Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

Pig

I think, therefore I am. I remember, therefore I have been. But if I forget, did I really exist? The movies love amnesia. Start with a character who has lost his memory and you immediately intrigue the audience with a mystery that puts them on the same page as the protagonist. Every time we go to the movies it should be like we’ve got a bout of amnesia ourselves, our brains rebooted for a whole new experience, a venture into the unknown. Not every movie provides a completely fresh encounter, but there’s usually enough there that’s distinct as far as the movie filling our mind with a visual story we haven’t exactly encountered before. Amnesiac movies are therefore a great reflexive exercise for the viewer, giving us a character to identify with on a fundamental level. Pig, an indie sci-fi flick that was recently released on DVD and streaming outlets (namely Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube), is one of those amnesiac movies. They all tend to seem alike from the get-go, so lazy comparisons to Memento have been made, but aside from the superficial premise being that there’s a guy investigating who he is, there’s not a lot of similarity. After all, as I noted, Pig is science fiction. To go into detail regarding its qualification for this genre, though, is to spoil where the investigation leads us. What I can say is that the movie deals with memory in a way inspired by Ray Kurzweil and relative […]

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SpaceCamp 2

It may not have cracked the top ten this weekend after finally entering wide release, and it probably will be left empty handed at the Golden Globes tonight, but Spike Jonze‘s Her is one of the best movies of last year (it was #4 on FSR’s aggregated top ten, #3 on resident critic Rob Hunter’s list, #2 on our best sci-fi list…) and if you haven’t seen it already, you must go out as soon as you can and fall in love with this movie about love. If you don’t already know from our coverage and praise, the futurist sci-fi film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a man recently separated from his wife who rebounds with his computer’s sentient operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. That plot has reminded me of other movies since I first heard about it, and I’ve continued to recall related recommendations before, during and after seeing it. It’s not necessarily derivative so much as the next step for cinema that deals with the idea of love as a concept, what it means to be in love and how much it’s in our heads as opposed to heart and how much is really a mutual experience. This week’s list of movies to watch mostly involve those same themes, though not all. As usual, some come from connections made by others. I’ve decided to leave out one particular movie, WarGames, as it’s not about love and I already highlighted it in relation to Her in the special year-end […]

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IntroMadGenius

Crazy science is so embedded in movie-making that it’s been with us since the very conception of film with such classics as Frankenstein and Dr. Caligari. While the best stuff was almost exclusively from the time of black and white – the 1980s and beyond have seen their formidable share of folks with PhDs in crazy. See for yourself…a lot of mad doctorates have been handed out recently.

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Eternal-Sunshine-of-the-Spotless-Mind-eternal-sunshine-scene we love

Every movie site and its grandmother does a list of favorite romantic films or scenes on Valentine’s Day. I thought I’d do something different in anticipation of the lover’s holiday this year and highlight some great anti-Valentine’s Day scenes set on or otherwise involving the Hallmark holiday. They’re not necessarily against love and romance, but they do take shots at the enforced occasion for love and romance. Some of these scenes include death, one is about the end of the world and another features the ignorant poisoning of a beloved comic strip character. If you haven’t got a date for Thursday, don’t want a date for Thursday or have no need for a holiday that tells you to be especially romantic with your significant other on Thursday, the following six scenes and their films are for you. 

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Rian Johnson’s new film, Looper, is a pretty awesome time travel flick, one with as many elements that are clever and original as there are purposefully derivative and influenced. It’s the kind of smart and stylish sci-fi cinema we expect every once in a while on the festival circuit, like Sound of My Voice (which hits DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday), rather than from a major Hollywood studio. Looper does fit the indie model, though, since Sony/Tristar picked it up for distribution only after it was done shooting, yet as Brian’s review of the film attests, we can still consider it a good sign for mainstream movies of this genre, and we can hope that Hollywood will see Johnson as the sort of directorial talent they need. But is it the best science fiction film since The Matrix? That’s a question posed in a headline from Time magazine yesterday, though its respective post doesn’t address such a discussion let alone attempt to answer the inquiry. Well, if we exclude superhero movies, animated features (Pixar, Miyazaki and The Iron Giant among them) and the Star Trek reboot, Looper is currently one of only two original studio films of its order to be battling for the status of best reviewed since the Wachowskis’ groundbreaking modern classic. The other is Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.

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Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams), in many ways, have the ideal life. They are hopelessly in love, happily married, and living in an urban, pseudo-bohemian hipster paradise. She’s an artist, and he runs his own recording studio. One romantically snowy night, the two share a moment in a parked car…an ill-advised decision. A truck plows into them and sends Paige into a coma. When she awakes, she finds her anxiety-riddled husband sitting at her bedside. The trouble is that she can’t remember that they are married or even who he is at all. She is suffering from a severe form of retrograde amnesia in which she can only remember events up the point shortly before she moved to the big city and met Leo. Suddenly her parents, with whom she hadn’t spoken during the course of her relationship with Leo, show up, insisting to take her back home. Leo hopes against hope that his wife will regain her memory of him, their love, and their life together before it all disappears for good.

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Epic Movie Countdowns: Back to the Future

Yes that’s right – New Years just happened like, a week ago… counting down, people count down on New Years… that’s the point, and it’s as close as I can get to writing about something that relates to the holidays, and it’s way late. And while I first thought to do this because of the end of 2011, it actually turned out to be a fun list to think about. How do you judge the intensity of a ticking clock? It’s not always how close the characters came to zero – sometimes it’s about the process itself, getting to inevitability, fighting time. It’s rather like life, and the knowledge that being on this world is a sort of countdown. Every year is another tick of the clock, leading every one of us to the same inescapable conclusion. So uh… Happy New Year! …Here’s a list counting down countdowns.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

As 2011 crawls to a close and 2012 peeks its head over the horizon, many of us wayward souls find ourselves using the changing of the calendar as an excuse to make big changes in our lives and start over fresh. ‘Tis the season for resolutions. Some of us will resolve to cease destructive behaviors, others will vow to start new things that will enrich us and make us better people. But for each the goal is clear – we’re done with the past, finished with who we were, and starting from this moment forward, it’s going to be a new day. Naturally, all of this thought about what my resolutions are going to be and who I want to be in 2012 has me thinking about movies that I’ve seen where people are trying to let go of the past and begin a new journey. More specifically, I’ve closed in on two movies from the early part of the last decade that are about relationships ending and their messy aftermaths. The Michel Gondry-directed and Charlie Kaufman-penned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about a fictional service that will erase bad relationships from people’s memories, it stars Jim Carrey as a man wrestling with the question of how to best deal with painful memories, either by blocking them out or by accepting and processing them. Two years before that, Philip Seymour Hoffman starred in a movie called Love Liza about a broken man dealing with a relationship that had […]

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Patton Oswalt in Big Fan

I’ve found that this list comes up fairly often on the Internet – however every time I read one I’m surprised by how many redundancies they all share. While a few of said redundancies will also appear in the following (because sometimes you just can’t deny a good performance) I’m going to try and mix this up and give a you a few of my personal favorite and slightly less talked about non-funny roles some real funny people took on. Let’s get started with a picture of a pen jabbed into Jon Stewart’s eye.

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Sympathy for Delicious is Mark Ruffalo‘s directorial debut. It explores themes of faith, selfishness, and also artistic integrity. It chronicles the story of a man, Dean (screenwriter Christopher Thornton), who discovers he has the gift to heal others. Ultimately, he selfishly uses this gift to his profit alone. He’s a sellout. Instead of doing something bold and wonderful, he does the opposite. One could apply that idea to many actors working who don’t act under the purest of intentions. Some see it as a business and some see it as an art form, and Mark Ruffalo falls into the latter category. Ruffalo reminded me quite a bit of his character Paul from The Kids Are All Right. He didn’t come off as an oblivious hipster, but one of those rare people — mainly, actors — that seemed completely comfortable in his own skin. Even over the phone, there was a laid back and open quality to him that set a smooth and easygoing tone for the conversation. The actor/director was nice enough to make the time for an interview while on the set of another one of his little ensemble indies, The Avengers, and we discussed at length the challenge of keeping artistic integrity in a business, the themes of Sympathy for Delicious, finding realism in take 100, and even Michel Gondry.

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This Week in Blu-ray

As you might imagine, This Week in Blu-ray is usually one of my favorite things to write during the week. It’s my chance to wax intellectual about something highly technical and lay down my absolute authority on the world of new-fangled home video releases. It’s an easy job, one that requires watching a bunch of great movies in high definition. Until we get to weeks like this one — weeks that are simply slow and for the most part, uninteresting. So I’m going to use it to debut a new article format. Here’s what is new, for those of you keeping score: we’ll begin with my Pick of the Week, because there is always that one movie that really deserves your attention. We’ll then move on to the usual sections (Buy, Rent, Avoid). Inside these sections you’ll find the titles I’ve had a chance to review (these will be the ones with pictures to accompany the reviews) as well as titles I wasn’t able to review, but feel confident recommending anyway (that confidence will come from having seen the movie in question). And at the bottom, you’ll see the list of other releases that, as always, are to be bought or rented at your own risk. My hope is that the new format will provide even more insight so that you can make informed Blu-ray buying decisions. You’ll have to let me know what you think. Red After seeing this movie for the first time this week, I cannot for […]

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Just over 3,000 films were released in the past ten years. Instead of sleeping, Neil and Cole (with the help of a supercomputer) whittle that list down to the best 1%.

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Officially Cool

I just picked some of my favorites from films like Back to The Future, Shaun of The Dead, Robocop, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Jaws, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and Being John Malkovich.

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