Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quick Takes: "Cabin in the Woods", "Girls", "A Prophet"

"The Cabin in the Woods"
Directed by Drew Goddard

My thoughts on the much hyped "Cabin in the Woods" are difficult to state, not because I'm afraid of giving away spoilers. It's because the subject of spoilers has been so completely marring any reviews. If we're not even allowed to talk about the basic plot of the film, what's the point? A bunch of old corporate geezers send a bunch of high school teens into a death trap to pretty much reenact your typical horror films. If that's the master spoiler, what the hell am I spoiling? That's in the very first 15 minutes of the film. I wish I'd even known that before heading in to the film. It's nice to have some inclination of plot.

But how's the film? Not quite worthy of all the hype that everyone seems to allot it. Is it quite clever in its more humorous statements. Yes, and it gives the films a spontaneity that all the serious talk of spoilers attempts to deprive the film of. This isn't a masterful film, or something worth protecting. The surprises aren't based on plot, but on visual zing. Richard Jenkins' and Bradley Whitford's regular exchanges throughout the film give the horror backdrop such a lively nature to it. And when the third act festival of carnage begins, boy oh boy is it ridiculous fun. A few days ago, after I first saw the film, I had a less than soulful tune to things, and gave the film a C+ via twitter. Now? I think it's a keen and fun play on the genre, and deserves not to be raised to a standard it couldn't possibly live up to.

Directed by Lena Dunham

I've taken some time to calm down from Sunday's premiere, so now I can give my thoughts on the show to better articulation. "Girls" is far from the best show on television, but it's well on its way towards the funniest. The plot's simple, if you can call it a plot. It's about girls in New York, quite a few of them joyfully stuck-up. Isn't that just a wonderful firecracker for a sitcom if it's so simple? Don't raises it to too ridiculously high standards, and don't muddle the water with overtly sympathetic territories. And if you do, do it with a biting wit and a proper amount of self-effacement. That's generally a good rule, and Dunham is right on top of it. I'll leave deeper ruminations for future episodes and the return of Television Recap on Monday.

"A Prophet"
Directed by Jacques Audiard

I don't think I really got "A Prophet" the first time I saw it. Forgive me, since it was admittedly a while back ago, but I never really got the whole epic scope of the thing until now. Is epic an appropriate word to use for a prison drama? Perhaps not, though Audiard makes a strong enough case for it to be so. Focusing in a man who is merely defined by innocence and his own Arab ethnicity, Malik is given emotional and psychological emphasis not through his past, but through his present actions. The guy isn't one to play cleanly by the rule book, but he's nonetheless the guy who you want to be on the side of.

Audiard's focus in this film is expansive, emotional, but always based on Malik's own viewpoint. Audiard knows firmly not to lose touch with that soul, and in fact that soul leads the film into some narratively intriguing situations. When a legitimate ghost plays a deciding factor in your story and isn't something ridiculous or to be laughed at, you know you're watching something pretty outstanding. Even the climax of that string, as overt a piece of symbolism as any in the film, comes off completely clean, honest, and powerfully. This is a strong film of a boy going through trials of institution to become a person, and it oddly enough works.


  1. I agree that The Cabin probably doesn't deserve higher mark , but you have to admit , that it was original in a sense of .. nonsense :D.
    I do think ,though,that this film should be noted as important one , cuz it dared to do stuff that almost 99% of films fear to do now.

    In a whole I think it was a huge sarcasm about every horror film made and thrillers in general. As long as you watch it with an open mind its funny and witty , however if you are one of those that try to predict and like the usual plots will be disappointed.

    Btw , have You seen Funny Games? This film had quite a few references to that film , and the overall style and subtext of the film was alike.

  2. I haven't seen "Funny Games", which is weird because I love Michael Haneke. I'll have to get on that and many other Haneke flicks before "Amour" roles around.