Miller has made an interesting movie out of typical prestige drama material by not shooting this in a typically prestige-drama manner. It looks Little Shop sound-stagey, with big cartoon Lost Children close-ups and boss scene transitions.

DC family’s beloved son starts having violent outbursts, they’re told it’s a fatal degenerative brain disease with no treatment, so the dad goes from support groups to library research to medical conferences to hiring labs to make custom experimental drugs, earning his son twenty extra years of life through the resulting treatments. Intro scene in East Africa pays off when they invite L’s protective buddy Omouri to help out towards the end (Nolte balks: “We can not bring an African to this racist country”).

All the nominations went to Sarandon and the writers, but all the awards went to Emma Thompson and The Crying Game. No noms for Nolte, who can’t do much to elevate the movie while saddled with an Italian accent.

Celia’s beloved grandma just died, but she’s got the new neighbors next door to play with, and the eternal hope that she’ll get a pet rabbit. Unfortunately the neighbors are communists, and it’s Australia in the 1950’s during a myxomatosis outbreak (I’ve had the Radiohead song’s bassline in my head all week), so she’s constantly being warned against rabbits and commies.

Rabidly anti-commie dad (Nicholas Eadie of pre-fame Nicole Kidman miniseries Vietnam) chooses sides, and buys her a rabbit if she won’t play with the neighbors anymore, tells her they’re bad people. Cruelty abounds: the other kids hurt her rabbit, dad gets the neighbor fired. Her family’s cop friend John (Bill Zappa of The Road Warrior) straight-up kidnaps the rabbit, and after it dies in quarantine, Celia becomes the Joker. She shoots John to death while seeing visions of storybook monsters (major Heavenly Creatures parallels) and gets away with it, then fortunately doesn’t kill his daughter while staging mock gallows executions.

Harmless ritual:

Not so harmless:

Celia was Rebecca Smart, who debuted in Dusan Makavejev’s The Coca-Cola Kid. Turner later directed Sam Neill and pre-fame Russell Crowe, and remade Teorema starring Sandra Bernhard in the Stamp role(!!)

Treated myself to a new Gena Rowlands movie and… well, I didn’t hate it, but I have no desire to watch the Sharon Stone version. It relies on big acting moments, but instead of Peter Falk we’ve got this ten-year-old kid. I warmed up to the second half, but until then, practically every moment felt phony. Still, it’s Gena as a tough broad capering through 1980 NYC, and that’s a lot.

“I hate kids, especially yours.” Gena inherits the neighbor kid when his family is murdered by gangsters. She happens to know the people responsible, and tries to keep both of them safe long enough to broker a peace agreement, but the baddies insist the entire family must be killed to set an example, and Gena too, since she interfered, so she shoots her way outta there. My people online all liked this, but if I can’t get into a Cassavetes/Rowlands take on the ol’ mismatched adult-child caper movie then I should definitely avoid C’mon C’mon.

Buck Henry, I just saw him in To Die For, which I also complained about:

Among Those Present

Watching three Lloyd shorts from the same year, and this one opens with the best bit, wealthy-looking Harold exposed as a coat-check guy wearing a guest’s fancy clothes. A witness to the incident offers to get Harold some glad rags and take him partying with the swells, for obscure reasons, leading to riding and hunting antics and cute rich girl Mildred Davis. After this complicated setup, the second half is just Harold pantsless, running away from various animals. Mildred’s parents are very good – James Kelly had been in all of Chaplin’s Mutuals, and Aggie Herring was in the Jackie Coogan Oliver Twist and, uh, Suicide Squad.


Now or Never

Now Mildred is the maid of a neglected kid with rich parents, but it’s the day she’s supposed to meet the boy she knew years ago, and they are both having transportation issues. Harold has wrecked his car, rides underneath a train car, then Mildred gives him the kid and boards… a different train? Doesn’t matter, they end up together, most of the movie devoted to the stupid kid being naughty-cute.


I Do

Animated segments! Harold and Mildred are finally married in this one (and soon IRL), walking around with a baby carriage full of wine (aha, prohibition). Then the movie goes downhill, taking care of horrible kids that aren’t theirs again, and Harold’s fairly incompetent in this one.

Newmeyer and Roach made these, as would be expected.

Timid Sasha gets up, runs through a brutal hierarchy of shithead children, through all the mirrors and reflections on water that young Tarkovsky can muster, attends a disappointing violin lesson, then things are looking up when he befriends a steamroller driver from the courtyard.

I figure the kid’s gonna get beaten up at some point, and he does, so the real tension is from wondering what will happen to the violin. Will it survive, will the shithead kids destroy or deface it, or will they break Sasha’s spirit so he destroys it himself, a la young Jodorowsky in Endless Poetry? Well it’s the first one, but there’s a scene when he’s run off to watch buildings get demolished with his steamrolling buddy and the shitheads find the violin left behind, then it’s untouched when Sasha returns, so I’d like to think there’s more to that story and it got cut for time. Remarkable little movie, with beautiful color on the blu-ray.

This stupid year is trying to kill my blog, but it still lives.

Movie follows tantrummy four-year-old boy Kun, voiced very unconvincingly by an 18-year-old girl, as he gradually learns simple lessons. He resents his new sister Mirai until she visits from the future and shows him scenes from their family history. He becomes the family dog, goes on a motorcycle ride with his post-WWII grandpa, flies around with the swallows, and gets Christmas Caroled into being nicer to his baby sister. I never got over Kun’s voice – maybe the English version is better.

Now I’ve seen all of the 2018 animated feature oscar nominees – the worthy winner, an all-time fave, two disappointing sequels, and… this. We’re following Hosoda’s career but seeing diminishing returns.

Cool train station agent, tho:

Young mom Halley, impulsive and disrespectful, is barely getting by, staying in a motel run by Willem Dafoe, living on food smuggled from her friend Ashley. But the film takes the perspective of her bright, energetic daughter Moonee, who is making new friends, tormenting Willem, accidentally burning down neighboring properties, and so on. The kids are barely aware of the adult world’s workings, and Moonee doesn’t realize how precarious her situation has been until child services arrives for her at the end.

Dafoe is getting award nominations, and deservedly so, if only for the scene in which he chases off a possible pedophile and the one where he tries to reason with some cranes blocking the driveway, but Moonee and her friends Jancey and Scooty with their completely naturalistic play and banter are the reasons this film will be loved forever.

A strange movie to begin with – I had to remove “weird” and “mysteriously” from all over this post. Suffice to say that everything that happens in this movie happens mysteriously. There’s a tiny bit of dialogue, and low music during intense moments, but most of the time it’s all unsettlingly (mysteriously) quiet. Lucile is typecasting herself as a creator of inexplicable fables where children grow up in isolated gender-segregated environments then are set free into our world in the final minutes.

Nicolas lives with his mother who isn’t his mother (Julie-Marie Parmentier of Around a Small Mountain) down by the sea. She feeds him wormy kale stew, lets him hang out with the other boys in town who are all the same age, assures Nicolas that the dead boy he spotted underwater was just a dream, and sneaks out at night to slither in nude star-patterns with the other boys’ mothers (who aren’t their mothers).

Nicolas is taken to the hospital for a belly injection, then again for an ultrasound, which detects a rogue heartbeat down there. So I guess the mermaid-mothers are raising boys and growing new things inside them? We see from Nic’s friend Victor’s fate that the boys don’t survive the birthing process. Nurse Stella (Roxane Duran of The White Ribbon) takes a liking to Nic because of his sketchbook, takes him through the underground caves acting as human scuba gear and releases him back to the city.

Very nice photography, especially the underwater scenes in the beginning, with an alien coolness that recalls Under The Skin. The women having gills and the birthing experiments might point towards the movie title for clues as to what’s going on, but it doesn’t feel like a mystery to be solved, more an imaginary world (more dangerous than it first appears) to soak in for a while. Recalls some glimpses from the A Cure for Wellness trailer, but I disagree that Evolution counts as horror.

Ehrlich:

It’s been a decade since Hadzihalilovic’s only other feature, 2005’s Innocence, and it seems as though the writer-director has been hoarding her nightmares ever since … If Evolution has a thematic through-line, it’s Hadzihalilovic’s propensity for stripping male bodies of their autonomy … it’s an oblique return to childhood, to a time when there was no clear boundary between imagination and reality, when everything you didn’t understand was beautiful and terrifying in equal measure.

D’Angelo: “To watch Hadzihalilovic’s films is to be reminded that life itself is a deeply perplexing mystery — that we’re all born into rigidly stratified societies, laden with inexplicable rules and run by people whose minds we can’t access.”