Annihilation

Annihilation. I dig it. Interesting to see scifi that leans so much on biology. One of those slower exploratory scifi movies that later gets crossed with some truly horrific gore (Stalker meets The Thing?). Great score, especially the climactic scenes. The music was so… three-dimensional. It felt novel somehow to have a discernible rhythm in there, not a long fermata.

Song to Song

Song-to-Song

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:

  1. Days of Heaven (as if!)
  2. The New World
  3. Badlands
  4. The Thin Red Line
  5. The Tree of Life (maybe one spot higher?)
  6. Song to Song
  7. To the Wonder
  8. Knight of Cups

That is a solid body of work.

Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups. After I watched it I wrote some snarky tweets rolling my eyes at this movie having beautiful people walking aimlessly. I meant it, and I also still liked it. The interiority that’s getting stronger in his films is interesting for me. Not so much just watching the characters but riding along with them. Also, he’s the only person making weird idiosyncratically Malickian movies with big names, whenever he feels like it. However he’s getting it done, respect. Filed under: Terrence Malick.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I don’t know how you could watch the prequels and pick anyone other than Obi-Wan Kenobi as the coolest guy in the galaxy. I also appreciate that it undercuts the Jedi a bit. They are powerful and try to do some good, but they mess up a lot. I really dig the psychological battles and manipulation in this one. Great stuff. While Christensen is not a good actor, I buy into his tortured melodrama because I believe in Darth Vader’s arc. You’ll forgive a lot if the story is worth believing in. Would have loved more of that. Meanwhile, who the hell is General Grievous? (Know what’s cooler than two light sabers? Four light sabers!) Yeesh. Better than the other two prequels, I think, and a good way to close things out.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. One of my major complaints of the prequels is that everything looks so nice, and nothing really feels lived in. Very true in this one. I like that we get to hang out with Obi-Wan so much, doing private eye stuff, chasing down assassins. Overstuffed and scattered, though, and there’s just no way that Anakin & Padme fall in love. Teen Anakin is a nightmare. While I don’t see him in that relationship, I can start to feel for him here, just tragicomically buffeted by his emotions, absolutely at their mercy. The soundtrack is in peak form here, too.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Maybe it’s just that time has washed away the hurt and shattered expectations of 1999, but my thoughts after a second viewing:

If I learned anything from STAR WARS it’s to let go of hate and stuff and I realized episode 1 is kinda campy and charming on second watch?

The story is blah, the writing and acting is blah. But yet, I don’t regret watching it again. I love how every setting is packed with goofy species and local details, every cityscape is full of air traffic. If there is any saving grace, it is the soundtrack – the best part of all of the prequels.

Black Swan

Black Swan. This was ultimately a bit disappointing. Great performances from Portman, Cassel, et al. Once I got used to it, I liked the use of the up-close, claustrophobic, over-the-shoulder stalker cam. A lot of the camerawork struck me as pretty impressive. Great moments in cramped interiors and the rhapsodic, choreographed dances. There’s also the nice bonus that the movie draws from a kickass soundtrack that’s long been one of my favorites.

The trouble with this movie is that once you go the fantasy/hallucination/supernatural route, it’s very, very hard to do it in a fresh way. This is how we end up repeating clichés like mysterious bleeding, reflections in the mirror moving without the character moving, painted portraits coming to life, mysterious whispers of sound, the epileptic-ecstatic flashing lights drugged-up dance club scene, sightings of people who look like certain people but actually aren’t when you get up close, etc. I loved seeing the strain of dancers seeking physical perfection; the consumptive effects of artistic striving; and the psycho-sexual power games among family, rivals, mentors. That was mostly excellent. My groans started with how these things were visually manifested on-screen–it seems like a pile-on. I think it would have been a more engaging film without the fantasy.