Archive for March 19th, 2023

Having declared last month that I was going to return to my movie of the month segment I have fallen somewhat behind.  We are two thirds of the way through March, and I am yet to report on February.  I only actually made four trips to the cinema throughout the month, but don’t feel I missed out on much.

Knock at the Cabin – When you mention M. Night Shyamalan the first thing people think about is plot twists, it is a lazy shorthand I am guilty of too.  My favourite of his films is the one where I didn’t see the twist coming, Unbreakable (2000).  On the other hand, I saw the twist a mile off in his beloved masterpiece The Sixth Sense (1999) and have never really liked the movie.  Would I have liked it more had I not worked out the twist?  Maybe! While there are many twists in his movies, that isn’t all they are about, Knock at the Cabin is no exception, and is one of the better films in a very up and down career. 

Based on The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay but with a significantly changed end that also changed the meaning.  A seven-year-old child, Wen and her parents Eric and Andrew are on holiday, staying in a cabin in the woods (nothing bad ever happens in a movie set in a cabin in the woods, does it?).  They are confronted by a quartet of home invaders led by Leonard, brilliantly portrayed by Dave Bautista.  Leonard is calm, polite and softly spoken to the point of menace!  He explains the great sacrifice they must make for the good of humanity.  What follows is a tense and well measured thriller that unfolds rather than containing any massive twists.  While the story is laced with religion and theology, it could easily be read as an allegory for climate change with the message that there is hope, but only with sacrifice.   All things considered, a film I enjoyed a lot more than I expected to. 

The Whale – Brendan Fraser has recently won the best actor Oscar for this movie where he portrays Charlie, a many who is terminally ill from the effects of his obesity. He wants to reconnect with his estranged daughter played by Sadie Sink who is also excellent playing a truly horrible person.  There is fantastic performances from supporting characters played by Hong Chau, and Samantha Morton. 

The single location set is effective in demonstrating the prison Charlie has created for himself, but it also betrays the movies theatrical origin.  The refences to Moby Dick throughout the film remind us of director Darren Aronofsky’s disinterest in subtlety, but again it works.  What Aronofsky is brilliant at is taking an ordinary character and pushing to the extremes of their actions.  The film seems to be telling people they can have faith without religion. While the film does get bogged down in its own theology (not sure I have ever used that word on this blog before, now I have used it twice in one article!) it is lifted greatly by the good pacing and great acting. 

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantomania – The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) hardly put a foot wrong with twenty-three films in eleven years split into three phases collectively known as “The Infinity Saga”.  Then came Phase Four, the start of a new series of films, “The Multiverse Saga”.  Phase Four is made up of seven distinctly average movies that failed to live up to what went before, Phase Five is the time to get back on track, and Quantomania needs to be the film to do it.  It is after all the film that was going to introduce the villain for the rest of the Saga (well sort of). 

The plot for what it’s worth involves Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and his Ant-family get sucked into the quantum realm, which turns out to be very different to what we had been led to believe from Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer).  The film leans into its weirdness which is good, but the story is very dull and lightweight.  As with the two previous Ant-Man movies Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne / Wasp is given nothing to do.  On a positive note, Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror makes in interesting villain. 

Woman Talking – You would be forgiven for thinking Woman Talking was based on a play, its limited locations and long speeches certainly give that impression.  It is actually adapted from a 2018 novel (of the same name) by Miriam Toews.  The visuals would also make you think it was set a long time in the past, unlit it becomes clear it is set in the very recent past.  The most shocking revelation is that it is inspired by a true story. 

The film centres on a group of who have to decide what to do following the revelation that a group of men within their community have been drugging and raping the woman.  The main issue they face is that they live within an isolated Mennonite colony.  The woman have little to no education, cannot read or write, and have never evens seen a map of the area surrounding where they live.  Most significantly they have the huge spectre of religious dogma clouding an rational ability to make a decision. 

The second Oscar winning movie in this month’s roundup, writer/director Sarah Polley won this years award for adapted screenplay.  This is well deserved as the screenplay is fantastic, not just because it is a dialogue heavy story,  but also for the structure it gives the film, keeping it interesting, and not repetitive.  The strongest thing about the film is the acting from a fantastic, mainly female ensemble cast, the standouts are Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Rooney Mara. 

A clear and easy movie of the month winner: Woman Talking


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