People will tell you that Parasite is best if you dive in with no knowledge whatsoever of the story. Respectfully, I disagree. If you’re familiar with Bong Joon-ho’s more mainstream oeuvre such as The Host (2006), Snowpiercer (2013), and Okja (2017), you’d probably expect this to be an action-packed sci-fi flick –– even the title of “Parasite” suggests a gruesome creature feature. Instead, Bong keeps the satirical elements of his previous work while simultaneously ensuring the constantly-shifting-but-mostly dark tone stays consistently grounded, making his latest feature feel more akin to his Korean-language crime-drama Mother (2009) than anything else he’s made before. The one aspect every single one of Bong’s films have in common? An incisive injection of spot-on socio-political commentary. And this is his sharpest yet.Continue reading “‘Parasite’ is Bong Joon-ho’s Best to Date, Richly Layered with Metaphor and Socio-Political Satire”
Watching a Pedro Almodóvar film comes with certain expectations. Loud, outrageous, female-fronted melodrama has become his trademark, and he works it beautifully. For decades he has managed to walk the fine line between bad taste and camp almost perfectly as in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Volver, and even his few misfires (What Have I Done To Deserve This?) are worth admiring in their transgressive nature.
This is why Pain and Glory, his 21st feature, might surprise even his fervent followers for its sober tone and austere aesthetic. It’s Almodóvar at his most earnest, without the tricks and shock value. Some of his idiosyncrasies are present, and the movie doesn’t lack his usual moments of levity, but even the comedic aspects ring sincere. He hasn’t made it a secret that this is an autobiographical piece of work, and though only he can attest to how personal it is, it definitely reads as honest.Continue reading “‘Pain and Glory’ Finds Pedro Almodóvar Reckoning With His Past”
The bobby-cars are having a bad day. One by one, they are hurled at the shatterproof glass door, which separates the grey and sparse courtyard of the youth detention centre from the inside of the building. Even though the door withstands, it isn’t over yet. With a loud groan, nine-year-old Benni runs to crash one of the toy vehicles into the door. A little CGI crack shows in the glass, just as the neon-pink title-card foreshadows that this is so much more than just about a broken door.
Some films make you emotional, some render you contemplative, while others fill you up with a creeping sensation of hope or despair. But only few manage to completely sweep you off your feet by offering a nuanced, empathetic portrayal of trauma and mental illness. In this respect, the recent German arthouse film System Crasher arrives like a furious marathon runner with a megaphone. A more apt description of is “wucht”, the German synonym to “stunner.”Continue reading “‘System Crasher’ Will Not Leave Your Mind For Some Time”
Every town has an urban legend. In my hometown, there was the Goatman, hills where your car would get pushed uphill by ghosts, crybaby bridge, and much more. For director Matthew Currie Holmes, his hometown legend is Buckout Road, located in Westchester County of upstate New York State. It is rumored to be the most haunted road in the U.S., so of course, Holmes had to make a horror movie about it. His debut feature film, The Curse of Buckout Road, takes a few of the tales associated with the haunted road and weaves them into a horror movie perfect for lovers of urban legend.
Aaron Powell (Evan Ross) has traveled back to his small hometown to visit his grandfather and local psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Powell (Danny Glover). While trying to get back into a routine, Aaron realizes something horrible is happening around town and it seems to be linked to the cursed Buckout Road. Three college students, Cleo (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and twins Derek (Jim Watson) and Erik (Kyle Mac), did a class project on the road and how its stories are just stories. But, after being plagued by horrific nightmares that center on Buckout Road, they fear they’ve been cursed by whatever haunts their town. They must all band together to figure out if they can defeat whatever forces lurk on Buckout Road.
The world as seen through a kaleidoscope is not exactly real, but it’s not not real, either. It is a marvel of physics, filtering reality into dozens of refracted shapes and creating a world that belongs only to you, if only for a moment, in which the utterly ordinary is suddenly anything but.
Created by BoJack Horseman alum Kate Purdy and BoJack creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Amazon’s new animated series Undone follows Alma (Rosa Salazar, magnetic), a young woman whose mundane existence is one day, for lack of a more precise word, kaleidoscoped. Following a car accident, Alma unlocks an ability to see, manipulate, and travel across space and time. Soon after, the spirit figure of her dead father Jacob (Bob Odenkirk) tasks her with solving the mystery of his untimely death one Halloween night years ago.Continue reading “Reality Unravels In The Dazzling, Slow-Burning ‘Undone’”
October is finally upon us! It’s the time for cozy sweaters, making everything taste like pumpkin and, most importantly, horror films. Of course, sometimes it can be hard to decide what to watch, and if you are anything like me one is never enough. That is why, for each week in the month of October, Much Ado About Cinema’s Monster Mash series is providing you with a double feature program and delving into why and how they go together like fava beans and a nice Chianti.Continue reading “Monster Mash: Medicalization of the Female Body in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Exorcist’”
For the second time this year, Brad Pitt has delivered a film that shatters audience expectations. Some went into Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood expecting a flashy, vengeful bloodbath. Instead, they received a hazy hang-out film, only slightly blood-spattered. Some will go into James Gray’s
BrAd Astra expecting an action-packed cosmic thriller filled with high-speed moon buggy chases and laser blaster fights. Instead, they’ll receive a languid character study centered on Roy McBride (Pitt), a top-level Sad Astra-naut who desperately needs to go to therapy.
Rather, McBride’s superiors opt to send him to space on a deeply emotional mission to make contact with his estranged Dad Astra (Tommy Lee Jones), further destabilizing his already shaky mental state. As they explain to him the possibility of his father’s survival, his entire posture almost imperceptibly changes. His eyes twitch with the effort of repressing his true emotions, and his chest rises and falls with a newfound velocity, indicating that his static pulse that famously never goes above 80 bpm is pounding away underneath the polished layers of his military uniform.