Category Archives: 4 Snobs

Under the Skin (Sci-Fi-Thiller)

index“Once tempted by the flesh, all men will lose their inner being to a dark and unrelenting abyss”

After changing into the clothes of a young lifeless woman found in a ditch on the side of the road, a beautiful creature (Scarlett Johansson) begins driving around Scotland in a large white van. After a few minutes of consciously observing with the demeanor of a lioness on the prowl, she picks up a man on the street and begins to effortlessly flirt with him. Once she has him under her spell, she leads him to a dark and empty room with a floor that begins devouring him with each willing step into a murky pool of goo.

The search for the right man became harder as the film progressed, slightly slowing the pace of the film down along with it.  This ingeniously had a mostly positive effect on the overall tone, since it built up the anticipation and importance for the inevitable hypnotic capture to follow.

Using the vehicle of an obscure and alluring sci-fi film, the exemplification of a modern day man-eater is depicted. Within this possible interpretation, an oversimplification of the sexual nature of men is bluntly exhibited, along with the mindless behavior they adhere to within an erotic encounter.

These powerful and captivating scenes of seduction brought the anticipation to an arousing level, paired with a tantalizing score that orchestrated a sonata of desires encapsulating the mesmerized viewers without shame. One of the most powerful scenes occurs when one of these men encounter a previous victim within this liquescent chamber, only to bear witness to his eventual demise.

After this theme is explored another is introduced, involving the main protagonist and the evolution within herself. Her apparent aspiration to become more human than her restrictive mission allows, which unfortunately only brings more confusion to a climactic final scene that goes up in smoke.

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The Rover (Crime-Drama)

Rover“Proving to yourself that you still have your human dignity is worth more than a life without it”

Ten years after the collapse, Australia as a civilized nation is almost completely dissolved.  Vendors no longer take Australian currency, society is non-existent and, and the government has stepped in to bring the last of the countrymen to the capital for “reorganization”.  Living within this chaos there is a man by the name of Eric (Guy Pearce), who stops at a local rest stop to have a drink.  Meanwhile a group of three men crash their truck and while in a hurry, take Eric’s car as a getaway.  Even after Eric chases these men down and asks for the exchange of vehicles, the men were not up for negotiations, and when push came to shove Eric gets knocked out and left for dead.  After he becomes conscious, he drives down the road for supplies, and when he goes back to the truck finds a man (Robert Pattinson) in the passenger seat wounded, asking why he has his brothers’ truck.

Having the outback the setting for a tale of this subject matter brought a dry and gritty ambiance to every scene.  Relentless flies, dust and dirt clinging to every movement, and the unforgiving sun will make even the air-conditioned audience feel exhausted and filthy.  The townies that were left in this wasteland were frightening and rough to say the least, and you could imagine why these select few encountered are the last ones standing.  No one ever answered questions, no matter how many times they are asked, which kept suspense while also conveying the primal nature and loss of benevolence within the culture.  This unwritten code of civil disorder, along with others, was a lingering presence that inadvertently showed each characters experience level and human degradation in this desolate habitat.

Going into the unorthodox screenplay, many viewers will undoubtedly be confused, as the backgrounds and unfolding stories are not spoon-fed.  Allusions portrayed as “random” occurrences and small-talk conversations cunningly develop the layered characters, subjective to the harsh environment they live in.  The mysteries shadowing the two leads were thought-provoking, and with due attention, rewarding insights are provided which breaks away the crocodile scale facade revealing much longed for human skin.

Coneheads (Comedy-Family-Sci-Fi)

index“Human Authority Figures! Nyaaaaaah!!!”

While on a surveillance mission of planet Earth, Beldar (Dan Aykryod) and his partner Prymatt (Jane Curtin), crash their spacecraft and become stranded until further notice. To adapt to their new environment, Beldar works as a productive appliance mechanic and his partner a trophy mobile home wife under the alias Donald and Mary Margret DeCicco. Once Beldars green card has been discovered to be fraudulent by the INS, they quickly move camp leaving their belonging and are forced to start their lives over once again. Prymatt soon births a daughter Connie and they create an identity as Mr. and Mrs. Conehead who are French immigrants attempting to live the American dream as they wait to be retrieved by inhabitants of their home planet Remulak.

Based off of a Saturday Night Live skit, this goofball Sci-Fi comedy will bring the viewers laughter to “mass quantities”. Mr. and Mrs. Coneheads obtuse articulations of the human language create a dry and hilarious dynamic between everyone they encounter.  Chris Farley, Jason Alexander, Jon Lovitz, and a few others from the SNL crew make up a supporting cast that effortlessly create humorous scenarios keen to all types of audiences.

Going into the screenplay, it was simply the full backstory of these beloved cone-headed characters using the same framework that made this duo memorable to begin with.  Since these scenes were obviously not recorded live; special effects and other components restrictive on stage gave free range to the directors’ portrayals of these aliens and their bizarre attributes they inherited. It would be a distinctly plausible position that this strip of framed sequences played at quantifiable levels will not be forgotten for at minimum 40 zurls or until mass extinction of all earthlings.

Dogtooth (Foreign-Drama)

dog“Leave your humanity at the fence and enter into the frontier of radical guidance”

A father has shut his children off from the outside world and taught them everything they know through cassette tapes, home videos, and of course firsthand accounts.  Now that they have reached adulthood, he is noticing their curiosity is becoming a bit harder to control and reverts to harder conditioning tactics to keep order.

This satire on over-protective parenting not only crosses the borders in terms of civility, but is also a risky experiment in the art of film.  Without reading between the lines it would most certainly come off as a darkly comical yet very dry and pointless sequence of events.  The framing and transitioning of scenes are still very imaginative, while the content showcased within is bizarre and at times appalling.  A few of the scenes that many would find disturbing need to be taken into context, or they will without a doubt be deemed repulsive.  The sexual scenes for example, though excessive and without discretion, was shot in a clinical way, without passion and lacking emotional ties. This element was introduced as simply another control mechanism and less about lust or sympathy from the father.

It can not be argued that these young actors had an innocence and naiveté of a child, not to mention demonstrated impulsive behavior.  Apart from the young cast, much of the audience will despise the father on how harsh and twisted his decisions are.  His actions wouldn’t be justifiable by societies standards, but after analyzing the fathers rationale one can at the least understand his motivations.

If you left this film unrattled then you must have a cast iron stomach.  Many will leave in disgust, push it to the back of their mind, and never think of it again.  For those who digest this foreign delicacy may begin to taste the hidden flavors, and understand why the connoisseurs revere it.

Harold and Maude (Romance-Comedy-Drama)

maude“Live life, fake death, and let love grow like a sunflower”

Meet Harold, a morbid teenager who fakes elaborate suicides to get a rise out of his waspy mother and also enjoys long walks at the cemetery.  Meet Maude, a widow on the brink of 80 who sails through life without regret and is a collector of others valuables, a grand theft auto enthusiast and part-time environmental activist.  When these two run into each other at their favorite past-time, funeral crashing, what starts off as an unexpected friendship grows into a timeless romance.

This synopsis is true on the surface, but this is not the reason the movie has been a cult classic for decades.  From the opener a panning scene focuses solely on dress shoes with the melodies of Cat Stevens leading you unpredictably to a darker, yet unexpectedly comical and recurring incident of the film.  At this point you begin to realize that this is much more than a rom-com, and actually shouldn’t even be categorized as so.

The dualism of life and death is an obvious motif used bluntly throughout the film and usually shown in succession.  Coinciding with this, the picture ingeniously makes a mockery of serious subject matters that society deems offensive, taboo, or immoral usually at the expense of one of the supporting cast.  Theses memorable side characters are used primarily to bridge the development and fluidity of the plot, but they also unconsciously bring outlandish and dry humor with them. When looking beyond this observable narrative, you will see Harold and Maude dancing, singing, or usually causing mischief in pure spontaneity.

The layers of both Harold and Maude bloom in sync with their love story showing their true colors with every courageous step.  This film is undoubtedly held together by the unlikely bond between these two characters, but the core of the message is deeper than simply the “power of love”.  These two spirits were brought together to bring forth the realization of their fragile moralities,  teaching each other to cherish these brief moments and embrace the inevitable.

The Imposter (Documentary-Thriller)

imp“An unfiltered examination of a man proclaiming to be a kidnapped child and how his ballooning deception unforgivably popped”

In this thought provoking documentary, a 13 year old boy by the name of Nicholas Barclay vanishes one evening in the suburbs of San Antonio Texas.  After multiple years he miraculously resurfaces on the other side of the world in Spain.  Within the first few minutes you are bewildered, which is soon replaced with shock once the man posing as this boy is interviewed.

In the beginning you actually feel sorry for Frédéric Bourdin, the man posing as a lost boy.  You think about the struggles, abuse, and abandonment he went through to have this innocence of wanting to still be loved like a child.  This empathy gradually dissolves through each decision and outlandish lie Bourdin creates, and a disturbed sociopath begins to surface.

Aside from interviews, the filmmaker also brings you into the story through reenactments of the accounts that took place narrated by the individual involved.  Through careful editing this flows seamlessly, which was crucial because with one misstep this would feel like an unsolved mysteries episode on late night TV.

Family footage of Nicholas was also showcased at pivotal points of the picture to draw emotion from the audience.  Another very fresh idea was during the interviews the audio would be cut out and historic audio recordings from the time being referenced would cut in.  This technique was mainly used when interviewing Bourdin to convey how manipulative and scripted he can be.

By the end of the film you may still be wondering if Bourdin was really that believable, even with puberty years lost and farfetched stories the resemblance issue is quite a stretch.  Could he just have been a curtain being used to disguise something much larger?

12 Years a Slave (Drama)

slave“A historic account of a free man who is broken into slavery, revealing to him that the spirit of ones despair is a matter of their own perspective”

The story begins in the midst of the abolition of slavery in America.  The northern states have already conformed to this new ideology, but the southern states and their heavy reliability of climate dependent crops and year round labor makes slavery more of a “necessity”.  The increased demand of cheap labor but fewer supply made slaves hard to come by, and more of a sought after commodity.

A black market of slavery arose and a free man by the name of Solomon, a well educated violinist, was sold into it after a betrayal by a duo of new acquaintances.  Solomon endured being a slave for 12 years and was sold or traded between different owners like livestock.  The whipping and other abusive scene were unapologetic, but this violence is overshadowed by the psychological manipulation which is apparent throughout.  Solomon gradually succumbs to his situation while also inheriting the true anguish of his companions; which initially he rejected as nothing but empty sorrow.

The film was so much more than a tale of slavery, it placed you inside the humid reeds of the deep south and made you work through the unforgiving sun.  Panning scenes showcased the swamps of the bayou, with trees engulfed in dangling Spanish moss against the warm backdrop of the blood-red setting sun.  The attention to detail was profound and in tune with the atmosphere.  Half way through the film the ability to tell the time of day by the sound of insects alone became undeniable.