Today’s matinee and the trailers they showed

Last night, I saw an excellent musical called Bandstand in one of those Fathom Events transmissions. It’s about the attempts of a group returning WWII veterans to reintegrate themselves into everyday life via a swing combo they form. It has several memorable songs, excellent choreography and costumes, and the female lead (Laura Osnes) is talented. See it if you get a chance.

And it turns out that my cinema chain has added a “large” tap beer size. Even better. I’m feeling ridiculously relaxed — my body hurts all over but I assume because I relaxed all of a sudden yesterday at 5:30.

Widows had only been on my “maybe” list, but I heard some positive things about it and my cinema chain offered me triple reward points for seeing it today, and I’ve been solo since last night, so I decided to strike! Herewith my response to Widows and to the six trailers I saw before it.

Widows

A group of women (Cynthia Erivo, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez) execute an armed theft in order to secure their futures after the deaths of their (criminal) husbands, under the leadership of Veronica (Viola Davis). They’re countered both by politicians (Colin Farell and Robert Duvall, who’s still got it) and gang leaders (Daniel Kaluuya, Bryan Tyree Henry).

I almost didn’t see Widows because the trailer seemed so awful (violence, explosions), and it’s being marketed as a “heist film,” which is also not a plus for me (I only saw Ocean’s 8 because of Armitage). I haven’t generally been on the Steve McQueen bandwagon (maybe because of Michael Fassbender’s ubiquity in his oeuvre), either. The “female self-empowerment” thing is always a question mark for me, because I feel like it’s often poorly executed, and women self-empowering through violence is an especially difficult thing to execute well. But it had both Davis and Kaluuya. And then they offered me an incentive to see it.

So with no further ado: This film is spectacular. I haven’t seen a film I’ve both respected and enjoyed quite this much in quite a while. To me, the trailer barely reflected what the film was about. It’s not a heist film, although a theft is the motor of the film’s action, and it’s only tangentially a female self-empowerment film. Rather, it’s a serious of trenchant social observations about economics of daily life and politics and society in the U.S. generally and Chicago particularly, with special emphasis on how these things effect women and their choices. It’s a film about transactions and debts and how you have to pay back even the things you didn’t borrow; it’s a film about deals between partners and generations of families and how people obligate and imprison each other. It’s about pacts and betrayals and not knowing how to get out. The cinematography and editing are often brutally effective.

Grand performances from Davis — who can say anything she wants with the blink of an eye — and Kaluuya (who may be at risk of getting typecast as the villain, but who has the most amazingly expressive face). But really everyone in the film is quite strong and there are so many minor performances that made me very much look again at those actors: Lukas Haas as an architect who patronizes call girls, Matt Walsh (Into the Storm) as a philandering security guy, and Jon Bernthal’s briefly in this film, too.

I don’t see how this film doesn’t get nominations for director, screenplay, actress (Viola Davis), supporting actor (Daniel Kaluuya), cinematography, and editing.

My favorite little note: the way that the film thematizes the problem of child care. Hard to pull off a huge crime without reliable babysitting. It’s a nice piece of embroidery on another general theme of the film: the way that the social pressure on women to be ones who care most affects them and their own choices. The film is excessively brutal in many places, but it’s not sadistic or voyeuristic in the way Twelve Years a Slave was.

Green Book

Based on a true story: a New York bouncer (Viggo Mortenson) is paid to drive a Jamaican concert pianist (Mahershala Ali) through the Jim Crow South. A black-white, odd couple bromance ensues. Really torn, because the topic is an important one and Mahershala Ali is becoming a rare case of an actor who can bring me to a film, but this looks sooooo kitschy.

Cold Pursuit

A Rocky Mountains snowplower (Liam Neeson) revenges the death of his son, who died of a heroin overdose. Pluses: all the different stunts one can do with snow removal equipment. Mr. Neeson, I thought I read you were going to stop doing these everyman action films. Probably not.

Aquaman

Jason Momoa is attractive, even when heavily photoshopped. CGI looks enticing in a Bedknobs and Broomsticks kind of way. I guess Jason Momoa saves the world? Definite pass.

The Upside

An unemployed man (Kevin Hart) is hired (counter-intuitively) to care for a man with quadriplegia (Bryan Cranston). Another odd couple / black-white bromance film. This one looks way too heartwarming for me. Probably not.

The Favorite

In the early eighteenth century, the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) and her cousin Baroness Masham (Emma Stone) vie for the favor of Queen Anne of England (Olivia Colman). This looks perfect for me, but I suspect it won’t make it here unless / until it gets an Oscar nomination. I would be delighted to be wrong about that.

Alita

A scientist (Christoph Waltz) revives a female cyborg (Rose Salazar) who goes on to fight crime. This is the second trailer I’ve seen. The first one implied it was a “who am I if I am not human” film and this one was about Alita as weapon. Yawn. No.

~ by Servetus on November 17, 2018.

10 Responses to “Today’s matinee and the trailers they showed”

  1. Of all the movies you wrote about, I am only interested in Widows because I adore Viola Davis.. plus Farrell, Kaluuya, Bernthal and Duvall. Definitely a must see in my list.

    Of all the others, I might only see Acquaman. First because I love Jason Momoa so much that he could read the phone book to me, read it wrong and I would still go. I don’t know why, especially after sitting through the excruciating mess of Justice League…. secondly, superhero movies are the only opportunity I have to go to the cinema with my husband, as he hates both dramas and musicals. Therefore the only movie I would like to see at any cost, without my hubby, is definitely Widows. The rest can wait 😉

    Like

    • I haven’t liked most of the superhero films I’ve seen (Black Panther was an exception). Momoa is really easy on the eyes, but I don’t know if that’s enough for me to spend two hours.

      A lot of my judgments are based on my constraints on my movie watching — combination of dealing with responsibilities to my father and students and trying to go on cheap days or incentive days at the cinema. So sometimes I see stuff I am less interested in just because I have time on a cheap day and I need to get away. We are also a small market, so we don’t get everything I’d probably like to see.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I might have less choice than you do in terms of film selection. Out of all ‘blockbuster’ movies, not many arrive here at all. The closest multiplex cinema is at 15 miles from where I live now, another one at 55 miles. Always better than when I used to live on Scotland’s northern coast, the nearest cinema was at 132 miles from where we lived 😂
        In fact, the only RA movie I saw at the cinema was The Hobbit.

        Having said that, I am truly an oddball in terms of tastes and I can appreciate a drama or a superhero movie, it is the story that attracts me the most, often I am not bothered by who’s in it (except Johnny Depp…). So me seeing Aquaman/The Widows will probably be a consequence of all the above rather than a choice on the actors alone.

        I used to be an habitual movie-goer before getting married but my husband prefers to walk/hike around than actually sit in the dark for 2-3 hours. I have gone to see a few movies by myself but as I said not many even get here so… lack of choice really. Last movie I saw in a theatre was Avengers Infinity War…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Widows and Bandstand sound good! I’m also curious about Green Book, I like Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen/ The Upside sounds like a remake of French movie Les Intouchables, which was a surprising and fun movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t wait to watch Widows, The Favorite and Green book!
    Like Esther wrote before The Upside is a remake of an french movie that was a bit of a surprising hit in Europe a few years ago (with François Cluzet und Omar Sy) and I think I won’t watch the remake.
    Cold Pursuit sounds like a typical Neeson crash-boom-bang-movie…doesn’t he get too old to do these?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The African American critics hate Green Book. Can’t say this surprises me, either. https://www.bet.com/celebrities/news/2018/11/21/dr–don-shirley-s-family-says-green-book-is-full-of-lies.html

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] I was listening to 1A Movie Club when they played Carol Shirley Kimble’s call expressing the Shirley family’s dismay at the film, so — despite the pleasure of Mahershala Ali in the co-lead, which convinced me to go — I was even more skeptical about this than I was after seeing the trailer the first time. […]

    Like

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