Movies of the Week #1 (2021)

Requiem for a Dream (2000): So why not start the year with something shocking and daunting? Twenty years ago, Aronofsky rocked our puny world with his ramped up, drug infused drama on addiction and loneliness – and I’ve always felt that Requiem is more about the latter, than the former. Critics disliked the heavy handed message it comes with, but you simply cannot deny its visceral quality. Rewatching it today, I kept being struck by RfaD’s rhythmicity, the hypnotic editing that, alongside Clint Mansell’s goosebump-inducing theme, confers the movie its harrowing, timeless quality. Well, that, Ellen Burstyn’s performance, and Jennifer Connelly’s…let’s call it soul numbing beauty. 9/10

Black Bear (2020): Now here is a romantic drama up my alley, lined with anger, mistrust, frustration and a lot of meta-commentary. L.M. Levine’s movie is a turbulent ride into the innards of complicated relationships, of balancing creative needs with emotional bliss and balance. Aubrey Plaza is particularly impressive in her career-defining role, as the critics would say, but I really liked Black Bear because it leaves so many open ended questions about the struggle of marrying our selfish natures with a greater purpose of family union. 8/10

Sound of Metal (2019): So how about a Whiplash that’s truly tragic? Starring Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cole, Sound of Metal tells the story of Ruben, angry metal drummer who loses his hearing. Adapting to the thought of having to redefine his life is made even harder by his history of drug abuse – and the deeper reasons for his restlessness, which is what he actually has to conquer. Although parts of Darius Marder’s movie feel a bit rushed, Ahmed’s stirring performance and the bigger questions on how one adapts to and views disability while actually being impaired make for a very strong sense of purpose within Sound of Metal. 8/10

Definitely, Maybe (2008): In this unofficial “How I Met Your Mother” movie, the series’ premise is borrowed gently and executed with romantic flair. Ryan Reynolds is the sad sack of a father who tells his daughter the love story behind him meeting her mother, but swaps some names around to keep everyone guessing and make it more fun to watch. The matter of timing is the key to romance here, way before the economics of e-dating ruined the game for everyone. The young Abigail Breslin is perfectly relatable in her giddy excitement about enjoying love vicariously, successfully punctuating the emotional highs DM provides. 7/10

Notting Hill (1999): In the slew of romantic comedies of the 90s that included either Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant, Notting Hill stands out as one of the most frivolous. Roberts plays Anna Scott, famed movie star, while Grant is lil’ old William Thacker, bloke running a bookstore in London. The unlikely union is cheesy and fun for the most part, except when reality totally breaks down, as for whatever reason Will prefers Anna to “Perfect Girl” Emily Mortimer. Ah, but after all kinds of struggles, the pair make it for a blissful ever after, exactly per (Richard Curtis) formula. Lifted by a strong supporting cast, Notting Hill is…alright, but I never quite got behind it. 6/10