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.

Fifty Shades Freed

With Fifty Shades Freed coming out, it makes it the second trilogy to end in 2018 already, and it is only halfway through February! The other one was of course Maze Runner: The Death Cure, which was also complete shit.

I don’t know a lot about the point of this trilogy, but looking at the ad spots online, on youtube, on Hulu, the one thing I realized is that whatever the plot was, they certainly did not want to show it to the viewer. They just wanted us to see people being rich, doing some sexy stuff, and being rich. Rich, sex, rich.

Maybe that is the main point of the movie? Maybe they expect the plot to just maintain “oh, their relationship!” and it be an okay story overall.

edding
Is the wedding the climax, or just the beginning?

The movie begins with the saying of I do from our leads (Which is answers that question). After all, he proposed at the end of the second film, we don’t need to see them planning for it and all that shit. Let’s just see Anastasia become Anastasia Grey (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) stays the same. Which is one of those plots about the movie, him staying the same.

Now we can watch them traveling the world, honeymooning, sexing, being rich. You know. But some guy goes and steals some data from Grey’s company, cutting it short! Oh snap! Now we have some man, or some lady, trying to do bad things to them, and he has “no idea at all why!”. Security is beefed up and some things are a little bit less sexy.

But don’t worry, we still have time to deal with other issues. Like how they never even talked about when they would want kids or if they wanted kids at all. Perfect thing to do post marriage. On that note, that weird ex mistress of his that taught him all of his kinks? You’d think that would be important, but in this movie, it is basically just dealt with in a single scene and ignored the whole way through after it. Yay!

These people are in this movie: Brant Daughtery, Bruce Altman, Eloise Mumford, Eric Johnson, Hiro Kanagawa, Kristen Alter, Luke Grimes, Marcia Gay Harden, Max Martini, and Rita Ora.

SmallBoat
Will the SeaDoo scene be the new boat scene from the previous film?

This film is shit, and everyone knows it is shit. The people who put it out know it is shit. The reason the plot is hard to tell is because there is no discernible plot in the whole movie. Bad plot reasons for man to be bugging them. Characters act stupid and don’t understand what is being told to them, and intentionally characters put off obviously important information until it is too late. We have a couple who still doesn’t make sense together, who just get really kinky around each other I guess. Whatever happens never really looks like love.

We have a main character male who is emotionally and physically abusive at times, yes still in this movie. We have a cartoon bad guy. We have a scene where someone gets slapped twice and kicked in the stomach causing a short term coma, some how.

The infamous boat scene was recreated almost with a house they go to in Colorado. Watching the car go up the driveway, we then see several angles around the house, switch switch switch. It is still full of romantic (maybe? hard to tell when it all sounds the same) pop music, to fill any sort of space they might have for character growth.

And just in case you forgot the other films, near the end, we get to see a long montage of the first two movies, of their romance scenes and travels. Yes, we still see that damn boat again in this film. They did it just to troll me.

And then at some point the movie ends, without resolving one of the major plot issues their relationship had with his ex mistress lady he couldn’t ever stop confiding in. Hooray!

0 out of 4.

The Shape of Water

People don’t like Guillermo del Toro like I like Guillermo del Toro. Wanna know how I know? Because I gave Crimson Peak 3 stars. Great film, you should check it out. Decently creepy, and very beautiful.

Unfortunately, we are never going to get the Hellboy 3 he invisioned (now that the reboot is coming), but it seems to me like The Shape of Water is him telling an offshoot Hellboy story without needing Hellboy. Or at least, a prequel about Abe before he joined the B.P.R.D.

And I am a bit annoyed that this review is coming to you so late in the year, well after the wide releases, because I wanted to be in the forefront, waving my del Toro flag around, hoping that my eyes bleed from beautiful awkwardness.

Egg
There it is, love at first sight.

Way back a long time ago, long long ago. Let’s say the 1960’s. Yeah, that sounds good. Somewhere in Baltimore, close to DC, lived a mute girl by the name of, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins). She led a simple life, generally alone in her world. She would wake up late at night, bathe, masturbate, eat, and head to work because she worked as an overnight cleaning lady.

She had a friend, Zelda (Octavia Spencer.) who worked with her and did all the talking for the duo. She also had a neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins), an eccentric artist who a lot of strong opinions on everything. But she has no one to love, to really be intimate with, outside of the occasional Giles snuggles.

Well, at work one night, a strange shipment comes in, and their head of security (David Hewlett) says it is their most important thing ever! It comes with its own team of scientists, led by Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) and some sort of federal agent, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). And sure enough yeah, it is some sort of Creature from the Black Lagoon! Or at least an Amphibian Man
(Doug Jones) from the Amazon Rain forest and rivers where he was worshiped as a god.

Oh fun! A creature that people are afraid of, who is being abused, who also has communication problems and is alone. Well, Elisa seems to have a connection to him. She feels his pain and wants to put him at ease. And when his life is on the line and other countries want him dead as well, she is going to have to put a lot more of herself out there than ever before.

Also starring Morgan Kelly as a below adequate pie flinger.

Shannon
Michael Shannon desires only above average pie flingers.

At this day and age, it is very hard to give us a sort of “star crossed lovers” story and have it believable. We get it. People can be with anyone at this point. Romance against all odds.

So what about a woman and an amphibian man. Not a man who turned into a fish creature, but you know, some entity that evolved on its own, completely separate from humans, despite being humanoid. See, this is the new stuff that storytellers need to be tackling, the things that the Republicans have been warning us against.

Hawkins gives an astounding performance as our mute lead, and I am surprised there currently is not a giant campaign against her taking actual mute actresses work, or whatever. She does an amazing job, doing so much with those eyes and her smile. Shannon and Stuhlbarg are a bit cartoon-y, but that is okay given what they end up doing. Shannon’s villainness started off slow but really escalated near the end during the climax. I was very scared in the scene with Spencer.

Jenkins continues his eccentric small characters that he has been doing recently, and Spencer is unfortunately playing a role she keeps getting put into. She needs a better agent to showcase her range instead of the same thing over and over.

The film is stunning to look at, the Amphibian Man is detailed in every facet (and orifice). Doug Jones is finally being acknowledged for his astounding work in the creature field. There are so many positive things to say, but really, just see it for yourself for a different experience.

By and by, this is probably the finest piece of interspecies erotic ever written.

4 out of 4.

1 2 3 6