You have to give it to Netflix – I’m not sure another studio would’ve had the guts to fund a film as original and ridiculous as Velvet Buzzsaw. Part satire-part supernatural slasher flick, Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy reunites with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo to make a mockery of the LA art scene. It’s a world that’s ripe for parody, from the money-hungry agents to the pretentious critics and the assistants trying to get a foot in the door. There’s a lot of material to cover – and that might just be the problem.
Continue reading “The Insightful Satire of ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ is Lost Behind its Broad Brushstrokes”
I should start by saying Julie Andrews’ films were the foundation of my childhood. Mary Poppins, The Princess Diaries and The Sound of Music provided the soundtrack to the Abu Dhabi flat I shared with my family. It wasn’t until last year that I learned that the latter is almost three hours long — so entranced I was with Andrews’ balancing act of proper lady and free spirit, time seemed to melt away. So I entered the sequel to one of my formative films with measured expectations. Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns is certainly charming in the moment —its bright colours and jaunty musical numbers can make the feet of biggest skeptics tap— but after awhile the spell dissipates. On the drive home, I listened to the soundtrack — not to Mary Poppins Returns, but to the original film. Julie Andrews’ spoonful of sugar goes down much smoother.
Continue reading “‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Loses the Magic of the Original”
Suspiria is the devil dressed in tights and leotards. She allures and intrigues, disturbs and horrifies. Her body contorts into an array of grotesque positions. Limbs bend and break, bones protrude from taut skin. Yet the dance she performs is visceral, so fascinating it’s impossible to look away.
A remake of Dario Argento’s horror classic seems like an unexpected choice for Luca Guadagnino’s follow-up to Call Me By Your Name, but it’s a welcome change of pace. Mostly known for making movies about rich people lounging around pools in Italy, Guadagnino has instead transported us to 1970s Berlin. Though it should be said that this iteration of Suspiria is less a remake and more like the creepy cousin no one wants to talk to at the family gathering.
Continue reading “‘Suspiria’ is an Unholy Concoction of Blood and Guts”
Films about addiction are tough. They cut deep and are severe to the point of exploitation, and they’re never as raw or honest as Felix Van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy. This is an addiction story, but above that, it’s a story about family and the unconditional love borne from such a special, formidable bond.
Based on David and Nic Sheff’s respective memoirs, Beautiful Boy and Tweak, the film depicts their family’s struggle with methamphetamine addiction. Nic (Timothée Chalamet) is the addict, and David (Steve Carell) is the father trying to save him. This two-hander lends an added openness to confronting America’s crisis: addiction affects not only the user, but everyone around them. It doesn’t attempt to solve the crisis either, because it knows all too well that the road to recovery is long and treacherous.
Continue reading “BFI London Film Festival ’18: ‘Beautiful Boy’ Devastates with Bitter Truths about Addiction”
Most movies about space are mammoth beasts. They’re epic, vast, an attempt to capture as much of the endless void as the lens can handle. It’s surprising then that for a film of this scale, it wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate to call First Man a small movie. We’ve always looked at the moon landing as a momentous achievement for humanity, but fail to look at the humans who made it possible. Damien Chazelle, in his follow-up to almost best picture winner La La Land, corrects this and then some – First Man is an immersive, exhausting ride, on a physical and emotional level.
Continue reading “‘First Man’ is a Space Movie that Stays Grounded”
Unicorn Store is stuck in limbo. One year ago today, Brie Larson’s directorial debut premiered at Toronto to the excitement of many, only to receive an indifferent shrug in response. As a result, it has yet to be picked up for distribution, and likely never will. The film stars Larson as Kit, an art school dropout in stasis. Unable, or unwilling, to grow up, she still lives with her parents and shares the same obsessions as most six-year-old girls – the colour pink, sparkles, and glitter – she’s arts and crafts gone wild. Before she resigns herself to the monotony of adulthood, Samuel L. Jackson appears like a fairy godfather with the fashion sense of Jeff Goldblum and the promise of what she wants most: A unicorn. I caught Unicorn Store at Edinburgh Film Festival (its second and probably last festival stop), and to my surprise, I fell in love fast. I laughed a lot, but I also cried – the film’s sweet sentimentality wraps around you like a blanket. It’s also a smarter film than it lets on. While it understands the comedic possibilities of a 20-something who believes in unicorns, it never treats Kit like a joke – the script maintains a subversively sharp wit.
Continue reading “An Ode to Brie Larson’s ‘Unicorn Store’”