Monday, October 30, 2023

Two Paragraph Review: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (2023)

Wes Anderson is probably my least favorite film director who clearly has a lot to offer, but most of the time, his artistic offer falls flat for me. Unlike film directors that slowly fell from grace when it comes to my sensibilities, like for example, Christopher Nolan, Anderson’s work has been steadily disliked by me ever since Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. However, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (based on a short story by Roald Dahl) is an outlier in that pattern and something of a small but truly - pun intended - wonderful cinematic experience.

In barely 40 minutes, Anderson uses a fantastic cast led by Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar, along with Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, to tell a violently granular but simple story. It revolves around Henry Sugar, who gradually develops supernatural abilities through meditation, all the while planning to use it for gambling purposes. In its short runtime, the film manages to stay both very Andrson-like but also connect the audience with its wacky, time-and-space disconnected, yet human characters. Thanks to that, I am once more comfortable in the pastel-colored temple of Wes Anderson and will venture in it willingly in the future as well.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Two Paragraph Review: The Pale Blue Eye (2022)

Out of the name of this movie, the adjective “pale” resonates more with the entire work than the “blue”. Somehow, despite the fact that it features the always amazing Christian Bale and is directed by the accomplished Scott Cooper, The Pale Blue Eye still ends up feeling as colorless as many of its early 19th century leading female roles in their age-appropriate makeup. So far, Cooper made some impressive movies, even though none were perfect, but most starred Bale. Out of the Furnace is a good example of the same trend. Black Mass, which Cooper also directed, shows a similar recipe but one that is significantly less impactful.

In his latest film, the initial murder mystery, taking place at West Point, quickly dissolves into a series of personal dramas and individual tribulation, but with no clear focus point. Among the cast, Harry Melling establishes himself as a dominant character of Edgar Allan Poe, but seemingly not so much by directorial design, but by his skill and unique delivery of the young, brilliant but very odd poet. In the process, Bale kind of fades out only to return at the very end in a twist which strikes very few cords with the emotions of the audience. Instead, The Pale Blue Eye turns into just a simple Pale film.