Joe’s Random Movie Review: Mirror Images in “Falling Down” (1993)

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Over the years after it’s release in 1993, the film “Falling Down”has gained certain popularity. In this chaotic world that we find ourselves living, audiences more and more find themselves sympathizing with Michael Douglas’s character, William Foster.

In the film, Foster a man who fired from his job building missiles to protect America from the Soviet Union, divorced and through a court order cannot visit his daughter. Decides he’s going to ignore the rules of basic society and go visit her anyway and along the way he encounters street gangs, gun violence, and various other predicaments that seem to be standing in his way. Along that time, Robert DuVall’s character Detective Martin Prendergast is slowly tracking Foster down. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of rooting for Foster because he seems to represent the everyman, but there is a great flaw in this theory. He flat out IS the bad guy. He has zero regard for anybody except for his own selfish ends.

The character Prendergast is actually much more relatable, but many people may not have much sympathy for him because this is a film were the hero is in fact the Antagonist of the film, and the villain is the Protagonist. But there are many images and subtle references to both characters as the film progresses that shows that they are mirror images of one another.

For example, in the first half of the film you’ll notice the both Foster and Prendergast dress very similarly. And as the film progresses you’ll see them both change gradually into what they both consider themselves to be. Foster who puts on the neo-Nazi’s jumpsuit almost making himself appear like a soldier. Prendergast simply puts on a suit closely resembling what he sees himself to be, which is a detective. Fitting imagery for both of them since they see themselves as both defenders of society.

The fact that both of them have families are also very similar. Foster is alienated from his family divorced and cannot see his daughter. Prendergast also has a wife and daughter. His wife has gone insane, so he feels as though he is lost her in a way. And his daughter is long since deceased the prior to the events of the film. So both men are alienated from their families.

 

There also seems to be a great lack of respect from their peers and both characters in the film. In the case of Prendergast we see that his other detectives and fellow officers do not really respect him that much and they treat him like he’s lower than them. Even though it’s obvious from the get go that Prendergast has probably been there much longer than any of the others have been.

We don’t actually see too much of Foster’s peers throughout the film, we could references in the people that Foster encounters along the way to see his daughter. From the bum who begs for change, to the two old men at the golf course that he encounters, to the man and his family that are taking care of the plastic surgeon’s house.

The special moment doesn’t even really come to mind until the final part of the movie. Which is something that a lot of fans of this film seem to take for granted. This is literally a film, where the hero and the villain do not meet one another until the very last scene.

The structure of the film this way seems to make the mirror image seem much more poignant and much more noticeable. It also makes it clear that this is the point of transformation for both men. Our protagonist, William Foster begins we can believe, as a good man who threw a set of circumstances thrown at him, has become the villain. Prendergast in reacting to Foster’s reactions to the world, has actually risen above his circumstances and actually become a hero in the process.

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5 Reasons why “Captain Marvel” isn’t the greatest movie/character in the MCU (so far)

Please Note:

I thought the film was great, however I did notice a few flaws in it.

Can’t wait to see her return!

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!!!SPOILERS!!!!!

Captain Marvel has certainly left a positive impression on fans of the MCU. But the film is far from perfect, and it broke a few patterns but the MCU has spent the last 10 years establishing. Initially, it’s building something up for the film “Avengers: Endgame”. Not to say at the film “Captain Marvel” or the character are terrible, quite the contrary, both are really good. But there were a few noticeable flaws in both.

  1. She’s too powerful

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Captain Marvel could very well be one of the most powerful heroes in the MCU. Her power of Energy Projection basically makes her a living Sun. And because her powers come directly from the energy of the Tesseract  (a.k.a. an infinity stone) we can assume that her powers must be on par with Scarlet Witch’s as both derive their powers from infinity stones. Making a character as powerful as Captain Marvel the MCU did do something that was very unconventional. They broke the standard formula set by a basic MCU movie. Usually in the first film that introduces the hero, they will have a villain that is equal to them in power and in essence a mirror image of the hero being power or tech. Iron Man had the Iron Monger, Black Panther had Killmonger, Ant-Man had Yellowjacket, but Captain Marvel has no equal. While this probably is looked better on paper than it did actually in the film it’s not bad. But at the same time it left some audiences a little bit bewildered as far as the introduction of this character is concerned. By not giving Captain Marvel and equal villain the face up against, her power has yet to truly be tested in emotional and physical dual.

It’s almost like Captain Marvel is a hero from an Ayn Rand book. Rand’s characters are always too noble. They were good characters but too noble and characters who are too noble have no real transformation emotionally speaking throughout the story. A poor comparison I know, but it speaks to the idea the Captain Marvel’s powers have yet to be tested by an equal of hers. It really makes you wonder just how she’s going to work with the other Avengers in the upcoming film “Avengers: Endgame”.

2. No Real Answer to Feminism

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While the film DOES have a positive outlook in a positive message for women everywhere, it doesn’t really deliver on much of an answer to feminism except the “they’re too cool for this”. It almost seems as though she is answering Gaslighting with more Gaslighting and that doesn’t exactly provide a healthy answer to the idea of equality among genders. And in the case of this movie they might’ve written it in there a little too strongly.

3. Another Moses leading the people to freedom

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Rather than skip a few sequels to bring her into this motif, the first film of Captain Marvel is already turning her into essentially another Moses leading an exodus to save an endangered race. Well this is a noble act for the character to do in her first movie, it essentially fulfills Captain Marvel (as well as any other MSU heroes) role as a Jungian Archetype. By putting them in the Moses or Jesus-like protagonist role, our hero has already gone a step further than being just a regular superhero. Rather, she and possibly the others are going to be introduced to the MCU are now the “new gods” walking among mankind. And this may sound cool but it actually isn’t. Because when you make heroes into the new gods of the Earth defending truth and justice for all people of all races, it makes it more difficult for human beings to relate to them as characters. And that’s actually what the marvel comics excelled at. Being able to make sympathetic characters that we could all relate to. But introducing this in the first Captain Marvel movie, they’ve almost made the character completely unrelatable to the everyman.

4. Too Heavy on the 90’s

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While those moments of actually showing off the 1990s in the film are quirky and funny, the problem with that was that there are scenes were it was a little bit too heavy such as the computer scene where the file is trying to load, the arcade games, and a few other bits and pieces are thrown throughout the movie. It would’ve been enough just have a subtitle saying that the film takes place roughly 1995. But they were trying a little hard to remind people that the film took place in the mid-1990s.

5. Coulson and Ronan needed more screen time

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Being a prequel of course is a perfectly legitimate way to bring back previously deceased characters. As well as seeing familiar characters in a completely different light. This film did excellent in showing Nick Fury a different point in his life before he was the Nick Fury that we all know and love. In this film also did something else to buy bring back to previously deceased characters such as agent Phil Coulson, from “The Avengers”, as well as the villain the Ronan, from “Guardians of the Galaxy”. And let’s face facts, both Coulson and Ronan are awesome characters to begin with. And it seems like there are scenes in this film were not quite long enough. These are both fan favorites one good, one bad but it really would’ve been more interesting if they had much more scenes in the film. Honestly, it seemed like they were just thrown in for fun. But it really would’ve been interesting to see Ronan a little differently than we had seen him and “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

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And a character like Phil Coulson is just a very likable guy. In all this chaos and mayhem, it’s nice to see a character with no powers, but it was already captured the hearts of superhero film fans everywhere.

Joe’s Random Movie Review: “Us” (2019)

Lupita Nyong'o in Us (2019)

 

!!!!!!WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

In 2019 writer director Jordan Peele has given presented “Us”, a follow up to his film “Get Out”. Like it’s predecessor, “Us” contains within a very deeper messages hidden behind the horror.

Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke in Us (2019)

The film follows the Wilsons, a family on vacation in Santa Cruz. Adelaide, Gabe, Zora, and Jason. Adelaide seems very worried about going to Santa Cruz because of a traumatic event that happened to her there back in 1986. Which the film initially begins with. Then later that night, they are attacked by four strangers which they soon realize are in fact doppelgängers, or doubles, of themselves. Going by the names of Red, Abraham, Umbrae and Pluto. These doppelgängers referred to themselves as “The Tethered”.

Initially, this section of the film is structured and looks and feels a lot like a classic 80s slasher film. Instead of one killer stalking many people, it’s a few killers stalking a few people.

Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, and Shahadi Wright Joseph in Us (2019)

Eventually it is revealed that Adelaide had encountered Red before, back in 1986. As the film progresses towards its final moments, we find out that this doppelgänger phenomena was not limited only to the Wilsons but rather to people worldwide. Apparently the Tethered had existed in this long network of underground tunnels constructed by the United States Military as an experiment to try and control the populace. When the experiment failed, the Tethered were left to fend for themselves living only off of live rabbits.

Winston Duke and Shahadi Wright Joseph in Us (2019)

As the battle for the Wilson survival culminates in a final confrontation between Red and Adelaide, the big twist at the end is revealed. Back in 1986, when Red first encountered Adelaide, Red knocked her out, chained Adelaide to her bed inside the tunnels, and switched clothes with her Replacing her in the real world. Thus revealing to the audience, as well as to the character Adelaide herself, that she in fact was the doppelgänger of the entire time. A dark and surprising twist ending indeed, for any of us who are fans of Peele’s work.

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Doppelgängers in folklore and myth have long been shown as Omens of impending doom or death. Many historical figures including that of Abraham Lincoln and claim to of had encounters with doppelgängers of their own soon before such impending doom happened upon them. There’s something very otherworldly and very frightening of seeing something that looks like you, behaves like you, and yet isn’t you. It also calls into question the idea of individuality as to whether or not you in fact have it, or if you are completely alike with the double. And with what little information we’re actually given about the Tethered in this film, Jordan Peele leaves it greatly open to interpretation. However he leaves it open to interpretation, but not in a way that feels as though the film is riddled with plot holes. This is one of those movies where new bits of clues and symbolism will be discovered and rediscovered as “Us” is watched and rewatched.

Lupita Nyong'o in Us (2019)

As “Us” progresses and gets darker along the way, you’re showing little bit more of the nature of the Tethered, especially when they were living in the tunnels to fend for themselves. The Tethered themselves seem to be a metaphor for the lower class ascending and finally going after the privileged upper class who weren’t even aware of their existence. Even though these “lower class citizens” have always been there.

Evan Alex in Us (2019)

The whole revolt of the Tethered seems to be a great metaphor for oppression, or possibly a class struggle. This would make the message of “Us” a little bit greater than the message given to us would “Get Out”. With “Get Out” the message was one of racial differences, where is this one is about class differences regardless of skin color. It becomes less a story of man vs. monster, and is more about the privileged against the underprivileged. And because the Tethered in the very nature didn’t exactly have freedom of choice, after all they could do was mimic the actions that their counterparts in the surface world could do. Their fight becomes more logical and much more sympathetic in that they feel they don’t have freedom of choice. At least not in the way we understand it.

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When the twist ending coming into play though, the motivations of the film’s main antagonist Red seem to be a little bit clearer. It seems the Tethered chose her to lead them because they understood that she was different than the rest of them. Primarily because she actually, in fact, wasn’t one of them. And her motivations seem to be very logical at the very least. After all she only wanted to reclaim the life that was forcibly taken from her by her doppelgänger.

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And Adelaide herself and her fight to preserve family, seems to by the end of the film realize that all she was doing was justifying the horrible action she did when she was a child. But it really calls into question as to whether or not the villain of the story was right in their motivations. Very few times will film actually make you question the moral compass of the hero that you’ve been presented, A sort of unreliable narrator.

Jordan Peele has undoubtedly come along way since the days of being a comedian. But with what he has set up so far with both of his films, and in a little bit more poignantly in “Us”, Jordan Peele is setting himself up as one of the greatest directors of the horror, thriller, and indeed one of the greatest directors of the 21st-century.

9/10 Excellent, excellent film!

Joe’s Random Movie Review: “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018)

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

In this modern era of film, we find ourselves in countering a great deal more Bio pics these days. And never before has been strongly said, at long last there is a biopic worthy of every single praise delivered by professional critic, and avid fan alike.

With a film like Bohemian Rhapsody, the exploration of the bands formation concluding to their epic Live Aid performance in 1985, explores a great deal of the trials and tribulations that the band had to go through. And of course like another band bio pic released in 1991, Oliver Stone’s “The Doors”, even though the band is the center of the plot, the main storyline focuses on a singular protagonist. In the case of that film, it was Jim Morrison, in this case of Bohemian Rhapsody, it is Queen’s own Freddie Mercury. Arguably the face of the band.

Rami Malek and Lucy Boynton in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

As with most character arcs, it could be safely called wonderfully and beautifully tragic. Mercury himself who was taken on this Earth far too early in his life undoubtedly lived his life to the fullest and this film does not hesitate one second to show that. One could easily see how difficult it must must’ve been for after Rami Malek to portray the infamous Mercury. But Malek does an excellent job in the film as do all the other actors betraying the other members of the band.

Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, and Ben Hardy in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Given the particular era in musical history that this form takes place in, it seems pretty self evident of how chaotic the livelihoods of certain individuals were, as well as the chaos that was the 1980s itself. Another thing of this film captures at a very excellent level.

The film itself is almost like music, and some small way it’s almost as though this film in essence “sings” to every single member of the audience who watches it. It’s very rare that a movie has the power to do that especially one that is rooted in nonfiction.

Joseph Mazzello and Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

A beautifully crafted movie Bohemian Rhapsody is definitely one for the books. That being said just like Freddie Mercury there will scarcely be another movie or another singer that could possibly top this one. Terrific film!

Full 10/10

Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “American Psycho” (2000)

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In the scene when Detective Kimball (Willem Dafoe) questions Patrick Bateman, director Mary Harron shot a few versions of it. One where Kimball knew Bateman was guilty, one where he knew Bateman was innocent, and one where he wasn’t sure if Bateman was guilty or not.

Harron then edited the versions into one scene, making the audience just as confused as Bateman is, as he’s being questioned.

Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Event Horizon” (1997)

Paul W. S. Anderson was able to make this movie mostly because of his success with “Mortal Kombat”. The film originally ran over two hours. After the studio and test audiences made certain remarks about the film’s violence and gore, Anderson cut most of it from the film. A decision Anderson regrets to this very day. The scenes were not restored in a director’s cut because the negatives were destroyed.

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Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Sin City” (2004)

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In the film, Marv refers to his pistol as “Gladys”. We find out why he calls it Gladys in the graphic novel “The Hard Goodbye” and the Extended Version of the film. In a scene where Marv sneaks into his mother’s apartment to get his gun, he explains in the narration that he named the gun after one of the nuns who taught him at school. And that the gun has, “almost lived up to the name”.