Arrival

I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. I tried. I promise I tried. I really did.

I made it to minute 35 of this almost two hour film (and if you’re counting, that’s more than a fourth) and I turned it off, beacuse nothing happened. You think I’m kidding. Nothing. Happened.

If you’ve read any of my other discussions, I mention cinematography a lot. I’m not particularly knowledgeable or techincal with that subject, but I notice when the camera is directing focus in an unusual way or moving with a different feel. However, there is one caveat: I like cinematography when the camera is looking at SOMETHING. Ten minutes of panning around in an ‘artful’ way around fog and a giant gray rock that I guess is supposed to look interesting, impressive, or foboding is not creating atmosphere or ‘cinematography’. It is boring and unnecessary. Continue reading “Arrival”

Fences

The movie that proves plays can be adapted into really good movies: Fences. It didn’t look like a play. It didn’t feel like a play. But its focus was on the essence of any play: acting and dialogue. There wasn’t fancy, eye-catching camera work or a flashy score. No special effects. Just sparkling, dazzling dialogue and mesmerizing performances from everyone in the cast. Two minutes into the film, I was hooked.

First, let’s discuss my favorite thing to discuss in these rambles: metaphors! Fences were pushed to their literary limit, and I mean that in the best way. There’s nothing like a tenfold metaphor that happens to double as the film’s title. First, there’s the obvious– the barrier between blacks and whites in that time. There was an insurmountable divide between the two in America in the 1950s, and the movie emphasizes that without ever overstepping the line into preaching or handholding. It’s in every scene: were there any white characters? I don’t remember, and I don’t think so. If I remember correctly, the only white person with dialogue came from the scene where Troy was about to go ask to be a driver, and the tension between them was palpable. It’s in every one of Troy’s electric dialogues. Continue reading “Fences”

Moonlight

Wow. My first thought after watching this movie: wow. It’s not a favorite of mine. It didn’t connect with me on a deep, personal level like other movies have, but from an objective standpoint it was phenomenal. It was risky and bold and classic and fresh, and the cinematography alone was absolutely breathtaking. If you watch the movie muted, without any captions, it still tells a story. It’s still a work of art.

Before I talk about the movie itself, I want to touch on the hype surrounding it, at least in indie circles. So many reviews of the movie start and end with : an African American movie! An LGBT movie! A movie that really shows poverty! I’m not using these examples to belittle the story or its themes in any way, because all these themes are prevelant in the movie and they are thought-provoking ideas that stay with you long after it ends. I only want to say that some films get so wrapped up in the real-life consequences of the story they’re telling that they forget to actually tell the story. Moonlight doesn’t feel like a movie about a culture or an issue. It feels like a movie about characters and conflict. It transcends those labels that so many critics use to compliment it, and to me, that is some of the highest praise I can give the film. Continue reading “Moonlight”

Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water felt like the lovechild of Fargo, Smokey and the Bandit, and the state of Texas. Which, as you might imagine, is bizarre, not particularly phenomenal, but definitely intriguing.

Now that I’ve been witty and clever, let’s talk about the movie. 🙂

It was tight and sharp, from the beginning to end. Those were the words that kept coming to my mind, through the witty, quick dialogue, the focus on the story at hand without many diversions, and the refreshing simplicity of the plot. There wasn’t anything fancy going on, but that focus what made this movie stand out a little for me from a typical bandit-western type story. The important characters were the two criminals and the two cops chasing them, and, I would argue, Texas. No frills. No one else to distract you. Continue reading “Hell or High Water”

Manchester by the Sea

Can I even put into words how much I loved this movie?

Let me preface this by saying that I thought I would like it. I thought I’d like it a lot. However, I didn’t realize I would love it. From the trailers and the buzz surrounding it, it sounded like just my kind of movie: devastating, raw, tragic, and moving were words used frequently to describe the story. Having seen it, I can say every word captures the tone of the movie perfectly.

To answer my first question: I’m going to try. And that starts by talking about Casey Affleck. Continue reading “Manchester by the Sea”