I’ve been AWOL for a while, with a poor record to boot over these last two weeks. However, as you might have noticed, I made an important investment into the future of this blog, the future of cinema, dare I say, by purchasing a proper domain name. Yay to the Tributary. Long live the Stu.
A proper teen-pregnancy deterrent
- A Quiet Place (2018): If you’re looking for a nerve-wracking experience, this is it. AQP is an effective thriller/horror creature-feature, which shows a future world inhabited by some kind of beasts that kill anything that makes a sound. So, yeah, the world has become ‘a quiet place’, a nifty take contrasting to the noise levels of modern day life. We are shown three different time frames since ‘the beginning’, which helps in obfuscating most concerns that might lead to narrative and logical inconsistencies. The family angle works really well, thanks to a convincing cast and some universal familial concerns, but it’s the execution that sells it, with nailbiting, face-covering scenes tingling with impeding doom. Ending is not great, which surprisingly did not bother me too much. 8/10
And then there were…way too many?
- Suicide Squad (2017): An incompetently written mess, Suicide Squad has the makings of a cool super-anti-hero blockbuster, but squanders its opportunities. There are a bunch of narrative head-scratchers in the plot and some terrible dialogue to go with underdeveloped, one-layered characters, but this could almost be ignored, were it not for the horrendously stupid villain trigger and the villain itself. Margot Robbie does a good job with Harley Quinn, as does Will Smith with Deadshot, but Jared Leto’s joker is overplayed, while all the other characters are mundane, irritating or both. So, yeah, disappointing, as everyone has already proclaimed long ago. 5/10
The Wolf of Cocaine Stuffed Submarines
- Operation Odessa (2018): In one of those ‘too good to be true’ documentaries, Tiller Russell tracks down three…smugglers, who tried to sell a Russian submarine to the Columbian cartels for drug muling in the 90s. If that sounds preposterous, just watch the film, which boasts a lot of boasting, alongside expected and unexpected backstabbing. By the end of it you’re there asking yourself how the heck these guys are still alive. Snippets of the story of how this movie was even made can be found online, but as long as crazy Russians called Tarzan intrigue you, this is something that should not be passed up. 8/10
Too sweet for comfort
- Coco (2017): I always worry about being too cynical, more so when I watch a feel-good movie that’s universally appreciated and simply feel underwhelmed. Coco is a sweet, little thing that’s just by the numbers for the most part and somehow just knows how to pull on your heart strings in the last fifteen minutes. The story of Miguel, aspiring singer in a family that despises music, has laboratory-grade uplifting material in it, as he learns to love his family and give up on his dreams. Just kidding, of course he gets to follow his dreams, because I’m just a grouchy, soon-to-be middle aged pseudo-critic and I am already nostalgic of days gone by, when a 97% rating on IMDb meant more than just Armond White dissenting. Or did it mean exactly that? Argh, just have it your way and watch Coco. 7/10
A bit of serious cinema for the week
- Thelma (2017): I’m a bit of a fan of Joachim Trier’s – the only ‘good cinema Trier’, as I like to call him – having loved Reprise (2006). All of his movies since have been solid and Thelma falls in the same category. It’s a beautifully shot, visually compelling exploration of emotional chastisement (pretentious enough?). We get to know Thelma, a young girl, with a severely religious upbringing, who finds herself faced with the sexual ambiguity of university life. There’s quite a bit of Carrie (1976) in its DNA, but Trier goes beyond the sexual-religious dichotomy and encapsulates our struggle with desire, with understanding what we want and how to exert some control over who we are. Unfortunately, the finale is rather tame, lacking a proper punch that embraces the complexity of being and becoming, which is not to say that Thelma isn’t worth the time. It definitely is. 8/10