Midsommar: This is the second movie from Ari Aster, director of Hereditary, and it's really good! Hereditary made me feel physically sick for a few days after I saw it, and Midsommar isn't quite so intense, but it's still a wonderful, almost Wicker-Man-esque horror movie. Aster has a knack for wallowing in incredibly uncomfortable moments of extreme emotion (grief and despair being some big go-tos), and the lead actress of Midsommar, Florence Pugh, feels like the perfect team up for him. She acts 'grief' as this almost physical force, like she's literally out of breath from pure, brutal despair, and it is... boy oh boy, it's really difficult to watch! Like, I don't know how else to put it; Hereditary and Midsommar both get super, super real and they had me squirming.
Midsommar is the story of some American teens being invited to participate in the strange, once-a-generation festival/ritual performed by a curious Swedish village, way up north where the sun stays out for the entire Summer. If you're thinking that they're all going to die, then... yeah, that's what happens. I feel like that isn't even a spoiler, to be honest. This ain't a twist movie. This ain't really a story or a character movie, either (Florence Pugh's incredible performance notwithstanding). The entire movie is the festival, an ever-escalating spectacle of bizarreness and gorgeous imagery where you simultaneously dread and can't wait for the next step of the ritual, and it's a real experience with a capital E. I highly recommend it.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: It's been a long time since I've watched this movie all the way through. I mostly just watch the fight scenes on Youtube when I need to get HOYPE for something, but I bought the 4K Blu Ray and wanted to remind myself what this bad boy is actually like. Turns out it's really good, but you already knew that. What I found interesting this time around is the unusual structure of it all. After an excellent opening act, a huuuuge chunk of the movie is devoted to a giant flashback to fill in Zhang Ziyi's character's back story, and the latter half of the movie feels a little rushed because of it. The script has Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat talking about settling down and living peacefully together, but there's only one brief scene of this before the action kicks up again for the big climax.
I never knew until recently that this movie was based on a book, actually the fourth of a five-book series, and I wonder if it's just the age-old problem of cutting a book down to fit it into a film's length. It's not bad, just a liiiittle on the rushed side. Oh well. You know what is absolutely 10/10, sandblast-my-face-clean-off, literally-can't-watch-them-without-tearing-up-a-little-bit, though? THESE FIGHT SCENES, oh my God you guys. I'm not going to post the one with all the weapons in the dojo, because we all know that's a Top 5 All Time-er already. I'm not going to post the one where Zhang Ziyi demolishes the whole restaurant. I'm not even going to post the one where Chow Yun Fat effortlessly beats Zhang Ziyi using a stick he finds on the ground. I'm going to post this one that I bet you don't even remember:
Michelle Yeoh is the absolute Queen of all martial arts movies and CTHD is her best performance ever. 100/10.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters: There were a few moments when I thought I might genuinely like this. It's kind of interesting in the beginning, and there's a lot of neato stuff with enormous underwater science bases and a massive aerial command centre that looks like some ridiculous boss plane from an Ace Combat game. I'm not up on my lore for... whatever this particular cinematic universe is called, so I don't know where all this Thunderbirds tech came from, but I can appreciate a cool underwater base and a big ol' plane that drops smaller planes out of its belly.
But this movie has a real problem with something I think I've brought up here before, which is a really uncomfortable disrespect for human life. Some of these big CGI blockbusters are just so brutal, showing scores of people being absolutely annihilated in explosions or plane crashes or monster lightning or whatever, and I really dislike it. Remember the innocent English lady in Jurassic World who gets graphically ripped apart by pterodactyls in a super uncomfortable, lingering scene? I'm talking about that kind of thing. These pointless, savage deaths that aren't given any thematic weight in the story and just feel like cruelty for cruelty's sake. There's a scene in this movie where Rodan kills an entire squadron of fighter pilots, and the camera keeps cutting to this graphic on a computer screen that shows the pilots' names and faces every time as if to say, "Yep, there was a real person in each of those planes, with a family, with hopes and dreams. A real person like you, with 20-30 years of experience on this planet. Think of all the people they touched in their lives. That spark is now gone from this world. Because a giant pterodactyl did a spinny-winny and blew everyone up".
I wish filmmakers wouldn't do that.
Anyway the movie's not good. It's a big CG spectacle that doesn't really rise above the ranks of every other big CG spectacle. Lots of people die pointlessly, even named characters, and it's one of those movies where you can feel that there's another hour of footage on the cutting room floor and neither the director nor the studio were particularly happy with the final edit. The movie can't decide whether it's going to have a real shot at the story of the human characters or if it's just going to be big monsters brawling. It's just another disposable blockbuster that nobody's going to think about ever again. Oh well.
The Handmaid's Tale: Season 3: I don't know why this show is still going. The first season was excellent, and it came around at just the right time, but we've long-since reached the point where the only reason the show's still going is so the cast and crew can keep their steady paycheques. It's just going round and round in circles, establishing plans and then sticking a spanner in the works, then dealing with the spanner and getting back to the original plan, then more spanners, on and on forever. I don't think I'm going to watch another season.
Dead Ringers: How's this for a premise: Jeremy Irons plays twins, both brilliant gynecologists, whose weird twin bond goes on the fritz over a woman they each become obsessed with, and then they steadily go mad? And what if I told you it's directed by David Cronenberg? I feel like I'm automatically interested any time you tell me that one actor is playing multiple characters, because that's just a bit of movie magic I'm always totally transfixed by (how do they do it, tho?), but then you've got that delicious Cronenberg grossness on top. It's great. You shouldn't watch it, but do it anyway.
- Florent likes this