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.
The Avengers. The basic plot mechanics are a bit tired, but I am not ashamed to admit how satisfying it is to see the whole gang together after seeing others in the Marvel series. A couple neat camera moments (Cap in the rearview and a POV shot that flips along with the car it’s inside of). Nothing quite like the joy/terror of Hulk being Hulk. I really wish Renner had more to work with.
Thor. Funny to compare this to my experience watching The Dark Knight Rises. While just as gee-whiz/fun/bad, this one was much less ambitious and much less exasperating. A lesson in expectations. I expect Captain America to remain my favorite of the Marvel series, followed by the first Iron Man, then Thor, then Iron Man II. I guess that leaves The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers on my to-watch list.
Midnight in Paris.
That’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying.
I really liked this one. Fun exploration of nostalgia, heroes, joie de vivre, being true to yourself, etc. And I love our hero’s giddy, can’t-believe-his-luck enthusiasm. This might be my favorite Owen Wilson performance ever. There’s a few characters who are only light caricatures for purposes of contrast, but that’s Woody Allen for you. I do love how the elements of scifi/fantasy here are a given, accepted, no explanation required.
It’s been a while since my last Woody Allen film. My updated rankings, though maybe it’s been too long a time for this to be definitive:
- Annie Hall
- Midnight in Paris
- The Purple Rose of Cairo
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Match Point