Movie Review – Her

Her (2013)
Written & Directed by Spike Jonze

Theodore is a recent divorcee who has receded from life outside his work/home bubble. This reclusive nature changes when he installs an advanced artificial intelligence on his networked devices. She calls herself Samantha, a name she picked because she liked how it sounded. Samantha and Theodore feel a spark between them, but for obvious reasons, there is reticence and awkwardness. Eventually, they begin a relationship, and both of them find great solace in their intimacy. Samantha starts developing as a being, frustrated with her lack of physical form but finding emotional satisfaction in her day to day life with Theodore. Theo struggles to accept the finality of his divorce, the pangs of a love he thought was forever lingering in his heart.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Her”
Advertisements

Movie Review – The Lovers

a24 visions

The Lovers (2017)
Written & Directed by Azazel Jacobs

the lovers

Mary and Michael have been married for over a quarter of a century. Their marriage hasn’t gone up in a cloud of smoke, but it has fizzled to the point they both have secret affairs. Michael has told Lucy that after their son’s visit in the next week he will announce he is leaving his wife. At the same time, Mary has told Robert she will sit everyone down during their son’s visit and relay the new changes coming. However, Mary and Michael wake up in each other’s arms one morning. One thing leads to another, and they are suddenly having an affair with each other behind their lovers’ backs. When their son, Joel and his girlfriend arrive, things get even more complicated.

Continue reading “Movie Review – The Lovers”

Movie Review – Obvious Child

a24 visions

Obvious Child (2014)
Written by Anna Bean, Karen Maine, & Gillian Robespierre
Directed by Gillian Robespierre

obvious child

Donna Stern is an amateur stand-up comedian in New York City whose life, while not the greatest of successes, is comfortable and stable. Then her boyfriend breaks up with her admitting he was cheating with one of her friends. The bookstore that provides her primary source of income announces it is closing. And then she meets Max, a young businessman who happens to stop by the bar/club where she performs stand up. After a night of drunken fun, she parts ways with Max and begins to move on with her life. The bombshell that hits Donna is that she is pregnant. Right away she knows she has to have an abortion, her life is in no way prepared for a child. However, Max keeps walking into her life, and Donna feels like she has to break this news to him.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Obvious Child”

Movie Review – Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Written by James Ivory
Directed by Luca Guadagnino

call me by your name

Elio is the son of academics living in northern Italy. He spends his days consuming books and composing piano pieces. He is also in friendship with local girl Marzia where the beginnings of attraction are forming. Summer looks to be a monotonous season until Oliver arrives. Oliver is an American doctoral student who has come to get the aid of Elio’s father in revising his dissertation. Elio finds himself drawn to Oliver and even feeling pangs of jealousy when it appears the older man fancies a woman in town. As Elio explores and discovers himself in this formative year, he becomes aware of his feelings for Oliver. First, with some anger, he tries to push them aside, and finally, he confesses all of this to Oliver who reciprocates.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Call Me By Your Name”

Movie Review – The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water (2017)
Written by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor
Directed by Guillermo del Toro

shape of water

Elisa Esposito lives in Baltimore circa the early 1960s. She is mute since birth and works as a cleaning woman at a government laboratory. Her only friends are Zelda, a fellow cleaner, and Giles, her neighbor who is a closeted gay man. One night while working, a new specimen is brought into the lab by Colonel Strickland. The creature was discovered in the South American rainforest and is a humanoid fish person. Elisa feels a connection to this poor animal and worries as Strickland oversees his torture. A plan begins to develop, and Elisa becomes determined to help her new friend escape this nightmare existence.

Continue reading “Movie Review – The Shape of Water”

Movie Review – The Big Sick

The Big Sick (2017)
Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Directed by Michael Showalter

the big sick.jpg

Kumail is an aspiring stand up comedian in Chicago who is under the constant shadow of his mother’s search for a wife. While he manages to avoid the expectations of his Pakistani heritage while keeping his family happy, Kumail chances to meet Emily. She’s just a woman at a set he’s doing, but the two click and immediately rush into a relationship. Things go wrong when Emily finds out he’s never mentioned her to his family and the reality of their situation sets in. However, the relationship takes an unexpected turn when Emily suddenly contracts an unknown disease, forced to go into a medically induced coma. Kumail is left to get to know her parents while coming to terms with his own parents in regards to Emily.

Continue reading “Movie Review – The Big Sick”

Movie Review – Spring

Spring (2014, dir. Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson)

spring-alley

I began the filming expecting one thing but ended up delighted and surprised with what I got. Evan’s mother dies in front of him, succumbing to a two-year battle with cancer. He feels lost and without purpose, so this leads to a spontaneous trip to Italy, the place his parents wanted to take him before they died. Evan wanders to a small town on the coast where he meets Louise, a young student. The two click right away but there is something mysterious about her, for all her charm and wit she remains cagey about certain parts of her life.

I remember seeing the trailer for Spring before its release and got the sense it would be a dark, horror film. However, it ends up becoming a romance story without any traces of cynicism. It is a dark film, but there is an emotional truth underneath the surface. Early in the first act, after Evan first arrives in Italy there is a sense of Eli Roth’s horrid Hostel films, that creeping sense of dread. We worry Evan is winding his way down into a trap. The filmmakers establish a very gloomy mood. However, I find the film has more in common with Linklater’s Before Sunset. It ends up being lots of conversations about relationships and the nature of love between Evan and Louise. Yes, there is gore and violence, but it never overtakes the film and become the focus. Instead, character work is the meat, with violence punctuating dramatic moments.

Spring is a gorgeous looking film. Directors Moorhead and Benson previously worked on Resolution, a small indie horror flick that did similar genre play. It’s very clear they have developed their technique with some truly beautiful and well-choreographed shots. There is an explosive argument in the streets of the small village after Evan discovers Louise’s secret. It is a single take, but it is a dizzying race through the back alleys and narrow streets. They also make use of drones to produce some stunning, sweeping shots of the coastal town that stand up to an expensive crane and helicopter shots.

The bulk of the film rests on the shoulders of the two lead actors, Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker. I have never been overly impressed by Pucci. I’d seen him in his early work (Thumbsucker, The Chumscrubber, Southland Tales) and felt he was fairly flat and have noticed him popping up from time to time. Here he reaches depths in his character I wasn’t expecting. Hilker was a discovery for me and is a perfect match for Pucci. You get caught up in the chemistry these two genuinely have. That chemistry, more than the horror elements, is what makes the film. While Spring is a definite play on genres, it teaches a valuable lesson that horror is stronger when it relies on the more human and character-focused elements of storytelling.

Spring is a film that benefits from mystery. I would highly encourage you to read as little about it as possible and just know that it’s a movie that is body horror, but also something more. It’s a film about a young man working past grief and aimlessness and the risk of love. Its whole concept is a metaphor about what we give up when we allow ourselves to fall in love, and weighing if that is worth the risk.