A dysfunctional family is left to single-handedly thwart a robot uprising.
Directed by Mike Rianda
Starring Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, and Maya Rudolph
Review by Jon Kissel
Of the major animation studios, Sony has consistently been the one with the most commitment to verifying an adult’s suspicion that children’s attention spans have dwindled to nothing. The colors are the brightest in Trolls, the voices are the most over-the-top in Hotel Transylvania. Even in their most successful outings like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Into the Spiderverse, the level of content packed into the frame dwarfs Sony’s rivals at Pixar or Dreamworks. The Mitchells vs the Machines is the culmination of a decade-plus of a seizure-inducing animated aesthetic, but like Spiderverse, it provides a rationale for that aesthetic in the story or the characters. It’s also a harbinger of the TikTok-ification of movies, something that will be abused by worse filmmakers than clearly passionate director/writer/co-star Mike Rianda. The Mitchells vs the Machines does its best to keep this tech-averse viewer at arm’s length, but between the live-action cutaways and filter-dependent gags, Rianda has a full grasp of who his eccentric characters are at their core.
Tenet is a film that finds its director giving into his most irritating tendency. Christopher Nolan has never been able to judiciously parcel out his exposition dumps, and this is the most clunky and dense of his films. Inception and Interstellar at least had recognizable rules and stakes. Tenet is a series of unmotivated decisions that occur because some offscreen future version of the characters dictate that they must, a film obsessed with plot and uninterested in making the audience care what happens, a story whose most interesting ideas could be lifted out of it with no impact. Nolan clearly wants viewers to watch Tenet over and over again so they can decipher the machinations and the visual cues, but why would anyone put themselves through this disorienting headache of a trial for a second time? Congratulations on your 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle, Nolan, but maybe make it a picture of something more interesting than a brick wall.
In a good-faith book exchange with my very Catholic mother, I was given a book by a Catholic historian that was a clipped history of 2000 years of popes, crusades, and Papal States politics. The author couldn’t hide his distaste for the unmediated personal relationship with god that Protestant religions advocate for, under the supposition that something as powerful as religious ecstasy had to be moderated through the giant filter that is the Catholic church. Saint Maud provides a strong argument in the author’s favor. Alone and isolated and more than a little damaged, the protagonist of Rose Glass’ intense debut Saint Maud turns to religion where previous things like booze and hedonism have failed. At least with the latter, she was slowly killing herself with alcohol instead of all at once with acetone and zealotry.
Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood For Love is regarded as one of the best films of all time, at least as far as the Sight and Sound list of lists is concerned. Ranked #24 on the 2012 list, In the Mood For Love is the scored the highest of any 21st century film, setting huge expectations for any first-time watchers, or at least those familiar with esoteric film rankings. This is my fourth time with In the Mood For Love, and the one that hasn’t changed what I previously thought of it. The first time, I thought it was perfectly fine, maybe a little slow. The second time, I grew more convinced of its significance but wasn’t quite converted. The third time, for whatever reason, it clicked, leaving me enraptured throughout and a sobbing mess by the credits. This most recent viewing solidifies that final opinion, as I was on guard for a letdown but ended in the exact same place as before. In the Mood For Love’s subtlety and elegance wraps the viewer up in its silken tentacles, slowly but surely endearing itself as one of the great romantic pairings and deserving of its place in film history. If it’s not quite the best film of the 21st century, it has to be close.
Chris Rock’s famous joke about his neighbors, wherein he lived next door to Shaq, Mary J. Blige, and a white dentist, has that crystal-clear quality one wants in an observation. It illuminates so much about minority achievement and how far a group has to go, such that real equality is achieved when members of the group don’t have to be the greatest artist or athlete of their generation to live in a wealthy neighborhood. The allowance of mediocrity providing wealth and comfort while not reflecting badly on the larger group is a good sign, which brings us to Night in Paradise. While its existence is good for South Korean cinema, this white dentist equivalent of a movie does no one any favors in a vacuum. Park Hoon-jung’s empty time waster of a gangster film proves that there’s room in this cinematic corner of the world for unimaginative garbage, and said garbage isn’t going to drag down the great South Korean directors. Equality unlocked!
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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