The latest from Andrew Haigh (the director of my beloved Weekend), Lean on Pete is one of those films that I think I’ll appreciate more on rewatch because I won’t be anxious about what’s going to happen. More than a boy-and-his-horse movie, it reminded me a lot of Wendy and Lucy, a story about people trying to survive and getting by on the kindness of other people also trying to survive. It’s beautifully shot, and a very Northwest film (though it does commit one crime: it underuses Amy Seimetz).
One moment I’d like to highlight: some folks have taken in Charley for the evening, and once around the dinner table, the older man starts mocking his granddaughter – who is doing the cooking – for her weight. I tensed up, and she just took it, in a way that makes clear he does this all the time. What struck me about that scene was that none of the other three men around the table – including Charley – laughed. It’s a small thing, but it told me a lot about those characters and about their moral core. Told me something good about Haigh too.
Game Night was more fun than it had any right to be, a goofball comedy about a group of friends with a game night tradition that’s hijacked first by sibling rivalry and then by an actual kidnapping. I would have seen it sooner if I’d known it was co-directed by John Francis Daley (which also adds a little something extra to a child star joke).
A couple of nice touches include a montage at the start of the film showing the importance of gaming to the relationship between Rachel McAdams & Jason Bateman, also the clever use of tilt-shift in establishing shots, which had the effect of making the neighborhood and other settings look like game pieces on a board. But more importantly, it made me laugh a lot, & I was never too concerned that anyone would be seriously hurt. Primary takeaway? Sharon Horgan needs to be in more things because she’s terrific and I love her.
The best-directed film I’ve seen so far this year, You Were Never Really Here is excellent, but the sound design is extremely anxiety-inducing, & if you are sensitive, you might want to save it for home viewing. It’s a violent movie, but I appreciated that all of the real life violence is presented at a remove. There’s a particularly striking scene where Phoenix’s Joe is working his way through a house to rescue a girl, and we see the whole thing via the aftermath, bodies on a security camera. We’re so firmly in his head, it’s almost like he’s protecting us from the violence, as he’s trying to protect everyone else. He’s a traumatized character, and the film visually and aurally puts us right in the heart of that trauma. Also, the title screen? Chef’s kiss perfection. But be sure to schedule some time afterwards to just stare at the wall. You’ll need it.
A coworker asked me what Marvel movies he needed to see before Avengers: Infinity War & I basically wanted to lay down on the floor and cry. Which is also how I feel about writing about it. So I won’t. I will just say that today I ordered the complete series of The Leftovers.
So. This brings us to Isle of Dogs, which it took me four tries to see, despite the fact that I typically love Wes Anderson’s work (I have so many Criterion editions! And both of MZS’s books!). But this one turned me off right from the trailer where it’s supposed to be funny that we – the dogs & the audience – can’t understand Atari. It’s not funny, & lampshading it doesn’t make it funny. Cute dogs. Too bad about the racism. I could never get past it, which I kind of knew the first time Mayor Kobayashi speaks, unsubtitled, & people laughed for no reason I could fathom.
I wanted to like The Endless more than I did. Low budget scifi about a cult where maybe the cult is onto something? It’s clever, and it hangs together, but by the end of it I was just fucking sick of men. The Endless: lots of men affecting the plot, one dead woman, one waiting woman, one or two sex object women. Isle of only two lady Dogs. The Avengers: Infinite Chrises.
Anyway, whatever. That’s probably unfair to the movie, but life isn’t fair, princess. I did appreciate that The Endless chose an ending, because that kind of film too often doesn’t, & for a moment it looked like this wouldn’t either. But it did! Yay!
Thank god for Silent Movie Mondays, bringing the much-needed ladies, all hilarious and clever and driving the action of their own lives. Stage Struck: Gloria Swanson is a waitress trying to catch the eye of a young man who views her as a friend & has a soft spot for actresses, bonus points for ladies boxing. Little Annie Rooney: starring Mary Pickford in an adventure of kid gangs & grown-up gangs, a pair of rivalries with a tricky tonal balance. It featured a new live score & a terrific opening fight scene. Finally, Ella Cinders: Colleen Moore in a Hollywood update of the Cinderella story, but where she’s rewarded for being funny, not for being beautiful.
Home viewing was dominated by rewatching all the Captain America movies for obvious reasons, but also by devouring American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. I have a standalone entry on that over here.
Now I think I’ll go watch Dirty Computer again.