Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Film Reviews: Cashback and Conversations With Other Women.

So this being my first film review I'm well aware that you have no idea what sort movies I like, so my recommendations may not count for much. I'm probably going to do a couple of pointless reviews of movies everyone has seen so you can get a better idea for future reference (or retroactively if you decide to hold off on these until then). I don't like spoilers, but it's hard to really talk about what makes something good or bad without giving some of it away. I'm going to start by speaking as generally as I can and then move on to the part of the review containing spoilers. I would recommend not reading those bits until after watching the movie unless what you had read so far left you with no real inclination to check the film out.

So, why these two movies together? Because I found them the same way. They were highly rated by a friend of a friend on his netflix account, so I decided to give them a go. They can both currently be found on Netflix play instantly, so if you have access to that then you really have nothing to lose here yeah?

First thing that I feel needs to be said about this movie is that there is a LOT of nudity in it, so if you are particularly sexually repressed or bothered in some other way by the human body, steer clear. Some of the nudity is sexual in nature, but I think exists to serve as a contrast to the way our main character, Ben, views the female form. He is an art student who is more or less obsessed with beauty and attempting to capture it (as artists are wont to do), and his greatest inspiration in that regard is the female body. The story begins with him breaking up with his first serious long term girlfriend and subsequently developing insomnia. Being hopelessly upset about his breakup and now awake an additional 8 hours to dwell on the matter, he decides to take a job working the night shift at a local supermarket. The movie has a good score and some interesting effects, especially for an indie film. It's has overall a very artsy feel but it's broken up by moments that are genuinely funny. I would say it's worth checking out, but I don't really know how good I can say it is due to an element of it that feels fairly confused. I'm going to get into that now, so brace yourself for...

So not long after taking the job, Ben discovers he can freeze time, or so the films description claims. The thing about this though is that it is suggested that this is only his imagination. Actually that's not true, he straight says that he imagines time has stopped. So when he does something like move his boss in the way of a flying container of milk/glue/something before unfreezing time, we can assume that this is also done in his imagination. While imagining something like this would require a supernatural awareness of his surroundings, that never really becomes plot important so it's easy to shrug off. There is one point in the film though where the mood shifts to something more menacing, when it is discovered that there are others able to stop time, who can still move while Ben's world is frozen. The fact that this shocks him is difficult to make sense of, it feels less like his imagination here and more like something external. But it could just have been a random thought as it never really comes up again, except to make Ben wonder if he could bring others with him into the frozen state. This again seems like something external, as wondering if you could make someone share your imagination seems like an odd thing to do. -slightly larger spoiler- When Ben does bring someone else in, they are somewhat amazed, but not really shocked to a point that would suggest that they are exeriencing an actual physical phenomena. My understanding of this shared experience of time stopped is that the two become so engrossed in each other, in the moment they are sharing, that the rest of the world just stops. It's a pretty enough metaphor, but it's a little conflicted. He expressed a desire throughout the film to stop time at certain moments, to live in them for weeks. If both characters feel this desire then it could be they both are imagining that it is something they can do. However, through most of the film this time stopping was used in moments where Ben is bored, would want time to move more quickly, or in one instance when he needs time to think dreading what is to come, this is the first time he actually attempts to preserve a pleasant moment. Though thinking about it now as I write this, that doesn't really bother me all that much.

So now having given the film a little more thought (for those of you who just now re-joining us), I like it a lot. That confusion is still there a little, but I think a degree of ambiguity is retained to make you think harder about what you do know (keep that in mind for when I inevitably get to reviewing Primer).

-Conversations With Other Women-
Namedropping time, since they are pretty much the only characters in the movie, the reason I watched it, and the only way to refer to the characters credited as "Woman" and "Man." Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart star this unique film, and do it like the boss-ass mofos they are. I really don't know how to catagorize this film, and what's worse attempting to do so will just lead to me spoiling it. The movie is shot in split screen the whole way through, which is used at times for a number of neat little effects that both help to tell the story and set the uncertain mood. The dialog is witty, though Helena does come off a bit pretentious at times, which is probably intentional. That's really about all I can say, watch this movie! Oh, also not really for the sexually repressed but nowhere near to the same extent.

I really would just watch the movie before reading this, you are doing yourself a disservice. Why am I writing this portion then? I don't know to be honest. The film begins with the meeting of Aaron and Helena at a wedding, the two hit it off and we are given on the split screen a parallel to their meeting between a young couple at a bar/club/rock show. The two hit it off and get to knowing each other. A touching love story in the making.

It is revealed that Aaron and Helena already knew each other, and are in fact ex husband and wife. The terms on which they were separated have always bothered them both, though it would appear they bother Aaron more. It becomes clear they are on a fast track to an affair (Aaron having a younger girlfriend and Helena an older second husband). Aaron sees a chance for a new begining with his true love. A touching love story in the making. 

It becomes clear that Helena is much to entrenched in her new life, even though Aaron is willing to throw his away. There is no hope for a future between them and the night they are sharing is a brief reprive from a loneliness that pervades their lives. Helena's position is somewhat understandable, but she doesn't appear at all to be happy, making her reluctance very frustrating as we watch Aaron over and over do all that he can in an attempt to reclaim his lost love, and invent elaborate fantasies about being there for her when she is too old and ugly for her new husband. A mood piece about a very real, very human tragedy. My heart bleeds for Aaron, and it's difficult to imagine someone's not doing the same.


Check 'em out, and if you do, let me know what you think (though be mindful of spoilers in the comments section). I know that my review of Conversations With Other Women was basically nothing at all but me saying it was good (assuming you avoided the spoilers), so I will try to post those reviews of better known films within the next couple of days.



  1. Sounds like some interesting movies!

  2. like the movies good post + following ^_^

  3. I`ve seen Cashback and I liked it. Haven`t seen the other movie, though. Might give it a watch.

  4. Never heard of either of these. I'm liking the nudity thing, though.

  5. they seem interesting especially cashback

  6. It's baffling to me how the liberal media is allowed to profit off of this SMUT! What is this doing to our children? It's de-sensitizing them to make them think it's OK to be naked! ITS NOT ITS DIRTY AND SHAMEFUL AND DISGUSTING. What happened to America? I'll tell you- the liberal Hollywood elite has shoved this filth down our throats long enough to turn all of our women into whores and our men into perverts! WAKE UP AMERICA!

  7. I've seen these movies on netflix the past few days and now with your in depth review i might take some time to watch one of em. i also love that your blog is called modus pwnens i just got done with my logic class so now i know what that is, anyways ill be following +1

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.