Movie Review- Found (2014)

Based on Tom Rigney’s 2004 novel of the same title, Found has won big on the film festival circuit. 40 Official Selection awards, 15 best picture awards and 8 best actor awards. It’s a dark coming of age story that follows Marty (Gavin Brown), a bullied young boy who spend his free time watching horror flicks and creating graphic novels… and sneaking peeks at the decapitated heads inside of his older brother’s bowling ball bag.

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He knows his brother Steve (Ethan Philbeck) is a serial killer but he still wishes that they were closer like the old days. Their mother is clueless, or at least seems to be from Marty’s point of view, and their father is a racist and an asshole.

I can tell without looking that the Best Actor awards went only to Gavin Brown, because no one else there was doing any good acting. Ethan Philbeck delivers his lines in a bizarre manner, and audio quality and editing seem to make the other’s seem jerky and unsure. Everyone else looks like they are acting.

This film really could have gone places for me. It’s doing something really rare in horror, focussing on the emotion not of the tortured but on that of someone just on the outside. Following a family living in suburban paradise, a family who has secrets. Marty has an all too common real world problem, he’s bullied by classmates until his own friends turn on him. And a dysfunctional older brother who loves him. He thinks his parents are out of touch and he doesn’t understand what is happening around him. Steve takes revenge on Marty’s bully and Marty threatens a friend who turns on him that Steve will kill him… a stunt that he wonders if Steve will turn on him for.

And it would all be so perfect. So perfect.

Except that there is a movie within the movie, called “Headless” (which you can watch in full on the DVD) which involves a serial killer who hacks women to bits and then fucks the decapitated heads. Not to mention that Steve’s killings are racially motivated. Why? We were going along so well without racism, And needless skullfucking. And uncomfortable to watch scene of eyeballs being eaten and regurgitated (although that one by itself isn’t a deal breaker). But after following horror nerd Marty around and people thinking he’s weird for liking pretty much all the shit that I like and having him misunderstood by peers -it seems thrown away to have Steve motivated by a horror VHS that he stole from the video store.

And I hate everything where there is rape or incest portrayed just to have it there. Because the heads in the bowling bags didn’t indicate that Steve was a bad guy or anything by themselves… right?

So it starts out rather poetic and then gets too weird at the end for me to have loved it the way that I would have without those troubling elements. Sadly, I feel like the purpose or moral of this story is thrown out nearly entirely by the break down of Steve’s character. It could have been so much more. But sadly, 2/5 stars.

Movie Review- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

This movie would have been great… if not for all the ridiculously harmful stereotypes everywhere.

Content Warning: rape, misogyny, rape culture.

Not to say it’s that way for all the characters. There are empowered badasses:

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Rosario returns as the leader of the girls in Old Town. Her story is a prequel, which still works because Rosario looks like she hasn’t aged 10 minutes. Josh Brolin fills in for Clive Owen as the face-changing Dwight. He does it well, but the character doesn’t pack the same punch for me in this tale compared to the Dwight that gave Benicio Del Toro a swirly for beating up on Brittany Murphy.

My main issue with the second installment centers around this story in particular. Dwight enlists the help of Gail & Miho and Marv in order to save Eva Green’s character, Ava Lord. Lord, an ex-lover of Dwight’s, calls on him for help. She says that her husband allows his servant/butler/valet Manute (Dennis Haysbert, the All-State man, who is no Lawrence Fishburne) to rape her and abuse her, that her husband keeps won’t let her leave. Dwight, who earlier saved a prostitute from a politician, has a chivalrous streak and no reason not to believe her. So he goes in to save her, first with Marv and no guns. Dwight tells Marv the tale and gets him drunk enough to be dangerous. Marv is always looking for a reason, anyway. Dwight gets turned into Swiss cheese and calls on Gail for help. They concoct a daring scheme- which is the highlight of the flick. Finally, Dwight confronts Mr. Lord, who says, “What has my wife told you? She’s pathological. I’ve done nothing and still she spreads lies about me.” 

And it’s true.

…So the plotline of the MAIN STORY this film (and the comic) comes to be because of a woman lying about rape…

Narratives such as these have real world implications. This is a large budget movie with big name stars and the MAIN plot is a woman lying about rape. Out here in the real world, women are treated as suspects instead of victims and interrogated when facing rapists and abusers. Take for example the instance of a woman who accused a pro-athlete of rape, she immediately reported it to casino security and then filed a civil suit -she sued for false imprisonment and sexual assault and battery (among other charges)- when the media reported the charges, she was immediately dubbed a “gold digger” for her appearance, then tabloids dug in to her mental state and found anxiety, insomnia and depression. They dubbed her “nutty” -and this was post-trauma. She had mental health consequences of someone who suffered abuse and was embroiled in a court battle and yet her mental health was held as evidence that she was unstable and unreasonable. It was assumed that the victim was claiming “rape” as a way to get large sums of money. Which in the plot of SC:ADTKF was true about Ava Lord. Do you see why this portrayal is damaging?

And before all the MRA’s and naive assbags show up in my yard. Yes. I know that there are also instances of women lying about rape. Although that’s only been found to be the case in .6 percent of rape allegations. So let’s focus on the other 99.4% of the time, shall we. That vast percent where women are forced to prove their virtue, their perceived “potential” to be “real victims”, where they have to prove that they were not “asking for it” because of clothing or BAC or sexual history. Where over 50% of rapes still go unreported (largely because the victim thinks they will not be believed or that their own morality will be on trial or that the accused is too well liked and even if they believe you they won’t care. 97% of accused rapists don’t go to jail. 

So please, by all fucking means: let us have a star studded case propagating this damaging bullshit. /sarcasm

And I know “this is for adults”, which is a comment I received to my criticism of this plotline. The assbags commenting that the aforementioned woman was a “gold digger,” the reporters that treated her like shit, the security guard who told her she should “be lucky to sleep with someone like that”? Adults. Judges who say that victims are better off not reporting rape if there is not enough evidence? Adults. People who mocked a drugged and passed out 16-year old rape victim? Some of them were adults. A Florida deputy who harassed a 17 year old victim, telling her that “he owned her”? Also an adult. 

Propagating this trope to any age group is fucking dangerous and harms women who report rape.

It’s also during this story that we have 2 lazy and racist tropes: the silent Asian badass and the powerful black servant. Overused and pointless, Miho was written as silent -her vocal chords were cut in an attempt on her life, but that doesn’t make it okay. The expressionless/voiceless Asian trope rears it’s head an awful lot across all genres: notably, with Agent May on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”, to Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels, Ecks vs Sever and “Ally McBeal”, to Gwen and Avril’s Harajuku back-up dancers. And Manute’s archetype appeared most recently in “Penny Dreadful” with the character Sembene. He’s large and tough and reliable. He’s also a servant with no plotline of his own. Dwight refers to Manute as “not even human” …that’s not a good look.

Gail’s my favorite. She has agency, she fights for herself, her “girls” and her man. 

But I’m not opposed to male heroes, or anti-heroes. The dangerous Marv always drinking and looking for a fight. Always ready to ride for his friends and help out a beautiful dame. It’s cliche, but it’s well done in this case. But his last appearance in the flick seemed unnecessary. Nancy’s story made no sense. She has a good motive, she wants to avenge Hartigan, who she is haunted by. She couldn’t shoot the Senator at Kadie’s and suddenly, seemingly without reason. she chops off her hair, cuts her face, gets Marv involved and suddenly she can pull the trigger. What changed? No idea. Needless to say, she had other chances (watching the Senator through the wall as he lost at poker to Joseph Gordon-Levitt), wouldn’t the ending have been better if she shot the Senator before he offed JG-L? or if she had done it in the middle of Kadie’s and then they had to fight off a bunch of goons? Whatever. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s plot was unnecessary as a whole. He had style and panache and his plot involved a trip to see the Doc, Christopher Lloyd, but there wasn’t enough reason for me to get emotionally invested. What was the point? to show that the Senator was a bad guy? We knew that. And JG-L is no Josh Hartnett.

Cinematically it’s bad ass. It’s stylish and gritty and Jessica Alba’s dancing is still fantastic. It needed more Rosario Dawson.

2.5 out of 5