Author Topic: We Need To Talk About Kevin  (Read 5491 times)

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Alexandro

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2012, 11:10:00 AM »
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The people who made Martha Marcy May Marlene should have seen this first. Plot and character details aside, it's basically the same movie, better executed. (You kind of have to see both films to see what I'm getting at.) The dual-chronological structure (is there a term for that?) sucked much of the energy out of MMMM, but here it totally and precisely enhanced what it was supposed to enhance. The feeling of dread building up throughout the entire movie was incredible.

I saw both movies and liked them both. Aside from the past-present-past structure I don't really see that much of a resemblance, specially since as everyone else has pointed out, Kevin uses a lot of the "kid from hell" techniques to the point i felt I was watching The Omen or something, and MMMM has it's own much more subdued atmosphere. Could you elaborate?

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2012, 02:35:35 PM »
+1
This movie builds up the sense of dread successfully. It's more linear, and more powerful.

MMMM had flashes of menace and some disturbing bits, and I could tell it was trying to build up that same sense of dread, but it failed in that goal for me. Several reasons. For the whole duration I was trying to guess how bad things would get and what lurked below the surface, etc. Since the movie prompts you to do that over and over again, you inevitably overshoot. The whole thing was anticlimactic. Maybe they're going with the theory that things are more frightening when they're unseen, and there was certainly some of that, but in general it was all a bit too mushy and indefinite, unfortunately by design. The "what is real?" gimmick is probably even more problematic. Instead of being mindblowing or something, it just kind of deflates the menace of the cult, particularly in retrospect.

By contrast, the dread buildup in Kevin pays off. You pretty much see it coming, but that somehow makes it more dreadful. It just plain worked.
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Alexandro

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2012, 09:32:47 PM »
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I guess I know what you mean.

SPOILERS FOR BOTH Kevin and Martha Marcy...

I just don't think they were aiming for the same thing. Yes, in Kevin there's an increasingly sense of dread but it was more about finding out just what the hell the little fucker did than some fear that something terrible was going to happen to Tilda Swinton's character. In MMMM, besides that slow discovery the details of what really happened to her during her stay at the farm was the real suggestion that all this was coming back to get her even though she had already escaped.

I agree with both arguments in the sense that yes, the suspense and dread in Kevin were more effective yet also a little disappointing in the way the kid was portrayed (I mean there were moments you almost expected the guy to smirk at the camera), and also that in MMMM the pace and distant tone manage to break the tension.

About the ending of MMMM, I think it was appropriate for the film, it makes more sense when you think about it.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2012, 11:11:27 PM »
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SPOILERS (stop reading this thread)

Don't get me wrong, MMMM is still a good movie. Just not great in my opinion.

The dread in Kevin is not about feeling that Tilda Swinton is at risk. She's not; she's the aftermath. There's dread because we have an idea of what's coming. In MMMM, the dread was mostly fractured and ineffectual, because we have no idea what's going on. It's weird... you think it would be the opposite in both cases.

The film worked because Kevin's menace was there from beginning to end. MMMM is just not as powerful, because it's spread so thin and relentlessly goes for unearned atmosphere.

I'm trying to pinpoint Kevin's cartoonish behavior that people keep talking about. Are you talking about the stuff that happens when he's really young? Well yeah of course that's going to be brash and transparent, he's like 5 years old. Whatever, didn't bother me at all. What really gets me is the very subtle diabolical games he plays with his mother... of which there are plenty.
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Alexandro

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2012, 06:24:37 PM »
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SPOILERS

The kid behaves like a demon from hell pretty much in every scene he's in, which is is fine in the context of her POV, the idea is fine I mean. I think if it were toned down a bit it would work better, but then who know if the film would be so entertaining.

squints

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2012, 06:30:54 PM »
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Spoilers!


So i enjoyed this movie on a few levels. The style is the strongest point of the film for sure. Ramsay's direction alone has prompted me to see her other films. But i had a few issues that you guys haven't brought up yet concerning the story....


First off, for as seriously as this film takes itself, often times it is hysterical. I'm thinking specifically of how absolutely awful the townspeople are to Tilda Swinton's character. She gets punched in the face by an elderly woman, her house vandalized, her eggs broken etc... just constantly getting shit on and it gets so absurd that it made me laugh out loud a number of times.

This particular issue with the film made me question Why? Why are the people so awful to her? One of the central themes of the film seems to be if Kevin's attitude was Nature vs Nurture? Is he just inherently evil? Or was his mother so terrible with her absolute lack of maternal instincts (which seem to virtually never kick in) that it drove him to go on his murder spree? And even if it is his mother's doing, why would the townspeople react that way? This kind of violence is very familiar to our cultural consciousness and when a similar unmotivated killer opened fire in a movie theater a few days ago did people start automatically blaming his parents? Has there ever been any backlash to the families of a school shooter? I'm assuming not.

I kept thinking throughout the entire film that whatever it was that Kevin did, he some how convinced the world that it was his mother's fault, yet she is free to take pain killers and drink wine but he's the one in jail? When its finally revealed what he did there's no reason for the public to think that this is somehow his mother's fault is there?

Overall though, I really liked the way the film was edited, the screenplay structured, the color schemes throughout, the music...production-wise, this was just fantastic.

I just have a few issues with the tone of the film and the way the story plays out. 
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72teeth

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2012, 06:35:16 PM »
+1
soory if this was pointed out already and i missed it,

but has anyone expressed their thought on whether or not the first scene might actually be the last scene chronologically

its a beautifully cathartic scene if that is the case

i do love this movie too
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squints

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2012, 06:40:23 PM »
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soory if this was pointed out already and i missed it,

this just means you didn't read any of the thread and you just want us to discuss your questions! not fair!!

but has anyone expressed their thought on whether or not the first scene might actually be the last scene chronologically

I assumed it was before she had kevin, but i was only really gauging the before/after continuity on the length of her hair... i think it could've worked interpreted either way
“The myth by no means finds its adequate objectification in the spoken word. The structure of the scenes and the visible imagery reveal a deeper wisdom than the poet himself is able to put into words and concepts” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2012, 07:29:43 PM »
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SPOILERS

I disagree with your interpretation, Squints. I think she had plenty of maternal instincts but just couldn't get through to Kevin. That didn't even stop her from trying. All the way to the end, she yearned for that connection. Kevin just made it impossible.

I do agree about the overreaction of some of the townspeople. I couldn't sympathize with them at all... they seemed like monsters... but that's probably the point. It could be another thing that's exaggerated because it's from her perspective, and she's a somewhat unreliable narrator.

A lot is left unrevealed in the movie, so it could very well be that the defense during the trial, or Kevin in one of his tapes blamed his mother in the way he turned out, and/or maybe it was spun that way in the media. And yes, there was actually some serious suspicion and judgment directed at the families of the shooters after Columbine.

Also... clearly not everyone is reacting that way. Remember the wheelchair-bound victim who approaches her and is very sincerely friendly and seems to be reaching out to her. There are 2 or 3 extreme examples of hate toward her (a vocal minority), but the majority of it is subtle glances here and there, awkwardness when she runs into one of the parents of a victim, all of which are magnified by her misguided shame/guilt and her crippling self-consciousness.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2012, 03:39:22 PM »
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This guy totally reminded me of Kevin, especially his attitude and tone of voice. I wouldn't be surprised to find a few bodies in his basement.

http://www.onthemedia.org/2012/nov/02/gun-you-can-print-home/
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socketlevel

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #25 on: November 03, 2012, 05:12:52 PM »
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gotta be honest, I kinda like his stance. He was very well spoken, he's very open to the counterpoint but he isn't letting emotion get in the way of his point of view.
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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2012, 02:40:29 AM »
+2
I sort of enjoyed this movie. It's essentially an indictment of bad mothering.

Spoilers

The movie opens with Kevin's mom amidst La Tomatina, a big tomato fight in Spain. This is filmmaker shorthand for Kevin's mom is a free spirit.

In the hospital, after Kevin is born there is scene where Kevin's dad in cradling him, and his mother is indifferently staring off, presumably contemplating the end of her free-spirited ways, the end of her dreams, aspirations, etc. She pays no attention to crying child she just birthed.

Infant Kevin does not receive his mother's affection, so he cries. Her answer is to take him to construction sites, so his cries are drown out by the noise of jackhammers. At one point she stands over him and says that she was happy before he came into her life.

As he grows older he realizes he can get his mom's attention by doing bad things. He resists toilet training, wearing diapers way past the age children are supposed to. When he shits his pants he gets his mothers attention. His behavior becomes driven by the need to receive his mothers attention, because she is so inattentive to him and his needs.  He realizes the only way to receive her attention is through negative behavior.  This pattern repeats itself through childhood and then adolescence, where in one scene we see his mother opening a door to discover him masturbating and he looks at her intensely and continues masturbating even harder.

So the movie follows this dynamic to its ultimate climax where Kevin commits mass-murder, including his father and sibling as well many schoolmates. And what is mom's reaction? She gives him attention. She sticks by her child, even though she's being attacked and utterly rejected by her community. His reward for the ultimate crime is his mother's love. In the end, he becomes her whole life, supplanting everything she's ever valued or wanted in life. He wins totally.


Jeremy Blackman

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2012, 10:10:35 AM »
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That's not a bad interpretation. I think I'm due for a re-watch, because I might have been too unequivocally on the mom's side. I must have forgotten about the details immediately post-birth. Or I must have sympathized with her having to deal with this constantly crying baby.

I think it's complex, though. While Kevin is still very young, she seems to really sincerely try with him. But he's sort of an evil little kid. She continues trying, continues giving him attention. He is unimpressed. She is thrilled whenever they seem to have a moment together, but it's fleeting. Even into Kevin's adolescence, she craves those moments, and Kevin relishes the process of destroying them, and destroying her.

Also, if she is so intent on being a free spirit, why does she want the second child? She doesn't seem to want to make Kevin jealous or anything. She's simply starving for that mother/child connection, which she so obviously wishes she could have with Kevin.
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72teeth

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2012, 07:41:05 PM »
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Great analysis UB!

but i still want to be convinced that the La Tomatina scene is really the final scene..

but, ive only seen it once..

i gotta see it agian.
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©brad

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Re: We Need To Talk About Kevin
« Reply #29 on: December 08, 2012, 08:11:07 PM »
+2
Holy crap! This was a fucking movie. I'm officially obsessed with Lynn Ramsey and can't wait for what she does next.

In my first intro to cinema class my professor (who looked exactly like Robert Altman, but I think every college has a film professor who looks like Altman) spent an entire week preaching to us that sound is the oft-forgotten element of cinema, and you can always tell a great director when they use sound to their full advantage (PTA being one of them, and Lynn Ramsey is obviously another). How haunting was that opening shot with the sprinklers! We have no idea why we're hearing this, and why such a pedestrian sound is so haunting, and when it's finally revealed, I honestly lost my breath. It's amazing how something as simple as sprinkles can more thrilling and cinematic than million-dollar special effects. Fucking sprinkles, man. 

Tilda Swinton remains one of my favorite actors but the gold here goes to Ezra Miller. This skinny little bitch crafted one of the scariest characters I can think of.

UB you pose an interesting theory but I think it oversimplifies Kevin's disposition. Mothers go through emotional rollercoasters post-birth and all babies can be assholes. I felt mom was rightfully frustrated but never neglectful. She was always trying.

I do love the idea of the tomato scene being the final scene.


 

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