The Descent (2005)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

One year after her husband and daughter are killed, extreme sports enthusiast Sarah reunites with some old friends for a weekend of spelunking in the Appalachians. When they get down into the cave, however, the tunnel collapses behind them, and, to make matters worse, the woman who suggested these caves, Juno, admits that she lied about where they were. They’re in an uncharted system, and no one knows where to find them. And as if being trapped underground with limited water, light and oxygen weren’t bad enough, it turns out that the women aren’t alone in these caves. There’s something else with them. Something… hungry.

The Descent is a primary example of the old saying, “it’s not the idea that counts, it’s how you tell it.” On paper, there’s nothing special about this movie. A group of people are trapped in a confined space, and there’s something supernatural coming after them. We’ve seen that premise done a thousand times before. But we haven’t seen it be done in caves, and with only women. Throw in some top-notch direction, and some nail-biting, pants-pissing tension, and you’ve got yourself a sleeper hit on your hands. I’m not lying when I say that, as soon as the characters enter the caves, the movie gets a hundred times better. You feel so claustrophobic while they’re down there that it’s not even funny. There’s one sequence in particular, where the characters have to get across this big gap, and are hanging from the ceiling, that had me holding my breath, it was that intense. As someone who’s gone spelunking, and swore to himself afterwards that he would never do so again, this film captures the feeling of being hundreds of feet underground, and unable to move, exceptionally well. If you want to watch an intense, visceral horror movie that has you on the edge of your seat, from the fifteen minute mark, basically to the end, give this flick a look.

That said, The Descent isn’t perfect. A large part of this has to do with the script. The characters just aren’t very interesting, or well-written. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the only way I was able to distinguish them from each other was their accents. And the writer/director, Neil Marshall, knows this. He’s stated in interviews that the reason he got such an international cast together–there are women in here from England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and the Netherlands–was so that the audience would be able to tell them apart. In that respect, he succeeded, but the characters these women are playing really aren’t that well-defined. They’re all tough, sporty and take no shit. Which is refreshing in a horror film, since none of them are helpless victims, but not great if you’re trying to get to know them as people. We don’t know enough about these women to distinguish them from one another beyond their most superficial feature; their accents. We don’t know if they have jobs, if they’re married, have kids, significant others, or are into certain styles of music or cinema. As such, it becomes harder to care about them when they die. On top of this, some of the acting is a little bit shaky. The woman who plays Juno, Australian actress Natalie Mendoza, really can’t hold an American accent. There are points where she’s talking that she just goes full-blown Aussie, and it gets very distracting. In short, The Descent suffers from many of the flaws that other horror films have; poor acting and a weak script. But I’m not lying when I say that the film’s direction, it’s production design and all-around craftsmanship make up for that. It’s intense, engaging, and very well-made. If you’re a horror fan, don’t hesitate to give it a look.

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GLOW (season 2, 2018)

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After months of hard work, the ladies of GLOW have finally done it. They’ve gotten their show picked up by a TV station, and are pumping out new episodes every week. But all is not well, as they face a variable cornucopia of new challenges, such as keeping the ratings up, making sure their sponsors don’t leave them, and personal demons, such as divorce, AIDS, and the possibility of getting deported.

If you read my review for the first season of GLOW, you’d know that I thought the series had a lot of strong qualities–such as an all-female cast, an intriguing premise and some good acting–but I was put off by some of its more offensive jokes, and inconsistent tone. I mentioned how the show was, for the most part, pretty light-hearted and up beat, but then, out of nowhere, it’d throw in these really macabre gags, like someone pretending to have a miscarriage to make fun of someone else, or having one of the main characters try to fuck his daughter. And, of course, there were all the racial stereotypes, and the fact that the supporting characters, particularly the Asian ones, were just there to be ethnic punch lines. Well, someone must have read my review, because GLOW, season 2, just about addresses all my concerns. The tone is much more consistent, there are considerably fewer racial jokes this time around, and the show runners actually manage to give the Asian characters some depth. Sunita Mani’s character, in particular, becomes much better rounded. We learn that she used to be a medical student, there’s an episode that shows her being uncomfortable with her wrestling persona, and trying to change it, and she even gets a love-interest in the form of Yolanda, one of the new wrestlers. The season also does a good job of introducing queer elements into the story, and addressing homophobia in the 80s. There’s a season-long subplot where Bash is trying to find his butler, Florien, only for him to realize that Florian was gay, and died of AIDS. The way he reacts to this information–with disgust and disdain–is heartbreaking, but also very accurate to how people did back then. So, for all of these reasons, I have to give GLOW, season 2, props.

That said, the show still has problems. The biggest is the fact that there’s not really one, overarching story this time around, so there are moments where the pacing drags, and the show feels kind of listless. In the first season, there were subplots, but they all tied into the larger narrative of trying to get the show picked up by the network. This time around, there’s not really that one, master goal for the characters to pursue, so you wind up with smaller side-quests, like Ruth wanting to go out with a guy, but feeling she can’t, one of the wrestlers not wanting her son to see her on TV, Bash trying to find his butler, and one of the wrestlers worrying that she might get deported back to the UK. And as much as the show runners did for Sunita Mani, they still did nothing for Ellen Wong, who might as well have not been in the season, that’s how little she has to do. The show also has a bad habit of introducing complicating factors very late into the narrative, such as the aforementioned fear of deportation, which doesn’t materialize until the second to last episode, and Justine’s mother, who wants to bring her home, and who, again, doesn’t show up until the very end. If they’re so important, and are such big sources of conflict, why didn’t you introduce them earlier? Ugh. But, like I said, this season is, in many ways, an improvement over the first. Does it have problems? Sure. But I still think you’ll have fun if you watch

Damsel (2018)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Parson Henry isn’t a real preacher. He isn’t even a man of God. He’s just a sad widower, looking for a fresh start, who was given a preacher’s clothes while journeying out West. How unfortunate for Henry when young Samuel, thinking that he is a real parson, recruits him to go out into the wild and wed him and his fiancé, Penelope, whom he claims was kidnapped. Henry is reluctant, but, seeing as he’s got nowhere else to go, and Samuel has offered to pay, agrees. When they reach Penelope’s cabin, however, and shoot her supposed kidnapper, Henry realizes that not all is as it seems to be, and things spiral out of control from there, with the line between good and evil, sanity and insanity, getting blurred.

Damsel is not a film I was planning on seeing. At least, I wasn’t at first. I went to the theater to watch Hearts Beat Loud, the new Nick Offerman movie, found out it wasn’t playing, and decided to give this a try. And I am so happy I did, because this is an original, subversive, darkly-comedic gem that I’m praying more people will go see. What is it, exactly? Well, that’s actually kind of hard to say. Is it a comedy? Is it a Western? Is it a thriller? Is it all of them at once? You spend the first 30 minutes or so being led to believe that this is going to be a sweet, old-fashioned Western with a comedic twist, but then, out of nowhere, things get super dark, and super violent. And the best part is, it feels earned. The transition doesn’t feel abrupt, or out of place. See, there are some films, Audition, Psycho, that switch their genre about halfway through, and it feels appropriate. Part of that has to do with how they set up tone. In Damsel, the filmmakers do a great job of making the world around Henry seem strange and menacing, so that when we find out that Samuel lied about Penelope getting kidnapped, it feels in keeping with what we’ve seen so far. Something else that I love about this movie is the fact that it truly is subversive with regards to how it presents the Western. See, many, many films have tried to approach the Western from a deconstructive or revisionist stance, but ultimately wind up becoming the very thing they were trying to satirize. Unforgiven is perhaps the best example of this phenomenon. It spends the first two-thirds telling you that the heroic Western is a myth, that gunslingers were selfish, violent, disgusting men without conscience or honor. And yet, it ends with the main character avenging his friends death, and freeing a town from the clutches of a ruthless, tyrannical sheriff. It basically becomes the very thing it spend the first half of the story telling you didn’t exist. Damsel doesn’t do that. It starts off by giving you a Western you’d expect, a heroic man and his bumbling sidekick going to save a woman, but then pulls the rug out from under you by having it get revealed that the “hero” in question is a delusional stalker who murdered a man for no reason. And far from being a damsel in distress, Penelope is easily the most active, most competent and most aggressive character in this movie. I’m actually kind of sad that she wasn’t the main character the whole way through, but,  you can’t always get what you want.

Now, if I have any complaints at all, it’s the fact that the movie is very slow. It spends a long time setting up the world, and showing Henry and Samuel journeying through the wilderness together. I understand why those scenes were there, to give us a false sense of security and familiarity, so that, when the reveal happens later on, it’s more shocking, but I can definitely see some people being bored by them. On top of this, the film’s humor is very eccentric. A lot of it derives from the characters meeting people, or seeing things, that are just super weird, like a fat man, dressed in a barrel, who never stops laughing. I found it endearing, but, again, I can see people being put off by it. Still, none of those things take away from the fact that this movie is original, funny, subversive, and very well-acted. It’s an eccentric gem that stands out in the midst of all the franchise mayhem we get this time of year, and I think you’d all like it if you gave it a chance.

Set It Up (2018)

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Charlie and Harper are too over-worked assistants. Harper works for a former Sports Reporter named Kirsten, and Charlie works for a guy named Rick, who does… something. Whatever the case, they meet one night while desperately trying to procure food for their bosses, and commiserate over the fact that neither of them has time for a social life. Deciding that the only way to improve their existences is to get their superiors laid, and, in so doing, off their backs, Charlie and Harper devise a scheme wherein they’ll manipulate Rick and Kirsten into falling for each other. Things don’t go  quite according to plan, however, as  the two realize that it takes more then serendipity to keep a couple together.

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that the Western has become something of a lost genre. With hindsight, I’d say the romantic-comedy has as well. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, rom-coms were everywhere, with films like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle and Pretty Woman absolutely killing it at the box office. Directors like Richard Curtis, and actors like Hugh Grant, were able to build tremendous careers off the strength of this one genre alone. And rom-coms didn’t just make money. They were critically respected as well. In 1977, Annie Hall, a film that has since become a quintessential rom-com, won Best Picture at the Oscars. So it’s not an exaggeration to say that rom-coms were a big deal. But as time wore on, they started to lose their charm. People became acutely aware of the tropes, and more and more feminist critics started to question the genre’s portrayal, and treatment, of women. As such, rom-coms stopped becoming a reliable box-office draw. Oh, studios never stopped making them. There were plenty of rom-coms made in the new millennium, The Notebook, 500 Days Of Summer, that did well financially, but they were either critically-derided, as with the former, or were intended to be deconstructions of the genre, as with the latter. My point is, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a traditional, true-blue rom-com do well on the big screen. Perhaps that’s why Set It Up, which absolutely falls into that category, was released straight to Netflix, a place now regarded as a dumping ground for films no one wants. And that’s a damn shame, because this movie is really, really charming.

I watched Set It Up on a whim. I saw that Lucy Liu was in it, and I always want to support Asian-American actors, so I decided to give it a chance. And when I finished watching this movie, I had a huge smile on my face. This is a movie that doesn’t just work as a rom-com, it works as a genuinely-entertaining film. It’s well-acted, well-paced, well-shot, and, above all, funny. Really, really funny. There’s so many great moments of awkward humor in here, like when Harper hears that Rick only dates women who get waxed, and she awkwardly tries to convince Kirsten to “lose the bush,” that had me in stitches. The actors who play Charlie and Harper, Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch, are so likable, and have absolutely amazing chemistry. And the film is actually a lot better written than I expected. One of my favorite films of last year was Their Finest, a period romance that acted as a meta-commentary on rom-coms. Now, as much as I enjoyed the flick, I was annoyed by how closely it adhered to certain romantic comedy tropes, such as the lead starting out in a relationship, meeting someone new, and then their initial love-interest cheating on them so its okay for them to be with the new person. Set It Up starts out in a similar manner, with the character of Charlie being in a relationship before he meets Harper, but the film isn’t so lazy as to have his first girlfriend cheat on him, or have Charlie sleep with Harper behind her back. He just realizes that him and the girl don’t have anything in common, and they split up, like actual people do. There’s also a minor character, Becca, who you think is going to be a bitchy best friend that Harper can feel envious of because she’s getting married, but the film doesn’t go that route. Becca actually winds up being super awesome and supportive, like real friends are. But by far my favorite thing about this movie is the scene where Charlie, in true rom-com fashion, rushes to the airport. Except a few things are different here. One, he’s not rushing to talk to his love interest, Harper. He’s there to see her boss, Kirsten. And two, the filmmakers manage to poke fun at the cliche by having him get there four hours before the plane is supposed to take off, and be really bored by all the waiting. My point is, Set It Up is an utterly charming film that I’m kind of sad didn’t get a wide release. Critics really like this movie, it currently has a 90% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and I genuinely think it could’ve done well, had the studio given it a chance. As things are, though, all I can say is that, if you have Netflix, and are in the mood for something sweet and charming, give this a look. It’s definitely worth your time.

Audition (1999)

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Aoyama is a middle-aged widower who has spent the past 7 years in mourning. One day, his son, Shigehiko, tells him that he looks old, and should start dating again. Distraught, Aoyama goes to his friend, Yoshikawa, for advice, and Yoshikawa, believing that the current dating scene is too complex for Aoyama to navigate, devises a scheme to get his pal laid. This involves Yoshikawa, who is a film producer, setting up a phony audition wherein young women will come in and try out for the “part” of Aoyama’s wife. They won’t know what’s going on, and Aoyama can pick whichever one meets all of his criteria. In so doing, Aoyama comes across Asami, a shy, but well-spoken former ballerina whose apparent emotional depth is fascinating to him. As he grows closer to her, however, he starts to uncover some disturbing facts about her past, and realizes that maybe she’s not who she says she is.

Audition is a very important movie to me. Not only is it my favorite horror film of all time, but it’s also the first screenplay I ever wrote. Seriously. When I was fifteen, I spent a summer penning an English language adaptation of the story, in the hopes of learning how to write screenplays. With hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best film to use as a learning tool, seeing as how it has an extremely unusual structure, but still. It was instrumental in my development as a filmmaker. And I’m not the only one. Despite being made for a minuscule budget, and not even having a wide theatrical release when it came out back in 1999, Audition has acquired a huge following over the years, and has influenced several mainstream horror directors, including James Wan, Eli Roth, and the Soskia Sisters. Quentin Tarantino even listed it as one of the 20 best films that came out since he started making movies. And when you watch it, you can understand why. This is a hauntingly beautiful film. The camerawork, the use of color and music, and the acting are superb. And like the best horror films, it’s not just focused on getting the audience to jump. As a matter of fact, part of what makes Audition so unique is how, for the first half; it’s not a horror movie at all. There are no jump scares. There’s no creepy music. Nothing about it leaves you feeling spooked or uneasy. The whole thing comes off as a quiet, slow, even somewhat cheesy romance. Which is why many people have pushed the theory that the latter half of the film, where things get considerably darker and more horrific, is actually an elaborate dream sequence; a manifestation of Aoyama’s guilt over having deceived Asami. This theory is supported by the fact that the midpoint of the film, the moment where it moves from romance to horror, involves Aoyama and Asami falling asleep in each other’s arms. Now it’s worth mentioning that the film’s director, Takashi Miike, has denied this theory, stating that everything that happens in the second half is real, but that doesn’t matter. Art, by virtue of being art, can be interpreted in multiple ways, besides the author’s original intention, and, even if what Miike says is true, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a truly haunting horror film. It sticks with you, long after you’ve finished watching it. It gets you to think, and question your own views, not just of gender, but reality itself. And for that, I’ve got to give it props.

Now, as important as Audition is to me, I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with it. A large part of this has to do with the fact that no one can agree on whether or not it can be described as feminist. On the one hand, people have argued that it shows a sexist man, Aoyama, getting punished for his sins by a woman. On the other hand, people have pointed out how the woman dishing out the punishment, Asami, is a creepy, psychotic murderer, and not at all someone for girls to look up to. It’s also worth mentioning that the novel this was based off of, which I have read, is unambiguously misogynistic, and is much more interested in exploring the gaps between generations than addressing systemic sexism. And, as I’ve said before on this blog, many of Takashi Miike’s other films have been criticized for their inclusion of rape, and other forms of violence against women. So when you take all that into consideration, it’s hard to see this as any kind of women power manifesto. And yet, I can’t unequivocally call it sexist, because there are a ton of good messages about gender, and the way we view relationships, in this film. As a matter of fact, I actually think this movie has gotten better, and considerably more relevant, over the years. Not only do it’s explorations of men in positions of power using that power to sexually exploit women feel extremely poignant in the era of #MeToo, but the whole conceit of this film, the audition, speaks to our modern culture of online dating. Aoyama uses the fake casting call to pick someone who meets all his criteria for what a perfect spouse is. But, the truth is, we do that whenever we go onto OkCUpid, or Tinder, or any other dating app, and insert our preferred age range, body type, or ethnicity into the search bar. All of us try to find the perfect partner, and use whatever means are available, to shrink the dating pool. And, very often, we are shallow, and are cruel, when we do that. And the worst part is, we aren’t necessarily trying to be. Most people, if you ask them, will tell you that sexism is bad. But that doesn’t change the fact that many men, and even some women, exhibit sexist behavior when viewing potential partners. The film captures this quite well. Aoyama, at his heart, is not a bad man. He’s a good father, and was always faithful to his wife. He’s just lonely, and has a very specific idea of what his ideal partner is. Is that idea unrealistic, and degrading to most women? Sure. And if you buy into the dream theory, which I, personally, do, then he knows this. All the horrific, and bizarre visions he has are manifestations of his guilt over having lied to a woman that wants nothing but to please him. And as creepy as Asami is in the latter half, none of what she does is her fault. She is a byproduct of a sexist, misogynistic society that has constantly belittled, abused, and told her that she needs to be better; she needs to be a man’s idea of perfection. Of course she snapped. Any sane person would. And yet, society continues to tell women to strive for perfection, and tells men that they are entitled to it, and, the truth is, it’s poisonous. And the film knows that. Everything about the first half, the slow pace, the cheesy romantic music, the fact that their whole relationship is built on lies, is there to show us how artificial, and unrealistic such expectations are. So when that second half hits, we fully understand how toxic, how truly harmful these expectations men have for women, are.

Guys, what can I say? Audition isn’t just a great horror film. It’s a great film. Not only is it well acted and superbly shot, but it really gets under your skin, and forces you to confront the worst aspects of yourself, like the best movies do.

A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

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Meg Murray is a troubled child. Her father, a scientist for NASA, has been missing for nearly 4 years, the kids at school are mean to her, and even the teachers think she’s a lost cause. The only person who gets her is her little brother, Charles Wallace, a 4-year-old genius who seems to be able to read minds. One night, a “dark and stormy night” as the characters themselves put it, a strange woman, Mrs. Whatsit, appears on their doorstep, and casually tells them that tesseracts, the ability to teleport to other realms by bending space-time, are real. Seeing as these were the very things Meg’s father was investigating before he disappeared, Meg’s Mother, who is also a scientist, is mortified. Things only get crazier from there when two other strange women, Mrs. Who, a being who only speaks in famous quotes, and Mrs. Which, who is Oprah, appear out of nowhere, and take Meg, Charles Wallace, and Meg’s crush, Calvin, on an adventure to save their father from “IT.”

A Wrinkle In Time is adapted from one of my favorite children’s books, it’s got some of my favorite actors–like Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine–in it, and it’s directed by a woman of color, Ava DuVernay. I WANT to like this movie. I NEED to like this movie. And yet, I don’t like this movie. Like, at all. About fifteen minutes in, I knew that the film wasn’t going to get any better. And when I realized that, I felt a small part of my soul die. (Not really, but you get the point).

This movie is cheesy, poorly-acted, and has some surprisingly bad special effects in it.  There’s one scene in particular, where Mrs. Whatsit transforms into a giant lettuce leaf monster, where I literally burst out laughing at how bad the CGI was. The costumes and hairstyles, particularly of the three Misses, are also extremely gaudy and ridiculous looking. Oprah, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, God bless them all, have to wear these absurd poofy dresses that look like they were ripped right out of Elizabethan England, and Oprah has to act through this silly-looking wig that looks like it was taken right off of RuPaul’s head. And as bad as the special effects and costumes are, they’ve got nothing on the stilted dialogue. I kid you not, there are scenes in this movie, like the one where two teachers “talk” about Charles Wallace and Meg’s back-story, where the dialogue is physically painful to listen to.

Now before you accuse me of being too hard on this movie, it does have admirable qualities. Oprah, Mindy and Reese all do great jobs. The cinematography is very nice. And the film has a Black, female protagonist, who is interested in science, something you didn’t see that much until Black Panther came out. And as revered as the film’s source material is, it’s also kind of cheesy, so you can’t really blame the film for being that as well. Seriously, I went back and revisited A Wrinkle In Time before the film came out, and, as an adult, I noticed two things about it; one, it’s a lot more religious than I remembered, and two, it’s really, really cheesy. Like, Meg defeats the main villain through “the power of love”cheesy. Ugh. But none of that changes the fact that the CGI is bad, the dialogue is painful to listen to, Storm Reid, who plays Meg, is kind of stiff, and the actor playing Charles Wallace is annoying. So, in the end, good intentions and a strong cast aren’t enough to make this film worth watching. I feel like the studio should have waited until Ava DuVernay had done two or three more low budget movies before they gave her the reigns to a $100 million tentpole flick. After all, you need to try and fail a couple times before you know what your strengths are. Bottom line is, you don’t need to see this picture.

Red Sparrow (2018)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Jennifer Lawrence is a Russian ballerina, working to support her mother. When her career is cut short by an apparent accident, her uncle, a member of a KGB-esque spy organization, recruits her to help seduce a particular government official. Things go wrong, however, when the operation, which Lawrence was told would be a simple phone swap, turns out to be an assassination; an assassination that there aren’t supposed to be any witnesses to. So she is given a choice, die, or join an organization of “sparrows,” special operatives who are trained to use their bodies to seduce and gain intel. After a long, arduous training regimen, which includes several humiliating, degrading sex acts with strangers, Lawrence is sent to Hungary to find a mole. There, she encounters an American CIA operative, played by Joel Edgerton, who is also looking for the mole. Seeing in him an opportunity to find her target, Lawrence begins to seduce him. As the two get closer, however, she realizes that things may be a bit more complicated than previously thought.

You wouldn’t think it would be possible for a film to be both shockingly lurid, and ass-numbingly boring at the same time. But, by god, Francis Lawrence, the director of this movie, found a way to do just that. Because, at it’s heart, Red Sparrow is a Cold-War thriller about trying to find a mole. That’s it. It’s just a story about two spies trying to find someone.  That’s about as run-of-the-mill a narrative as you can get for these types of movies. The only thing that sets this flick apart from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and a million other movies about trying to find moles is the explicit sexuality. And the insane thing is, for all the time we spend in the beginning, watching Lawrence get used and abused, and hardened into a sexual weapon, that element really doesn’t have anything to do with the main plot. When she finds out who the mole is, it isn’t through her training. The person in question just comes up and tells her. I’m not exaggerating when I say that if you took the very long, very uncomfortable first half out of the movie, the main plot, the quest to find the mole, would be effected in no way whatsoever. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that the first half, wherein we see Lawrence training, is brutal. People in my theater actually got up and left after certain sequences. I did as well after the second, yes, second, rape scene. It’s very, very hard to watch. And seeing as how it has almost nothing to do with the main story, it just comes off as needlessly cruel and exploitative.

Now I do want to be fair and list some of this film’s positive qualities. The music, composed by James Newton Howard, is beautiful, and it really helps elevate certain moments that would otherwise just be kind of dull. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the costumes and sets are very, very impressive. In many ways, this film is similar to Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, which I reviewed here on this blog. That film was also an erotic spy thriller with good acting, good camerawork, good costumes and good sets, but a less than compelling narrative, and some very uncomfortable sex scenes. The biggest difference between this film and that one, though, is the fact that Lust, Caution actually took the time to develop it’s characters before it dove into the sex. You saw these peoples lives before the main plot, and you saw them struggling with inner turmoil. As I said in my review for that film, it’s not until about 2 hours in that we get any sex at all. In this picture, not only is the narrative uninspired, and the sexual politics questionable, but you don’t really know anything about the main character. The film almost builds a wall around her identity, with her motivations in certain sequences being rather unclear. And even when her motivations are clear, there aren’t always repercussions for the things she does as a result of those motives. In one scene, for instance, she finds out that her old dance partner was sleeping with her replacement, and that the two of them might have been the cause of her accident. So, in a blind rage, she goes an attacks them, seemingly beating them to death. Now, you’d think this would be a major event in her life, since it’s before she gets recruited by the government, and, as far as we can tell, she’s never hurt anyone like that, but no. It never comes back into play at all. And when you realize that, you begin to wonder why it was in the movie. And the film is littered with moments like that, moments where logic is just thrown out the window.

So, in the end, I can’t really recommend this movie to you all. If you’re a fan of Jennifer Lawrence, or Cold War Thrillers, which I’m not even sure this is, since characters in the film say “the Cold war is over” and they use technology that wouldn’t have existed back then, maybe you’ll like it. If, on the other hand, you can’t stand to see rape in movies, want plots that are a little more inspired, and Russian accents that actually sound convincing , maybe look elsewhere.