To appear less shameful in the eyes of the cinematic lord, I decided to merge the past two weeks of movie-going activities. My despondency rises to worrying levels though, as the taste for compulsive movie watching seems to have deserted me this spring, a decade after the Year of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade For Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems For Home, Office Or Mobile (sic). Yes.
Movie of the Week-merger:
Thursday (the week before)
- Ghost in the Shell (2017): I’ve never really been the biggest fan of GitS, but I did a) appreciate the original anime and b) appreciate its influence on my favourite Game of All-Time (GOAT), Deus Ex (2001). Major, a cyber-enhanced super-soldier resulting from an otherwise life-ending accident, is caught in a web of deceit and forced to question her being and her purpose in the world. The human-in-the-machine concept is weaved poetically enough to stand out of the shadow of Blade Runner (1982) or, let’s say it, RoboCop (1987) thanks, in part, to a fascinating, overpowering visual construction of the future megatropolis. However, while the anime did take the time to mince words and ideas, its 2017 iteration feels shallow in comparison and emotionally sterile. It’s a bit of a shame, because the movie is pretty to look at, conjuring an audio-visual density that both overwhelms and enthralls. Alas, more is needed to be relevant and with cinematic staying-power. 6/10
Sunday (the week before)
- Why Him (2016): There was no obvious reason why I, or anyone else for that matter, should have watched Why Him, the James Franco/Bryan Cranston take on everyone’s favourite courting dynamic: fathers meeting their daughters’s suitors. However, it was Easter, the family was around, so why not a foul mouthed dive into this meet and greet? Turns out there are enough reasons why, reasons which outweigh the perplexed and awkward laughs your aunts and uncles might produce. Firstly, the set-up is run-of-the-mill: smart girl falls for seemingly idiotic guy who owns a tech empire. Secondly, the guy is just an unredeemable, contradictory character who seems to be a walking joke. Thirdly, in spite of a few laughs, you’ve mostly seen or heard them all. Fourthly, it doesn’t even pretend to strive towards some semblance of originality. And fifthly, James Franco is in it. Just kidding. Maybe. 4/10
- Get Out (2017): The hype is real, folks. Jordan Peele’s debut directorial feature puts a twist on The Stepford Wives (2004), while also providing a far superior execution to the idea. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept behind Ira Levin’s book, although I disliked reading it, just as I disliked the 2004 movie. Something just didn’t click in the way the story unfolded and the last third of both book and movie felt derivative. Get Out manages the rhythm and timing much better, while also keeping a tight leash around its characters, thereby avoiding their becoming ridiculous. So when Chris goes to meet Rose’s parents, we’re up for a more nuanced and more unsettling Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), which hits the right notes and plays as a great parable with sci-fi undertones. A lot of the talk will be about the role of implicit racism, structural racism, and rightfully so, but what makes Get Out special is the attention to detail and the sharp irony it slaps its hypocrites with. Also, there’s something just remarkably endearing and relatable about Daniel Kaluuya’s wry smile. 8/10
- A Street Cat Named Bob (2016): I was well aware Bob didn’t particularly suit my tastes. The (true) story of a heroin addict kicking the habit thanks, in part, to a stray cat which stumbles into his newly acquired social housing abode has all the warning signs of a movie that’s bound to fall short. It inevitably feels shallow and sugarcoated, although the overall execution isn’t bad. You just know that this won’t be Trainspotting-caliber heroin despair, or the kind of traumatic stuff from Heaven Knows What (2014). In itself this is no problem, there’s no rule stipulating all drug themed movies need to end in electroshock therapy, but a feel-good approach takes the risk of appearing only half-true, cherry-picking the relatable to drive its characters. If that’s something you don’t mind, then A Street Cat Named Bob might be for you, as it does a good enough job with what it’s got to tell the story of Bob and James. 6/10