Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #92

13/01/2019

End Of The Week Shorts #92



Today's shorts: Chicago (2002), Pacific Rim (2013), Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (2013), Green Book (2018), Upgrade (2018), Christopher Robin (2018), Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)



A struggle like no other.

Chicago's commentary is crystal clear, yet in articulable; its spectacle and visual subtext... intensely mind-boggling. We step into the mind of a psychotic woman in a psychotic world. Sexuality is at the epicentre of all chaos, a black hole into which unfathomable neuroses a drawn; want for nothing but the pleasures of the moment plague sense and demolish morality. Zombified by shining lights and poison promises, the world dances. Like a Von Trier movie, this is hard to look at, the melodrama like a roller coaster ride you've woken up on already charged to vomit. I can't say it any other way: a struggle... maybe a work of brilliance for just that, but a struggle through and through.



There's so much that could be criticised about Pacific Rim, but all that I want to say, I have already said about Pacific Rim: Uprising. Returning to the first film in the series after so many years (I vaguely remember seeing this in the cinema when it first came out... 6 years ago... damn), I was first and foremost surprised by how terrible it is. The dialogue and characterisation are almost unforgivably terrible - to the extent that this sounds like it was written by someone not only imitating how they think big action Hollywood blockbusters should sound, but are doing so without a familiarisation with the English language. This alien nature of Pacific Rim's writing produces the queerest melodrama conceivable and comedy so out of touch with the idea of funny I was left at so many points scratching my head in confusion. I am always wanting to give melodramatic expressionistic tosh edge, but I see nothing that Pacific Rim executes slightly well, meaningfully or not. I can only say I'm glad we never got to see Del Toro's Hobbit.



I don't understand why Kevin Hart feels he has to load the front end of his stand-up specials with mindlessly trashy skits (I could be much more severe here, but I'll save you the profanities). Not only are the first 15 minutes of this not very funny, but they drag... a lot... and are pretty much entirely irrelevant. That said, when this actually becomes a stand- special, it works - it works brilliantly. Of course, Kevin Hart's comedy and stage persona were well-established by Let Me Explain, which leaves so many of the bits somewhat predictable (maybe he's trying a bit too hard with the Deerbra), but he still manages to deliver. Indulging his own celebrity just enough, Hart does what he does best - comedy on the stage. I'm then almost in tears as he screams HELP ME... and freaks out over bum's hands. And whilst I can't say I care for his career in film, here he shines.



A perfect synthesis of realist drama and comedy, Green Book is undoubtedly the most immersive filmic experience I've had in a while. I cannot exaggerate when I say I could not pull away from this film. Viggo Mortensen's is Tony Lip impossible magnetic, impeccably written and incredibly performed. Mortensen becomes a gateway into the initially aloof, shielded and hard to sympathise with Don Shirely. And it is the way in which Ali and Mortensen reveal one another's character's humanity that is, for one, subtle and tremendously affecting, and for another, what makes Green Book work.

There is a clear socio-political side to this film, and it certainly tries to keep as many people happy as it possible can. This leaves it a little forced and sentimental (maybe melodramatic in comparison to reality), but nonetheless whole and nourishing. A pure pleasure to watch.



The plot--ripped form the likes of RoboCop--is nothing worth paying attention to and character building isn't at all imbued with depth, but Upgrade manages to do an awful lot with the limited set of positives it has.

Upgrade excels in two respects: dramatic and aesthetic execution. The means through which action is shot (with a precise, rigid, seemingly robotic eye) and our protagonists moves (equally precise; convincingly two entities in one body) is so uniquely ingenious that the recycling of a narrative we have seen in many times before is wholly justified. The romantic set up is profoundly contrived and fake, plot holes and lapses in logic are rather abundant, the bad guys and twists left me rolling my eyes, but the brilliance surrounding the main character kept me invested in all Upgrade wanted to do. For this, I only have respect.



I couldn't help but be smitten by Christopher Robin. But, my objective eye tells me that this is not very good.

I read Winnie-the-Pooh books and watched the films when I was young, but never really connected to them until my perspective was entirely changed by the fascinating but not thoroughly perfect Tao of Pooh. Feeling the familiar in Christopher Robin, that sense that what is slow, what is simple, what is flexibly infragile can be most meaningful and is an ideal best striven towards, put me a state of subtle rapture. However, there simply is not aesthetic unity achieved by the director here. I don't like how this looks, the editing is very choppy and unselective, I am not a fan of the voice casting (especially for Piglet and Rabbit), the direction is too rugged, the cinematic language is inarticulate and the applications of realism is jarring. It is this that leaves me certain that this feels good, but objectively isn't.



I am still fully-body buzzing from the tremendous experience that is Into The Spider-Verse. The humour, the action, the music, the editing, the look, the tone, the energy - all perfectly tuned. I cannot call this a masterpiece due to slight plot deficiencies and characterisation that left me wanting a little more, but in no way does this fail in doing anything - at all. Into The Spider-Verse even understands where fun is to be had and where to draw the line; Spider-Ham may have his moments, but he is rightly marginalised, as is Spider-Man Noir. Alas, what this succeeds most in doing is, I have to be honest, entirely stripping me of any desire to see another live-action Spider-Man movie. I just can't bring myself to care. Why can't Peter Parker die in Civil War: Part 2 and an animated Miles Morales take his place? I'd be more than eager for for phase 2,200 of the MCU then.






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