Today’s movie: The Boy and the Heron

How do you live?
The Boy and the Heron – 君たちはどう生きるか by Hayao Miyazaki, better titled in its original title translation “How do you live?” (based on a novel of the same name). That title alone could easily resume most of Studio Ghibli movies. But in this case, it fits even more.

So then, how do you live? How do you navigate the difficulties in life and see through it, opening new doors, then new paths, then new worlds? How do you negotiate with your own difficulties and losses, and then how do you negotiate with the difficulties of others? And that is one of the main takeaway here, it might be hard, so hard that we are all cowards in our own ways, but it’s not only about you. But then again, how do you do it?

One key clue, is that first and foremost, you ought to be sincere. The second one, is that you ought to build everything upon that, because this was but the foundation. Then you make choices, and through those choices you battle and get lost, and found, and lost and found again. Give up now and you’ll have so many occasions to give up later.

Where’s the good ending then? Well, there is none. Like most Ghibli movies to be honest. You are just put there, with all the things you have learned, and then invited to get on with it, left with a weird sense of wonder, sadness and anxiety.

Today’s movie: The Whale

The Whale

The Whale by Darren Aronofsky with among others Brendan Fraser and also Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, and Ty Simpkins.

While the movie alludes to cetaceans, it is carried by a behemoth. Fraser‘s performance really propels the story forward. He makes a movie, which already stands on its own, go much further, and it is no wonder that he won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance.

The movie itself talks about a recurring theme in recent movies I’ve seen, the challenges and inner human wish to be kind to each other. In the case of “The Whale”, it weights on the difficulties to develop and hinder such kindness. Like a kaleidoscope, it develops through its characters the delicate balance between compassion and indifference, and how as human beings our personality and backstory position ourselves into that balance.

Today’s movie: Cry Macho

Cry Macho directed by and with Clint Eastwood and adapted from a 1975 screenplay and then novel of the same name by N. Richard Nash. Apparently multiple attempts were made to bring it to the big screen, among which one from Arnold Schwarzenegger. I cannot wrap my head around what it could have been. But this version fared a better casting.

A 7/4 hour long parable about human at their core, and a declaration of faith in the inalienable right for good and honest people to find their way. Simple and truthful from its intent to its methods, neither a western, nor neo-western, but it felt like a (almost stereotypical) country song from the depth of Texas. Yet, beyond its apparent simplicity, it is elegantly put to the screen and pleasant to watch.

Today’s movie: Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary

Calamity by Rémi Chayé. This is not the first time we heard from Rémi Chayé. In fact we went in full confidence because we already had seen another of his movie, the excellent Long Way North though strangely I didn’t post anything about it yet, but this was a truly amazing movie, no doubt. It’s hard to say where this one falls though. But we both agreed that there was something more, or something less, that made us prefer the former.

Today’s movie: Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel by Robert Rodriguez (one of the co-director of Sin City) along with James Cameron as co-screenplay. This is based on Gunnm, a classic gory cyberpunk manga (or so I’ve been told).

Even if you didn’t know about Gunnm before, you could tell that this was overall faithful to the original material (this was in fact confirmed by someone that did know the manga later on). Clearly it has been smoothed down for a wider audience, but it allows itself to be continuously very suggestive and that’s cool. As long as you are for the least imaginative, you won’t be deceived.

It goes fast, and sure you can feel that. Clearly you know at the end that there is a lot that ought to happen in between. One thing that you can blame on the movie, however, is that it tries a lot to stick to a classical narrative of the hero journey to self-discovery. Now, fitting a large and complex story in a 2h30 long movie is hard. Codifying this so it appeals to the largest number of people is probably a lot of a heck harder.

The movie also features some good actors. Among them is Christoph Waltz, this guy is so versatile, you can never tell if he will play the ultimate bad-ass villain or the absolute good-guy or anything else in between. And in this case, such a versatility fits well. But that’s not only him, all the cast fits and contributes to a coherent whole. What could you ask more from a blockbuster movie?

All in all, was going there not knowing what to expect, and now I find myself in the mood of reading this manga as soon as possible. Thanks I guess!

Today’s movie: The horror movie night

Yester-Yesterday was the 7th of January which is probably the best date for an Halloween horror movie night. So we went forth and selected four movies.

In the mouth of madness by John Carpenter with the underrated Sam Neill. A recursive horror fable that was most enjoyable and at times funny. It’s crazy the amount of smoke that got lighten up in a Carpenter movie. But that may be one of the reason behind some smoking. It cuts time into separate definite moments. It offers a pace when everything else would be tirelessly continuous.

Beyond the black rainbow by Panos Cosmatos. What the hell was this? Incredibly aesthetic, still it is not the kind of movie you understand on your first viewing but instead infuses slowly as you dive yourself into it. It’s like Kubrick’s 2001 and Lynch’s Eraserhead somehow decided to make out in the 80s after taking way too much drugs. The end was maybe a little disappointing. But I will no doubt enjoy watching it again.

Audition (オーディション) by Takashi Miike. One wonders for a moment if this is really an horror movie. But when it gets into it, you won’t be disappointed! If I had to resume in four words, I would say

Kili, kili, kili, kili… :3

Viewers be warned, however, this movie may contain some traces of dinosaurs.

The Witch by Robert Eggers. This movie takes us in 1630 to follow a family of settlers banished and isolated on the edge of the woods. It follows how in harsh conditions such a close community can rot from within and destroy itself. In a sense, it is similar to The Village but takes the story on a completely different level. The particularly heavy atmosphere increases with a constant pace and the religious aspect underlying the life of the family is undeniably really creepy.

One thing that I particularly liked was the attention paid to the realism of life at that time. For instance, the use of Old English gave it an authentic charm. But if it wasn’t for the subtitles we wouldn’t have understood a darn thing.

Why is it when thou dost a wrong, I be a-washing Fathers clothes like a slave, and thou art playing idle? It is, thou thing! How I crave to sink my teeth into thy pink flesh. If ever thou tellst thy mother of this, I will witch thee and thy mother!

I want to speak like this all day long now.

Today’s movie: Une part d’ombre

We had the occasion to assist to the premiere of Une part d’Ombre a Belgian film by Samuel Tilman with Fabrizio Rongione, Natacha Régnier, Baptiste Lalieu, among others. Going there without knowing what to expect, this ended up being a unique and pleasant surprise.

It’s a movie about trust, the social contract that we build upon it which transcends all our relationships and the subjective value that people are willing to give to them. How things left unsaid rot the most obvious friendship and love and the fact that we cannot (most of the time) do a single thing about it. We just got to let it trough, even though the rambling mistrust breaks everything into its wrath and we know for sure than nothing will ever be the same.

It was amazing how after discussing the movie we could all reflect on this. We all had those stories of break up, circle of friends or family exploding because some could not live up to what was that we define as us. But it’s part of the human chore. Apparently many of us suck at relationships. We’ve just got to deal with it and try for ourselves to be among those we’d call human.

Still it may be a bit of our fault. Because there are many of those things that we don’t say either. Because we think wrongly that it would be better to keep our share of shade for the the sake of our beloved ones and the sacred things that lay between us. Maybe many of these situations would be a heck of a lot simpler if we could just at times lay our cards on the table and for others to accept our pledge of honesty.

And that’s the really important message from this movie. That at times, we’ve got to look into others eyes, and say “trust me”, and reciprocally for ourselves to say to them, I accept and trust you, it’s up to you to trust me in that. Because surely without that everything fall, sooner or later, into a bunch of ashes.

Today’s movie: The Last Jedi

Jedi: The Last Star Wars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Michael Bay J.J. Abrams Rian Johnson. This movie is nothing but a vapid monumental grotesque joke. Seriously just don’t waste your time, don’t even think about buying the physical release or watching it by any other mean. You’ll just get awfully disappointed or you may also probably like it which is your choice after all. Either way that heavily marketed steamroller is unstoppable. There is no hope for Star Wars, but not only that.

There will be no spoiler ahead, even though you wouldn’t really miss anything.

It is as visually stunning as most other blockbusters nowadays, with humour and subtlety rivaling with Star Wars Holiday Special, like most other blockbusters nowadays. Not to say it is a hopeless dumb piece of garbage. But it certainly is hopeless. Imagine for an instant the archetypal CGIed bad guy, choreographically gesturing as if painfully trying to appear as human as anybody, defiantly looking down on you so you are sure that when he says he’s bad, he really means it. Imagine everything trying too hard to paint the scenery, draw the characters, outline the story. Imagine this is just your basic adventure action movie of the year, with a minor standardized twist. A movie that you must see anyway because you know, Star Wars and Porgs. Well that’s all there is to it.

Or perhaps there is more. A solemn vow not to renew itself. Ignominiously merging all the preceding episodes in one last go. Hammering the idea of making a clean sweep of the past. All that while preparing the path for a more streamlined way of storytelling, that would definitely transfer the franchise from geek and fanboys alike to the public at large.

This is not a fanboy critic, even though I liked the original trilogy so to say. Really I am not complaining that this movie wasn’t faithful or respectful to the original universe, that’s not the point. It is in fact the same story, basically following the same principles, scarily warmed over. A tired franchise repeating itself over and over again.

And this is where it gets so nightmarishly hopeless, in that you shouldn’t expect the following episodes to be any more different than this. Star Wars hasn’t got anything left to say more than a variant of the same thing. Which is easy to understand though, seeing how severely it got bashed last time it really tried to reinvent itself. But now it’s pretty dead, yet there it is, a gargantuan zombie, dead alive and still walking, pushed in the back by the Disney overlord as a carefully crafted marketing behemoth.

It is in that, that those movies are so hideously disrespectful. It’s a voyage in a museum of dead figures, figuratively speaking, all of them as convincing as mounted automatons.
Seeing how Disney is eagerly trying to bring that giant back to life, yet not instilling a single speck of life into it, is disgusting. Although they tried and did so, to a limited extent with Rogue One, a self proclaimed side story. And to be honest they tried to bring back some of that alchemy back into this installment. But clearly that wasn’t enough, and it fell apart like an ill finished Frankenstein’s monster.

Beside, there is another thing that the movie is trying to tell. That there are no real heroes, only wise leaders on various scales who somehow know the absolute right from the wrong. And that in the end, those truth holders are the ones worthy to remember, because they fight knowing that all we have is each other, and no other great cause can surpass that. The sweet tyranny of mutual love and the principle of life. But dare try to go beyond that and it’s just business as usual.

It tries to complete the simplistic manichaean view of the original story and presents this as the triangle formed by the republic, implicitly good, versus despotism, implicitly evil, versus anarchy, implicitly amoral. The intent is honorable and it goes further in developing those ideas than the preceding episode. But the movie itself screams ridicule from start to finish. Each attempt at self-reference to the original trilogy is really painful, but it never stops nor even pauses a little. Instead it comes waves after waves of throat pushed fan service, bad humour and forced acting. All of this summed up as an insincere and unconvincing piece which quickly fell into the realm of boredom.

Today’s movie: Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner, without Vangelis, without Harrison Ford, without that much subtlety, but for a twist. It was cool for sure, yet we didn’t go anywhere near the Tannhäuser Gate. But here to comfort you is Edward James Olmos making a paper-sheep, just in case you didn’t know what you were into.

Those kind of self references are numerous, so far to border on gratuitous fanservice. Still the movie is beautiful, and definitely trying to tell us something, but never gives us the opportunity to position ourselves in regard to its message.