Tuesday, August 4, 2020

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From Cinemas to Streamers: 2020, Day Two

Continuing my month-long look at the cinema of now!
Beasts Clawing at Straws
dir/scr: Kim Young-hoon
pr: Kim Jin-sun
cin: Kim Tae-sung

In which a bag of money transforms the intersecting lives of various strangers. A crazy, sexy, cool crime flick, full of sweat (my goodness, Jung Ga-ram shows a lot!), blood (gore would be a more apt description), and tears (of laughter, as fucked-up as that might be). Best score of the year, so far. Jeon Do-yeon easily walks off with the film.

dir: Autumn de Wilde
pr: Tim Bevan / Graham Broadbent / Pete Czernin / Eric Fellner
scr: Eleanor Catton
cin: Christopher Blauvelt

In which Jane Austen's titular meddler meddles. Exquisite Easter-paletted costuming and production design. There's something off, though, and I think it's in the casting of usually terrific Anya Taylor-Joy. There should be, I think, some measure of charm or attempted kindness for people to so want her approval and be led by her example, as we constantly told they are, but I just don't see it. She's cold, petty - mean, and calculatingly so. I guess it's a choice, just not one I understand or like. The last movie I saw in a cinema.

The Invisible Man
dir/scr: Leigh Whannell
pr: Jason Blum / Kylie Du Fresne
cin: Stefan Duscio

In which a woman who escaped her abusive now-dead husband comes to believe that he faked his death and has somehow made himself invisible to continue torturing her. Frightening horror treatment of the continued trauma of abuse survivors, with a nightmarish (maybe triggering?) scenario. Learn as little about the specifics as you can, because some scenes genuinely shock and horrify. Makes incredible use of its space: somehow the intimate kitchen of a suburban home becomes this behemoth enveloping Elisabeth Moss, every molecule of air a potential threat. The first movie I saw in quarantine!

Trolls World Tour
dir: Walt Dohrn / David P. Smith
pr: Gina Shay
scr: Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky and Elizabeth Tippet, story by Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger

Something about how trolls are divided into separate kingdoms according to musical genre, and our heroes from the first film represent Pop, and Rock is threatening to take over the world via a magical harp or something? I still love the homeroom diorama look of these films. What sticks in my craw is that it brings up interesting conversations about toxic positivity, lack of communication, and pop music's exploitation of other genres and cultures, but in insisting that everything must be tied with a pretty bow at the end, the movie kneecaps some of its points and contradicts itself in others. Why go there if you're not going to commit?

Time to Hunt
dir/scr: Yoon Sung-hyun
pr: Handae Rhee
cin: Lim Won-geun

In which four friends in the near future attempt one last heist, which of course goes wrong. I'd love to meet their location manager, who's found buildings that look simultaneously futuristic and rundown, like they were part of a big progressive city plan before the economy rendered them into dust-collecting giants. Impressive, too, how despite it's bold lighting choices and action sequences, it manages a low-key affect that builds the gravitas of its quieter moments, valuing its characters as people, not just props for set-pieces. Lee Je-hoon is a terrific leading man, Park Hae-soo a frightening antagonist. Available on Netflix!

Best of the Bunch: Beasts Clawing at Straws, The Invisible ManTime to Hunt

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