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Observe and Report: Anosognosia in Macro

Anosognosia: “lack of insight” or “lack of awareness” – is believed to be the single largest reason why individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder do not take their medications.

Treatment Advocacy Center

It’s this really unfortunate thing, right? That Paul Blart came out in January of 2009 and six days shy of four months later Observe and Report came out.

Every time I mention Observe and Report, people take a second to rattle their memories and typically come up with “That other mall cop movie? The one with… Seth Rogen?” Exactly. I guess if there were ever a time when a movie should be shelved, it was then. Because had Observe and Report come out a year later, it perhaps would have garnered a broader audience. They could’ve sold it as a parody of some kind.

But even those outside the film industry know that you can’t produce, edit, and distribute a motion picture in the span of four months. Had they perhaps waited, like, eight months maybe then the public would be willing to accept Ronnie Barnhardt as some sort of filmic response to how squeaky clean Paul Blart is.

Or maybe the next to non-existence of redband trailers in 2009 totally stalled any chance this film had of marketing itself as a graphic antithesis to Mall Cop. The trailer for the film does nothing to prepare you for how quickly the movie goes dark.

But, shit dude, the movie itself is brilliant. I have yet to truly grasp the humor of the Foot Fist Way, and could only ever make it through the first season entirely of Eastbound and Down, which leads me to think that this is probably Jody Hill’s most accessible work.

His style of humor is a tough pill to swallow and he doesn’t give you a glass of water. It’s an absolutely unrelenting experience that truly makes the viewer begin to ask, “Wait, when am I supposed to laugh?”


When Observe and Report first came out in 2009, the film blew me away with it’s deep-black sense of humor that absolutely tests your ability to finish its scant 82-minute run time. It takes you into the depths of purely being frustrated with Ronnie and his deluded, alternate, sense of reality that it gets to the point that you just feel bad for the guy.

That’s when his date with Brandi happens. He gives her all his medication figuring that because she said yes sober but went out with him drunk it clearly means that they’re now in love and boyfriend & girlfriend. Obviously. Given Ronnie’s great fortune at finally nabbing the One, the medication is now unnecessary so he gives it her and she says, “I was like ‘Okay, weird guy at the mall asking me out.’ Oh my God… But now I got a whole new script! Thank you!”

That whole section of the movie–and especially Ronnie’s actions–raise huge questions about the idea of consent and whether or not either of the two parties involved were in the proper state of mind– whether it be due to an external or internal struggle–to say no. Especially since Klonopin basically erases your memory if you take too much. That whole sequence is fascinating and the way it ties together at the end is even better.

That’s what it is: at about the hour mark the film externalizes his emotions when, after a fight with police, he is seen in montage healing from those physical wounds. At the same time, he starts taking his medication. And! His alcoholic mom has a change of heart and decides to switch to beer because, as she says, “I can drink that stuff all day and still keep my shit together.” It’s a moment in the film that, because of its structural placement, still connotes growth in her character.

This all leads to, when the final act of the film occurs, you’re rooting for Ronnie to accomplish his act of redemption–to see him restore faith in himself.

The entire film is based around Ronnie’s bi-polar disorder too. Coming from someone who’s dealt with it all his life and done his goddamndest to find the right medicinal balance, it’s interesting to see it from the pills perspective. See because, at the beginning of the film, when Ronnie’s doing well (but still fucking crazy in a moderately subdued way), he’s only on Klonozapam. Which, as you know, is what Stevie Nicks was addicted to. Except back then some drug company still had the patent and they called it Klonopin.

“When you’re on tranquilizers [ie, Klonopin] you really can’t be depended on.” -Stevie Nicks (around 1:15 in the video)

I’ve had a prescription for it before and it’s one of those drugs that makes you mild to moderately numb to the world more than actually help resolve any of the actual issues at hand. It’s kind of like a Band-Aid whereas something like an SSRI or MAOI is more akin to a brace. It’s something that inhibits your movements in a way that encourages proper development.

So at the start of the film, Ronnie’s already only operating with a Band-Aid to keep his gaping mental gash from splitting open. It explains his already deluded state.

That whole layer of the film, though, and the fact that he stays on the same medication and doesn’t get further psychiatric treatment, speaks to that inner ability to heal oneself to the point that the medication becomes mere augmentation to the solution itself, which is mindfulness. I guess that’s really what it’s all about.Observe-and-Report-Movie-Poster-observe-and-report-5364882-518-755

Best Movies, 2009

Well. I saw close to 60 new releases this year, most thanks to working at the movie theater. However, since the theater I work at is one of four in Humboldt County–a place seemingly devoid of truly independent features–I have mostly only seen mainstream and fringe mainstream films. Not to say this is a bad thing, it’s just that you won’t find Precious or the Road or Nine or whatever on these lists because they haven’t been released up here–if they ever will be.

Some movies struck me in a different way than most critics. I am willing to assume this is either due to age or experience. Perhaps when I am older, I will revisit Up in the Air–a movie on several year-end lists–and find it more enjoyable or at least relatable. So this best-of-the-year list is me, now.

Top 19 of the year:

19) 9: I mentioned in my Where the Wild Things are review that this movie was essentially Jungian Archetypes: the Movie, which was pointed out to me by my girlfriend. This is very true. And, after acknowledging that, I was much more satisfied with the film as a visual parable than as a film with a three-act story. I guess it could’ve also been called Voldemort’s Horcruxes as performed by socks and gloves but that’s a too esoteric, I guess.

18) Gamer: Boy, this is one flawed but awesome movie. With a supporting cast of underdeveloped characters and two very well written main characters, this movie created one of the coolest bad guys of the year as well as offering some more revoltingstrange imagery that the NevaldineTaylor team has become known for with their Crank movies. Definitely one I look forward to owning.

17) District 9: A story that has been told before but without such an awesome flow. The beginning of this film is shot much like a documentary and, as the story slowly evolves along with Van der Mewe, the cinematography becomes steadier and steadier until it is shot on tripods like an average film. It is interesting details like this that help to elevate it above and beyond other films about aliens and their implications. I really liked the way that the story was handled.

16) Adventureland: A very personal film from the guy that did Superbad and from a school that I hope will become my MFA alma mater (Columbia). The characters in this movie are very relatable and instantly likeable… except Ryan Reynolds who plays the guy that all the kids love but the adults (and people his age) don’t care too much for. Anyone who’s ever had a summer job or lived through high school can relate to at least one thing in this very strong film.

15) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Honestly, this movie might have been funnier than anything I’ve seen this year. It was that hilarious. The story drags ass in its third act as the evil food-making machine gets its ass whooped, but the first and second portions of the movie made me laugh. I was impressed with how well done (and how socially conscious) this movie was–the second computer animated film (Monster House was the first) not made by Pixar to steal my heart.

14) The Hangover: Surprisingly hilarious, well written, well acted, and well directed. What else is there to say? The moment this film hit theaters, it entered into the comedy canon of films that are able to make a lot of people laugh. I remember enjoying my theater checks for this film because everyone was always laughing. The first comedy in a long time to hit a lot of funny bones. Hopefully the sequel will be just as kickass.

13) Where the Wild Things are: When I wrote about it, I talked about its symbolism and its strengths. Given that, and how beautiful it is, I still found it to be kind of boring. Needless, it is a beautiful film that has a lot to say and has been done in such a way to cull emotions from childhood for even the coldest of hearts.

12) Fantastic Mr. Fox: This movie was one that showed that Wes Anderson could adapt himself to any format he wants, adapt any books he wants, and still remain Wes Anderson. The animation is arcane yet awesome because it accentuates the story in such a way that it stops short of becoming just another Wes Anderson quirk-fest.

11) A Serious Man: The only movie on this list to even be remotely considered indie (damn you Humboldt County!), the Coen brothers offer a strange fable of cyclical, parallel, stories of a father and son trying to deal with Jewish faith and growing up and dealing with a divorce and other strange tragedies.

10) Inglourious Basterds: This movie would have slotted higher had Tarantino not relinquished the beauty of this film in favor of paying homage to shitty violence by repeating their shitty violence with pisspoor effects. I understand where he’s coming from, but these moments in the film were entirely disengaging. Yet, still, this is an awesome film built out of long dialogue sequences told in chapters that almost collide near the end of the film. A film that can open with a 20 minute dialogue in French and English without being disengaging in this day and age should be admired–especially for a wide release summer film. The language, mind you, was one of my favorite things in this film: instead of everyone speaking English (I’m looking at you, Valkyrie), Tarantino chose to do this film in four languages and acknowledge the barriers between them.

9) Observe and Report: This is the darkest comedy I’ve seen in a long time. It’s also the funniest movie I saw all year. Seth Rogen does an amazing job as a mentally unstable mall cop whose megalomaniacal delusions and dissertations help to heighten the humor as the movie kicks into high gear for a back half that had me laughing and cheering this movie to the end. But, be forewarned, this movie is not for everyone. It is fucked up and it is sad, but it is played with such awkward and insanely risky timing that it becomes funny. In any other context, this film is as serious as a heart attack. But, in this universe, this film is a riot.

8 ) Paranormal Activity: I about crapped my pants four times during this film. Not since the Blair Witch Project have I been so scared out of my mind and so terrified for an hour and a half straight. Seriously, don’t see this shit alone. But see it nonetheless. The horror is in your mind and, as a result, it stays with you much longer than Saw VI ever would.[1]

7) Moon: I love a movie that will twist and convulse into itself until it makes perfect sense while making no sense at all. That’s exactly what happened in Moon. Normal things happen then weird things happen then crazy things happen. And, through it all, Sam Rockwell is the only one in this film aside from the voice of Kevin Spacey–this is an amazing thing because he carries the weight of an entire film with the dirty-hipster ease that he’s always had. His turn as Charlie Ford made me a fan, this made me an advocate. The director of this film, Duncan Jones, also happens to be the son of Ziggy Stardust. This was an awesome sci-fi film.

I’m still working on 6-1. They seem so fluid. Tomorrow. I promise.

[1] Interesting note: These two films were playing in side by side theaters when they were released up here. Walking out of the tomb of silence in Paranormal into the Saw VI gore and guts fest was a very odd experience that seemed to be rather indicative of the two extremes that horror is falling into these days… Just a thought.

Trailers that excite the shit out of me vol. 1

This is a semi-regular column devoted to showing off the trailers of movies that look promising. The posting of this feature will solely depend on my subjective opinion and my definition of “exciting.”

I probably should have started this feature before the summer began because, then, I could have shown trailers for the Incredible Hulk (let down), Step Brothers (let down), the Dark Knight (let down), or Wall-E (best movie this summer).

My Winnipeg

So I guess this one isn’t the newest film or one that hasn’t even come out yet. But it’s also one that’s being self-distributed by Guy Maddin because it played in LA for a week at the Nuart and it’s playing until Thursday in Berkeley and San Francisco and then it’s disappearing for two weeks and returning in some podunk town in Delaware called Wilmington (actually the largest town in the state even though it has a population about half that of the suburb I grew up in) for a four day run.

So I’m showing you this trailer so that you get excited as fuck about this film in the hopes it comes within six of hours of my residence so I can see it finally–I missed it in L.A. because I had to work all goddam week. I was pissed. And you will be too if you miss it.

Also, if you find a full schedule of release cities and dates for this film, send me a comment or an email. Thank you!

pineapple express

Coming out in August is the next big comedy from the Apatow clan. This movie excites me because I have a hard-on for Seth Rogen and his smoked-too-much gruffy laugh.

In theaters, you’ve probably seen the clean trailer for this movie before most any big summer film (Iron Man, Step Brothers, but not the Dark Knight), but the Red Band Trailer is much more satisfying. I think it’s the fact that Pineapple Express can be stated as being weed. And because they don’t use the radio edit of M.I.A.’s song “Paper Planes” so she said “weed” instead of “seeds,” giving it much more poignancy to its being in the trailer.

Hamlet 2

Next up is Hamlet 2 which comes out in Late August… Now, before I re-watched the trailer while trying to remind myself about trailers, I thought that Eric Idle was the flamboyant Drama Teacher. But after watching the trailer again, and hearing Mr. Moviefone say “Steve Coogan” and not “Eric Idle” I realized that Idle is much older than that.

That’s no deterrent though since anyone who can pull a trick like that is still gonna get my ticket. This movie looks to be fucking ridiculous in all the right ways.


So I don’t know why this movie excites me. Maybe it started with the irony of having this trailer premiere before the Dark Knight while having its action dubbed over with a B-side (for this song) written for Batman & Robin.

But frankly I’m a bit sick of superhero films. Ever since the decade began with the X-Men movie, then two years later with the enormous grosses of the first Spiderman film, we’ve been inundated with adaptations from comic books and graphic novels. Most, though not all, are based around superheroes. And this is another one based on the “most celebrated graphic novel of all time.” (My waxing on about this has got my juices flowing, expect an article concerning this topic later)

Burn After Reading

Next up is what appears to be a return to typical form for the Coen Bros.

After they made No Country for Old Men, they’ve decided to return to their roots of heists and sales and deals all gone awry. I’ve seen every movie in their oeuvre save Intolerable Cruelty–which I probably will never see; I’m a completist not a masochist–and all of their movies revolve around a fish out of water surrounded by things going horribly wrong.

The fish out of water this time are Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand (in her first Coen film since The Man Who Wasn’t There) who–well, you’ll see in the trailer.

Again, this is a red band trailer for Restricted Audiences. I like these trailers because they give a better idea of the tone of the film–especially for R-Rated films like this one and the aforementioned Pineapple Express.

For this film, a lot of the red-band comes from the dialog, which is important to a Coen Bros. film since they kick ass at writing such things.

Miracle at St. Anna

Spike Lee has made a fucking WAR MOVIE.

Terminator Salvation

The fourth title in this series that will start off the final trilogy about Skynet and about John Connor saving the world.

I enjoyed the first two, and only watched the third because the villainess was a total babe. They didn’t let the audience enjoy her naked time jump enough though. Just sayin’.

Alright. That should do it for this installment. When I find more movies to get excited about, or movies I forgot to include, or the Terminator Salvation trailer in full is released, you’ll see this article again.