A psychological thriller which provides an astute deconstruction of celebrity, the assembly of image, and the commodification of the female form, Perfect Blue is a piercing window into contemporary society that is far ahead of its time. At a brisk 82 minutes, this film is potent and digestible, and seemingly clairvoyant, given at its release the internet itself was in its infancy in terms of being available for mass consumption.
Ambitious in its designs, creative, absurd yet endearing, places spectacle above bombast in delivering its escapism. The Wandering Earth traverses the typical tropes of the big-budget disaster movie with more ingenuity than most films of its ilk - sacrifice, hope, perseverance in the face of destruction. The bombast is integrated well into the story, rarely distracting from the narrative or emotional core of the film, as The Wandering Earth exhibits the ambiguity of morality which often takes place in times of extreme catastrophe, The Wandering Earth is a refreshingly original sci-fi epic which has a host of subtle references to cinematic history, and despite some of its minor faults, many of which are intrinsic to tentpole film-making such as this, it remains a wholly enjoyable ride.
'An extremely bleak experience, Donnybrook is perhaps best described as a portrait of utter-desperation, deconstructing the impoverished rural America through a grim story of a man attempting to gain the funds necessary to provide his family a better life. While the film's reflection on America isn't has potent as the filmmakers probably envisioned, Donnybrook is an explicitly grating film which plays like a horror film due to the sheer despair and destitute nature of its protagonist's journey. While Donnybrook is likely too much, or even over-the-top for some viewers, Sutton's ability to obfuscate is more a blessing than a burden, as Donnybrook manifests itself as a brooding nightmare of impoverished rural america.
A crime saga of godfather-esque scale, brooding with mysticism as it spins it's cautionary tale about the destructive nature of greed, Birds of Passage ethnographic lens overcomes the film's more traditional melodramatic tropes of the gangster crime saga, delivering an engaging, skillfully crafted film which should be more accessible than most film's rooted in such distinct ethnography.
Perhaps the tired, manufactured template-filmmaking of the MCU that has dominated much of Hollywood Blockbuster cinema over the last decade played a factor in my experience with Alita: Battle Angel, with the homogeneous aesthetic that runs through them being a major aspect of my frustration. Let me start off by saying, Alita: Battle Angel is far from perfect, having quite a few relatively objective flaws related to narrative storytelling and a few cringeworthy bits of dialogue, yet while watching it I felt rejuvenated in a sense, with Rodriguez, Cameron and company delivering a visual spectacle that effectively transports the viewer to a wholly different world, and I was oh so game for this ride. Battle Angel is an extremely tight, maybe too so, fast-paced experience, one which moves along with such speed that it never shows much of desire for exposition. This is highly efficient economic filmmaking by Rodriguez, and paired with Cameron's FX, the film delivers what it promises. While it's clearly built for a sequel, the film stood alone for me in its ability to deliver visual spectacle and dynamic action, which is exactly what I want out of my escapism, with the film disrupting my personal temporal and spatial awareness with its world-building. For all the flaws I've listed above, the emotional core of the hero's journey worked, with Alita as a character being someone the audience finds themselves rooting for, a character whose naivety, general trustworthiness, and optimism are perfectly juxtaposed against what she was designed to be - the ultimate killing machine. When it comes to big-budget sci-fi escapism, Alita: Battle Angel did more for me than most films, and while I'm not familiar with the source material, this film made me want to seek it out, which in a sense, is quite the compliment by today's standards, given how much cinema in Hollywood is regulated to a secondary medium of storytelling.
Employing magical realism to reflect on identity, body fluidity, and the insoluble nature of what it truly means to be human, Border is a story about personal worth, following a character whose an outsider, a freak, "different", unable to find a sense of true emotional attachment in the environment which she inhabits. Without going into plot details, Border is an adult fairy tale of sorts, one which manages to evoke a solid meditation on the corrosive and repugnant nature of tribalism through this character's journey of self-discovery. It's far from perfect, suffering from pacing issues in the back-half which deflects from the film's otherwise contemplative tone, yet this subplot also provides the film an ability to reflect on humanity through the lens of emotion, exhibiting how it itself is neither intrinsically good nor evil but an essential, paramount function of the human experience.
A perverse, abhorrent film which manages to shine a light on the disenfranchised but unfortunately its best attributes are fleeting, being eviscerated by the film's grotesque narrative formalism, which aims to exploit this humanitarian crisis through escapism. Capernaum shows no restraint in detailing the poverty and constant struggle of its subjects, yet it feels completely uninterested in wrestling with the socio-political issues at play here, ironclad in its conviction to use this crisis to serve its purposes. Thematically the film is not perceptive or precise, not interested in recognizing the abject failure of the political system itself, instead opting for a conclusion that only reinforces this system in one of the most insulting resolutions I've seen in some time.
Examining memory and consciousness through a deeply-humanistic lens, Once in the Night interweaves three personal portraits through a visceral display of shifting visual aesthetics and rhythmic audio vibrations. A wholly original experience exploring the full gamut of human experience and emotion, Once In the Night takes three distinct, fractured perspectives, each a personal account of experience preserved through memory, and coalescing them into a reflective tapestry of the human condition. Cutting through the minutia which often occurs when displaying individualistic plights and experiences, Once In The Night's finite, artistic form counteracts this intrinsic detachment, revealing a universalism in its presentation, transcending each individual experience to speak to larger truths. Once In The Night manages a transparent soulfulness that is astute in its revelations, encapsulating this idea of 'the human condition' in a deeply expressive way, one that often connects with the viewer on a deeply personal level as the internal consciousness of its subjects are presented in way that speaks to universal truths about life.
Never brave enough to go full camp, stuck in this tedious between which is never dull but woefully didactic in its attempted deconstruction of the art world. Felt the death sequences lacked ingenuity and creativity given the intrinsic potential of the premise
Tony Takitani is a empathetic poem, its formalism has an omnipresent structure of precision and prescription which provides a beautiful reflection on loneliness, detachment, and memory - an existential examination of the human condition in cinematic form which reverberates within the soul. Somber, singular, and profoundly moving, the minimalist piano score of the film provides the perfect complement to this quietly striking experience.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.