That went well. Still a week in retard, here we go.
Movie of the Week
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
- Neruda (2016): I’ve had this one on my watch-list for what feels like an eternity – mainly because of the subject matter, but also as it starred Gael Garcia Bernal and was directed by Pablo Larrain, an exceptionally consistent director. In this poetry-litical saga of Chile’s Nr. 1 communist, Larrain outlines some of the paradoxical elements in Neruda’s role, pent up by an a level of privilege that’s uncharacteristic of communist dogma. Then again, dogma is one thing and fighting the good fight of the people is another. Neruda is not compromised per se, but he is not the Messiah figure either, in a complex political environment of South America so ripe with Messiahs. The movie is full of nuance and takes an interesting turn towards the end, when the line between reality and meta-reality is blurred with an effective conclusion. 8/10
- War of the Planet of the Apes (2017): For a movie with “war” in the title, there’s not that much warring going on. Sure, there’s a big battle at the end, but for the most part it’s an emotionally charged experience due to the simple, yet powerful interaction between the ape-tagonists. Heavily influenced by Apocalypse Now, especially in the portrayal of humanity’s overzealous resistance leader, the movie concludes a trilogy of exceptional worth – intriguing in its characters, relevant in its social commentary and lush in its visuals. For whatever reason, I found myself on the verge of shedding a tear every other fifteen minutes. Definitely take your time to watch this third coming of the Apes. 8/10
- Tickled (2016): It proved next to impossible to convince people to take the time to join me in this unusual looking screening. This documentary begins by exploring the world of ‘competitive endurance tickling’ only to pivot into a terribly entertaining and daunting true-crime stories. It feels so surreal to begin with, that the rather downbeat, middle-of-the-road conclusion it ends on was bound to be a disappointment. Part of the reason behind this is that the movie outstays its welcome by a bit – simply in the search of a proper resolution, which fails to arrive satisfactorily. I don’t even want to go into it much deeper, because if the idea of endurance tickling didn’t arouse your interest, I’m afraid nothing will. I will draw a perhaps strange parallel to Foxcatcher (2014), whose unusual protagonist seems to suffer in a similar way to Tickled’s behind-the-scenes tickle-master, from a form of overwhelming hereditary expectations and an alienating, bizarre, disturbing yet pitiful understanding of social norms. As a follow-up, you should also check out The Tickle King (2017), a twenty minute short about the fallout after the movie’s release. 7/10
- Mulholland Dr. (2001): Having just finished reading Lynch on Lynch, the book in which the director talks about his process and specific events that contributed to his (notoriously fluid) creation process, I just had to rewatch Mulholland Drive. When I first saw it, just after its release, I disliked it very much. Upon revisiting it, not a long time later, it felt like a completely different experience. Perhaps it was too much to be asked to jump head first into Lynchland like that. What attracts me now to the story of two out-of-luck/in-search-of-luck actresses, played by Naomi Watts and Laura Herring, is the struggle for identity. As both of them also play another couple of characters, the line between who is who in reference to what becomes blurred. Where the movie really starts, where it takes place and what it means, these questions remain somewhat open-ended. There is a certain way in which the structure of society, of a certain business (none more so than showbusiness) irons out the atypical in search for the functionally unique – a paradoxical situation, for sure. Getting to the core of it is the struggle and most of the time it just doesn’t fit into the scope of life. So, yeah, I quite loved Mulholland Drive. 9/10
- The Incredible Jessica Jones (2017): This quirky, yet not spectacularly original flick about another young aspiring playwright character/actor proves a decent time-passer, but easily forgettable. Its subversion of the odd movie-norm helps it stand on its own two cinematic feet, as does the couple of imperfectly fleshed out central characters, portrayed by Jessica Williams and Chris O’Dowd. However, if you’ve seen Strouse’s previous People Places Things (2015), you’ll kind of know the themes he likes to juggle with and if you haven’t, you’re perhaps better off giving that a first look. 6/10