Category Archives: E

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): United States/United Kingdom – directed by Banksy

Rated R by the MPAA – contains a little strong language

I’m not sure any of Exit Through the Gift Shop is real.  There’s a very good chance it occupies a strange place between the obvious prankery of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and the self-purported veracity of films like Paranormal Activity [review here].  It at first presents itself as an entirely possible documentary about a strange obsessive person, but then blossoms into something so much more that it is likely to be a mixture of performance art and hoax.  If you would rather know nothing about the film, please stop reading, as I will discuss much of it in detail.  The film is worth seeing, as it is one of the most intriguing films of 2010.

Thierry Guetta (if there is such a person), is an obsessive videographer.  After an early childhood trauma he began to videotape every aspect of his life, documenting every minor detail.  He is married, with children, and runs a boutique clothing store in Los Angeles.  He buys bales of clothing with odd designer’s names on them, for $50, then sells each article for $400.  He is able to make $50,000 off of one bale.  This is entirely plausible, particularly in L.A.

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Easy A

Easy A (2010): United States – directed by Will Gluck

Rated PG-13 by the MPAA – contains language, sexual content

Easy A has been compared to Mean Girls quite favorably, something the marketing squad at Screen Gems most likely does not mind.  After all, Mean Girls was smart and witty, and had a heart; rare ingredients for a teen comedy.  And while Easy A is not quite on the level of Mean Girls, it is often smart, sometimes witty, and eventually finds its heart.

The story is explained in the first few minutes as a modern day take on The Scarlet Letter.  Olive (Emma Stone) is narrating her story to a webcam, explaining how her life ended up as it is now.  Most of the film is spent exploring her story, the story of how Olive became the most infamous slut at Ojai North High School.

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An Education

An Education (2009): United Kingdom – directed by Lone Scherfig

Rated PG-13 by the MPAA – contains some sexual content and mature themes

In many ways An Education’s heroine, Jenny (Carey Mulligan), reminds me of a more mature Juno [review here].  But this is Great Britain in the early 1960’s, and it is not boredom that might lead to “being in the family way.”  There is a rebelliousness about Jenny, but a clever and intelligent rebelliousness.  Perhaps she should have run off with Rebel Without a Cause’s James Dean or The Wild One’s Marlon Brando.  But again, this is Great Britain, so perhaps she would be more suited for À bout de souffle’s Jean-Paul Belmondo, a rebel whose greatest attribute is being French.

Jenny is a complicated character.  Her father wishes for her an Oxford education so that she can be successful in life.  Her teachers wish her the same, so that she will be a liberated, self-sufficient woman.  But she wants to study English and play her cello, listen to classical music and French swooners, peruse art collections and enjoy jazz clubs.  There is a world of enjoyment that she desires to experience, but even attaining this might not grant her the titular education.

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Event 16

Event 16 (2006): New Zealand – directed by Derek Pearson

Not rated by the MPAA – contains some violence and a little sexual content

Event 16 is an odd little film from New Zealand, made with no budget in Wellington.  It’s always good to see new filmmakers get their feet off the ground, as director Derek Pearson does here.  However, some do it better than others, as Peter Jackson proved with Bad Taste and Dead Alive, also made in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, Event 16 isn’t quite as good.  It is an interesting little sci-fi movie with some intriguing themes and made almost entirely with special effects.  There are some actors and locations, but almost everything has had some post-production work done on it.

The effects look great sometimes, especially the backgrounds, and that’s probably the best thing to say about the movie.  Conversely, some of the effects are dreadful, but that’s not necessarily the worst thing about the film.  Almost everything screams low budget, from some of the special effects to the delivery of the lines.

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Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness (2010): United States/United Kingdom – directed by Martin Campbell

Rated R by the MPAA – contains violence, blood, some gore, and bad language

The pain and sorrow associated with losing a child has long been exploited in cinema.  Only slightly newer is the accompanying anger and revenge that a wronged father seeks to inflict on the bad guys.  This theme taps into a primal emotion; protecting one’s family is the ultimate good and is unquestionable.  If a man’s family is hurt or threatened, nothing that he does to ensure that the villains receive justice will be questioned.  This is why an audience cheers when the hero shoots someone in the face.

It has been quite some time since Mel Gibson has starred in a film (2002’s Signs), and even longer since the world has had a chance to see him shooting bad guys.  Here he’s back, tracking down people in a decidedly vengeful manner reminiscent of the type of action film popular back in the 1970’s.

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Eraserhead

Eraserhead (1977): United States – directed by David Lynch

Not rated by the MPAA – contains odd behaviors, a creepy baby, some violence/gore, and a little sexual content

I had seen Eraserhead a couple times before and always liked it, even if I had found it a bit of a struggle to sit through.  Because of this, it was a tremendous experience falling truly in love with Eraserhead for the first time.  I was utterly engrossed in the world David Lynch created for Henry (Jack Nance), and as soon as it was over I wanted to watch it again to observe more closely the details, the nuances, and the incredible mise-en-scène of the film.

Eraserhead was the project that initially brought Lynch to the public eye.  Meticulously worked on for five years, he crafted it piece by piece with the utmost care.  When it finally saw the light of day it became one of the most popular films on the underground circuit, playing constant midnight screenings around the country.  It caught the eye of Mel Brooks, who tracked Lynch down to direct his next production, The Elephant Man.

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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982): United States – directed by Steven Spielberg

Rated PG by the MPAA – contains mild language

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is one of several films I rarely watched growing up.  For many people it seems to be a movie that is ingrained in their upbringing, whereas I may have seen it once before I was twenty, and if so I don’t remember.  Therefore, there is no nostalgia factor weighing into my criticism of the film.

Fortunately, it is still a quality motion picture.  The story and characters are touching, brought alive by the technical skill of director Steven Spielberg.  It may be unabashedly commercial in its appeal, but that does not make it any less of a movie.

The story is fairly straightforward.  An alien spacecraft lands just outside the suburbs, and after their presence becomes known to some humans they are forced to take off quickly.  Unfortunately, one of their crew members is left behind.  This little guy wanders around before being found by a kid named Elliott (Henry Thomas).

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Ed Wood

Ed Wood (1994): United States – directed by Tim Burton

Rated R by the MPAA – contains some bad language and Johnny Depp in an angora sweater

Ed Wood is the story of Edward D. Wood, Jr., the worst director of all time.  A title screen at the end points out that he was voted the worst director ever.  Even now, fifty years later, the only person to come close to challenging him is Uwe Boll.  In any case, this movie is Tim Burton’s take on the career of Ed Wood (as played by Johnny Depp) and his friendship with Bela Lugosi (played by an Oscar winning Martin Landau.)

We follow Ed as he and his girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) struggle to make it in Hollywood.  They also struggle to stay together, a feat that becomes increasingly difficult to achieve after Ed confesses his love of wearing women’s clothes.  Ed gets a break when a B-movie producer needs a director for a feature about a man getting a sex change.  Ed changes the script to make it the story of his life and the producer gives in and lets him make it.  The film is Glen or Glenda, in which he played an angora-loving man.  The film progresses as he struggles to get funding for another film, which turns out to be Plan 9 From Outer Space.

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Executive Koala

Executive Koala (2005): Japan – Directed by Minoru Kawasaki

Not rated by the MPAA – contains a little bit of violence and a giant koala person

Remember Donnie Darko, where there is a giant bunny rabbit?  Now imagine a man-sized koala, who is actually an executive at a Japanese pickle company.  Now, his boss is a white bunny rabbit, also man-sized.  But this koala is suspected of murdering his girlfriend.  There, now you have Executive Koala.

Unfortunately, the movie is not as fun as its DVD cover art would suggest.  Nor is it as fun as its title suggests, nor is it as fun as the plot outline suggests.  Indeed, it has the right idea and mind set, but doesn’t push it as far as the idea might go.

The koala has a name, a position at the pickle factory, and is treated normally by almost everyone.  A few people in the street stop and do a double-take, but most people just accept that he’s a koala living and working in Tokyo.  I suppose this isn’t particularly odd, as there is also the aforementioned rabbit, as well as a frog who runs a general store.

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