Written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd & Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari
Directed by Peyton Reed
Scott Lang has been under house arrest for two years, captured and extradited back to the United States after his role in Captain America’s insurrection. Lang only has a couple days left in his sentence when he is hit with visions of Janet van Dyne, the presumed dead wife of the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym. Before he knows it Lang is sneaking out of his home aiding Pym and his daughter Hope. They are trying to keep ahead of the pursuing FBI, a criminal cartel, and the mysterious phasing villain Ghost.
Ant-Man & The Wasp is not a terrible film, it’s a perfectly middle of the road, formulaic forgettable fare. What keeps the movie somewhat engaging is the always charismatic Paul Rudd and the film’s willingness to acknowledge some of the absurd tropes of the superhero genre. These elements were present in the first film but here there are moments where the director allows them to run wild. There are some short improvisational moments involving the trio of fellow ex-cons that work alongside Lang. The humor feels strained to say the least near the end of the picture.
If you step back and look at the picture as a whole, you find there is very little there other than an extremely stretched out plot that amounts to about 90 mins worth of material made to work for over two hours. There’s a car chase that is prolonged by playing with the shrinking and growing powers of our title characters but after a few iterations you sort of get the point and wonder what else there is to offer. I wasn’t an overjoyed fan of Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War however both of those films do a much better job of creating emotional investment in characters because the stakes feel genuinely high. I never once felt that Lang and his cohorts were actually in peril. Maybe this is by design, but after seeing how wide in scope Infinity War reached it causes Ant-Man to feel diminished.
All of this said, Ant-Man highlights one of the problems in the ongoing DC V Marvel film debate. Ant-Man & The Wasp has much more in common with Richard Donner’s classic Superman film than a single picture released by Warner Brothers in the last six years. Donner managed to balance humor and more serious material which is what makes Superman a very charming film. While Peyton Reed doesn’t ascend to those heights he does remember something Mr. Snyder has forgotten: These movies should be fun.
Cleo is a maid in 1970s Mexico City, working at a home in the Colonia Roma neighborhood for a doctor and his family. The patriarch of the family leaves for a work trip to Quebec which is quickly revealed to be an excuse to leave his family. Cleo works to serve the family while living a private life beyond their gaze. She finds out she is pregnant after a series of dates with her new boyfriend, Fermin. He shows little interest in staying to gather her child and Cleo is left to reveal her condition to her employer. In the background, cultural and political strife in Mexico are unfolding, and from time to time these conflicts cross over into Cleo and her employers’ lives. Otherwise, Roma unfolds as an unassuming slice of life picture.
Brady Blackburn was a rising star on the rodeo circuit until he suffers brain damage after being thrown from a bronco. He’s back home now, a metal plate in his head and bouts of nausea unsure of his future as a rider. In the meantime, his father and sister share a trailer with him struggling against poverty. Brady works through his pride and gets a job working at a local grocery store trying to keep the family afloat. However, always lingering in the back of his mind is this hunger to get back up on a horse again. He tests the waters by helping a couple of people break stallions they’ve recently purchased and feels the pull. Brady even saves up money and gets help from his dad to buy an Arabian named Apollo that he sees as a path to recovery and his future. But something inside Brady keeps telling him this dream may be over.
Cold War (2018) Written Pawel Pawlikowski & Janusz Glowacki (with collaboration from Piotr Borkowski) Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
In 1949, Wiktor Warski and two colleagues traveled across rural Poland recording the folk music of the peasants. Using these recordings, they open a music school where they audition youths to become part of a traveling repertoire that will highlight the vanishing old world culture of the nation. Wiktor is instantly smitten by Zula, a young woman who shows remarkable will. The two quickly get caught up in a love affair. As the students perform they gain acclaim and interest from the Communist Party who pressures them to write a song about Stalin in the style of Polish folk music. This begins a fracturing and leads Wiktor to plan a defection when they travel to perform in the Soviet sector of Berlin. From there Wiktor and Zula start a thirteen-year-long struggle, falling in and out of love, drawn to each other by some invisible force greater than themselves.
The Tale (2018) Written & Directed by Jennifer Fox
Jennifer Fox is a successful documentarian and film professor, in her 40s living in New York City. Life is great for her. Then her mother calls upset because she found one of Jennifer’s short stories she wrote when she was in middle school. She sends the story to her daughter who suddenly begins to recall the summer of her thirteenth year that she spent living with a horseback riding teacher, Mrs. G. A neighbor, Bill, was having an affair with Mrs. G and worked as a running coach to make sure Jennifer and the two other girls attending kept in shape. But Jennifer doesn’t remember what happened completely right and as she speaks with others her memories shift and change. She had thought she was fifteen at the time — the details of Mrs. G and Bill’s relationship blur. Also, most important of all Jennifer remembers having a relationship with Bill as well. The deeper she goes, the more she uncovers and clarifies.
Sorry To Bother You (2018) Written & Directed by Boots Riley
Cassius Green is elated when he gets a job as a telemarketer for RegalView. He has some trouble though while trying to sell leatherbound books of nonsense nobody needs. An older coworker explains that Cassius needs to use his “white voice,” that voice white people think they are supposed to sound like; that voice with an air of relaxation and no worries. Suddenly Cassius becomes a power caller rocketing to a major promotion. Meanwhile, his friends and fellow telemarketers fight to form a union and demand better pay. Cassius begins selling contracts for WorryFree, a program that offers struggling families help with “lifetime labor contracts,” essentially slavery. As Cassius climbs higher and higher, he comes in contact with dangerously influential figures and learns the dark secrets planned for humanity.
Burning (2018) Written by Jungmi Oh & Chang-dong Lee Directed by Chang-dong Lee
Jong-su Lee is from a rural community north of Seoul but travels down to the big city to do odd jobs. While on one of these gigs he runs into Hae-mi, a woman he grew up with but only has faint memories of. They go out for drinks, and she explains how she’s going on a trip to Africa soon and wonders if he would stop by and feed her cat while she’s gone. Lee comes over to her apartment where they have sex, and then his life becomes distracted by his father’s arrest for assault and caring for the farm. When Hae-mi returns from her vacation she has Ben in two, the only other Korean she met while in Africa. Ben immediately captures her attention, and any feelings she had for Lee seem to have evaporated. However, Lee feels that there is something off about Ben, a man who makes money through mysterious circumstances and admits he doesn’t understand the emotions of other people. Lee fears that something terrible is going to happen to Hae-mi.