Movies of the Week #6 (2020)

Love, Antosha (2019): The death of Anton Yelchin was a real shock at the time, not only because a young person died at the age of 27, but also because of the absolutely bizarre manner of his death. Love, Antosha unveils an incredibly complex guy, who ultimately left an enduring legacy in spite of his untimely passing. Yelchin suffered from cystic fibrosis, a disease that used to be a death sentence for children, which can now be managed up to the age of around 40. So this is the context of his life, of his particular tragedy, a life of chronic pain that he has defied in a manner that feels inspiring and frustrating in equal measures. I was praising Lebouf, but Yelchin is the definition of the actor who transcends film to be a full-fledged artist, a thinker, so analytical it’s intimidating to see. The film left me wondering about what I’ve done with life during my twenties. 8/10

Little Women (2019): If Greta Gerwig needed to prove anything after Lady Bird, she did. Little Women is a touching adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel (adapted oh-so-many times along the years), which plays like a slightly more modern Jane Austen movie. That’s a good thing. The four March sisters are getting ready to step into the world, each as different from the other as two failed marriages, with young Jo (Saoirse Ronan) the most unorthodox of the bunch. In spite of the obvious themes of women empowerment, the movie is never overbearing or pedantic, it carries its weight with grace and finds humor in unexpected places. More than that, it paints an endearing family portrait, that you’re just bound to get caught in emotionally. 8/10

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020): …or Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn as the original title went, before Warner Bros. decided to rename it to something more manageable for the DC fanbase. Talking of which, as far as DC goes, this wasn’t a terrible flick. Coming from the inexperienced hands of director Cathy Yan, it’s a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, goes nuts whenever it can and proves that an all female cast can just as well make an average script work, as long as there’s some chemistry involved. Margot Robbie, who almost made Suicide Squad watchable by herself, deserved this movie and she delivers the same energetic touch. Her co-stars prove a solid fit, as does the equally outrageous Ewan McGregor, playing the villainous Roman Sionis. There’s a lot of glee to go around here, glee in violence, suffering, revenge, reasonably well executed in a Joker without the burdensome gravitas. 7/10

Honey Boy (2019): So Shia LaBeouf wrote this autobiographical story about his struggles as a child actor, the turbulent relationship with his (deadbeat) father, as well as the shit-hitting-the-fan episodes of his later life. He plays his own dad in it, a depressingly accurate meta commentary on the whole situation, starring across Noah Jupe, who portrays the young Shia, as well as Lucas Hedges as the twenty something year old Beoufinator. For a (long) while the movie is just a troubling exploration of a terrible father-son relationship, but it finds emotional depth in the nuanced character of said father, as well as in its stirring final act. Shia is definitely a man of many shapes, and like all difficult (public) people, easy to judge and easy to condemn. The way he’s channeled that in his last two movies (this and The Peanut Butter Falcon) hints towards a shift within him and reinforces his conviction as an actor with something to say. 8/10

Jojo Rabbit (2019): It’s hard to believe that as a fan of Taika Waititi, I find myself less than fascinated with Jojo Rabbit – a Wes Anderson-esque take on a child in Nazi Germany end-days. I honestly find it hard to say why. The movie is witty and borderline ridiculous at times, something I totally dig, but the overall feeling is that it’s more routine than it wants to be. Safety safe, in both its humor and its implications. Ultimately, Jojo is more a series of inspired moments, than an enthralling film, relying too much on the personal charm of its cast. And then it won the Oscar for best screenplay, which I find odd, because both Little Women and the Irishman had more going for them as far as adaptations are concerned. Ah, what do I know. 6/10