The Lost City of Z. I had my eyes on this movie for so, so long. It was the one 2017 film that I was really craving. And I’d loved the book when I read it a few years back, so I had high hopes. All hopes fulfilled! I will watch this one again.
Crimson Peak. This was the opener at Ebertfest when I went a couple months ago. I loved it the first time and it was even better with an enthusiastic crowd in an old theater. Felt like an event. The anticipation helps a lot, and having the director on hand to talk about his movie does, too. One of my favorite lines from Guillermo Del Toro’s awesome Q&A that night:
I don’t make eye candy. I make eye protein.
He shared background on the influences, comparisons and similarities to Jane Eyre and Frankenstein, which have a similar sense of loss and abandonment, and to a few Hitchcock movies – Rebecca, Suspicion, Notorious – as more recent gothic romances where love ends in conflagration. In this one the heroine’s experience of love goes hand-in-hand with the experience of death.
He also talked a lot about the unity of construction through the whole thing. How the story is told in architecture (different architectural styles through the house and each floor, the differing levels of moral order and corruption), in costume (Chastain’s blue dress borrows architectural elements from the house; another draws influence from her association with moth vs. Wasikowska’s butterfly; she’s the only person to wear red, etc.), and in sets (oversized chairs when our heroine takes ill).
Aside from the movie itself, I also enjoyed hearing Del Toro talk about two approaches to evaluating a movie. One, as a viewer, does it do its job? Like, did you feel like you wasted your time? And another way is to approach it as a piece of art – taking into account the context, influences, intentions – did it meet its goals?
Crimson Peak. Marketed as one thing, gives you something better. Loved this beautiful heightened melodrama, everything so grand and loaded.
Deadfall. There’s some good northern winter noir here and there, but it’s not consistent. I wonder if a different, shorter edit would have worked better for me. The Place Beyond the Pines is a better exploration of family relationships + law enforcement. The Grey is a better snowbound film where the odds are stacked from the beginning. I should re-watch both of those.
Pacific Rim. It’s a pretty mediocre-to-bad movie that I had a lot of fun watching. The dialogue is merely serviceable when it isn’t just blatant crib notes for the audience. It borrows from many good sources (Japanese montster/mecha/anime traditions, Top Gun, Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Aliens, and more…), but doesn’t rise to their level. It trades in some really terrible international typing. The comic-relief duo is cringe-worthy. It also got caught in a weird zone where it was too long, they edited it down so there are strange gaps and emotional undertones that aren’t prepared well. And it’s still too long. And yet… I had fun. Guess I lucked out with good company and a good attitude that afternoon. The fights are good corny spectacles that activated my brain’s primitive comic fanboy region. It’s not good, but you might have a good time.