Plástico (2015)

Impression: I don’t often hate movies. I feel like my strongest negative opinion is usually indifference. And most often hate is reserved for movies which I feel were over-hyped, but not that great. So it was quite a surprise to me how strongly I disliked this small Mexican movie. It just really rubbed me the wrong way.  And it was not the kinky sex scenes that were disturbing.  It was the offensively ridiculous and very literal oversimplification of the role cause and effect plays in people’s lives. No, if your father kills himself while indulging in some strange fetish involving plastic, your two life choices are not to grow up to be 1. a miserable drunk who works in a plastics factory or 2. a fetish prostitute. I really don’t think that’s how childhood trauma works. The movie also felt way too long, although it clocked in at well under 2 hours. It definitely could have used some editing. The premise is not very complicated, and maybe could have made a decent short.  It was a mistake to structure it basically as a thriller with flash-backs to something ominous, but unclear in their childhood.  The big reveal is how the father died, which is offered up as a resolution and magical explanation of everything wrong in the adult children’s lives. It just felt like a cop out. Or is it supposed to be a cautionary tale, to not engage in weird behaviors that could kill you, because you will ruin your children’s lives? I am not sure.

Facts: An estranged brother and sister lead depressing and unfulfilling lives as a result of something that happened in their childhood.

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Hong Kong Trilogy (2015)

Impressions: Directed by Wong Kar-Wai’s cinematographer, experimental/documentary about Hong Kong. Sounds great, right? Well…. It was more than a little rough separating the movie from the fact that Christopher Doyle was either drunk, on drugs or just crazy during his suuuuuper long, completely incoherent introduction, and his girlfriend/producer was obnoxious. He even attempted heckling his own film standing up in front and yelling things to the audience during the opening sequence, which thankfully could not be heard because the sound was turned up pretty high. Finally they settled in on the stairs one person over from me and watched the whole movie from up there instead of in their specially reserved seats. I should note that I adore the cinematography in Wong Kar-Wai movies and this one had some beautiful shots too.  The idea behind it is not bad, either: have  Hong Kong residents of different ages tell stories from their lives and have this be the audio to his cinematography. Now, I understand it was supposed to be experimental, and maybe I just don’t get it, but it was completely incoherent and seemed to be made up of random footage he took at different points and then spliced together with no rhyme or reason. Shots of the Umbrella Revolution could have been interesting, but instead it switches to a random fictionalized sequence about a teacher leaving his kids on a field trip to go get beer, and a stereotypical rich kid spending all his time with his nanny and missing his parents. This was my least favorite movie of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Facts:  Experimental documentary in which Hong Kong residents of different ages tell stories from their lives on the audio track, while the visuals are unrelated shots of the city.