‘In the Bedroom’ Bares the Human Soul Like No Other

The trap has nylon nets called ‘heads.’ Two side heads to let the lobster crawl in. And inside, what’s called a bedroom head holds the bait, and keeps him from escaping. You know the old saying: ‘Two’s company, three’s a crowd?’ Well, it’s like that. Get more than two of these in a bedroom and chances are something like that’s gonna happen.

In the Bedroom (2001, directed by Todd Field) is a film that encapsulates several things within one well-maintained tragedy. On the surface, the title refers to the “bedroom” or interior of a lobster trap. When catching them, no more than two lobsters can be held in the trap compartment. If a third is added, they start to become violent and attack one another. Tom Wilkinson’s character, Dr. Matt. Fowler, describes this in a fishing boat off the coast of Maine. This description becomes a metaphor for actual violence as well as emotional chaos between the characters.

After a looked-down-upon love affair between Fowler’s son Frank (Nick Stahl) and Natalie (Marisa Tomei) ends in an unexpected, horrendous twist, he and his wife Ruth (Sissy Spacek) struggle against and with each other to come to terms with everything that has happened and the future of their family. The performances are all unbelievably good and heartfelt. The pacing is slow at times, but completely engaging all the same. It’s a movie that should take its time in order to unravel very carefully, which it does.

What sounds and looks like an intimate movie about love and relationships becomes something much more complex and disturbingly honest. It bares the human soul at its most conflicted, its most determined, its best, and its worst. The thing about this movie is that as dark as it may be, once its over, you never expected it to take you on the journey that it eventually did. Even though it came out ten years ago, the journey is worth experiencing again and again. All other tragic dramas should take note.

‘Black Swan': Pitch Perfect

What isn’t there to say in favor of Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan that hasn’t already been said? Given the amount of praise it’s gotten (already Golden Globe nominations and Oscar buzz) and how I’m a little late to contribute to it, it feels like there’s not much to add. But I feel the need to document this anyway.

After looking back on my blurb post back in September about the psychological thriller’s festival premieres, I realized all of my expectations were met, and then exceeded – exceeded to the nth degree. In that premature post about the film (a horrendously dark story about a competitive production of Swan Lake), I stated:

This trailer alone makes Center Stage look like The Mickey Mouse Club.

Understatement.

I then said:

Personally, I am intrigued by and shuddering at the outrageously sinister tone of this movie.

The tone. The first thing I thought as I walked out of this movie was that the tone was perfect. Aside from the brilliant performances from the entire cast (Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel Barbara Hersey, Winona Ryder), Black Swan succeeded because it was presented in the most perfect way it could have been. With so much going on, Aronofsky tied it all together nicely, and then unleashed it back into the wild where it flourished. It had sinister moments, mind-twisting points, melodrama, fantasy blending with reality, comedy, gore, horror, disturbing violence, ballet (of course), sexual scenes, and it just felt right. The film embraced all of these elements in such a way that I never once thought it overly dramatic, cheesy, or that it was trying too hard. Black Swan did not hold back where most films would and do these days. The whole story downward-spiraled into place; and when it ended, it felt satisfying.

Though there are some comparisons to the director’s last film, The Wrestler (and rightly so in the sense that self-destruction and athleticism conjoin in both), this film will not really “remind” you of anything else. It will go beyond your expectations of how sinister it is. It will make you go “holy shit” several times (aloud or to yourself). You will feel satisfaction, but you will question why such a dark movie makes you feel so fulfilled. It just does, it just is.

What I’m trying to say is that you should go see Black Swan. And then after you watch it, think about all the ways someone else – or even the very filmmakers who made it – could have ruined it, or even worse, made it mediocre. That is truly what makes Black Swan a masterpiece: that it didn’t even worry about failing. It just fucking went there.

‘Love and Other Drugs’ Feels Like a Cheap Sell

I actually went into Love and Other Drugs with an open mind. Er, more of an open mind than I normally would with this sort of movie. After viewing the trailer, I didn’t think much of it, or even care about seeing it. But then I guess it was purely Andrew O’Hehir’s review on Salon – teased as “Gyllenhaal and Hathaway’s surprisingly good comedy” – that got me curious. Point being: I was open to it being good. Now having seen it, I should have known I couldn’t enjoy a film which, in a sentence, tries entirely too hard to be the next Jerry Maguire-meets-well, any movie where the girl of the boy-meets-girl has a terminal illness. I wish it didn’t have to be that frank, but it is.

Starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Edward Zwick (Legends of the Fall, thirtysomething), I expected it to be a romantic comedy that proved a little more exceptional than the others. But from what I saw, this doesn’t have the makings of a classic or a “generation definer.” The plot: Set in 1996, Jamie Randall (Gylleenhaal) is a rising Pfizer pharmaceutical sales rep who uses his “way” with women to help him rep Zoloft in doctor’s offices when he meets Maggie (Hathaway) in one said doctor’s office. The very first thing we learn about Maggie is that she has onset Parkinson’s. In short – she hates him, he lusts after her, they have sex, they try to keep having sex without attachment, they fail, they fall in love. What follows are mostly bad humming music as soundtrack, montages, cheap jokes, sex, nudity, tears, and more montages.  Oh, and also, his gross younger brother comes to live with him and is poised as “comic relief,” which makes for more awkward and drawn-out than comical scenes.

While most of the big reviews I read were less than favorable, they all seem to find some kind of “bright side” for the movie: Ebert thinks Zwick did the best he could with a bad script; most, including New York Times’ A.O. Scott, believe Hathaway did more with the character than the script called for; and Variety‘s Justin Chang says it sorta kinda works “if one can get past the calculation inherent in the drug-pushing-boy-meets-disease-stricken-girl setup.”

Maybe they’re all just a little bit more optimistic than I am, but I can’t even give the film that much credit. My bright side? Uh…Judy Greer was pretty funny? (As a receptionist Gylleenhaal seduced and then left in the dust.) And…honestly, not much else is coming to mind. Since the movie is so blunt, I feel no need to use pretty words or phrasing here: Love and Other Drugs is a bi-polar movie that can’t decide if it’s about casual sex, the evils of the pharmaceutical sales industry, or Parkinson’s. Can all of these be combined into one movie? Sure! If done correctly (see: not the way it was done here.) This film makes me wish there was another word not as overused as “formulaic,” but it really fits in this instance.

There’s no real development or investment in any of the characters. This is a true shame, honestly, given the two wonderful actors at the film’s disposal. Both the main characters feel conflicted because they have their own set of commitment issues. “Commitment issues” is just a phrase slapped onto the movie – not a lot of explanation or history required, just take it as it is. They have trouble committing but then they try to commit to one another. The whole story feels like one big cheap sell for the tearjerker ending (the ending that aches to be the next Jerry Maguire-scale ending), which then makes the Parkinson’s disease element feel more insulting and tasteless – as if it was just thrown into the pot for one big grand finale tasting.

I think Love and Others Drugs‘ biggest downfall is that it doesn’t live up to its own image of itself. It’s not as sexy, not as daring, certainly not as funny, and not as moving and deep as it seems to think it is. You know the one thing I took away from this movie? Sex. Lots and lots of sex. Everywhere sex. (And mostly in montages also.) Oh, and the throwing around of the word “pussy” by men whenever the film needed that extra oomph of “edginess.” All of that nudity and sexuality, and for what? Two undeveloped characters and a poorly thought-out story. No, it does not feel liberating or refreshing. I know it tried really hard, but in the end, Love and Other Drugs isn’t just a film about the complications of supposedly empty sex; it is empty sex.

Delayed Reaction: ‘Paper Heart’


I wanted so badly to be annoyed by Paper Heart (2009) and, in particular, Charlyne Yi. But instead, I found myself smiling throughout pretty much the whole damn thing. Though Yi is definitely an acquired taste, an odd bird, etc., etc., her charm and cuteness feels universal here. And unlike the rest of the population, yes, I enjoy Michael Cera. Dammit. It’s a clever documentary-style movie that explores love in a genuine, no-frills kind of way. Ultimately, it doesn’t just explore love and finding love, but also the issue of respecting one’s privacy – best shown through the metafilm elements. Yi and Cera play fictionalized versions of themselves, and real-life director Nicholas Jasenovec is portrayed onscreen by Jake Johnson. (I especially loved how, at one point, the film pokes fun at itself for being one of those “quirky comedies.” As Cera says sarcastically, “Yeah, we need more of those.”)

All of the dynamics between the characters ring true – the complicated friendship-turned-collaboration between Jasenovec and Yi, the romance developed between Yi and Cera, and all of Yi’s heartfelt interviews about love with people across the nation. By the end, it all just feels so satisfyingly honest.

‘La jetée’ (1962) and the Power of Words and Images

He says something. She doesn’t mind, she answers. They have no memories, no plans. Time builds itself painlessly around them. As landmarks, they have the very taste of this moment they live, and scribbling on the walls.

I rewatched one of my favorite films since school the other night – La jetée, a 28-minute French film from 1962. Director Chris Marker tells the story of time travel in post-nuclear Paris almost entirely through a series of still photos. (There’s one scene with just a few seconds of motion.) In under 30 minutes, the plot unravels a Paris in ruins, with the survivors divided up into a hierarchy. One group is experimenting in time travel to the past and present to improve their situation; the others are lab rats. The protagonist proves a successful candidate for their experiments, but his past, present, and future collide in an eerie tragedy. In my very first film class, my professor showed us this movie to teach us the power of words and images, how they can stick with you for a lifetime, how you can tell a story without flashy gimmicks or superfluous material.

Whether it’s the French version with subtitles or the English voice-over version, it is one of the most poetic things I’ve ever come across. While it most obviously inspired the Terry Gilliam movie 12 Monkeys, watching it recently made me think of how it must have inspired other recent films; Christopher Nolan’s Inception came to mind the most. The sweeping string orchestra soundtrack, the imagery, and the distant but observant narration all come together to make romance out of dystopia and sci-fi. While it’s been done since and also before the film came out, watching it always feels like watching something brand new and revolutionary. So many filmmakers and storytellers choose overkill to get their story across, but La jetée remains there in the film school archives, just waiting to be watched, just waiting to remind you how to tell a story and how to tell it well.

The Dirty Irresistibility of HBO’s ‘In Treatment’

Originally written for and posted on RootSpeak, November 11, 2010.

A friend recommended In Treatment to me about a year ago and so I started watching season one. I became addicted to the show pretty quickly, gobbling it up in large amounts at a time, and luckily season two was there right after to keep me engaged in the story for another month.

This wait for season three, however, was pretty dismal. For a while, In Treatment fans on message boards (which, yes, I went to in desperation) were speculating that there might not be another season. After all, it’s no Entourage or Sopranos. It didn’t get ideal ratings for HBO, though it received a good amount of critical acclaim.

Then on October 23, 2009 Variety released a story with HBO’s announcement to renew for season three. As for the not-so-high ratings:

“‘The viewership isn’t as big as we’d like but creatively the show works so well for us, if we’re true to who we say we are, we had to pick it up,’ Michael Lombardo, president of the programming group and West Coast operations for HBO, told Daily Variety. ‘We’re not just into ratings and the awards game. We’re here to deliver shows with distinct voices.’”

And good thing. Now coming up on its sixth week of the third season, the show is an American adaptation of the Israeli original, BeTipul (the same title in Hebrew.) Irish actor Gabriel Byrne plays the enigmatic, brooding and eager-to-help therapist, Dr. Paul Weston. When it airs on HBO, the show comes on for a half hour or less more than one day a week. Each patient gets his or her own episode, and then at the end of the week, Paul goes to see his own therapist and complicated mentor Gina, played amazingly by Dianne Wiest. (While this was true for seasons one and two, season three takes a new direction but retains this same concept.)

As a study in life, life’s issues, and how people interact with one another, the show doesn’t seem to play out like a TV show or a mini-film. Instead, it feels like watching a perfectly rehearsed play with highly trained actors whose dialogue and movements are fluid, true to life, and yet grippingly entertaining. But unlike a play, there’s a camera of course that lets us in even closer – sometimes too close – to the patients and their therapist. You can literally feel the discomfort in a session because the camera and performances force you to feel it. You can get lost in it and feel as though you are part of the therapy session yourself. It is truly one of the most intimate shows I’ve ever watched, and it’s surprisingly addictive at the same time despite the heavy issues and depressing tones.

The setting itself has always made the show stand out to me from all the others. Most of the scenes are set in the therapist’s office. Though he changes locations, Paul’s office is always within his home. He lives and works in the same space, and thus the audience is confined almost entirely to this space as well. What may seem like a “bare minimum” approach is exactly what makes In Treatment worth watching for a different kind of television experience. The limitations the show sets for itself only make the show more distinct and more intimate. It relies purely on acting and story and excels beautifully at both, regarding all other elements as a distraction to what’s crucial. It might seem “simple,” but once you’ve engrossed yourself in it, it becomes clear that it’s probably one of the most complex and thoughtful shows of its time.

In the third installment, a few differences are already noticeable. One thing I keep catching is the constant references to current pop culture – things like Mad Men and Twitter and how our world is increasingly ruled by the internet keep popping up in Paul’s conversations with patients. In the past two seasons, come to think of it, there weren’t that many references to a world outside of the therapy sessions and the patients’ personal lives. This season seems to be leaning towards incorporating present-day cultural influences with the lives of the characters, which makes for a very interesting choice.

As for the ones on the therapist’s couch, the show features its first openly gay patient (a troubled and aggressive teenager), a middle-aged actress struggling in her career and family life (played by Debra Winger), and a man from Calcutta who’s just lost his wife and is having trouble adapting to living with his son and daughter-in-law in New York City. (This first episode, which opened the season, was co-written by Indian American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Namesake.)

Seeing Paul try to help all of these very different characters is fascinating enough. But as mentioned before, at the end of the week, Paul always goes to talk to an analyst himself. So not only do we get to see the therapist with his patients, but we also get to see the therapist in treatment – how he’s feeling, what he struggles with internally, and how he feels about his own sessions. And that is just too dirty and captivating to resist.

Season three of In Treatment is currently airing on HBO on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9 and 9:30 PM.

‘The Social Network': Stop Calling it Sexist

Dear feminists: Can we please stop arguing how sexist The Social Network is? Signed, a fellow feminist.

I hadn’t even seen the movie yet when I came across an article on Jezebel’s homepage, entitled: “The Social Network, Where Women Never Have Ideas.” Sounded pretty brutal. And then soon after, I noticed an onslaught of similar accusations aimed at the filmmakers.

Trust me, I am extremely sensitive to representations of women and minorities in film and television (and how these representations in media reflect our culture and society), but The Social Network? Virtual feminists, you’re barking up the wrong tree on this one. Is it a good example of feminism in film? Probably not. But I think it deserves more credit than it’s getting in that arena.

There are two ways to view this: 1) The film is a biopic about Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, and a bunch of other dudes who want his money for various reasons; thus, it doesn’t seem to leave much room for strong, female characters; and 2) The film actually does have a few strong female characters, but they’re overlooked because of a few scenes filled with lingerie-clad drunk girls at a frat party and many scenes filled with nerdy dudes.

My viewing of this film combined these two notions: I say, The Social Network is a film that – as a biopic – didn’t seem to allow much room for strong female characters, but it did anyway with a few very important scenes.

I love a good opening scene, and this film definitely has one. From the first few seconds, you are drawn into quick and ultimately harsh dialogue between Zuckerberg (played by the fitting Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend, Erica (played by Rooney Mara). One thing leads to another, and the next thing you know, Zuckerberg thinks he’s far superior to Erica because he goes to Harvard and she to BU (just one example.) Needless to say, she calls it off then and there.

Am I crazy, or did anyone else read this scene positively in terms of female character? Erica does not seem dwarfed or dominated by Zuckerberg to me at all – in fact, she comes out the winner, the one with the harsh last word. If anything, her observance of Zuckerberg and his true motives and thought processes only makes him look bad as he sits babbling on and on at lightning speed. More importantly, Erica makes the audience aware of something very crucial in the first few minutes of the movie: that is, Zuckerberg is socially inept, especially when it comes to women. She walks away, in my eyes, looking valiant – on a crusade to call out pretentious, insecure nerdy assholes everywhere…If you will.

And in a movie about the latter type of people (insecure, nerdy asshole males), why would there be a surplus of strong female characters surrounding them? To me, it has been made clear in the first few minutes of The Social Network that this is frankly not a movie about men and women forming mutually respectful relationships. It’s a movie about Mark Zuckerberg and his failure to communicate with others, and yet how he goes on to become the founder of what would become a true reinvention of the way our generation communicates with one another. As for the lack of communication and connection skills with women, it’s unfortunate for Zuckerberg; it’s not unfortunate for the women involved. At no point do I remember the film making me feel that I should think otherwise.

As Aaron Sorkin – screenwriter of the film and the one carrying the weight of most sexist allegations – said in an interview with Stephen Colbert:

I was writing about a very angry and deeply misogynistic group of people. These aren’t the cuddly nerds we made movies about in the 80’s. They’re very angry that the cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback instead of the men (boys) who are running the universe right now. The women they surround themselves with aren’t women who challenge them (and frankly, no woman who could challenge them would be interested in being anywhere near them.)

This makes sense to me, and it made sense even before I had time to think about sexism and feminism in the context of this movie.

The other female character I appreciated (and yes, the only other truly strong female character, as the third main female was made out to be the “hot, psycho girl”) – is Marilyn, a law intern who sits in on the legal battles, played by the versatile Rashida Jones. She might not say much, but again, she is observant. And like Erica, Marilyn seems to elicit a rare sense of respect and curiosity from Zuckerberg. (He spends a few more scenes in the film seeking Erica’s approval long after their breakup, and his seeking of approval seemed almost sincere.) The film ends on a solid note, which is without a doubt due to Marilyn’s dialogue with Zuckerberg, and the theme of “asshole-ness” comes back again. Like Erica, she questions Zuckerberg about his inner self, and thus, he questions himself for once.

Though brief, the appearances made by the two strong female characters are essential. Meaning, the movie would not be the same without them. The movie would be weaker. Because as bookends to the beginning and end of the film, both women stop to make Zuckerberg (and the audience) think, “Is he really an asshole or not?” I sat back and said “huh” thoughtfully to myself as the credits rolled. The whole story is based around the creator of Facebook and all the people who were out to get a piece of him for various reasons. But no lawyers in a room or vengeful former best friends seemed to make Zuckerberg pause and wonder about his true self for one moment. Only these two women in the film had this effect on him. Or at least, their words and observations had a stronger effect on him than anyone else’s.

So while there were sexist representations of women undoubtedly, let’s not forget the female characters who added positively to the story. Sure, it’s a film about a bunch of pretentious, nerdy guys. But women played a vital role that should not go overlooked. And unfortunately it seems that for many feminists, it did.

Willow Smith: Nine Years Old and Amazing

I’m sure this has been widely seen by now, but I can’t get over it. She is nine years old and doing it better than most adult pop stars. “Whip My Hair” Willow Smith (daughter of Will, of course) is one solid music video. There’s been some buzz going around on whether or not this can be considered “child labor” or “not having a childhood,” but as Willow says in her own lyrics – “We ain’t doin’ nothin wrong, so don’t tell me nothin’, I’m just tryin’ to have fun.” So listen to her. Cuz that’s exactly what this video and song encapsulate, and nothing more. Well, also, there’s the immense talent.

‘Never Let Me Go’ Novel to Film – a Successful Cloning?

Note to the reader: This post contains spoilers, but not much more than what is revealed in the film’s trailer.

I apologize. It’s too easy to make a crack about whether or not a film adaptation of a novel about clones is a “good enough clone” of the book itself. But that is the question, isn’t it? As is with all film adaptations – they can either interpret the essence of the story in their own way, or they can mimic it almost page by page. Or, in the case of Never Let Me Go – do neither.

Let’s get the worst part out of the way: Never Let Me Go – based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and directed by Mark Romanek (whose last film was One Hour Photo in 2002) – feels like you put the novel into a meat grinder, then took a handful of the squiggly meat shreds and left the rest. The real meat of it – the essence, what really made it – is gone. But it remains at least recognizable from the random bits and pieces that are left. Now less metaphorically, the best stuff was probably left on the cutting room floor. Or even worse, left out of the script entirely. (It was written for the screen by Alex Garland.)

You know that creepy myth – or hopefully a myth – that if you had “organ donor” on your license, and you were in a terrible accident, the doctors might not save your life in order to get your organs to someone in need of a donation? That chilling notion we shudder at is the very world that main characters Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy of Never Let Me Go are brought into. These are clones, and from the moment of their creation, their purpose was to grow up to donate their vital organs, cutting their lives short in order for others to survive. The novel is heartbreaking, relatable, haunting, surreal, yet conceivable. It’s masterful dystopia – something so awful you can hardly imagine, but really, you can imagine it all the same. You can almost buy it as a truth, something within reach. (I commented more in detail on this aspect in a recent USA Today article by Maria Puente.)

Yes, it’s impossible for most of us to read a novel and then watch the film adaptation without being judgmental and biased. You know what makes the story good, so when it’s not there, it’s hugely disappointing. You already know the potential before it doesn’t stack up. And in this case, that has a lot to do with it on my end. But this is also the kind of movie that will feel disjointed and incomplete even to most viewers who know nothing about the story beforehand.

So instead of giving you a book report and telling you how amazing the novel is and that you should read it (just do it), I’ll focus on what I think the film adaptation’s biggest strengths and (more so) weaknesses were.

In the novel and the film, there are three phases: 1) childhood and life as students at Halisham – a sort of boarding school in the England countryside for future donors, where they are educated and heavily sheltered from the world; 2) departure from protective Halisham and gained independence in a remote place called “The Cottages,” where the characters go to transition into the real world and prepare to become carers (for their fellow donors) or donors themselves; and 3) the actual process of donating, and ultimately “completing” – a cold, distancing euphemism for “dying” once a clone’s body gives out after one or multiple donations.

Here’s the good of the adaptation: It’s beautiful with natural and delicate cinematography. It portrays almost all of the scenes from the novel as I had pictured them while reading. The acting probably isn’t to blame (starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield) – though it should be noted that Garfield is the best part of the entire film. He captures and understands who Tommy is as Ishiguro seems to have intended: youthful with a sort of naive childishness even in adulthood, but likewise a dark, thoughtful soul. He did his homework, and it shows. (And one of his scenes had me straight up in tears.) In these ways, the film moved me, reminding me how wonderful this story was and making me grateful to see some of it projected in front of me. This is a story of generation – our 1984, our warped Great Expectations. Our own dystopian sci-fi meets coming-of-age masterpiece.

One of the main points of the novel is to take the experience of life and speed it up in a way. As we grow older, we start to think at some point in a state of panic, “I don’t have enough time.” We wanted to do this and enjoy that before we died, but for these characters, they don’t have the luxury of waiting to find out if they’ll have that chance. Their future is laid out for them, and none of them have enough time; “having time” is simply not their purpose. A distorted and mercilessly cruel coming-of-age, it’s growing up fast-forwarded – childhood to teens to adulthood, and then it’s definitively over too soon.

In Ishiguro’s novel, you can feel the weight and anxiety and nearly drown in it. But the problem with the film is that it just feels like a rushed movie and nothing more. In merely one hour and forty-five minutes (a short length these days), Romanek touches on all three phases of life according to Never Let Me Go, but fails to engage the viewer in any of them. Thus, we feel distant and unattached to the main characters – we have little to go on. It’s too fleeting and almost careless, given the brilliant degree to which Ishiguro achieved this effect in his also relatively short, less-than-300-paged novel.

While there are several important themes within this complex book, ultimately the film zoomed in on the two big ones: love and art. The students at Halisham are highly encouraged to be creative and produce poetry, paintings, drawings, and essays. Through this, Never Let Me Go brings up many philosophical questions: Does art reveal our souls? Is it useful, important? Does it make us human? This is a truly fascinating topic, but one that the film seems to dwell on almost too much – the complex history behind art and what it means for the characters practically left in the dust. Instead, it feels stale and the characters come off as having little foundation to go on (when in fact, it’s quite the opposite).

The same questions of art nearly go hand-in-hand with love as the characters grow up and get swept away in one of the many theories in the donor community: that is, if two donors are really “properly in love,” they may be able to apply for a “deferral” and delay their donations a few years in order to be together. They still aren’t considered completely human, but the idea is that perhaps there’s a way for the world to have mercy on these clones once they reveal some kind of soul or profound feeling. Creativity and love are thought to be what determines which clones are human enough for such an opportunity.

Seeing these big themes portrayed in a unique light onscreen would have been powerful…if only we had been able to see more of these characters on film, get to know them, feel some kind of truth in their relationships. But with all the talk of “looking into souls” and finding out if clones “have souls at all,” ironically, the viewer leaves the theater knowing little to nothing about the souls of Tommy, Ruth, or Kathy. The characters live through three phases of life but the audience skips through them to the point where you think to yourself, “Just because the movie tells me you two are in love doesn’t mean I really believe it.”

And that, it seems, is the greatest tragedy of the Never Let Me Go adapted to screen. Whether it is the fault of the directing, the writing, the editing, or the acting, this crucial element that worked so well in the novel didn’t translate cinematically. These characters were never supposed to match the sterility of the cold hospital operating rooms they were destined for. They were supposed to prove the world wrong. They were supposed to feel human.

Sleigh Bells’ “Infinity Guitars” Video: Bad Ass-ness Visualized

If you hadn’t heard of the noisy but catchy lo-fi band Sleigh Bells before, you probably have now between the MTV coverage and the ever-dreaded indie-rock-band-goes-to-car-ads Honda commercial. I’m not sure why, but this is almost exactly how I imagined the music video to be for the track “Infinity Guitars.” Whenever I listened to it I had this perpetual image of frontwoman Alexis Krauss strutting down a street like a bad ass during her lip-sync. And then what do you do with the other half of the Sleigh Bells equation – guitarist (formerly of Poison the Well) Derek E. Miller? Have him strut too, of course – except while playing the distinctive guitar riffs.

The cheerleaders sidenote may seem random, but not if you’ve listened to the rest of the debut album, Treats. The semi-theme of the collection denotes some kind of high school voice, point of view, or commentary. Almost like a fiery rage that is angsty but also mocks teenage angst at the same time – with Krauss and Miller bringing the “cool kid” vibe, the kind of kids who didn’t need backpacks and nonchalantly swung their books around and skipped class.

I may be biased because it came out close to what I had hoped for, but I would say that the new Sleigh Bells video delivers – even if it’s a short but sweet experience (as most of their tracks are, anyway). While the live performances may not impress yet (another story altogether), let’s hope the rest of their music video career does.