Hello, everyone! I’m currently failing to keep up with my goal of writing a weekly blog post, but after about two weeks of deep meditation, introspection, and communication with the shamans, I think I’m ready to review Incredibles 2. I love the original Incredibles and I harbored extremely high hopes for its decades-in-the-making sequel. As can be expected, the movie did not satisfy those expectations, nor should I have hoped it would. When you have a film as witty, poignant, beautiful, and gratifying as The Incredibles, any film that does less is going to feel like a let-down. That’s not to say that Incredibles 2 is not a good film, and perhaps, if it existed in a vacuum, it might be considered an excellent animated movie. Unfortunately, it was created as a sequel to one of the best Pixar films of all time, and even one of the best animated films of all time. It was doomed by its heritage and by our expectations.
Hello, everyone! I finally got to see Hereditary, a movie I’ve been eagerly awaiting since critics dubbed it the scariest movie of the year. Listen to me, children. Never go into a horror movie with expectations. Those will be your downfall. I went into the screening of Hereditary expecting to have my jaded bones jump out of their skin and to experience two hours of impeccable craftsmanship. While not exactly satisfied, my expectations were subverted, even perverted, into a movie that seemed to constantly contradict itself. It was wholly original, but also derivative, masterfully frightening in parts, yet tame in others. It was an intense family drama with an amateur grasp on characterization and how real people interact. As director Ari Aster’s debut film, Hereditary exhibited subtlety, sophistication, and boldness, but also revealed a lack of restraint. Hereditary showcases a lot of skill on Aster’s part, but it’s also kind of a mess. In our new era of horror where slow-burn, character-driven pieces like The Babadook and The Witch reign supreme, a film like Hereditary checks all the boxes, but can’t think outside of them.
Hello, everyone! Let me preface this review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by saying that I’m a casual viewer of the franchise. It’d be a stretch to even say that I’m a fan, since the only time I’ve watched a Star Wars film is at someone else’s behest or for a family outing. I view the films with pleasant indifference. The series is fun, and its contribution to pop culture is staggering, so if a friend suggests that we see The Force Awakens or Rogue One, I’m game and I don’t regret it. I didn’t plan on seeing The Last Jedi and I would have skipped it altogether if it wasn’t playing for $5 at my local college theater. I expected an easy night with an exciting, sentimental, and yes, formulaic film. But what I got was an in-cohesive, nostalgia-drenched mess that was so trite and boring that my boyfriend and I left the theater with twenty minutes left until the end.
How did a Star Wars film, especially one directed by Rian Johnson (the fantastic Looper), fail so badly at being a quality film? It all comes down to the dilution of character in service of promoting nostalgia and sticking to a formula that long ago wore out its welcome.
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! 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! A few days ago I watched The Dressmaker, which is a perfect example of a movie ruined by a single scene. Apart from that single scene, the movie is eccentric and unwieldy, but still a jaunty story to follow. A story of fashion and fiery revenge, Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film is beautiful, but marred by mistakes.