Jeffrey’s Film Queue: Feb. 8 – Feb. 14

Fuck you, dear reader.

Sorry, that was uncalled for. It’s just that I’m spending my Valentine’s day tied to my computer instead of courting a female partner. Alas, there is not much we can do about that now, so join me as I recall the movies I saw this past week, mostly alone or with my mom.

Grab your hats, we’re throwing a pity party!

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Directed by Steven Spielberg

It may not live up to the idea of a Stanley Kubrick meets Steven Spielberg masterpiece, but that was always a reductive view anyways. The film, on its own merits, is a beautiful look at the innate goodness of humanity through our power to love. It is cleverly structured so as to ask of the audience whether we can see this robot boy as a real person. In addition, the witty reversal of having the future beings look to humans for the meaning of existence, is a nice illustration of art’s power to guide. For art is the space where dreams are made flesh.

The Omen (1976)
Directed by Richard Donner

I don’t really have much to say about this one other than the kills being utterly fantastic. They may not be many of them, but each  leaves an indelible image in your memory. While the priest’s death is the image I love most, it is the poor photographer who gets it the worst. I shudder just thinking about it.

Man On Wire (2008)
Directed by James Marsh

One of my new favourite movies of all time. Proof that non-fiction can be just as dramatic as fiction. Typically, I abhor dramatizations in documentaries, but here, the story (specifically the heist) is so complex and so suspenseful, that the reenactments serve the tale rather than impede it. Much like A.I., it reinforces the value of art for art’s sake. Somehow, it manages to capture both the elation of creation, and the melancholy in the aftermath of the created. A masterpiece.

The Witch (2016)
Directed by Robert Eggers

Full review coming soon. For now, just go see it!

Begin Again (2013)
Directed by John Carney

I adored once, but the previews for Begin Again lead me to believe that working with an American studio had sapped Carney’s vision of all its grounded reality. This is further evidence that you never, EVER judge a film by its marketing material. Not only is Begin Again grounded in its emotional stakes, but the magical sequences featuring the instruments playing themselves is just a natural, if awkward, evolution of Carney’s vision of music coming to life. Unlike a film I’ll be talking about later in this article, the film recognizes the fantasies being conjured by both its audience and its characters, but instead chooses to forgo cheap sentiment in favour of truth, which is naturally much more cathartic.

Black Dynamite (2009)
Directed by Scott Sanders

I must resist the temptation to riddle this entire review with quotes from the film. But damn, you jive turkies ain’t got any god damn idea how hard that is. Ya dig? I may not have been laughing as consistently throughout as I have through other comedies, but I’ve rarely laughed harder.There’s a pimp named Mo Bitches, for god’s sake.

(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Directed by Marc Webb

There are a couple of writers on this site who will want to have words with me after I say this, but, well, I didn’t like this movie. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pleasant viewing experience that goes down easy, but it’s this very quality which is so insidious. A bit hyperbolic, I admit, but I truly believe that the film is ultimately a lie. The film plays with progressive ideas of love not being a fairy tale ride through bliss, but by it’s end, it completely abandons the theme in favour of reinforcing its main character’s poisonous outlook. The very same outlook he holds at the beginning of the film, thus, making the entire film pointless. And you may argue that a protagonist does not require an arc in order for a film to be great and meaningful, but typically, when you abandon the standard character arc, you replace it with something else that comments on your themes instead. Except, this film never does so. It is cheap sentiment built upon the bodies of real truth. If love is anything, it is culmination of two people working towards building a relationship. The film lacks it’s second person, and it lacks the work. Zooey Deschanel’s Summer is not a character, she is a concept, and though the film seems to play with this idea, it never reveals any hidden depth. Instead, she comes off as a fickle bitch. And I do not use “bitch” lightly, for I detest that word’s use, but herein lies the rub: the film’s opening joke essentially sets up Summer to be regarded in this manner. The film should’ve been about proving that opening joke wrong.

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