Prieto: “I used a LUT that emulated the beginning of color and still photography.” You do the best you can in the times you live in, and in Flower Moon and Hugo, Scorsese is idolizing early photography while living in a fallen digital world. I sat too close to the screen at Movieland, imagining I was watching a Scorsese Film and not an Apple Studios DCP, but ended up noticing the pixel borders, “watching television in public.” The sound was excellent, which is something to remember when I eventually rewatch at a proper distance from a nice TV to see the picture properly while getting the arbitrary surround-squished-into-stereo-speakers audio mix. You’re not Chris Nolan with your IMAX fetish, and Apple gave you a hundred million to make your dream project, so you do your best. But Kings of the Road on blu-ray looks better, so something has gone wrong.
I watched two movies this week where someone survives their spouse’s attempted murder by slow poisoning. Adam Nayman: “Scorsese opts for an agonizing realism that does not preclude two terrible possibilities. One, that Ernest truly loves his wife, though not enough to stop hurting her; and two, that Mollie understands what’s happening to her and is too heartbroken to fight back. ”
Did Sandra Hüller push her husband out the window? Did he fall or jump? I don’t know – I strode in confidently seven minutes late, but there were apparently no trailers or ads so I missed the first scene or two. If anybody knows how the husband died please DM me.
All I wrote when I got home is “it’s no Sibyl.” Michael Sicinski agrees:
As is often the case [in November], we encounter a number of productions with solid pedigree and appropriate festival attention. Inevitably, many of these films are “good enough,” but never as interesting as they purport to be. These films are by no means bad, but there’s a sense that they are following well-worn paths to acclaim, striking appropriately literary poses without being formally audacious enough to really put anybody off … In the grand tradition, Justine Triet has been duly rewarded for becoming a less quirky, more conventional artist.
Our guy Josh has a magical talent for finding tomb treasures, the camera Evil-Deading in a slow circle until he’s standing atop the frame then collapsing upwards. But Josh isn’t great at much else. He can’t seem to profit consistently off his skills, or tell who are his friends vs. who are trying to bury and murder him. Nice recurring visual, chasing his dead girl to the other side by following a string, and always good to see Isabella Rossellini as the late gf’s clueless mother.
Cruel to be kind, briefly uniting two recently-fired lonely losers then conspiring to keep them apart, working on themselves separately, until belatedly providing a reunion. I’m a sucker for Aki’s whole thing, and thought this one was beautiful.
Jordan Cronk in Cinema Scope:
Meticulously stylized and tactile, full of vivid colours and playfully anachronistic details, it’s a movie as richly designed as it is warmly romantic. With characteristic rigour, cinematographer Timo Salminen imbues the smoke-laced club interiors, delicate domestic settings, and sprawling industrial nether regions with a textured luminescence that belies the characters’ essentially drab surroundings.
Vadim Rizov in Filmmaker:
Shooting on 35mm as ever, Kaurismäki’s sense of vibrant color remains extremely pleasurable; he can make a supermarket’s employee locker room pleasing just by painting the lockers in shades of red, green and orange.
Julia Garner from The Assistant and Jessica Henwick run out of money on an Aussie cruise and find work at a rural bar to pay their way home, but none of the men turn out to be friendly. I thought this would be horrorish, maybe a bit, but the women hold their own and burn the fuckin’ place down after the men turn on each other.
Bad Dudes: Hugo Weaving is the drunk owner, Toby Wallace (The Bikeriders) takes them swimming, Daniel Henshall (The Babadook) is dangerous from the start, James “Teeth” Frecheville only saves them because he wants them for himself, and cruise shipper Herbert Nordrum basically turns out worse than Teeth. We like Carol the cook, anyway, and this will be more rewatchable than The Assistant.
narration: Swan > Henry > Rat > Poison
visuals: Henry > Rat > Swan > Poison
story: Henry > Rat > Poison > Swan
Anderson has long mastered the lesson that Godard delivered from Breathless onward: that viewers can remain deeply engaged in the events of a drama even while being pulled outside of that drama by fillips of form or fourth-wall-breaking winks and nods. Here he stands that notion on its head; he never breaks the framework of classically realistic drama because he never establishes it in the first place. It is not a question of characters breaking the action to address the camera but the reverse, and, for this reason, the direct address comes off as natural and central, and the acted-out drama as strange and supplementary. Ever since Rushmore, Anderson’s work has been an ongoing reproach to the unquestioned dramatic realism of even most of the great filmmakers of the time, and these four new shorts both heighten the audacious inventiveness of his wondrous artifices and sharpen their powers of critical discernment to a stinging point.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar:
The Rat Catcher:
AKA Kimmy Schmidt’s War of the Worlds. Aliens invade Earth in search of the prettiest, perkiest girl with the most terrible trauma, and they find Kaitlyn Dever (the one who isn’t Beanie in Booksmart). A typical grey (but with fingers for toes, like Sophie Okonedo in Aeon Flux) poltergeists her house, attacking her with doors and freaking out the electricity, until she manages to stab it in the head with one of her Beetlejuice-town model buildings.
The gimmick, a good one, is that Kaitlyn never speaks – she has no friends, and doesn’t constantly talk to herself or her birds like I do – but the aliens chatter in their own language (so saying the movie has no dialogue is inaccurate). She tries to escape the town but is chased off the bus by bodysnatched humans, so returns to deal with a variety pack of aliens (the short mean one, the one with absurdly long limbs, etc) on her own turf, happily ending up the sole unbrainwashed person in town.
Duffield made the exploding-teens movie Spontaneous, and his DP did a bunch of Black Mirror and one of the Evil Dead remakes. Critics raved: “would have absolutely slayed in theaters if not for Disney’s choice to dump it straight to Hulu.”
Typical dumb-youth peer-pressure setup, the idea of grabbing the cursed severed hand and letting random angry ghosts inhabit your body for a couple minutes quickly turns from an unthinkably bad idea to a hilariously fun drinking game. The movie makes summoning demons for social media clout seem like a realistic idea, then after a wild possession party, Mia lets her little brother Riley participate, and while possessed he smashes his face and blinds himself, so party’s over.
Mia and the kid are still somewhat possessed, making a series of bad decisions (he is violently suicidal, she steals the demon-hand and decides to murder her dad). Craziest part was the sound mixing, when watching at home through the soundbar, you turn up the volume to hear the mumbly teens then the sounds of match strikes and knives whistling through the air are loud enough to shake the walls. The directors are famous youtubers who’ve already got Talk 2 Me and Untitled Prequel on their filmographies.
Riley, Mia, Young Jason Momoa from Aquaman, Jade:
Already my second movie of the month where someone stabs themself in the face – I rewatched The Empty Man, which is referenced in Adam Nayman’s Ringer article:
Talk to Me is closer to something like Zach Cregger’s brute-force B-movie, Barbarian, than Peele’s intricately intellectualized “social thrillers.” But whatever their pretensions — or lack thereof — the Philippous are keen observers of a marketplace where it pays to attach some kind of pedigree to terror, and underneath its adroit shock tactics, Talk to Me makes a fairly significant concession to the elevated-horror model by hinging its plot on a case of capital-G Grief. The reason Mia is so susceptible to possession is because she’s heartbroken over the death of her mother, whose overdose may or may not have been an act of self-harm. Where her friends are just chasing a hedonistic thrill, she’s trying, if at first only unconsciously, to reconnect with a loved one — a difference that ends up dooming her above the others and rerouting a story line bristling with unpredictability into a fairly conventional trajectory.
Barbarian setup, two guys arriving at their rental house and finding someone already there, but we’ve already met these guys and the unexpected guest is Paula Beer (returning from Transit and Undine), so we’re in good shape. Leon (Thomas Schubert of A Voluntary Year) is an asshole writer who keeps offending people. Paula works an ice cream stand, is having loud sex with lifeguard Devid, so Leon looks down on them, dismisses her critique of his work before learning she’s getting a PhD in literary studies. His publisher arrives, hates the new book, then has a health emergency, and while they’re dealing with that, the nearby forest fires burn up the trysting place of bi-curious Devid and Leon’s much cooler buddy Felix. The movie escalates from microaggressions to fiery death so gradually you never see it coming.