Zombieland – FILM REVIEW

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Another week, another movie. This week’s movie of choice is a bit witty with a twist of not-too-vulgar man-eating scenes.

I have heard of the movie but have never watched it except for the trailers. Zombies are not really my thing. I am more of a, vampire/mutants kind of girl when it comes to supernatural beings.

Zombieland is a 2009 movie directed by  Ruben Fleischer and acted by A-list actors like Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin. Looking at the poster itself, you can definitely tell that the movie is a mixed genre of horror and comedy and a bit of romance. I’d say, it’s roughly about 90% comedy and 9% horror and a mere 1% (or less) on romance. To be honest, I do not see the ‘horror’ in it. Maybe because the comedic part is overwhelming (in a good way).

Like any other zombies movie, it happens in United States of America. Would not be surprised if the USA would turn into an actual zombieland if Trump becomes the next President, anyway, like all zombie-themed movies, it started with an epidemic that made humans become sick in the head and ended up becoming a zombie. I have watched a few zombie movies that includes, World War Z (mainly because Brad Pitt’s in there), Warm Bodies and Resident Evil, so, I could say I am pretty familiar with the typical zombie movies.

The comedic part of the movie is everywhere. You would not missed it. Even when the moment Jesse Eisenberg starts talking, you could tell the movie is going to be a very fun, relaxed kind of movie where people-turned-zombies eat another human being casually. I am not saying that Jesse is a comedian/comedy actor but it is just something about the way he speaks his first few lines in the movie that made me (hopefully not just me) know it is not entirely horror. You would never see in a full-scale, 90% horror zombie film, an oversized zombie running towards you or have an unhealthy attachment to a snack cake, Twinkies (Twiggies in Malaysia). What makes this movie gets the genre ‘horror’ in it, well, just for having those man-eating unnatural being and realistic + vulgar way of killing those zombies. Blood are everywhere and that is cool.

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The main objective in most zombie movies is the need to survive and probably find a cure. But in Zombieland, it is mainly on surviving. What makes Zombieland a distinctive movie that makes its viewers to actually remember that the movie existed is the rules that the main character, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) made. It is pretty lame but the rules worked out because he managed to survive to the point it is hard to find some other human beings out there. Some of the rules made by Columbus are:

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The names of the characters are interesting because they are not names. Technically, not their real name but a name of the place that they are either heading to or from. As an example, Jesse Eisenberg plays as Columbus (because he is planning on heading there), Woody Harrelson is Tallahassee, Emma Stone as Wichita and her little sister, Abigail Breslin as Little Rock (reminds me of the song Little Rock that Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell sings in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)

Did I mention that Bill Murray is in it too? Bill-f**king-Murray (quoted from Tallahassee). It was a really fun scene where Tallahassee and Bill Murray playing as Bill Murray (because he is Bill Murray) acting out a scene from Bill Murray’s (did I mention a lot of Bill Murray?) Ghostbusters. Honestly, what else can you ask for from a movie?

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Zombieland – FILM REVIEW

Requiem for a Dream – Film Review

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Second movie to watch in class for the semester is Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 film, Requiem for a Dream, starring Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Ellen Burstyn and Marlon Wayens. All of these actors are recognisable to me. Ellen from both The Exorcist and Interstellar, Wayens, one would not forget his face from White Chicks, Jared, well this hunk from 30 Seconds to Mars that I managed to see him performed live in Malaysia back in about 2012, and Jennifer.. I have definitely seen her act in one of her movies which I think would be Dark Waters.

Anyhow, a friend has told me before hand that the movie is about drug addicts so, I sorta have prepared mentally (although it is nothing much to prepare) to know what movie I am about to watch this week for Film Studies.

So, the movie started with some TV commercial about Juice and people chanting to the jingle or slogan of the product and then the first character came in; Harry (Jared Leto) trying to take his mother’s (Ellen Burstyn) television set away for God knows what reason. She even locked the TV set in and seeing how Harry was agitated by his mother, I quickly concluded that he must be one of the drug addicts trying to sell the set to gain some cash to buy drugs and I was right. He and Tyron (Marlon Wayens) dragged the TV set all the way to a pawn shop and when they got what they wanted, not long after that, Mrs. Goldfarb, Harry’s mother, came to the shop to buy back the TV set. Seeing the notes made by the owner of the pawn shop, this has become a routine where Harry would sell it and the mother would buy it back.

There are two stories in the movie. One would revolve Harry and his best friend Tyron as well as the girlfriend, Marion (Jeniffer Connely) and the other one goes to the mother, Mrs. Goldfarb. I would find it more interesting in seeing how the mother gets obsessed with television as being addicted to television is not something uncommon. She would watch the same infomercial about how this man managed to lose so much weight and then there’ll be a weekly winner? It was unclear to me to know what does the winner get other than being able to be in the television. Mrs. Goldfarb got a call from a television agency informing her that she has just been selected as a winner to appear on the television, made her want to go through an extreme diet just so that she could squeeze herself in to her old red dress. She then revealed to her son that she is lonely although she do have friends in the apartment but judging from the first scene where she did not join the other gals to sunbath in front of the apartment. So, that made me assume that, these ‘friends’ are only with her when she has something that they don’t, which in this case, having the chance to appear on the telly. However, Mrs. Goldfarb ended up losing her mind due to the ‘diet pills’ she has been consuming and she has been hospitalised in a psychiatric ward as she refuses to eat and that there is no sign of her getting better.

Whereas in Harry’s story, they seem to do anything to get themselves some dope. For example, Marion slept with her shrink to gain some money for Harry to buy the drugs and sell them back so that they could make some income. In the end, Marion, who seems to really being out of control, slept with a pimp who trades sex for dope and it gives us the illusion that that would be Marion’s way in getting more dope for her addiction now that Harry and Tyrone has been caught by the authorities. Besides that, Harry lost his left arm due to a terrible infection from injecting the drugs whereas Tyrone weeps in his bed in prison, reminiscing of his mother.

The technicality of the movie is fascinating. The director uses a lot extreme closeups especially when the drugs have taken toll on the characters. The repetitive shots or the jump cutting of the pills, the injection and sniffing and then the pupils in their eyes dilating is also done in almost every scene when they took their drugs. As for Mrs. Goldfarb, it’s done with the different coloured diet pills she is taking and then the same TV show she watches. Thus, every time the characters are taking the drugs, there will be the same slideshows being shown. Besides that, these scenes are done in a fast-motion in which I think, is to tell the audience how quick the drugs enter your system and then the usage of time lapse when Harry and Tyrone are high. Other than these, Aronofsky also uses a number of split screens that is being maintained to get our attention of two scenes at the same time. The example to the usage of this split screen is when Harry and Marion was in the same room talking and touching one another. It is as if we are seeing how two people react to the touch and the conversation of one another.

All in all, the playing of all the mise-en-shots in the movie made it a very interesting movie to be watched. I love how each character has its own storyline although Tyrone’s story seems a bit too minimal compared to the other three (Harry, Mrs. Goldfarb and Marion).

 

 

Requiem for a Dream – Film Review

千と千尋の神隠し- Film Review

I have always been an avid fan on Hayao Miyazaki’s movies and I will try very hard not to be biased with my opinion on his 2001’s Spirited Away. I first watched it when I was in my schooling days and have been watching it repetitively once in a year or two. Although my most favourite Ghibil movie would be Howl’s Moving Castle, mainly for its romantic story line and incredible soundtrack.

However, since the film review is on Spirited Away, let’s not get spirited away (Lelz). A brief synopsis of the movie is about a young girl named Chihiro who is one her way to her new home in a new city with her parents but they lost their way and ended up in an abandoned place that looks like a theme park. As they were walking, both Chihiro’s parents smelled delicious food being cooked nearby and they took a seat and started eating whereas Chihiro kept bugging her parents to leave the place be but they didn’t listen to her. As the night approaching, Chihiro found herself being surrounded by what seems to be ‘spirits’ and when she came back to the place where her parents were eating, she found out that her parents has turned into pigs. Frightened, Chihiro tried to escape the place but the river that was not there when she first came, has filled up the land and she was trapped. Luckily, a rather human-like figure named Haku came to help her and she was forced to work at the bath house that was in the area where all sorts of spirits come to cleanse themselves until she managed to save not only herself and her parents, but her rescuer, Haku.

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Chihiro’s parents after eating the foods prepared for the spirits
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River in the day
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River reemerged at night

Like all of Miyazaki’s movies, the main character is usually depicted by a girl or a woman and in Spirited Away, it was portrayed by Chihiro. It was not mentioned in the movie on how old Chihiro was but it was certain that she is in her primary school years, so, I’d say she is probably 9-11 years old. If I were to put myself in her place, where my parents were turned into pigs and I am compelled to work in a world that is not mine, I would probably be super stressed, depressed, alone and might just give up in living but Chihiro was surrounded by people that she eventually trusts and that includes Haku, Lin and Kamaji. She was not accepted because she was a human and the rest are supernatural beings but because of her determination in wanting to save her parents, Chihiro did what she had to do in order to survive.

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Saved by Haku
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Kamaji acknowledge Chihiro as her granddaughter in order to keep her identity (as a human) hidden

Upon rewatching the movie as well as reading facts about it, there are some theories made up by viewers about the movie. For a children’s movie, I find it a tad bit inappropriate when the ‘bosom’ is being showed but then again, it makes sense if we see it in this way where the bathhouse is doubled as a brothel. At the front door of the bathhouse is a Japanese hiragana ゆ that is translated to ‘hot water’ and the woman who works there are called yuuna and the one who is in charge of the bathhouse is called Yubaba. Yubaba is the name given to the old witch who runs the place. Not only that, those who has come to work in the bathhouse were given a contract as well as a new name and in this case, Chihiro is now known as Sen. And what makes me think that the place is actually a brothel is when the character, ‘No Face’ keeps on offering Chihiro or Sen bath tags and then, gold. From what I read on the internet as well as my knowledge on Japanese culture, No Face is probably offering Sen all kinds of things to be the first to ‘have’ her. This is not my first encounter on Japanese movie about all these, back in the days where maiko and geisha are widely popular, there were bidders to maikos who still has their ‘flower’ and they were paid handsomely to be deflowered by the highest bidder. Thus, it is possible that the same scenario is happening in Spirited Away.

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Yubaba
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Chihiro being given a new name by the Yubaba
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No Face offering Sen bath tags

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and gold for her companionship

But then again, this is just a theory although it has been acknowledged by the creator of the movie itself in an interview. Despite all that, Hayao Miyazaki’s movies have an immersive detailed artwork. I love, especially the decorations in Yubaba’s office as well as the outdoors. It is done in minute detailed and that’s what makes Miyazaki’s movies being internationally known other than the great storyline.

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Despite it being subtly made as a prostitution or not, Spirited Away has got to be one of the best Ghibli film I have watched and am super glad that I am writing this review for my class. 🙂

千と千尋の神隠し- Film Review