Stoker (2013)

stoker_1Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, David Alford, Matthew Goode, Peg Allen, Lauren E. Roman, Phyllis Somerville, Harmony Korine, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Dominick ‘Dino’ Howard, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney

Directed by Park Chan-Wook

Expectations: High. Really looking forward to this despite knowing almost nothing about it.

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Sometimes waiting to see a movie makes for a better experience. If I had seen Stoker when it was released in theaters, I would have liked it but I would have been missing a key component to understanding it. Fortuitously and completely unbeknownst to me, Stoker is something of a re-imagined Shadow of a Doubt, so it was quite interesting to see this one after finally seeing that film for the first time just a couple of weeks ago.

The initial premise of Stoker is similar to that of the classic Hitchcock film, but it kind of flips everything on its head. Stoker begins with the funeral of Richard Stoker, father to India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) and husband to Evelyn Stoker (Nicole Kidman). Out of the blue, Richard’s long-lost brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) returns from traveling Europe and stays with the girls to help them in their time of mourning. India has no idea that she even had an uncle, so the event is one that raises her suspicions and interest in the mysterious and fetching Uncle Charlie.

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Batman Forever (1995)

Starring Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Drew Barrymore, Debi Mazar, Elizabeth Sanders, Rene Auberjonois

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Expectations: High, but guarded. I was all about this shit in the 90s, but times have changed.


If I went into re-watching Tim Burton’s 1989 version of Batman with trepidation, then I pushed play on Batman Forever with abject terror. I was thoroughly obsessed with this film from the moment I saw it in the theater until a few years later. I bought the VHS the day it came out and watched it whenever I could get the chance. It had dropped during my (and the world’s) love affair with Jim Carrey, so how could I not love it? Anyway, that kind of love doesn’t generally translate well to adulthood, but I’m here to tell you that Batman Forever holds up admirably, for me anyway. It appealed to the wild sense of fun that I love to see films embrace, and while it definitely treads in over-the-top territory, it’s a sugary sweet, neon-tinged version of over-the-top that goes down just right.

After the debacle that was the story of Batman Returns, the general framework of Batman returns and provides us with something of a tried and true formula, but turned up a notch at every available opportunity. Now instead of the hot blonde seducing Bruce Wayne, she’s falling for both Wayne and Batman, creating something of a love triangle that mindfucks Bruce into rethinking his life. Two-Face is creating a menace in Gotham (no word on if he was also drinking his juice in the hood), and Edward Nygma quickly turns insane and starts dropping riddles after a failed conversation with his idol Bruce Wayne. The game is afoot, and all that…

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Mini-Review: To Die For (1995)

Starring Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Alison Folland, Matt Dillon, Casey Affleck, Illeana Douglas, Dan Hedaya

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Expectations: None.


This is a mildly entertaining movie about a pretty girl who has high aspirations to be on television. She’ll do anything. Simple enough. Usually with this type of film, there’s some level of intrigue, but this is not the case with To Die For. The film is told through a pseudo-documentary style and you know pretty much what happens in the first couple of minutes. I’m okay with that, as long as the characters are interesting, but I’m sorry to say that they aren’t. Nicole Kidman’s character is the only one even remotely absorbing and she does well in her role, with some exceptional moments. Most of the other players are overacted caricatures of American stereotypes with Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix battling for the main offender trophy. Illeana Douglas is the best of the supporting cast, but then I always enjoy her in anything, so I could be biased.

This is all coupled with Gus Van Sant’s ugly, boring camera work and editing, making it readily apparent that this one just wasn’t made for me. I can say one thing about Van Sant’s work, he’s consistent. His shot selection never ceases to frustrate and annoy me. I had seen this before when it came out and I didn’t like it then. I like it less now. Avoid it, unless you generally like Van Sant’s work or you want to see Joaquin Phoenix or Casey Affleck in early roles.

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