Song to Song. Rooney Mara might be the best dizzy princess Malick’s ever had. This one also has some of the best music. It’s also one of the few Malick’s to ever make me laugh multiple times. I was surprisingly swept up for the first hour or so. And yet… the staying power wasn’t there for me. Still good, though.
Updated Terrence Malick power rankings:
- Days of Heaven (as if!)
- The New World
- The Thin Red Line
- The Tree of Life (maybe one spot higher?)
- Song to Song
- To the Wonder
- Knight of Cups
That is a solid body of work.
The Neon Demon. This is Nicolas Winding Refn‘s best movie, haters. I think it was More Than One Lesson, their episode on this movie, where Tyler Smith talked about this being a perfect pairing: Refn loves image and surface and sheen, and here he finds characters to match. Mirrors everywhere, all-consumptive. Don’t forget it’s a horror movie.
My Refn power rankings:
- The Neon Demon
- Only God Forgives
- Valhalla Rising
A Ghost Story. I loved this movie. I will probably put it on my favorites-of-2018 list. I like this view of ghosts as sort of outside of time, in both directions. Ghosts as unfinished business. Ghosts with flaws and hang-ups. And the idea that places are saturated with history, and by the same token history isn’t just events in time but in a space. Solid soundtrack, too.
Silence. I confess: I got bored. Maybe someday a different me will have a better go of it. Filed under: Martin Scorsese.
All the Money in the World. It’s perfectly fine! I didn’t know until afterward they re-shot so much of the movie. I respect it for that more than I actually enjoyed it. I will probably never see it again, which always feels a little bit bittersweet. Filed under: Ridley Scott.
War for the Planet of the Apes. Kind of a bummer. At first I was really into the melodrama. Eventually, it became very tedious. It seemed like they were stopping for a sappy moment every 5-10 minutes. The Gollum/Jar Jar ape didn’t help. I also don’t understand why a crucial character uses a crossbow in a world with guns. Another hang-up was that I couldn’t figure out how the world fit together. That’s one thing I liked about Rise… and Dawn… – the geography was clear. You knew who was where. This one started in those awesome rainforests, then moved to a snowscape, and then to the Sierras? Or Tahoe? The previous ones were strong in that they felt like our world. I don’t know what happened to it here. Bummer. Filed under: Planet of the Apes.
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.
Margaret. The first film of the new year was so damn good. Takes the everyday and shows its operatic moments. The surly, volatile teen protagonist is all of us at some point, many points – heroes of our own story, center of the universe, disappointed by and disappointing those who care about us. One especially nice touch is the sound. Throughout there are interludes where you hear snippets of other conversations, city life, sometimes even more clearly than the main characters. Loved it. Bright Wall/Dark Room did an entire issue about Margaret; lots of good reading there. The only other Lonergan movie I’ve seen is Manchester By the Sea. Solid, but I’d rank this one way, way higher.
Heat. A half-dozen screenings and it keeps on delivering. One thing that really stood out this time was the use of the color blue with McCauley’s character.
For example, early on, there’s the famous shot at his house, echoing Colville’s “Pacific” painting, but saturated in a moody blue. This is McCauley as the cool, remote professional. During a following celebration dinner with his team, you see his appreciation and envy of his crew’s families. He goes to call Eadie. The shot of him on the phone has the frame split in half. He’s on the left against a cool blue background, the right side is warmer. In the course of conversation with her he steps from left to right. Later in the movie, McCauley is on his way to escape, home-free. He gets a farewell call from Nate, who also tells him where Waingro is. He dismisses the idea of going back, and keeps driving, content. The camera stays on him at the wheel, and we can see through the rear window. As he enters a tunnel the lighting is a bright wash… that transitions to blue. He turns grim and decides on revenge before escape.
Speaking of Waingro, interesting how his actions play up the appetites. In his introduction, he’s looking for more coffee before the score. After the heist, he’s smugly enjoying some pie while the main crew stares at him in disdainful silence. Later we see him with cigarettes, booze, women.
Last little clever bit: in the course of the famous diner meeting, McCauley mentions, “There is a flip side to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down?” At the final climax, we see McCauley escaping into the airfield, making his last stand behind a shed, backgrounded with its large checkerboard pattern. Boxed in, the chess match coming to its endgame.
Filed under: Heat.
The Dark Knight. Second viewing. (The first). It’s not good enough to carry its thematic weight. But Ledger is brilliant. That scene meeting with the mob… (“You’re crazy.” / “I’m not. No. I’m not.”) …chills.
The Village. I’d heard it was among the better of Shyamalan’s but I wasn’t expecting such a… masterpiece? So very, very good. Imagery and structure and theme and camerawork and characterization is all dialed in and thoughtful.
Into the Wild. Man, this dude, as portrayed, was insufferable. Awesome cast.
One Hour Photo. One thing I’ve come to regret is that I disliked Williams’ sillier movies so much I ignored most of his other roles for a long time. A solid, creepy score and a solid, creepy lead.
Once Upon a Time in the West. Third viewing. (First, second.) I heard a snippet of Jill’s Theme and there was no looking back. I had to watch it ASAP. One of my favorite movies, top 5 for sure. Filed under: Sergio Leone.
The Fountain. Second viewing. (The first.) I think I have to bump this up to my favorite Aronofsky. Izzy’s lines drive me a little nuts. Thematic bludgeons. But the visuals, the score, acting, tone, mood, and everything else that’s supporting the themes: on point. Filed under: Darren Aronofsky.