I have a distinct feeling that Alex Garland planted things in Men, the writer-director’s new film starring Jessie Buckley and a bevy of Rory Kinnears, which I have not entirely picked up on. Namely, allusions to religion and mythology which fly outside my knowledge structures. Yet what I did understand about Men, what was left after those allusions are stripped away and narrative and theme remain, was altogether so blunt and superficial that I in moments thought I was watching a parody of a specific breed of arthouse film. A parody of the exact film Men is.
Audrey Diwan’s Happening, which won last year’s Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, finds itself with a U.S. release date incidentally coinciding with legislative changes which make it all the more timely. It is a frank film about unwanted pregnancy and rigid abortion laws in 1960s France. Viewing it with American eyes, I imagine one’s appreciation for the content in the film may rest on individual politics. That, or one’s patience for quiet drama and arthouse chic.
I think Robert Eggers is one of the most fascinating American filmmakers working today. The Witch is my favorite horror movie of the 2010s. It was an accomplished debut. Instead of going down the road of the “horror auteur,” though, Eggers turned to something more experimental in The Lighthouse, a film which sits unsteadily on the boundaries of multiple genres (I would call it a psychological horror fantasy dramedy sea shanty fever dream, maybe).
Deep Water, following a rocky release schedule hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, finally landed on Hulu this weekend. It is a less-than steamy erotic thriller from Adrian Lyne, a director known for his work in the genre (most notably the 1987 film Fatal Attraction). The film is Lyne’s first crack at directing in 20 years, and it stars former couple Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck as spouses whose marriage is on the rocks.
Vic (Affleck), a retired microchip engineer, has tolerated a tacit agreement with Melinda (de Armas) in which she escapes their passionless marriage by making “friends” with a few local bachelors. Her flirtations and flings are Continue reading Deep Water (2022) Movie Review→
As we are now two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, it only stands to reason that the entertainment industries are beginning to react to it with films and television which occur, diegetically, during the pandemic. Kimi is not the first, of course. Rob Savage’s Host, the Zoom-call horror movie, received quite a bit of attention on its release for its ultra-low-budget pandemic conditions. A fine, if not thin, riff on the found footage setup.
I bring up that Kimi features an in-fiction COVID pandemic only because its existence has impacted the agoraphobic protagonist, Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz), at a fundamental level. While most people around her have moved on with their lives, returning to office life, riding public transit, most not wearing masks, the thought of leaving her flat sends Angela into a panic attack.
Kenneth Branagh’s sleek Agatha Christie adaptation, his second after 2017’s underwhelming and overly staid Murder on the Orient Express, is a delight, just so long as you are patient with it.
For a murder mystery, Death on the Nile takes its sweet time getting to the murder. The script almost teases you with this delay. The characters are introduced (or reintroduced in some cases) with a coy monologue which lays out the backstories which establish each person’s potential motives. Establishing shots are occasionally interrupted by sudden acts of animal violence, as if to say, murder is in the nature of this world — just give it time. One poorly staged false start nearly takes the head off of the love-struck heiress Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot).
After Yang premiered as part of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
Kogonada’s After Yang is a magic trick of a film. The title refers to a “techno-sapien” sibling (Justin H. Min), an android who serves as a caretaker and mentor for Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja), the adopted child of Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith). While Jake and Kyra are too busy in their working lives, Mika has Yang, and she has grown very attached to him. The film takes place, largely, “after” Yang, in that he malfunctions early on and Jake spends most of the film attempting to get him repaired.
Resurrection premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
Films which hinge on a central revelation are difficult to talk about. The experience of a film like this can be significantly altered if one already knows the revelation ahead of time. I won’t go into much detail about the plot of Andrew Semans’ Resurrection, for this reason. Just suffice it to say that your curiosity and subsequent shock at the revelation in Resurrection are required components to enjoying the film. And I think the film thoroughly fumbles its central conceit.
Watcher premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is competing in its U.S. Dramatic competition.
Chloe Okuno’s feature debut Watcher is a thriller in the Rear Window tradition. Americans Julia (Maika Monroe) and Francis (Karl Glusman) move to Bucharest after Francis receives a promotion. Julia does not have a job here and does not speak Romanian, two facts which isolate her in her new environment, leaving her on edge as she goes about her days largely alone. And it does not help that Continue reading Watcher (2022) Movie Review→
Emergency premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is competing in the festival’s U.S Dramatic competition.
Carey Williams’ 2018 film Emergency won Sundance’s Special Jury Prize for short-form filmmaking. He adapted this short, with KD Davila serving as screenwriter, into a feature film of the same name. The film is one part buddy comedy, one part coming-of-age movie, and one part drama reflecting on multiple tensions present in the American conscious. If this sounds like three things which do not go together, you aren’t wrong. The extent to which one buys into the tonal tightrope walk Emergency is attempting is crucial to the enjoyment of the film.