Sunday, January 19, 2020

After the rain


WEATHERING WITH YOU
aka Tenki no Ko (Weather's Child)

Chalk another one up for the most important animator working today, even if it's not as good as his other masterpieces.

2019
Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai

Spoiler alert: moderate

Friday, January 17, 2020

Army of two


1917

A technical juggernaut, 1917 nevertheless finds the soul beneath its spectacle and justifies itself, in every frame, as the death dream of a world lost in the trenches a century ago.

2019
Directed by Sam Mendes
Written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns and Sam Mendes

Spoiler alert: high

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Reviews from gulag: And 2019's still stinking up the place, part 1

Happy (belated) New Year!  Before we get started with 2020, there's still a lot of debris to clear out from 2019.  In this installment: In Fabric, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.

IN FABRIC
The Duke of Burgundy, Peter Strickland's second feature, was one of my ten favorite films of 2015.  Hell, it was one of my eight favorite films.  That's a lower bar than it would usually be—2015, as a cinematic year, has been exceeded in its lousy mediocrity only by the year that's just passed—but it's still a sign of some modest excellence to have cleared it, and I think it's a pretty great movie, an art-horror romance ribboned with surrealistic and absurdist touches that still has a real, genuinely emotional story of relationship dysfunction to tell beneath the opaque glaze of 70s-nostalgic Europastiche that represents its director's preferred, and only, mode of artistic expression.  In Fabric, Strickland's follow-up to The Duke of Burgundy, is rather more the follow-up you might've expected from Berberian Sound Studio, his first film.  That is, it's an ultimately-tiresome exercise in pursuing his various aesthetic interests which, in Strickland's conciliatory gesture toward his film being about something, or anything—and, in fairness, this does put it miles ahead of Sound Studio—winds up being about an absolute shitload of "somethings," which all add up to far less than the sum of their parts by the end.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Forever, or never


IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY

Very probably the apex of all independent animation, Don Hertzfeldt's greatest work is one of the greatest things ever.

2012
Written and directed by Don Hertzfeldt

Spoiler alert: moderatish but mostly inapplicable

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Is this the end of the world, the death of the light?


A HIDDEN LIFE

Don't call it a comeback, but even so, A Hidden Life really is the best Terry since The Tree of Life, and it might be even better than that.

2019
Written and directed by Terrence Malick

Spoiler alert: inapplicable

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Wars is hell


STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

And The Rise of Skywalker proves that we have grown too fond of it.

2019
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Written by Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams

Spoiler alert: severe

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Look for the union label


THE IRISHMAN

The Irishman is a pretty big container for what amounts to not all that much.

2019
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Steve Zaillian (based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt)

Spoiler alert: N/A