Archives for posts with tag: vacation

Shallows

Blake Lively plays Nancy Adams, a medical student who, following her mother’s death from cancer, treks to the same beach in Mexico that her mother visited while pregnant with her. Hoping to enjoy a little sentimental surfing, Nancy instead finds herself the victim of a shark attack and ends up stranded off the coast on a rock as the hungry monster circles her. The Shallows is an okay survival movie and goes by pretty quickly, the dramatic limitations of its essentially one-person story notwithstanding.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Shallows is:

7. Propertarian! A would-be thief is physically removed by the natural order.

6. Pro-gun, if a flare gun counts.

5. Christ-ambivalent. Both good and bad Mexicans are shown with crucifixes.

4. Green. Sony Pictures hopes for “a greener world,” according to an end credits statement. Thinking of the environment rather than herself, starving Nancy opts to help an injured seagull rather than eat it. A hook lodged in the shark’s mouth could be interpreted as an indication that a revenge is being exacted by nature against humanity for some previous wrong.

3. Feminist. Nancy survives on her own, with little to no help from men. The film’s director, in one of the Blu-ray extras, claims that the shark is female; but the creature’s connotative presence onscreen is that of a predatory male, a giant, angry phallus pursuing a woman against her wishes. Poisonous jellyfish, with their dangling tentacles, mimic a threatening swarm of sperm cells that Nancy must avoid. End credits appear over shots of reddened surf, the menstrual coloring celebratory of the avoidance of pregnancy. Instead of raising a family, she will pursue a career as a physician. Her mother, it may be worth noting here, has been punished with cancer and death for procreation. Alternately, The Shallows can be read as a torture porn film masquerading as a women’s empowerment trip. Nancy’s tattoo and bizarre earring mark her as a typically damaged and self-mutilating young woman of her generation – and her carefree display of her body is sure to incense the girlfriendless members of the audience.

2. Anti-racist. The viewer is teased into fearing for Nancy’s safety as she rides in the company of a Mexican stranger, Charlie, on her way to the beach. So friendly is this man that he even refuses to accept money for the ride. Likewise, two young Mexican surfers are employed as red herrings of a sort. They make no attempt to molest the beautiful, solitary gringa, and her brief apprehension that the pair might steal the bag she left on the beach turns out to be unfounded. The only negative portrayal of a local in the film is a drunkard who does, in fact, intend to make away with her belongings. Recent news out of Mexico suggests that The Shallows is probably overly kind in its depiction of this Third World country’s hospitality.

1. Anti-white. The “shallows” of the title are, of course, the waters around the beach; but this word could also refer to those naïve, bumbling Americans who, like Nancy, expect there to be Uber service in rural Mexico. White is associated with death. The antagonist in the film is a “great white”, and the stinging jellyfish glow white at Nancy’s approach. An exception is the wounded seagull, whose company Nancy comes to enjoy. Weak, dysfunctional whiteness, it seems, is the only acceptable kind.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Gloria poster

Full disclosure. Your humble reviewer, stopping on a whim at his neighborhood Redbox machine to see what was newly available, quickly picked Gloria for no other reason than the disclaimer that it contained graphic nudity. Not realizing that this would be a serious foreign film requiring him to read subtitles, he ate his movie vegetables, as it were, by accident.

Set in Santiago, Chile, Gloria is the story of a lonely divorcee (Paulina Garcia), a professional woman and recent grandmother, who finds herself torn between dignity and sexual fulfillment. Somewhat nerdy but still shapely and graceful in her maturity, Gloria thinks she may have met the answer to her quiet yearnings in paintball park proprietor Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), a man who gives increasing evidence of neurosis.

Gloria very much belongs to lead Paulina Garcia, a fascinating actress whose versatile face and nuanced expressions command the viewer’s undivided attention. Even had the script by director Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza not been so finely worked and surprising, the film would be worth seeing if only for the presence of Paulina Garcia. Eccentric, disturbing, and warmly human, Gloria gets this critic’s high recommendation.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Gloria is:

10. New Age. Gloria takes a yoga lesson.

9. Marginally pro-miscegenation. Gloria’s daughter Ana (Fabiola Zamora) is involved with a Swede (Eyal Meyer), which is arguably a mild instance of interracial relationship. However, Chileans, particularly those living in Santiago, are of predominantly European descent, and resemble Spaniards in their attractiveness.

8. Anti-Christian. Gloria tries to hide her condescension as her maid (Luz Jimenez) talks about the Genesis flood and tells a story about cats issuing from a lion.

7. Racist! Gloria and Rodolfo, practicing at a firing range, shoot at a target representing a “black figure”.

6. Drug-ambivalent. Marijuana plays a role in Gloria’s new assertiveness. Her tobacco habit takes on varying shades of character depending upon the emotional context – sultry and sophisticated smoking after sex, or an anxious person’s prop in her moments of doubt. One smoker is reminded not to light up in the presence of a pregnant woman. Humiliation, despair, and overindulgence in drink drive Gloria into the arms of a random slob for a degrading one-night stand.

5. Anti-marriage. The protagonist’s ex-husband (Alejandro Goic) is an undependable drunkard. Rodolfo, like Gloria, is relieved to “finally” be divorced. Ana, a happy tramp with a pierced nose, is unashamedly pregnant with her Swedish lover’s bastard.

4. Anti-family/antinatalist. “Don’t be born, man! Don’t be born!” despairs one of Gloria’s neighbors. Rodolfo’s wife and daughters are selfish, needy, ungrateful nuisances. Gloria’s family, too, is broken.

3. Misandrist. A vengeful Gloria appropriates her insensitive lover’s phallus by attacking him with one of his own paintball guns. The men in her life are all immature. “Grow a pair,” she tells Rodolfo.

2. Anti-capitalistic. Old Chilean radicals look to loud young rabble to effect progressive change. Gloria’s idea of excitement would be to skip work and travel to Cuba. The film also presents an unflattering portrait of an entrepreneur in Rodolfo. (see also no. 1).

1. Anti-Semitic! “What Chile used to be now seems like a ghost, as if that Chile were dead, and what was built afterwards is a kind of replica of something that’s being devised in some other part of the world, where the driving force is greed.” “There aren’t any leaders anymore [. . .] if it’s about politicians who are up there, and they’re the ones governing, the ones that were chosen.”

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