Paper Clips – Review

I’ve been reviewing way too many popular movies, so I needed something obscure. I can’t remember where I first heard about Paper Clips. It’s been in my queue for awhile now and I was finally in the mood to watch it this weekend (Netflix users, it’s a “Watch it Now” movie).

Paper Clips is a documentary about a small school in SE Tennessee who started a small project on the Holocaust. As they were talking about the six million Jews who were killed, one of the students asked what six million looked like. After some discussion and research, the students decided to collect paper clips. It turns out that was a very interesting choice because of its strange Norwegian origins and symbolism in Nazi Germany.

This multi-year story is simply amazing. Obviously, when a movie deals with the Holocaust, it’ll bring up all kinds of emotions. Paper Clips is no exception and covers territories I wasn’t expecting it to. The Weinsteins produced it, so the production quality and storytelling are above your average documentary. Expect scenes specifically designed to crack that cold, dead heart of yours. For those of you blessed with a soft heart, keep the tissues close….lots of ’em.

Obviously, I’m rating this pretty high, but should you see it? Absolutely, but I’d recommend that you wait until you’re in the mood. Like if you’re ever thinking to yourself, “What movie could I do a double feature with Schindler’s List?” I would recommend you lay off the black eyeliner and nail polish. For the rest of you, put this in your “See before the end of the year” list.

Grade: A

The Condemned – Review

You remember that short story you had to read in High School? The one about 10 homeless guys taken to an island to be hunted. They made a few different movies about it over the years and going into The Condemned, I thought it would fall within the quality range of those movies. Instead of hunting the homeless, The Condemned are all death row convicts and have to kill each other. Last man standing walks free. And it’s all televised on the internets.

Warning: If you know anything about how the internet works, this movie will cause you bodily harm.

For the most part, it actually met my expectations. It stars Stone Cold Steve Austin for cryin out loud. The man went to the Steven Segal School of Acting. You also know who is going to last to the end because they’re the only two people you recognize as having an ounce of fame.

But at around the 30 minute mark, something shifted. It became a great movie. No, Bruce Campbell did not make a cameo. Instead, the director portrayed the violence in such a way that I actually felt uncomfortable watching it. It wasn’t any more graphic than other movies. In fact, they cut out parts that other movies have gladly shown. But the way the murder and rape was presented fit perfectly into the message the director was aiming at.

And that’s where things fell completely apart. Instead of sticking with a great premise, (and I hope I’m not spoiling anything here), the director goes on to point out that violence in media only exists because people watch it. That’s a valid point. However, this is a violent movie (intended to make money) starring Stone Cold Steve Austin (of WWE fame) telling you that you’re to blame for violent movies. That’s like some guy at McDonald’s telling you it’s unhealthy as he slams a fistful of fries down his throat. Or it’s like Stone Cold Steve Austin kicking your ass because you’re to blame for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

OK, that’s a valid point. But I swear I did my part to avoid smellin what that guy was cookin.

Anyway, if you set aside the pretentiousness and hyprocisy of the movie, it’s not that bad. I mean it’s a mindless action flick with an out of place message, starring a pro-wrestler who can’t act (Stone Cold Steve Austin… Seriously. His name is like Beatlejuice). But if you’re bored on a Friday night with a few beers in the fridge, there are worse ways to spend an evening.

Grade: B-