In 2018 cinema saved me thousands of dollars in counseling. In a year in which every other film was related to matters of the heart, from Forgetting Sarah Marshall to Revolutionary Road, the time invested watching them turned out to be therapeutic for my own. I am closing out the year with a mighty realization, one that would have taken longer to arrive, if it did at all, were it not for the probing properties of the movies.
As is the case annually, I wish to publicly thank them.
Boasting one of the most imaginative final scenes that I have ever seen, The Florida Project is unconcerned with the viewer’s preconceived notions of how the world works. The film’s power resides in choosing not to romanticize or exploit it’s themes-parenting,poverty,the dealings of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate-, resulting in a picture that at times feels like a documentary. By the time it arrives at its wrenching, traumatic conclusion, the viewer should ideally possess a different outlook on the follies of human justice.
There’s a scene I keep coming back to again and again. Robbie (James McAvoy) is confronting Briony (Romola Garai) about her sins, when he finally loses it. He snaps at her, and the only thing that saves Briony from the wrath of this wounded man is the only woman he’s ever loved. “Come back to me”, Cecilia (Keira Knightley) repeats gently, lulling him back to his senses. Briony gazes at the soulful tenderness on display, and her guilt threatens to suffocate her. Unable to stand it, she turns around.
It is as powerful a moment as I have ever experienced, the unbearable pain of loss crashing drown, leaving me out to drown in my memories.
A haunting exploration on the transcendental power of love, A Ghost Story is the closest companion to Upstream Color that I have watched since Shane Carruth’s 2013 cerebral masterpiece.
A spellbinding film on sewing.
While the halo jump scene was the one on everybody’s tongue now that the year is coming to a close, I have a different pick for favorite one. The motorcycle chase across Paris is absolutely breathtaking, a small miracle into itself for the way everybody involved managed to make every small detail come together perfectly. This is the greatest action picture since Mad Max: Fury Road, which in turn was one of the best films of its kind in cinema history, and further proof that Tom Cruise is the last remaining movie star.
Perhaps having already received validation from his peers as somebody who’s really talented at his job, director Damien Chazelle shot for the moon this time. It worked splendidly, delivering not so much a testament to the greatness of America as a portrait of the great lengths humanity goes in order to live with their grief.
Dear reader, I have probably watched and re watched the final seconds of this terribly insightful and heartwarming picture more than five times already, grinning like an idiot every one.
I refer you to an excerpt that I wrote on this ten months ago:
In an era in which Hollywood has to hold the audiences hand and lead them to the nicely tied in a bow ending in which good triumphs over evil, Alex Garland has provided a conclusion in which the answers only serve as springboards for more questions, for further prodding of every little thing that has preceded it. Such examination stimulates the intellect, invigorating the notion that cinema is truly the only thing that has the capacity to transport you to far away places, to challenge you, to question what it means to be human and what to do with the time we have left.
Ambition is never synonymous with greatness. One has only to gander at the movie landscape to notice many movies with lofty goals that end up crashing and burning. Few are those who succeed at pairing their dreams with practical results, and director Tom Tykwer is one of them.
Steering clear from most of the genre’s trappings, this YA adaptation is surprisingly perceptive. It is an easy watch, barely 90 minutes long, wholesome, and with an ending that, considering its target audience, is entirely bittersweet.