Another article, another week where I arguably may have watched too many films. So, let’s talk about the ten films I saw this week. (Ten again? Damn.)
Directed by Richard Linklater
One may argue whether or not the film is endlessly talked about because of the “gimmick” of filming over 12 years (and I’ll say that I think it’s the start of the discussion), but the film stands on its own merits. Previously, Richard Linklater had given us the Before Trilogy. It’s 3 films that are spread across 18 years, both contextually within the story, and in real life as well. Here, Linklater does a similar thing, except now we see the little moments in between. Boyhood is about growing up, and what ends up being shown mimics our own life in that we occasionally remember the most insignificant moments that somehow shape us one or two decades later. Completely relatable. At the end of the almost three hour run time, you can’t help but be amazed at how quickly Mason grows up and compare it to your own experiences and how quickly you grew up. All the big things seem so small in retrospect.
Directed by Danny Boyle
Last week I wrote about Boyle’s Shallow Grave and the flourishes of his style, which I think boiled down to the editing. It seems as if, while editing, he realized what he wanted to do stylistically. So, while filming Trainspotting, he knew exactly what he wanted. He ran straight for that opening. Similar to Boyle’s Sunshine, which feels like the love child of Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Solaris, this film feels like a relative of A Clockwork Orange.
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Directed by David O. Russell
Jeffrey is gonna be mad at this one. [Editor’s Note: He is.]
I don’t know what happened, I felt like I should have liked this film more. I just couldn’t get into it. I plan on revisiting it one day, but for now I liked the film, but I have a feeling that’s not enough.
City of God (2002)
Directed by Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund
City of God is amazing because it takes its time with each part of the story. From the frenetic and incredible in media res opening, we learn all the sides to the story. When we find ourselves back in that scene it’s not a question of who’s right or wrong, it’s a question of why. It becomes almost heartbreaking as every character’s story comes to its end. The way Rocket walks out of frame, and the camera begins to follow the “runts”, we realize that the story isn’t over, just Rocket’s contribution to it.
Directed by Xavier Dolan
In this film Dolan does remarkable work. A very, very mature work considering the age he made it at. It’s a film that has stuck with me and moved me since the first time I’d seen it. It’s a film that I find extremely emotional and very impactful. The deliberate choice to shoot the film at a 1:1 ratio so as to not allow the audience to get lost in the background and instead focus on the emotions and performances that are being shown is brilliant. When the ratio changes during the more hopeful moments, I may or may not become a mess, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.
Directed by Terrance Malick
The debut feature of a working director/writer/producer who’s only 7 films deep since his debut in 1973. Badlands is a “Bonnie and Clyde” like story about Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, who would later influence Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. This is the start of Malick’s gorgeous Lyrical Tone Poem-like films. While this may arguably be the film with the most “narrative” in comparison to the five others I’ve seen (I’ve yet to watch The New World and Knight of Cups) it doesn’t make it any less him. Constant shots of gorgeous imagery with innocent narration.
The Martian (2015)
Directed by Ridley Scott
To say that I’m not that big a fan of Ridley Scott is a bit of an understatement. I frankly don’t care for Blade Runner. And while I love Alien, and enjoy Prometheus, I was nervous for this film. I wasn’t expecting anything big, but with a great cast and a good trailer, I was hoping that maybe this is a film I could at least like, as opposed to Exodus: Gods and Kings. I walked out of the theatre really liking it, and watching it again, I love it. The power of unity in this film is a wonderful thing. The importance of one life is shown perfectly in this film. It’s a film that makes science cool, and allows humans to sit back and think maybe we’re not all so bad after all. We can be good people sometimes.
45 Years (2015)
Directed by Andrew Haigh
Short response: naturalistic, real, and heartbreaking, with exquisite performances. Long response: my review.
Straight Outta Compton* (2015)
Directed by F. Gary Gray
A director’s cut was not needed. It added very, very, very noticeably unrelated material. Some were throwaway jokes, a few dates, a quick marriage ceremony (which was sweet, and is the only crucial moment), and also a reaction shot of Ice Cube finding out that Eazy passed away (uh, spoiler? I guess?). That being said, I still really love this film. There’s a lot going on. I love being a fly on the wall as they made that classic album. I have issues with the film, as no film is perfect, including the final line being “Aftermath”, and that one of the last images is Dr. Dre telling us (since he produced the film) how much he sold his Beats Headphones to Apple for. It just doesn’t feel right. The actors gave their all, and it works. Jason Mitchell is phenomenal in this, and is starring in the upcoming Keanu, a comedy film written by Key & Peele. If that film isn’t on your radar, watch the trailer, now. This can wait.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
While watching this film, I did some research and found something mind-boggling. Roger Deakins (the incredible cinematographer) has been nominated 13 times at the Oscars, but he still hasn’t won, once. That’s a travesty. He needs to win. Forget what I said during the nomination article, Deakins needs to win. You know what they say, 13th time’s the charm, right? Oh yeah, the film is really great. Extremely tense with incredible acting. Can we just talk about how amazingly talented Emily Blunt is?