Movies of the Week #11 (2018)


When the girls come into town

  • Annihilation (2018): Oh dear, this one’s a pickle. Alex Garland’s second movie after Ex Machina (2014) is not a mainstream friendly affair, being a sci-fi flick with influences from some of the best genre movies ever made. There’s some Alien in it, there’s some 2001, there’s some The Descent and there’s a dollop of Arrival on it as well. Under these circumstances, Annihilation might have had a hard time finding its identity. It fares well because the characters are integral to the story and the story is integral to the characters, regardless of how much you’ll really understand of what’s going in. I took it as a study of personal divergence, about the struggles we inflict upon ourselves – Annihilation can be about many other things too, in particular our relationship with nature and climate change, but it’s within this interpretive multiplicity that its strengths lie. Wish I could have seen it on the big screen. 8/10

Ghetto Swan

  • Polina (2016): A movie that’s both soft and tough, just like it’s subject matter, Polina manages to weave a great story of sacrifice and passion out of the somewhat overused ballet drama section. What it does really well is paint the portrait of the regular girl, not the superstar, whose struggle to find her purpose feels authentic. Measuring success is in the eye of the beholder, something that anyone who has ever raised someone else’s expectations (or their own) knows. Unfortunately, the movie is a tad too slow in moments which only hinder the pacing, rather than build the picture. I would still recommend it in spite of this, but cautiously. 7/10

Oh, J.K., milking it like there’s no tomorrow

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016): I’ve been postponing this screening for a while now, fearing the worst of it. Sadly, it mustered up to that expectation. With David Yates back in the director’s chair (my least favourite director of the Harry Potter series after the unmentionable Chris Columbus), Fantastic Beasts puts together a visual feast with no emotional attachments whatsoever. Plain, lackluster characters and a boring, lackluster plot make for a dreadful viewing, with many more lackluster sequels to follow, I’m sure. So I won’t waste any more time on this. 5/10

When we were young

  • The Lion King (1994): Going back memory lane, I remembered The Lion King as one of my favourite childhood animations. Although I rewatched it within the last decade, this new viewing left me less impressed than I expected to be. Suddenly, TLK looked like a tame and simple animation, especially when compared to some of the modern day Pixar movies (ok, not the modern day ones, as much as the ones from the 00s), or to a bunch of animes that came before it. Then again, there’s beauty in simplicity and it’s hard to tread that fine line between when making a movie for children that stands up just as well for mature audiences. So I’m stuck in this emotional quagmire and I can’t argue my way out of it, and I’ll just shut up now and leave my original rating. 8/10

Everybody loves a good con

  • Confidence (2003): With the strong backwinds of Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Confidence tries to play the con artist plot with a lot of it – confidence, that is. It works to some degree, in a movie with big name actors, which feels a lot like the early 2000s. Ok, that’s because it is the early oos, but still. This was director James Foley’s last major movie for some time, until 2017, when suddenly, after helming a bunch of House of Cards episodes, he popped up again, directing the last two parts of the Fifty Shades trilogy. That was just some random trivia, it’s not to say Confidence is as bad as 50S. It’s just a run-of-the-mill con-artist movie, with all the pizazz, the style, but little substance. 6/10