Movies of the Week #11-12 (2022)

After Yang (2021): Kogonada’s much expected follow-up to the excellent Columbus is an equally contemplative and beautiful movie. Set in the not-so-near but also not-so-distant future, a family has to deal with the loss of their AI helper – which uncovers unexpected stories and complexities. It’s a soulful exploration of some of the questions people are already asking themselves with the advent of this new technological age, which succeeds because it feels anchored in the reality it creates for itself – one that’s immediately recognizable and relatable. Add to that the fact that my Heng Balance lamp makes an appearance, proving it to be future-proof purchase I expected, and I just don’t see why you shouldn’t rush to watch this movie. 8

The Lost Daughter (2021): I somehow missed out on reviewing TLD when I saw it a month or so ago, but thinking back at it now, there are many lingering images and feelings that cross my mind. In exploring a mother’s difficulties in taking on her maternal role and playing up to expectations, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut feature based on Elena Ferrante’s novel is a difficult watch. Not so much because of any notion of expectation, but as Leda’s struggles feel so desperately true, even at their most contrived. It all strikes the hardest in smaller moments, like when seemingly out of nowhere, it appears she still has what you’d call a “normal” relationship with her daughters. Because family, no matter how we live and perceive it (them), is bound to different rules. Strong performances all around make TLD a memorable, anguishing, movie. 8

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): The biggest blockbuster in a long long time, NWH proves to be the rare franchise movie that actually stands out. Putting together a clever plot and enjoyable characters, it opened the floodgates to feelings of nostalgia I didn’t even know I had. That’s because I’ve never been a huge Spider-Man fan, but they’ve been doing things right and getting the most out of a universe that generally feels tapped out. So…I’ll just avoid all spoilers (if you’ve somehow been sheltered from them) and encourage you to watch it, if you have any kind of knowledge of the series. 8

The Hating Game (2021): A perfectly slight romcom, THG survives the churn thanks to the solid performances of its leads. Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell have good chemistry going, as they portray Lucy and Joshua, work colleagues fighting over a promotion. Playing the “is it hate or is it love” card, the movie finds some inspired moments, to make it a decent if predictable entry in the genre. 6

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021): After the torrid affair that was its predecessor, the Andy Serkis directed sequel is barely an improvement. I felt as disengaged as possible, with the movie once again to tap into the Deadpool gig it so wants to emulate. Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock/Venom is occasionally amusing and at best endearing, but there are few scenes where everything comes together in a mostly boring flick. The one thing I did like was the final fight, which had a bit of pizzazz to it, as well as witty writing – and a nice post-credit scene, tied into Spider-Man, was also quaint. Overall, though, just not enough to make Venom relevant. 5