Movies of the Week #1 (2023)

Western (2017): You just know that when the Germans come into town, you need to lock up your horses. Just kidding, of course, they’ll get to them any way. Western is, as the title implies, a bit of a (modern) genre piece, as a bunch of German construction workers head into the “wild East” i.e. Bulgaria to work on an infrastructure project. Director/writer Valeska Grisebach handles her characters with care, finding all sorts of nuances in the broken communication between the Germans and the Bulgarians – an exploration best personified in Meinhard Neumann’s excellent performance. Add to that some male pride, foolish gestures and Eastern business and you’ve got yourself a fascinating portrait well worth getting lost in. 8

Speak No Evil (2022): Wow, talk about something completely different. Speak No Evil is, for about three quarters of its runtime, a spectacular movie, that conjures unspeakable horrors by combining the visuals of a family holiday with the sounds of your worst nightmares. It also offers just enough characterization and subtlety to stay true to life and, by extension, uncomfortable to the max. Sadly, the last act broke this tension to basically go on a symbolic rampage, turning a work of art into a Twitter post. Still a worthwhile watch if you’re looking for some suffering this early in the new year. 7

Barbarian (2022): One of last year’s most praised horrors, Barbarian proves to be a fairly original scary film, with just enough little twists and turns to ensure it stands out. And even if the plot might not be riveting, the execution is very solid, making for an uneasy stay in Detroit. What I both liked and disliked is that it goes hard on the “nopes” its characters ignore, but it does so with a certain conviction that ultimately makes it not just irritating, but also endearing. 7

These Final Hours (2013): End of the world movies can be rather dreary, but TFH is a welcome exception. Sure, it’s predictable to a fault, but it has a surprisingly solid human story that gives you a sense of a soul behind the orange tinted images. Synopsis: party guy ditches second girlfriend to go to end of days party with first girlfriend, but inadvertently becomes a bit of a hero along the way. There’s something about doing right in a world/moment when consequences don’t matter any more and TFH does really well in framing this. As far as ratings go, I’m a bit stuck, because Speak No Evil and Barbarian are stronger movies, but all three were enjoyable – so take this as a 6+

Something From Tiffany’s (2022): A perfectly agreeable holiday affair, SFT thrives in its first half thanks to the charm of its leads (Zoey Deutch is in da house!) and a familiar, yet well-executed mixeroo set-up. However, it’s one of the rare occasions where I’ll say that this movie could have done with another twenty minutes, which would have allowed it to build towards a more memorable last act. As it stands, it abuses tropes and hands in a lazy finale, diminishing what could have been quite the Christmas romcom. 6

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