Movies of the Week #5-6 (2022)

Luzzu (2021): In another directorial/writing debut, Alex Camilleri proposes a profoundly European movie – a tale of tradition, family and social policies. As the EU aims to repurpose Maltese fishermen out of the jobs they’ve grown into, we meet Jesmark – a young father, struggling to make ends meet and distinctly under-impressing his wife’s family. While a man of few words, this makes his struggle even more striking and, naturally, we are left to wonder whether the sacrifices are right and fair. Then again, fairness has little to do with it. Luzzu is ultimately austere, but it’s within this austerity that the rawest of human emotions revel. 8

The Fallout (2021): Megan Park paints some very relatable characters and touching moments of human connection in her debut as director/writer. Surviving a school shooting while tucked away in a bathroom stall creates an unlikely bond between nerdy Vada and highschool star Mia and we are treated with an exploration of their coping mechanisms. The movie isn’t flashy, in spite of the age group of its protagonists, and prefers to carefully carve an identity for itself. We are left with the inescapable realization that the year is 2022, school shootings still happen in spite of numerous precautions, yet the American society doesn’t recognize the root of its problem. 7

Being the Ricardos (2021): I was weary before watching the Ricardos, on the one hand because I knew nothing of the subject matter and on the other as it was received with lukewarm reviews. Sorkin’s directorial follow-up to the exciting Trial of the Chicago 7 proves messy, but perfectly enjoyable, thriving on the strength of its stars (the three acting Oscar nominations actually confirm it). Nicole Kidman, as Lucille Ball, is particularly captivating, the showier of the leading duo, with Bardem’s Desi Arnaz a more understated part. The two work great together on screen and while it will the chronology will take some stomaching, the movie was more rewarding than I expected and offers some insight into the showbiz 50s. 7

Old Henry (2021): An almost classic western, Old Henry tells a simple story effectively: you’ve got your outlaws, your gunmen, your law, your (anti)hero and your double tripping. There’s also a rather obnoxious youth-like character, who only serves to drive the plot forward and irk, but it’s not all that intolerable. What helps the movie stand out is that it’s set as a late-era western, it’s beautifully shot and gripping, pretty much a solid genre flick. 7

House of Gucci (2021): Ridley Scott’s second epic of 2021 is even more of a letdown than the inconsistent Last Duel. House of Gucci wastes a wonderful cast to tell a story that fails to engage, first and foremost because of the shoddy editing that went into putting the movie together. It doesn’t help that all its characters are unlikable and the lead, Patrizia Reggiani, in spite of Lady Gaga’s commendable performance, lacks nuance and motivation in key moments. At least everything looks pretty… 5