Saturday, February 22, 2020

Two-Paragraph Review: Jojo Rabbit (2019)

The thing about Jojo Rabbit is the fact that it is basically Life Is Beautiful made for the Age of Instagram. Yes, it seeks to present the same emotional punches (aiming often right for the gut of the viewer) but has no time for a process of buildup or gradual racking up of tension. Instead, it skips a few beats and immediately delivers the viewers to the end stage of WW2 where a small German town is about to be liberated but both the Russians and the Americans. There, a small boy has an imaginary friend called Adolf Hitler and a real future friend hiding in his attic.

Now, while Taika Waititi is clearly talented and driven, his sensibility remains that of a sketch-maker. The movie from the start to the finish, including its attempt at a cathartic ending, remains broken down into chunks that mainly barely work together. This is best seen in the endless and not so clever Gestapo sequence. Lastly, while Waititi is funny, the movie is still missing its Roberto Benigni and it's unrealistic to expect that the young Roman Griffin Davis in his main role does the same. Because of that, the movie remains somewhat entertaining, but not particularly enlightening about the human condition in one of its darkest hours.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Indie Showcase: Home With a View of the Monster (2020)

There is an endless pool of inspiration when it comes to horror movies. While most prefer to use cliche stories that have been seen a thousand times, others go for more unique concepts. Here, the most audacious try to find that uniqueness but also to connect it with something mundane and universally-known thing that is not often seen in a horror light. In the case of Home With a View of the Monster that concept is the idea of services like AirBnB and other home rental options. Here is how the movie describes itself:

Needing a major life change in order to save their rocky marriage, a young couple (Dennis and Rita) decide to place their secluded lake house on a vacation rental app. When the couple returns home early, they find that their current tenant (Kate) has disappeared, leaving only their belongings as well as cryptic and increasingly eerie clues. Dennis and Rita have few clues as to where Kate could have gone. That is until Kate’s boyfriend (Chance) mysteriously shows up not only terrified of the events that he had experienced in the house, but with a warning of what is to unfold next. Joining together the haunted house genre with the world of vacation rentals, Home with a View of the Monster provides a gripping glimpse into the lives of individuals who are each as haunted as their surroundings. This genre blending, psychological thriller takes you on a wild ride, full of unsuspecting turns that all lead to the monster at the end.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Two-Paragraph Review: Bloodline (2018)

If you grew up with movies in the 1990s, chances are that even today, you're rooting for Seann William Scott. After all, he's talented, entertaining and someone who didn't really have a whole lot of good luck in his career. Yet, movies like Bloodline show how big of an injustice that was - thought this serial killer thriller/drama, Scott paints a completely believable and understandable monster. His character is caring high school counselor by day, but by night, he’s a murdering avenger of downtrodden kids (like the kid he had been years before).

While this directorial debut from Henry Jacobson has some flaws - especially in terms of how it treats and manages other characters - Scott carries it through. This presents once again the gigantic Holywood injustice that was brought upon this actor, either by malice and design or by stupidity and indifference. Hopefully, Bloodline will help Scott get into more smaller but well-made films and right the decades-long wrong that has beset him. He very clearly deserves it and has the talent and drive to work on a wide range of different genres and film types.