Friday, June 21, 2013

Obstruction 1/5: A Positive Review of a Movie I Dislike

Bored by the unchallenging everyday (or for me rather every week) task of blog writing, Nostra from has created his perhaps most ambitious blogathon yet. Over the span of 5 months, the 5 Obstructions Blogathon is going to challenge film bloggers by presenting them with a different obstruction each month - hence the title. If you face the obstruction and succeed, you'll move on to the next round, otherwise you will be punished, simple as that.

Obstruction #1: Write a positive review of a movie you don't like OR write a negative review of a movie you like.

To me, the latter one was too easy. Ripping a movie - anything - apart, is much easier than praising something or explaining things that you like about it. So I'm going with the former possibility and I'm writing about one of the (luckily) few movies that I've seen in the past few months that I've disliked a lot. Here goes my positive review of 'HowFarObsessionsWithActorsWillMakeYouGo' aka Afterschool, the 2008 directorial debut of Antonio Campos.


Afterschool is an emotionally challenging and thought-provoking little movie that makes me curious to see more of the various young talents involved. Situated in an American private prep-school, it centers around a regular guy named Robert (Ezra Miller), who's a bit of an outsider and likes watching porn of the more rough sort. Infatuated with a girl called Amy, Robert joins the video class she's in and the two get together. While filming in an abandoned corridor on his own, Robert is suddenly met by two female students overdosing, and eventually dying in front of his camera. 

This is all I want to share of the plot in order to avoid any spoilers. At any rate, although it serves the purpose of disorienting and confusing the viewer, the plot isn't the main attraction of Afterschool. It's the emotional side of the story that drags the viewer into a claustrophobic net of assumptions and indications that are never truly solved, that makes this movie stand out among other contemporary avantgard-ish independent movies. The stylistic choices and narrative are particularly important here, for example we see the death of the two girls various times throughout the movie, always from different point-of-views, forcing us to guess what really happened and who was involved in what exactly. The camerawork also works as a disorienting force at many other times in the movie, framing situations in untraditional ways - for example cutting out people's heads - which creates an atmosphere of doubt and anxious curiosity for the goings-on. There is also no soundtrack to distract the viewer and dialogue is held at a minimum. In that way, Afterschool is a wonderful exercise in patience and a welcome detour from the many over-edited blockbusters we're constantly confronted with in cinemas. I'm sad that it didn't get much recognition from regular audiences, however critics did love it for its experimental nature, which in the end even gained it a handful of nominations and Special Jury Prize at the Nashville Film Festival. It's not that this is a particularly exhausting movie. If you pay a little attention and try to focus a little on your own, without the help of in-your-face direction, watching Afterschool is going to be a truly rewarding experience. Kudos to debuting director Antonion Campus, I haven't seen his previous shorts but am going to soon, and I'll definitely seek out his second feature film Simon Killer from 2012. It's always nice to see someone exploring cinematic possibilities and boundaries off the beaten track. Another thumb up to the cast with a special mention of Ezra Miller. This was the first feature film for the now up-and-coming star who has since paved his way into independent American cinema with performances in We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. 

Anyone who would like to re-kindle their hopes for contemporary cinema should check this movie out. It's an engrossing ride that deserves a bigger audience.

Directed by Antonio Campus in 2008 in the US. and A starring Ezra Miller, Jeremy Allen White and Emory Cohen

Rating: Strawberry


I hope I'll make it to the next round with this, it was a challenging task and a lot of fun - thanks to you, Nostra! As for the movie, I initially thought I'd like it, judging from the trailer and... well... Ezra Miller. Who's a bit too young for me here, but whatever, he rocks. The concept is very interesting and has a lot of potential, which made the first third seem promising to me - but then it all went downhill, as I realized where they were going. To anyone who's wondering where that might be, I tell you: nowhere. And no, I'm not going to check out Simon Killer regardless of how intriguing the title is. Ye ain't gonna play that trick on me twice, Campus. 
(My real rating is a lime explosion).


  1. Didn't realize that was Ezra Miller in the picture at first. I feel for you because I didn't like this film either. But you committed to the task, so I hope you make it to the next round.

    1. I really don't get how anyone would like but yeah. Thanks, I hope so too!

  2. Just read it and it was an excellent review. You have passed the first obstruction!

  3. Well, I think the best thing I can say here is that I LOVED your review, because I just love Afterschool :)


Let the discussion begin!