Wednesday, February 24, 2016

THE REVENANT is a Cannon movie in Oscar Clothing

Hitchcock once said something like "plausibility is the province of dull critics," but let's look at what happens in THE REVENANT from the perspective of the Ree/Arikara tribe over the course of the movie (from what I remember, granted):

Before the movie begins the chief's daughter is kidnapped by French trappers for the purpose of rape.

The Ree then attack the American trappers headed up by Domhall Gleeson, Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio with the precision of World War II snipers, reducing what was a party of 40 to around - and soon less than - ten. They do this because they are looking for the chief's daughter.

Leo's Hugh Glass says they should abandon their boat. They do, which is smart because the Ree are already down river and torch the boat. The Ree then go to the French trappers (who have the chief's daughter) and get horses. Not noticing that the daughter is somewhere nearby.

They then find the remains of Hugh's Indian son and then when they see Hugh by himself in the water, even though there's no way he could have the chief's daughter, decide to try and kill him, because... I mean, I get it, I'd try and kill him too for fun, but whatev's.

I think there's another cutaway to the Ree, but the next time they have a real presence is after Hugh has freed the Chief's daughter, and if we're to believe the French trapper who shows up at the American post, Hugh somehow slaughtered the entire French trapping community by killing two guys (using a pistol that could only have fired one shot at the time) and scaring off their horses, but him having Hugh's water bottle is the tell. It's possible the Ree got to the French as well, I can't tell if that's not clear, or the film's reshoots turned what was meant to be a much bigger scene of Hugh killing the French into a smaller one and then things didn't cut together, or if the script didn't have shits to give.

Geographically, one would think the Ree would run into the French camp and then either find or be able to track the daughter from there, but the next time we see them they're trying to kill Hugh again and send him riding his horse off a cliff.

Side note: When the American hear about a survivor who fucked up the French, they go out to look for this person. 1) Geographically, wouldn't they then run into the Ree first? 2) The dude went off a cliff. So what's the path that would make that easy for them to run into him?

Side Side note: The French kill Hugh's friendly Indian companion. Why? They obviously have dealing with the Ree all the time, or enough that they know that they're both deadly and nearby. Perhaps getting away with stealing the chief's daughter emboldened them, or perhaps nothing that happens in this movie makes any sort of character sense (just a thought). But even if he's a part of a different tribe, wouldn't that stoke the Ree up? Or is it more plotting for the sake of leaving Hugh alone?

Side Side Side note: For a film that made a big fucking deal about shooting in natural light and DiCaprio eating a real raw Bison liver, his character is attacked by a bear and lives. That's fine, that's based on a true story that was mostly ignored for the rest of this tale. But then he also goes down the rapids at one point and jumps off a cliff and falls into a tree a little bit later, but that seemingly doesn't do any additional damage to him, and he's able to go toe to toe with Tom Hardy at the end, seemingly with no noticeable limps or broken bones. Even Rambo would find this implausible.

So then the final moment of the Ree is when Hugh sends the dying but not totally dead Tom Hardy down river so the Ree can finish the job of scalping them they started years ago, and this time the Ree don't try to kill Hugh, maybe because the chief's daughter is there. But then Hugh says some mystical shit about not being consumed by revenge after sorta spending the last ninety minute of the movie supposedly consumed by revenge (this is non-text subtext in that the audience is to assume this, even though nothing in the movie makes it clear until Leo finally says something about it, near the end of the film, even though, you know, he has these visions that are mostly about his dead wife and son and not about his all consuming need for revenge, which he seemingly has at some point) so he lets the Indians, which we suspect that Alejandro G. Iñárritu would not treat like bloody savages, act as bloody savages because they finish what Hugh started.

One wonders if the moment that DiCaprio stares into the camera at the end of the film is the actor asking us if we believe this shit. I don't.

Another sort of nitpick. There's a shot of Hugh, having finally dragged himself away from the camp, seeing water. This is at a point where he's not really walking yet. Where does he see that water from? The top of a cliff. The next shot? Him drinking water. Dude can't walk. Top of a cliff. So, what, two, three days later?

Also, it's made mention that DiCaprio's Hugh Glass is a great tracker and guide. At no point in the course of the movie does he ever use those skills, unless we are to believe his plan was to get Domhall Gleason killed and then use him as bait the entire time. And that's possible, the character could just hate gingers.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Best of 2015 - Unfinished

I don't like to talk about my living, but I work for Sony DADC doing DVD/Blu-ray QC, and I have yet to see some of the contenders for best of 2015 partly because I will be working on them. Such is why I have to say that this list is unfinished and may never be. But, let's do it.

1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD - I ended up working on a release of this movie, and my job is such that I don't always get to watch a movie from beginning to end. Some times I only get to watch, say, the first or last thirty minutes of a movie. But I never had a pass on FURY ROAD where I didn't jump up and down like a little kid when the tanker is being attacked by the men on the sticks. At worst, one could say that FURY ROAD is nothing more than the platonic ideal for an action movie. Nothing more...

2. CAROL: Todd Haynes is a master, and this is one of the best love stories this side of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. How amazing is Kyle Chandler? That guy can do anything. Seriously. Compare his performance in this to his work in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Dude can play any kind of America male. And he doesn't even give the best performance in the film.

3. TANGERINE: Great films are often not only entertaining, and TANGERINE is entertaining AF, but it also paints a portrait of a world and a place that you get to experience. As someone who lives not far from Santa Monica and Highland, there was something magical about getting a look, however "real," into the world of the trans people who are around but are generally not people I get a chance to rub elbows with. It's too bad that "I felt like I learned something" is often an insult, but like the great works of neorealism - which this is a peer - you get to experience empathy while watching this movie while also being entertained.

5. THE MARTIAN: Masters doing master shit. This is cinema. Both are films that people are going to start watching on cable and forget that they had other things to do. Would it help?

6. MAGIC MIKE XXL: Joy. That Channing Tatum sure knows how to dance, doesn't he?

7. STEVE JOBS: This is Aaron Sorkin's best screenplay, which is saying something. This is also Danny Boyle's best movie, which is also saying something.

8. RICKI AND THE FLASH: I have seen this film three times now. At first it was like "oh, this is better than I thought it would be." By the third viewing, when I break down as I sing along to "My Love Will Not Let You Down" I have to acknowledge that this is a kind of perfect movie.

9. DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL: When I first heard Liz Phair, I felt like something exploded inside of me, as I was a teenage boy who didn't realize that a woman could feel like that (it was a different era). I can't imagine what a teenaged me would have made of this film, but like TANGERINE, there is truth here.

10. SICARIO: I never thought the guy who made PRISONERS would ever make anything that wasn't pretty nonsense. I was wrong.

11. IT FOLLOWS: It's called dream logic, and I'm fine with that.

12. EX MACHINA:  A brilliant heist movie wearing science fiction clothing.

13. THE GIFT: It's unfortunate I wasn't asleep at the wheel when I was watching the MPAA card for Joel Edgerton's feature film debut, but it's also telling that he manage to grip me and fear for the possible violence ahead even though the film received its R rating solely for language. Being such a master of tone on a first film suggests Edgerton could be the best actor/director going today, so someone should give the man some real money.

14. THE LOBSTER: "We developed a code so that we can communicate with each other even in front of the others without them knowing what we are saying. When we turn our heads to the left it means 'I love you more than anything in the world' and when we turn our heads to the right it means 'watch out, we're in danger'. We had to be very careful in the beginning not to mix up 'I love you more than anything in the world' with 'watch out, we're in danger'. When we raise our left arm it means 'I want to dance in your arms', when we make a fist and put it behind our backs it means 'let's fuck'."

14-16. SPOTLIGHT/ROOM/BROOKLYN: SPOTLIGHT is probably my favorite of these three, but they are all solidly made, well-acted films that will probably come off better when they are out of awards season. SPOTLIGHT is the sort of film that could be called underrated, unless it wins too many awards, and then that could be held against what is a great little movie about procedure.