For Your Consideration #4: I, Frankenstein (dir by Stuart Beattie)


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For the tonight’s final entry in For Your Consideration, I’m going to suggest that everyone take the time to consider a film that came out way back in January — I, Frankenstein.

“WHAT!?” someone out there is saying.  “It was bad enough when you tried to convince us that The Purge: Anarchy deserved an Oscar nomination…”

Okay, okay — hold on a minute.  You get upset so easily, it can’t be good for your blood pressure.  Anyway, have you calmed down now?  Good.

Here’s the thing — I said that I was going to suggest some films that I thought were worthy of award consideration.  The Oscars aren’t the only awards around.  There’s also the Razzie Awards.  The Razzies claim that their mission is to honor the worst movies and performers of each year.  To be honest, looking over some of their past nominations, it looks like they’re more interested in picking on easy targets like Lindsay Lohan and … well, I was going to say Adam Sandler but there’s a reason why most of his films are such easy targets.

Now, as far as this year is concerned, I’m sure that the people behind the Razzie awards are already busy coming up with snarky things to say about that Kirk Cameron Christmas movie.  And good for them!  However, I’m simply suggesting that instead of just settling for nominated Kirk Cameron a gazillion times, the Razzies might want to give some consideration to another potentially deserving film that came out this year.

Personally, I really wanted to like I, Frankenstein.  It was produced by the people behind the Underworld films, all of which are definitely guilty pleasures of mine.  And it starred Aaron Eckhart, who is such a good actor even if he rarely seems to get the lead roles that he deserves.  That said, even before I saw the film, I had my doubts about whether an actor with the almost satirically all-American facial features of Aaron Eckhart would be believable as a reanimated corpse and sad to say, he was not.  You could definitely imagine Eckhart playing a legendary big game hunter who has decided that he’s going to add Frankenstein’s monster to his wall of trophies.  But as the monster — well, not so much.

In I, Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Monster survives through the centuries and eventually ends up fighting a bunch of demons for some reason.  Or something like that.  I have to admit that I was never quite sure what was going on in I, Frankenstein.  Some of that was because I was bored with the movie and a lot of it was because the movie felt less like an actual film and more like a collection of highlights.  This is one of those films where off-screen narration was necessary to describe a huge chunk of the movie’s plot.

And, finally, I just couldn’t buy Aaron Eckhart as a monster.  He’s too handsome in his own clean-cut, middle American way.  There’s a reason why Aaron Eckhart was convincing as the symbol of good government decency in The Dark Knight and that’s the same reason why he’s not very convincing playing a creature who has been built out of random body parts.

So, to the people behind the Razzies, I would encourage them to continue to try to come up with the perfect Kirk Cameron joke.  But don’t forget about I, Frankenstein.

It’s worthy of your consideration.

And speaking of consideration, For Your Consideration will continue tomorrow with 6 more films that are worthy of your awards consideration!

For Your Consideration #3: Angelina Jolie in Maleficent


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Way back in March, when people like me first started to ask ourselves what and who would be nominated for Oscars in January, a lot of us assumed that 2014 would be the year of Angelina Jolie.  We predicted that her film Unbroken would be an Oscar front-runner and quite a few people felt that Angelina herself would become the second woman to win the Academy Award for directing.

And, it could still happen!

However, with Angelina being pretty much ignored by most of the traditional Oscar precursors and Unbroken getting positive but hardly rapturous reviews, it’s starting to look more and more like Unbroken will be lucky to receive a picture nomination, much less a mention for Jolie.

Now, I haven’t seen Unbroken yet so I can’t really judge whether it deserves any awards consideration or not.  However, I can say that Unbroken is not the only film for which Angelina Jolie deserves consideration.

Maleficent came out this summer and did quite well at the box office but it seems to have been forgotten and that’s a shame because it features one of Angelina Jolie’s best performances.  The film itself is a revisionist take on Sleeping Beauty, re-telling the story from the point-of-view of the fairy queen Maleficent (played, of course, by Angelina.)

In this version of the story, we see that the true villain was Sleeping Beauty’s father, Stefan (Sharlto Copley).  When they were younger, Stefan and Maleficent were lovers but the Stefan eventually abandoned her, knowing that having a relationship with a winged fairy would only serve to thwart his own ambitions.  Years later, when the humans attempt to conquer Maleficent’s kingdom, it is announced that whoever slays Maleficent will become the new king.  Knowing that Maleficent is still in love with him, Stefan drugs her and then cuts her wings off.  Using her wings as evidence to back up his claim that he has killed her, Stefan becomes the new king.  The now wingless Maleficent is left alone and embittered.  When Stefan’s daughter, Princess Aurora, is born, Maleficent announces that, on her sixteenth birthday, Aurora will sink into a deep sleep and will only be awaken by the kiss of someone who truly loves her.

Maleficent was one of those films that truly divided critics.  Male viewers tended to rightfully criticize the film for being tonally inconsistent and for relying too much on CGI.  Female critics, however, understood that none of that mattered.  As flawed as the film may have been, we knew that the most important thing was Angelina Jolie’s performance.  She may have been playing a fairy and she may have been appearing in a movie that was dominated by CGI but Angelina Jolie brought such strength and complexity to the role that she transcended all of the film’s flaws and instead created a thoroughly real character.  We understood and we related to Maleficent’s fury.  When she first woke up to discover that her wings had been stolen from her, it was devastating because the moment was real.  We all knew what had truly happened to Maleficent.  When she sought revenge, we sought it with her.  When she regretted her actions, we shared her regrets.  Her pain was our pain and her triumph was our triumph.

Angelina Jolie gave one of the best performances of the year in Maleficent and she certainly deserves your consideration.

Angelina-Jolie-as-Maleficent

For Your Consideration #2: The Purge: Anarchy (dir by James DeMonaco)


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Yes, I know what you’re saying.

“Seriously, Lisa!?  We should give awards consideration to The Purge: Anarchy!?  Are you serious!?”

Yes, actually I am quite serious.  Notice that I didn’t say that we should necessarily give The Purge: Anarchy any awards or that we should even nominate it.  I just said consideration.  For whatever flaws that The Purge: Anarchy may have, it’s actually one of the better and, in its way, one of the more thought-provoking mainstream American films released this year.  Working within the guise of being a simple genre film, The Purge: Anarchy is one of the few films to give serious consideration to the politics and culture that could both lead to and result from dystopia.

What I’m saying is that — despite what the critics may have said last summer — The Purge: Anarchy is actually one of the most subversive and intellectually curious films released this year.  You just have to be willing to look past all of the action conventions and instead focus on the film’s subtext.

The Purge: Anarchy takes place one year after the end of the first Purge film.  America is still led by the New Founding Fathers and every year, for one night, all crime is legal.  As the national media constantly assures everyone, the Purge is responsible for every good thing about America.  And even though there are a few rebels who claim that the Purge is not necessarily a good thing, most people chose to believe that — as long as it’s government-sanctioned — it’s for the best.

Whereas the first Purge film took place solely inside one family’s house and focused on the domestic melodrama within, The Purge: Anarchy focuses on what goes on outside of the gated sanctuaries of the rich.  As quickly becomes apparent, the Purge is less about purging negative feelings and more about keeping the non-rich, non-white population under control.  While the poor kill each other in the streets, the rich pay for the privilege to kill poverty-stricken “volunteers” in the safety of their own homes.  (Some of the volunteers agree to die out of the hope that their family will be sent some money.  Most are just rounded up on the streets, killed, and forgotten.)

Perhaps even more so than the first film, The Purge: Anarchy works because it feels so plausible.  We live in a society where we are continually told that moral rights and wrongs can be determined by man-made laws.  When a man is filmed being literally choked to death by a pack of police officers, we’re told that it was the man’s fault because he was failing to respect authority and many choose to believe it because “the law is the law.”  (Never mind, of course, whether the law is being fairly applied or makes any sense to begin with.)  If a man in uniform is murdered, it’s rightfully called a crime.  If a man in uniform commits a murder, we’re told it’s simply a part of the job.

And so, that’s why I suggest that The Purge: Anarchy deserves greater consideration than it’s been given.  Yes, it is a genre film and yes, it is an installment in an action franchise.  However, it’s also far closer to the truth than many people are willing to acknowledge.

For Your Consideration #1: A Field In England (dir by Ben Wheatley)


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With this being awards season, a lot of attention is being given to a small handful of films.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing because I love some of those films.  However, with all the focus being some narrowly directed, we run the risk of forgetting that Boyhood, Birdman, and Whiplash weren’t the only memorable films released this year.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to post 10 quick reviews of some other films that, if I was in charge of things, would be given some awards consideration.

We start things off with Ben Wheatley’s haunting and psychedelic period piece, A Field In England.

As you might be able to tell from the above trailer, A Field In England is not necessarily an easy film to describe.  The film takes place in the 17th Century, during the English Civil War.  Reece Shearsmith plays Whitehead, who is an apprentice to a never-seen alchemist known as The Gentleman of Norwich.  Fleeing from a raging battle, Whitehead meets three deserters, Cutler (Ryan Pope), Jacob (Peter Ferdinando), and Friend (Richard Glover).  Cutler offers to lead them to a nearby ale house but instead, he takes them to a desolate field where Cutler secretly drugs them with hallucinogenic mushrooms and then demands that they pull on a rope that appears to be attached to a stake in the middle of the ground.  Pulling on the rope leads to the sudden appearance of Cutler’s boss, the haughty and sadistic O’Neill (Michael Smiley).

O’Neill, it turns out, is also in some way connected to the Gentleman of Norwich.  He claims that there is a treasure buried in the field and only Whitehead — as the apprentice to an alchemist — will be able to find it.  At first, Whitehead refuses to help O’Neill but then O’Neill takes Whitehead into a tent and does …. well, he does something.  The film never makes explicit what happens in that tent and the result is one of the most hauntingly disturbing scenes that I’ve ever seen.

And from there, things only get stranger.  Jacob and Friend are forced to dig for the treasure while Whitehead consumes more and more mushrooms.  The characters occasionally freeze in place, creating a painterly tableaux.  A character dies and then repeatedly returns to life.  Most ominously of all, a black sun appears in the sky, seeming to grow with each new outrage.

Obviously, A Field in England is not a film for everyone.  That’s what makes it a truly memorable and brave cinematic experience.  At a time when so many movies are ruthlessly designed to take absolutely no risks, A Field In England is willing to run the risk of being incomprehensible.  However, the film itself is so well-directed and acted and the black-and-white cinematography is so hauntingly gorgeous that it doesn’t matter whether or not it makes any sense.  In fact, after a while, you start to truly love the fact that it does not.  This is pure cinema and therefore, it’s exactly the type of film that not only deserves but demands to be seen and honored.

Unfortunately, it’s also a film that has been ruled ineligible for any Oscar nominations, which is a pity.  However, regardless of what the Academy may say, it still deserves the consideration of film lovers everywhere.

A Field in England

Talking About Love: The Best of Me (dir by Michael Hoffman) and The One I Love (dir by Charlie McDowell)


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When I wrote my review of The Theory of Everything, I mentioned that Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time made a brief, if important, appearance in another film released earlier this year.  That film, of course, was the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Best Of Me.  

Now, I have to admit that The Best Of Me was one of those forgettable films that I kind of suspected most of our readers would not mind me never getting around to reviewing.  It came out two months ago, it got terrible reviews, and it didn’t do much business at the box office.  I didn’t even enjoy it and I’m the girl who always ends up defending the Twilight films whenever the boys here at the Shattered Lens start to make fun of them.  You can tell the impression that the Rest Of Me made on me by the fact that I just got the name wrong and I didn’t even bother to correct my mistake.

But here’s the thing.  January is rapidly approaching and, with January, comes my annual 16 worst films of the year list.  And chances are that The Best Of Me will appear on that list and I’d like to be able to link to a review.

It’s probably not a shock to hear that The Best Of Me is not a good film.  With the exception of The Notebook, the novels of Nicholas Sparks are not known for inspiring good films.  Instead, they are known for inspiring films about achingly pretty people who meet on the beach, have a melodramatic secret in the past, and ultimately end up falling in love.  And dying, of course.  Somebody always has to die.  The familiar Nicholas Sparks formula actually works pretty well when you’re the one reading his prose and visualizing the story in your head.  That’s largely because you can always imagine yourself as the heroine and maybe James Franco, Bradley Cooper, or Ryan Gosling as the hero.  But, when it comes to making movies out of his books, the end results are often so predictable and uninspired that the Nicholas Sparks drinking game had to be legally banned after scores of single women fell ill with alcohol poisoning.

(Yes, that actually did happen!  Google it! …. or don’t.  Actually, don’t.)

The Best Of Me is, without a doubt, the most Nicholas Sparksian Nicholas Sparks adaptation ever made.  Seriously, it has everything that you would expect from a Nicholas Sparks film and it presents it all so predictably that watching the movie is a bit like watching a checklist.  We’ve got two former high school lovers who are reunited 20 years later.  We’ve got melodrama that comes out of nowhere.  We’ve got multiple flashbacks.  We’ve got soft focus cinematography.  And, of course, we’ve got an ending that is meant to be both tragic and inspiring but it’s neither because, since this is a Nicholas Sparks movie, we already knew that the ending was going to try to be both tragic and inspiring.

What we don’t have is much chemistry between the two lead actors.  James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan are both pretty in the way that people in Nicholas Sparks films often are but you never get the feeling that they have much affection for each other.  Even worse, in the flashbacks, their characters are played by two actors (Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato) who look absolutely nothing like James Marsden or Michelle Monaghan.  In particular, it’s impossible to believe that Luke Bracey could ever grow up to look like James Marsden.  I found myself half-expecting a huge twist where Marsden would reveal that he was an intruder.

And you know what?

That would have been a lot more interesting than what we got!  Somebody help me get in touch with Nicholas Sparks!  I’ve got some ideas for his next book!

The One I Love

For a far more memorable look at love and relationships, allow me to suggest The One I Love, a film that was obviously made for a lot less money than The Best of Me but which is also a lot more thought-provoking.

In The One I Love, Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss play a couple whose marriage is on the verge of breaking up.  At the suggestion of their friendly-yet-creepy marriage counselor (Ted Danson), they agree to spend a weekend at a beautiful but remote house.  Danson assures them that they will be the only couple at the house. Duplass and Moss agree and, at first, the weekend seems to be working.  However, soon both of them start having conversations and encounters that the other claims to not remember.  Duplass and Moss discover that they are not alone at the house…

And to tell you anything else about the plot would be unfair.  The One I Love is one of those films that works best when the viewer discovers its mysteries at the same time as the characters.  To spoil the film would be a crime.  Let’s just say that there is a twist that will leave you reconsidering everything that you’ve previously seen in the movie.

Beyond that twist, however, The One I Love works for the exact reason that The Best of Me does not.  Moss and Duplass have the chemistry that the leads in The Best Of Me lack.  You believe them both as individuals and as a couple.

So, when it comes time to consider what we talk about when we talk about love, check out The One I Love and leave The Best Of Me behind.