What Happened to Monday?- Seven sisters (all played by Noomi Rapace) are raised by their grandfather Willem Dafoe. Each day, one of them can leave the house and their names are the days they can go outside. “Outside” is a world where having more than one child is illegal so they have to hide. Their primary influence and instructor is the grandfather so here’s my stupid question: Why does she (or her other versions) have an accent? Really, they should all talk in a weird Dafoe/homeschool mish-mash cadence. Rapace does her best to draw out these characters and make them distinct but there’s too many issues with the plot for those decisions to thrive or breathe.
One Good Thing: It’s impressive filmmaking and acting seeing Rapace interact with seven different versions of herself.
Watch Instead: Multiplicity
King Jack- Stories about adolescence can lean on sappiness or tales of underdogs becoming victors. King Jack has both those elements but they are framed by uneasy reality and buoyed by believable events. Not a lot happens here but when it does it hits you hard. This is definitely a boy’s tale but I think it will be enjoyable no matter who is watching despite it’s simplicity.
How to Stage a Coup- This quick little documentary on famous coups in history will really hit the spot if you’ve got those “I-feel-like-overthrowing-something-and-I-don’t- really-know-where-to-start-but-I-know-things-are-super-fucked-up-and-maybe-I-should- join-a-group-but-I-also-kind-of-want-to-own-a-gun-because-I-think-the-World-War-III-is- closer-than-ever-but-then-maybe-it-will-be-a-Civil-War-as-well” blues. Because that’s what I have.
American Graffiti- At one point, George Lucas was a promising director. His first film THX 1138 is a stark, dystopian vision. Then he does a 180 ° to the 1960s in American Graffiti a film about cars and growing up in a pre-Vietnam America. Then he went back to the world of science fiction with Star Wars which basically ruined him as a director and stunted his growth to this day. But that’s a different movie and conversation (People vs. George Lucas, Mr. Plinkett’s Episode 1: The Phantom Menace review). In Graffiti Lucas writes and directs real human beings with confidence and style. Enjoy it here, because it never really happens again.
Snowden- During the whole Edward Snowden debacle I had trouble discerning what the scope and space of the places where he worked looked like. I don’t know how accurate they are but it helped to flesh out the story and timing of it much more than that slog of a documentary (and Oscar Winner!?!?) Citizenfour. Not that this movie is without fault. There are questionable scenes, casting (Nicolas Cage) and unnecessary special effects. Not to mention, hearing Snowden talk about his experience, which one can do in many different audio and visual platforms, is much more exciting and informative than a reenactment of it. Also, Snowden is not a historical figure but a current and future figure. He continues to influence today’s politics and this just feels too soon, like the story is not over yet. Gordon-Levitt is perfect as usual and Stone does an admirable job injecting a bit of excitement in a relatively monotonous and bland world.
Knight of Cups-I enjoyed this but it isn’t for everyone. Terence Malick movies are waves of emotion and nuance and pure visual intensity. It’s like he’s daring you to say it is bad (people do) when he knows it looks good. I don’t understand the direction that Malick gives to his actor’s. But I’ll try:
-Never look at the camera. Always look at distance in front of you. Or turn to look at distance behind you.
-Ignore how close I am.
-Enjoy this landscape I’ve found for you.
-Pretend there is more than a one line description of the plot.
Lady Vengeance- I want to go back and talk about The Handmaiden for a second. What a goddamn masterpiece. Everything about it is beautiful and skillful. And did you know the budget was only 8 million? That’s US DOLLARS not South Korean Won and that’s fucking insane. Anyway, the same team made this movie and it also has moments of great beauty and humor. It is part of the Vengeance Trilogy which include Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy. I’m working backwards through Park’s works so I don’t get too enjoy his growth as a director but I do get to see the seeds of where it all began which is an experiment in itself.
Westworld- It’s easy to anthropomorphize robots made to look like people. It’s kind of the point. In the HBO show Westworld, there’s very little delineation between human and robot, which is why you root for them to kill their “slave” masters. You forget they are robots. In the movie, they make a point of showing how unfeeling they are, how focused they can be. It is closer to Terminator than anything and in the movie, they very much treat the West as what we know it as in movies so there is an inherent comic or hokiness to it. Therefore, when things go awry, it seems all the more deadly. Yul Brenner as a cyborg gone haywire was scarier to me than anyone in the TV show. Except maybe Anthony Hopkins.
MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
Icarus- Arguably, documentaries are the easiest movies to make. You don’t need much other than a subject and camera. Now that I’ve offended a bunch of people, like every movie there is a vast difference between good and bad versions of the genre and part of making a good doc is timing. Just being in the right place means everything and Icarus is a perfect documentary. It starts with one concept which, via happenstance, turns into a much broader and impactful concept with two compelling narrators and multiple viewpoints. The music is well produced and the animations are incredibly crafted. It is broken down into easy-to-swallow information with accompanying news footage, documents and interviews. It should be the template of how to make a good technical documentary. If you’re lucky enough to be in the right place that is.
The Third Man- The problem with this movie is the format where I watched it. I’ll get out of the way that it was shot and acted well with intrigue and good writing. I liked it. Now, my problem is that on Netflix they choose a cover and stills for this movie that are not always the original poster. What they chose is a huge giveaway for the movie. I know with these “reviews” I’m writing that I’m spoiling shit. I’m not doing this to be nuanced but I miss the days of not knowing anything about movies. The true mystery of it. And when the cover of the movie I’m watching shows me a character who is supposedly dead in the story then it takes away that intrigue. Now it’s spoiled for you too. I have a friend who argues that it doesn’t matter whether you know the ending or not but a lot of my favorite fictional moments come from the unknown unfolding. I love twists and noir and surprises. It’s not the end of the world. Just a small thing.