The Favourite

At this point in my career as a movie reviewer, I can no longer say I am unfamiliar with Yorgos Lanthimos‘ work. Now, his first few things? Sure. But I have reviews of The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and now, The Favourite, so that is a clear majority of his movies. I can still suck as a person for not seeing the things that got him famous that are apparently great in their own rights, but I am familiar with his work.

Lobster was absurd and social commentary. Deer was creepy and made me panic. And The Favourite would turn out to be just as different as the last two.

The one thing I was most curious about this movie going into it is that it was listed as a “Biography” on IMDB before hand, having never seen the trailers or anything. This…this is a real story? Or at least based on one? That is certainly nothing like Lanthimos’ previous work, so it is good to see him go in strange directions.

Wait
Waiting rooms with no magazines got me like

Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is in pain and sad. She lost her husband, she has aches and hurts and she doesn’t want to rule England. She wants people to fix things and for her land to be in peace and to hang out with bunnies. Thankfully she has Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) by her side. Sarah has ambitions and smarts and wealth and is married to the main general. She wants what is best for Anne and best for England. She helps the Queen in every thing, including decision making, and is brutally honest with her. They might even be in love. That would explain all the sex stuff at least.

Things are going well enough, the two political parties disagree about things, and it is all terribly confusing, but whatever.

On the other side, there is Abigail (Emma Stone), who used to be a lady, but had some big problems with her family kind of ruining everything. But she is cousins with Sarah, so she wants to go to their castle and find protection. She is given a job as a very low level maid, not what she is used to, but it is better than nothing. However, she quickly finds that her talents can be better used and makes herself extremely valuable, with the goal of rising up the ranks.

Maybe even winning over the love of the Queen, and screwing over her cousin, who is definitely a b word.

Also starring Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn.

Bow
But we are here for the ladies ya’ll, even if Hoult has magical hair.

Going into a Lanthimos film you will never really know what to expect. This film seemed to be an experiment in camera work, from wide angled to fish. Amazing camera work at that. Given a film that will have most people talking about the costumes and acting, it is very important to realize how sexy everything felt. It wasn’t like normal impressive cinematography, it had strange side effects, and there were a lot or risks with it. It helped explain the complex feelings going on in the kingdom at the time and the complexity of these characters.

Okay, now the acting. Stone. Weiss. Colman. All extravagant and showcasing some of the best acting of the year. Apparently Stone/Weiss are both going for supporting roles and will be nominated together in a lot of shows, while they are giving Colman the top acting role and you could argue for all three that they deserve some form of main actress. The men are secondary in this film, they are schemers, they are distractions, but it is about two women who both want power and will do a lot to make sure they maintain their power.

I laughed so much throughout this film, while cringing and hiding at other parts. It really goes to extremes in all levels, never super graphic, but a few intense scenes regardless.

What surprised me was how “accurate” it was to history. Now I am willing to bet none of these conversations are close, and I don’t even think Abigail was real. But we have the same queen, bad health a lot of her life, lady Sarah, changing political allegiances, war, and it had the number of miscarriages correct (which during the movie just seemed like an absurd/uncomfortable joke). Again, I put accurate in quotation marks. It is clearly not accurate, but it is also very much inspired and not drawn out of thin air.

Basically, everything that The Favourite tries, it accomplishes with gold and blue ribbons. Even the jarring and uncomfortable ending makes a lot of sense for this movie. The Favourite came out of nowhere for me, and I could never have guessed it to be so brutal and enjoyable. One of my must see films of the year, and certainly one of the top.

4 out of 4.

Burning

I have been really behind on my foreign films this year. I can’t even think of what I have seen with mostly subtitles this year. Not including the beginning of the year when I was hitting up last years Oscar nominees. Basically, it would have been during WorldFest, when I was in a theater with them, and that was in April. I legit haven’t watched a foreign film since April, and that kind of blows my mind.

I know there has been opportunities, but a lot of it comes from my inability to cross stitch while watching a foreign film, lest I don’t really get anything out of it. But I took an exception to Burning for a few reasons. One, a lot of people were talking about it and I wanted to talk about it. Two, it seemed like one of those foregone conclusions of definitely an award winning film. And three, Steven Yeun.

Yes, don’t let star power be a bad factor. Yeun was on The Walking Dead, I liked him on that show, and now I want to see him in a purely non American film. What’s the harm in that?

Field
Burning is a metaphor for his feelings. Inside.

Lee Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) is a young man, trying to just live his life. He works odd jobs mostly, and would like to be a writer, he is just having a hard time writing. His dad is in prison and could get out if he was nicer and apologized, but he is holding firm. So Jong-su has to watch over the farm, their one animal, and just make sure life doesn’t fall to pieces, while trying to get his own life back on track.

And then he meets Shin Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon). Well, re-meets technically. Apparently Hae-mi knew him when he was a child, but he mostly ignored her. They have a past that Jong-su just doesn’t remember a lot of, and if Hae-mi’s story is true, then it totally makes sense. He ignored her, he might have been mean, and she got some plastic surgery.

Needless to say, they hit it off! And she is about to go away and needs someone to feed her cat. Oh. Sure. Because she is attractive, likes him(?), and he has only the other major things going on in his life. When she gets back, they might start a relationship.

Except she comes back…with him. His name is Ben (Steven Yeun), he is rich, mysterious, totally cool. A “Great gatsby” character in South Korea. And she has fallen for him. But Ben has secrets, secrets that Jong-su is going to investigate, or else bad things might happen. Maybe even Burning things might happen.

Group
I don’t know, they just kind of look like best friends here.

Burning is a (heh) slow burn of a film, coming in at about 2.5 hours. It is very slow moving, and its direction can seem to be all over the place. But if you focus the film on just Jong’su’s point of view and trying to understand the strange world around him, the mysteries and suspense add up.

It is a gorgeous movie with very notable camera work. It isn’t displaying the sexy parts of South Korea, but regular fields and cities, but it has extreme attention to detail and really draws the viewer into the movie.

The ending very much ends at a climax, a climax that people will feel like might never come. Because unfortunately, some mysteries remain mysteries by the films end. And that is likely to trouble some viewers, given what we saw from Lost backlash some time ago. No actual spoilers though here.

Ah-In Yoo is a great lead, while still keeping that passive unsure nature. Yeun was fine in this movie, but I don’t think it required a lot of hard work on his part. This is Jeon’s only movie, and she plays the free spirited and weird quite well, and hopefully gains an acting feature after this film.

Overall, Burning won’t be for everyone. You have to want subtitles and be okay with not everything spelled out for you. It will likely make waves from the foreign film market, and will still likely lose to Roma for Oscars.

3 out of 4.

The Misandrists

I admit, I was really intrigued when I heard about the film The Misandrists.

Of course the title drew me in, it is a type of film that could go a lot of ways. What story does it want to tell? It is a heavily propagandized documentary? Is it full of lies?

Well, I immediately read the plot description and found myself now more confused than ever. It really made me read it a few times just to make sure I was understanding it correctly. It was clearly going to be some sort of satire film, and how good or bad that goes really depends on who is in charge of it.

Well, The Misandrists is directed (and written) by someone named Bruce La Bruce, a man (a bad sign), but a notably gay man. Could still be a bad sign. His film work, that I also have never seen, apparently have lots of frequent gay male sex in them, partly for shock, and partly for the story. And he is potentially exploitative when it comes to these tales.

Oh okay, fine. Based on the description, and his history, maybe this is the perfect man for a movie like this?

Woman
“Perfect man? No such thing!” – These misandrists, probably.

Set in Germany, at some time period before cell phones I assume, sits a small secluded large building. This building is not a school, but a training ground for the Female Liberation Army. This group made entirely of women want to grow strong, powerful, and weaponized and eventually band together to take down the patriarchy in Germany.

It is run by a few “sisters” (you know, like nuns), and Big Mother (Susanne Sachße). The younger girls there are taking classes like a normal school, on Herstory and physical education and math, while also exploring themselves sexually to be free radical women. Most of them came from troubled backgrounds or abuse, and had to leave home at early ages for one reason or another.

While out with her girlfriend, Isolde (Kita Updike) finds a man who is hurt and on the run from authority. She wants to bring him back to their home, to hide in the basement and get better. She doesn’t like men, but can appreciate someone who is anti-authority, which he clearly is. Despite pleading, they do bring him back to hide and heal while still going about their normal duties.

This is a pretty big secret to hide, especially with some of the type of ladies that are in the home. But it turns out that is just the start of the secrets between this small group of ladies.

Also starring Viva Ruiz, Kembra Pfahler, Caprice Crawford, Grete Gehrke, Victoire Laly, Olivia Kundisch, Lina Bembe, and Til Schindler.

Man
The guy looks like he starred in War Horse.

Wow.

I really can’t get into too much detail down here, (partially because I do not want to), but also because there is just so much to talk about that I would just ramble and sound incoherent.

I definitely left this film not enjoying it in the slightest. It does feel like a vehicle to just create some softcore pornography. There is plenty of sex scenes in it, and maybe the longest pillow fight I have seen in a movie. Once the secrets start unraveling, it goes from dull to just really bad. The ending is extremely strange and jarring, without a lot of sensical resolution.

And yes. There is a nice fun scene of a penis being cut open. I assume it was surgery to turn the genitals into a vagina, it really wasn’t specifically clear, but it definitely was REAL. The camera change to a surgical video, and it was gross and so god damn unnecessary.

My stomach hurts just typing this out and remembering it.

The plot is bad, the graphic-ness is disturbing, and this film will only appeal to extremely small niche group of folks. Unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to scrub this movie out of my memory anytime soon, as it will likely appear in my worst of the year list.

0 out of 4.

Crown Heights

If I fail at a goal, I definitely don’t make it very vocal and let everyone know. Unless it comes to movie watching. I have introductions for a reason, after all.

Just like I want to watch all the Oscar nominees before the Oscars air, I hope to watch the Spirit awards as well, for indie films. And one of the films nominated was Crown Heights, which I clearly failed to do before that March date.

It was only nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but the real issue is that I had access to it and could have done it by the date, I just forgot about it while I was chasing other bigger films to watch. I’m sorry! But look, I made some amends.

Early
Some amends are better than no amends at all, right?

In the 1970s, Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) was living in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn. He was young, he was free, he was trying to make his impact on the world. Unfortunately when he was 18 (and young and free) he found himself behind bars. He was being charged with the murder of a 16 year old kid, one he did not knew, and claimed his innocence.

He wasn’t given a bail until they found out the details of the case, and then he was charged with murder. He didn’t have money, so he was given a public defender. They also actually found a different guy, who did kill him, and charged them together in the same trial with the same defendants.

And guess what. They both were sentenced to jail at the same time for the murder, despite arguments about Warner never being involved.

Unfortunately for Warner, he would spend then ext 21 years of his life in jail for a murder he did not commit. He could not get parole, as he refused to say he was sorry for a crime he didn’t do. With changing politicians, it became harder and harder to hold on to hope. But thankfully, Warner had a friend in KC (Nnamdi Asomugha) who never gave up for him, and made it his personal life goal to eventually free his friend.

Also starring Marsha Stephanie Blake, Adriane Lenox, and Luke Forbes.

Late
Once he gets free, he better get all of the amends.

Crown Heights is of course a true story of a really fucked up situation. It is more fucked up when you realize that this probably happens a decent amount of time. There are estimated to be over 100,000 people currently in prison for crimes they are not guilty of, which is a scary and frightening thought. You can live your whole life swell, never doing anything wrong, and then get arrested and go to jail for a long time if you don’t have a good defense.

And despite the law saying everyone gets a lawyer, it is not going to be great, because that lawyer probably has dozens of current clients and is focusing on plea deals over trial things.

The true story is an amazing tale of perseverance and standing up to injustices. But for whatever reason, in this iteration, it just doesn’t translate well onto the screen. Stanfield and Asomugha act great as our two leads. They have the appropriate amount of passion and really delve into those roles. It just feels like a drag to get through the story.

I did like how it interlaced the time with the change of the political landscape. Politicians arguing to be tougher on crime, longer sentences, three strikes and all that, creating more hurdles for our hero to get through before he can find himself a free man.

2 out of 4.

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie

Rethinking Barbie?! How can I rethink a barbie? As a man, with daughters, I am trying my best to make sure my girls are well rounded individuals, exploring many different types of toys and sure, some dolls. I want to make sure they don’t grow up thinking they have to be one type of girl. The girl who plays with dolls, the girl who dreams of being a passive princess, the girl who might just want to be a housewife (nothing wrong with that last one, but it is important for them to know options are available).

So I have never given my girls a barbie doll. Other people have, when people are lazy at gift giving. She still has a ton for absolutely no reason. I say no reason, because why do they need like, 8 barbie dolls? People not thinking give her one every birthday, every Christmas, and sometimes multiple ones, because it is easy to just grab a barbie and send it over. I mean, its a girl toy! Girl toys are dolls, and boy toys are everything else (including different dolls).

It is completely fucked up. But I still went into Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie, letting my mind me somewhat open. Come on, tell my why Barbie is progressive now. Tell me everything I have learned through slight googling in the past is a lie.

See? I am a willing participant!

Barbs
“Couldn’t you have picked a less creepy photo for this review?” No.

This documentary has two goals. One, to give a small history of barbie, to show how it was a trendsetter back in the day (first doll with boobs!), how it didn’t want to be a perfect women archetype, to the eventual feminist backlash. Their idea was to make sure Barbie had all these jobs so that it could encourage woman to live out fantasies and achieve these dream jobs, not just be a homemaker. And of course, modern, modern backlash over its unrealistic proportions and body image notes.

And that is where the other part of the documentary comes into play. Actually trying to change the way Barbie looks and the problems that have come about. You see, they have been trying to change her appearance for some time to better represent more realistic people. But they have had plenty of focus group issues. They have the issue that the model rarely ever changes, and by having a change, that creates accessory issues, and is the change worth making it so they need various sized outfits/accessories for every release? (More expensive for them and the consumer).

Add to the fact that they don’t want people to think they are pandering to an audience and doing too little too late. They have one shot to try and redefine Barbie so that she has various body types, a task they can’t just do every year in case they mess up. They have to make a statement and they WANT to make a statement.

Strangely enough, this toy redesign happened in 2016 and I really didn’t hear about it at all. There are four different sized barbies at this point, did you know? I didn’t. I remember when they made a lot of hooplah about the different races represented with their barbies, which was a good change, but for whatever reason this redesign was never put in front of my eyes.

I found the whole story to be compelling and it was good to see a company full of people who cared. They cared about the repercussions of their decisions and they wanted to help make the world feel more inclusive. I still don’t think I’d go out of my way to introduce different sized barbies to the kids. My wife told me we actually had different sized ones, so that is how unnoticeable the changes really were.

But this is still a good story of a company trying to do good, and coupling it with a history that I knew nothing about, makes it a compelling story.

3 out of 4.

Disobedience

This is one of the many reviews that have come out of WorldFest in Houston. Check the WorldFest tag to see them all!

WorldFest isn’t known for its big releases. No, it is an independent movie festival, so seeing one of those giant movies that is going to win an Oscars would probably be very rare.

On that note, for the film Disobedience, it is probably the first time I heard of a movie months before I knew it would be at WorldFest. It was directed by Sebastián Lelio, who directed Gloria a few years ago (haven’t seen yet still, but a remake soon with him still at the helm for America), and A Fantastic Woman, which just won best foreign film.

Needless to say, I was excited about his next film. Hell, very provocative posters for this film have gone up and maybe that is why it is famous (okay, that is the reason). Let’s bring on the sexy times.

Group
Nothing sexier than candles, flames, beards, and dark clothing.

The story opens up with Rav Krushka (Anton Lesser) is giving a sermon about the differences between Man, Angels, and Beasts, and the idea of choice. Oh, this is totally a synagogue as well, very very conservative Jewish. Somewhere in Great Britain, a little local community. The women sitting on the second story only. And then he goes and dies.

His one and only daughter, Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) is living in NYC. She left the community she grew up in, abandoned her family, to live alone. She is a bit of disgrace. No one talks to her anymore. But someone sent a message through the grapevine that her father was dead, their Rabbi and spiritual leader, so she heads back over ready to face her past and her peers.

The ceremonies take place at the home of Dovid Kuperman (Alessandro Nivola), Rav’s spiritual son, whom he took in when he was in his teen years to begin his devout training, so sort of a brother to Ronit. He is now married to Esti (Rachel McAdams), a big shocker to Ronit. They invite her to stay in their guest room while she deals with her father’s loss and the annoyance from the community.

We learn of course that some members of the group had an intense past. This past is why Ronit ended up leaving their community, seemingly never to return. How dare she mess that up, right?

Kiss
Rachel and Rachel standing on a street. R-A-C-H-E-L-I-N-G.

Setting this in a conservative Jewish community with very little out of it first took me awhile to figure out where this film was set. It is a modern film, it just took until the last 20-30 minutes before someone pulled out a cell phone for any reason. It could have been in the 60’s/70’s, or it could have been modern, given their conservative nature, who knows!

The three main leads give really good acting performances. Weisz is the powerhouse here, Nivola has his moments at the end, and for the most part McAdams is a quiet force building over time. They all feel very vulnerable and real in their roles, giving an extra umph to the story.

It just took forever for the story to really grow and move forward. It was definitely boring. I am fine with a slow burn story, but it was hard to keep my eyes open early on and even by the end there was still some struggles.

I like that we got an in depth look at a community that is old dealing with “modern issues”, and it seems to be something that the director is playing with lately. It is something worth being told, but the payout doesn’t feel necessarily worth it.

2 out of 4.

Super Troopers 2

Super Troopers came out 17 years ago. 17 years! That is insane.

It was Broken Lizard’s first hit and some people still love it the most to this day. Personally, Beerfest is my favorite (Which also promised a sequel which looks way less fun), but they also had Club Dread and The Slammin’ Salmon (my second favorite). Either way, they have a specific humor and have tackled different subjects, all of which can appeal to different audiences.

The production of this one took a long time though, but internet persistence has pushed on. Hell, they had to make an Indiegogo campaign to get movie funding, and surpassed their goal. They did a neat thing, I believe the first film to do this, offering actually theater tickets when it came out, not just digital copies in the future.

There is an audience for Super Troopers 2, and finally they have delivered it to them, for better or for worse.

Lowe
Looks like this group has sunk to a new all time Lowe.

The sequel is set a few years after the first film. The first film ended with our heroes (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhanske, Paul Soter) not as actual police officers, doing things in Vermont. Well, it turns out that time is done. Due to an incident with Fred Savage. They are off the force and doing /other/ jobs.

But not for long! You see, when Canada and USA had their borders lined out, in turns out there was a mistake near Vermont. The official border stones put in were seemingly ignored, and a small town that has been in the Canada side for hundreds of years should actually have been on US soil. With this new land, through a chaotic transition period, they have the need for a temporary police force to help with the transition.

So they are rehired for a couple of weeks, and sure, if they do good enough, they can be full time and work this new area. It just turns out that these Canadians, finding out they are switching countries are not the happiest tools in the shed. Nice Canadian is a myth. They are basically going into a war zone.

We have Rob Lowe as the mayor, Emmanuelle Chriqui is some sort of town leader as well. We also have Brian Cox returning as the captain, and introducing Will Sasso, Tyler Labine, and Hayes MacArthur as Mounties.

Mountie
Guess they might have to just MOUNT up and take this head on. Hockey puck. Maple Leafs. Sorry.

Honestly, I thought this movie would be a train wreck. Maybe a moose wreck, the Canadian version. Comedy sequel two decades later? They have never really worked, even for a more modern one like this one.

But still, it wasn’t that bad. That is the best praise I am going to say. There were a few scenes that had me laughing really hard. Specifically the scenes involving “sorry” and “reverse French dialogue” were the best. I enjoyed that it did have a lot of Canadian jokes, and not just the standard normal Canadian jokes. Yes, they still had those, but some of them were more obscure, and varied.

The three lads who played the Mounties went really hard for the French-Canadian accent, so most of what they said was amusing on that basic level.

Of course the plot is weak, the acting is weak, and the twists are obvious. They aren’t as important for those who are rushing to see this film though. It has its moments, but it is far away from a great comedy on all levels.

2 out of 4.

Blockers

I was very excited when I saw the trailer for Blockers. Not due to the actors, or the plot, or the humor in the trailer. Just the title alone.

I really hoped that the title of the film was officially a picture of a rooster and the word Blockers. I can’t tell you if any film title has officially just been a picture, or included a picture, but I was excited that this one might be one of the first in a good while.

Unfortunately, no. It is just called Blockers. Sure, rooster imagery abundant on the posters. But it is not the same.

It is just not the same.

Parents
Look at all these cocks right here.

Ah, growing up. The joys of being a parent. Movies and stuff. Mitchell (John Cena), Lisa (Leslie Mann), and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) met each other on their daughters first day of school. They became best friends, so they had to be friends. Their daughters (respectively) are Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), Julie (Kathryn Newton), and Sam (Gideon Adlon), who are all dealing with their own issues, both in terms of their relationships with their parents and their relationships with boys.

But like all movies, prom is set up to be this big special night, so they are determined to make it special. They make a sex pact. They are all going to lose their virginity that night and it will make them closer together, so what when college happens, they don´t lose their friendship or anything.

The parents find out after they have left and aren´t sure what to do. Just kidding, they are going to find their daughters and put a stop to this madness before their daughters lives are ruined.

Also starring Jimmy Bellinger, Sarayu Blue, Gary Cole, Gina Gershon, Ramona Young, Miles Robbins, Hannibal Buress, and Graham Phillips.

Kids
Fuck that fedora is cool.

The most apparent thing about this movie is that it was directed by a woman. Kay Cannon has worked on some pretty woman based shows you would have heard about, and directed this film to make sure the woman’s voice was key. If this was directed by a dude, the parents would have been more egregious, the daughters would have had no real point of view scenes to speak their minds, and it would have been entirely forgettable.

Surprisingly, there was a wonderful amount of great arguments and feminist ideals presented by the daughters and other adults throughout the film. It was clear that our three leads were being shit heads and not thinking in a way that was beneficial to their daughters. Hell, even one of our leads for some time had great intentions as well. The message hits over and over again, without feeling like a lecture, and wanting to make a point as obvious as possible for those watching at home. Because this is just a comedic work of fiction, but it seems like its goal might be really to reach the audience, to help them learn how to better and more fairly treat their daughters.

Moving on.

Also I laughed a bunch. The acting wasn’t amazing. Cena was probably one of the lower points for me. The daughters and other teenagers really carried the film, and yes, surprisingly, Barinholtz’s character. I can’t say this is a movie I would want to watch over and over again, but it did the trick and was way better than it should have been.

3 out of 4.

Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow is one of those films that seemingly comes out of nowhere and feels like it is part of something bigger. Like, is this an extended universe? It is certainly based off of a book, although I would have guessed a graphic novel.

In fact, from the trailers, one might just assume this is the Black Widow standalone film we have been waiting for. Russian school to train girls to be assassins and to use their bodies as weapons. Secrets. Yeah, this is just Black Widow.

But instead of Scarlett Johansson, we got Jennifer Lawrence, so that Disney doesn’t try and sue anyone’s ass off.

Red Dress
And if they sue anyone’s ass, they would potentially think twice before taking hers.

Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is one of the best ballerina’s in Moscow. She has risen up by her boot straps to train hard and become the best. Her mom is sick and relies on her job for doctors and a place to live. Oh, Dominika is also the niece of Vanya Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts), someone high up in the Russian politics/military ladder, so maybe not entirely by her own bootstraps.

Then one day, an accident occurs, her leg gets broken on the stage, and her dancing career is done. That means her mom’s life is in jeopardy. Thankfully, her uncle knows a program that she can join. If she can find herself helping the Russian government, then the Russian government can find themselves helping her.

This is unfortunately a Sparrow program, to train young men and women officers to seduce anyone to get information needed, along with the ability to kill them should it come up. Oh good, selling his niece’s body to the government, what a swell family.

All of this ties into a separate plot, about American Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), a member of the CIA who was also in Russia, dealing with a mole in their government, who accidentally put a target on his and the mole’s back.

Also starring Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Bill Camp, Jeremy Irons, Sakina Jaffrey, and Ciarán Hinds.

Mirror
See, I could probably withstand one Jennifer Lawrence. But two? One in mirror land?

Red Sparrow is one of those films that is going to appear to be much smarter than a normal movie, and it is unashamed about that. Because after all, the viewer has to be tricked and sold lies as well so the bigger reveals are more exciting.

However, before things could be revealed, I was left annoyed and bored with the movie already. It has layers and layers and layers of plot. Characters coming and going with some importance to the story. And you have to suffer through it all in order to get to the “cool ending.”

But it tries way too hard to be layered. It is so easy to get lost in it, that interest is unfortunately lost. I just didn’t care by the end about any of the characters. I didn’t care who would get quadruple crossed, who the mole was, or how people would get out of their tough situations.

It is over two hours long and full of itself.

It still had some decent moments early on, when I cared about where it was going. Some very different acting from Lawrence, and Schoenaerts does an amazing visual Putin. But this film is now forgettable for me, and not the Black Window solo film we deserved.

2 out of 4.

On Body and Soul

What comes from Hungary? Some lame jokes, some World War I starters, and that is about all I can think of from my America centrist point of view.

So hey, I was excited for them just for having a film nominated for Best Foreign Film. Dozens of countries every year submit a film and only five are ever chosen, and only one wins. If Hungary has a rich film history, I am unfortunately unaware of it. If I have reviewed a Hungarian film before, then I totally forgot about it (just checked, shit, they had Son of Saul and White God. Totally forgot which country. Good job, Hungary!).

And now they have On Body and Soul. And I am thankful for Netflix for buying this film up so that lame uncultured swine like myself can watch it before the Oscars, and not five months after the fact.

Sleep
This is the kinky way Hungarians sleep together.

Taking place in some in Hungary, I have to assume, we have a slaughterhouse. They do good work there. Or at least, they kill cows and sell that meat for money. People have jobs, people are not sad.

Endre (Géza Morcsányi) is the CFO of the place, and is pretty complacent with his life. He is old, he is stagnant, he has a small group of friends. And a new girl starts to work there, much younger. Her name is Mária (Alexandra Borbély) and she is the quality inspector. She checks the cows and makes sure they have the appropriate grade rankings based on, you know, cow stuff.

Endre tries to talk to her, but she is off putting. Mária is very autistic, including a perfect memory and loves precision, so she makes some people upset when she is giving cows a lower grade than normal for technically correct reasons.

After an event occurs at the shop, a psychiatrist (Réka Tenki) is brought in to ask everyone questions to determine who the most likely culprit is. She is the first to find out that Endre and Mária are sharing a dream, where they are deer in a wintry forest. This connection is brought up to them, and it is up to them to figure out what to do with this knowledge, if anything.

Deer
You know, just being a deer, doing deer stuff.

On Body and Soul was a very touching film. Not physically touching, given how much Mária hated physical contact (note: I really enjoyed the mashed potatoes imagery). Just emotionally touching. Two lost souls who are very different, who find each other in an extraordinary way.

Not that I am implying there is a happy ending, just that technically, they find each other.

The Endre character is interesting in that he is supposed to be a normalish guy. A guy who has just been around for a loooong time and now is just drifting peacefully into retirement or death or something. I found at various points in the film that I hated him and found him endearing.

Mária is the real star though, and of course, Borbély. This is not some ¨hey look at the weirdo, being all autistic¨ sort of film, and it does not feel like it is making fun of people on the spectrum. We get to see her with a lot of struggles and a lot of pain. Seriously, a ton of pain. We get to see her grow, or attempt to grow, as she determines if she even can try to love another person.

There are some gross moments, there are some graphic moments (it is a slaughterhouse after all). But in the end, I still really enjoyed it the same.

3 out of 4.

1 2 3 6