Tag Archives: James Berardinelli

Blue is the Warmest Color vs. Shame (an R-rated/NSFW post)

*disclaimer: For my students who follow this blog, I would advice that you guys skip reading this. Most of the stuff I’m talking about here doesn’t concern you guys, and I also wouldn’t want to be directly responsible for your deformation of character, so please STAY AWAY FROM THIS ENTRY!!!

I don’t usually disagree with James Berardinelli as much as I disagree (albeit in a charming way) to Armond White, but my goodness a part Berardinelli’s review of Blue is the Warmest Color goes like this:

“Watching Blue is the Warmest Color provides viewers with that rarest of motion picture opportunities: the ability to lose oneself in the life of another for three hours and to emerge having felt something.” (Berardinelli, 2013)

Yeah, I sure felt something after browsing through that tripe: DIRTYAnd I seriously couldn’t figure out what warrants the 3 hour running time of Blue is the Warmest Color. Heck, Shame was roughly less than 2 hours, had the same amount of sex and nudity, but while I did feel dirty watching  it, it sure is nowhere near as shameful (no pun intended) as Blue‘sIs it because Blue‘s lesbian sequences are ultimately the only reason for watching it, unlike Shame? Is it because despite its shallowness, Shame actually features decent storytelling unlike Blue‘s preachy nature, where we are explicitly told that love chooses no genders, sexes, etc.?

What do I mean? Remember that scene is Shame where Michael Fassbender‘s character invites his girlfriend over at a motel room for some shagging? Nothing happened; Fassbender and the girl didn’t bone. Rather, the implication goes that Fassbender couldn’t get an erection, or he couldn’t bring it to himself to have sex with a girl that he seems to genuinely love. The girl leaves the room. You know the scene which follows, right? Fassbender banging a prostitute, finishes, and again feels sorry for himself. Absolutely no words explicitly saying that Fassbender’s character couldn’t make a decent relationship with another person because of his sexual addiction. This is good storytelling, we see the effects on the person, we are not told. This is probably why I felt less dirty watching Shame over Blue.

Of course, I’m not wholeheartedly in agreement with Shame. If anything, the explicit sexual content of the film makes it almost as bad as Blue is the Warmest Color. it just so happened that Steve McQueen is a far more superior director than  Abdellatif Kechiche. That, however, doesn’t entirely justify the existence of these two films. Both are basically sexploitation in nature that you’re pretty much better off watching porn instead of these two arthouse films pretending to be profound because of their use of shock. In Shame, it’s showing off Michael Fassbender’s flaccid willy. In Blue is the Warmest Color, it’s the lesbian sex scene between the two girls.

Besides, while I do acknowledge that sex is a completely natural and necessary human act, there are other things art can talk about, you know? What exactly? Here’s the top three things that come to mind: a boy meeting his first crush, a boy who wants a cookie but couldn’t get one because he already way too much earlier on, and two best friends, a guy and a girl, who need to break their friendship because the guy’s romantic relationship is already suffering.


War Horse: Really Late Impressions

I’ve finally seen War Horse, and believe me when I say that I agree with James Berardinelli when he said that this is one of those “lesser Spielberg” films to have come out in recent years.

This film suffers from a problematic plot structure… when you look at it from the human perspective. Nope, this is a film about Joey, the titular War Horse, and his journey from the Great War back home. This is what the film is all about.

This has some of the prettiest images I’ve ever seen recently; the cinematography has a very naturalistic feel to it. I loved the use of colors in this film.

The World War I action sequences is one factor that made this film a decent one. The initial cavalry charge was cool (even better when you discover that it hardly has any visual effects). The scene of the trench warfare is one of the best war sequences in a Spielberg film since the Omaha beach landing in Saving Private Ryan. Granted, this is a P.G.-13 film, but it still pack quite the punch. Finally, Joey’s charge to No Man’s Land is nothing short of outstanding.

But for me, the single most affecting scene of the film involves a British and a German soldier freeing Joey from the barb wire. This scene, I believe, encapsulates the film’s strong anti-war point. What makes this scene even more tragic is the audience, knowing full well that despite the hopes of a peaceful future, the world will be brought to war once more in a few years time.

For what it’s worth, War Horse has got its truly moments. The World War I scenes were good, the visuals are definitely pretty, and John Williams’ score is… well, it’s John Williams, what do you expect? But alas, film is composed of individual elements put together to create a good whole, not the other way around. The episodic plot is the biggest detriment to this otherwise affecting film.

If anything, allow me to say that the only reason this film stood together despite its faults is the craftsmanship of one of cinemas greatest living filmmakers out there, Steven Spielberg. This is the type of film that this guy could probably make blindfolded (Movie Bob, 2011). This is indeed a finely shot and directed film, the story and the plot was just all over the place. “Lesser Spielberg” film indeed.

3.5 stars out of 5.