Movies of the Week #48 #49 (2019)

Doubles Vies (2018): Pretentious movies stick to me like flies to…cake, so it’s no wonder this talky French flick about books, technology and relationships tickled my fancy. I quite enjoyed Assayas’s previous two movies, Personal Shopper (2016) and Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), but Double Vies is a different adventure altogether. Fast paced, cerebral, yet not particularly contrarian, its punches land against protective gear – no splash of literal or metaphoric blood, so you’re either in it for the deluge of conversation topics it offers, or you’re not. With so many things up for debate, there are few comprehensive answers in store, just chunk-sized bites of our modern world, with firm and flashy judgments. Once I got into its rhythm, I became at ease with the movie, fully engaged, which is the most you could ask of Doubles Vies. My favourite form Assayas until now. 8/10

Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019): I would describe the movie as 5% funny, 25% preachy, 25% sappy and 45% horror – which is not as bad as it sounds. Brittany is an overweight, irresponsible, mean-spirited, defensive mess and she turns it around in the span of one hundred minutes and almost two years. Legit. The movie feels real a lot of the time, which also makes it awkward and uncomfortable, unlike with the trailer might want you to believe. That’s not a problem per se, but it lays it on too heavily in the last third, for an underwhelming and thoroughly predictable conclusion. That being said, Jillian Bell, whom I’d recently seen in Sword of Trust, offers an intense performance, with a lot of variety, making for an additional argument in favour of seeing Brittany. 7/10

Pontypool (2009): I’ve seen my share of zombie movies and I never thought there could be a variation on the theme left untouched. Alas, there was, with Pontypool a sometimes confusing, often meta, but definitely innovative take on “infection” and “disease”. A less than cheerful host of a morning radio broadcast, Mazzy, goes into work on a seemingly innocuous winter’s day, that proves to be anything but. Together with only his producer and his technician (I think?), Sydney and Laurel-Ann, they try to make sense of what’s happening outside, in a world gone crazy that they have no eyes on. What’s real, what’s fake, what’s it all about? With a phenomenally meta climax and conclusion, this zombie movie turns out to be a creative take on the way that language conditions our lives. For a movie that came out more than ten years ago, it feels eerily prescient of things to come. If it wasn’t for a few pacing issues and certain scenes that could have done with sharper writing, this could have been an actual must-see for genre fans. As it stands, it’s still something pretty special. 8/10

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019): PBF proposes a light and easily likable story about Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome who escapes from an assisted facility to follow his dream of becoming a wrestler. Along the way, he gets entangled with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a good-for-nothing drifter with a big heart, and they set upon their adventure to find the “Salt Water Redneck”, a legendary wrestler of old. I’m not sure why wrestling is so “in” these years, but it sure suits Zak’s pursuits and makes for an engaging, humanistic story, if nothing more. 7/10

Tale of Tales (2015): It feels like I’ve postponed watching this one for way more than four years. Alas, in spite of a colourful set of stories, beautifully shot and boldly structured, Tale of Tales never really got going for me. Perhaps the issue lies with the structure, because the movie leaves it to the viewer to make out where something begins and where it ends, which means you never have time to settle and warm up to the plethora of characters and their peculiar fates. 6/10

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