Thursday, May 12, 2016

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

THE UNINVITED (2009)
They should have called this movie The Uninspired. Emily Browning returns home to her family a year after witnessing her mother's tragic death. Dad (David Strathairn) has now taken up with mom's old nurse (Elizabeth Banks), who may not be what she seems. Browning and her sister (a very cute Arielle Kebbel) soon set about trying to uncover the truth of their mother's death and their would-be stepmother. It's a nice-looking, well-shot and well-acted movie, but all of its turns are telegraphed a mile away, and it steers right into the cliches as though they were guardrails. It has the effect of being a movie that wants you to gasp at its very straightforwardness. Then there's a twist at the end that is supposed to re-contextualize everything but which doesn't really work and, worse, falls into the "people react to genuine trauma by becoming psycho killers" trope that I am very, very sick of. **

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)
The newest high point of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As I said about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's impressive that a film with this many characters and plotlines remains clear and compelling for its entire running time, even when we're taking side trips. By far my favorite thing about this movie is Chadwick Boseman's performance as T'Challa, the Black Panther, whose solo movie I truly can't wait for. Everyone gets a chance to shine here, with cameos galore, and the introduction of Spider-Man is fun as hell, but I was impressed with how it was first and foremost a Captain America movie, a sequel to The Winter Soldier's political complexity and the ongoing story of Cap's need to rehabilitate his friend Bucky. It's a thrilling movie with some of the MCU's best performances, and it nicely services its continuing character arcs. What I also like is that it ends in a place where our regular heroes are probably going to have to take a breather, which gives phase three an opportunity to focus on some new characters. It's going to be a long wait for Black Panther, but what a great portrayal. I need more. And I'll stop here, because this is the kind of movie I think is so fun I just start gushing instead of saying anything interesting. ****

L'AVVENTURA (1960)
I'm glad I didn't see this classic Antonioni film until I was older. I think younger me wouldn't have quite gotten it. And, frankly, I think Roger Ebert has the better take on this depiction of ennui. I've nothing insightful to add to the body of criticism, but I'm so glad I absorbed this picture. Beautiful cinematography, fascinatingly compelling film. ****

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