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Be it robots taking over the world or a super computer gone rogue, your tech is trying to screw with your life. This could be one long, awful joke that wears thin fast but the trailer got quite a few laughs in the theater today.... and I'll confess I don't understand "the Cloud" either.
So I let NetflixRoulette.com pick a movie today and dedicated myself to watching it no matter the result. It came up with a 2007 offering from New Zealand called Eagle vs Shark starring Loren Taylor (completely unfamiliar with her) and Jemaine Clement (a founding member of Flight of the Conchords!). We have here the story of Lily and Jarrod. She works a dour job at a fast food restaurant called Meaty Love with rude, disdaining co-workers and meal combo names that will make vegetarians nauseous (if you're a Buffy fan, think Doublemeat Palace). Lily is seeking some type of human connection and is crushing hard on frequent customer, Jarrod. He can be summed up with the words, mullet, mole and overcompensation (tried to think of a 3rd word starting with "m" but to no avail). She finally gets her chance to pounce at a party hosted by Jarrod and his odd collection of friends where the theme is that everyone dresses as their favorite animal. Lilly, in a move of blatant symbolism, goes as a shark. You'll have no trouble guessing Jarod's costume.
What follows is a relationship with Lily in hot pursuit of something meaningful from Jarod who hides every real emotion behind a clumsily assembled front of fake bravado. The relationship plummets and then is saved literally seconds before the credits. Pretty standard fare.
If too much sugar can rot your teeth, then I think too much quirkiness in a movie damages your sense of irony. I would've enjoyed this movie more if I had seen it in 2007 before watching so many movies with the same deadpan, "it's all so absurd" premise. The soundtrack is great, there are some one-liners that will stick with you and the animal costume party is clever & funny (including Jason Gann in his Wilfred costume which spawned Australian and American TV shows). One last note, the director of this movie is Taiki Waititi, a name I did not recognize, until I realized he directed another New Zealand produced movie called Boy (2010) which is well worth your time. I'll post a link about that movie below.
2010 cannot be described as a good year for M. Night Shyamalan. The negative reaction to "The Last Airbender" was immediate and scathing. It went so far as to become an act of revisionist history with some critics dissecting his entire career and declaring it retroactively over after the phenomenal success of "The Sixth Sense". So, I just had to check out "Devil", released a mere three months after "The Last Airbender", and thanks to some ITunes gift cards from Christmas, I could do so without risking my own money.
"Devil" opens with a suicide and details the story of five people trapped in a high rise elevator in downtown Philadelphia, who experience events that can only be explained by the supernatural. The "devil" aspect comes into play through a guard in the building whose mother puts Brothers Grim to shame. She told him bedtime stories as a child about the devil taking human form to trap, torture and kill those who will eventually end up in his(or her?) domain anyway. It's a bit of a locked room mystery with a police detective working the suicide who tries to decipher what is happening in the elevator via security cameras.
I'll start with my likes which are mostly about mood. The camera work, including opening credits over the upside down city, is excellent with sweeps and mirror perspective shots that keep the viewer constantly askew. The music, also key to the mood, is heavy handed enough to cue an edge or your seat tension throughout. I didn't have any problem with the acting but the characters are all like those found in a hour long Twilight Zone type show. You know, played by vaguely familiar actors and fleshed out just enough to make us pay attention for an hour minus commercials.
My dislikes? The ending does have a few "twists" people expect from Shyamalan's work but they are fairly tepid. The narrator is a mildly annoying piece of work also. His "my mama told me" declarations about the devil are at best awkward exposition and at worst silly. Why insert an otherwise rational character who earnestly expects everyone to shake their heads and say "yep it's the Devil, that's for sure"?
Verdict? The reports of M. Knight Shyamalan's career suicide are premature and he will make more movies to love or hate I'm sure. "Devil" probably would have been viewed as C grade work but a minor hiccup if it had not come out after "The Last Airbender".