Sunday, June 17, 2018

What I Watched in May

ISLE OF DOGS (2018) is director Wes Anderson's second stop motion animated feature. It's a fanciful dystopian tale set in a future Japan where evil corporate interests work hand-in-glove with a compliant government to do away with all canine pet life in the country. The pets aren't euthanized - thank goodness - but are sent off instead to live on Trash Island. Those hearing overtones of Monster Island from Toho's Godzilla features would not be wrong in surmising a few of the themes played out in this wonderful and amusing film. I'm sure for some this film will be a bit too twee, as are all of Wes Anderson's films. But if you're on it's wavelength this really is a joy. The director's whimsical approach to storytelling is not for everyone so your mileage may vary.

As the culmination of several years of careful build up AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018) had to do a lot of things. It had to take all the pieces laid out in over a dozen previous movies, meld them into a coherent story and then craft its own tale smartly enough to allow those who might have skipped a couple of Marvel movies to follow everything as well. Luckily the head writers of the cinematic universe have done their jobs expertly giving us an exciting and emotional superhero film that – even though it ends on an extreme down note – still feels exuberant in the right ways. The hard work of establishing the huge roster of characters has been done leaving the filmmakers the chance to build a series of escalating action scenes that bring the heroes to their knees. I was impressed that they found a way to make each fight a different kind of visual treat. In a movie with so many battles it would have been easy to fall into the trap of having them all feel too similar but they did not. I think it’s because each fight has not just different participants but also a very different goal. Each action scene felt necessary to drive the story and each was interesting in a fresh way. Other than the sheer exceptional confidence needed to pull off this project what may be the film’s most extraordinary accomplishment is that, by the end, you have some sympathy for the villain and his goal. Is it time for a philosophical paper on the war of ideas at the heart of an Avengers movie?

I was not on board with DEADPOOL 2 (2018) for the first fifteen minutes or so. The tone was the same as the jokey original but there is a death in the first section that seemed so odd that I assumed that it would become a joke as well. Since the movie up to this character’s demise had been filled with dozens of comedic deaths I thought that this one would be presented as some kind of elaborate fake-out leading to another joke. But as the story finally kicked into gear and I realized that this particular death was to be the motivating force for Deadpool it finally sank in that this one was real. Until the comedic ending post-credits that seems to reverse it. I think. Hard to tell, really. But once I caught the flow of things I really enjoyed this R rated ride and, in some ways, even more than the first. There’s a lot of creativity onscreen and it breezes along splendidly.


ISLE OF DOGS (2018) - 7
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1980) -6 (rewatch)
THE SURVIVOR (1980) - 6
SEX & FURY (1973) - 8 (rewatch)
KONGA (1961) - 5 (rewatch)
THE HATCHET MAN (1932) - 6 (Edward G. Robinson as a Chinese assassin!)
THE RITUAL (2017) - 8 (strong monster tale)
WAR OF THE PLANETS (1965) - 4 (rewatch)
BLACK FRIDAY (1964) - 6 (rewatch)
MUTE (2018)- 7 (Duncan Jones has too many ideas here, but still well done)
DEADPOOL 2 (2018) - 8
JUPITER'S DARLING (1953) - 6 (silly, fun musical with Ester Williams)
THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD (1952) - 8 (excellent Disney version)
DICK TRACY (1945) - 5 (rewatch)
THE SON OF ROBIN HOOD (1958) - 4 (pretty blah adventure with a weak script)


Nick Rentz said...

Have you seen Sam Peckinpah’s The Westerner?

Rod Barnett said...

No! I have wanted to for years but not yet.

Nick Rentz said...

It’s on YouTube. Give it a shot