It was refreshing, even while in the midst of the bounty of SIFF, to see a film that is so overtly and unapologetically *about* something. In the case of First Reformed, it’s the moral issue of climate change as seen through the eyes of a pastor experiencing a crisis of faith while leading a shrinking congregation at a church that exists mostly as a historical artifact. Restrained framing, quiet pacing, and strong performances draw us into this haunting story. Turns out, between this and Novitiate, I do find movies about Christian faith to be interesting after all. They just have to be good.
How Long Will I Love U is a high-concept romcom about two people living in the same apartment twenty years apart. I gotta say, folks, if you’re missing romance in cinema, you need to start paying attention to Chinese film. They’ve got you covered. In this one, she’s from 2018 & he’s from 1999. Their apartments converge because of reasons that are actually explained (which I disliked at first – I don’t need explanations – but then came around on as the film became about choosing the life you want to lead instead of the one you think you should want). They explore the differences between the worlds, discover their unexpected connections to each other, and get their HEA. What more do you want?
Ocean’s 8 is an all-lady situation that I can’t be rational about. It’s perfectly cast, albeit merely competently directed. It’s also frothy and forgettable, which is fine, because that’s a perfect excuse to see it again. It’s also queer as fuck, and anyone who tells you different is a liar.
I’m still not over how the trailer for Hereditary seemed to promise a story entirely different in plot from what it gave us, but entirely accurate in tone. It begins as a melodrama, a family tearing itself apart from grief, and it could have honestly stayed that way and been effective and grueling in a completely different way. I loved how the tilt shift effect – recently used comically in Game Night to make the neighborhood look like a game board – here is haunting, making the home a dollhouse, and by extension, the family into dolls, characters moved about by fate. And I will definitely be watching it again, keeping my eyes open for all the wicked details I’m sure I missed the first time around.
Finally, winner of the SIFF 2018 Golden Space Needle award for Best Director, The Guilty is a single-location thriller, set in an emergency dispatch center, and with the action unwinding through phone calls. No one has all of the information, not the cop, not his caller, and not the audience. Pretty effective, even though I figured out most twists right before they happened.