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Nate Z (jp) wrote: Until recently, it would have been unthinkable to associate Uwe Boll with the idea of social activist. This is the same man who has caused people so much pain and with his movies, ranging from bad to ridiculously bad to "You cannot unsee what you have seen" bad. The German director who has caused so many film and video game fans suffering seemed an unlikely candidate to seriously explore the suffering of others. And yet Boll's heart grew three sizes and he directed a slate of movies with a social conscience. His movie about the genocide in Darfur is still circling around, awaiting a release date, but let me stop to remind you that Uwe Freaking Boll directed a movie about a topical humanitarian crisis. This is akin to... Eli Roth directing an Edith Wharton adaptation ("From the director of Cabin Fever comes ... Ethan Frome!"). It just doesn't seem like an organic pairing. Boll is used to blood and boobs (both of the mammary kind and of the idiot variety), not social relevancy. You don't expect an exploitation filmmaker to shine a light on exploitation. While we await his Darfur movie, in the meantime is Stoic, a quick and cheap movie about three prison inmates (Edward Furlong, Sam Levinson, Steffen Mennekes) brutalizing their cellmate, Mitch (Shaun Sipos) when a bet goes wrong. It's based on a true story from a German juvenile detention center, so we're told. So what kind of movie is Stoic, actually? Well, for starters it's an uncomfortable one. The movie aims to show the capability of human cruelty and how easy it is to become compliant within a group, to go along with the flow despite some murky moral hazards. The three cellmates end up kick starting a cycle of violence, each trying to top the last so as not to appear weak or to damage ego. Can this cycle of cruelty be stopped? The dehumanization leads to some rather brutal and disgusting acts of violence and degradation including forcing Mitch to eat his own vomit, dumping urine on the guy's face, raping him, and sodomizing him with a broom handle ("Just curiosity, I guess," explains one of his attackers). Despite all this, there are actual moments of restraint on Boll's part, particularly during the rape sequence. The audio drops out, the edits become jump cuts stuttering ahead through time, and I thought perhaps Boll was maturing. Needless to say this thought was torpedoed a tad when Boll later showcased the inmates rubbing the bloody broom handle over Mitch's unconscious mouth. Stoic is essentially a torture movie; it's 80 minutes of literal torture with some extra psychological justification tagged along for safe measure. Where Stoic comes into issue is whether or not it possesses any merits to justify watching 80-some minutes or torture. The movie doesn't offer much in the way of psychological insights or rich characters. Watching people become increasingly hurtful is not the same as exploring the habits that make such escalating acts of barbarity occur. Boll and the actors pound us with the message that we're in prison and prison has its own operating system and everybody jockeys for position; Peter (Levinson) repeatedly tells us that he feels sorry but felt he had to participate or else they'd turn on him. It's all about having somebody weaker to take the fall. I'll give Boll credit that the amplification of events seems plausible given the circumstances, to the point that the three guys have come to the conclusion that there will be serious consequences for their actions unless they convince Mitch to go along with a fake suicide. The movie maintains believability even as things get more and more out of hand, which is commendable. But what isn't commendable is that there seems little reason for Stoic to exist. Normatively the movie is simple: three guys pick on another guy. The characters are all slight variations of one another based upon the level to process guilt and deception. During the interviews, we're given fleeting glimpses at denial and coping mechanisms, mainly lying ("I would've remembered something like that.") to self-rationalization ("I kept saying to myself, 'As long as it's not me.'"). There aren't many insights to be gleaned from the brief interviews, which serve as commentary. Boll decided to make Stoic his Mike Leigh film, meaning that he had the basic outline of a story and told his actors to run with it while he filmed them. There was no script and all the dialogue was completely improvised. This does allow Stoic to maintain a naturalistic feel, however, it also means that the actors are beholden to tough guy clichs. The dialogue, particularly during the interrogation scenes, keeps falling back to a "you don't know what's it's like, man!" mantra. Here are some examples of bland dialogue that the actors came up with: "What choice did I have?" "You're either with them or against them." "What don't you understand? If I didn't seem like I was apart of it, they'd kill me." "I had no choice. They forced me." "I want to lie because I don't want to be that person." "I felt like there was no way out." And because you knew it had to happen: "I'm just as bad as the two of them because I didn't do anything to stop it." You'll note that most of these dialogue examples belong to the Peter, the chattiest and most remorseful interviewee. Improvisation has its virtues but it can also lead to actors falling back on stuff they've seen in countless other genre examples, which means that the banal clich dialogue all gets stirred together one more time. In defense of Stoic, it may prove to be Boll's finest directorial effort yet. The handheld camera, sharp edits, and close angles copy the Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93) style of visuals, and yet the docu-drama copy works. The visual aesthetic improves the quality of the film and allows Boll many opportunities for interesting compositions and smart stylistic decisions with the economical space of the set. The interviews are shot as one static camera shot to contrast with the shaky, reactionary movement from within the cell. It may not be an original style, but then again Boll seems to adopt (some might say rip-off) a new style with every film. For Stoic, Boll's direction makes you feel in the middle of these awful incidents, and the pain feels even more real. But is there any reason to really watch Stoic? The acting is mostly good, and maybe fans of Edward Furlong would like to see what he's been up to since 1998's Pecker and American History X. Perhaps the declaration of "Boll's best directorial effort" will appeal to maybe six or seven curious, and questionably masochistic, film fans. Due to Boll's German background, I can't help but wonder if his country's history influenced him to try a narrative experiment hat explores how easy it is to go along with something awful, how difficult it is to make a moral stand against the grain, and how easily circumstances can find momentum and get out of control. I wonder if Stoic is Boll's personal act of penance, of trying to understand a nation's actions (and inaction) and working through a lingering shroud of shame. Then again, I may be reading way more into this movie than was ever intended. It could have just been a lark for a quick buck/deutschmark. Stoic is a mildly interesting little filmic experiment from Boll. Due to its narrative simplicity and limited characterization, it can't offer much more than another voyeuristic slideshow of human degradation. Nate's Grade: C
Ken L (ag) wrote: A documentary style movie shot in realistic locations covering a tragic massacre of Iraqi civilians by US marines in Iraq. While a reasonably balanced representation of the event, I felt there wasn't any real effort to explain why the marines would ignore their rules of engagement and what on earth would posses the Iraqi civilians to shoot at armed marines already itching for a fight.The movie simply told us what happened but not why, which I thought would have made this a far more powerful movie.
Mary Frances C (br) wrote: Wasn't anything scary in this movie.
Tom B (br) wrote: Lame. Eddie Murphy is an ongoing headache.
JANET S (it) wrote: A good introduction to Indian culture without actually being a Bollywood movie. A beautiful love story and a gripping family drama.
Kris A (de) wrote: i need to see this one again
Daniel D (es) wrote: This early Woody Allen film is adapted from Dr. David Rueben's book "EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK". It's divided into 7 questions (and answers), which start weak but definitely get better.1. Do Aphrodisiacs Work?Set back in Shakesperian days, this one asks if potions (medieval roofies) work. Kind of. The skit is pretty cheesy and tries hard. Does have a fitting score though.2. What Is Sodomy?Maybe the most personal to the original author Dr. Ruben, this ones about a love triangle between Armenian Borat, a Doctor, and a goat. The humor doesn't really get any better here.3. Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?Definitely caught the Fellini homage in this one, but once again the humor just doesn't do it for me yet. This scene is well made, and actually could be decent as a feature European drama, but weak for a comedy.4. Are Transvestites Homosexuals?The first section where I began laughing, and I did not stop after. The answer is No, just socially inept.5. What Are Sex Perverts?By far the most creative and my personal favorite. Set in a 1950s game show, this skit is really well made and funny. The part with the Rabbi was absolutely hilarious. 6. Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?Most famous scene, perhaps an homage to The Blob (not sure as I haven't seen it). But it's about a giant tit (size X) created by Freud meets Frankenstein causing havoc in a town.7. What Happens During Ejaculation?Good ending, taught me a lot about the anatomy of a man. Thanks Dr.Allen2.5 stars+Next up Bananas
Kyle A (es) wrote: Still a better movie than Twilight.
Kevin N (nl) wrote: A remarkable and audacious piece of Italian neo-realism. No one captured community tragedy like Rossellini, and here he famously tracks a young life through the actual ruins of Berlin. The film is incredibly focused, aquiring a perfect pace which gives us just enough time to gain full sympathy for Edmund. The drama really works here, pitting family member against family member until something has to give. I particularly like the scenes within the small housing complex, where friends, enemies, the sick and the responsible are blurred and Rossellini gives us instead a community in desperate need of some kind of order- any kind of order. The answers to these silent calls are disturbing, and the final scene is one of the most heartwrenching of the neo-realist movement.
Phenyeia O (au) wrote: Outstanding movie John Wayne is my family favorite actor
Dan B (jp) wrote: It's like Psycho meets Falling Down at Christmas. But, y'know, a bit shit and that.
Trey B (ag) wrote: This flick proves that the "bad guy" isn't always a bad guy. It also proves that John C. Reilly and co. are stellar voice actors.
Bill E (nl) wrote: I kinda remember the anime from back in the day, enough to be impressed with how they brought the world to life, but honestly you don't need that to see how jaw-droppingly gorgeous the animation is. There's nothing better out there. Sure, the plot is bonkers and of course there's a scene so heavy on exposition you'll want to fast forward, but I promise it all pays off. And you have never seen space battles this badass. Oh goodness, how did I not mention that sooner? Star Wars can eat its heart out.