There was more than a bit of surprise during last week’s Oscars proceedings, with the kind of surprise being more surprising than the surprise itself. After the right people came on stage to take the big prize, Best Picture, for Moonlight (2016), things came back to normal – and by normal I also mean this echo chamber experience that is Hollywood.
Movie of the Week:
Ana, mon amour (2017)
- Moonlight (2016): Catching up on my Best Picture winner ASAP was an inevitability. With universal acclaim, the film has found room on almost all top ten lists for the year and it’s plain to see why. All around, there is little in terms of faults one can throw at it, given that it stands out through anti-stereotypical characters and smooth, intelligent cinematic construction. As we follow Chiron’s evolution, it’s easy to see in him a reflection of certain expectations and norms, given the precarious background he comes from, the bullying, the loneliness. The mimetic dimension of his character is beautifully conveyed, especially in the portrayal of his twenties, when he goes under the nickname of Black. Identity is equally precarious and precious and Moonlight tells a compelling story about it. However, I found it difficult to emote with the earlier parts of the film, as it seemed…culturally foreign, somehow. This is a silly thing to say, I’ve seen so many movies about realities I knew nothing about, but Moonlight was, perhaps, too American in its social themes and undercurrents for me to instantly latch onto it. Maybe the matter isn’t even about the movie being American, I’m not sure. Towards the end, I was almost on board, but it took longer than expected. Hey, whatever, don’t listen to me, I can barely articulate my criticism, just watch it because of how well it tells a story elliptically. 7/10
- Ana, mon amour (2017): And talking of elliptical stories, here’s another one: Netzer’s follow-up to the excellent Child’s Pose (2013) shares some elements with its precursor, but takes a different angle to the emotional roots and psychological ties of family life. A complex and layered film, it is framed in the present, but plays with the chronology of events to suit its thematic anchors: how relationships shape their protagonists and create inherent tension, abiding by no morality punch-card. While pertinent and polished in its construction, I found it hard to stay connected emotionally, especially as the characters evolve elliptically and the change in their dynamic feels abrupt. The full review here. 7/10
- Logan (2017): I managed to trick my mother into going to watch Logan with me (it’s rated over 8 on IMDb! over 90% on Rottentomatoes!), although not even I had seen the last two movies in the X-Men franchise. It didn’t really matter, of course, as Logan ends up being a grim, occasionally brutal superhero flick that covers its bases well and is anchored by Hugh Jackman’s grumpy McGrumpinson of a character. I do wonder if I’ll ever really like another comic book movie again, especially in regards to these blockbusters that are being churned out with agreeable competence, but no distinctive features. Logan does get close at times to being different, especially in its first half, before stretching the action out for too long, and just about recovering to seal the franchise with solemnity. 7/10