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We can’t control what art resonates with us.

Even when we see something and recognize its intrinsic artistic value, we can’t make ourselves feel a certain way about it. We like what we like and that’s all there is to it. And sometimes, even when the thing we’re watching should resonate, it doesn’t always.

Take “The Northman,” the new film from writer/director Robert Eggers. By all accounts, I should LOVE this movie. It’s “Hamlet” with Vikings, for God’s sake. The production values are first-rate and Eggers is a visual stylist par excellence. The performers are clearly invested, with plenty of top-tier action sequences and a healthy helping of line-blurring magical and magical-adjacent stuff. We are planted squarely in my wheelhouse.

And yet … it didn’t click for me as fully as I would have thought.

It’s not a huge surprise, honestly; the previous two Eggers outings – “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse” – are films that on paper should have been right up my alley, yet for whatever reason left me just the slightest bit cold.

Again, I need to note that I acknowledge the quality of these films in a vacuum, as well as the tremendous amount of skill necessary to make them. By all practical measures, they are excellent films, beautifully shot with a clear and vivid vision and featuring committed performances. They are good movies that nevertheless did not connect with me.

So it is with “The Northman,” a stark and violent tale of palace intrigue by way of ninth-century Vikings. There is a bleak beauty to the aesthetic, one that is simultaneously washed out and vivid. The cast is absolutely stacked. Alexander Skarsgard gives a brutal and balletic lead turn, leading the way in a tale of one man’s quest for vengeance against the man who killed his father and usurped the throne.

Like I said – I should love this movie. And there’s a good chance that you will.

Published in Movies
Monday, 01 November 2021 14:50

About ‘Last Night in Soho’

Few active filmmakers are possessed of a style and sensibility that is specifically theirs. These filmmakers stamp their idiosyncratic signatures on their works in an undeniable manner; theirs are the movies that we watch and know instantly who made them. The Andersons – both Wes and Paul Thomas – are in that category, for instance. So too are the Coen brothers.

And Edgar Wright is definitely in that conversation.

The English auteur’s latest film is “Last Night in Soho,” a time travel horror thriller of sorts that is packed with the sort of vivid imagery and pop deep cuts in which he delights. We move back and forth between the present day and a neon-soaked ‘60s London, the color and lights serving only to deepen the shadows of a story whose details are ever-shifting.

Wright has never been one to flee from his influences; he’s unafraid to embrace and celebrate the pop culture sights, sounds and ideas that he loves. That said, “Last Night in Soho” – while undeniably and instantly identified as an Edgar Wright movie – might be the least overtly engaged in conversation with those influences. They’re there, but we’re much farther from the homage/pastiche vibe of, say, his Cornetto Trilogy.

It’s stylish. It’s creepy. And it’s very good.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 11 March 2020 13:11

Austen powers – ‘Emma.’

One never knows what to expect with literary adaptations. Guiding a story from page to screen is tricky business, packed with pitfalls both anticipated and unexpected. The degree of difficulty runs even higher when you’re dealing with a work that is both beloved in its original form AND has already been made into a well-received film.

This begs the question: why adapt Jane Austen’s “Emma” again?

That question is answered by first-time feature director Autumn de Wilde’s “Emma.” Working from a script adapted by Eleanor Catton, this latest incarnation of the tale offers a quirky, period take on the classic, bringing an unexpected aesthetic to bear alongside relatively straightforward storytelling.

(Note: Part of that quirkiness is the title itself – the period in “Emma.” is intended to indicate that the film is a period piece. It’s a fun bit of self-aware metatextual goofiness. That said, going forward, I’ll refer to the title sans period, just for clarity and logistical ease.)

Featuring the talented Anya Taylor-Joy in the titular role, this latest incarnation of the story captures the spirited satire of the original while also freely indulging in a rampant tweeness that suits the story’s soul surprisingly well. It’s a smart and sharp film, clever and sweet and just strange enough – a take on the tale that will both satisfy longtime Austenites and serve as a worthwhile introduction to the work.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 13:03

‘Split’ a multi-faceted triumph

Horror thriller an exceptional offering from Shyamalan

Published in Movies
Friday, 02 September 2016 16:14

Girl, disrupted - 'Morgan'

Sci-fi thriller fails to expound uponintriguing concept

For decades, the concept of artificial intelligence gone awry has been a mainstay of science fiction. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the exponential advancement of technology has led to even more explorations of this idea that man can create an intellect that matches and ultimately surpasses its maker.

Published in Movies

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