A story full of heart, exuberance, and vitality, Pixar's Coco is a pleasant reminder of what the studio is capable of when they concentrate on original storytelling instead of franchise filmmaking, being the best film from the beloved studio in several years. Transversing the common thematic assertion in family films centered around the importance of family, Coco delivers a nuanced story exploring the fine-line between familial obligation & personal ambition, with our main protagonist, the young Miguel, struggling to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician due to his families' disdain for the profession, which is somewhat warranted due to a troubling family history. Miguel is a character whom is not allowed to pursue his aspirations in music due to the toxic perception of his great, great, great grandfather, a man whom essentially abandoned his family to pursue his passion for music. This distant relatives mistakes restrict Miguel's personal aspirations, with his family collectively viewing all aspirational musicians as potentially callous and single-sighted, perceived as individuals whom can't place anything above their pursuits in the art-form. Coco has many themes related to the connective nature of music, as well as the importance of family and tradition, but perhaps its most interesting aspect is its nuanced deconstruction of the importance of individualism, showcasing how fear of past individuals failures, slights, or mistakes, no matter how they are perceived, should ever dictate another individuals' aspirations, with Miguel as a character feeling restricted and slighted due to his relatives failures being unjustly placed onto him. From a technical perspective, Coco is simply stunning, featuring a vibrant and lively aesthetic which effectively transports the viewer to another world. The detail and time which goes into creating this world isn't lost on the viewer, as a film takes on a visceral nature of its own from its world-building alone. Featuring a tender message about the importance of family and remembrance, Pixar's Coco manages to be multilayered from a thematic perspective, appealing to both young and old both emotionally and intellectually, making it easily one of the best offerings from the studio over the past decade.
Woefully generic, overly didactic, and far too self-serious to be appreciated as "dumb fun", Dean Devlin's Geostorm is a trainwreck- a film which doesn't even provide a healthy dose of escapism through its CGI extravagant destruction due in large part to every aspect of the film feeling lifeless. Everyone involved with this film- actors, writers, computer graphics designers, etc. deliver a product which lacks any form of ingenuity or creativity, leaving the film tepid even its its more grandiose set-pieces of destruction.
Dane Kamljen's All the Cities of the North is a beguiling experience; a challenging film due to its complex formalism and ambiguous design which explores the crossroads in which individual and collective desires converge. Shrouded in minimalism, All The Cities of the North features absolutely no dialogue between its character, individuals who live in an abandoned complex, relying only off-screen narration to provide the audience with much of the film's deeper thematic assertions. All The Cities of the North explored concepts related to man's place among nature, the detachment we have built, evoking the isolation and desolation through a palatable aesthetic where plot is essentially non-existent. Politically, the film speaks about how the individual and the collective clash in any form of social order, detailing through this opaque love story how authority often subverts or mutates love, an assertion that applies to not only these characters but humanity as a whole. The federal commission, corporations, and government entities are all one in the same, various power structures that have impacted the region of Serbia, distorting the will of the people. Visually the visual design elicits the concepts of the film, with beautiful use of mise-en-scene where the structures in which these characters exist find themselves accentuated in every composition, characters themselves which represent the failings of these various power structures.
Sang-soo Hong's films manage to tap into such profound aspects of the human condition, doing so through deceivingly complex narratives, simplicity of style, and complex characterizations, all which combine to make some of the most singular, poignant visions about human emotion in all of contemporary cinema. With his most recent film, On The Beach At Night Alone, Hong's subject is celebrated actress Younghee, a woman whom finds herself at a crosssroads in life after having an affair with a married man. Through this character, Hong taps into the vast complexities of attempting to comprehend human emotion, showcasing a character in Younghee whom strives to find fulfillment both emotionally and intellectually, struggling with the pain and uncertainty associated with being in love with a married man. The irrational nature of love, passion, and desire is this character's bedside companion, as she struggles with issues of identity, attempting to grapple with both the internal and external forces which attempt define an individual. On the Beach At Night Alone perfectly encapsulates how societies implied or preconceived notions often attempt to collectivize individuals by placing them into a specific category, and through the character of Younghee we are shown the coercive effect which that can have on the individual, whom at least in some part is informed by this interpretation of oneself dictated by outside forces.
An astute piece of filmmaking which manages to transverse the coming-of-age storyline through its highly compelling characterizations and thematic assertions, Stephen Cone's Princess Cyd is a story about personal introspection and external companionship, detailing the evolving relationship between Aunt and Niece, two characters, who couldn't be more different, brought together by shared trauma and their own personal quest for fulfillment in life. Featuring a main protagonist in Cyd whom is inquisitive yet intrusive, driven by a care-free adolescent spirit which is intoxicating, Princess Cyd as a film divulges into a powerful testament to the paramount nature of personal fulfillment, juxtaposing this more care-free nature of Cyd with the more spiritual, reserved, and intellectual nature of her Aunt. These two characters while different, serve as a mirror to each other, a reflection, each of which challenging the other to find personal satisfaction and happiness in what they do and who they are. Through these two characters personal journey, the filmmakers capture how fulfillment in life is completely different from person to person, celebrating how our differences are what gives us strength, while rejecting the notion that there is any appropriate way to find happiness in life. Our shared experiences in life are often not related to personal interests, which vary from person-to-person, but in our shared pursuit of such fulfillment, the universal and connective aspect of our shared humanity which Princess Cyd exudes through its funny and poignant narrative.
Featuring a transformative performance by James Franco as the idiosyncratic Tommy Wiseau, The Disaster Artist is an absurdist comedy with heart, one which challenges the viewer not to leave with a smile on their face. While having seen The Room beforehand could certainly enhance the experience, The Disaster Artist is a film which works fine on its own, delivering a film about friendship, artistic drive, and the un-quantifiable nature of art. The Disaster Artist asserts the idea that while art is deeply personal, and comes from within, an artists work is often defined by others, with Wiseau's deeply-flawed The Room subverting the expectations of its artist and transforming into something unexpected by him: one of the most celebrated midnight movies of all time. A fun, absurdist comedy exploring the making of The Room, Franco's The Disaster Artist showcases an incredible success story of an artist whose soul was touched and status was elevated in ways in which he never intended.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.