Monday, April 23, 2018

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

I don't remember the last time I saw anything as strange and silly and sad as the scene about mid-way through Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here where Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) and the man he just shot hold hands and sing along to Charlene's "I've Never Been To Me."

I suppose I should feel bad for spoiling this unexpected scene in a movie full of them, but I don't. There's not much plot in this movie to spoil, anyway.

The movie doesn't judge Joe for being a contract killer. It doesn't let him off the hook or venerate him as a vigilante. It lets him be in the job, almost as though it's a job like any other. The job is horrible, but so is life, so there's a balance to it.

The movie doesn't judge you either or treat you like a dummy (too many movies think we need the plot endlessly repeated). It gives you just enough info, then expects you to keep up. And you do, in part because the movie doesn't have much in the way of distractions, but mostly because the movie picks you up and carries you along. Doesn't explain. Just carries you and drops you off at the end.

Which is Joe's job, if you think about it.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Post (2017)

Occasionally, I ruin movies all by myself, just with the power of mind. My mind is that powerful, readers!

I get an idea into my head of what a movie is going to be like, or be about, then I'm disappointed when it's not the thing I imagined it was. Sometimes, I can go back and learn to appreciate the movie for what it really was.

I would like to think that that is going to happen with The Post, but I doubt it.

You see, I thought that this was a female empowerment movie. I thought, based on everything I read and everything I saw, that it was about Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) finding her place and her voice as the publisher of the Washington Post (a role her father passed on to her husband; she only took the mantle after her husband's death). I spent the entire movie waiting for the decisive moment when Kay says, "Let's go."

Isn't it dreamy to think of it that way? That when faced with a federal government and Supreme Court challenging decision, she simply said, "Let's go"? Decision made! Lives altered! Let's go already!

But ...

1) it takes far too long to get there and
2) it doesn't stop there. It's not quite on the level of continuing on after Huck tore up the letter, but it feels like it.

Of all the liberties that they took with the actual story (Graham gets a "you go, girl" from a stranger on her way into the Supreme Court and Graham walks out into a sea of proud women after the case has been heard are two examples of the movie trying to goose its feminist cred), I would have preferred it if they had just left out the part where, two hours after that let's go, all of the men in Kay's life try again to badger her out of her decision. Let the "let's go" stand! Let it be the powerful moment that it is!

Really, though, I knew that the movie had lost me when the Supreme Court decision is handed down, and the result make its way into the newsroom. Carrie Coon (my beloved Nora!) is repeating the vote to a rapt newsroom when this fucking guy walks in from the wire room and yells over her. He just walks in and starts yelling, like he thought the entire newsroom was silent and waiting for him.

Maybe this is exactly the way it went down. Don't know; don't care. All I know is that a woman was talking about something important, and this fucking guy decides he's just got to scoop her.

Maybe we'll get 'em next time, Carrie (and Kay).

Monday, February 05, 2018

The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

Friends, I think it's important that I share some thoughts with you about the third Maze Runner movie. 

Not my thoughts, though. A group of teenage boys sat next to me (why?) and the one right beside me had some critiques. 

On Aidan Gillen: "What's going on? Is he in love with her or something? A bad actor. That's a bad actor." [I felt the same in that moment, folks. The very same]

And as the credits rolled: "Weak. It's a good story, though. It's a good story! It was just too telegraphed -- the music, the camera work. No surprises. Everything's obvious."

This young man also cried when (spoilers) Newt died, and repeatedly looked my way when either anything mushy or anything sad happened in order to gauge my reaction. This resulted in my reaction to pretty much everything being pressed lips as I tried not to laugh at his ... concern? Fear that he would have to witness my emotions in some way? Desire to reach out and comfort me if I did outwardly show my feelings. Who can say.

Also, from the two teenage girls who sat behind me and bawled their eyes out when Newt died: "Thomas could have saved him. He had a knife. He could have cut himself! He's a dumb a-s-s." 

Sadly, no one seemed to think that Teresa the Teenage Epidemiologist was as funny as I did. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Movie Moments 2017 - Entry 4

Friends, we need to talk about the apricots in Call Me By Your Name.

No, not that scene (I mean, what is there to say. "What the fuck did you do?" pretty much covers it, thanks, Armie Hammer).

Instead, we need to talk about the plentiful and repeatedly seen apricot juice. 

Look in the pitcher. LOOK.
WHAT IS THIS STUFF! This is the thickest, pulped nonsense to ever parade itself as juice. It is HIGHLY viscose. There is no way it is refreshing. When Elio asked Oliver why he never gave him any signal, and Oliver reminded him of the time he massaged Elio's shoulder, I was like, "And also those times he slurped glasses of 'juice' right in front of you" because I know you noticed that, Elio. I saw you looking. We were all looking. Armie Hammer looks like someone who won a genetic lottery; it's impossible not to look.

I don't really have anything else to say about Call Me By Your Name that hasn't already been said. It's beautiful and bittersweet and gave me for real prickly teenaged flashbacks that made me want to yell "DON'T DO THIS" at Elio several times over. (Teenagers are so dramatic, it burns to remember you were one once).

For now I'll leave you with a Sufjan Stevens song so deeply sad that I have to remind myself not to listen to it at work:

P.S. When was the last time you saw a movie ending so bold?

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Movie Moment 2017 - Entry 3

What is Superman looking at?
After Justice League, a couple sat in a lengthy discussion which revealed that 1) that guy is a nerd and 2) that lady doesn't know a single thing about the difference between Marvel and DC (or, more specifically, the difference between the MCU and the DCEU, but I think those initialisms might be a bridge too far for her). All of her question revolved around why certain hot guys were in this movie versus the hot guys she was expecting to see. (I feel this).

I also feel her on the whole being-confused front. The week prior, while watching trailers, I completely forgot what movie I was there to see and was briefly overcome with surprise that there was a trailer for Black Panther before Justice League (this was Justice League's opening night). Then when the movie started, I was doubly surprised to realize that I was there for Thor: Ragnarok.

[That's not a dig about Ragnarok. I went to see it on purpose, and I rather enjoyed it. Mostly absolutely everything that Korg said or did, which had me in such fits of hopeless Taika love that the woman sitting next to me was openly staring at me. It did not help that I also had my sitcom reaction to some of the other jokes that had the audience in stitches -- that's the reaction where I nod once while thinking, "Yes, those are the jokes." But I digress.]

The thing is, when Ragnarok started, it's not like I was disappointed, but, well, I was done eating my sundae so ... I could have left satisfied. Honestly, I think I would pay $5 bucks (plus pop and sundae) to just watch 30 minutes or so of trailers. The best trailers are works of art in their own right, so why wouldn't I want to watch a bunch of short films strung together? Get on that, theatres.

In the meantime, let's spend a couple of minutes on the trailer that had me so jazzed:

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Movie Moments 2017 - Entry 2

I loved Three Billboard outside Ebbing, Missouri. It's a masterwork so richly layered that you feel like you've read a novel or at least watched a mini-series, so fully do you understand these characters and their world. 

But I'm not here to talk about Three Billboards. Or at least I'm not here to talk about Three Billboards as a whole. 

I'm here to talk about how Carter Burwell, genius composer whose work I love, totally recycled his Twilight score for Three Billboards

I happen to love his Twilight score. I think it's fantastic, the otherworldly strings/piano/woodwind for the vampires and the tribal drums for the wolves. I was relieved when they finally brought him back for Breaking Dawn. When Vampire Diaries (at least in the early seasons) aped his work, it made sense to me. No matter who they hired, that person wasn't going to do any better than Burwell did.

I'm not even saying that this score is 100%, note-for-note the same as Twilight. I'm just saying that when Mildred leaned over and said, "'Cause you're pretty, but you ain't her," I knew I knew those 5 wood flute notes from somewhere. That somewhere is Twilight. And that emotional moment (j/k, the entire movie is an emotional moment. Prepare yourself) is probably (definitely?) not the time you want to think about Twilight (or is it? No, it isn't).

Burwell isn't, of course, the only Hollywood composer to pull this trick. Thomas Newman's scores for The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, and Pay it Forward are pretty indistinguishable. 

The point is: my name is April, there is a crossover audience for fans of the Twilight score and fans of Martin McDonagh, and I am at the centre of that very small Venn diagram. Possibly I am the only person in it, but here I am. 

You can listen to the score plus soundtrack here. The Deer/Twilight moment, if you want to experience it for yourself, begins at 1:24. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Movie Moments 2017 - Entry 1

I have a sudden, pressing need to immortalize movie moments from 2017, so here we are.

Movie moments are not necessarily the movies themselves. They aren't really things that happened in movies (though those are also eligible), so much as they are things that happened in and around movies this year for me, personally.

So without further explanation, I want to give a shout-out to the lady who sat behind me when I went to see American Assassin.

Now, am I the kind of person who would go to see American Assassin just because it stars Dylan O'Brien? Yes, technically I am. I also like Taylor Kitsch and Michael Keaton (who is so great in this movie, see it just for him), and I like action movies, but, hey, that nice kid from Teen Wolf needs my support.

The support he got, however, was from The Lady Who Sat Behind Me (TLWSBM). TLWSBM was ready to give her whole heart to little Dylan O'Brien. She ooed and awed and marveled. When Dylan (does his character have a name? Does he need one?) was trapped in a tunnel with bad guys on all sides and he did a pull-up to some pipes or vents to hide, she leaned forward and whispered, "Bad Ass." <-- it really was two separate words, the way she said it.

I don't know TLWSBM. I don't know her life. I do know that at the moment, TLWSBM needed to see Dylan O'Brien on a revenge-tinged killing spree. And that Saturday afternoon at the cineplex, she got it. Oh, how she got it.