A Wrinkle in Time probably should have been an animated movie. Disney has had a better track record with animation when it comes to fantasy if we’re being honest, and it’s a shame to see a filmmaking team produce such a visually stunning movie trapped inside a vacuous bore of a screenplay.
It’s fair to say the target audience for Red Sparrow almost solely includes the latter half of Jennifer Lawrence fans undeterred by the grotesque odd-brain of mother! But at least mother! wasn’t this boring.
Watching The Shape of Water, I expected a wholly original story based on a simple premise. A woman falls in love with a merman. Instead, Guillermo del Toro’s film has a surprisingly familiar set of themes and ideas. Its originality lies in how it blends three core messages for the viewer to internalize.
The first message: the past is the key to the future. This scaly, unpredictable creature found in the Amazon is implied to be an ancient force of nature far removed from the technological advances of 60s Baltimore. Yet every character wants to use this creature as a device for unlocking the future. A competitive future. A future of scientific discoveries. Even a future of artistic expression.
The second message: the people who will unlock the future are the silent. The unseen. The meek will indeed inherit the earth. Finally, the third message: love is the purest way to unlock the future, bringing about our greatest talents. Love is our purpose.
We’re dependent on the government. We’re dependent on the military. We’re dependent on our soldiers. So when you put your faith and trust into the very entities that hold the key to your survival, it stings all the more when you experience the ugly side of America and war. Especially if you’re a soldier.
Richard Linklater has directed some of my favorite films of all time, so I didn’t hesitate to catch a viewing of his new film Last Flag Flying. It’s a spiritual sequel to The Last Detail, in that it tells a simple road trip story about three aging Vietnam War veterans in 2003.
One of those veterans (“Doc,” played by Steve Carrell) has recently lost his son to the horrors of the Iraq War. His fellow former marines (Sal, played by Bryan Cranston and Mueller, played by Laurence Fishburne) embark on a quest to help Doc bury his son at home in New Hampshire instead of at Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C.
“I’m not going to bury a marine,” Doc says. “I’m just going to bury my son.” If that sounds unpatriotic to you, then Last Flag Flying has you on its allegorical mind.
Our lives are a string of incidental situations, or events. Some of these events are caused by other events. Many events are indistinguishable from coincidence. They appear chaotic and might as well be.
I found myself thinking a lot about structured chaos while watching Lady Bird. It was only after the credits rolled that I clicked with director/writer Greta Gerwig’s “point,” so to speak. That she desired to bring about meaningful change in Lady Bird’s life through both choice and conflict. Not much else.
There’s a reason why critics adore this movie. And I also suspect there will be some general audiences who disagree with the praise. This is because there are some among even the most fervent filmgoers who measure the quality of a film by its trappings. The dialogue. The cinematography. The performances. These are all important, of course, but they don’t amount to much removed from what the events onscreen mean. Understanding this is the first step to “getting” objective film criticism as a whole. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is the actual name of a prestige film in 2017. Naming movies is hard, no?
On the one hand, this title reminds me of the suggestive power found in names of short stories. A lot of contemporary short stories have this stylistic flair, like a recent one I enjoyed called The Shape of the Darkness As It Overtakes Us by Dimas Ilaw. For whatever reason, short stories lend themselves nicely to intriguing “sentence titles,” while novels and movies typically go for the short punch. Just as look at Disney and Pixar: Tangled, Frozen, Up, Coco.
In a strange way, Three Billboards is like a short story. It’s a dark comedy you’ll hear heavy praise about in the coming awards season due to its perfected dialogue written by director Martin McDonagh and how much of a thrill it is to watch Frances McDormand process anger in a movie about flawed people desperate for justice. But like a short story, Three Billboards feels intended to pass you by without offering resolution. It’s niche. It’s focused. And it’s not concerned with what you think about it.
I’m excited to dig into Blade Runner 2049 throughout the entire weekend, notably on the Cinemaholics podcast coming out Sunday. But for now, I’ve written some short, spoiler-free thoughts about the film just a day after seeing it.
In general, I’ve been moving away from the standard film reviews you’ve seen on this site since it launched in 2012, mainly because my long form writing has been dedicated elsewhere. And honestly, I find it just as fun and fulfilling to share my immediate thoughts on a film with all of you on Twitter.
For many of you who don’t use Twitter, however, here’s my take on Blade Runner 2049 and whether or not you should take the time to see it.