Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Five Fast Reviews

I have some catching up to do! I've allowed a ton of movies to slip through my fingers that deserve a word or two or a couple hundred times that. And what with the New York Film Festival screenings starting in about a week and a half it's best I pound these small quick thoughts out before time and space and all the things that make up the very fabric of our reality turn against me. Wouldn't want that! So here we are. Quick thoughts on five movies I've seen recently.

Support the Girls -- An open-hearted, hysterically funny wee little marvel - hands down one of the great films of the year, and one that will be remembered with great love and affectionate devotion for as long as people still appreciate the movies. I couldn't adore it more. I wanna hold it tight to my chest and just squeeze and squeeze. Like all the best cinematic surprises it shows us a world we didn't think we'd have much interest spending our time in - in this case sweating it out among the buxom waitresses of a southern so-called "Breastaurant" a la Hooters - and shows us people, delightful and real-sized people, just doing their best, and then it makes us want the best for them in return.

I fell in love with every single damn character. Haley Lu Richardson's peppy Maci, all cheerleader smiles and hard-earned millennial life lessons, Shayna McHayle's drop-shouldered Danyelle, whose fall-dead-to-the-floor-funny smart-assed remarks get to the point way quicker than her "get there when she gets there" attitude ever will. And holding them all together in an ever tighter and sweatier grip is Regina Hall's Lisa, whose day we watch crumble around her and who never feels even the slightest bit indecent or cruel, who somehow radiates the best a person can be even among the chicken bone littered pavement of a strip mall seventh hell. I am going to hold these girls tight forever.

Papillon-- I can't judge this remake against the original Steve McQueen film because I never got around to seeing the original Steve McQueen film like I meant to - I say that as if the door's closed on that ever happening now, as if the remake has murdered the original film dead, aka the thing most people seem to fear whenever remakes are announced. It's okay, lovers of Steve McQueen, the original Papillon is not dead! There's no need to find Charlie Hunnam and slap him silly. (No reasons besides the usual perverse sexual ones anyway.) 

Anyway this here remake, on its own divorced from the original, is perfectly adequate. I don't regret the two hours I spent with it on a blistering hot August afternoon for free with the probable last gasp of my Moviepass card. Charlie Hunnam looks like a god, even when he's wizened down to his starvation weight - he pulls it off with more panache than Christian Bale did, that's for sure - and he and Rami Malek have a nice easy chemistry that carries the film across the finish line. Am I going to remember the film a year from now? Hell I hardly remember much here two weeks out from having seen it. But it's no disaster. Steve McQueen can stop his rolling.

Summer of '84 -- Sometimes nasty is its own reward and Summer of 84' proves itself shockingly mean-spirited in its last act - long after the adequately pleasant drafts of the Papillon remake have drifted off I'll still get woozy nightmare flashes of some of what this flick ends up having up its velour sleeves. That said it's mostly familiar stuff until then - it's Stranger Things if Stranger Things turned genuinely indecent after watching a Faces of Death video-tape instead of just nodding towards some Speilbergian show-offery.

In the true demerit column it did mark the first time I've groaned at the currently ubiquitous John Carpenter riffing electronic score that every Eighties ode gloms onto - it's just too too obvious a choice now for this movie, this movie right here; it needed to shake things up in some departments and that's the worst obvious offender. But I gotta say this thing, with its genuine sense of impossible stranger danger, felt more true to its time period than Stranger Things ever has - coming from a kid who mother made him watch the true-crime kidnapping classic Adam more than once to brand that feeling in that's not empty platituding either.

Let the Corpses Tan -- French writer-director duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani have made themselves a nice little career out of dosing Vintage Eurotrash with buckets of LSD and tossing it in the Tie-Dyed Spin Cycle - their previous two movies Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears were technicolor riffs on 70s sleaze and giallo, and Let the Corpses Tan still contains some of that vibe, just now with a hefty batch of Spaghetti Western to boot.

These movies are what they are - I find their soulless style slightly exhausting to be honest, but I'm glad I finally got to see one on a big screen because visually they're always magnificent; some of the most dynamic image-making being done today. I wish they could maybe find a way of putting something approximating human beings in their movies, instead of just posturing genre mannequins, but I don't know if that's actually possible while also achieving the nigh experimental highs they do reach, carving reality up into fragmented chunks of pretty pretty artifice like this. There's no room for even the spiky humanity of Tarantino dialogue here. There's no room for human. But man, it glitters.

The Little Stranger -- Old-fashioned in the best of ways, Lenny Abrahamson's ghost story gives up even less than the formidable stalwarts of its genre - it wasn't until I was sitting on the subway headed back to my house that I finally began piecing together the luxuriously hushed puzzle of this trusty spooker. Don't g into The Little Stranger expecting much in the way of snapping fangs or even Jessica Chastain's bloody cleavage a la Crimson Peak - this movie's as interiorized as it gets; The Haunting for the medicated age.

I don't want to dive too hard into details then, lest I give up the, what's it called, oh right the ghost, but everybody's very good (special shout-out to Ruth Wilson's repressed lesbian frump and then of course Domhnall's mustache) and even better on the same page - nobody over-does it, everybody keeps even keel, lest they tip this very fragile thing over and smash its tone in the process. It remains itself whole hog, and I fore-see it having a long shelf-life once its mysteries worm their way into our subconsciousness for serious.


mangrove said...

To whomever bought the rights to ‘Let The Corpses Tan’ in the US: please release it on Blu-ray! We only got a crappy DVD here in France and I wanna enjoy every last golden streak of that movie in HD! And it’s awesome soundtrack.

Anonymous said...

In the meantime you can get Christophe’s La Route de Salina and enjoy non stop the main theme used by cineastes extraordinaires Cattet and Forzani, i find their movies the best unsurpassed cinematic experiences of the last years, i do not need any humans when i am getting those shots and that editing and all the amazing joy they bring to my soul, well yes you can say i love them very much

Scot said...

Amazing! you call these reviews and yet you don't tell us what these movies are about! these are opinions not reviews. I think the main reason most people go watch a movie is because they're intrigued by the plot or somebody they like is in it. not because of somebody's opinion.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the Support The Girls comments. I’d dismissed it out of hand, based on subject matter, and now I’ll go see it.

Jason Adams said...

Scot - I assume when I do these quick things that people, being on the internet and all, have access to google and can do a little of that work themselves. I even link to their IMDB pages, which will tell you the plot right there in two easy to digest sentences. Anyway I have smart readers who already know movie stuff by the time they find themselves here! That's my assumption, anyway.

Sarah - I had dismissed STG for awhile myself. A friend of mine that I trust loved it, so I figured I'd give it a try, and I am so glad I did. Hope you feel the same.

mangrove said...

You can all breathe a sigh of relief: the Blu-ray for Corpses has just been announced by Chat Qui Fume.

And thanks to Anon for the Salina OST tip.