Enemy – Surreal
Gearing up for the end of the year, it’s interesting to watch so many films in a short period of time. While 2013, was a bit of a stinker for film, it seems that there has been a minor Renaissance in the indie film genre where big actors, which isn’t a huge surprise, are taking more risk on small films. Of course it’s hyperbole for me to think that big actors never take chances on small film, but with the “big name actor” being replaced with more “well-known” and “character actors” it’s great that the embrace of indie film is alive and well, especially out of the A24 Films. This has been somewhat of a banner year for A24. Following great reception for films like “The Spectacular Now” and “Spring Breakers” in 2013, 2014 has featured a wider assortment of film including “Enemy;” a surreal ride into, well, I’m still not really sure, but it’s a ride that should be worth your time if your a fan of whatever “Enemy” actually is.
Adam, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a history teacher in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who lives a rather mundane wife, outside of his late night sex romps with his girlfriend Mary. Upon the suggestion of one of his colleagues, Adam watches the film “When there is a will, there is a way.” While watching, Adam notices one of the actors looks like him, Upon further review, Adam discovers the actor looks exactly like him and his obsession begins. This is where I’ll leave the synopsis, because half of what makes “Enemy” intriguing is the lengths that Adam goes to find his doppelganger, and figure out what is and isn’t real.
The one word that you will hear a lot of people blurt out when it comes to “Enemy” will be “mindfu*k.” Yes, “Enemy” is a bit of a mindfu*k especially when it comes to two scenes specifically with spiders involved. That is where the film takes that surreal turn that will either engross you further into the film, or will completely disconnect you. However, upon further inspection of the film, the use of arachnid imagery, and/or spiders and webs, is a major theme throughout.
Gyllenhaal’s performance, as usual, is both creepy and wonderful. He has the “boy next door/psycho next door” act down and plays it up as both Adam, the milquetoast history teacher, and Anthony, the third-rate actor, very well. While not as great and effective as his turn as Lou Bloom in “Nightcrawler” Gyllenhaal’s performance will still go down as the best performance this year by an actor playing multiple roles in the same film, sorry Jesse Eisenberg.
All in all, “Enemy” is an interesting take on duality, and the id, ego, and superego. The performance of Gyllenhaal sells the film, and the use of the city, it’s landscapes and “web-like” infrastructce gives the film an added layer.
Fun Fact: “Enemy” is based on the 2002 novel “The Double” by Jose Saramago.
HBO’s VICE – News
In my younger, retail, years, I worked at Urban Outfitters, aka, Hipster Outfitters. When I worked there in the early 2000s it had the air of hipster while the term was still in its infancy, but I still liked, and continue to like, the store. One of the things I liked best was the book/magazine collection. A lot of counter-culture and obscure reading material was always available including the magazine “VICE” a Canadian-based music and news publication produced on a monthly basis. I usually just read the music articles and left the news story most undisturbed. Cut to nearly 10 years later and VICE has a TV show on HBO highlighting what they were trying to do ten years ago; highlight their news stories, which you might call “Investigative Journalism Gone Wild.”
HBO’s VICE seems like the world’s dirty little secret. The stories in the first episode essentially talked about Killer Kids in both the Philippines and in the Middle East, namely Afghanistan. From child soldiers, to 14 year old suicide bombers that the Taliban use for their own purposes, you feel sick to your stomach seeing how backwards we are as a global society.
You can check out other VICE exposes on their YouTube page by clicking here for stories that are a little lighter with a touch of humor, but if you want your world news in your face than HBO’s VICE is for you.
VICE is Executive Produced by Bill Maher, who you know from “Politically Incorrect” this stand-up, and HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” so you know the show isn’t going to pull any punches, which I think separates it from other new magazine shows like “60 Minutes” and “Dateline NBC.” I think being on HBO gives the show even more leeway and allows the show to explore the extreme of fringe news.
The show isn’t going to appeal to everyone; it’s stark, violent, scary, and maybe a little too real for most people, but if you’re an HBO-watcher already, I’m sure it isn’t something you’ve already seen. Some of the more graphic content was depicted in the second story of the episode, which dealt with teenage suicide bombers in Afghanistan. Aftermath of explosions were seen, including body parts and bloodied victims. From a Western perspective, these scenes are rarely seen and have to be searched out to be seen under normal circumstances. There are several haunting images throughout the story that certainly stick and you want to thank the corespondents for putting themselves into this dangerous situations.
Overall, VICE has plenty of potential, and of course people are going to say the news has a bit of a slant with Bill Maher behind the show, but watch the show, do your own research, and use the stories as a template to improve your own knowledge of world news, even if it is news on the fringe.
Fun Fact: VICE was originally named “The Voice of Montreal” in 1994, the year it was founded by Shane Smith.