Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009

I can't go out of 2008 on that angry rant against Time Warner. That just wouldn't be right.

So here are some things that should help 2008 go out with a smile:

Kitten Party!

Crispin Glover + the Fonze + Jefferson = Amazing!

And for a little inspiration to get us all started on the right foot in 2009, here is Bo Schembechler's infamous "The Team" speech:

Those who stay will be champions.

Happy New Year!

I hate Time Warner

One of the few perks of living in my apartment building is that I get free cable TV. Actually, that's probably the only perk. If you know me, then I'm sure you've heard plenty of stories about my building, including but not limited to my mentally ill neighbors and their shenanigans, the drug addict ODing upstairs, and the fact that it can take over 6 months for them to fill maintenance requests. The downside to the free cable, though, is that I have to put up with Time Warner and their bull shit.

Earlier in the year, a dispute between Time Warner and LIN TV (owner of local NBC affiliate KXAN) resulted in Time Warner pulling NBC from its line-up. I get over 70 channels, and yet I was missing one of the major networks. It didn't help that this happened right about the time 30 Rock came back on the air. (This was eventually settled, and NBC is back).

Even though I get cable TV for free, I have to pay for cable internet. After trying to live without internet for about a year and half, I finally decided that I just had to bite the bullet and order it. In part for work purposes, but also because, like everyone, I just like having the internet. Seeing as I already had Time Warner cable in my apartment, I just decided to order internet from them as well. The $35 a month for internet seemed a little steep, but whatever. That is, until, I got my bill for this month, and the rate has jumped. Now I'm paying almost $50 a month, which strikes me as fucking bogus.

And finally, just this morning, I found out that at midnight, I could lose all Viacom channels. Again, Time Warner is in some dispute, and they're going to screw their customers over by just dropping the channels until it gets settled. I'm not too worried about losing MTV or Nickelodeon, but losing Comedy Central kind of sucks, and I'm not sure what other channels are owned by Viacom. Regardless, it's ridiculous that two massive companies are having some kind of dumbass pissing contest, and in the end all Time Warner customers and Viacom viewers get screwed.

I hate you Time Warner. I'm thinking it might be time to Go Grande, and if you live in the Austin area and are thinking about getting cable or internet, I suggest you do the same. Fucking Time Warner…

I still think the snow is pretty (as long as I don’t have to drive in it)

A few posts back I got a little whimsical about snow in Austin, and ended up sparking a heated debate (or at least what passes for a heated debate here at the OM) in the comments. I half-jokingly said I was going to take a bunch of pictures of the snow while up in Michigan for the holidays. Guess what? I did!

Enjoy some nice snowy pictures of my parents' backyard:

And just because, here's a picture of my cat sitting in my suitcase while I was trying to pack:

Happy Holidays! Have a fun and safe New Years!

Monday, December 15, 2008

“And here we go!”

So, I finally got around to watching The Dark Knight. I think I may be the last person in the U.S. if not the world to see this movie. I will forgo warning about spoilers, since there is probably a 105% chance that you've already seen this movie. Here are some general thoughts I had about it. Before I get into it, though, let me just say that I liked it. I don't know that I'd say it was the 4th best movie ever (as it is currently ranked on IMDb, which really just makes it the 4th most popular movie to come out recently), but I would say it was good. Great, even. But, that being said, there were a couple things about The Dark Knight that really bothered me.

I remember columnists and commentators writing about how the movie offered support for the policies of the Bush Administration. I also remember dismissing those interpretations out of hand, without having seen the movie. Now that I've seen it, I have to say, they're actually kind of right. The most obvious example of this is Batman's giant city-wide sonar/cell phone wire-tapping machine. Sure, Lucius Fox says he doesn't like it. Then he uses it. And it saves the day. Good thing Batman had bugged the entire city.

This isn't the only instance, simply the most obvious. There is the manipulation of the public trust, endorsement of torture (of course, Batman roughing up some thugs for information is nothing new), violation of another nation's sovereignty, just to name a few. Ultimately, the movie makes the argument that for the greater good, especially when people are scared, it's OK for one person to do what they feel is necessary, regardless of how immoral, how illegal, and how many rights are violated. Do what you want/feel you need to do, then feel like a martyr about it later because people are pissed.

Also, just like the Bond movies, I hate it when Batman stories get too gadgety, and The Dark Knight definitely crossed that line a couple of times. The Joker is hiding and needs to be found by midnight? What are we going to do? I know, use the aforementioned city-wide cell phone powered spy machine, complete with voice recognition, that way, as soon as the Joker uses his phone a big red square lights up, telling you exactly where he's hiding! The reliance on gadgets for the progression of the plot just strikes me as lazy writing. Rather than finding the Joker using clever detective work, they just made up a giant machine that found him automatically. Same goes for when Batman makes the digital recreation of the bullet to lift a print off of it, and his needlessly ridiculous escape out of the Chinese skyscraper. It's not a huge deal, I guess, but it's something that's always bothered me about some Batman stories.

And, of course, there's Bale's über-growly Batman voice. That was just silly.

There were definitely things about the movie I appreciated, as well. Nolan tried to address very big, very serious psychosocial and sociopolitical (and any other combination of two or more words) issues in The Dark Knight. This is a tricky thing to pull off in such a huge summer blockbuster. The sheer spectacle of the movie can be distracting when trying to deal with such serious issues. Not to mention the fact that the story still boils down to a billionaire in a scary costume matching wits with an evil clown. But ultimately, I admire that Nolan took a superhero movie with an enormous budget and made such a serious film, even if summer blockbusters and large scale social issues can make for strange bedfellows.

Along those same lines, there were a couple of moments that really struck me, when I realized how large of a movie it was, both in its scope and its sensibility. The funeral procession following the death of the police commissioner featured some amazing shots of the Chicago streets filled with people, really showcasing the size of the movie. As well as the scene in which the "ordinary citizen" shoots through the crowd at Coleman Reese (the accountant or whatever who was going to publicly out Batman) in an effort to keep the Joker from blowing up a hospital is emblematic of the seriousness of the movie.

Also, I liked the way the character of Harvey Dent/Two-Face was handled. And I don't just mean he kick-ass half burnt face (watching that eyelidless eye roll around in the socket was awesome!). Two-Face is one of those characters who has a lot of potential, but can easily delve into the ridiculous and silly. It was nice to have the horrible taste of Tommy Lee Jones washed out of my mouth.

Oh right, and there were some seriously kickass action set pieces. That scene when Dent is being transported to central holding, and the Joker and crew pull up next to them in the semi? Awesome. When Batman flips that semi end over end in the middle of the street? Also awesome.

And of course there is Heath Ledger. Hands down the greatest representation of the Joker there is. Not only was Ledger's performance the best Joker performance there is, but it was just flat out a fantastic performance, period. I won't get too much into it, because there's not much I have to say that hasn't been said. Even if the movie on the whole didn't live up to the hype (seriously, after 5 months of hearing about this movie, there is no way it was going to meet expectations), Ledger's performance did.

So, that's it I guess. It's a strange movie to consider. I feel like there are a lot of ways to look at this movie, and a lot of different points of view from which to judge it. I'll leave it by saying that I enjoyed it. I watched it twice in two days, and definitely enjoyed it both times. I'd say it was pretty great.

Friday, December 12, 2008

“Joy Division, you cunt!”

Anton Corbijn's Control tells the story of Joy Division's legendary frontman Ian Curtis. Corbijn has a background as a music video director and rock photographer, including photographing Joy Division and directing the video for their song "Atmosphere." I don't know how well Corbijn knew the members of Joy Division personally, but it is a good sign that the remaining members (AKA New Order) and Curtis's widow Debbie (who wrote the book, Touching from a Distance, on which the film is partly based) all had positive reactions to it.*

Control is shot in gorgeous black and white. Corbijn's experience as a photographer has obviously served him well. The film is beautifully shot, painting the gritty industrial cityscapes of Manchester and Macclesfield with a depth that can be both warm and chilly. The entire film looks like a moving version of just about every picture of Joy Division out there. The entire movie has a stunningly beautiful and artful look. Here is the trailer, if for nothing else, to illustrate the visual style:

Control is not only beautifully shot, but also exceptionally acted. Sam Riley, whose filmography is extremely short and features mainly TV work (and a bit part in 24 Hour Party People as The Fall's Mark E. Smith, oddly enough another movie that contains a fair amount of the Joy Division story), turns out an incredible performance as Ian Curtis. His performance exemplifies, in large part, what made the movie so touching and moving. Throughout the movie there is little to no exposition in the dialogue. There are no grand heart-wrenching speeches or explosive scenes of melodrama. Emotion is portrayed almost entirely through glances, prolonged stares, and silence. While that may sound like it could come across as a brooding emo-esque melodrama, Control's quiet intensity and unspoken emotional tension comes across simply as a realistic depiction of life. And Riley is not the only one up to the task, the whole cast lives up to the challenges of this cinéma vérité

It is also worth mentioning, while on the subject of realism, the actors playing the members of Joy Division all performed their own music. They all learned the instruments of their respective characters, so the scenes of the band performing live are the actors actually playing the music live on camera. Given Joy Division's reputation as a live band, the concert scenes are crucial and on film they are fantastic. The members of the band with Riley as the spastic, crooning frontman, effectively recreate the legendary intensity of Joy Division's shows. (Obviously, I never had the opportunity to see Joy Division live, seeing as I'm not English and not in my mid-40s. I just wanted to make that clear.)

There are problems with the movie. Generally, the kind of problems you would find in most biopics. It is factually dubious. While I think it does a fair job in representing all of the characters, it does buy into the Ian Curtis as Martyr mentality at times. Though it is a film about Ian Curtis, specifically, and not Joy Division, I don't know that you could walk away from it even knowing the names of the other three guys in the band. But these issues, though valid, are minor, and the movie on the whole is able to avoid a lot of the biopic movie clichés. The film on the whole is fantastic.

It bears mentioning that I am an ardent Joy Division fan. I'm not sure if that makes me harder to please or easier to excite. Molly, who was not familiar with Joy Division, watched it with me, and she liked it as well, though maybe not as much as me. She said she appreciated the ambiguity of the characters and the movie's ability to eschew most of the biopic clichés. So, for what it's worth, a diehard Joy Division fan thought Control was fantastic, and a non-fan also liked it.

And seeing as I can't just prattle on about a movie about a man in a band that I love and not give you some of their music, here is Joy Division's first television appearance, on Granada Reports in 1978 (a performance that is recreated in the movie, by the way):

[*Note: I remember reading this somewhere when the film was released, but a quick and lazy fact-checking search didn't turn up anything. So I gave up. Take this tacit endorsement by New Order and Debbie Curtis with a grain of salt.]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another Jandek Update

I recently mailed in an order to Corwood Industries for some Jandek albums (see Part I and Part II for more information regarding Jandek). Trying to decide what to order seemed like a daunting task, seeing as his discography spans 30 years and 50 albums (including live albums, but not DVDs). After my friend Laura went and saw him live in Gainesville (he has been playing relatively more frequently the past few years) and reported back with nothing but glowing things to say about the performance, I finally decided to just bite the bullet and order some damn albums.

A combination of nerdy excitement about delving into an extremely obscure musician and gnawing fear that Jandek could disappear at any moment and I'd never be able to order more later prompted me to order 10 albums, roughly covering the duration of his discography. Here are the albums:

Six And Six (1981)

Living In A Moon So Blue (1982)

Chair Beside A Window (1982)

Interstellar Discussion (1984)

Foreign Keys (1985)

Blue Corpse (1987)

Glad To Get Away (1994)

New Town (1998)

This Narrow Road (2001)

Glasgow Sunday (live) (2005)

With the holidays coming up, I'll be spending about two weeks back in small town Michigan, so hopefully that will give me time to start pouring through hours of music. I'm planning on doing a ten-part series of individual reviews for each album, but I have the feeling that that might not totally pan out. We'll see.

In the meantime, here is the note that was included with my order:

It Snowed in Austin Last Night

While watching Anton Corbijn's biopic about Ian Curtis, Control, last night with my friend Molly, I glanced out the window and saw giant white flakes gracefully floating past my window. This will be my third winter in Austin, and I have never seen it snow here. I've seen sleet, freezing rain, and one massive 3 day long ice storm (also crazy-ass hail, but that's more of a spring/summer thing) , but never snow.

We paused the movie and stepped outside to watch the snow for a while. My upstairs neighbors were sitting on their patio watching the snow, and the parking lot of the apartment building across the street had a small crowd, huddled together, enjoying the snow. In that moment, I felt like a true Texan (or at least a true Southerner), standing in the cold, in awe of the snow.

It reminded me of the aforementioned ice storm, which happened during my first winter here. The temperature hovered around freezing, while it rained for days, coating everything in thick sheets of ice. The city (including the university, and hence my job) completely shut down for a few days. I spent my time wandering around my neighborhood. I saw a couple trying to have a snowball fight in their front yard, using the inches-thick ice on the grass as snow. I saw a guy trying to scrape the back window of his car with the claw-end of a claw hammer (and I don't mean gently scraping, I mean full arm swings into his window). They were enjoyable walks; brisk fresh air, trees picturesquely coated in ice, people either enjoying their days off or making fools of themselves in their frustration. As a recent Michigan transplant, I couldn't help but enjoy what I thought was the town's silly reaction to real winter weather.

And then, just two years later, there's me standing in the cold, watching the snow fall, trying in vain to take pictures in the dark. Giddy that it was snowing. I'm sure that I'll get more than my fill of the snow when I fly back to Michigan for the holidays, but for now, I'm happy having spent a few minutes admiring the snow fall in the streets of Austin. I guess context is everything.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sukiyaki Western Django

A little over two months ago I sent an email to my brother with the subject line "AWESOME!!!" The actual content of the email included a lewd joke that I won't reprint here, but the point was that I was excited. I have just found out that Takashi Miike (Audition, Dead or Alive, Ichi The Killer) was coming out with a new movie, an homage to the spaghetti Westerns of yore, called Sukiyaki Western Django. And as if the prospect of a new Miike movie wasn't exciting enough, or the fact that it was going to be a spaghetti Western, I saw the trailer:

I mean, really, how fucking bad-ass does that look? Pretty fucking bad-ass, right?

I was really looking forward to this. Miike elicits visceral reactions from me in ways very few directors can. Years of gorging myself on horror movies left me feeling like there was little in the way of graphic violence that could really shock me (see my review of the booooooring Hostel), but then I saw Miike's Ichi The Killer. The movie is insane, awesome, and crazy as all hell in a number of ways. It is thoroughly fucked up. In fact, here is a trailer for the DVD release (be warned, even the trailer is pretty graphic and NSFW):

That only gives you a small idea the craziness in that movie. It's that and so much more. Plus, as anyone who has seen Audition can attest, Miike can not only do balls-out crazy, but he can do creepy, eerie, and disturbing in much more subtle ways (not that Audition is overly subtle, especially by the end). Anyways, in short, the guy knows how to make some fantastic movies, and I'm on board with anything he's doing.

And what was he doing this time? Making an ode to the old spaghetti Westerns. If you think you don't like Westerns, do yourself a favor and rent The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly or The Wild Bunch or Django (which this film is apparently meant to be a prequel to, and which I still have yet to see, so take that last recommendation with a grain of salt). In short, I dig Miike and I dig spaghetti Westerns. Perfect pairing, right?

Well, not exactly. I watched Sukiyaki Western Django a few weeks ago. Overall, I was kind of disappointed. Inflated expectations definitely had something to do with it. I was so excited for this movie, there really is no way for me to not be at least a little disappointed. But in reality, expectations aside, the movie was only pretty good. There are definitely great things about it, but there are also plenty of things that are less than great.

The action is amazing. There are a lot of crazy gun fights, some fun sword play, all kinds of explosions, and quite a few crossbows. Aside from all the action sequences, the film is also filled with Miike's bizarre sense of humor (the character of the Sheriff is particularly funny in a very Miike-way). The problem is that the film is pretty back-loaded, just about all of the excitement comes in the second half of the film. Which wouldn't be a problem, if it weren't for the first half of the film.

The first half isn't bad, just slow and kind of incomprehensible. The entire cast is made up of Asian actors all speaking English, with accents of varying degrees of thickness (kind of a cool idea, but also kind of frustrating). The exception being Quentin Tarantino, who I know for a fact can speak fluent English, but still felt the need to speak with some kind of bizarre made-up accent. The first half of the film is spent setting the story, which was difficult to follow in part because a lot of the actors are hard to understand (Tarantino and his bizarro-accent included) and in part because the story was just confusing.

Essentially, the story revolves around a small frontier town in Nevada. During the gold rush, rumors would spread throughout the West that certain towns had secret caches of gold, and inevitably gangs of prospectors and thugs would descend on said town to steal away the gold. As had happened to so many towns before, word spread that this town had its own secret gold stash. Eventually the violent Heiki clan ("Red") came to town and began bleeding the town dry as they searched in vain for a treasure that may or may not exist. Shortly thereafter the rival Genji clan ("White") also come to town, looking for the same treasure. A race to find the gold, combined with an ongoing war between the clans, effectively destroys the town. (The rival clans were lifted directly from Japanese history, FYI)

The movie begins at this point, as a lone gunslinger comes to town looking to get rich. He offers his services to the highest bidder, and quickly joins the Genji clan. Inevitability deceptions and betrayals set off a full on gang-war that threatens to consume what remains of the town, all on the eve of the delivery of a special weapon guaranteed to tip the scales in the Genji's favor. As the gang-war escalates, the gunslinger begins to align himself not with either gang, but with the few remaining residents of the town, comprised almost entirely of the proprietor of the local saloon, her granddaughter, and her loyal employee, and discovers an improbable link between the two warring clans. It is about this point that the full-on crazy action starts.

As I said, I was a little disappointed. I think that this movie, in reality, is probably somewhere between pretty good and kind of great, but it just fell short of expectations. The movie is definitely entertaining, don't get me wrong. If you like Westerns or Miike, and are looking for an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, you could certainly do a lot worse than Sukiyaki Western Django. I think I may have shot myself in the foot with my crazy expectations. As long as you go in anticipating an entertaining but not great movie, I think you'll be satisfied. And if you have the stomach for it, watch more Miike.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

“They’re taking our children away”

So, I had mentioned in my previous post that while watching The Sweet Hereafter I noticed a bizarre connection between that movie and the song "They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids" by Liars. Well, I said I'd post another entry about it, and here it is.

Some of the things I am going to cover regarding the movie involve some plot points that may not ruin the movie per se, but will definitely give some stuff away. So consider this your spoiler alert. If you're interested in watching The Sweet Hereafter (which I would recommend), I might hold off on reading this.

***Spoilers Start***

As I was watching the movie, I kept hearing bits of dialogue that sounded vaguely familiar. By about the third time this happened, I realized that all these lines in the movie were also lyrics in the aforementioned Liars song "They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids". After I realized this, I picked up on a few more lines of dialogue that are also lyrics. Most of the time, the lyrics aren't exact quotes from the movie, but are practically identical. Here is an example:

In one scene, Sarah Polley's character is reading "The Pied Piper" by Robert Browning to two children, and this becomes a reoccurring theme throughout the movie, her character providing voiceover in multiple scenes as she continues to read the poem. The poem includes the lines:

Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins

Cocking tails and pricking whiskers

Families by tens and dozens

Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives

Followed the Piper for their lives

This is actually what brought this to my attention. The Liars song contains the lines:

Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins

Families by tens and dozens

Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives

All of them fighting for their lives

Again, not an exact quote, but pretty close (actually, I'm not entirely sure about that last line, but it's close enough). Now, I realize that it seems perfectly reasonable that Liars took their lyrics from the original Browning poem rather than the movie. Which is more or less what I thought, but it kept happening. Here is another example. The character of Mitchell Stevens is talking on the phone to his runaway drug addicted daughter, Zoe. They have the following exchange:

Mitchell: Tell me your news, Zoe.

Zoe: OK. Yesterday I went to sell my blood. I'm in this fucking city, and I'm selling my blood.

Mitchell: That's not news, Zoe.

Zoe: No, but this is. They wouldn't take my blood. Do you know what that means, Daddy? Does it register? I tested positive. Welcome to hard times, Daddy.

Mitchell: What do you want me to do, Zoe? I'll do whatever you want.

Zoe: I need money.

Mitchell: What for?

Zoe: No, you cannot ask me that! Not anymore! You asked me what I wanted, not what I wanted it for. I want money.

Mitchell: Do you have a blood test?

Zoe: You don't believe me? You don't fucking believe me?! I like it when you don't believe me. It's better that you don't believe me, but have to act like you do.

[Both are quiet]

Zoe: I can hear you breathing

Mitchell: I can hear you breathing, too.

[Zoe hangs up phone, Mitchell continues to whisper into the now dead line]

Mitchell: I love you, Zoe. I'll take care of you. I'll take care of you.

Pretty intense, right? Well here are the lines from "They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids" sung in a back-and-forth call-and-response style:

Mama, I'm selling my blood

Welcome to hard times

Daddy, I can hear you breathing

I'll take care of you

I'll take care of you

And finally, one last example that I noticed. When Mitchell is trying to convince one of the parents to join the lawsuit, and the parent refuses, Mitchell explains that his daughter is a drug addict. That everyone is losing their children, if it isn't bus accidents, it's drugs. If it isn't drugs, it's any number of other horrible things that destroy our children's lives. He concludes by saying:

Something's happening that's taking our children away.

In the song, the four lines quoted above ("Mama, I'm selling my blood…") are followed with the repeated phrase:

They're taking our children away

I'll take care of you

They're taking our children away

***Spoilers End***

I want to make it clear, it's not like the entire song is somehow lifted from the movie. There are just some lyrics that are obviously inspired by (or taken from) the movie. More than anything, this just seemed extremely bizarre. Buried in the middle of a dense and strange concept album about German witch folklore is a song seemingly inspired by an independent Canadian film from 1997 (that has absolutely nothing to do with witches, mind you). I've just been trying to wrap my mind about what a strange and totally unexpected pairing this is.

Regardless, both the song and movie are amazing. I'd highly recommend seeing The Sweet Hereafter (check out my entry about it to see if it sounds up your alley). I also absolutely love the song "They Don't Want Your Corn, They Want Your Kids." In fact, I love everything Liars do, and They Were Wrong, So We Drowned is definitely my favorite album. It's a strange, dense, ugly album, so it's not for everyone. But it's one of my favorites.

[Note: I totally had the quotes formatting really nicely in Word, then the formatting got all screwed up when I uploaded the post. Sorry about that.]

“No, not mean. Just very angry.”

After being thoroughly taken in by Atom Egoyan's Exotica, I bumped another of his movies to the top of my Netflix queue, The Sweet Hereafter.

Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter (an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Russell Banks) tells the story of how a tragic school bus accident forever changes a small mountain town, and how easily the grieving process can be disrupted and distorted. Following a school bus accident that takes the lives of over 20 children, a lawyer named Mitchell Stevens (Ian Holm) arrives in town, intent on initiating a law suit. As he works his way through family after family, his presence confuses the town and disrupts its ability to deal with the tragedy. The mettle of all involved, including Stevens, is called into question as the impending lawsuit drives a schism through the already fractured town.

The premise of a lawyer exploiting the deaths of children sounds like it could easily have been unwatchably depressing, yet The Sweet Hereafter has less a feeling of crushing depression than a feeling of exhausted resignation. It is definitely sad, but never exploitative or melodramatic. The town, in its state of perpetual shock, seems coldly calm as anger, blame, confusion, pain, and loss all simmer below the surface. There are no grand scenes or gestures, but simply a town full of people, who all know each other, trust each other, who are all trying to deal quietly with the same personal and shared tragedy.

Egoyan dismantles the narrative and weaves it back together into a single coherent tapestry, painting a broad portrait of the town and its people. Even though scenes jump back and forth in time, the story never seems disjointed, flashbacks to known and unknown times flow coherently in and out of the ongoing story. The viewer is ultimately given not just a story, but a panoramic understanding of the characters and the small world they inhabit. Matching the broad narrative, the film is filled with stunning, beautiful photography of the small snowy mountain town. Large skies and monstrous snow-capped mountains fill the frame, giving the town a harsh and natural beauty, making the town look so small and isolated in an intimidatingly large world.

The acting is fantastic throughout. Be it Ian Holm as the lawyer whose motivation has less and less to do with money, the bus driver who must deal with the knowledge that she was behind the wheel when the bus crashed, or any number of the parents dealing with the death of their children. An eighteen year old Sarah Polley deserves special recognition as the lone child to survive the crash. She delivers a subtle and nuanced portrayal of a girl whose world is thoroughly and irreversibly changed.

The film is beautiful and powerful, but never melodramatic or exploitative. The story is twisted, subtle, and confusing, but never frustrating. Just as in life, there are no clear motivations, no good guys or bad guys, no complete resolutions. Everything moves forward, for better or worse, one day at a time. No faster, no slower.

Just as with Exotica, at the end of the film, I was left thinking about The Sweet Hereafter long after it was finished. I went to bed thinking about it and resuming thinking about it as soon as I woke up. If all of Egoyan's films are this deeply affecting, I am more than willing to dive completely into his filmography. I think I liked Exotica better, but acknowledge that The Sweet Hereafter was probably a better movie. But really, it doesn't matter, they were both amazing films, and both deserve to be watched.

[Note: I noticed a bizarre connection between this film and the Liars' song "They Don't Want Your Corn – They Want Your Kids" off of They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. I plan on writing up a brief entry on this soon, so look out.]