Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. I, Tonya - I was really interested to see how they were going to pull this off, especially with Tonya Harding involved in the process. They did it brilliantly. At this point, it is unlikely that we will ever get "the truth" of Harding's involvement - however, she did plead GUILTY to hindering the investigation, and in their own investigation, the Figure Skating Association deemed that she knew about the attack before it happened. Harding claims that she is a victim of abuse - both from her mother and her now ex-husband, which I believe. The film depicts this abuse, but it also plays with the truth - giving a voice to both her husband and her mother. Personally, I think they are all lying and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Her mother was probably verbally abusive, but also pushed Tonya into becoming one of the greatest American figure skaters of all-time. Her husband was probably controlling, and probably threatened her into lying about what really happened, and, yes, I am sympathetic towards that. The film brilliantly pulls at the sympathy, but never claims to be the truth. I'm not sympathetic to the whole class issue, though. Yes, she had to work harder than other figure skaters, and yes, I believe that the judges didn't like her because of her background, but to use that as an excuse is pitiful. I wish they would have included a scene or two featuring Kerrigan (as a victim, she should have a voice as well - I'm guessing she didn't want to be involved). Margot Robbie is extraordinary in this role. As much as I love Frances McDormand (winner of Best Actress last year), there is just no comparison to the complexity of this role.

2. Detroit - Where I, Tonya shines in playing with the truth, Detroit fails miserably. This film depicts an event as "truth" while blatantly ignoring facts or other perspectives. The film is described as a "fictional account" of what happened at the Algiers Motel during the famous riots in Detroit, which is a great story to tell especially with the continued tension and violence between black communities and police officers. However, instead of just guessing what happened, why not just tell the story from one perspective? I feel like this story is just too important to not get right. Apparently, the real Melvin was a consultant on the film, and claims its truthfulness, so why not just make the whole film from his point of view? He has a very interesting story arc; it would have made the film so much better. Instead, this film is very cut and dry - there is not depth to any character, no underlying reasons for their actions. It's just plot. I'm starting to question whether John Boyega can act. I like him, but he hasn't been good in multiple movies. I LOVE Hannah Murray though (she was my favorite on Skins). I couldn't really take Will Poulter seriously (which is obviously problematic for this movie). I think I'm most disappointed by Kathryn Bigelow, though. She has some extraordinary films under her belt, and this one is mediocre, at best.

3. Colossal - I'm in love. This is one of those films that I enjoyed watching, but then after watching it I just can't stop thinking about all of the brilliant little moments. It's so original in its genre mixing, but also in its story-telling - the audience has no idea what kind of movie they are watching until it's over.*spoilers ahead* It starts off as a cliched romantic comedy where the girl is seen as a "mess" so she moves back home and reconnects with her childhood friend. You are led to believe that this will end in a typical fashion of reconnected love - but it ends up being a brilliant tale of revenge. It's just absolutely fascinating to watch it unfold. Plus, it's a monster movie! With a bit of sci-fi thrown in! There is also some brilliant commentary on our narcissistic human nature, as well as an underlying story of men's entitlement and their reactions when they don't get what they want. Hathaway is perfect. I've always liked her - but I've also felt she was grating in a few roles, so I understand why people don't like her. However, I always think it's weird when people are surprised that she can act. She's done a variety of roles, and often excels in them. Surely this movie will be among my Top 10 of last year.

4. The Killing of a Sacred Deer - And this is another one that will likely make it to my updated Top 10 list of last year. While it's not as brilliant as The Lobster, it still has its moments of utter brilliance. It's heavily influenced by Greek mythology (and therefore I automatically swoon for it). If you're interested, Vulture does a fantastic job of breaking it all down here: https://bit.ly/2sndgmu . The film is very surreal (maybe a bit too surreal for its own good), and in no way is shaped by any reality (what happens at the end? Wouldn't there be an investigation? etc.). Also, the most logical thing in this situation would be to kill your wife - done and done. You always protect your children (I don't even have kids and that's the obvious choice even to me). It is super chilling, though, when she states that he should kill the youngest kid because they could always have another (which is even MORE of a reason to kill her). Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman are wonderful, but the standout performance is clearly Barry Keoghan (he was also the standout in Dunkirk, dude had a great 2017). Also, Alicia Silverstone is in it for a hot minute and I screamed! I miss her so much (and am happy to report that she is on a new tv show, American Woman, and I will most definitely be watching).

5. Black Panther - Um...ok. I don't understand the hype at all. It felt like every other recent Marvel movie. It's certainly not the best, or even one that I will remember a few months from now (I would put it at equal quality with Doctor Strange and Ant-Man). The most disappointing part, though, is Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger. The role is great - an actual villain with a point other than destroying the world. Jordan, however, is absolutely terrible in the role - and I say this as a HUGE fan. I've loved him since Parenthood (and of course The Wire and Friday Night Lights, but I saw Parenthood first). I don't know what went wrong, and I seem to be a minority (although when I told my co-worker my thoughts he happily agreed with me and said he's been quiet about it because everyone else raved about his performance). Anyway, the movie, to me, is rather underwhelming, but I can understand the cultural significance and how important representation in movies is. This movie means the world to so many people, so I'm not going to waste negative energy criticizing it. On a positive note - I loved Letitia Wright - she's adorable! It took me a while to figure out how I recognize her but it's from Humans. I'm excited to see her career grow. And Angela Bassett is a Queen. Someone please save her from that awful tv show 9-1-1. It is so beneath her talent.

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