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Showing posts from November, 2019

Joker (2019) review

Watching Joker (2019), I sometimes forgot it was a comic book movie. It plays out much more slowly, with camera angles and takes that feel more at home in noir or hard-boiled crime movies. I enjoyed myself to an extent, but I also had my fair share of criticisms. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but it is noteworthy to confess I felt the negative aspects on my first viewing. In this review, I'll explore both sides of how I felt; there will be spoilers.

As far as I understand the character, Joker has little if no origin story. He's always the Joker. Seeing him as someone else feels a little strange, and takes some adjustment; it's hard to imagine him a victim with self-esteem issues, and having to discover his killer instinct, but that's how the movie plays it. Arthur Fleck, a clown by trade, dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian. The son of a shut-in, aging single mother, we learn he has a condition where he laughs uncontrollably when stressed. This, and b…

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) review (video script)

This is the script for my YouTube audio review of André Øvredal’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019). There will be spoilers, including images from the film.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is Øvredal’s first film since directing The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016). That film was R-rated and featured a good deal of suspense; it hid its monsters as much as it showed them. By comparison, I’d argue that Scary Stories has the superior monsters, but it has no idea how to present them, let alone tell a scary story.

Written by Alvin Schwartz, the original books weren’t effective because of the words; they were effective because of the artwork. Produced by artist Steven Gammell, the illustrations disturbed parents so much the books were banned for years. When publishers tried to restore the books, they removed Gammell’s artwork, replacing it with pictures fans did not like or want. After many years [in 2017], the books were finally re-released with Gammell’s pictures intact.

Gammell has a u…

Midsommar (2019): Review

When I watched Midsommar (2019), I found myself comparing it to Hereditary (2018). That movie took its time, introducing its characters inside a single location, which then became the the film's main setting. Midsommar, by comparison, rushes the tragedy. I'm not against having an opening accident, one the heroine must retreat from to heal elsewhere. This approach worked in The Descent (2005) because Sarah's woes weren’t so easily escaped; they followed her into the caves. 

The opening tragedy in Midsommar hardly seems to matter at all. Most of the movie takes place inside a village in Sweden. The deaths that occur at the start involve people we never meet, who die in their sleep. They are never mentioned; we don't know their names. In other words, they’re not the crux of the drama; there is no drama. There are suggestions of drama, but these are rare and frustratingly brief. When the boyfriend chooses the village for his thesis project, his friend—another PhD student—is…