Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Hell or High Water - I like this movie, however, I watched it about 5 weeks ago (I'm really behind in my blogging) and I barely remember anything about it. So, that's not a very good sign. The only thing that really stuck with me is Chris Pine's performance. It's not spectacular or anything, but I think he is currently showcasing that he is a much stronger actor than everyone initially gave him credit for. I can refer to my notes for the rest of my thoughts. Apparently, I found the story cliche (bank robbers fighting for a "good cause" and a cop ready to retire), but it was told well. The whole "we're stealing from the banks because they are evil" is good in theory, but realistically they are putting a lot of lives in danger; especially since it's "Open Carry" territory. Ben Foster is always wonderful, but a little too over-the-top here. I like the girl from Legion - she plays a completely different character here, very meek and quiet, and she nails it. I love the last hour of the movie, and especially how it ended. Oh, that's right! Now I remember, the ending is actually fantastic - not expected at all.

2. Get Out - *spoilers ahead* I was completely skeptical about the praise for this movie, especially considering it's in the horror genre, and I rarely agree with critics on great horror films (I'm sorry, but The VVitch is boring as fuck, and It Follows is overrated, but has its moments. I did enjoy The Babadook, though). I'm happy to say that this movie lives up to the hype. The first 45 minutes, not so much, but then it gets good, and then it gets great, and then when it's over, I analyzed it as a whole, and it's fucking genius. The horror genre is often a strange dichotomy for women's issues - they often highlight sexism by showcasing sexism. It's revolutionary to use the genre in the same way, but for racism. And, while there are some brilliantly subtle moments, overall the movie is very "in your face" which is needed. The way he reacts so calmly when the cop is asking for his ID, because he's used to it, is the same way I react when a strange man (usually older, ALWAYS white) puts his hand on my waist or my shoulder, or touches my hair; It's just a part of life and it fucking sucks but it's exhausting to keep fighting it. The use of "the sunken place" to emphasize this paralyzation is just stunning. The more subtle metaphors with the silver spoon, and the picking cotton were just subtle enough to be really effective. The only real issue I have with the movie is that mind control is dumb - and not realistic, but it's done really well here - so I can forgive it. I don't really think it's very surprising, either - OF COURSE she's in on it. Allison Williams is surprisingly great (I only know of her from Girls, and that show is fucking terrible). She goes from sweet-girl-next-door to creepy-as-fuck within seconds. Daniel Kaluuya (Posh Kenneth from Skins! I KNEW I recognized him!) carries the movie even with such a strong supporting cast (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford!). Also, it's much funnier than I was expecting it to be.

3. Life - It's hard to treat this movie fairly, when it was clearly set up for severe criticism and comparisons to previous "trapped on a spaceship with an alien" movies. It's not even in the same category as many that came before it in terms of story and intensity. However, it's not a bad movie. There is some good to it - particularly the diversity in the cast, and the way it shatters the cliched/expected outcomes for these characters (*spoiler* the black guy doesn't die first!). Also, the ending is fucking aces. I don't know how they pulled it off without it being expected, but after the reveal happened I screamed out "OF COURSE! HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT COMING?!". It's so good that it makes the whole movie memorable. Jake Gyllenhaal shines, as usual, and seems to do much more with the material than the other actors. I like everyone else, but their personalities are basically interchangeable.

4. Split - If you want to see the best performance of 2017, look no further than James McAvoy's portrayal of Dennis, Kevin, Patricia, The Beast, Hedwig...the list goes on. The transition into these characters is a masterclass lesson in acting. It's nothing short of spectacular. Anya Taylor-Joy is also really, really strong (and while I didn't like The VVitch, I thought she was incredible in it). By now, everyone should know the "twist" of the movie. If you don't, then stop reading. I read of the twist before I watched the film, and I don't think it effected my enjoyment of it at all. I would argue that it's not really a twist, anyway, it's just a connecting narrative - to one of the better Shyamalan films, Unbreakable. I wasn't that keen on Unbreakable when it first came out - I liked it, but after a second watch, I liked it more. I still don't think it's as great of a movie that some seem to think, but it could be very interesting as an extended universe. While I like this movie, there is a glaringly problematic storyline involving abuse. I don't *think* the intentions behind the movie were meant to be as offensive as they are - in fact, I think the creators believed it was a supportive message. The climax of the movie revolves around the idea that "the broken are the more evolved". It promotes the idea that survivors/victims are inherently stronger, as if being abused has a positive effect. Also, while the main character in this movie does utilize the skills she used from being abused as a child to survive another harrowing act, it doesn't define her as a person. Again, I don't think any of this was intentional. They were just utilizing a popular theory - "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger", but when it applies to child abuse, it becomes a little more complicated than that, and some sensitivity should have been included.

5. T2: Trainspotting - Sequels to movies that are 20 years old are never a good idea. This is the exception. Honestly, I don't remember much from the first one (because it's been 20 YEARS!), but it is the movie that I fell in love with both Jonny Lee Miller and Kelly Macdonald, and of course the "Choose Life" speech lives on forever in my brain. I actually thought that Kelly wasn't in it (why would she be, really.) since she wasn't on the poster, but they did a good job bringing her character back for a quick scene. This sequel is everything I wanted it to be, a continued story for these lively characters, great writing, superb dialogue, fantastic soundtrack, and an updated "Choose Life" speech that almost brought tears to my eyes. It's just perfect; so perfect that I have nothing else to say - just read it and see for yourself:

'Choose life'. 'Choose life' was a well meaning slogan from a 1980's anti-drug campaign and we used to add things to it, so I might say for example, choose... designer lingerie, in the vain hope of kicking some life back into a dead relationship. Choose handbags, choose high-heeled shoes, cashmere and silk, to make yourself feel what passes for happy. Choose an iPhone made in China by a woman who jumped out of a window and stick it in the pocket of your jacket fresh from a South-Asian Firetrap. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and a thousand others ways to spew your bile across people you've never met. Choose updating your profile, tell the world what you had for breakfast and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, desperate to believe that you don't look as bad as they do. Choose live-blogging, from your first wank 'til your last breath; human interaction reduced to nothing more than data. Choose ten things you never knew about celebrities who've had surgery. Choose screaming about abortion. Choose rape jokes, slut-shaming, revenge porn and an endless tide of depressing misogyny. Choose 9/11 never happened, and if it did, it was the Jews. Choose a zero-hour contract and a two-hour journey to work. And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and maybe tell yourself that it's better that they never happened. And then sit back and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody's fucking kitchen. Choose unfulfilled promise and wishing you'd done it all differently. Choose never learning from your own mistakes. Choose watching history repeat itself. Choose the slow reconciliation towards what you can get, rather than what you always hoped for. Settle for less and keep a brave face on it. Choose disappointment and choose losing the ones you love, then as they fall from view, a piece of you dies with them until you can see that one day in the future, piece by piece, they will all be gone and there'll be nothing left of you to call alive or dead. Choose your future, Veronika. Choose life.

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