8 posts categorized "Dance"

November 25, 2023

BARBIE

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A wrench and a cat walk into a bar.

Ouch!

ColeSmithey.comPreachy, insipid, wrongheaded, mean-spirited, and fossil fuel-driven, "Barbie" is by far the worst movie (or more accurately, commercial) I have ever witnessed.

"Barbie" is to feminism as a wrench is to a cat.

This plastic character has no charm, no grace, no sense of romance or inner beauty of mind.

To be clear, "Barbie" is not a movie; it is a rip off.

ColeSmithey.comEvidently, it would have taken John Waters or Trey Parker and Matt Stone to properly trash the capitalist monolith of Mattel with a transgressive movie based on a sex doll turned pop toy icon.

And yes, Mattel (the toy company) produced this overlong commercial.

Could anything be more obvious?

And, yes that's right, the creator of Barbie based this popular landfill ingredient on a sex doll.

They probably should have left the sex doll parts intact, at least then it could have been used for sex education.

Too late now.

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Corporate cult pap. Unrelenting dystopia.

Vomiting all of the time.

You've heard of "cult of personality," well this is cult of image, used to dumb down society in the service of profit. Forget about life imitating art, here life follows toys.

Gross. Really, really gross, and sour.

Toxic.

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"Brave New World" indeed.

Aldous Huxley was right all along.

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Here is narcissism, infinity squared.

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Let's put it this way, "Barbie" is the exact opposite of "The Wizard of Oz" in every square centimeter of quality, metaphor, and nuance.

"Barbie Land" is a gated community inhabited by lesbian Barbies and gay Kens.

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How do we know this?

When Ken asks Barbie if he can stay over one night for reasons he can't explain, Barbie says, "no."

Barbie is a Breadcrumber.

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"Every night is girls' night" at the Barbie house of endless fun. This is not to say that sexytime doesn't happen between consenting plastic girl/women with no vajayjays. Feet are the operative sex organ here.

In response, Ken usurps that long revered animal of teenage girl fetish obsession, the horse, as his personal connection to all things manly.

Choke.

ColeSmithey.comBarbie's red or blue pill moment. She chooses the one she has to buy on Amazon.

Oh the ugliness of its sickly sweet set designs. This commercial looks like Mattel spent $1000 to make it. And yet, they still spent way too much.

At least Mattel got their money's worth out of their herd of actors. Here is a perfect example of why Alfred Hitchcock called actors, "cattle." Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, and the rest, are nothing more than mindless props.

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Meanwhile, Barbie (Margot Robbie) has thoughts of...wait for it...death.

The death of capitalism, or the death of Mattel's profitable practice of polluting the globe with plastic?

Not so much.

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No, we would have needed John Waters, or maybe even Todd Haynes, for such grounded satire.

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Nevermind that David Lynch already gave us the movie that addresses female stardom lust, namely "Mulholland Drive."

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This is more, battle-of-the-sexes Barbie. Equality, as a benchmark human value, is never mentioned. Take that, Simone de Beauvoir.

Valley Girl baby. Like, "literally."

"It's like barf me out. Gag me with a spoon," as Frank and Moon Zappa put it.

Anytime you hear someone utter the word "literally," I suggest you exit the room immediately.

ColeSmithey.com

"Barbie" is nothing more than a (nearly) two-hour commercial, designed to send hordes of potential customers to Amazon to purchase an endless array of plastic toys. And you thought only Marvel could play in that crap-infested sandbox.

Extermination of rational thought is this commercial's goal. For nearly two-hours, it achieves its mission.

Co-screenwriters Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig stumble over themselves with face-plants of dialogue and monologues that wallow in stupifaction.

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"I'm just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing a woman, then I don't even know."

What is this "us" bullshit?

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The crux of all nature's beauty springs from the female form. This commercial doesn't know what beauty — female or otherwise — looks or sounds like.

Immaturity and idiocy go hand in hand. In Barbie Land there is no such thing as individuality.

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A trip to the OBGYN substitutes for a sexual encounter.

Where is John Waters when you need him?

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"Barbie" is a chunky diarrhea stain on humanity.

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Notice how you feel sick to your stomach just from looking at images from this worthless commercial.

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Peter Bogdanovich was a skilled and informed master filmmaker and screenwriter. Check out "The Last Picture Show," and compare it to this filmic (sic) turd called "Barbie."

What a fecking embarrassment and insult "Barbie" is to society, and to Cinema.

Greta Gerwig is a hack screenwriter, and a remedial filmmaker at best.

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You wanna see post-modern feminism in cinematic action, check out "I Am Curious, Yellow and Blue," and tell me how that beautiful piece of cinéma vérité art compares with Gerwig's commercial garbage.

I could go on but why should I. — Note the absence of a question mark.

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I will say that anyone calling themself a "film critic" has no business giving "Barbie" a passing grade; if they do, they should turn in their credentials and quit because they haven't the first clue about Cinema, film, or movies — to pretend otherwise is just wrong.

Rated PG-13. 114 mins.

Zero StarsLESS THAN ZERO STARS

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

December 10, 2016

LA LA LAND

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ColeSmithey.com“La La Land” is a bore. Still, the movie has two very good things going for it, namely Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. This duo’s legendary onscreen chemistry (see “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) reaches emotional highs and lows in counterpoint to a musical fantasy that almost brings home the bacon.

Fear not musical-film-haters, the genre isn’t about to explode with “La La Land” copycats. Gosling and Stone might be great together, but this movie leaves much to be desired. Although the film makes pained efforts to pretend it has the slightest thing to do with Jazz, the soundtrack is more akin to the music you'd find playing under a cartoon Cinderella.

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You know you’re in trouble from its mad-mad-world opening song and dance centerpiece, which occurs around and on top of cars stuck in a Los Angeles freeway traffic jam. Squeeze the millennial cheese please. It feels like a Dr. Pepper television commercial from the early ‘80s. The craned-camera sequence has colorfully dressed dancers doing backflips from cars in an attempt to cram as much hoop-la as possible onto the screen. The gaudy 10-minute sequence is more Baz Luhrmann than Bob Fosse. Easily pleased audiences will be sated but this is music video dross. 

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The overblown set piece values presentation over representation in a musical that tries too hard and still doesn't earn its stripes. The cheesy champaign-pouring montage looks like it was cut together from B-roll. 

Jazz prodigy boy meets young actress who hates jazz. Red flag. Boy should know better than take up with a Jazz-hater; it will never work out. Besides, Gosling's Sebastian is too meephy for his own good. 

Stone’s actress chic Mia sits in her car, running lines for the movie audition she’s on her way to. Gosling’s brooding jazz pianist Sebastian honks at her to get moving. Fear not, they won’t be enemy rivals long.

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Cut to Emma Stone’s struggling Mia going on endless tryouts. She does great acting work — as evidenced in audition bits that show off Stone's acting chops,— but she still doesn’t get any gigs. It’s tough out there, even in writer-director Damien Chazelle’s updated '50s styled L.A. fantasyland. George Lucas's "American Graffiti" would make a natural double-feature choice to go along with this film's fascination with primary colors and squeaky clean surfaces.

Sebastian can’t hold down a regular solo piano gig because he chooses to work at venues that don’t allow him to play the improvisational jazz that excites him. Sebastian thrives on rejection.

Chazelle gives an inside nod to his last film “Whiplash” by casting J.K. Simmons as the disapproving owner of the restaurant that (re) hires and (promptly) fires Sebastian for his wandering fingers on the 88s. The gratuitous casting choice does the movie no favors. Sacha Baron Cohen would have been a better choice to bring some resonance to the part.

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For all of the colorful costume changes and tightly choreographed dance sequences between Stone and Gosling, “La La Land” meanders when it should glide, and rings with mood-killing alarms that interrupt more than one scene.

“La La Land” is long way from “West Side Story” or “Cabaret” — two great (determinedly tragic) musicals that this film tries to emulate. Chazelle reneges on fulfilling the film’s snappy opening tone of screwball romance. He zigs after establishing he wants to zag. This is this film's fatal flaw. Instead of bookending the joy foreshadowed in its virtuosic opening, the movie ends on a minor chord nostalgia for things to come. Yuck. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. 

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Most egregious are two distinct episode involving actual alarms (one is a smoke alarm) that break this film apart. For a filmmaker ostensibly in love with music, these jarring aural events fly in the face of responsible moviemaking. Musicians are notorious for having sensitive ears, and any that I know — myself included — say that these abrasive segments of violent soundscape manipulation are beyond the pale. But don't take my word for it; you'll know what I mean when you hear them. Rather than coming out of this musical humming a tune — the Broadway litmus test for what constitutes a good musical — you will only be thinking of these sustained sonic assaults aimed right at the audience.

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Damien Chazelle wants to bring Jazz back into America’s cultural conversation – and for that I commend him — but he unintentionally cheapens the idea with saccharine sentimentality that he mutes with a downbeat ending. Any Jazz musician or fan knows that be-bop’s intrinsic element of syncopation is all about the upbeats. "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing." La La Land doesn't swing. "Hustle and Flow" is a much better musical. 

Rated PG-13. 128 mins. 2 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

 

November 24, 2010

BLACK SWAN — CLASSIC FILM PICK

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

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Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

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Back In Black
Natalie Portman Soars and Swoons En Pointe
By Cole Smithey

ColeSmithey.comDarren Aronofsky's voyeuristic psychological thriller about an upstart prima ballerina's descent into madness employs the same subjective dancer's-point-of-view that gave "The Red Shoes" its sense of frenetic authenticity. Dario Argento's "Suspiria" (1977) is another obvious influence.

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Natalie Portman gives the most dazzling performance of her career as Nina, an entirely believable ballet dancer consumed with proving to her manipulative choreographer that she is capable of possessing the duality of the Swan Queen role in his version of Swan Lake, as both the innocent "White Swan" and the erotically possessed "Black Swan." The ubiquitous Vincent Cassel dominates in his role as New York City Ballet choreographer Thomas Leroy whose proclivity for sleeping with his lead dancers is widely known.

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Leroy bullies, neglects, and seduces Nina into expanding mental and physical boundaries set in stone by her neurotic mother Erica (Barbara Hershey). Nina still lives at home with mom in their Manhattan apartment. In this dysfunctional setting, echoes of "Carrie" reverberate along with abstract corporeal elements that tip toward Cronenberg's cinema-of-the-body surrealism. Portman's estimable abilities as a ballet dancer give the film a foundation of disciplined substance that Aronofsky liberally attacks with brushstrokes of subliminal menace.

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As is the habit of ballet dancers, Nina is compulsive about her art. At home her mother continually prompts her about her obligations to dance. At her Lincoln Center residence, Nina feels threatened by the other dancers in the corp. Lilly (Mila Kunis) poses the most direct threat to Nina's tenuous grip on the "Black Swan" role that she fights to keep. The lesser trained Lilly is certainly better equipped to play the sexually omnivorous part, but is perhaps too worldly to embody the "White Swan" purity that Nina effortlessly possesses. It comes as a shock when Cassel's Leroy gives Nina a homework assignment to go home and "touch herself" as a backdoor into the mentality of the "Black Swan."

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Aronofsky takes the opportunity to detonate the film's most shocking revelation as Nina masturbates on her bed in the relative privacy of her room. The filmmaker captures a shocking nightmare moment of performance anxiety crossed with the intrinsic embarrassment of a rehearsal process that inhabits every molecule of Nina's being. It's an unforgettable scene that marks our unreliable protagonist as the victim of a volatile structure from which there is no escape.

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Regardless of how much or how hard she rehearses Nina is dislocated from her body and from the latent power of her erotically charged imagination. Perpetual bloody scratches on her shoulder blade signify an inner demon attempting to claim its latest victim. An impulsive decision to go out clubbing with her rival Lilly on the night before the opening performance, puts Nina in a drugged-out state that allows for a reverie of lesbian attraction. Flashes of "Rosemary's Baby" arise when paranoid Nina is challenged over whether the Sapphic event was real or not. Indeed, the sex scene brims with an exotic sense of vertigo that sticks in the viewer's mind like a mirage of palpable narcotic fantasy.

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Leroy instructs Nina that "The only person standing in your way is you." The line serves as an inciting challenge that puts Nina in a private ring with the repressed desires she has funneled into dance all her life. In her determination to embody the Black Swan, Nina becomes lost in a maze of her own mysterious design. More than anything, she wants to martyr herself for her art in a way that will obliterate all notion of any dancer who has come before or after her. Nina has seen the unhappy fate of the prima ballerina she replaces — Winona Ryder as Beth Macintyre. No brand of sex or romance can compete with Nina's secretly-held vision of a dancer whose transformation into her character is a Gothic revelation of Christ-like ascension.

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"Black Swan" comes at a troubled economic time in America when culture has been relegated to the same dust bins that once held the shredded bits of legislative truth that protected it. Artistic passion has become an unaffordable luxury. Only those willing to throw themselves entirely on its long rusty sword have any business pursuing such commercially bankrupt froth. To dream of art is to dream of death. But you can't help feeling that Portman's mythological Black Swan represents a Phoenix whose rebirth will be nothing short of magnificent.

Rated R. 108 mins.

4 StarsModern Cole SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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