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Despicable Me

Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove
Despicable Me


Without the usual good vanquishing evil structure, the action throughout Despicable Me is both lively and expressly cartoonish. It owes more of a debt to the tradition of the original Tom and Jerry cartoons than those recent superhero films seeking to invest viewers in emotional backstories. The comedy is broad, aimed at parents as well as kids. It avoids much of the pandering to audience segments—a fart joke for the kids followed by an incongruous pop culture reference for the adults—that makes some animated efforts feel like two movies poorly stitched together. Even when Despicable Me allows the minions to go for the cheap joke—as when they are caught photocopying pictures of their rear ends—it’s still funny, mainly because the minions are such amusing creations. Michael Landweber


 

 



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Dogtooth

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Christos Stergioglou, Michelle Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, Christos Passalis
Dogtooth


As a statement on overprotective parenting and the insularity of post-modern society, Yorgos Lanthimos’ masterpiece of amazingly mixed metaphors is devastating. It’s Bad Boy Bubby without the punk ethos. Centering on a domineering father who keeps his adult kids sheltered from the real world (teaching them unusual meanings for common words, portraying the society beyond their barricaded walls as dangerous and desperate), the film suggests that no amount of control can trump the human urges of life, liberty… and lust. Indeed, sex undoes this cloistered clan, a need to feed biology that leads to insights, incest—and finally—insurrection. Bill Gibron


 

 



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Enter the Void

Director: Gaspar Noé
Cast: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy
Enter the Void


Gasper Noé situates Enter the Void firmly within the tradition of psychedelic cinema. He experiments with point-of-view, washes every frame with luminescent color, and seeds the plot with druggie philosophy. Over 160 minutes, it all looks very impressive, but does it actually mean anything? The muddled (perhaps clichéd) exploration of violence and repercussions makes Enter the Void more like Irreversible than one might at first expect. Both movies are technically impressive, equally beautiful and filthy, polarizing and provocative. And as both end, viewers may not immediately understand what they’ve endured. Like a drug trip, the profundity here is ersatz: whatever Great Truth you believe you’ve attained, you can’t bring it back with you. Jesse Hicks


 

 



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Eternity

Director: Christopher-Lee Dos Santos
Cast: Ian Roberts, Christina Storm, David James, Andre Frauenstein, Rikki Brest
Eternity


South Africa has finally jumped on the band-wagon and produced its own vampire movie. Eternity is set in inner-city Johannesburg and stars a string of South African actors mostly known for their roles in local television soap operas. The accents alone make it worth watching. Imagine District 9’s Wikus van der Merwe sporting pointy teeth and stage make up and you’ll have an idea of what to expect. The film, which the aptly named director Christopher Lee dos Santos, describes as “Blade meets Twilight” tells the tale of a lonely vampire (with a haircut identical to Twilight’s Edward Cullen) who falls in love with a human girl. The film is delightfully low budget, but that only adds to its offbeat charm. Eternity is definitely one for the collectors. Sally Fink


 

 



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Faster

Director: George Tillman, Jr.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Moon Bloodgood, Oliver Jackson-Cohen,, Maggie Grace, Matt Gerald
Faster


With its limited action sequences and frequent detours into dark psychological subtexts, Faster is akin to an ‘80s slasher epic with the typical silent monster replaced by a three-dimensional human being. While the narrative situations are the same—a pool of victims is outlined with a psychotic killer ready to pick them off one by one—there is more here that horror. Unusual elements like forgiveness, morality, character flaws, and recognizable social stigmas like abortion, addiction, and molestation are fitted into 98 minutes of brute force. Since it doesn’t rely on the cliches that riddle genre, Faster feels new and novel. It’s closer to an outright drama than a fights or car chases strung together. Bill Gibron


 
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