Oh, what a week we have here! This week saw a drunkard falling asleep during the newest Coen brothers film, a mother and son shifting uncomfortably during, not one, but two sex scenes, an elderly man empathizing with a transsexual, and a shy loner struggling to connect with people.
That last one isn’t about movies, but it’s a weekly constant worth mentioning. Anyways, uh, on to the Queue!
The Boxtrolls (2014)
Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
A pleasant, little film that continues Laika’s incredible stop-motion craft. The phenomenal voice cast brings to life a variety of characters who are otherwise standard archetypes. The narrative may flow predictably from set piece to set piece, but the sheer craft on display is enough reason to give this film a watch. By far the greatest moment in this wonderful movie is the pre-credits sequence that sees Mr. Pickles and Mr. Trout pondering their very own existence, superimposed over the technician who directs their every movement.
Laurence Anyways (2013)
Directed by Xavier Dolan
My dad drives out from the parking lot, having just picked me up. Enthusiastically, he exclaims, “I watched that movie you left out for me.” I sit, confused, for I didn’t leave a single movie out for him to watch. “I loved it!” he says, as I continue to stew in puzzlement. “I can’t remember what it was called…Laurence…something.” Laurence Anyways? My father, a 63-year old Chilean refugee, watched a two and a half hour French film about a transsexual struggling to be accepted, and loved it. I loved that more than I liked the movie. And I liked the movie a whole lot.
Directed by Rian Johnson
A supremely complex noir that marries teenage slang with the motor-mouthed cadences of film noir personae. I cannot lay the entirety of the blame on my heater for having missed many of the dialogues, as the stylized language was definitely too difficult at times to decipher. This is not a criticism of the film, for its visual language helps elucidate many of the questions one is left with. Ultimately, it is a film that rewards multiple viewings, yet does not fail to leave a strong initial impression. Star Wars is in good hands.
A History of Violence (2005)
Directed by David Cronenberg
It is a testament to the strengths of Cronenberg (one of my absolute favourite filmmakers) that despite being a lithe 90-mins long, the film is able to formulate a whiplash inducing character shift with supreme force. The transformation of milquetoast Tom into the intensely violent Joey is one that is beautifully captured in what is perhaps the two best sex scenes in cinema. And I don’t mean this in the prudish sense that they satisfy some carnal desire, but rather that they are both packed with so much character information, that they can both be dissected for days. I also have theories that this may be a story of the violent past of America that continues to haunt the nation.
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Read my review here, sucka!
Tom at the Farm (2013)
Directed by Xavier Dolan
I didn’t intend this to be such a Dolan heavy week, but alas, here we stand. I’ve come to realize that I like Xavier Dolan’s films, but I have yet to truly love a single one. Perhaps it’s because his endings always leave me cold and confused as to their intent. As we’ve established in the Film Finales segment on this website, the ending of the film is typically the summation of a film’s themes. However, Dolan’s films seem to either forgo this entirely or so completely misunderstand the film before it that it creates a dissonance I cannot shake. Tom at the Farm, for example, ends with Dolan’s character finding the scarred boy he heard about at the bar. As an ending, this says nothing of the story which preceded it, and hardly comments on any of its characters, instead serving as yet another reminder of the violence of its antagonist. Funnily enough, this is probably Dolan’s most purely enjoyable film.