Slow, slow week once more, in what is shaping up to be quite the Spring-slump. It happens all the time, after a strong year debut, one-movie-a-day kind, life sets in, questions bubble to the surface (why am I here, what am I doing, what the heck was Primer (2004) about?) and movie-watching grinds to a halt. What can you do?
Movie of the Week:
I, Daniel Blake (2016)
- I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017): Why not start the day with a piece on societal revenge of the underdogs? In a movie that’s thematically related to God Bless America (2011), but less mayhem-y and more focused, Netflix has produced a relevant and memorable story. When Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) gets burgled and receives little to no help from the police, she sets out to track the purported criminals herself, using her laptop tracker. In her aid comes Tony (Elijah Wood), a more than slightly asocial fellow who empathizes with Ruth’s cause and also is eager to vent his anger. The temptation is to say that the movie is about taking a stand at the arrogance of those who have too much, which might be true, but it applies generally to just defending decency. With two forlorn and depressed central character, IDFaHiTWA (haha) brings this across well, as they overcome their apathy and timidness in the face of the brutish and bullish. It’s the manner in which this contrast to the sensitivity of Ruth and Tony is portrayed that makes the movie feel relevant and true. 7/10
- Aliens (1986): There I was, planning to watch some Barcelona misery, only to realize my provider didn’t broadcast the game. Instead, I flicked through the channels and caught the opening credits of Aliens, which, you guessed it, I love. The only reason it’s not the MotW is because I’m trying to be mature and relevant, for a change. There’s so much I could comment on that makes Aliens a joy to watch, one of the best sequels ever made and a trove of snippy comments and snarky one-liners, that I wouldn’t know where to begin. So instead all I’m going to write is that, for me, Aliens matters not so much because it created an oft-used template for action-loaded creature features, but due to the breadth with which it develops on the foundation of the original. A lot of the time it feels like you’re in it with a bunch of friends. 9/10
- I, Daniel Blake (2016): The latest Ken Loach film is a heartbreaking tale of the Sisyphean struggle with the bureaucracies of the social welfare system. Daniel Blake, recovering from a massive heart attack, is told by his doctors that he cannot work, yet a less qualified bureaucrat deems him ineligible for financial assistance following a dire, standardized phone interview. Getting an appeal through on this decision appears arbitrary and hopeless, while the effort required to seek jobs which the man cannot even perform becomes a Kafkaesque task in order to receive some unemployment benefits. In spite of this bleak outline, feeling like quite a load, the movie is caustically humorous a lot of the time and deeply humane in approaching its characters. What makes it really shine is its conviction and how it finds nuance in unexpected moments, for better and for worse. If I am to have a gripe, it’s because of a lack of subtlety and the odd scenes where Loach is dogmatically demonstrative. But, really, I, Daniel Blake is pretty special. 9/10