt almost fall off" isn't a role.
Oh, well, I just figured that was
her role in the movie, and her
purpose in the story arc. If a nerd
helps to defeat an alien race of
robots and save humanity than an
insanely hot 27 year old that is
strangely still in high school will
fall in love with him. Hence, she
is the inspiration.
I won't ask who Meagan Fox is - I don't care. I would not spend money to see a movie called Transformers unless George Clooney was in it and did remove his shirt.

I am re-watching Mulholland Drive. Let's just say one must be 'aware' to follow the plot. There really is one, but it's complicated. I would not want to get into David Lynch's mind.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?