Hello, everyone! I recently watched William Oldroyd’s bloody drama Lady Macbeth. I expected a beautiful period piece with murder and mayhem, and what I got was just that and an intoxicating glimpse into a teenage girl’s psyche. I haven’t been this terrified of a teenage girl’s intentions since I watched Ellen Page in Hard Candy. And in fact, Lady‘s Katherine and Hard’s Hayley aren’t so different. They both enjoy having control over men, using their sexuality like a weapon, and lying through their teeth. Coincidentally, both characters might verge on being psychopaths. And in a cinematic world full of Patrick Batemans and Hannibal Lecters, they’re a much needed breath of fresh air.
Horror movies have a habit of reflecting society’s darkest fears. Invasion of the Body Snatchers had its heroes fighting a futile battle against communists in the guise of soulless aliens, while films like The Strangers and Funny Games explore the average American’s helplessness against a new generation of adolescents whose apathy can cross the line into sociopathic violence. When considering which horror movies best exemplify America’s greatest fear from the 2010s to the present, I could point to films such as Unfriended, The Den, Friend Request, Dark Summer, and #Horror, which all paint the dangers of social media as this generation’s biggest epidemic. And while these films point to a grave societal problem, I think I’ve found a film that encapsulates modern America’s deepest fear: the American healthcare system. The film responsible is Would You Rather, a mediocre horror movie that seems oblivious to its true source of scares. Sometimes the best societal commentary is accidental.
Hello, everyone! I watched Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread twice last week. The first viewing left be impressed but emotionally unmoved, the second viewing left me more impressed, but still unmoved. But I was at last able to grasp the themes from the film that eluded me on first viewing, so I must say, if you watch Phantom Thread once, you’re going to need to watch it again, since it’s a quiet, ethereal, and somewhat vague film that deserves to be appreciated. If you like films with the pacing and beauty of a slow waltz, you’ll probably love this film. If you’re expecting a movie about the intricacies of the world of 1950s haute couture, prepare to be disappointed. Phantom Thread isn’t a film about fashion, but a film about artistry and control. As a backdrop, however, you could do worse than a 2 hour movie filled with the stunning Vicky Krieps swanning around in ball gowns.
Hello, everyone! Praise be, I’m getting back into the swing of things with semi-weekly blog posts. That means I have my shit together, guys. What a day to be me. Anyway, today I’m reviewing the new Netflix original horror movie Before I Wake, directed by Mike Flanagan (Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil) and starring Jacob Tremblay (child star and precocious devil) and Kate Bosworth (moonlights as a mannequin). The film started off semi-promisingly, then slowly unravelled into a sappy, gooey mess with a stack of unanswered questions. From the director of Hush, my favorite home invasion movie, and Ouija, which had a gruesome, unsettling ending, I expected a lot more than Before I Wake‘s tepid scares and cheesy resolution.
Hello, everyone! A new movie review, just in time for a new year! Today I watched Julia Ducournau’s horror Raw, a 100 minute gut-punch of blood, guts, and sisterhood. One of those things is not like the others, but Raw never lets its twisted premise come unravelled. Did I enjoy Raw? Yes. Did I also find it disgusting? Yes, yes, and yes. But who says those qualities are mutually exclusive? Sometimes the best films are the ones that are so hard to watch, you can’t turn away.
Hello, everyone! I’m back at home for Thanksgiving break, which means I’ve had lots of time to sleep all day and write all night, and of course, catch up on my movie viewing. Last night I watched The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film and also his most self-indulgent. Now I love Inglourious Basterds and Django and the Kill Bills because they have a slick, stylized violence to them, as well as clever dialogue and dynamic characters you can’t help but root for, even in their debauchery. But Hateful Eight is like a recipe gone wrong. On the surface you have all of the Tarantino trademarks, the blood, the punchy dialogue, the memorable protagonists, but the end of the film leaves you feeling empty and a tad robbed. Why, you may ask, does Tarantino’s latest film fail to satisfy? I say it’s because of bad editing, both of the actual footage and of the concept. Tarantino is certainly an auteur, and usually his quirky touch is heavy in all the right ways, but in this film I finally felt the weight of his ideas crashing down. So let’s dive into some of the reasons that Hateful Eight succeeds, and some of the reasons it really, really fails.
Hello, everyone! More than a year ago, I wrote a review of Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, which I praised for being a straight-forward recollection of Walls’ neglectful and border-line abusive childhood. While the film adaptation, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton of Short Term 12, is a lovingly made, often touching film, it doesn’t carry the same boldness of its source material. Neither work points fingers, but Cretton’s adaptation tries to find forgiveness in a story that doesn’t deserve it. In trying to force a sappy happy ending, Cretton turns a blunt, complex memoir into a boilerplate Hollywood sob story.
Hello, everyone! Having just seen The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola’s latest film for which she won Best Director at Cannes, I’m left feeling confused. To say the film is good or bad oversimplifies the matter; it simply feels half baked. Coppola’s take on author Thomas Cullinan’s novel is lush, beautiful to behold, and potent with tension, but it’s held back by flawed pacing. Coppola is skilled at crafting slow, atmospheric movies like Lost in Translation, but while that film’s anti-climactic ending was a perfect period to its meandering plot, The Beguiled has an explosion of climax with too much rising action and almost no resolution balance to it out. Whether the fault in pacing is due to the source material (I’ve never read the book so I can’t comment) or due to Coppola’s own directorial choices remains to be seen, but the result is a film that feels as incomplete as General McBurney’s amputated leg.
Hello, everyone! In light of the mockery resulting from the leaked Joss Whedon Wonder Woman script, I thought I would focus on the reasons why Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman works as a showcase of empowered female independence, instead of all the reasons that Whedon’s does not. Let me preface this post by saying that I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice, once to watch it without criticism, and the second time to watch it objectively. And while I agree that the film has a few flaws, I’m hard pressed to call it anything less than a fantastic movie. It’s beautifully, energetically shot, the characterization is compelling, the relationships are realistic and engaging, and the aesthetic details from the set design to the costumes to the hairstyling are a feast for the eyes. These elements, however, are only part of what makes Wonder Woman worth the watch. What separates this film from the rest of the billion dollar superhero movies is that, for perhaps the first time, Wonder Woman portrays a woman as she might see herself. That’s a perspective that’s not only rare to see in superhero movies, but in any Hollywood film.
Hello, everyone! I’ve written before in my posts about how I think Marvel movies have all become formulaic, heartless, soul-sucking cash grabs, so I guess it’s no surprise that the Guardians franchise has succumbed to that paint-by-numbers scheme too. The first film was surprisingly witty and heartfelt, and managed to make the origin story of a group of unfamiliar, oddball assholes endearing. Not to mention, the soundtrack was fantastic. Vol.2 also has a killer soundtrack, but the wit and heart are harder to find. There’s a great movie in here somewhere, but it’s lost amidst $200 million worth of special effects and a plot so familiar that even the journey isn’t very fun.