Enemy (2014)

EnemyReleased: March 14, 2014. Directed by: Denis Villeneuve. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Sarah Gadon, Mélanie Laurent. Runtime: 90 min.

You should really see Enemy with a friend. At least do yourself a favour and have a designated discussion partner to talk about the film. If you think too hard and try to figure out this puzzle of a film by yourself, you might find it to be a bigger challenge. The film follows Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a bored and highly disinterested history professor at a university in Toronto. He can’t even get himself intensely interested in his beautiful girlfriend Mary (Laurent). One day he rents a film based on the recommendation of a colleague. In the background of one scene, he spots a person that looks exactly like him; an actor named Anthony Clair, also portrayed by Gyllenhaal. Bell decides to seek out his “double,” which put of their lives on a collision course. 

In some of Bell’s lectures, he talks of dictatorships and how some use a lack of education to limit individuality – and, to a further extent, power over our actions. He also speaks of repetition. The first time something happens, it’s a tragedy; the second time it happens, it’s a farce. It’s a thought-provoking idea to ponder. It’s one of the many ideas the film proposes. The thematic duality is also enjoyable. I think the idea of a doppelganger is a fascinating one. It’s a concept delved into by many cultures. Spanish writer Javier Gullón adapts José Saramago’s 2002 novel called “The Double.” I’m not sure how faithful this film is to the novel, but Denis Villeneuve (director of the phenomenal Prisoners) tells the story with surrealist imagery, which he utilizes to great effect. This film is a dream come true for any fan of surrealism. 

Not one image of Villeneuve’s style is not arbitrary, even though it might seem it at the time. It contributes to the story in some way, even if you forget the image by the end of it all – and have to watch this again. Granted, at the time, some images might strike viewers as empty and meaningless. Villeneuve realistically captures the urges and tendencies of men, as well. Some paths he takes are dark and ominous, which sets the tone and atmosphere for the film. It’s a movie that proves the unexpected is so damn satisfying. If I were the filmmaker here, I’d probably just take the route of finding my doppelganger so I could play jokes on my friends. That would be a much shorter film than the engaging, intricately written 90 minutes at hand, that actually goes by fairly quickly. At times the film is sexy, unsettling, violating, haunting and all too memorable. 

Denis Villeneuve truly knows how to absorb his audience’s attention. With blending imagery of something like a Darren Aronofsky film (at times I was reminded of Black Swan), and a scope and atmospheres that remind me of some of David Fincher’s films, he is able to create a unique visual style and an enthralling mystery. His fascination with creepy crawlies makes an appearance in symbolism. The film all-around fascinates. Sometimes viewers may not be able to make heads or tails of things that occur on-screen – at least in first viewing – but I willingly went along for the ride. Even if surrealism isn’t your favourite thing in the world, you’ll probably be able to appreciate what Villeneuve sets out achieve. Some symbolism could have a stronger focus, granted, but ambiguity is intentional at times. The intention is to provoke thoughts and discussion – and it’s done so in spades. 

I cannot end this review without mentioning the phenomenal work from the cast. At times the women take a back seat to the Toronto landscapes and imagery. That is mostly Laurent as Mary, who is largely unbeknownst to Adam’s mission to find his double. She does great for what she is asked to do. Sarah Gadon’s character of Helen is in the thick of the plot and I think she has an interesting role. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a tour de force performance. He is up to the challenge of portraying these two very different characters. One is a timid, often distant character; the other a confident, intense and tempted character trying to figure out this whole mindf!#k of a situation. Join the club, Gyllenhaal number two. The character is driven by these two, and the one strong actor, who play with individuality and duality.

Warning: Try not to focus on just one, sole concept. Viewers with an attention to detail will benefit from that greatly. Villeneuve creates an intelligent and spellbinding experience with Enemy. He compels viewers from the beginning, to the final, absolutely haunting image. Good luck trying to forget that image. It’s what helps this become so memorable – and what is helping Villeneuve become one of Canada’s most exciting filmmakers. 

Score: 88/100

March 28-30 Box Office Predictions: Swear words and Sabotage of biblical proportions

box office (1)Jason Bateman’s Bad Words is one of the new releases coming out this weekend, but it’s been in limited release since the 14th of March, and has grossed $837 thousand. It premiered at TIFF back in September, and it looks pretty awesome. Since one of the taglines is “suck my dictionary,” I’m really excited. I think it looks hilarious. I don’t think this will gross a lot this weekend; but I think $6.7 million is a good enough expectation.

Noah will be the winner this weekend. I think it’s more than guaranteed it’ll gross around $30 million this weekend, and $40 million is very likely, but I think it’ll be a huge surprise hit, much like last year’s World War Z. It’s of one of the three Biblical movies this weekend; it’s the second one after Son of God, and the next one will be Exodus. This stars Russell Crowe as the titular Noah; and it also stars Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. It’s directed by Darren Aronofsky. I’m ecstatic to see this. The story of Noah fascinates me, and I’m excited to see a new film about it, and I love Aronofsky’s style. I’ve only seen his film Black Swan, but I’m excited to see more. Similar films open to $33.49 million. My prediction for this film is $56.5 million.

Sabotage is David Ayer’s newest film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Malin Akerman and Sam Worthington. I think this film looks promising. Movies similar to this open at $13.86 million. I’m curious to see if Schwarzenegger’s star power and Ayer’s direction will allow this to gross near End of Watch‘s $13.15 million. Both of Schwarzenegger’s starring vehicles since his comeback haven’t grossed double digits in its opening weekend (excluding The Expendables 2). The Last Stand was a fun movie that made $6.3 million in its opening, and Escape Plan made $9.9 million (so close). Since Arnie obviously doesn’t have as much star power as he once did, but I’m going to say this grosses $9.5 million in its opening weekend.

Here’s how I see the Top 10:

1. Noah: $56.5 million
2. Divergent: $28 million
3. Muppets Most Wanted: $10.883 million
4. Sabotage: $9.5 million
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel: $9 million
6. Bad Words: $6.7 million
7. Mr. Peabody & Sherman: $6.3 million
8. God’s Not Dead: $6 million
9. 300: Rise of An Empire: $4.2 million
10. Need for Speed: $3.8 million

Scary Movie 5 (2013)

Scary Movie 5Release Date: April 12, 2013. Director: Malcolm D. Lee. Stars: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Charlie Sheen. Runtime: 85 min. Tagline: Evil is coming. Bring protection.

This quote from Billy Madison, said by the Principal to Madison, sums up my thoughts on this film really well (I have paraphrased it extensively), “Mr. Zucker, your movie is one of the most insanely bad films I have ever seen. At no point in your god-awful excuse for a comedy were you even close to anything that could be considered a hilarious joke. Everyone who sat through this is now dumber for having seen it. I award your movie no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

In the parody sub-genre that’s already standing on a thin wire, Scary Movie 5 comes into play and curses the world. It’s not refreshing or witty. It’s sophomoric, tedious and, worst of all, painfully unfunny. The filmmakers reach to the very bottom-of-the-barrel for laughs. There are many fart jokes, and you’ll forget every joke one minute after they say it. The jokes are everything a ten year-old boy might find hysterical.

The jokes are unfunny, they don’t conquer any punch-line because there isn’t one, and they’re so, so predictable. If a man stands under a frying pan, what should one expect to happen? There’s also a scene shared between Snoop Dogg and Mac Miller where they are escaping from pot farmers after they steal a giant blunt from their harvest. As a hiding place, Dogg sees a cabin in the woods in the distance, and suggests they go there. Miller replies, “I don’t know, that reminds me of a horror movie I once saw…” Dogg would suggest a title, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre?” To which Miller says, “No, the one with the cabin in the woods!” This goes on for what feels like ten minutes, until Dogg gets fed up. He seems like a saviour to the audience for stopping this nonsense, but he’s still the one who’s in the movie. We get that, yes, there are 30+ horror movies that have a cabin in the woods in it. Thank you, Zucker, but do you have to show us that in this predictable, lazy and endlessly tedious exchange?

This is such an embarrassment, so much that, everyone involved should move to a country where movies are unheard of, change their name and live the rest of their lives there. Mostly because when this is as bad as Disaster Movie or Meet the Spartans, one knows their movie won’t be a success. When you request more Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, your movie is terrible. It’s also terrible if the strongest scene is a poor “comedic” sex scene shared between those two, where they inexplicably rustle around under the covers, and soon enough midgets and even a small horse join the fun. Whoever thought “Haha, hey, this is going to be really funny!” should be hit by a car, or, if that’s too extreme, fired.

Following the norm, spoof movies always have meaningless characters and a haphazard plot that just makes fun of movies that are way better than it. Some of the movies that are spoofed include: Black Swan, Mama, Evil Dead, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Inception, Paranormal Activity 4, The Cabin in the Woods, and Insidious, among others. This takes seventy minutes to get to the end, and it feels like a two-hour runtime. This is what torture feels like. The fact that the ten-minute blooper reel is miraculously more painful than the movie itself, is baffling.

There’s very little that this has to offer. It spoofs movie after movie, and even ones the writers aren’t smart enough to understand. One of these titles include Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky’s style of cinematography is mocked by filming Tisdale walking to an audition, and she just begins to walk in reverse. It’s not funny. It’s indubitably stupid. It’s no wonder that none of the original cast members are a part of this, and to make it even more offensive… They make an obnoxious character that is an obvious knock-off of Regina Hall’s Brenda Meeks (this character is called Kendra Brooks). Simon Rex is from the third and fourth Scary Movie, and he’s somehow even worse now. No one in this movie is funny. At all. Especially not Ashley Tisdale. Who would have thought one person could miss Anna Farris so, so much?

There’s little good that can be said about this movie. It’s in focus, sure. It’s the first spoof movie (and hopefully the last) that mocks 2013’s Mama and Evil Dead. However, that’s also one of the movie’s most idiotic choices. Evil Dead might be considered a remake, but it’s more of a reboot and since it was only released April 5, that means the filmmakers have to do a few last-minute, amateurish adjustments to fit it into the storyline. Also, if Evil Dead is still in theatres, wouldn’t it only be logical to go and watch the real thing and not this piece of crap? Mama is also not a prominent horror movie in popular culture just yet, and it isn’t nearly as popular as Insidious or Paranormal Activity. These are some of the filmmaker’s biggest screw-ups because the audience likes to be aware of which movie  is being mocked.

The fact that this movie is not R-rated is an absolute farce. There is one f-bomb and non-stop sexual humour throughout. (Even some of the swear words throughout are bleeped, which is RIDICULOUS for a Hollywood production.)

The movie’s masterwork could be the narrator, who might or might not be Morgan Freeman. It isn’t. It’s an impersonator. It’s really stupid. Filmmakers, if you can’t get Morgan Freeman to narrate your movie, either follow Seth MacFarlane’s decision and settle for Patrick Stewart, or, I don’t know, don’t have a narrator at all!

This is not only the worst addition to the Scary Movie franchise, Worst Movie of the Year Contender, but a Worst Film of All-Time Contender. I also sincerely hope this is where the franchise ends. This movie makes me want to find the Book of the Dead, recite every phrase in that book, and unleash demons onto the world. I’ll read it in Latin, English, Greek, French, Clik-Clak, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Cherokee, Taushiro; all languages so it wakes up foreign demons, and it stops at least some of the world from experiencing this lazy and dreadful movie.

0/100