Movies of the Week #8 (2018)

Refined and improved. Or so I hope.

The hundred meter dash to the Oscars. And Nicolas Cage.



The USsr we deserve

  • The Death of Stalin (2017): I’ve awaited Iannucci’s latest movie with great interest. Being a huge fan of The Thick of It (2005-2012) and In the Loop (2009), and a moderate fan of Veep (2012-), my appreciation for his take on the intersection of the political and the ridiculous is considerable. In Stalin he picks a great background to provide stark contrast between the monstrous (persecution, deportation, execution) and the pathetic (kiss-assery, under-the-bus-throwery, cluess-politicary). Excellently cast and characteristically witty, the film is more allegorical due to its (accurate) historical placement, but it applies to the unchanging tides of political transitions of power, to the ‘boldness’ of embracing change when it is convenient. 8/10

Strangers in the night

  • Phantom Thread (2017): Love is complicated. Hey, I could leave it at that and be on my way. But it’s especially complicated for artists, who keep looking for inspiration all the time. In PT Anderson’s take on a dressmaker’s struggle between the bound and the unbounded, Dan Day Lewis portrays Reynolds Woodcock, one hell of a self-entitled guy. As he picks up Alma (Vicky Krieps) from a bed and breakfast hotel, the modest, run of the mill girl proves quite the unexpected match to the creator. On some level, love is a matter of dependency, which is not derived from the trivial (shared interests, appearance, compatibility), but from sheer desire to belong, to own and be owned. A psychiatrist might not recommend this form of bonding, if a psychiatrist were asked about it. Who cares? 9/10

The generational struggle

  • Mom and Dad (2017): Crazed Nicolas Cage produces a not-complete-throwaway of a movie in Mom and Dad, thanks to a clever take on, I’d argue, the zombie formula, even if no undead are present. In a movie that feels like the first ten minutes of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, parents go nuts and feel the overwhelming urge to kill the life-sucking bacteria that run their lives – i.e. their children. The first half of the ride is very well executed, with director Brian Taylor showing off real skill in setting up the mood. The second half, where most of the violence takes place, is not as impressive, but in spite of its obnoxious IMDb rating (5.6), I’d say the film has a stickiness to it. 6/10

The Catholic school experience

  • Lady Bird (2017): Perhaps I expected something different of Lady Bird, given the rave reviews and my appreciation of almost everything Greta Gerwig has been involved with. Ultimately, the coming-of-age story of Christine has enough depth to stand out from the plethora of high-school flicks and a certain cinematic beauty, the kind that makes characters of places. However, that’s not enough to etch it in my memory as one of the best films of 2017 and it’s these expectations I held that probably lessened my experience with the movie. There’s nothing at all wrong with it, characters are likable and the mother-daughter relationship feels true to life, with Christine a great rendition of the self-referential nature many own up to in high-school. Somehow, though, it wasn’t enough. 7/10