Movies of the Weeks #46 #47 (2018)

The Perennial Nazi Cravings

  • Overlord (2018): The trailer raised my expectations to untenable levels, with its Wolfenstein-esque vibe and brutal gore. While holding the standard for the violence went alright, the story is just a rehashed version of the nazi-zombies oeuvre, with the crazed Germans going about their villanous affairs with relentlessness. Add to that the cardboard characters, heavily influenced by many other movies you will know, and you might get an idea of why some genre purists disliked Overlord. Yet, it succeeds in creating some strong visual set-pieces, with the opening ten minutes stealing the show for a while and the uncompromising gore splashing enjoyable on the big screen. So a 6/10 from me. 

Shooting One’s Hat Off

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018): A fresh Western anthology seems like an unlikely endeavour, even for the Coens. Or maybe it is particularly for them that it seems not. Regardless, they’ve put together a solid crop of stories, with small twists that lets each stand out, as they paint an entertaining and witty picture of human nature. Death is to be encountered in all, yet feeling different each time around, thanks to the fleshed-out characters and their very particular predicaments. It’s never a joke, but it does occasionally look like an ironic semicolon. 8/10 

Celebrity Curse Part I

  • My Dinner with Hervé (2018): I had not seen a biographical movie in a while, so this proved an adequate change of pace. Peter Dinklage sells the story of Herve Villechaize, „the most famous dwarf” until Dinklage himself, perhaps. My recollection of Fantasy Island, the series that made a staple of the French actor, is sparse, yet I do have an inkling to have seen episodes of it in the 90s. Covering the latter days of Villechaize’s life, MDwH retells his story through the eyes of a reporter, the to-be writer and director of the movie, interpreted unconvincingly by Jamie Dornan. Still, there’s some factual curiosities and just about enough emotional heft to it, to keep thing interesting, mostly thanks to Dinklage and his performance. 7/10

Celebrity Curse Part II

  • A Star is Born (2018)One of the most acclaimed movies of the year, the Bradley Cooper directed re-imaging of the classic A Star is Born feels like a real sucker-punch – or several, strung after one another. With the emotional brutality of Requiem for a Dream and several passionate musical numbers led by Lady Gaga and Cooper himself, ASiB is certain to not leave you indifferent, making up for the familiar story.  8/10

This is Not Time Travel

  • Source Code (2011): The thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi repeat-a-thon was the last good movie made by director Duncan Jones (whose previous credits included Moon (2009)). It is set in a universe so far away, that early on one character asks another whether their phone has the internet. This never ceases to amaze me, so many contrived plots would be rendered pointless in the smartphone age. This one too, I guess, but Source Code goes truly sci-fi and plays its mystery card well, thanks also to the strong cast that it boasts. 7/10

Few Movies of Many Weeks #41-45 (2018)

I come forth from the abyss and present to you the meager scrapings from the netherworld.

MotW46

Alternative sci-fi:

  • Sorry to Bother You (2018): The trailer to StBY is intriguing, but it’s greatest achievement lies in saying something while withholding the movie’s essence. What starts out as a corporate ladder climb dipped in racial observations, becomes a full blown social dissection by the end. It’s a no holds barred kind of experience – nothing’s off limits. Which also means that it might not be everyone’s cup of hot tea, but it felt pretty good to me. So as not to spoil anything, just go ahead and give it a try. 8/10

When your dreams turn into romcom nightmares:

  • Juliet, Naked (2018): This is one of the lighter movies of the week, starring Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd, in a story about relationships and obsession that doesn’t pan out exactly how you’d expect. I won’t go any deeper into the plot, because that would already be saying too much about it. In a way, it’s a movie about love by proxy, life opening doors you never thought existed and then taking you somewhere completely different. Well, maybe I’m overhyping all this unexpectedness, thirty minutes in you’ll probably guess how this ends, but I’m ruminating on the wider implications of the scenario within. Just take it as it is. 7/10

Parenthood part x+1

  • Thunder Road (2018): The similarities to 2015’s Krisha are stark – writer/director (plus lead in this case) takes on family themes in a short movie, before expanding it to a full fledged story about a functionally dysfunctional parent. It doesn’t carry the dramatic heft of Krisha, but TR provides several twists and turns while balancing a difficult central character. I’m not sure who would rate this as a comedy, unless awkwardness is what triggers your giggles (hah!), but if you get over this misleading set-up, you might just end up surprised and weirdly fascinated by what’s going on. Not that it’s an easy, relaxing watch, yet it proves rewarding by the end. So that’s me not telling you anything about what’s really unfolding in Thunder Road. Deal with it. 8/10

Parenthood part x+2

  • Leave No Trace (2018): From the visionary director of Winter’s Bone (2010), wherein Jennifer Lawrence had her breakthrough performance, comes another tale of surviving in the wilderness. A father-daughter couple (didn’t we leave on this note all those weeks back?) survive together in a wildlife park near Portland in a rugged woman’s take on Captain Fantastic (2016). But this is no Captain Fantastic – no lush fairytale of happy hippies. It’s the story of a troubled war veteran who cannot adapt to society any more and now faces his daughter’s longing for a community. Thomasin McKenzie’s piercing glare will stay with you long after the movie is over, in a narratively austere, yet emotionally rich adventure into anti-modern America. Unlike Captain Fantastic’s bohemian pandering, Leave No Trace is a testament both for and against modern society, a taut and uncompromising coming of age story like few others. Have I used all the right buzzwords? 9/10

Snacking

  • The Night Eats the World (2018): I so want to tell you next to nothing about this, but chances are you already know what the gist of it is. We’re going postapocalyptic in a quiet, slow-paced zombie flick. By far the most remarkable thing about TNEtW is that it stars three actors who have played in some memorable movies: Anders Danielsen Lie (Reprise, 2006), Golshifteh Farahani (About Elly, 2009) and Denis Lavant (Holy Motors, 2012). Beyond this, the thing takes a contemplative route about zombies and solitude, with its lack of urgency troubling me at times. You’ll come across some debatable narrative choices, but beyond it, TNEtW amounts to a slightly reheated, yet pleasant meal of rotting brains. 6/10