There have been 2 films in 2017 that have brought to mind Spartacus: Blood and Sand, my favorite television series: Logan, the elegiac superhero swan song, and War for the Planet of the Apes, a stellar capping off to mainstream cinema’s most thoughtful and moving trilogies.
The show’s exploration of vengeance and forgiveness is truly fascinating, putting on display the “enormous darkness of the heart” that one of the apes mentions to Caesar (Andy Serkis) during the final installment. It is also an unforgiving look into the lives of slaves, and the horrors they are forced to commit for the sake of their masters. However, instead of being preachy it becomes insightful. In its final season, the slaves, now holding all of the power, start committing atrocities against innocents. They have excuses for it, of course, but should bloodshed ever be rationalized?
War for the Planet of the Apes seems like a fluke in the Hollywood blockbuster churning machine. For a movie with conflict in the title, there are only two battles: one at the beginning and one at the end, tremendous set pieces that brim with suspense and emotion from start to finish.
The film is more concerned with the struggle waged in men’s souls, that constant struggle between turning the other cheek and raining fire from the sky, between tolerance and dictatorship.
The human race did not lose the planet because of a few battles against monkeys, but because in the vital, deciding moment in which the trigger had to be pulled or not, the apes gave us another chance, but we did not return the favor.
And of what good is Earth if our spirit has turned dark? Nature has a way of correcting course, so the worthy ones will inherit the planet.
I mean it as no insult when I say that Indignation made me feel as if I was watching a picture produced in 1950s America. There are the costumes of course, with men wearing ties and tweed jackets all the time, and the girls with their long and colorful skirts. There is also the general mood of the settings, hinting at a time in which maybe things were a bit simpler than today, i.e: getting your pick of a campus job if you just fill out a form before they run out.
But what really convinced me of it was the acting. You know how characters in old timey movies sound different than today, as if they are aware there’s a camera on them and they have to recite their lines just like if they were on the theater? That’s what the acting in Indignation is like.
We are nearing the day when every major movie will be part of an extended universe, when their narratives will function both as entertaining yarns and trailers for the upcoming sequels, when easter eggs and post-credits sequences replace all that makes cinema meaningful.
Five minutes into Baby Driver, and tears were welling up in my eyes. The great craft and detail they put into the car chases, the score, the reaction shots, was evident, but what got me was something else.
It was not the sense of fun, either, present from first to last frame.
I think that what made me emotional was recognizing a dying breed of cinema. Being face to face with a movie that proudly waves the flag of “there’s more to film than superheroes and sequels, look I promise!”.
You made me look Baby Driver, you sure did make me look. I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
For its last 90 minutes Aliens is unrelenting, exciting, making this modern viewer wish Hollywood would dare make more actions films like this one.
Rarely does a film enthrall and stupefy me the way Mulholland Dr. accomplished. It burrowed into my brain and played out in my dreams, as I went to bed last night and had visions of Silencio, and a California cowboy and Diane (Naomi Watts) and Betty (Naomi Watts), and Betty and Diane and the incredible, absolutely incredible performance delivered by a never better Naomi Watts, in the role that launched her to stardom and it is so easy to see why, her performance appearing to be one of `50s and `60s Hollywood at first, but then morphing into something completely different, more maniacal and sadder.
As I see it, the plot follows Betty after she ordered her ex lover killed, and the regrets that she experiences after the fact. Am I wrong? If you have seen this movie before, please tell me how wrong I am, please, please, I would like to hear your examination and reading of this movie, because they do not make them this way before, actually they probably never made them this way, so unique this picture is, God bless David Lynch forever.
The fact that I have never watched Alien nor its beloved sequel Aliens must surely influence the fact that I do not comprehend the hate Alien:Covenant and the prequel Prometheus seem to receive on the internet.
I will make my way to the remaining two movies eventually, but I wanted to begin with what Ridley Scott said was the start, and so far I have not been disappointed. I loved the idea that the director set out to explore in Prometheus-where does humanity come from?-, and while his reach certainly exceeded his grasp, it felt good to see a million dollar blockbuster film tackle such a complex theme.
Similarly, I also enjoyed Alien:Covenant, and how it turned David (Michael Fassbender) into some sort of Wagner loving, Shelley quoting Dr. Frankenstein, pitying humankind while at the same time envying them. The creature action was certainly fun, but not as much as seeing David destroy an entire city, or seeing him teach how to play the flute to Walter (Michael Fassbender).
The problem with both of these movies is that a). they cost a pretty penny to finance, and thus b). the studio needs its money back. Had Prometheus been advertised as simply another science fiction, space exploration movie, perhaps it would have been better received by all those disappointed that it did not live up to the first two in the series, let alone even feature the famous alien. But this seems to be the current trend in Hollywood. Nothing that has no prior fan recognition can get green lit anymore, which should be immensely more troubling and depressing than a movie not featuring enough of the space monsters fans grew up with.
This far into Hollywood’s mania with superheroes, and the audiences corresponding embrace of it, it should really come as no surprise that a highly awaited sequel to a beloved space adventure turns out to coast on the goodwill from the first one, and nothing more.
And yet, why am I always disappointed?
Telling somebody that it is hard to succeed in show business is like telling them that eating uncontrollably leads to an increase in weight. This is a boring fact of life, which is why perhaps there are not that very many films on the subject matter. And the ones that do deal solely on the aspect of audition, fail, repeat until you get the lucky break. La La Land had a nice twist on this aspect, although the resolution was similar to all others.
But what happens when you audition and luck never comes your way? What happens when you pour your heart, soul and savings into your dream, but all you get is rejection?
Don’t Think Twice is beautiful in its insight-funny and painful, sometimes at the same time-because it recognizes that some of us will simply not make the cut in the end. In a culture in which everybody gets a participation trophy, it not only feels refreshing, but honest.
I am tired of the end of the world.
Trailer after trailer promise scenes of destruction on a more massive scale than the previous blockbuster, each escalating the threat on humanity, and beg the audience to pay 10 bucks to witness their extinction up on the big screen. When I watched the trailer for Arrival I was immediately put off. I only went into the cinema because my friend invited me, as he usually does. Except this time we were not going to see a superhero movie or a generic action picture, as is the case. He had watched the same trailer as me, and while I had decided I’d had enough of alien invasion flicks, he wanted to see some aliens invade the planet again.
Two hours after the movie began, I remained on my seat, jaw wide open, enthralled at what I had just witnessed.
If I left Doctor Strange disillusioned with the prospects of current Hollywood, Arrival was the shot of adrenaline my heart needed to bring me back to life and believe in the sheer beauty of cinema.