Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #54


End Of The Week Shorts #54

Today's shorts: Mr. India (1987), Rats (2016), Toy Story 3 (2010), The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), Hum Aapke Hoin Koun (1994), Chris D'Elia: Incorrigible (2015), Reptilicus (1961), The Square (2017), One Day In The Life of Andrei Arsenevich (1999), Sebastian Maniscalco: Aren't You Embarrassed (2014)

I think I just watched one of the greatest musical sci-fi romantic-comedy action epics ever. 
Exuding heart, character and pure emotive momentum wrapped up in family friendly ridiculousness, Mr. India is practically perfect. There are a bunch of plot holes and an unnecessarily dark choice made near the end of the film, but almost all that is clunky and ludicrous about this movie is weighed in balance with the tremendous comedy and the richness of character. Accepting of its contrivances, its melodrama and its cliched bad guys, Mr. India is three hours of unimaginably good entertainment. A story about unconditional goodness embedded in the heart of an every-man and backed by the spirit of those he stands loyal to, Mr. India also uses satire to make a statement of subtle substance that harmonises with spectacle, making for a film that absolutely everyone should see. A personal favourite.

This honestly makes you want to crawl into a plastic bubble and drink antiseptics. I can't the stop disgust shivering over my skin and snaking through my hair. I don't want to leave my room. I don't know if I'll be able to sleep. 
What are these little creatures who probably outnumber all of us, who strike fear into basically all of us, who can infect and kill us, who will likely outlast us? Are we supposed to understand and study them? Are we to poison, stomp on, hunt, stab and tear them apart? Should we eat them? Should we pray to and live alongside them? Is there any point? 
Rats presents these questions quite graphically and a little too emphatically, leaving a little objectivity to be desired. Nonetheless, it puts across what it puts across and it doesn't leave your system easily. Watch at your own peril.

Toy Story 3 is not a bad movie, not at all. However, once I saw it for the first time, I would have been fine never seeing it again. Much of this has to do with the fact that, unlike 1 and 2, Toy Story 3 cannot stand alone as a movie and story unto itself. Toy Story 2, whilst it brings about the same characters and references the first film, can certainly be seen without the first and function so well because of the new characters presented and the thematic expansion upon the first film. Toy Story 3 brings about new characters - none of which are very memorable - and it is thematically weak. 
For a film that is about nostalgia itself, about a past childhood, Toy Story 3 has an awful lot of action and spectacle and little drama. What sells the action on the first watch is memories of the first two films. With re-watches, the action and comedy become monotonous and rather meaningless I find. In the end, not a bad movie, but also not a movie that really needs to be seen more than once.

Absolutely incredible. 
The Killing of a Sacred Deer marks a shift away from Lanthimos' established style, welcoming a more conventional structure and sense of drama. Lanthimos nonetheless retains his tone-deaf punch, creating a narrative around the heart of men and a masculine nightmare, turning seemingly heroic themes of sacrifice against its characters. Lanthimos constructs such a narrative by also introducing far more symbols and archetypes into his narrative than he has ever used before. The end result is a film that is less surgical (maybe ironically) with its approach to human psychology than the likes of Alps or Dogtooth, and instead far more organic and abstract. This sees his camera freed a great deal, giving the film a touch of Kubrick. 
All in all, however, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is just pure mastery from one of my absolute favourite contemporary directors.

Pleasant, silly and a bit too soppy, but pleasant. 
Hum Aapke Hain Koun, or, Who Am I To You, is a film bursting at the seams with music and character. Essentially a sequence of extravagant celebrations, Hum Aapke Hain Koun is a movie about families, for families, painting an idyllic picture of the perfect mothers, sons, uncles, sister-in-laws, etc, etc, etc. Centralising duty over all else, this is ultimately about sacrifice for family and so though there are a few clunky sequences and some faces that Salman Khan makes that are just... this is good-intentioned entertainment. 
Whilst I wouldn't say that this is the best Bollywood movie I've seen, it's undeniable that this was a massive game-changer for Indian cinema, redefining what blockbuster meant and reinvigorating cinema's general popularity. A good watch.

Some strong silly comedy.
D’Elia is always on point with the callbacks and dumb act-outs, and if you don't find the jokes funny the first time he'll repeat himself until you at least snicker. His best joke here is probably the man-crying bit. A combination of ridiculousness and seemingly genuine self-deprecation, it had me chuckling pretty good. 
So, though D’Elia breaks the 'like' meter, like, very early on in the show, this is, like, not something you want to watch if you wanted to fall asleep like an hour ago.

Denmark built a cinema of global significance around 1910, but, after WWI, it lost stature. Following the transition into the sound era Danish cinema diminished further, noted only by a select few names: Dreyer, von Trier, Refn etc. Since the 30s, Danish cinema travelled best through its auteurs whilst national film production gave way to comedies and a heap of erotic films. In addition to this Denmark has, apparently, only ever produced one monster movie, and this is it. 
If we were to be honest, this is less a Danish film and more an excuse for an American crew to take a holiday - at least, this is what you sense in the American version. (In the Danish version, maybe more emphasis is put on highlighting military strength). Alas, the creation of a film of any worth isn't too high on anyone's list here. Rife with cliches, poor writing, terrible special effects and bad performances, this is fleetingly an interesting look at film history. That's all.

Wow... it's been a while since I was last blown away by a movie. 
Not only is The Square the funniest film I've seen in an age, but it's also the best comedy I've seen. So precise, yet also vague and scattered, what emerges from a series of comedic bits is an awkward story about being out of touch with who we (modern us) are. And, from this story, emerges a beautifully round and deeply human character. Engaging modern art for the ridiculous nonsense it sometimes can be, but nonetheless trying to come to terms with it and then tease us to make an effort to understand, The Square does what it tells you it is doing whilst stepping outside of itself. With a four-dimensional narrative of sorts, whichever way you choose to look at The Square, sometimes will come through. I cannot recommend this more, and I feel a fool for not having seen a Ruben Östlund movie before. A new personal favourite.

A fascinating analysis of Tarkovsky's cinema as one body of work. One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich's strength lie in its ability to pick up on specific details of Tarkovsky's cinema (the function of camera angles and the ground, elements, mirrors, paintings, children, etc). These ideas are translated poignantly with an effective use of audio and visual material, and so this film culminates a nice selection of analytical tidbits, never trying to make statements that are too grand and remaining just loose enough as to inspire further viewings of Tarkovsky's films. 
Holding this back slightly are touches of sentimentality, analysis that has been written to be read, not necessarily heard, and some weak attempts to relate Tarkovsky's films to his life. These moments always felt underdeveloped and lacking of personality. Alas, as an audiovisual essay, this is a good watch for anyone drawn to Tarkovsky's films.

I forgot how brilliant this guy is. 
With a stage presence like Dice Clay, if Dice was less disgusted by, and pissed at, the world and more full of angst and confusion, Sebastian Maniscalco whispers and wines his hilarious jokes through grimaces and absurd act-outs. A blend of observational comedy and storytelling, this isn't sharply perceptive, but it is crisply presented; the timing always on-point and the acting brilliant. The only downfall of the special is that Sebastian presents a selection of stories with many characters and strands, but, in the end, leaves many left avenues left unexplored. But, whilst the end then comes abruptly, all this really means is that you're left wanting more. A great hour and a comedy special I highly recommend to all.

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