Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #61


End Of The Week Shorts #61

Today's shorts: 13 Assassins (2013), Love, Simon (2018), The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005), Stronger Than The World: The Story Of José Aldo (2016), The Lego Batman Movie (2017), Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (2016), Friday (1995)

Quite mediocre and somewhat boring, 13 Assassins is a film that suffers from a lack of coherent characterisation and thematic oomph. Whilst Miike's better films (Ichi The Killer, Audition) are overwhelmingly nonsensical until the final act in which the haze of themes becomes penetrable, 13 Assassins has no real thematic development until all is too late. With no genuine characters built in the first hour or so, just a selection of events and a series of expositional sequences, it is very hard to retain attention and care for what occurs on screen. When the action explodes, there is then no sense of bother and weight - there is also a lack of spectacle, as, whilst the direction is satisfactory, it is not good enough to carry the film singularly. So, for a better traditional samurai film, look to Kurosawa and the likes of Sanjuro. For a better film on sadism and death as culture/culture as death, watch Ichi The Killer. Not terrible, but not worth the time.

It's not terrible, but it's far from descent. Love, Simon is cinematic fluff. At its heart, it is trying to be a film about telling the truth, but it exists in a world in which everyone apparently deserves to be loved. These two themes, whilst they might not seem conflicting, reveal themselves to in fact be as they are juxtaposed in fluffy movies like this. To tell the truth is to open gateways to higher moral being; to realms of greater substance, conflict and weight. Life does not become easier when one tells the truth, but it does gain greater meaning. To override such an ideal, characterlogically, structurally and aesthetically, with an idea such as 'everyone deserves to be loved' undermines the purpose of telling the truth. We tell the truth as to gain passage to things such as love or happiness; to show that we deserve it. The two are not separate. However, Love, Simon fails in showing this. It doesn't fail completely, but, it lacks thematic solidarity and so doesn't do anything particularly commendable in my eyes. In the end, not worth seeing.

The Beat That My Heart Skipped is equal parts beautiful and simple. It has undoubtedly managed stir many emotions deep within me, using music as both an emotional processor and expresser; the piano a tool for individuation and a battleground upon which masculine and female are coerced into harmony. At its heart, however, this is just a film about a boy who has long lost his mother, left to father his own calamity of dad, but is trying to reconcile with her memory. To do just this, he has to cease his imitation of the tyrannous masculine forces he has surrounded himself with and delve into chaos with ease, with comfort, relaxed and lumber.

Shot with an intimate touch, written with ellipses that understand how exactly to show just enough so that the narrative remains expressively ambiguous, and performed wonderfully, The Beat That My Heart Skipped is a gem of a movie that I'm more than grateful to have stumbled upon.

As a biopic, I have to say I have no faith in this. I have seen a bunch of Aldo's fights and have just re-watched his WEC title fight, and in no way does this capture the reality of the events. There is a lot of sensationalism and artistic liberties taken and, whilst I appreciate some of this, these elements secured by disbelief in this as anything resembling an accurate document of a fighter's life. Alas, as implied, I think there is some worth in this. What I found most valuable in what seems to be a story inspired by true events is the presentation of a father-son relationship. This is due to the fact that Aldo is not put on an easy journey and is not painted in the best of lights. What's more, this opened up a lot of possibilities for the director to inject some surreal and flashy flair into the picture, which, whilst it is not always truly effective, makes for an engaging narrative. Not a masterpiece, but worth watching if you're an MMA fan.

My initial reaction: pretty spectacular. Given some thought... not so sure.

If looked at through the guise of the previous Batman films, Lego Batman is, in my view, one of two things; obnoxious or a needed turn-around towards lighter themes. If the previous Batman films, especially Nolan's, are taken seriously, then Lego Batman shows a rudimentary understanding of the narratives before using a politically correct ethos to wipe away its complexity. However, if the previous Batman films, especially Nolan's, are seen by children, then Lego Batman provides, not just fun and spectacle, but accessible meaning that, whilst it is not really suited to the Batman character, has some substance. In the end, I'm not sure where exactly I sit in between these two views. I had fun with this movie, but I did see some pretty insipid stuff when looking closer. Ultimately, I'm more than willing to just leave this as a harmless kid's movie - not much more, not much less.


I've never come into contact with Wong's stand-up before, but it held some pleasant surprises and some pretty unique subject matter. Some of the best bits then concern Wong's pregnancy's conflict with her unapologetic look on her marriage (or entrapment). These bits produce some nice sparks of humour that, whilst they didn't have me rolling on the floor, were a refreshing slice of comedy. Worth the watch.

Though I probably should have tried to see this cult comedy classic years ago, I've just watched Friday for the first time and... well, it's not a life-changer.

What makes Friday work are the elements of truth and realism underlying the absurd comedy--things such as the father talking to his son on the toilet--that make things pretty relatable and the characters honestly rounded; this sense of genuine energy being the film's strongest element. However, if contemplated, the realism reveals the skewed morality of the film that, whilst it attempts to just show how one should fight for what is right, arguably over-indulges and makes light of a lot of stupid shit. Because the moral turn-around in the end isn't that strong, and the comedy not that funny, this debate weighs upon the film, leaving it light, nonsensical fun at best.

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