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Woodshock (2017)
rockman18224 September 2017
I thought this looked like Melancholia from the trailer so I was immediately intrigued. I love Kirsten Dunst, I find her very attractive and think she's quite underrated (please see Melancholia and Fargo Season 2 before disagreeing). I generally love independent films that focus on visuals and the aesthetic component of film so I thought I would be in for a treat with Woodshock. Unfortunately though, there is very little to write home about here.

The film is about Theresa, who recently experienced a tragic loss in her life. She is quite clearly emotionally sunken from the loss and takes a mind and reality altering drug that takes effect on her life. I wish I could say more about the film but its really hard to grasp or explain what else was going on. This isn't even a confusion in a good way. The film has nothing logical going on and doesn't even feel real. It tries to mimic profound films of a minimalist nature but fails to capture any interest or compassion for the work.

The filming style is worth viewing. Kate and Laura Mulleavy certainly have an eye for cinematic style. The use of superimposition was a huge favorite for this one. Neon lights, hazy atmosphere, and a powerful score also make the technical aspects of the film to look and feel top notch. The film does feel in tune with its drug fueled high atmosphere. That's really it. I think Kirsten Dunst is really good in this. She has really mastered the role of a depressed, grief encompassed woman. She's not at fault for the films shortcomings.

While I think Kate and Laura Mulleavy impressed with their style, their writing needs more work. Its hard to care and really follow what's going on. I am a patient person for films like this but they have to have a real impact with its minimal story. This film unfortunately does not do that and was a frustrating experience. Definitely not worth the time and effort.

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Aimless movie goes nowhere, leaves me unmoved
paul-allaer30 September 2017
"Woodshock" (2017 release; 100 min.) brings the story of Theresa. As the movie opens, we see Theresa taking care of a woman we later learn is her mother. Theresa, upon her mother's request, gives her a spiked joint to smoke. Later, when we see the room empty, we understand Theresa is grieving for the passing of her mom. Meanwhile, we get to know Nick, Theresa's boyfriend, and Keith, Theresa's colleague at the medical marijuana dispense store. At this point, we are 10-15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot (as it is) would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this movie is co-written and co-directed by the sisters Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy, who are respected fashion designers without any prior film-making/directing/writing experience. I admit that I knew very little about the movie going in, other than it starred Kirsten Dunst in an indie movie about someone grieving. That sounded it might be in the realm of "Melancholia", so sign me up! From the opening moments of "Woodshock", it all feels quite "artsy" and you are left on your own to figure out what is going on. I have absolutely no problem with that, and figure that if the movie is good, this will sort itself out at some point. Here we are left wondering, and wondering, and wondering… Things play out on the big screen and at one point you hope to be emotionally involved and invested. I couldn't have cared less about any of these characters, whose random scenes left me utterly unmoved, if not bewildered. There are a couple of plus points, including the at times gorgeous scenery (when Dunst goes walking among the sequoia trees, etc.), and of course Dunst herself. She tries her best, although looking equally lost as we are, and in vain looking for clues (at one point literally, as she searches her house top to bottom for … what exactly?).

"Woodshock" opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday matinée screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (just a handful of people). About 30 min. into the movie, I mumbled to myself "what's going on here?", and the guy seated a few rows before me turned around and said "you and me both!". This will give you an idea as to the state of affairs in "Woodshock". I honestly cannot recommend this movie in good conscience to anyone, but of course encourage you to check it out in the theater (although I cannot imagine it will play more than a week or two, tops), on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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Enchanting and melancholic experimental arthouse goodness.
JDreviews1012 January 2018
It's always very hard for me to rate and review these types of films, but I'll try my absolute best here. A lot of people will not like this movie, as it is clearly not intended for the mass appeal. These art films rely almost entirely on aesthetic elements such as intricate and thought-provoking visuals, unconventional use of symbolism, creative directing, imaginative editing and experimental music. Here we have a surprisingly strong directorial debut by the Mulleavy sisters. The film is beautifully directed and edited all the way through. Some of the scenes are very artistic and aesthetically pleasing. The plot becomes hard to follow at times, but that is something you would totally expect in a film like this, as the main focus is clearly the art direction and production design. Peter Raeburn crafted a beautiful score that fits perfectly with the atmosphere and overall tone of the film. Acting is a bit weak at times by some of the supporting characters, but Kirsten Dunst delivers an amazing performance as you would expect from her in a leading role. If you're in the mood for a sad and melancholic arthouse flick, go ahead and give this one a chance, it might be a pleasant surprise.
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Possibly Dunst's most haunted performance
drownnnsoda29 November 2017
"Woodshock" follows a young woman in Northern California who is devastated by the recent loss of her mother. Her grief becomes compounded by a successive tragedy, after which she begins indulging in a powerful cannabinoid that alters her mental state to dangerous proportions.

Contrary to what the current IMDb rating may indicate (4.5, for the record), I found "Woodshock" to be undeniably beautiful and not deserving of the critical hits it's taken. It's emotionally-driven to the point of being almost anti-cerebral, but the good fortune of having someone like Kirsten Dunst playing the lead character makes the endeavor appear seamless. She is fantastic in the role, conveying inordinate amounts with so few faculties. Her emotional work is felt more than it's seen, which I suppose is true for the bulk of the film—in any case, Dunst is incredibly naturalistic here, as is the rest of the supporting cast. They each feel like people I could have known in the rural town I was raised in.

This is not a movie where much "happens," so-to-speak; I wouldn't call it an experimental film by any means, but it is certainly an art film that revels in experience rather than explanation—there is a narrative, but it is not narrative-driven, instead more concerned with impressions and sensibilities. There is gorgeous cinematography throughout with overlays and crossfades that seem to be invoking Tarkovsky, and montages that recall Terrence Malick.

The writer-director team (sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, founders of the fashion label Rodarte), said they were greatly influenced by the Redwoods of Northern California where they grew up, which were incorporated into the film. I will say that the trees themselves do not take up as much visual or narrative space as I had expected they would, but there is an ominous, majestic, yet haunting representation of them. I was raised in the Pacific Northwest, so the landscapes, towns, and even the characters feel very familiar to me. Each of the characters, from the sparsely-drawn to the most significant, register as "real" people, which helps ground the film's darker and more tragic turns.

In the end, I found "Woodshock" to be a legitimately well-made film that's been slagged off by anti- intellectuals, which is ironic given that it's not an intellectual movie per se. It's an emotional journey if anything, set in an extraordinary place, among ordinary people, in unusual circumstances. Dunst's performance alone is haunting (or haunted), and reason enough to view the film—I found it even more interesting than her more muted (but equally great) performance in "Melancholia." This is certainly a love-it-or-hate-it-type film, but as a dark, impressionistic endeavor, "Woodshock" succeeds largely with the help of realistic characters and realistic performances. 9/10.
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Wanna get high?
rambobarbieisba1 October 2017
This film is terribly amazing, this film is sort of like a good camp film everybody and everything is so serious yet it is all so poorly executed. Mainly the plot is a few things happen then latter the plot may or may not tell you what in the hell was/is going on. Kirsten Dunst is amazing in this film she plays a stoned out of her mind super pot head who is just about always in her underwear or in a dress that is very focused on her boobs and butt.

The film really goes for a Nicholas Winding Refn/Safdie Brothers kind of neonesc lighting that really doesn't work with the camera movements, though it does add humor. The writing is very lacking and so is the visual story, if you were deaf or blind you'd have even less of an idea as to what is going on then those with both which is still pretty much no idea. There really isn't much of a story and not in a good "where the story lacks everything else expands" kind of way but just in a sort of "weak story that tries to seem deep" kind of way, if that makes any sense. One last critic is that the cinematography really takes me out of the reality of the reality of the films world, it just seems like a visual image not a place I could be or am.

I do like the film though, it is extremely original in the weirdest way possible, which is fantastic. If you don't take it very seriously you'll have a fun time. I really hope the Mulleavy Sisters make another film because I will definitely watch it.

(P.S. There's a Galaxie 500 song playing during one of the scenes which is just awesome)
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A slow slog through a meditative photographic lens
tabuno27 January 2019
Kirsten Dunst stars as Theresa in this independent art film about the grieving process of a young woman who lives in a timber harvesting town. Theresa's role in the assisted suicide of her ailing mother at the beginning of the movie lingers in the background. The movie incorporates the use of heightened audio sounds and photographic shots of nature along with a sound track to enhance the cinematic experience and pacing. The juxtaposition of the old industry of timber mining that Theresa's husband undertakes while she, herself, actually helps out in the newer assisted suicide dispensary commercial field is a fascinating contrast of old and new occupations. The timber mining scenes are enlightening for their graphic and location setting ambiance of a hard and perhaps life limiting expectations for a future couple now living in Theresa's mother's home which was her mother's wish and which, however, her husband isn't exactly thrilled about and whose promotion will take him away from home for longer hours.

Insect sounds, bird chirping, the wind along with the creative shots of wood old growth, shimmering sun rays all combine to portray a sense of nature that humans only inhabit as interlopers and observers. Theresa is often seen as a diminutive figure against the larger natural setting of gigantic wooden tree trunks and lakescapes along with the plucking of wistful musical string accompaniment. Very solitary, very somber. At the same time, the director shifts perspectives between nature scenes and wood cutting scenes offering the contrasts in the environmental setting where the movie is set and where the movie's character's exist and likely living out their lives. There is very brief physical motion of an older man turning himself in a circle while saying, "I'll see you around." in a touching, melancholy moment as he's about to leave the medicinal dispensary.

Whether or not seeing Theresa a lot of time in short skirts and in one scene almost half-naked while hanging out at home alone was deliberate to keep the male audience interest or not, it still was effective in presenting a captivating figure as well as suggestive of an authentic presentation of life at home usually covered up or lewdly displayed in most other typical movies. Yet unlike the trailers, the movie seems to revolve around the meaningless lives of people living in a timber town and the aftermath of a possible important life altering mistake. As a consequence, the movie seems to plod through its visual and audio digital footprints in a languid, almost boring pace like those characters on the screen, only heightened by the editing and addition of environmental sounds and music and artful depictions of nature -- Even the swishing, sparkling crisp tinkle of musical tones and glittering splashes of light from a carwash. There is also a lingering unspoken relational tension between Theresa, her husband, and the medicinal dispensary owner as a underlying theme to the movie. At the same time, there is a sense of decay, an almost empty refrigerator with uneaten cake and spoiling eggs.

The totality of this movie is a slow slog through a meditative photographic lens that seems to lead towards an ambivalent and meandering course to an inconclusive ending unlike an analogous but more striking and straightforward storyline like one of the best of its drama genre Another Earth (2011) or even Dunst's earlier stark and hard-hitting drama Melancholia (2011).
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francescof8628 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I admit I had plenty of difficulties liking this movie. I could not understand the meaning and the reasons behind the actions of the leading character. It takes patience (desire) and multiple views in order to understand how guilt and ambivalence play over a conflicted personality. Certain scenes, that appear to have no meaning, represent how Theresa (Kirsten Dunst) experiences the uncertainty in thoughts (life or death) and actions (end with life or the opposite) before finally succumb with it and embrace it as she gave up with life. She also ends up homicidal as she appears to be led by anger towards the people who belittle or embrace a certain emptiness and carelessness towards life and human beings. She follows with total self-destructiveness. Kirsten Dunst ("The Beguiled" "Midnight special" "Fargo" (II Tv Instalment) gives another tortured performance growing each moment until it completely becomes overwhelming. Being the film really difficult to enjoy, I suggest only people interested in more views and studying see it.
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"In- DUH!- ca" !!!
valis19492 January 2018
The cinematography is very well-done, and that's it for the positives because overall the film is a very slow-moving Wannabe Art Film that's poorly written and slowly devolves into an overblown, confusing downer with little or no meaning. Kirsten Dunst is a tremendous actress, but there is absolutely nothing in this screenplay for her to work with.

Think- Indica, as in, "in-duh!-ca".
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Poorly Written
iquine12 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
(Flash Review)

Apparently we are presented with a woman who has a terminally ill mother. She quickly dies after her daughter brings her some sort of potent herbal drug to smoke. This event torments her for the entire film. There are an abundance of vague scenes that are shot to visually highlight the woman's emotional state with lots of reflections and double exposures. Yet for me are way too abstract (I enjoy abstract visually-focused films; Terrence Malick - need I say more?). What questions are we supposed to wrestle with while watching? The infinite turmoil she has for ending her mother's pain? You certainly feel and experience her loneliness and you can argue how small she feels in the world while wandering through trees in the Red Wood Forrest. Even after watching the bonus feature of the director duo, I didn't get any more clarity. That is apparently the point; the viewer brings their own interpretations to it. So....it was visually impressive but super thin on context.
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marcar91221 May 2018
Drawn to this movie by Kirsten Dunst and the guy who played Batou in "Ghost in the Shell", I was very disappointed in what I witnessed. Unlike "Upstream Color" which deals with a similar drug-induced action theme, Woodshock had none of the beauty or comprehensibility of that film. It was a journey--back and forth into the same sets--that went nowhere. Dunst is like a rat in a maze--smoking more and more joints for less and less reason.
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