Tag Archives: 2022

The Whale (2022) Review

LP6DLKWBHRAU7GJCIR6BLSR3HU

The Whale

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Suicide themes, sexual material, drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Brendan Fraser as Charlie
Sadie Sink as Ellie Sarsfield
Hong Chau as Liz
Ty Simpkins as Thomas
Samantha Morton as Mary
Director: Darren Aronofsky

In a town in Idaho, Charlie, a reclusive and unhealthy English teacher, hides out in his flat and eats his way to death. He is desperate to reconnect with his teenage daughter for a last chance at redemption.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

The Whale was one of the recent awards movies I was most nervous about watching. This would be Darren Aronofsky’s next movie since mother! back in 2017, and it would be starring Brendan Fraser in the lead role. While it had been positively received on the whole, there were some polarizing reactions and controversy which made me unsure about how I would land on this. I would say that I liked it but had some clear issues.

Whale-Trailer-Thumbnail_Clean-FS-1_short

Even if you didn’t know it beforehand, you could probably pick up on the movie originating from the play very early on. The Whale takes place at one location and consists of a small cast of characters. Even some of the dialogue feels very stagey, especially with lack of subtlety. Although there are some good moments, the screenplay and dialogue interactions can be very repetitive at times, though it usually fixes itself when it starts to feel that way. It isn’t a subtle movie by any means, whether it be with the dialogue or the themes. There’s a lot of things at play thematically, including religion, faith, personal tragedy and depression, and overall, I think it’s a bit messy and obvious with those.

TELEMMGLPICT000319872969_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bq3480UNUU8UfSxDSaY1n7MBMSxGIR1rd_-iNIxL4YeIk

The Whale is a dark and heavy movie, though Aronofsky seemed to try to aim for empathy with this movie, however the results are mixed. Much of the movie is bleak, and whenever it leant towards nihilism and hatred, I thought it was convincing and genuine. When it is trying to be empathetic, it felt fake and hollow, especially when watching the story play out. For a movie that tries to reflect the view of protagonist Charlie that “people are amazing”, the movie conveys quite the opposite. In fact, I would’ve admired the movie so much more if it ended up leaning into the hatred of the world and people, because at least it wouldn’t feel so hollow. Another notable theme is honesty, which is also something that Charlie encourages. It’s also another thing that The Whale struggles with. I don’t exactly like using the criticism “emotionally manipulative” when it comes to movies, since all emotions in movies are manipulated by the filmmakers and writers. However, certain moments were clearly intended to make you feel something, and most of them felt artificial to me. The more impactful moments for me were the quiet, tender, and softer moments, as opposed to the over the top dramatic moments, the latter of which had me feeling unsure about them. This also extends to the ending, and I’ve noticed that it made lots of people emotional and cry. In contrast with the other scenes which I wasn’t sure about, I knew for certain that I really didn’t like the ending. Finally, there’s been some talk about whether The Whale is fatphobic, and I really don’t have enough to engage in that discourse, but I can talk about the way it views its protagonist. I will say that I’m pretty sure Aronofsky doesn’t have a negative view of Charlie, the film is sympathetic towards him. Some characters do treat him poorly, but I don’t think the film views him poorly. At the same time, I’m not sure its empathetic towards him (ironically).

image

The acting for the most part does help to make the movie work better. Brendan Fraser gives probably his best performance yet, it’s very dramatic and he goes hard out for that, but I thought it worked. His character of Charlie is optimistic and believes in people despite the things he’s going through or the way people treat him. Much of the character’s positivity and optimism becomes redundant as we don’t really get to unpack that, he’s just positive because he’s just positive. Still, Fraser does help the character feel real and sells it as best as possible. Sadie Sink gives a notable performance in the movie, playing Charlie’s daughter, Ellie. I am fully aware that this is intentional, but she’s written to be such a menace and cartoonishly evil character that its hard to take her seriously. While she’s loud and aggressive, her character is pretty one note despite being one of the main supporting players, and it really could’ve used more nuance and depth. Sink’s performance goes along with that too, the angsty teenager scenes were pretty standard and she’s much better at the more emotional scenes, especially near the end. Hong Chau was one of the best performances of the film for me, playing a nurse and a friend of Charlie. While a lot of the supporting character are underdeveloped, Chau makes her character feel real, and was the most interesting and believable character in the film. Her scenes were really the highlights for me, her dynamic with Fraser was great and even worked better than his dynamic with Sink. Other actors like Ty Simpkins and Samantha Morton are also good in their parts.

20221208111256-6392176b821cf083b82a8e11jpeg

Darren Aronofsky’s style and direction is usually very overt in his movies, but it’s been toned down quite a lot appropriately for The Whale. Not to say that the movie is directed in a basic way, it’s straightforward and simplistic, but it works for this story. It is shot with a 1.33 aspect ratio which makes you feel claustrophobic, especially given the movie takes place just inside and outside of an apartment. The murky and dim interior is also sets the right tone.  Brendan Fraser is wearing a fat suit and prosthetics to make him look obese and fair is fair, he looks completely different. The score from Rob Simonsen is also effective, atmospheric and oppressive, even if it can be a bit overbearing at points. However, the direction isn’t perfect; I wasn’t sure about some decisions that Aronofsky made, mainly in the way Charlie was filmed. The shots of his body and the filming of the binge eating is akin to how David Cronenberg would film grotesque body horror. It’s done for shock value and becomes uncomfortable, and for the wrong reasons which work against the film.

MV5BZGNlMWNlZTctNjQ5Mi00ZWNhLWEzOGMtMGRhYzQ1MjA2MjZjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_

The Whale remains a movie that I’m very conflicted about. Some aspects of Darren Aronofsky’s direction work, and many of the performances are great, especially Brendan Fraser and Hong Chau. However, even if you put the fatphobic debate aside, it has plenty of issues that hold it back from really working. The writing is so messy and mixed, from the lack of subtlety, to the rather hollow attempts at being empathetic, and to even the attempts of being emotionally resonant, much of it misfires and was a rather mixed result. I do wonder whether Aronofsky really was the right choice for this film. If it wanted to be more empathetic and human, then it should’ve been handled with more sensitivity and subtlety. That aside, The Whale might be worth checking out for the performances. I guess I liked the film overall, but I understand the people who really don’t.

Vortex (2022) Review

Vortex-Dario-Argento-as-Lui-and-Francoise-Lebrun-as-Elle

Vortex

Time: 136 Minutes
Cast:
Dario Argento as Lui
Françoise Lebrun as Elle
Alex Lutz as Stéphane
Director: Gaspar Noé

A retired psychiatrist with dementia and a struggling author with a heart condition live their final days together in an apartment.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Gaspar Noe is one of the more notable infamous and provocative directors, known for Irreversible, Enter the Void and more recently Climax. His latest film Vortex did interest me, partly because I had heard that it is relatively subdued compared to his past work. I watched the movie for myself, and I can confirm that this is true. Make no mistake though, this is very much a Gaspar Noe film, and one for that matter, one of his best.

1478

As said, Vortex is subdued for a Gaspar Noe movie. It does away from the extreme violence and in your face visuals that his films are known for, and this is his tamest movie to date. That being said, it might be one of his more disturbing, gruelling and bleak films, with it focussing on an elderly couple with dementia. Throughout the movie, there is a real existential dread as we follow the two elderly protagonists. While I was initially intrigued with the way Gaspar Noe decided to tell the story (which I’ll get to later), it was hard for me to get into at first. It is very drawn out, particularly near the beginning. At 2 hours and 20 minutes, I think its a bit too long and could’ve been a little shorter. However, it picked up for me from the point where the couple’s son first appears. Like with Noe’s other films, Vortex contains familiar themes of life and death, and with particular emphasis on morality. It is a grim watch but it’s still a very thoughtful and human movie, and an emotionally devastating portrait of dementia. While there’s a few of his movies I haven’t seen yet, it’s safe to say that this is Noe’s most contemplative, mature and personal film yet (even more so after hearing that beforehand he nearly died from a brain haemorrhage).

28vortex2-mobileMasterAt3x

The cast is very limited, it mostly comes down to Dario Argento (yes, the director of movies like Suspiria and Deep Red) and Francoise Lebrun, playing the older husband and wife respectively. Their nuanced and real performances added so much; helping to bring across their characters in a believable and heartbreaking way. Alex Lutz is equally great in his scenes as their son.

Brody-Vortex-Review

Gaspar Noe’s direction and style isn’t nearly as explosive or in your face as his other films, not to say that its standard by any means. With Noe’s movies, he usually has some notable stylistic or narrative technique throughout. Irreversible had its scenes played in reverse, and Enter the Void was first person. Vortex is no exception, almost all the movie’s shots are split across two separate screens. Its usually showing two different perspectives on these split screens, the husband in one screen and the wife in the other. This choice is to keep these two characters separate, conveying that although they live in the same house, they practically live in separate worlds. The shots have longer takes and brief cuts, that combined with the relatively minimalist approach helps you feel grounded and in the moment. It’s definitely a bold stylistic choice, and it definitely does convey what Noe was going for, but it can be a little distracting. The long takes are impressive but do admittedly get tiring after a while.

3216

Vortex is a bit overlong, but overall is an impactful and painful yet humanistic and contemplative film about mortality. It’s uniquely directed and benefits from the amazing performances from Dario Argento, Francoise Lebrun and Alex Lutz. One of Gaspar Noe’s most restrained films, and one of his best. If you haven’t watched any of his movies, I can say with confidence that it is his most tame content wise, but isn’t an easy watch at all. Great film, but not one I would want to watch again.

Till (2022) Review

merlin_214440696_9ae2e84d-c950-4f84-b7ab-625d74a257d0-videoSixteenByNine3000

Till

Time: 130 Minutes
Cast:
Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till
Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till
Frankie Faison as John Carthan
Haley Bennett as Carolyn Bryant
Whoopi Goldberg as Alma Carthan
Director: Chinonye Chukwu

The true story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who was brutally lynched in 1955 while visiting his cousins in Mississippi.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I’ve been hearing a bit about this movie, mainly from hearing that it was getting some awards attention. I heard that it’s about the murder of Emmett Till in the 1950s; while it could’ve easily been mishandled, it ended up being a devastating but necessary and well made movie.

TILL (2022)

Some people might be a bit reluctant to watch this movie, understandably so. On top of it being about a tragedy like this, plenty are tired of movies focussing on black people’s suffering, especially in the past decade. For what its worth though, I wouldn’t put Till in that category. Its respectful and tasteful to the true-life events as much as possible and treats it with the thoughtfulness it deserves. They could’ve gone the graphic route by showing Emmett Till being killed on screen, but the film just show the lead up to his death and the aftermath, while his death is kept offscreen. It also serves the movie better, capturing the emotions of his mother Mamie Till rather than focussing deeply on the brutality inflicted on him. It is very much a character driven movie as it follows Mamie as she’s going through all this. At first it takes time to establish Emmett and Mamie’s life in Chicago before he goes to Mississippi, then after his disappearance and then death, it focuses on her search for justice. Till is painful to watch but affecting and moving. There are times where the movie can be slow, mainly in the second half, but the majority of the slower pacing works well enough.

till-01

The story is really led by the performances, each actor delivers a convincing performance that leaves an impression on you, no matter how small their screentime might be. Of course, the highlight is Danielle Deadwyler who is great as Mamie Till, and delivers a powerhouse performance. She has you invested in her fight and delivers a genuine and sensitive portrayal of grief and conviction. The rest of the performances are also top notch, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison, Jayme Lawson and Haley Bennett.

MV5BYzlkYzFhNWItZDZmZC00MTE4LWE4ZTAtNjJkMjRhMDgwOTNiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODk2NDQ3MTA@._V1_

The direction from Chinonye Chukwu is great. It is very well shot, and there are even some stylistically interesting things that are done here. Abel Korzeniowski’s score was great too, making already powerful scenes even more powerful. However, probably the most distinctive directing choices had to do with what Chukwu decided to show and not show, which was very important. As previously mentioned, they concealed certain things so as to not be exploitative, but doesn’t shy away from the brutality of it all.

Till-Trailer_072522

Till is a hard hitting and affecting movie which sensitively tells its real life story, and benefits from the excellent performances, especially from Danielle Deadwyler. It is definitely a hard watch, but I think it is worth seeing.

The Fabelmans (2022) Review

highres_509686589

The Fabelmans

Time: 151 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Gabriel LaBelle as Samuel “Sammy” Fabelman
Michelle Williams as Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman
Paul Dano as Burt Fabelman
Seth Rogen as Bennie Loewy
Judd Hirsch as Boris Schildkraut
Director: Steven Spielberg

Young Sammy Fabelman falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

The Fabelmans is Steven Spielberg’s latest film; I knew of it starring Paul Dano and Michelle Williams, and it would be a semi autobiography about his own life growing up. Even though it was Spielberg and he delivers consistently solid movies, I didn’t know how I would be finding this one. Coming of age stories for the most part don’t do anything for me, and I was a little over “love letters to cinema”, which the film looked like it was going for. The Fabelmans however ended up as one of my favourite movies of 2022.

the-fabelmans-blogroll-1663026457982

The script from Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner is clever and well written. As to be expected, The Fabelmans is clearly deeply personal to Spielberg and feels like a reflection on his life, very heartfelt and with a real vulnerability to it. Effectively, its part family drama and part coming of age story. As expected going in, it is a love letter to movies, with protagonist Sammy Fabelman having a childhood which centred around falling in love with cinema and filmmaking. The movie portrays the inspiring nature and passion of filmmaking, as well as the pursuit of fulfilling one’s dreams. The Fabelmans does more than just showing “the power of cinema”, by highlighting the cost and sacrifice that comes with pursuing that dream. Spielberg recreates his childhood memories and presents the personal struggles within a dysfunctional family life. The movie serves as a love letter to his family, as he looks back on his childhood with bittersweet nostalgia. In fact, the movie is at its strongest when it is focussing on the family dynamics. The whole movie also feels very authentic; it easily could’ve been self-indulgent or an ego trip, given that Spielberg is making a movie about himself being interested to become a filmmaker when he was younger. However, it is genuine and compelling throughout. There’s a lot of depth to it, and its earnest and touching. It jumps between various tones, there are plenty of moments of levity, and overall, it felt like a very complete story. Honestly, there’s a lot to like here even if you’ve never heard of Steven Spielberg or aren’t as passionate about cinema. However, I can definitely see aspiring filmmakers connecting with a lot of the movie.

the-fabelmans-watch-the-trailer-for-the-upcoming-movie-direc_rnfc.1280

The actors are all amazing in their parts. Gabriel LaBelle plays the lead role of Sammy Fabelman and he’s fantastic and believable. While Sammy is clearly modelled on a much younger Steven Spielberg, he is a great character. We are emotionally invested in his journey, and LaBelle holds his own against the older actors. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play his parents and are equally stellar, delivering some of the best performances of their careers. Seth Rogen is great and memorable in a supporting role, and Judd Hirsch is good in a smaller role. Other supporting actors like Julia Butters and Chloe East are also good, while David Lynch is incredibly memorable in a cameo appearance.

Brody-The-Fabelmans

Unsurprisingly, Steven Spielberg’s direction is as strong as ever. Everything from Janusz Kaminski’s stunning cinematography to the editing and John Williams’s solid score was top notch, and I think its safe to call The Fabelmans one of the best crafted films of 2022.

8Z36_D040_00074_D040_00075COMP.6

The Fabelmans is an intimate, personal, and earnest film and love letter to cinema and family. It is directed to perfection by Steven Spielberg and has excellent performances from everyone, especially Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams and Paul Dano. It’s one of 2022’s best, and one of Spielberg’s best.

See How They Run (2022) Review

Fcx_UFDXEAE2Tyc

See How They Run

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Sam Rockwell as Inspector Stoppard
Saoirse Ronan as Constable Stalker
Adrien Brody as Leo Köpernick
Ruth Wilson as Petula Spencer
Reece Shearsmith as John Woolf
Harris Dickinson as Richard Attenborough
Charlie Cooper as Dennis Corrigan
David Oyelowo as Mervyn Cocker-Norris
Director: Tom George

In 1950s London, plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered. When a world-weary inspector and an eager rookie constable take on the case, they find themselves thrown into a puzzling whodunit within the glamorously sordid world of underground theater, investigating the mysterious homicide at their own peril.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I saw the trailers for See How They Run and I was initially interested in it. It appeared to be another comedy whodunit film and featured an excellent cast, including Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrian Brody and more. I did end up enjoying it, but I understand the somewhat mixed reviews.

au_homepage_seehowtheyrun_gl_r_9_f4d6db70

See How They Run definitely has potential from its premise. The plot focuses on a murder investigation set during a theatre adaptation of a whodunit, and it effectively works as a homage and parody of Agatha Christie’s whodunits. As such, it is very self-aware and references whodunnit tropes and typical stories of the genre. There’s plenty of witty and quirky dialogue, as well as some good humour here. It also benefits from a mostly easy-going and relaxed tone. Unfortunately, like most other parodies, when See How They Run points out cliches and tropes, it ends up using some of those same tropes. It’s a very self-satisfied and overly self-aware movie that does too much winking at the audience, so that could feel a bit grating. It is clear early on that from the writing and the style that it is going for a Wes Anderson feel, especially with the snappy dialogue and quirkiness. Unfortunately, it just feels like an imitation of his films and nothing more. Even the plot wasn’t the exactly the best. It is very formulaic albeit functional, and I wasn’t fully invested in the mystery. At 98 minutes, it was probably the right length for the film.

See-How-They-Run-2022

The two lead characters of the movie are played by Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell, and they were a great comedic duo and have solid chemistry between them. Ronan is the standout; she was really funny and her performance added a lot to the movie. The film would be lacking a lot without her. Meanwhile, Rockwell feels like he wasn’t given much to do, and mostly works as a contrast to Ronan. On his own, outside of delivering deadpan humour, he was underwhelming and almost drags the movie down. It’s quite possible that he was just miscast here. The talented supporting cast is impressive, however there were only a few standouts like Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo and Shirley Anderson; Brody particularly was memorable in his screentime as the main murder victim. The rest of the cast including Ruth Wilson and Sian Clifford are good but aren’t utilized the best.

09122022_run_135354

The direction from Tom George is generally solid. The cinematography is nice, and the outfits and production designs definitely take you back to the 1950s. The score from Daniel Pemberton is also great, among the best parts of the movie. Once again though, it feels like much of the film is trying to imitate Wes Anderson’s style (especially seen in the editing), but feels like a half hearted imitation. It’s trying to be quirky and offbeat but it felt hollow like its missing something.

See-How-They-Run-Ending-Explained-Kopernick-And-Mervyn

See How They Run is a decent, quirky, and enjoyable whodunnit comedy, but I wish it was better than it actually was. The mystery was passable but wasn’t that riveting, the overt attempt at mimicking Wes Anderson in the writing and directing didn’t really work, and the underutilisation of most of the cast really hold it back from being as good as it could’ve been. But there’s some good parts. Some of the humour and meta nature of the writing works, the score from Daniel Pemberton is really good, and some of the performances shines, particularly Saoirse Ronan. As a whodunnit comedy, See How They Run may not be among the best (even in recent years), but it is at least fun to watch.

Babylon (2022) Review

yzb071_bkk222_euu663

Babylon

Time: 189 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Sex scenes, violence, drug use, offensive language & suicide
Cast:
Diego Calva as Manuel “Manny” Torres
Margot Robbie as Nellie LaRoy
Brad Pitt as Jack Conrad
Jean Smart as Elinor St. John
Jovan Adepo as Sidney Palmer
Li Jun Li as Lady Fay Zhu
Director: Damien Chazelle

Decadence, depravity, and outrageous excess lead to the rise and fall of several ambitious dreamers in 1920s Hollywood.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

Babylon was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. Of the “newer” directors, Damien Chazelle is already proving himself as one of the best, with Whiplash, La La Land and First Man. His next movie looked to be interesting, set in 1920s Hollywood. I will admit I had some doubts, especially with some questionable marketing which didn’t exactly make the movie look good. But I was still interested in seeing it for myself, and the very divisive reactions only intrigued me further. After all that, Babylon ended up being one of my all-time favourite films of the year.

age-rating-of-babylon-parents-guide

Babylon is by far Damien Chazelle’s most ambitious work yet, and even if I didn’t like the film, I would still applaud it for the massive swings that he takes with it. It’s an epic which covers multiple characters and their stories, and Chazelle did a really good job at making them intersect and cross over with each other. Some have called the movie messy and chaotic; I definitely agree that it’s chaotic but I wouldn’t call it messy, the story is still coherent. It is a very funny and entertaining movie, with some outrageous scenarios and moments. Babylon portrays the debauchery of the film industry, which is made immediately clear in the very in-your-face first 30 minutes. It also explores the eras of cinema and shows how film has changed, especially with the transition from the silent era to talkies. Part of my reluctance going into Babylon was that it was a movie about movies. That doesn’t inherently turn me off from a film, but there’s been so many love letters to cinema recently that I admit that I’ve been getting somewhat tired of them. But I still ended up liking this aspect in the movie. As expected, Babylon does celebrate cinema and so you can call it is a love letter to movie, but it also serves as a condemnation and scathing hate letter to the filmmaking industry and Hollywood. The film is essentially about outsiders navigating an ever-changing industry, and shows their rise and fall as their sense of self is slowly stripped away, often with their sacrifices to film. It is a very funny and entertaining movie with some surprising optimism even by the end, but the story is sad and tragic. It is a very long movie at over 3 hours and this will definitely be an issue for people who aren’t invested within the first hour, but I was enthralled for the whole runtime. I’ve noticed that some are a little divided over the ending, even among people who like the movie. While I was initially not sure what to think of it, I thought it worked, even if it’s a little drawn out.

Babylon

Babylon has a massive and talented ensemble cast, with most actors being used to their strengths. Diego Calva and Margot Robbie give amazing performances, with Robbie quite possibly delivering her best yet. The relationship between their two characters is the heart of the film, and they share incredible and convincing chemistry. Brad Pitt is the other main protagonist, an aging movie star who is struggling to adapt to cinema’s change from silent films. Pitt fit this role well, and he delivers a restrained, lived in and believable performance. Some of the other prominent actors include Li Jun Li, Jean Smart, and Jovan Adepo; they are really good and help to bring their characters across. Even other actors with smaller roles like P.J. Bryne, Max Minghella, Katherine Waterston, Eric Roberts, Samara Weaving, and Spike Jonze work to make their roles stand out. Out of the supporting roles however, Tobey Maguire is the standout to me, delivering a weird, unhinged and creepy performance, and it certainly helps that he’s involved with one of the most memorable segments of the movie.

BABYLON

Unsurprisingly Damien Chazelle has done another phenomenal job at directing. The technical aspects are all top notch and brilliant, everything from the cinematography, production design, editing and sound are all amazing. It’s a very bombastic and stylish film, at times a sensory overload especially with the portrayal of excess. It’s a feast for the eyes; a lot of the time there’s so much happening on screen, whether that be the parties or filming of movies, and they are all captured excellently. The camera movements are outstanding, especially with the long takes, and there’s this constant frenetic energy from beginning to end. Finally, the music is just phenomenal. Justin Hurwitz’s composed music is nothing short of outstanding, it gave so much to the movie, and I am confident in calling it the best score of 2022.

Babylon

Babylon is an ambitious, bombastic, enthralling, and exhilarating experience, and is amazingly well crafted. Damien Chazelle’s direction and the technical aspects are outstanding, and it has fantastic performances from the ensemble cast. It really is sad (but unsurprising) that it bombed at the box office. The label “not for everyone” for movies can be meaningless most of the time, but it certainly can apply to Babylon. However, it worked for me on so many levels, and it is one of my favourite films from 2022.

White Noise (2022) Review

MV5BMjg1Mzk3ZDEtZWNhZi00YzVjLTgzMDEtNTYwNDkyNWUzNDQ4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjY1MTg4Mzc@._V1_

White Noise

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Adam Driver as Prof. Jack Gladney
Greta Gerwig as Babette Gladney
Don Cheadle as Prof. Murray Siskind
Raffey Cassidy as Denise Gladney
Director: Noah Baumbach

College professor Jack Gladney and his family’s comfortable suburban life is upended when a nearby chemical leak causes “The Airborne Toxic Event,” releasing a noxious black cloud over the region that forces the Gladney family to evacuate.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I had been hearing about White Noise, Noah Baumbach’s next movie which would star Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig. From brief glances, it looked a little weird and I didn’t pay attention to it much. However, it seemed to be having some split reactions from audiences and I was curious enough to check it out for myself. It surprised me and I’m glad I decided to watch it.

b46cb744-7c3d-45ae-b39f-3daa33064d27

White Noise is based on a novel of the same name from Don DeLillo, and I read some comments from people who read it saying that it was near impossible to do an film adaptation for it. I’m not familiar with the book so I can’t comment on that, but clearly Baumbach had a specific angle with how to adapt it, especially with how off kilter it is. It is definitely an ambitious film and takes a lot of risks. White Noise is one of those movies where you’ll figure out if you like it within the first 10 minutes, it is firmly in the “not for everyone” camp. It is a difficult movie to explain; it starts out with an initial plot focussing on a family’s lives being disrupted by an airborne toxic event, but that’s just the start, and the plot isn’t really consistent. As I started the movie, I found it to be very messy, absurd and strange; it was perplexing and I had no idea where it was going. However, there was something intriguing, unpredictable and exciting about it that had me curious enough to see where it would go, and I got more into it than I was expecting. I’m not quite sure I understood everything that it was going for, but I got the main points of the story, and I’m sure things will be clarified upon rewatch. It begins as a pure satire before evolving into being more character focused. The first thing you’ll probably notice about White Noise is the dialogue, which will probably make or break the movie for some people. The dialogue is strange, overwritten and overintellectual, that paired with the line deliveries makes it feel unnatural. It’ll particularly throw you off if you’re familiar with Noah Baumbach’s other movies, which had otherwise very naturalistic dialogue. However, it is intentionally written and delivered this way, and eventually I got used to it. There really is a mix of tones throughout, jumping between different genres over the 2 hours and 15 minutes runtime. As a dark comedy it is very off kilter and dry, and I found it quite funny. It also gets dark at points, mainly towards the end of the movie, to the point where it leans towards thriller in the third act. This might also throw people off since it is so different from the previous two acts, but it worked for me. There are plenty of themes at play, including existentialism, mortality, modern anxieties and especially fear of death. Some ideas aren’t as expanded on or fleshed out as they could’ve been, but not doubt they are conveyed better in the book.

3600

The film benefits from a strong cast who deliver in their roles. Adam Driver plays the main character; it’s a difficult role to pull off, but he is fantastic here, particularly nailing the dry humour. I think this is up there as one of his best performances. Greta Gerwig is great too, especially in the latter portions of the movie. The actors who play Driver’s children including Raffey Cassidy are also on point. The rest of the cast are good, Don Cheadle is also excellent in a supporting role and is a scene stealer.

white-noise

One of the more surprising aspects was Noah Baumbach’s direction. From the movies I’ve seen of his, his directing is good, but usually just works to serve the performances and writing. With White Noise however, there is a very distinct style that really added to the film. Noah is working with a bigger budget, and you can feel that throughout. Baumbach does very well at getting the right feelings through visuals alone. There’s a lot in that which feels off kilter, everything is too colourful including the production design, and much looks artificial and unnatural (deliberately so). The cinematography is great, visually stunning and remarkable at points. There are some very stellar and wonderfully filmed sequences, a standout being during the credits. Finally, the score from Danny Elfman is great and really adds a lot to the atmosphere.

AAAABcptnt4oAIIiDRDkyapLxepPWnyY0z9z2k6OdfMtV1-52ylsmpdFCZg5SXrfJMruiQgwQ-BroV7siG61BSZFD0uXdhBjHfsaN8Kg

White Noise is a darkly humorous, absurdist, satirical, and wonderfully weird dramedy, with fantastic performances especially from Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle. It’s definitely one of the more unexpected and surprising movies from 2022. I admit that there’s a lot that I didn’t understand and much of my liking of it comes from its boldness and uniqueness. Still, the end result just seemed to work for me. It is both awesome and funny that Netflix actually decided to finance such a strange and polarising film, however it is definitely not for everyone. Still, it worked for me, and I am really looking forward to rewatching it.

Triangle of Sadness (2022) Review

fry-triangle-of-sadness

Triangle of Sadness

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, animal cruelty & content that may disturb
Cast:
Harris Dickinson as Carl
Charlbi Dean as Yaya
Dolly de Leon as Abigail
Zlatko Burić as Dimitry
Iris Berben as Therese
Vicki Berlin as Paula
Henrik Dorsin as Jarmo
Jean-Christophe Folly as Nelson
Amanda Walker as Clementine
Oliver Ford Davies as Winston
Sunnyi Melles as Vera
Woody Harrelson as the Captain
Director: Ruben Östlund

A fashion model celebrity couple join an eventful cruise for the super-rich.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Triangle of Sadness was on my list of 2022 movies to catch up on. I had been hearing about it; I knew that was that it was a satire on the rich, involved a luxury yacht, and starred Woody Harrelson. Most notable however was the fact that it won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival. The reactions to the movie also interested me, considering it was mostly positive but not everyone was on board with it. While Triangle of Sadness does have its issues and I don’t love it, I am glad that I saw it.

pic_bvgyd5

I won’t go into too much detail about the plot, as many other summaries and reviews disclose a bit too much about it. It goes in some wild directions and it is best experienced for yourself if you decide to see it. What I can say is that the movie is very much the opposite of what subtle is. It is a bombastic and absurdist satire about the rich and isn’t subtle about its themes at all. It covers elitism, the rich, class, social roles, and power structures. There isn’t any subtext and is very on the nose, but I’m not against that. It is also entertaining and enjoyable, and most of the dark comedy really hits. The middle act involving the yacht was solid, the cast get to bounce off each other and that was the funniest portion of the film for me. That being said, Triangle of Sadness is very flawed. As far as satires on the rich (or “eat the rich films”) go, it doesn’t say anything new. That isn’t inherently bad, but there is a self satisfied vibe to it at times that can get a little grating at points. Triangle of Sadness is a long movie at around 2 hours and 30 minutes long and you certainly felt the length, not helped by the uneven pacing. I do blame the last third of the movie for this. While the first act is decent and the second act is really good, the third act was a bit aimless. I was wondering where it was going, and not necessarily in a good way. It wasn’t as interesting or entertaining compared to what came before, and so it felt a bit of a slog. It certainly doesn’t help that this portion is around an hour long. Not only that, but I felt that there was a lot that wasn’t resolved or fully developed by the end despite the length of the film, and so it didn’t feel very satisfying.

triangleofsadness2

The characters are for the most part blatantly unlikable, yet are all the more compelling because of that, and makes the dark comedy work a lot better as they are forced into certain situations. It helps that the performances from the cast are strong. Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean are the closest thing to the lead characters and they are great in this. I wish they had more of a focus in the movie; they are seemingly established as the protagonists in the first act, but over time its like they are forgotten about. Still, both are good in their roles. Everyone else plays their parts excellently, but there are a few standouts. Zlatko Buric is great, while Dolly de Leon particularly shines in the third act. Woody Harrelson also plays the marxist drunk captain of the yacht who is highly entertaining whenever he’s on screen. Honestly the movie would’ve benefited if he was in it more, certainly would’ve made the third act more enjoyable.

triangle-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

Ruben Östlund’s direction is solid, in fact I’d actually say that his direction is stronger than the writing. The cinematography is stunning and the camerawork is excellent. There are some very memorable sequences, one of which is a gross bodily fluid sequence which is perhaps a bit too long, but lingers in the mind nonetheless. Additionally, the use of music is good and fitting.

SVTYHNDBOJABJLU55XUTMNA6KU

Triangle of Sadness is a lengthy and messy, but darkly comedic and entertaining satire, well directed and with some great performances. I do wish it was better and it certainly has its flaws, mainly with the writing and particularly the third act. But if you’re open to absurdist satirical comedy, I think it’s worth a watch.

Tár (2022) Review

06tar1-1-fab5-superJumbo

Tar

Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & nudity
Cast:
Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár
Noémie Merlant as Francesca Lentini
Nina Hoss as Sharon Goodnow
Sophie Kauer as Olga Metkina
Julian Glover as Andris Davis
Allan Corduner as Sebastian Brix
Mark Strong as Eliot Kaplan
Director: Todd Field

Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and the very first female director of a major German orchestra.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

Tár was yet another one of the most acclaimed movies of 2022 I had been hearing about for months which I had been meaning to see, focussing on a conductor played by Cate Blanchett and her eventual downfall. It more than lived up to all the acclaim.

MCDTARR_UC001

The script is sharp and tight, very well crafted. As said earlier, Tár is a character study about an esteemed classical composer-conductor. The lead character Lydia Tar feels so lived in, to the point where she  almost seems like its about a real composer (leading to some viewers to actually think that she is a real person). There are long stretches of people just talking, in fact the movie opens with a 10 minute interview with the lead character. At the same time, despite the large amount of dialogue, there isn’t a whole lot of exposition or immediate knowledge given to the audience to clarify what happened or to give context, requiring us to really pay attention to what is happening. There’s some surprising tension, and at points it plays like a thriller, especially in the back half of the movie. I did hear about this movie before watching it and a lot of people had hopped onto saying that it is about cancel culture. Having seen the movie though, I think that’s missing the point of the film. Tár is about ego, narcissism and hubris, and a fall from grace as a result of that. It really is one of the best and authentic portrayals of a downfall I’ve seen in a movie. Its a long film at 2 hours and 40 minutes long and it is slower paced for sure. When you hear the premise, you expect things to escalate quickly. However, it takes its time to slowly build the foundations before it all comes tumbling down. Still, I didn’t feel like it dragged and I was riveted from the beginning to the hilariously fitting ending.

CateBlanchettTAR1

Cate Blanchett plays the lead character of Lydia Tar and gives quite potentially the best performance of her career, which is saying a lot considering all the other fantastic performances she’s given. The character herself is compelling, with each scene revealing something about her. She’s in just about every scene of the movie, and Blanchett plays her perfectly, embodying every facet of her with ease. One of the best performances of the year. The other performances are great too. Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, and Mark Strong all do some really good work, even in their smaller parts.

NINA-HOSS-TAR

I’m not familiar with Todd Field’s movies but I do know that his last movie Little Children was released all the way back in 2006. Tar is his return to directing, and his work here is outstanding. It is a gorgeous looking movie with a distinct visual style. The cinematography excels, bleak yet beautiful and with striking compositions, and the production design is stellar. The longer camera takes really help you get wrapped into the movie. Hildur Guðnadóttir composed the score, which is fantastic as expected.

TÁR (2022)

Tár is one of the year’s best films. An incredibly well crafted character study, masterfully directed and with excellent acting, especially from Cate Blanchett, who gives one of her all-time best performances.

Bones and All (2022) Review

hero-image

Bones and All

Time: 131 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Bloody violence & content that may disturb
Cast:
Taylor Russell as Maren Yearly
Timothée Chalamet as Lee
Michael Stuhlbarg as Jake
André Holland as Frank Yearly
Chloë Sevigny as Janelle Kerns
David Gordon Green as Brad
Jessica Harper as Barbara Kerns
Jake Horowitz as Lance
Mark Rylance as Sully
Director: Luca Guadagnino

Love blossoms between a young woman on the margins of society and a disenfranchised drifter as they embark on a 3,000-mile odyssey through the backroads of America. However, despite their best efforts, all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and a final stand that will determine whether their love can survive their differences.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

I’ve seen a few of Luca Guadagnino’s movies and I generally like them, mainly Suspiria and A Bigger Splash. I heard that his next movie would be a cannibal love story and star Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and Mark Rylance. I had a good feeling going in, skipping the trailers and just hearing vague things about it. Having seen it, I think Bones and All is one of my favourite movies of 2022.

AMCPromo_the-incredible-cast-of-bones-and-all

Bones and All is a multigenre movie; it’s a romance, horror, roadtrip and coming of age story. At its core though, it is a love story, a unique one at that. There is a balance between all the elements, it’s deranged and disturbing as you’d expect with the film being about cannibals, yet its sincere and genuine. There is so much beauty in the movie considering its topic, and it manages to be tender and affecting. You get emotionally invested in these troubled characters (really the lead characters). I like the atmosphere and tone and very relaxed approach to the story. It is aimless, but that comes with it being a road trip movie. It is paced well over its 2 hours and 10 minutes runtime, and I never felt bored. If anything, there were characters and elements I wished we got to spend more time with.

17bones1-1-06c8-videoSixteenByNine3000

The performances are really great. Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet are outstanding in the lead roles. Russell is the standout, she’s in almost every scene and the film is really her story as she is learning about herself. The two share such believable chemistry and deliver an endearing portrayal of young people in love (who happen to be cannibals). They convey their feelings about their lives, and they complement each other wonderfully. The relationship is complex and sweet, it really is the heart and soul of the movie. Mark Rylance is a scene stealer as a cannibal who has limited screentime, but has a notable role and is a memorable presence. He’s eerie yet fascinating to watch. In some ways I wish he was in the movie more but maybe he wouldn’t have been as effective. Still, I wished that he was a constant looming presence throughout. There’s a pretty gap between the first and second times that we see him. There are other actors like David Gordon Green, Michael Stuhlbarg and Chloe Sevigny who play their parts well and leave an impression despite their brief appearances.

download

The direction from Luca Guadagnino as expected is amazing. He really does well at capturing the 1980s Middle America time period and setting. The cinematography is gorgeous and makes great use of the different locations, especially with the landscapes. The editing is top notch, and the sound design is perfect. There isn’t a massive amount of gore and violence, but when it is there, it is well done. There is probably less of it than you’re expecting given the premise and is somewhat restrained, but it is nonetheless tense and uncomfortable when its present. Finally, the chilling and somber score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is outstanding and added so much.

Bones_and_All3263

Bones and All is a fantastic, riveting, brutal, unique, and beautifully made romantic horror film, with amazing performances, especially from Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet. Obviously if you’re not into horror at all and feel squeamish about watching a movie focussing on cannibals, it won’t be for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend it, it is one of my favourite movies of 2022.