Ariel's Movie Reviews
watching too many movies
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hi i haven’t had time to write my movie reviews this year as of yet, but i figured i’d post what my top ten films of the year are since I already know (there is a tie for #1):

#1. 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Steve McQueen)
#1. ASPHALT WATCHES (Shayne Ehman, Seth Scriver)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMbq0G8ShNY

#2. THE ACT OF KILLING (Joshua Oppenheimer)
#3. WADJDA (Haifaa al-Mansour)
#4. COMPUTER CHESS (Andrew Bujalski)
#5. HANNAH ARENDT (Margarethe von Trotta)
#6. OUR NIXON (Penny Lane)
#7. THE TO DO LIST (Maggie Carey)
#8. LENNY COOKE (Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie)
#9. LES COQUILLETTES (Sophie Letourneur)
#10. PARADISE TRILOGY : LOVE, FAITH, HOPE (Ulrich Seidl)

once you get past #3 on this list the order is pretty arbitrary since i liked all the rest about equally!

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but i also really really liked!
- IT FELT LIKE LOVE (Eliza Hittman)

-this is the end
- THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT (Dan Sallitt)
- THE DEFLOWERING OF ARIELLA VON (Marianna Ellenberg / David Louis Zuckerman)
- BLUE JASMINE (Woody Allen)
- HELLAWARE (Michael M. Bilandic)
- STORIES WE TELL (Sarah Polley)

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AND the worst for me: 
- SIDE EFFECTS (Steven Soderbergh)
- UPSTREAM COLOR (Shane Carruth)

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i also should say that i haven’t seen a lot of movies that may have been included on this list like: 
-Behind the Candelabra
-Film Ballad of Mamadada
-Hateship, Loveship (johnson)
-After Tiller
-Breakfast with Curtis
-Burning Bush (agnieszka holland)
-Like father, Like Son (kore-eda)
-Stranger by the lake
-Soladate Jeannette
-Boneshaker
-White Reindeer
-Nobody’s daughter (hang sang soo)
-La bate de solferino (justine triet)
-Touch of Sin
-Beyond the Hills
-Bastards (claire denis)
-Abuse of Weakness (breillat)
-At Berkeley
-Soft in the Head
-Butter the latch
-Enough Said
-Dallas Buyers Club
-Mother of George
-Post Tenebras Lux

and sundance and other

-summer of blood

-Kumiko The Treasure Hunter

-joe swanberg happy christmas

-listen up philip, 

-laggies lynn chelton

-love is strange

-gregg araki movie / WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD

-the trip (to italy) 

Posted on January 15th, 2014 at 3:19 PM

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1. THIS IS NOT A FILM (Jafar Panahi)

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The (non)movie is an Iranian (not a) Documentary film directed (not) not by Jafar Panahi.

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Panahi is currently under house arrest and faces a 20 year ban from filmmaking.  This “video project” was made secretly and definitely illegally by Panahi during the first year of this ban.  It was sneaked out of Iran in a wedding cake of all things where it was sent straight to the Cannes film festival.

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Realistically, I can’t remember much about what happened in this movie.  It covers Jafar’s day to day life while he’s under house arrest, which of course is pretty mundane…I do remember it’s mostly all shot on his iphone, (and I remember that he had this amazing pet iguana!)
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But while not much ‘happens’ or can even happen within the confines of his living room, “This is Not a Film” is 2012’s movie movie about movies (not ‘holy motors’ eww!).
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If you don’t believe me see what the NY TIMES had to say: “it is a provocative, radical and at times surprisingly playful meditation on the nature of representation. Using modest, ready-to-hand techniques and a format that seems to emphasize the most banal, literal-minded, artless aspects of picture taking, Mr. Panahi has constructed a subtle, strange and haunting work of art.”
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After i originally saw this movie with my brother Justin at cinema village, we went to go get thai food across the street and i actually was not able to stop talking about to him nonstop for like 2 hours…
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 How he was able to make something so amazing with just himself, his iguana, his carpet, and the whole thing taking place in his living room…it’s just a testimate to how incredibly awesum Panahi is
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2.  RETURN (Liza Johnson)

annoyed by everyday life

This movie is so under rated it pisses me off…
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"Return" is directed by writer, director (and my previous film professor) Liza Johnson.  it’s about a woman (linda cardelini from cult show "freaks and geeks") who returns from a tour of duty in Iraq to come home to her family in small, working class town ohio.
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I know I’m biased, she was my video professor.  But I am actually positive that this would still be one of my favorite films of 2012 and this is why:
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Return is a film unusually attuned to its protagonist’s alienation, which is especially painful because its source isn’t some horrendous event she witnessed (in Iraq), but the hundreds of annoying aspects of everyday life." - (quoted from The Onion newspaper)
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This is just the best idea for a movie i have ever heard..
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3.  DARK HORSE (Todd Solondz)

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i just love everything todd solondz does and if there was any filmmaker i just woke up and was, it would be him.  funny production design and that dark dark sense of humor is so specific to him
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"dark horse" is kinda like what a judd apatow film actual is like in reality.  this is what a loser looks like!  and there’s nothing sympathetic about it!  it’s sad and i’m glad that there’s a filmmaker that knows it’s sad okay, there’s nothing sympathetic about someone addicted to the comforts of capitalist assimilation (AKA luxury SUVS!)
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but this movie also has christopher walken, mia farrow…side by side at their best…
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just go see this.  
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4.  BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Behn Zeitlin)

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i had known that the filmmaker behn zeitlin was pretty cool after seeing his short film “glory at sea” on a Wholphin dvd package…i quickly developed a secret crush on him and now he’s super famous and it all definitely seems to make sense.  ((btws i still really have a huge crush on him so if anybody knows him and he wants to date a girl who’s crowning achievements in life includes getting an award for making this Czech Butter commericial, and who still lives with her parents, then hook me up!!)
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I mean but there’s alot of reasons why i connected with this movie…i mean Quvenzhané Wallis, the star of the film… who is movies looks or acts  anything even remotely like this girl!  I relate to her more than 99% of characters is movies.
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But there’s really only one real thing that did it for me:
 
There’s a scene in the beginning of the movie, a scene that takes place in the neighborhood known as “the bathtub”…a scene where there are these BABIES RACING :  the adultss are actually having a contest to see who’s the fastest baby in the neighborhood..
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Basically I saw this as a sign that there are people in this world, who are as crazy as me and that they are the people who have made this film…(it’s reassuring to know that you are not the only person with these extreme and random ideas)
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5.  RICHARD’S WEDDING (Onur Tukel)

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a new york movie made by a man with severe emotional and psychological issues, but who uses his extreme anxiety make others laugh.  oh i love this movie.  this is the kind of movie that makes me love new york again.  it just as comforting as a rainy new york day (i love the rain!)
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An incredible ensemble cast…everything and everyone works together
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consider buying this movie from the movie label “Factory 25” and putting it on your bookshellf.  I guarantee you will feel like the coolest person you know because you have found this secretly amazing thing.
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so to summarize:
richard’s wedding = rainy day in new york with friends.
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6.  KUICHISAN (Maiko Endo)

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i’m not sure if you can tell by now, but i like movies about incredibly confused, alienated,  neurotic (sometimes unsympathetic) and definitely lost people.  i often like movies about people who are struggling often an internal struggle…It also doesn’t hurt if the movie is starring or directed by a woman!  
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"kuichisan" pretty much was tailored for a  girl like me.  it’s beautiful, but it’s also kinda has this punk narrative about the end of the world, but its also a straightforward documentary about life in Okinawa…so it’s all these things and more, and it crosses genres effortlessly
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it’s about a weird little boy who can’t seem to communicate anything and also about this completely lost American tourist (played by the quietly powerful Eléonore Hendricks).
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its also the most multisensory movie experience i had all year..i recently went to the “inventing abstraction” show at MOMA (really awesum), and alot of the stuff i saw reminded me of “kuichisan”.  i wrote down some quotes that reminded me of the movie that I saw in this show:  its “dynamic expansion” / “synchronicity of movement, light, and rhythm” / “what obsessed me most was the idea of movement” .  The movie is so expressive often in its abstraction of things.  It “paints” with  ”a vibrant palette of colors”.
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This is Maiko Endo’s first feature film soo it’s not perfect… I definitely don’t think this film will be for everyone!  (don’t yell at me for making you watch this weird movie)
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BUT i just hope this filmmaker (maiko endo) goes on to make a million more films cause i know they are only gonna get exponentially better with time.
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7.  ALPS (Yorgos Lanthimos)

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why are Greek movies always insane?  i love it!
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8.  GOODBYE FIRST LOVE (Mia Hansen-Love)

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omgoood her red duffle coat at the beginning so fuckkking cute!  i want that coat.
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If you are your average young woman you are probably going to totally love this movie.  Who hasn’t been screwed over multiple times by some  crazy young guy and then just said fuck it, i’ll just date my professor
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9.  KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (Ira Sachs)

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honestly this movie should probably be number 1 on this list.  so it’s number 9 but also number 1 tied with jafar panahi.  (if i was an unbiased film critic i would say this is number 1 is what i’m trying to say.)

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i just never wanted this movie to end, i think i could rewatch it 50 times.  this movie was completely real to me…

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"keep the lights on" tracks the ups and downs of a longterm gay relationship.  it’s always so refreshing to see gay sex kinda realistically depicted in cinema (recently, i’ve only seen it in john cameron mitchell’s films). 

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i’m always so impressed by how certain independent films can do SO MUCH visually with so little..

But this alone is enough of a reason to see the movie:

it has an ARTHUR RUSSELL soundtrack. 
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Now I just gotta see the movie “Wild Combination
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10.  THE BALLAD OF LADY JAYE AND GENESIS (Marie Losier)

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this is such a sweet love story!  soooo cute about people who from the outside kinda could be considered ‘freaks’ i guess (i mean they got plastic surgery to look like one another!), but they are so oooo sweet and cute!!

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this is wat is going on: “genesis breyer p-orridge, born Neil Andrew Megson, began a project with his life long collaborator Lady Jaye  in 1993 to experiment in body modification aimed at creating one pandrogynous named breyer p-orridge.  the pair adopted gender-neutral roles and drastic physical alterations.”

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but this movie is like when your just chilling and being silly with your friends and cooking in your apartment. 

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ALSO throbbing gristle is like one of my favorite bands

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but i also liked!
 
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  • COSMOPOLIS (#11 on the list really…if only this really happened in NYC)

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  • SHEIK AND I (definitely #12… caveh zahedi’s baby should be given some kind of award for being incredible in this film)

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  • MARINA ABRAMOVIC : THE ARTIST IS PRESENT {The only movie that made me cry this year, really well made documentary about an inspiring lady, i dare you not to tear up just a little…}
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  • KID THING {two weird brothers write and direct and act in a fairy tale of a movie about a little tomboy misfit who like to break shit and talks to the voice of susan merril} —> dir.zellner brothers

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  • SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (starring Keith Poulson and Nick Offerman from “Parks and Recreation” this movie is hilarious go see this movie!  my favorite thing about this movie is that it’s kind of about absolutely nothing..Except that it spans an entire lifetime.  + It’s kinda about how we as a human species have absolutely no idea about what we’re doing; it’s about how we just go around making mistake after mistake and so then we don’t know what to do with our lives, so we open up an icecream store.  We just go around doing all this random stuff and then that’s it; we die.  So I know that sounds really bleak (idk can’t be as depressing as “amour” is supposed to be right?)  In the end the movie is not bleak!   Well…listen whether its bleak or not, In any case, it’s worth checking out just cause its so so funny.)

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  • GIRLS (this tv series that might as well be a hilarious independent film.. i kinda owe so much to Lena Dunham as she has made it easier for girls everywhere to make things and be taken seriously for it.  this is serious inspiration)

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  • TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (i love this movie i will not apologize)

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  • listen idk what else, i’m forgetting lot of other movies probably.

 

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and awesome short “movies” included:

  • Dustin Guy Defa’s “A Family Nightmare” (“he condensed over 40 hours of his family’s VHS home video footage into a 10-minute shard of personal hell…Defa has a talent for making “clean” images disturbing: without explicitly depicting either.”- Film Comment Magazine)
  • Jennifer Sullivan’s “Adult Movie” (the artist as a pole dancer - ONLINE HERE)

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(And) I Didn’t see these but heard these were all very good:

  • Araf — Somewhere In Between (Yeşim Ustaoğlu)
  • beyond the hills
  • boneshaker (short film by frances bodomo)
  • pieta
  • zero dark thirty
  • amour
  • magic mike
  • OUR NIXON (documentary by penny lane, brian frye)
  • the hobbit
  • the color wheel
  • the unspeakable act
  • the gatekeepers
  • tchouptioulas
  • 5 broken cameras
  • movie 43
  • caesar must die
  • hors satan
  • tabu
  • cat scratch fever (lisa duva)
  • nancy, please (by andrew semans)
  • paradise: love
  • ginger and rosa
  • like a million other movies i didn’t see

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AND the worst (okay okay i didn’t see most of these but just the discriptions alone were killing me)

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  • "liberal arts" (Someone make the opposite of this movie please, this speaking from a girl who graduated from a liberal arts college so I know what I’m talking about…)

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  • "on the road" (You can’t adapt jack kerouac in this way noooo cringing)

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  • "save the date" (actually saw this one…with lines like “your dick tastes like merlot” you won’t wonder why this movie won’t be winning any Independent spirit awards this year)

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Posted on February 19th, 2013 at 11:34 PM
This post has 2 notes

Movie #2: Secret Sunshine (2007)
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This movie is incredibly good.  It combines everything I like: movies, feminism, Korean people, philosophy; all into one awesome thing.
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I heard about the director Lee-Chang Dong a long time ago, when I was working at the NY Korean film festival the summer I got out of high school.  I haven’t been able to watch any of his movies ever because they were always those Region 5 versions and my laptop wouldn’t play them.
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But, now I can finally say I’ve seen a Lee Chang-Dong film and that it was the greatest.  I don’t want to say anything more though because I think it might give some things away.  But basically you should know that 전도연 got the best actress award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, and there’s a reason for that.
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Rating: 9.6 out of 10
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Movie #2: Secret Sunshine (2007)

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This movie is incredibly good.  It combines everything I like: movies, feminism, Korean people, philosophy; all into one awesome thing.

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I heard about the director Lee-Chang Dong a long time ago, when I was working at the NY Korean film festival the summer I got out of high school.  I haven’t been able to watch any of his movies ever because they were always those Region 5 versions and my laptop wouldn’t play them.

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But, now I can finally say I’ve seen a Lee Chang-Dong film and that it was the greatest.  I don’t want to say anything more though because I think it might give some things away.  But basically you should know that 전도연 got the best actress award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, and there’s a reason for that.

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Rating: 9.6 out of 10

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Posted on December 22nd, 2011 at 2:47 AM

Movie #1: “Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains” (1982) 
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This movie is pretty fun.  It’s about three 15 year old girls (One who is Diane Lane and one who happens to be Laura Dern).  Even though they have 0 experience, the girls decide to start a punk band and tour around the country with this other allmalepunk band (and then wtf the bass player from the Clash and two members of the original Sex Pistols are in this other band).  
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Basically, I wanted to watch this movie because a bunch of the people who were interviewed in this book I recently read, “Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution” mention it (by Sara Marcus who I found out apparently lived in a co-op with my old Drawing Professo).  They cite “The Fabulous Stains” as a major inspiration for the movement.
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But, the “Fabulous Stains” is not a good movie.  The structure of the story smakes no sense, and the cinematography is so boring.  It’s probably the director’s fault since the director was Lou Adler and the only other movie Lou Adler has made was a Cheech and Chong movie.  But anyways, at the same time, I still sorta liked it anyways because of the connections I saw between how these characters acted and how it relates to the Riot Grrrl thing.  It’s pretty encouraging because it suggests you just start doing something and that you don’t need to be an expert and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but the main thing is that you just do it.
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 I mainly recommend it as an anthropolical study of this period, or as something you will drunkingly watch with your girl friends, but not really if you want to actually see a good movie.
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Rating: 6.6 out of 10
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Movie #1: “Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains” (1982) 

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This movie is pretty fun.  It’s about three 15 year old girls (One who is Diane Lane and one who happens to be Laura Dern).  Even though they have 0 experience, the girls decide to start a punk band and tour around the country with this other allmalepunk band (and then wtf the bass player from the Clash and two members of the original Sex Pistols are in this other band).  

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Basically, I wanted to watch this movie because a bunch of the people who were interviewed in this book I recently read, “Girls to the FrontThe True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution” mention it (by Sara Marcus who I found out apparently lived in a co-op with my old Drawing Professo).  They cite “The Fabulous Stains” as a major inspiration for the movement.

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But, the “Fabulous Stains” is not a good movie.  The structure of the story smakes no sense, and the cinematography is so boring.  It’s probably the director’s fault since the director was Lou Adler and the only other movie Lou Adler has made was a Cheech and Chong movie.  But anyways, at the same time, I still sorta liked it anyways because of the connections I saw between how these characters acted and how it relates to the Riot Grrrl thing.  It’s pretty encouraging because it suggests you just start doing something and that you don’t need to be an expert and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but the main thing is that you just do it.

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 I mainly recommend it as an anthropolical study of this period, or as something you will drunkingly watch with your girl friends, but not really if you want to actually see a good movie.

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Rating: 6.6 out of 10

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Posted on December 22nd, 2011 at 2:47 AM