Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: A GHOST STORY

Sometimes I just don’t get movies. And that’s just me. I do appreciate all different types of genres and never shy away from terrible looking films. And sometimes I am too harsh on films. In fact, I need to take back several things I have said about what I like to call “avante garde artsy-fartsy films.” I have once called Paul Thomas Anderson a hack, and I need to take that back. He’s not, a hack would be director Uwe Boll. I guess I just don’t understand or appreciate Paul Thomas Anderson films how I’m supposed to. I really only half way like three of his films (Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, Boogey Nights), but a lot of his other stuff, like The Master, Inherent Vice, and Magnolia, I just don’t get. They are very well made films, I have also called them beautiful garbage, which I would like to take back as well. I also can’t stand Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life or anything he has made after that. But he isn’t a hack either. He makes beautiful films that I just don’t care for but they are very, very beautiful. And I know take back what I said about Sofia Coppola several weeks ago with The Beguiled as well. She isn’t a hack either, just a well made, beautiful film I didn’t care for.  I do appreciate the occasional weird film, like Lost In Translation. But in retrospect, I think the “avante garde artsy-fartsy films” is my least favorite genre. So from here on out if I don’t like one of this films, I am not going to rip on it, or rip on the writer/director, because they almost all are beautiful pieces of work. But I am certainly going to tell you I didn’t care for it.

And I didn’t care for A GHOST STORY. It is a beautiful film, with a fantastic score, and a deep meaningful message. I was just bored, thought that other films have done this message better, and thought that whole film could’ve been used a bit more substance. I get why there is a 8-9 minute scene of Rooney Mara grief eating thru a chocolate pie because she is upset her husband just died. But I really didn’t want to watch it. I was bored, waiting for her to get up and go to the bathroom to vomit it all out. The scene just didn’t seem necessary. There is hardly any dialogue in this film, and there are a bunch of very long, very slow takes, a lot of them making me wonder why the take was so long when I got the message being conveyed in 10 seconds or less. One of the long take scenes that actually almost make me give the film a sort of recommendation was a long dialogue scene performed by Will Oldham where he talks about humanity’s legacy on Earth. It was a deep, rich dialogue, that I wish the film had more of.

If you don’t know what the film is about it’s basically Casey Affleck until a white sheet with two holes as a ghost (and honestly, was Casey under that sheet the whole time? I could argue that he probably wasn’t) as he looks upon his widow played by Rooney Mara after he dies and past that into the future and other peoples lives, not being able to move on. Out of an hour and 30 minutes, the film maybe has 10 minutes or less of dialogue. The rest is long takes, emotion filled faces, a breathtaking haunting score, and a couple of subtitles. To like this film, you have to love those really weird artsy-fartsy films, and you have to have a lot of patience.

I will admit that the film picks up about halfway through, starting with the dialogue by Will Oldham, and it almost picked up enough for me to give it a small recommendation. But after leaving the theater, I asked myself if I would ever watch it again, and the answer was a resounding “no.” It’s not a terrible film, but it’s just not my cup of tea. Just like the beautiful films of Sofia Coppola, Terrence Malik, and Paul Thomas Anderson, it’s a film I don’t get, don’t want to take the time to get, and will probably never revisit again. If you like those films, you are sure to probably love this one too. Acting wise, I’d say Rooney Mara (even though she isn’t in it that much) is the better of the two here, as Casey Affleck kind of mumbles the lines he does have and just moves around under the sheet (which I feel might not have been him at times).

That dialogue though by Will Oldham, if they could cut out that scene and put it on YouTube, just like the beginning of the news room with Jeff Daniels proving how America isn’t the greatest country in the world anymore, that shit will get a ton of views and a lot of philisophical discussion. In fact, maybe just rent the movie and skip to that part, because it is fantastic. But the rest of the movie is just ho-hum meh for me. But it is beautiful ho-hum meh, and will be appreciated by people probably much more into film and into that type of stuff than I am. Also, don’t go into this thinking it is a horror film by the poster alone, someone at the theater did and was shocked but what it was about, and looked like a dumbass. Do some research.

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