Sunday, February 18, 2024

Two Paragraph Review: The Favourite (2018)


Using the term “cinematic treat” might sound both worn out and dumbed down, but in the case of this incredible and highly unique film from Yorgos Lanthimos, the same phrase seems very much appropriate. Showcasing the rise of a downtrodden young aristocrat in the court of Queen Anne, the film merges very distinctive cinematography with great acting, incredibly written characters, and loads of well-executed humor. Apart from the camerawork, most of the film is carried by the fantastic cast, mainly the three main female characters, played by Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz.

However, other actors, first and foremost Nicholas Hoult, do an amazing job of making this twisted and beautiful tale from the 18th century come to life. All the while, Lanthimos stays true to his oddball streak that made him famous with The Lobster, constantly offering movie artifacts in terms of pacing, actor delivery, and other unexpected moments. These are bits and pieces of exotic spices for a dish that is already incredibly delicious, all on its own. The Favourite is a film about the age-old themes of power, betrayal, and ambition, but Lanthimos and the crew also made it for the ages as well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Two Paragraph Review: Reptile (2023)


Once you start watching Reptile, you somewhat willingly or unwillingly expect that the film will try to dazzle you with its star-studded cast. The relatively simple and narratively straightforward thriller about the murder of a young woman casts Benicio del Toro as the main character and gentle-spoken detective Tom Nichols. But, del Toro is joined by Justin Timberlake and Alicia Silverstone, followed by Eric Bogosian, Ato Essandoh, Domenick Lombardozzi, and the always fantastic Michael Pitt. Yet, along with these amazing actors, Reptile has a much stronger ace up its sleeve.

The cast, consisting of both global superstars and excellent character actors quickly comes into play. But, the thing that really impressed me about Reptile is its atmosphere. Combining natural lights and menacing sound design, as well as the odd-feeling spaces that the detectives and involved civilians inhabit, the first-time feature film director Grant Signer created something worth of an early David Lynch movie. The artistic aura of the film begins and ends with a tone of weariness and oppression, followed by a sense of imminent danger that is always just around the corner. The portrayal of the unfolding story fails to follow the same amazing atmosphere, but the film still manages to create something both unique and instantly appealing. I have a strong gut feeling that Singer’s next film could easily outdo that.