Monday, December 26, 2022

Pinocchio (Guillermo del Toro, 2022)

Little wooden head

Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of the classic Carlo Collodi fantasy fits seamlessly into his gallery of monsters and freaks, but the changes he's wrought on this darker less sanitized work brings it closer to the Collodi original, places it in my book a notch above the 1940 Disney classic.

High claim, I know (and I like Disney's Pinocchio a lot). But hear me out--

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Avatar: The Way of the Water (James Cameron, 2022)


The first Avatar was too long too loud too ludicrous with its bioluminescent creatures (try hide in a forest when you glow in the dark) and floating mountains (apparent side effect of implausibilium-- sorry, unobtainum); worst than the scientific howlers were the dramatic ones, like yet another white savior come to lead the natives out of oppression (T.E. Lawrence, Paul Muad'Dib, Indie Jones, meet Jake from State Farm sorry Corporal Jake Sully, USMC). Cameron has the mindset of a true obsessive, able to blow hundreds of millions of dollars to create intricately realized worlds, but his skill at characterization and realistic human interaction remains at toon level. Some thirteen years later Cameron has re-emerged with not just one but three proposed sequels and one wants to ask: what makes him think we needed another nine hours of what we didn't want in the first place?

Monday, December 12, 2022

The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg, 2022), Armageddon Time (James Gray, 2022)

Meet the Fabels

Arguably Steven Spielberg doesn't need to do an autobiographical film, he's been doing them all his life-- Sugarland Express features a mother as driven force of nature, Jaws includes the subplot of ship's captain bullying nerdy scientist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind follows a man so obsessed with his quest he abandons his family, ET described a lonely child with head crammed full of dreams, and as it turns out Duel and 1941 (knew it!) allude to one of his most formative traumas-- the massive car-and-train collision in The Greatest Show on Earth, which he saw as a child. That said Spielberg at this point in his career insists on an autobiographical feature-- a direct one this time-- hence The Fabelmans

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Sight and Sound's Greatest Films of All Time -- my list

Sight and Sounds' The Greatest Films of All Time-- m
y list:

Chimes at Midnight (Campanadas a medianoche, 1965) 

Orson Welles' Shakespearean tragedy-- fashioned around the Bard's most famous comic relief!-- tells of an old man with old-world lusts and loves who resists the newer world of ascetic appetites and steely fascism. It's also a retelling of Welles' own story with his father, a figure of Falstaffian proportions, who loved not wisely but too well. 

The Cloud-Capped Star (Meghe Dhaka Tara, 1960)

The crack of a whip in Ritwik Ghatak's most famous work says it all: Neeta (Supriya Choudhury) must support her family, flog her another mile! One of the most unforgettable portraits of female oppression on film, made more memorable by the fact that when she finally cries out-- in defiance of society and in defiance of her own expectations as the melodrama's martyr heroine-- it's too late.