Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #69


End Of The Week Shorts #69

Today's shorts: Ali's Wedding (2017), Ishq (1997), Infection (2004), The Neon Demon (2016), Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King (2017), Mulan II (2004), When Harry Met Sally... (1989), Animal House (1978)

A very pleasant film, Ali's Wedding is about a whirlwind of lies breathed into being by well-meaning foolishness. In such, this tells the true story of a Muslim in Australia who, through lies and naivety, has to get married and fake going to university whilst hiding the true relationship he yearns to secure. This is then thematically reminiscent of The Big Sick, but, whilst it engages some of the same cliches (though, to a far less intense degree), this is a far better film. Ali's Wedding, in comparison to The Big Sick, is then overflowing with character, bursting at the seems with comedy and erupting with heart. It is not a stunning piece of cinema, but my only major critique of this is that it is not paced or structured immaculately - it feels rushed a maybe a bit too elliptical, which leaves the romantic elements subservient to the plot. Alas, as a Netflix Original, this is a true surprise. As just a film, this is well-worth the watch. If you liked The Big Sick, I urge you to see this.

A ridiculous--somewhat enjoyable--shambles. Ishq is self-consciously a mythological romance (which is reminiscent of, and even alludes to, Ramayana) about evil kings who betray their virtuous children who, themselves, fall in love with virtuous beings from lower castes. It is through a plot of unending reversals that virtue prevails and evil is forgiven. If this narrative was played out by great gods, its melodrama and bombastic symbolism may have found balance. However, this mythological tale is mapped onto a strange version of reality and, simply put, I don't think this at all works. Ishq starts out well as an absurd comedy, but as the plot develops, more genres mix into the romance and comedy abruptly and unwelcomingly, until bandits are suddenly descending out of nowhere and being killed off inconsequentially and characters can bat ten men away with a swing of their arm. The spectacle of absurdity that this finally devolves into is baffling. If you can find the off switch on your brain, this might be good fun.

Whilst it makes efforts to be more than a basic horror film, Infection is rather mediocre. It spends most of its time building an allegory around doctors failing to act properly when it is most important to do so. This failure is the infection that spreads through the hospital they are in. Eventually, however, everything seems to be explained away by mental illness before that explanation is thrown out of the window itself. What this means to say is pretty obvious; true horror comes from looking into a mirror and seeing failures easily avoided but impossible to overcome. However, because this meaning seems to be on the surface of the writer's minds, everything feels too self-conscious and inorganic. Furthermore, there is nothing to be said about the direction, cinematography, acting or dialogue. Formally, this is then mediocre and doesn't redeem itself in the subtext. Watchable, but that's just about it.

Rather engrossing and most definitely fascinating.

The Neon Demon feels to be deeply engaged with the line between nature and construction at many levels of analysis. This then contrasts natural beauty with contrived beauty as well as natural psychology/sexuality with perversion among other things. Most importantly, however, this seems to juxtapose natural hierarchies and values (those of a rather animalistic and primordial character) with strange social overlays. Within this film then conflicts the fashion industry's conception of value and hierarchy with what one might see to be a more natural atmosphere and system among women. This conflict produces chaos of a symbolically female character. And whilst I won't attempt to say more than this, I have to say that I found the manner in which Refn tells this story to be rather flawing, both linguistically and characterlogically. I wonder what a re-watch would reveal.

Pretty good... but also a little creepy.

Homecoming King embodies a semi-new kind of stand-up comedy form in which stories are supported with imagery on a screen. Minhaj is not the first to do this - Kevin Hart and Amy Schumer have also done this - but he is the only stand-up I've seen use his social media as evidence for a story so consistently and rather dramatically. However, whilst Minaj spins a sometimes sentimental, sometimes melodramatic, often humorous, tale about, essentially, facing racism with internal courage, the detail that the screen provides feels too real. In such, it becomes awkward and almost invasive to see certain social media posts and pictures on screen. Call me old fashioned, but I would have rather he just described his story with words. That said, this remains pretty good.


The ugly backside of Disney rears itself, as it so often does when they make sequels, with Mulan II. This takes the central idea of the original Mulan, that idea concerning greater truth emerging from a balance between duty and compassion, and bastardises it completely with a cheapening of the themes and a formulaic narrative. Horribly predictable and mindnumblingly simple in its assertions, this contrives an entirely pointless plot concerning princesses and arranged marriage without any true drama, no exploration of character and endless fluff. The songs are bad, the writing is awful, the performances are bland and the animation is mediocre. In short, pretty bad.

When a film is a classic of a certain calibre there's not much for anyone to say about it. The movie instead comments on the person, giving insight to others as to who you are. That said, When Harry Met Sally is not a personal favourite, but I do like it - enough to watch it every now and then, entirely unprovoked, and just because.

What makes this movie work is the sense that romance is inevitable. It is this very sentiment that is embedded into the film with the ellipses (...) that follows "When Harry Met Sally". In this film, love is a great irony of life; this starts with youth and talk of death, yet ends mid-way through life with talk of forever more and all to come - but nonetheless must look back to look forward. Love is the constant, given, taken, felt, it does not matter: it's inevitable.

I didn't fall asleep... so I guess I should call this mildly entertaining.

I've had this some place on an abstract watch list for ages, and it delivered as much as I thought it would: not one laugh. I'm content to leave things at that... and so I will. Not worth it.

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