Movies of the Week #43-44 (2022)

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022): Martin McDonagh confirms his pedigree as one of the most consistent active directors, producing another remarkable piece of filmmaking. Starring his “usual” leads, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, this movie is one of the several themed around male friendship, a man’s (in)ability to connect and communicate. It’s also about grudges, escalation and regret, about innocent victims and bloody loneliness. While I laughed a bit, the Banshees proved more emotionally haunting than I expected, a tragically bitter-sweet tale with so much love lost. 8

Australia (2009): More than a decade ago, Romania first took part in the football Homeless World Cup in Australia. Claudiu Mitcu documented the recruitment, training, travel and participation of the seven-men team – an experience that took them from surviving on the streets of various Romanian cities (including Timisoara) to far-away Melbourne. It’s not a movie that glorifies success, but one about the day-to-day wins of its protagonists, men of various ages that life has been less than generous with. At just 64 minutes, Mitcu only has the time to offer a window to a world that seems twice as foreign now than it would have done fifteen years ago. We see an honest portrayal of a handful of people who, in spite of struggling against the tides, still find some reward in life, with this trip an otherworldly expedition that quickly proves relatable. The trick is that while you expect it all to be surreal, it really isn’t – which does bring to mind how easily fate can push one way or the other. Tucked away on Romanian HBO Max, this one. 7

Alien Resurrection (1997): To keep going (this was actually part of a whole Alien marathon that I’ll hopefully write about soon-ish), I hold the somewhat controversial opinion that AR is a (slightly) better movie than its predecessor. While the significant tonal shift takes some adjusting to and there are some excesses that could have done with some pruning, Resurrection gets something right that’s essential to the franchise: it offers memorable characters. Not all for the best of reasons, but memorable is better than xeno-meat. To that I’d also add some of the more inventive xeno-kills throughout the Alien-verse, really entertaining set-pieces. Unfortunately, the finale is eerie and uncomfortable, with debatable creature design making for a weirdly heartbreaking ending that just isn’t a good fit for the movie. 6

Alien 3 (1992): There’s a lot of revisionism going about Fincher’s Alien, mainly because of its troubled makings and the fact that it’s Fincher. The arguably (objectively?) better Assembly Cut had no oversight from him, but it proves impossible to make a really good movie out of this messy production. While it does honour the Alien spirit in many ways, the script fails to flesh out the new characters, making for an underwhelming massacre once everything goes to hell. On the plus side, the visuals are great, barring some of the shoddy creature effects, and Fury 161 proves an interesting setting, that could have gotten a better treatment. 6

The Triangle of Sadness (2022): After two big hits in Force Majeure and The Square, Ruben Östlund tries to go three for three with The Triangle. In a way, he succeeds, winning another Palme d’Or and drawing a positive reception from viewers – albeit not so positive from critics. Reading back upon my comments on The Square, all I can really add is that with this latest try, Östlund has gone even further into derivative territory, making a movie that has a few inspired moments, but is overall cumbersome and unfocused. Wealth and status provide prime material for satire, critique and concern, as society tries to make sense of the absurdly disproportional spread and consolidation of money and power. The problem with TToS is that it struggles to be consistently sharp and avoid the low hanging fruit, of ridicule and humor, while offering relevant insights into this current plight. I’ve thought about creating a new ratings scale, to be in tone with the all the wittiness – would I rather spend two hours staring at my cat instead of watching this movie? Triangle is on the cusp. 6