Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Love & Mercy - This is going to sound really dumb, but I had NO IDEA that this movie was about Brian Wilson. I guess I never really paid much attention when it was released. I saw it on a few "Best of 2015" lists, and I read some great reviews of Paul Dano's performance. And I knew it was about music because I remember seeing a still of Dano in a production studio. And to make me sound even more dumb, I had no idea Wilson had such an interesting (and really fucked up) life and that the Wilson sisters from Wilson Phillips are Brian Wilson's daughters?? WHAT?! How did I not know that? I LOVED Wilson Phillips growing up. So aside from the story BLOWING MY MIND, I really enjoyed it. The acting is superb - especially Dano, Elizabeth Banks, and of course Paul Giamatti. He is the perfect sleazy douchebag. The story is told with just enough intensity, that I actually felt like something might actually happy to Wilson (even knowing full well that he is still alive today). It's so disgusting that people leech off of celebrities - and there are so many instances. The movie really forces that disgust on the audience, and hopefully, people will start being more proactive like Wilson's wife, Melinda, and stand up to these monsters. Had I seen this movie earlier, it surely would have made my top 10 of last year.

2. Mustang - So I watched this move directly after I watched Mistress America, and the stark contrast between the two is startling. While Mistress America is an extremely immature tale of white women who have no concept of what real world problems are (more on this below), Mustang showcases how backwards a lot of the world is in regards to women's equality and ability to enjoy life and make her own choices. It's a devastating watch, and in all honesty, as much as I enjoy films in any language, I wasn't in the right mindset for a foreign film. I did my best to adjust my brain, but I feel like I missed a lot of the subtlety and nuances in the story. I had to actually look up what they were getting in trouble for (i.e the catalyst to the whole story) because it is subtle, but it's also so innocent in our modern times. To watch these five young women have their lives destroyed because of one innocent moment of fun, is a really had concept to accept, and yet, this is what is happening to Turkish women (and women in many other cultures). It really makes me feel lucky and appreciative to live in this country. While we have our opportunities when it comes to equality, at least we're moving forward.

3. Mistress America - UGH. Just UGH. I like Greta Gerwig, but I'm getting tired of these immature roles she keeps doing. It's the same thing over, and over again, and it's nothing new (it's basically a long episode of Girls). It's ungrateful, self-centered, privileged, angsty women convinced that they suffer more than everyone else. That's not to say that these women don't suffer from some sort of depression (everything is relative), but it's not very interesting to watch. There is no substance to these movies. I've liked some films from Noah Baumbach, but I'm getting bored by them. Or maybe I just enjoy when there is a bit more bite or sarcasm to these types of stories. Like if the characters did a little bit of self-reflection, I might like them more, or at least, empathize with them. Instead we have characters who say idiotic statements like "I wish we were back in Feudal times when if you were a peasant, you just had to be happy with who you are". I mean, what kind of narcissistic asshole would wish for that and why is there a movie about her story?

4. Green Room - I enjoyed Blue Ruin - it was an extremely well-made indie movie especially for a newcomer. I've heard some ridiculously high praise for this movie, and I think it deterred my enjoyment a little bit, because I just don't think it could live up to the expectations. Especially with Imogen Poots in the cast. I know a lot of people dig her, but I find her acting atrocious. She was better in this movie, but still the worst part of the movie. Anton Yelchin will definitely be missed. He was one of those actors that I always trusted would take interesting roles. Like when I read a summary of a movie, I might be thinking "eh", but then I see Yelchin is in it and my interest peaks. It's so sad that he is no longer with us to perform these interesting characters, but he is leaving a minor legacy of top-notch roles behind for us to enjoy - and this is one of them. This movie is hardly as terrifying as I was led to believe, but it is another extremely well-made, smartly written film for Jeremy Saulnier to add under his belt.

5. High-Rise - Another movie that was extremely praised, that I just couldn't really get in to. Ben Wheatley is hit or miss for me (Sightseers is a stunning movie, A Field in England is sooo dull). High-Rise feels like a Wheatley film, and that is an incredible thing. For a director to be an auteur they need to have distinction, and Wheatley nails it every time (good or bad). This film is gorgeous and demented, violent and subtle, chaotic and structured - a combination of contradictions. Plus, Wheatley intercuts seemingly unrelated scenes like NO ONE else in the industry. It's just extraordinary. However, I just found this film to be a little cluttered, and boring, by the time the anarchy began, I was already over it. I still don't get Tom Hiddleston. He was decent in the new series The Night Manager, but I can think of a dozen other actors that could have nailed that role even better. Plus, the supporting cast was almost interchangeable. There was no distinction between them, which I found to be a huge part of the problem.

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