“Hello, yeah…it’s been awhile. Not much. How ’bout you?” I fell out of habit with my weekly movie therapy visits. This happened mostly because my theater changed its hours and made it difficult for me to stick to the routine I liked. I was also putting a little too much pressure on myself to make it happen, and found it easier to let it go. Sometimes things just change. But not my love for the movies! Let’s get into this year’s Best Picture nominations:
All Quiet on the Western Front
For some reason I keep stumbling through this title – isn’t it called All’s Quiet or All is Quiet on the Western Front? Answer: No. Not even in 1930. What stood out for me most is the visually graphic brutality of the fighting scenes. The cinematography is expansive, dark, and yet very detailed. Loyalty, innocence, and youthful optimism are destroyed by the horrors of war, and the characters deliver this. You can see the change in their eyes from beginning to end, but this one is just not as memorable as other war films.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Well, I haven’t seen this yet. I get the feeling it’s more of the same. I did listen to an interview with James Cameron on SmartLess and I enjoy how passionate he is about these films, the environment, our water. And there’s apparently more to come. So that’s cool. I’ll catch up soon.
The Banshees of Inisherin
This movie strikes a chord for me because it’s told as an inane character drama, but it’s really reflecting so much of the world beyond. It focuses on a friendship in turmoil, without explanation, as the Irish Civil War rages across the water. There are people accustomed to live on the island of Inisherin, like Barry Keoghan’s brilliantly played Dominic Kearney, and a heroine desperate to break free from it. Even the donkey holds messages, while Colm (Brendan Gleeson) cuts off his fingers…you know, the things he needs to play his fiddle? So much beneath the surface, it’s up there for the writing prize for sure.
Austin Butler is great but Tom Hanks is too big of a distraction in this. Musical performances are sexy and powerful and I love the incorporation of modern music. Great costumes and set – and that word: charisma.
Top Gun: Maverick
What’s not to love? Nostalgia for an iconic film and the magnetic character Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) who hasn’t changed much pulls us in. Goose’s son Rooster (Miles Teller) setting up another heart strings angle of conflict within Maverick. High energy, real training, actual stunts, and incredible filming of professional aviators instead of a bunch of CGI. It feels like a blockbuster movie because it is one. I watched it twice and would do it again, such a great ride.
A beautifully directed ensemble that gives us a glimpse into Spielberg’s youth and family, all for the love of the magic of movies! I love that his mom is enigmatic and quirky, even with her faults. Creativity and imagination are survival tools to a budding filmmaker. Seeing others’ vulnerability and imperfections allows us to build whole characters. We laugh along in the hallway when he jokes about making a movie someday. I suspect he gets away with embarrassing truths by saying it’s semi-autobiographical. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t. Intimate and revealing, touching us with just enough comfortable nostalgia. The music is fabulous. Love Spielberg even more now.
Definitely takes a minute to get through the opening credits. Then, it takes awhile to get into the story. No denying Kate Blanchett is brilliant as conductor Lydia Tár, but we just wait for so long for something compelling to drive the story forward. The filter is a cold grey-blue, and the framing environmentally inclusive when it feels like we should be have a more intimate relationship with the characters. There are rarely close ups, and emotion is brushed off like her tics. The subtleties of plot make me feel as stupid as the opening interview when she kept name dropping famous composers and conductors. She seems to sit upon some high shelf where artists are only well-read and educated, not simply creative or passionate. Fine, Kate does great. But dang this is a long movie with so much condescending nuance, I just feel left out.
Triangle of Sadness
When this movie opens, it feels like we’re about to dive deep into the culture of male modeling. Cool, this is a new world to me. Then the story takes a wild nearly sadistic turn. I was shouting at the tv. What am I even watching? I’m laughing, but it’s uncomfortable, so I question my response. Themes of the absurdity of greed, influence, and wealth. I’m probably supposed to relate to one side or the other, but everything is so extreme I shrug off the societal divisions, which I think was the intent. Ending is abrupt.
This movie is mesmerizing. What feels like a historical account from many, many years ago actually takes place in 2010 in a closed extremely religious colony. The cinematography palette is colored in shades grey as the story is told of the abuse in this community. However, the more these women talk, I swear I saw the colors become richer, their skin tones rosy with life, like a filter is lifted. The score is beautifully full of pain and hangs on to hope. It’s striking that these women, even sheltered and uneducated, are able to consider self-preservation and change. It’s also very frustrating and leaves me angry, wanting to rescue them from their blind faith. The performances are impressive, they work with one another in what is almost entirely “women talking,” with some moving dramatic monologues. Kudos to director Sarah Polley for orchestrating that safe space. I liked this way more than I expected to. And, I watched it on International Women’s Day.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Best original movie/screenplay I’ve seen in a long time. Made me feel so many things – more than I was ready to feel. A collision of art and experience and emotion. Read back on my original response here. This will win/should win Best Picture.