Tag Archives: culture clash

Leaves of Grass (The Film)

I was pleasantly surprised by this film I had never heard anything about. The second I saw Edward Norton playing twins, my mind jumped to Nicholas Cage in Adaptation. And I love that film because of him and everything about it. So I got a little bit excited once I saw both of them interacting together onscreen. A film that centers around the lifestyle of weed and academia, I know one half of. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. It enhanced it with how intelligently represented both sides are.

I think it was best said by whoever put it on Wikipedia when they said this film has everything of the great tragedies. Mistaken identity, betrayal, violence, loss, and all that good shizz. I was hooked the second Ed Norton stepped on camera as his

Two brothers, one person.

intelligent half, Bill Kincaid. He gives such a convincing performance as the well-to-do, goody-goody brother of the family that went off to college to become a thinker. And that scene is completely contrasted by his portrayal as Brady Kincaid, the equally intelligent marijuana grower. Both sides have an intelligent way of speaking (despite the Oklahoma “Southern” accent) and it comes off as very entertaining to hear their rapport.

A great little cast.

So the movie’s about Bill and Brady, the Kincaid twins. One has aspirations of Harvard and the other aspirations of a lucrative weed business. They parted ways long ago after differences in family experience and got on fine. But things haven’t been going so well for Brady. Brady tricks Bill into flying out by faking his own death and meeting up with Brady’s associate, Rick Bolger (Tim Blake Nelson). After everything gets figured out, Bill finds out that Blake needs him to pose as himself while he goes out on some business. All he has to do is visit their mother, Daisy (Susan Sarandon) and everything will be fine. But, of course, that’s not how things turn out.

There’s a great quality of culture clash in this movie when North meets South, East meets West. Although both characters started out in the OK, they have drifted apart and need to reconnect. There’s a great subtle love/seducing interest between Bill and a small town girl, Janet (Keri Russell). She noodles and ropes them broncos and all that shit, and its strange for Bill to find a girl just as knowledgeable when it comes to poetry. There’s a clash between the greater Christian community and the Jews in this movie as well. Big props for Richard Dreyfuss pulling off the kinky role of Jewish mob boss in this film. And never forget about the little guy, a great job by John Pais.

What a great Jewish badass.

People had a problem with the move from the comedic to the dark and tragic, but it didn’t bother me as much. Moving from quirky to murky isn’t as hard as people take it to be in films. This movie leans in that direction from the beginning with the drug running and gang violence and can’t end well because movies have to have that element of loss or gain. If Bill came down and visited his mother and nothing bad happened and things went off without a hitch, this movie would be about 45 minutes shorter. So I give the benefit of the doubt to this film for tiptoeing around that issue.

I was pleasantly surprised how well Tim Blake Nelson directed and wrote this movie, as well as starred in. He pulled off the trifecta well and made a compelling story all at once. From only knowing him as

That’s some great work you’re doing there, Mr. Pendanski.

Mr. Pendanski in Holes, he made one hell of a movie. There’s not a lot of focus on the life Bill had (obviously this movie is meant to change him towards family) and it’s a lot about going back to your roots. I thought Edward Norton did an amazing job in both roles and made me think (if I didn’t know it was Edward Norton) that it was two different people. Let’s jump back 50 years when filming two people at once was more of an amazing thing and blow some minds. Maybe roll up a joint (this movie is really not about weed at all…) and enjoy some Leaves of Grass. Its limited release and Sundance Premier really secured this as a not well known good movie. I’ll give it a 7.7 out of 10.

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Trollhunter

I’m coming at this movie from a very strange angle, being a horror film fan and confused at the audience this film was for. Set in Norway and filmed by Norwegians, a barrier of lore is put up between what I think a troll looks like and what the Norwegian depiction of a troll is like. Besides the fact that I have rarely heard a Norwegian speak their native language, I would consider this movie a culture clash of mythology and a rendition of The Blair Witch Project.

This film, also known as a mockumentary, takes place in the foothills around Norway. In the western woods of Norway, a group of college filmmakers come upon a story of a hunter who is killing bears out of season. After establishing this mysterious man as an actual person, the group comes upon his truck and trailer at an outpost. Wanting to speak with him, a bit of secretive filming is underway. It is not until the group goes too far that they discover that the bear hunter they want to out for his criminal behavior, is actually a troll hunter.

Not understanding the repercussions of their actions, and a huge dose of incredulity, these college kid fools partake in the hunting and rangling of trolls. This is where the movie gets interesting. Throughout their whole fantastical endeavor, the filmers keep asking questions of Hans the trollhunter (Otto Jespersen). With his vast knowledge of lore turned into fact through the act of interacting with the trolls, these college kids learn that what Hans says, goes. In a final confrontation you’ll have to “see” to “believe”, this movie pushes the boundaries of the fantastical and mythical.

The trollhunting crew.

I think what threw me off the most in this film was the way the trolls looked in the movie. I had my knowledge of trolls from Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves from The Hobbit. I had the various depictions I’ve seen in fairytales and what a bridge troll acts/looks like. I was caught off guard to see a shambling, bumbling, big nosed troll come strolling through those trees. With the look came no threat of danger or horror for me. But, after looking at paintings of Norwegian trolls, and some more plot from the movie, I have come to a better understanding of the Norwegian’s connection to trolls. At the time it was hard to see how these CG trolls could be of any threat, but the element of scientific belief that went into making this movie seem real was excessive and believable, to say the least. I give it to them for that.

A cryptic image...

Other than the disbelief that went into watching this movie, I enjoyed the overall feel and dialogue behind the characters and plot. This movie, like an academic paper, set out to prove a point, and the point was delivered home. The only part I question is what Christian blood and believing in God had to do with anything in the end. As a device of horror, yes. As a strange prerequisite to interact with trolls, it was odd. But the movie did just enough showing without having to beat into your head that you’re looking at trolls in the film, but leaving them as these evil beasts that can come upon you in the night. And I think the scientific explanation of why trolls turn to stone was quite good. So, despite my skepticism, I enjoyed the film in the end. Especially the last scene with the Norwegian president. Throw him that curve ball. A solid 6.1 out of 10.

What could've done this?