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This week, we talk about Amazing Spiderman (the comic AND the movie), Elektra, Uncanny Avengers, Gotham, 24, Game of Thrones, and more!

A Serbian Film (2010) Review

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Director:

 Srdjan Spasojevic

Writers:

 Aleksandar Radivojevic (screenplay), Srdjan Spasojevic (screenplay)

Stars:

 Srdjan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic, Jelena Gavrilovic

They say that rape isn’t about sexual gratification; rather, the act is about power and dominance. A Serbian Film demonstrates this message in horrific detail. With an introduction which shows the son watching his father star in a softcore film, this movie clearly doesn’t want to hide it’s depraved intentions. The plot is about Milos, a fading porn actor being approached to star in his last smut film. However, as the movie progresses, it turns out this isn’t the normal production and film Milo is familiar with.

The prevailing theme of the story focuses on the idea of the nuclear family. This movie showcases how patriarchal dominance is exerted through sexuality and violence. The first act spends much of its time desensitized the act of sexual activity. This is made more clear when the wife ask why her husband, Milo, never has sex with her like he does with his former porn stars. He states it was because he loves her and that was a job. After the story moves on to act two, sexual acts become more brutal and their depictions are used as a form of dominance. By the time act three hits the top of its disturbing crescendo, we see sex and violence complete subvert the idea of family.

In the meantime, the writers also give forth some interesting philosophical subplots which may or may not have been fully realized by the time of climax. First, in the snuff film, an actess is introduced who becomes dominated by physical and sexual assaults. Next, Milo is shown a tape which depicts her giving birth to a baby which also becomes sexually assaulted. Although this is the point where the director of the snuff film gives privy to the overall themes behind his motivation, it’s quite hard to take him seriously and not view this as splatter porn when he is yelling, “I gave birth to Newborn porn”. Once more, the actress is shown as Milo is portrayed having sex with her before ending her life during his climax. Thus, ending the dominance cycle of sex and violence.

Although the film begins on a digital camera and looks cheap with boring camera angles, the screenplay really does save the day. There’s a point where we are watching found footage with the protagonist, and each tape shows just enough to pull the viewer in and discover what happens with the next tape. Also, the third act runs a parallel path with the protagonist and a flashback to his previous day. This mixed narrative keeps the pacing alive and doesn’t allow the viewer to flinch of walk away from this spiraling madness. Furthermore, although Milo begins with a picturesque family and as a warm father, by the time the movie hits its stride his violence and chopped up memory makes the audience really question this unreliable narrator. The production design also adds to the overall cerebral madness. The sound design has the eery hollow sounds combined with the industrial score and set production of industrial warehouse contrasting with the bright family home also added to the nightmarish tonality.

Overall, this is a movie which spirals down and beyond depravity while doing a wonderful macabre illustration of dominance through sex and violence. This movie isn’t for everyone nor does it pretend to be. It’s more for those who have an affinity for exploitation.

Cheap Thrills (2014) Review

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Director:

E.L. Katz

Writers:

David Chirchirillo, Trent Haaga

Stars:

Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, David Koechner

 

Cheap Thrills, a dark comedy which examines a struggle between patriarchal and hedonistic males. After Craig, the family man, loses his job and is facing eviction he meets up with an old high school badboy Vince. After the two reconnect, they meet Violet and Colin a money to burn couple who will offer any amount of cash to make the two friends do any depraved or violent act, excluding homosexuality of course.

Although there are a several honest attempts at humor, only depraved souls like Marquis De Sade will be laughing the whole way through. The aspect of comedy could be examined in a Shakespearean context. For example, at the core of this movie is a protagonist who literally breaks down his homosocial bonds in order to strengthen his heterosexual relationship and status with his wife.

What we also see is a story revolving around a Darwinian example of survival of the fittest. Because the family man needs resources in order to provide for his family, Craig never lacks the reason or motivation to commit to doing the next horrible act. Meanwhile, hedonistic Vince is only motivated by the pleasurable aspects of each situation such as, drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence. When a new situation arises which makes Vince uncomfortable he often falters and hesitates; however, because Craig is motivated by the intrinsic need to provide for his family, it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable the situation may be as long as he gets the payoff.

The production was average. The camera angles and movement made it feel indie but the lighting and sound editing didn’t make it a burden to watch. Sara Paxton played a coked out wife Violet who they almost had to cattle prong for her to show any emotion during the sex scene. Although David Koechner’s performance was pitch perfect, him playing the sleezy alpha male husband Colin didn’t seem to be much of stretch from his normal. However, the main focus of the movie was on Vince and Craig, and Pat Healy and Ethan Embry both reached and gave remarkable performances of lowlives. It was interesting watching Healy transforming from a meek to savage character. Also with Embry getting his start from playing nice guy teen to his later proper gentlemen roles, it was really nice to see him break out of that comfort zone by beating a man’s face in or by doing acts that are surely to offend every dog lover.

Overall, the story was completely fascinating and a morbidly entertaining way of deconstructing the archetypal image of the father figure while the performances by the cast and the production didn’t make it unbearable to watch. The pacing was good and one could not help but be drawn in. It will be interesting to see what new themes and style the the creators will tackle next.