Movies of the Week #8 (2023)

Close (2022): One of this year’s contenders for Best International Picture at the Oscars, Lukas Dhont’s testament to childhood friendships and their frailty is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Two young teenage boys have their relationship tested by your usual high-school pressures and while we get a surface understanding of it, the movie hints at its complexities. The visuals are breathtaking, symbolic and assist the viewer in becoming part of this fleck of existence. It’s and intimate experience all the way through and it tells its story with subtilty and no judgement, which will test your emotional resolve. 8

Marc Maron: From Bleak to Dark (2023): Two days after seeing Maron’s HBO special, scenes still pop up in my mind for no obvious reason. I’ve not followed much of Maron’s work previously, but his humor is, well, on the dark side and his performance here makes the most of it. The topics are age-old, from faith to family to antisemitism, but he also delves deep into his personal life, looking for the good memories following the death of his partner a few years ago. In all its bleakness, there’s something uplifting and empowering about the humor. We recognize this masochistic strain that flows through many us, to lesser or greater extent, which sets up all the best jokes we’re ready to serve life back. 8

Der Golem, wie er an die Welt kam (1920): Another early century silent movie from the bustling German cinema of the times, Golem seems like a prototype for the “feeling monster”. Set in 16th century Prague, the Jewish community is getting their usual share of persecution, when the local Rabbi brings a golem creature to life for protection. His dominion over the golem seems tenuous and while it serves its purpose, there are “incidentals”. The story is an age old one and the movie doesn’t hit quite as hard as some of the other era films I’ve seen, but it did highlight the interpretative potential of musical themes in silent pictures – the DVD came with three versions, and while I’ve only watched one, the glimpses I got of the other two seem worth exploring, each conveying a different emotional range. 7

Knock at the Cabin (2023): In one of the seminal casting decisions of our generation, Dave Bautista plays a second grade teacher in Shyamalan’s latest offering to the movie gods. The setup – a family is held hostage by four strangers in your usual the-world’s-fate-hangs-in-the-balance kind of situation – is surprisingly easy to engage with and will, in patches, provide adequate tension. It will however tickle your disbelief bone, which is presumably also the point, especially as the movie obscures facts to maintain suspense. Ultimately, I guess this tries to be a grand statement on how our society is built upon the sacrifice of the brave, how it takes this kind of commitment to what may sometimes seem undefinable to keep our world in some balance. It’s conceptually interesting, but I can’t say I was deeply interested throughout the movie, which proves fairly restrained as far as Shyamalan’s productions go. 6

As Luck Would Have It (2021): I use this expression a lot, that a movie is “Hallmark” material. Is that still a thing? Regardless, ALWHI is just so tame, that not even a decent leading pair can save it from Hallmark purgatory. It tells of a hotshot real-estate closer who has to convince a local town council to sell their local castle estate, which would then be replaced by some modern monstrosity. Maybe this is a thing, that’s what the creators of this movie try to tell us, but it sure feels like an insane investment strategy. Anyhoo, you’ll know every beat of this movie before you see it and in spite of its calming nature, it’s just too bland an affair to stand out. 5