My long holiday has lead to this reviews penury, but I’m back in the saddle, being dragged by a loose wild horse. Which, I guess, I’ve been doing for over 3000 movies now. Yay!
I haven’t spent too much time watching stuff, but you’ll still find a few worthwhile mentions in this summary.
Movie of the Weeks
*aka Grave (2016)
At some point three weeks ago:
- Brokeback Mountain (2005): Long overdue, I finally got my s**t together and watched Ang Lee’s seminal piece of work. I reckon I’ve enjoyed all Ang Lee movies I’ve seen (bar Hulk (2003), of course, which was merely tolerable), so it’s no surprise that Brokeback proved to be all that was said about it and more. There’s little point in dwelling on the homosexuality of it, because the attachment between the two and their love feels authentic on a universal scale. The elliptic storytelling helps create this sense of forced distance between them, as Lee only provides sparse moments of sentimentality to outline the longing the two protagonists must feel. Overall, I’d reckon its gentleness won my over, the light touch with which everything is imbued, even the harshness of time passing over isolated romances. 8/10
At some other point three weeks ago:
- The Wailing (2016): This Korean zombie/possession movie comes to provide the expected other-worldly-ness so often attached to non-American horror flicks. Well, horror is perhaps an overstatement, but unsettling, to be sure. As an inexplicable murderous stints start occurring in rural Korea, a bumbling cop gets himself in the position of having to find a way to save his daughter, who becomes afflicted of whatever damned curse is propagating in the area. The whole thing works as a powerful allegory for deep-roted mistrust in foreigners, which tends to generate a retaliatory cycle. As a piece of film-making, it stands above the crowd thanks to its beautiful cinematography and score. So, yeah, watch it. 8/10
At yet another point three weeks ago:
- Raw (2016): After waiting for a long time to watch this controversial flick, I am pleased to report of my contention over the experience. In a sense it would be spoilerish to go deep into the plot, so to keep it short: nice, young vegan girl goes to French college where she gets to experience new things. Ok, she starts eating meat. Ok, it’s human meat. Taking the whole ‘college will change you’ line and giving it a completely new meaning, Raw manages to really underscore how the social pressures collide with the growing need for personal self-expression. It can be a horror story, filled with anxiety, anguish, alienation, and that’s the bullseye the movie aims at – and firmly strikes. For some obscure reason, I found it the most compelling experience of these weeks, not due to the shock value, but because it finds that line where youthful omnipotence meets cluelessness about ones very own self in a naturalistic manner. 8/10
Moving forward to two weeks ago:
- Band Aid (2017): Zoe Lister-Jones directed, wrote and starred in this little rom-com about a couple trying to make their relationship work by venting…through songs. It’s a competent piece of film-making, starring Adam Pally and the ever bizarre Fred Armisen, but in spite of its intentions and witty execution, I never really got into it very much. Might be something for the less cynical than me, though. 6/10
Still two weeks ago:
- The Kid (1921): I have generally had a hard time really enjoying Chaplin. In this one, however, I managed to latch onto the short tale with more ease than expected. The gist of the story is that a poor, single woman decides to give up the baby she can’t raise and stows it away in a posh-looking car, in the hope that whatever rich family owns it, will provide the child with a good life. In a twist of fate, the car is then stolen by a couple of goons who ditch the baby in a dumpster, where Chaplin’s tramp finds him. Already this set-up felt heart-breaking and, most assuredly, life doesn’t get easier for the kid and its ‘foster parent’, as they next seen engaging in a life of petty thievery to survive. The upside of it all is that in spite of all this, they make it work as a family. It’s corny, but it works, because Chaplin taps into what I’d perceive to be human nature with ease and perspicacity. 8/10
Times, they are a-changing:
- Williams (2017): As a big F1 fan, watching Williams was a must. While the documentary is nowhere near the poetic insightfulness of Werner Herzog’s mind worms, it still fleshes out a complex family built around a patriarchal archetype fueled by the obsession for motorsports. Frank Williams, the founder of the F1 team, seems borderline autistic in his masculine world-view on the narrow role emotions are to have in life. Although the story is factually interesting, I would fault it for failing to dig deep enough, i.e. beyond the obvious macho and misogynist tendencies of the motorsports community in years past. F1 enthusiasts will probably enjoy it in spite of this and some aspects of the tale do play well for general crowds too, so it might be worth a look-see. 7/10
- Song to Song (2017): I will admit to being pushed into watching this and finding it really hard to enjoy. Arguably, this is the pretentious equivalent of those New Year’s movies with star studded casts, which turn out to be the cheapest form of holiday entertainment one could put together for a quick boost of the national economy. Here, the likes of Gosling, Fassbender and Rooney Mara aim to gain some more art-house credentials by teaming up in Terrence Malick’s flick about, I don’t know, how fleeting relationships are?, but the whole thing proves an overlong, dull mess without purpose. It’s funny, because I enjoyed Days of Heaven (1978), which is equally purposeless in a sense, but far more coherent artistically. Then again, don’t take it from me, I’m no expert on pretentiousness (beyond my writing, of course), and no huge fan of Malick either, so maybe this is your film-heroin thing. 4/10
- The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017): Can I be excused now and rate this very average, but occasionally humorous, buddy comedy a tad higher than an ambitious art-house movie? Ryan Reynolds and nearly 70-year old Samuel L. Jackson team up to play contract killer protector and contract killer in this snarky movie that brings nothing new to the table – well, Jackson does bring his best ‘motherfucker’ game on the day, but as Reynold’s character justifiably points out:
This guy single-handedly ruined the word motherfucker.
So…I don’t know, if you want a light laugh, this might work. People seem to have enjoyed it. Me, not so much. Great to see Amsterdam once more, though. 5/10