SXSW Review: This is Your Death

This is Your Death poster art

When I went into This is Your Death while at SXSW I was excited by the talent behind it, but admittedly I wasn’t so sure on the story. Some of you may know this old story of watching a trailer and guessing the plot. All things considered I feel that may not be the case for everyone going in but either way it still left me excited to see Giancarlo Esposito’s direction as this was the first time I’d seen him do so, even if it was his second outing. But that is enough rambling, without further ado lets get into it

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Reel Review: The Voices is full of humor, heart and human heads

“I have to tell you about this script. It’s hilarious, it’s original, it’s twisted and it’ll never, ever, get made.”my friend three years ago

There’s nothing quite like a movie recommendation from a friend. They’re the ‘critics’ who know what you like. When a friend shares something with you, you appreciate that something all the more because it’s based on a foundation of understanding and common interest.  Or, at the very least, a friend’s endorsement carries an enthusiasm, that can be so contagious, that even if that something is not so great, you can’t help but grade that something on a curve.

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Fantastic Fest Review: Tokyo Tribe

image  Written by: BenIt’s one thing to see a movie like Tokyo Tribe and another completely to express what the movie is and how it is to people who may not ‘get’ the movie’s that come to Fantastic Fest. I don’t say that to come off as superior or belittle any of you fine Reelers out there that have never been to the festival or seen releases from it, but rather to express my difficulties here. It’s the newest movie by director Sion Sono who is one of the favorite sons of Fantastic Fest and also something of a madman with his gorgeously stylized and zany movies. His movie last year, Why Don’t You Play in Hell was one of mine, and most other festival goers’ favorites so I was certainly excited for this one. So now I get the joy of trying to explain this movie to you.

The film itself is based on a popular serialized Manga of the same name and really takes off from there. It is the story of all of the titular Tokyo Tribes, or the gangs that control different regions of Tokyo, and how things go down on one particular night. This night is special though as an ambitious outsider, Sunmi (Nana Seino) arrives with the goal of cleaning up this city, but quickly falling victim to one of the lecherous gang leaders, Mera (Ryuhei Suzuki) and the most despicable crime lord in the city, Buppa (Riki Takeuchi). With the help of the young Yon (Kikoto Sakaguchi) she must escape and warn the tribes that Buppa plans to take them out in an all out war. They get some aid from Kai (Young Dais) and Tera (Ryuta Soto) of the only gang promoting peace in the city, but it will take more than just this small band to stop Buppa’s evil plot.

Yes, that really does sound like a comic book plot as the story originally is, but that doesn’t even cover the best part: It’s a rap musical! You read that right, Sono collected a group of rappers and break dancers to give the move a really credible musical sound as all of the actors on screen are highly skilled with their music. Each different gang and region are a different style of rap and dance and represent their musical preference well and breath great life into the film through it. Few to none of the actors on screen have any prior acting experience in a very bold choice, but it pays off because the focus on the music helps prevent the comic book feel from being lost in an attempt to be too real or serious in a performance.

The performances overall are really good too, with no one taking the subject matter too seriously to hurt that energy. Seino is arguably our main character and brings quite a bit of warmth to the role, whether it be from a friendly air or a moment of serialization with a purpose, and she also kills it in the action as well. Sakaguchi is the youngest member of the cast but he doesn’t let that stop him either as he does some of the most to move the story and see the day, even if he says very little, because he’s always moving and generally kicking ass. Dais and Soto are fine, but mostly best together rather than apart as they are supposed to be the best of friends showing the benefits of peace and happiness, though they fight well when needed. Suzuki really stands out as Mera as he is quite a bit crazed at times with his commitment to hating Kai and his friends for an (until the conclusion) unknown reason, but he adds a lot of the comedy and brings about some of the best fight scenes. Takeuchi is basically the big buddy but also the biggest comic relief as he is like a more mobile Jabba the Hut but to comical extremes as he hedonistically devours flesh and constantly thinks about sex. No one truly stands out with a best performance or any to truly write home about as far as emotional and powerful perfromances. However, they all do a great job in their roles and especially with their rapping and some of the fighting really.

Sono has always been something of a mad genius and that has never been more apparent than in this move. The absurdity and excess are all played the give this world true life and give more believability to these gangs existing, these characters constantly rapping, and this crazy culture that is allowed to persist. The movie is bright and vibrant despite featuring lots of death, depravity, poverty and pain in a way Sono can always bring to the screen and it is just wonderful. The biggest issues though also fall on Sono as some ideas feel less fleshed out and underexecuted and sometimes the pace is slowed too much after the energy of a hilarious rap/murder/dinner at Buppa’s. There needs to be slower moments in any movie, but sometimes it’s left to drag too much and really felt like the time could’ve been used better. As for underexecuted, I’ll just say that there is a scene with a tank and how that is done and what is done with it underwhelmed me and actually left me guessing why it was in there at all. These are little things in an otherwise truly enjoyable movie with great comedy, action and music, but it needs to be mentioned.

Rating: 4/5

Reelization:

Despite some flaws in execution, I can’t think of a movie that better encompassed everything that makes Fantastic Fest great and was a great movie. It’s certainly not for everyone nor is it Sono’s best at all, but it’s also a movie that I would recommend to anyone that has liked other Fantastic Fest movies, any of Sono’s other movies or had any interest in anything that I mentioned in this review. The movie is truly just if you mixed The FP with The Warriors and then focused on rap and it’s wonderful and I can’t wait to see it again.

Fantastic Fest Review: My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

image  Written by: Ben

I am almost surprised to say that I have not only seen multiple documentaries at this year’s fest, but also that I am a fan of them all too. This one in particular is one I was really excited for as a guys who’s always been a fan of directors and production itself, and of course of the subject himself, Nicolas Winding Refn. He has become a very prolific director over time and has met with some very mixed reviews, namely for the film that this documentary documents, Only God Forgives. It’s something interesting to see so I was more than open to seeing how his wife documented the production.

The documentary starts with a focus on their family life as they reside in their “new home” in Bangkok that they will reside in for the duration of the production. Refn, his wife (the director)Living Corfixen and their two daughters left their home in Denmark since the time apart for the production of Drive was a huge strain on them. We also quickly realize that the success of Drive and desire to do something very different and artistic is weighing heavily on Refn as well. Corfixen documents his frustration with the expectations based off his last movie, the limits of his time and budget for the film as well as his higher concept for Only God Forgives not truly connecting with others on the production and in the press. It’s that frustration and it’s impact on him and his family who have traveled to be with him that truly drives the story and makes it interesting.

The personal drama on display is what I think is the strongest feature of this documentary compared to other production documentaries. As his frustration gets the best of him Refn enters into some times of heavy depression and disconnect from his family. This also highlights underlying family conflicts, namely how Corfixen takes care of the children and the home while also wanting and needing to focus on her career, which is made difficult by Refn’s career and and the effect his work has on him. It feels like none of that personal element was left on the cutting room floor, which they easily could’ve for more focus on the production, and that is a welcome openness that really engages you. Mixing in his friendship with and admiration of the famed Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky and some of his interesting personality as well was even a fun mix. The personal touch truly is the best, especially when it is such an interesting life to get that close personal look at.

The time spent on the production is much smaller, at times for better though also frequently for worse. The documentary runs at a short 58 minutes in total and truly the majority is on the personal life stuff, despite being sold as a production doc. What we do get of the production though is an interesting look at how Refn’s onset person varies from himself at home (both just being with his family and when discussing the production) as well as how he looks at the writing and filmmaking as a whole. What was also great was just the time’s with him and Ryan Gosling or when Gosling is with the family as it is clear the two are great friends and that Gosling might as well be family for them. Again, these personal moments are what are really great here and some great insight, and that also makes it a flaw to not be shown more of it when the film certainly wasn’t running long. It ends up leaving you feeling a bit short changed on what was promised and shown to be available there as Refn clearly has a very interesting style and mindset to his filmmaking that I really would’ve loved to see more of.

Rating: 3.5/5

Reelization:

This is a solid documentary, especially for being Corfixen’s first time directing one that has some great promise and some wonderful insight into the life and personality of it’s subject. It’s a shame that it doesn’t take the time to show more of the actual production when it runs at a fairly short duration already, but in the end what you get is quite interesting. If you have any interest in the life of Nicolas Winding Refn and/or into how he writes and directs his films then you’ll certainly enjoy this, but if you are just interested in an interesting production doc like Heart of Darkness then you will be likely let down by this one.

Fantastic Fest Review: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

image  Written by: Benimage

I was certainly excited for Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (gonna just call it “Electric Boogaloo from now on to save myself time typing) when I saw it on the festival list. While I don’t know Cannon that we’ll since it’s from before my time, but I am a fan of some of their films along with my love for B-Movies. As such when the opportunity to see it came around I was glad to give it a watch can then relay that info to you here now!

Cannon Films itself is a story worthy of a movie like this as it was founded by some larger than life figures. Menahem Golan who loved cinema in all its regards and Yoram Globus, his cousin who worked with him as a skilled marketer and accountant, founded Canon Films and changed cinema forever. They had found early success in their home country of Israel and then moved to America to do the same thing but with American cinema. Despite barely, if at all, knowing what American audiences wanted they revolutionized how to get funding and make independent cinema, as well as made movies in a way the was unknown in America. While meeting relative failure in the end and separating, these two cousins really shook the pillars of cinema to its core.

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Director Mark Hartley has made name for himself as a documentarian and for investigating aspects and genres of film in his movies. His most well known documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, looked at the early boom in Australian cinema with Ozploitation, and much of Cannon followed in that exploitive vein. As such it’s an understandable change over for Hartley, and he clearly comes at it with the same energy and passion for the subject. The biggest issue though is that it almost feels like there isn’t enough time for all the details an discussion about Cannon in the run time allotted. Hartley almost over extends the content and as such actually feels rushed at times.

It is almost traditional for documentaries to have a much slower than a normal film plot, so it is a mixed criticism. The pace is almost breakneck though, and while being too slow is a common issue for documentaries, this one goes almost too fast. It’s not really a big fault of the documentary or Hartley in the end as they are covering ~30 years of filmmaking from Cannon, but it does feel like they could’ve slowed down. There’s a few specific films they cover for about 10-15 minutes, when others are just named or briefly mentioned Some of these could’ve been covered in just 5-10 minutes instead and it would have had no negative effects on the flow or care given and instead would allow for more time on other aspects. It’s a minor gripe, but not one I could overlook.

Rating: 3.5/5

Reelization:

A very commendable documentary about one of the more interesting companies from Hollywood history, even if many of their films were forgettable. It is both a cautionary tale and a tale of reverence for their innovation in many areas and truly a fun watch. If you have any interest in 80’s Cinema then this is a film you’ll truly want to see.

Reel Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2

image  Written by: Jason

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When the original How to Train Your Dragon released it was a pretty surprising success overall. Their last success was Kung Fu Panda 3 years prior with their films since then being minor successes at best. But then this one came out of nowhere with a lot of fun and a lot of heart and really captured the admiration of a movie goers young and old. Its 4 years later, with the series otherwise living its life as a TV show, but its now back to theaters and time to see if it can recapture the same magic the original did.

Goodness gracious great balls of fire, that’s how you do a sequel!

Set and released five years after the heart pulling original, How to Train Your Dragon 2 catches us up on life in Berk with a short voiceover and a glimpse into what our Viking friends have been doing for fun lately, now that their free time isn’t dominated by dragon slaying. In a wonderful exhibition of Dreamworks’ new rendering software, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) has been busy exploring with Toothless and mapping out the world around their island. He’s joined by Astrid (America Ferrera), his now fiancé, and her dog/chickenesque Stormfly as she talks to him about his father’s desire for Hiccup to succeed him a chief. So, you know, a lot has happened in five years. After spotting a plume of smoke in the distance, the two fly off where they encounter the film’s first villain, the dragon trapper Eret (Kit Harington), and are told about the horrible Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) and the mysterious dragon riding vigilante, which we all know is Hiccup’s mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), thanks to the trailer (way to spoil the big reveal Dreamworks).

Overall, the movie is gorgeous. A stunning amount of detail went into the small brush: every bit of armor is worn and scratched; every freckle and bit of stubble brings the character to life. The furs, the firs, everything in this world is immaculately textured. And the wide shots aren’t half bad either.

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Speaking of visuals, let’s talk character design. Namely the show stealing Valka. There are loads of parallels between this Jane Goodall of dragons and her son, from the way she treats the dragons reminiscent of Hiccup in the first film, down to the design of her costume. But where Hiccup has been manufactured and polished, Valka is rough and feral. Getting to see the two of them connecting and growing together is so natural and heart warming, much like how Hiccup and Toothless bond in the first film. Valka is just an amazingly dynamic character, unlike our villain. If there’s anything I don’t like about this movie, it’s Drago and the handling of the trailer (more on that later). And not in “Oh, he’s such a good villain you just have to hate him” way. For me, Drago felt really flat. He’s villain who can’t be reasoned with, who kills when he doesn’t get his way, who wants to “free,” by which he means rule, the world. He doesn’t really come into play until halfway through the second act, and then he’s just “I’m gonna fight you over here!” then “Haha! Now I’m gonna fight you over here!” And while his character does show Hiccup that you can’t solve every problem the same way, it pales in comparison to the “Man overcoming Nature” type conflict in the original.

The only other thing I don’t like about the movie really wasn’t even the movie, just the how they handled the trailer. First of all, they do spoil the whole reveal of Valka being Hiccup’s mom. In the film, she’s introduced in this amazing and mysterious air scene. A masked figure, unspeaking, that beats Hiccup in his own element, the entire time pretending that she wasn’t unmasked in the trailer. If you’re going to put all that effort into making such a great scene, don’t make the reveal it leads up to the focus of your marketing campaign. Then there’s the way they handled Eret, a.k.a. Eret son of Eret as he so frequently boasts. In one of their TV spots, they framed Eret as one of the good guys. They titled him under “New Friends.” But in the first 10-15 minutes of the film he’s introduced as a villain, leading Drago’s dragon trappers. So since they showed labeled him a good guy in the commercial but present him as a bad guy in the beginning, every time he appears on screen is just spent wondering “So how’s he going to turn into a good guy?” Still, for a major feature animation sequel with a lot to live up to, it’s pretty amazing that this is all I have to complain about.

Rating: 4.5/5

Reelization:

How to Train Your Dragon 2 does an outstanding job living up to its predecessor. The visuals are breathtaking, and the expert handling of the “hero” characters, new and old, makes up for its villain’s shortcomings. 

Reel Review: Machete Kills

image Posted by: Garrett

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Machete holds a kind of a special place in my heart. Not for being a great movie, which it really wasn’t, and not for being a passion project from one of my favorite directors, Robert Rodriguez. Seeing Machete in theatres was actually the first date for my boyfriend and me. So seeing the sequel was a no-brainer for us, but can it live up to the original.

Machete Kills takes place shortly after the end of Machete. Machete know works for the DEA stopping illegal weapons and drugs coming across the boarder. After an assignment goes bad and he is left for dead, he gets called back into action when a Mexican revolutionist points a nuke at DC. Now he fights for the US against killer prostitutes, deadly assassins, and the crazy industrialist behind it all, Voz.

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Machete Kills is a fun movie with plenty of gore and one-liners, but it doesn’t really have as much impact as the first film did. Now this is a movie that you have to take with a grain of salt and not judge it too critically. I mean any movie that starts off with a fake trailer for its own sequel, Machete Kills Again…IN SPACE, can’t be too serious. But as a critic I have to look at this somewhat seriously.

The plot of the first film might have been a little political, but at least it was easy to follow. This film can’t seem to make a clear point or even have a central antagonist. Some of the villains are the best characters in the film, but their scenes are too quick.

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Speaking if characters though, the acting is passable for a b-movie, especially Danny Trejo as Machete. Mel Gibson does a hilarious performance as the psychic industrialist, Voz, who dreams of a “Moonraker” type future for him and his rich shareholders. Demian Bichir really steals the show as the revolutionist, Mendez, who suffers from a split personality disorder that changes him from a crazy dictator to a level-headed freedom fighter. Lady Gaga, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Antonio Banderas all have small roles and I can’t get into the characters too much without spoiling the movie.

The faults in the movie only make less than great, but it is still enjoyable. The action is great, if not ridiculous, and the kills are memorable. I mean who can forget a gun that turns people inside out.

Rating: 2/5

Reelization:

Machete Kills is the fun type of grindhouse movie that writer/director Robert Rodriguez loves to make. But sadly, like grindhouse movies themselves, the sequels are never as good as their predecessor. Machete Kills is a fun action movie for sure, but it loose some of the heart the first film has and with a convoluted plot the film seems kinda messy. The acting is good, especially Trejo and Bichir, but some of the fun characters don’t get as much screen time as I would like them to. Until Machete Kills Again…IN SPACE eventually comes to theaters, Machete Kills is worth at least a matinee if you enjoyed the first one.

Reel Review: Gravity

image Posted by: Garrett

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After months of anticipation, I saw Alfonso Cuarón’s (Children of Men) new science-fiction film, Gravity. And after giving myself a week to finally catch my breath, I finally wrote my review.

For those of you who haven’t seen or heard anything about the movie, the sorry follow two astronauts on a routine space run to the Hubble Telescope. Kowalski (George Clooney), a veteran astronaut who knows how to stay cool under pressure and Stone (Sandra Bullock), a nervous medical officer on her very first trip in space. When a Russian satellite is destroyed after a missile is misfired the debris is knocked into orbit, destroying the astronauts shuttle and their ride home (way to go Russia). After miraculously surviving, the two astronauts become tethered together and begin jumping from space station to space station before their oxygen runs out and before the debris makes its second pass around the earth.
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THIS. This is what happens when you give a genius director plenty of creative control and enough money to do whatever the hell he wants. Take note Hollywood. Gravity is one of this year’s best films and credit must go to director/writer Alfonso Cuarón. The script is great, the acting is outstanding, and the visuals are some of the best I’ve seen in a movie. To Cuarón’s credit, the science behind the movie is actually pretty accurate. The fact that no sound can travel through space just makes the whole experience seem more real and makes the audience care more about what happens to the characters.

George Clooney does a great job at what he does best, acting “too cool for school” in some of the most tense situations, but the most noteworthy acting in this film is that of Sandra Bullock. I would say this is my new favorite film of hers and should be seen as her crowning achievement. It is difficult for some actors to carry a film, especially when they are the only character on screen, but Bullock gives an amazing performance.
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The visuals in the movie are incredible and need to be seen on the big screen. Unfortunately I did not see this film in 3D, but sources tell me that this film is why 3D still exists. The amazing visuals only add to the intense suspense of the story, of which there is a lot of. Every “safe” moment just seems to be quickly followed by pure chaos in the best way. This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat for its duration.
The film isn’t 100% perfect, but it’s damn close. Some people may have issues with the plot and might be asking why medical officer is working on the Hubble and not an astronaut. And some may have an issue with a certain scene in the third act (that I won’t spoil) that may take them out of the film. But really, the flaws are few and far between and don’t take away much from the actual story.

Rating: 4.5/5

Reelization:

Gravity is by far one of the best films of the year. The action is great, the suspense is like nothing I’ve seen in a long time, and the visuals are outstanding (See it in 3D). The performances by George Clooney and especially Sandra Bullock are noteworthy, but the real credit for this masterpiece has to go to director/writer Alfonso Cuarón. Gravity is possibly the best survival thrillers you will ever see and it will keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll. This is one you can’t miss. Go see it.

Reel Review – World War Z

image Posted by: Garrett

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<Property of Paramount Pictures>

Though zombie films aren’t necessarily viewed as summer blockbusters, World War Z is trying to be just that. The new film from director Marc Forster (Stranger than Fiction, Quantum of Solace) stars Brad Pitt in a worldwide fight for survival against a recent outbreak of zombie-itis.

 

The film opens with Brad Pitt as Gerry (Jerry) Lane, an Ex-UN Lead Investigator turned stay at home dad, living in Pennsylvania with his wife and two daughters. It doesn’t take long for the world to go to hell and he does everything he can to get his family out.  Relying on some old friends from the UN, Gerry secures a helicopter pick up for him and his family and some open spaces on the last remaining aircraft carriers. But for his family to stay safe, Gerry gets called back into action to help try and find the source for this disease. From there we follow Gerry traveling around the world to different locations like Korea, Isreal, and Eastern Europe. Trying to survive the zombie apocalypse,  all while finding clues to the source, Gerry is put through some intense trials and situations but never forgetting his family.

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After watching the trailers, I didn’t have my hopes set too high for World War Z. And with controversy over the original story from the book being ignored, and issues with reshooting the 3rd act, my expectations were almost at an all time low. But I’m happy to say this film surprised me. For most the movie, it feels like a totally new and original way to show a zombie film. Traveling from city to city was a nice change of pace from the cliché of “let’s fortify and stay in one place”. The movie is very smart for being in the zombie genre. Brad Pitt’s character is cunning and constantly shows why he is the most important investigator the UN has.

 

The zombies are possibly the quickest I’ve ever seen on screen, but that doesn’t take away from the suspense. Though at times the hordes of them look like ants, swarming cities and crawling over each other to eat people, the zombies are creepy and a force to be reckoned with.

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<Property of Paramount Pictures>

If I were to have only complaint with this movie it would be that the gore was almost nonexistent. Blood and gore are almost always present in this genre and to keep it out of this film just seems off. I see the appeal of wanting a PG-13 rating, and 66 million on opening weekend can attest to that, but there were some scenes in particular that felt off as the camera seemed to cut away from the blood and gore.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

Reelization:

With the trailers not doing this movie justice most will go in with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised. World War Z is a smart action thriller that feels unlike any other zombie movie. It’s fast paced, the characters are likable, and the drastic change in settings throughout the movie is a big change from movies like Dawn of the Dead. The film’s constant action and suspense is unrelenting and is perfect for the summer blockbuster that it is. I would have liked the film to have more gore, but I can see the need to keep the film PG-13. If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, I recommend seeing this movie.

Reel Review: Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

image Written by: Ben

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<Image property of Berney Films and Quixotic Endeavors>

It’s really a rare treat when we get a chance to review a documentary as they just don’t come out that often and even then it’s rare that there is a press screening available to us. So when the screening for Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s came up, I jumped at the chance to screen it and I hope it’s the first of many we’ll review for you. I’m admittedly not the audience this is necessarily for, as Bergdorf’s or Bergdorf Goodman is a very expensive and well known New York department store known for high fashion which this movie focuses its most energy on. So did this movie based about posh fashion work for my fashion illiterate tastes? Well, let’s just get into it.

As I said, this documentary is about the department store Bergdorf Goodman which has been an institution of high fashion in New York city since 1928. In fact it has been at the exact same address since then and has been a source for the most fashionable clothing to rich and famous the world round. It is also a home for some of the most famous fashion designers and the place they all want to have their clothes offered as it is the pinnacle of the fashion world. With my knowledge of fashion basically being just the big names, what I know from the women in my life, and having seen The Devil Wear’s Prada twice actually was plenty to follow who was interviewed and what they were talking about. The movie did a good job of balancing fashion talk with the history and importance of Bergdorf’s to the fashion world and New York without requiring more knowledge then I had coming in which really is a credit to it seeing as my interest in that stuff is limited.

It is one of the most important things to a documentary to inform using quality sources, whether it be a serious documentary about an important scientific or social topic, or a lighthearted look into a topic that doesn’t need to be so serious. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s didn’t need to be serious, and it took a serious turn only at times that it was truly fitting but overall it took a welcome lighthearted approach. From inclusion of fashionista comedian Joan Rivers frequently, and a lot of fun and very open interviews with the designers and most prolific staff members of Bergdorf’s, they handled it well in that regard. With that being the aim of it and the point of a documentary always to be also to inform the viewer I felt like I learned a lot about the culture of Bergdorf’s and its clientele and I didn’t feel like it was preachy saying I should care about fashion or anything like that either. It was entertaining throughout and I felt I gained a bit from taking the time.

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<Image property of Berney Films and Quixotic Endeavors>

Regrettably its not all good things I have to say about this movie, and a sadly it’s the other side of making a documentary that it drops the ball. The way the information and movie as a whole is presented is just as important as its sources in those interviews and I feel that is where this film really faltered. It started off nice and slow following the doorman to work, then rolled into interviews that informed me of what to expect the style to be like the rest of the movie which it held close to for most of it. The issue is it then falters about midway through starting to divert the focus to the designing of the window displays for winter 2011. The windows are an important part of Bergodrof’s and the team behind them were fun and it was very cool to see, but it just felt thrown into the middle with an odd transition, then was unevenly distributed through the rest of the movie. There were 5 windows and sometimes the work on them was in pairs and sometimes alone, but really the fault was not starting with that nearer to the beginning and having the work on the windows as a sort of subplot for the whole movie. But this is just one of the most obvious examples of the inconsistency in the editing of the film as a whole that really is its biggest problem.

Also close to the halfway mark we start getting graphics on the history of Bergdorf’s for certain periods thrown in. I wanted more history so I can’t gripe it being there, but as it was only done about 3 times it just was a bit odd. There were also two random scenes where narration came in without any really rhyme or reason why they were needed now but weren’t used before. When we’ve had interviewees talking from b-roll and even audio clips from famous figures in Bergdorf’s history, this randomly added narrator just distracted me. There were some odd audio mixing things that would also stuck out to me, but these may not stick out so clearly to a normal audience not as attuned to editing things like that. But for me, it just felt like a missed opportunity to make this a much better documentary by not falling into some editing and production pitfalls that just make a move feel inconsistent even to a normal audience. It didn’t ruin it just it made it harder to love the movie when it was trying very hard to earn that love despite my normal disconnect from the subject matter.

Rating: 3/5

Reelization:

I really enjoyed Scatter My Ashes at Bergdrof’s as a whole as it educated me on an establishment I wasn’t familiar with and entertained me with the stories and day to day life of its staff and patrons. It’s regrettable that a few larger editing and production missteps really hurt its overall quality and made it so I can’t say it is truly worth a full price ticket. If you are a fan of fashion and Bergdorf Goodman then it may truly be worth a full price ticket, and even at a matinee price if you think you might like it or are a guy and your girlfriend has an interest in it, you wouldn’t be doing yourself any disservice to go see this. As I said, it is rare when we get a chance to see a documentary and notably uncommon that one that is generally light hearted and marketable to a broad audience comes along, and while this isn’t as good as the last one I can think off, Exit Through the Gift Shop, it is a worthy outing and generally a pleasure to watch.