Atomic Blonde

atomic-blonde-footage-reaction-video-cinemacon-2017-social

Convoluted, paranoia-inspiring, and extremely violent, Atomic Blonde feels like what a Bond film would be if the brutality of 2006’s Casino Royale met the conflicted and complicated world of *actual* spy fiction.

Actually, that’s a better description of the movie than I’d thought it would be. Atomic Blonde is full of gorgeously choreographed and grimly performed fight scenes (as one might expect from David Leitch, director of John Wick), and it is definitely not a film intended for a passive or unthinking audience. The underlying story is twisty, and nearly every person’s loyalty is deeply questionable, enough so that I spent a good portion of the movie not sure who was on which side; perfect, really, for this sort of spy movie. Not so good if you’re watching this thinking that you’ll have a neatly packaged Bond-esque film, but quite possibly more fun because of that.

I kind of wish that there’d been a little more in the way of clues for me to catch throughout the movie, or that I’d put together the ones that were there faster. If I had, I wouldn’t have been quite as confused in the end. But when I reflect on it, everything holds together, and I only have a deeper appreciation for what’s there.

I won’t give you any spoilers (apart from saying that if you can’t handle visceral uncomfortable violence, you probably shouldn’t watch this movie), but I will say that I rather liked Atomic Blonde. It wasn’t exactly what I’d expected, and I’m glad that it wasn’t. While I’d happily watch Charlize Theron play Bond in some sly, neatly packaged, thoroughly sanitized version of what current American moviegoers have come to think of as “a spy-action movie,” the gnawing distrust and complicated loyalties of Atomic Blonde deliver an excellent spy movie experience, and a better one than I’d thought I’d find.

Advertisements

Classification Necessary: Problems with Horror

Zeeblee

A week ago I was going to write an article to bounce off of Mattias’ horror game article about SCP Containment Breach.  A week ago I was going to use Hostel by Eli Roth as a sort of whipping boy/strawman example of what makes a bad horror movie.  But in my haze of sickness, working nights, and sleeping for multiple days straight I realized that my perspective on what “horror” is was flawed.  I searched for definitions to support my claim that Hostel was not a horror movie because it offered no scares and no suspense, but I was met with definitions that incorporated discomfort and sickened responses.  Being horrified is not just being scared, but also being disgusted.  In this way Hostel can still be called a horror film (but still not a good one).  But this broadness of definition offers up a problem, one that I ran into a lot when I used to work in a video rental store (yes, those still exist), and the problem is:  When someone asks you to recommend a horror movie, how do you respond?

As most people would do I always end up recommending my favorites, but I’ve noticed that my favorites never really include movies from the genre of horror that Hostel was aiming for.  I’m a big fan of suspenseful films like The Shining where the focus of the film is to make the characters feel uncomfortable as opposed to films like The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum’s version) where the goal is to make the audience feel uncomfortable.  Now, you may argue that the goal of The Shining was to make the audience feel uncomfortable, and you would be correct, but it does so by making the characters feel paranoid and unsafe, and the audience then empathizes with them also feels paranoid for the characters.  The Girl Next Door on the other hand makes the audience uncomfortable via the brutal treatment of the characters.  The audience isn’t paranoid about whether or not they will be safe, but is instead disgusted by just how unsafe they are, and rather than paranoia of the future the audience is more hopeful that the present situation will end.

Continue reading