Let’s Catch Up

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So, I still see a lot of movies. As you can probably tell, I haven’t been writing about any of them. A lot of reasons for that. The Olympics were on. I moved. Went home for a week. I got a new laptop in November and just haven’t really clicked with it. I’ve been playing too many video games. I’ve thought about turning this into a Cardinals blog. I’ve been lazy.

But, I find myself here with an open Sunday and a out-of-the-blue-but-in-its-own-way-totally-in-season-with-our-maddening-climate cold front here in Boston, and so I’m gonna catch up. Still hoping to write something on New Girl and The Americans as they wind down. And something on The Expanse. Had to leave you with a few teasers for stuff I’m totally gonna get around to writing.

Also, shouts to MoviePass for letting me see the majority of these these movies for *free. Please don’t sell my data.

***

Black Panther

I actually have notes for this one! By now, you’ve probably heard of Black Panther. It’s the 34th biggest movie ever and features the first black superhero (since Blade!) to headline his/her own movie. It’s also awesome.

Ryan Coogler’s entry into the MCU could not have gone better. Black Panther has all the fun stuff. It’s high-key impossible to look at Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) and breathe at the same time. I am ever mesmerized when a watch or necklace or ring (or whatever object is most convenient for you man!) SUITS SOMEONE UP. It’s low-key impossible to watch Letitia Wright (Princess Shuri!) do anything in this movie and not smile. Black Panther has as much fun as every other Marvel movie.

It’s also not perfect. Michael B. Jordan isn’t performing on the same astral plane as anyone else in this movie. Disney wants you to have fun but still want to sell you a Lexus while they’re at it.

Thinking on a wider scale, I like Marvel because Marvel is constantly interrogating what a superhero story can do. Iron Man came out on the heels of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and Fox’s first X-Men series a decade ago. Back then, creators had to take superheroes seriously, or no one would. And then Robert Downey Jr. strutted in, you know, definitely the guy at that time everyone thought would become the biggest superhero star on the planet for the next decade.

Marvel’s pitch, from Downey’s performance to Joss Whedon’s rapid wise-cracks, was that superhero movies should be fun. Taiko Waihit’s Thor: Ragnarok was probably the flowering of that this past summer–delightful, improvised anarchy.

So, enter Ryan Coogler and Black Panther. And Coogler doesn’t just wanna make a movie that’s cool, he wants to interrogate what it means for Wakanda to exist on whatever Earth the MCU occurs in. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) has a valid critique in Black Panther–there’s billions of people who look like Wakandans getting crushed by institutions around the world. And Wakanda, with all its technology and power, has stood by in isolation.

T’Challa has his own valid reckoning, with his people’s relationship to outside world. What responsibility does Wakanda’s isolationist agenda have as an entire people (Africans) around Wakanda were enslaved? T’Challa comes face to face with his people’s history (literally!)–and the failures of all the kings before him–and T’Challa must find a way forward.  

Black Panther is awesome and fun and it’s not about Infinity Rocks. Black Panther is awesome and fun and asks real questions about power, responsibility, and prejudice, and if we’re gonna make another eighteen of these movies, they should be like this. 

Annihilation

In Alex Garland’s newest sci fi beard scratcher, biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) heads into The Shimmer with an all-female expedition team. Lena’s looking for her husband Kane. It’s a suicide mission. (Also, Gina Rodrigex is her own force in this movie).

So they go into The Shimmer, and things get real weird. There’s a very scary bear. There’s worms crawling in people’s skin. And then, they make it to the lighthouse and Garland is like “lol, hold my beer.”

I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in theaters for the first time this year, though last year’s Arrival might be the best parallel for what Annihilation is trying to do. These are movies that recalibrate your brain, that say, “no, don’t think about life that way, that’s boring. Try this.”

I’m still not sure if Annihilation is good or not. But for four days, Annihilation is all I thought about.

Game Night

We talk about the “rom com” being dead right? Boy meets girl, sparks fly, one of them makes a bet that they can get a guy or girl to fall in them in love with them in 10 days or they just become friends or something. Jokes! Shenanigans! Playin hoops with boy, talking about chicks! Friends offer absurd and sometimes insightful advice. Soaring music, dramatic set piece, ect.

We haven’t seen that kind of movie in a while. Since {remember when Justin Timberlake was trying to be a movie star}. We pivoted to “the rom com isn’t dead, it’s just on TV,” where the messy, “modern” courtships of You’re the Worst and Love, among others, have chugged along.

Counterpoint: Game Night is a great rom com. It starts with a bar trivia meet cute but then fast forwards to fun little chat with a fertility specialist. Rachel McAdams, rom com darling of the mid 2000s, has never been better and Narcos’ Jason Bateman (that’s what he’s known for right?) is the most dependable comedic performer working the past decade. Basically, it seems like marriage is super fun.

Chappaquiddick

On July 18th, 1969, Massachusetts Senator and the last of Joe Kennedy Sr.’s four sons, Ted Kennedy drove his car off a one lane bridge and into a tidal channel. Teddy swam free of the accident, but Mary Jo Kopechne, his lone passenger and brother Robert’s former campaign aide, remain trapped in the vehicle and would suffocate sometime in the ten hours. Ted Kennedy would report the incident at 10 AM and release a statement that morning. That’s pretty much all we know for sure about the Chappaquiddick incident.

John Curran’s Chappaquick is about the truth and bullshit. Ted Kennedy, played by a wodnerful Jason Clarke, is a man drowning in bullshit trying to swim his way to the truth. Or maybe it’s vice versa. I’m not sure. I can’t remember a movie this precise yet so moody since Michael Clayton. That’s the highest compliment!

Isle of Dogs

I won’t hold against you if you fall asleep halfway through.

Blockers

Blockers is the most fun I’ve had going to the movies all year. Ping me if you’re thinking of seeing it, I’ll go with you, even if we’re not, like, great friends. It’ll be great. I’m fun.

A Quiet Place

There’s something really safe about John Krasinski’s face. In A Quiet Place, Jim is “Fallout” America’s Super Dad–growin’ corn, catchin’ fish, making hearing aids, takin’ notes on the same demagorgon-creates we now have to fight across all content (except this time, they have super-good hearing!). And, as Jim notes in his man cave, they’re “blind.”

Also, Jim–just a note!–maybe stop having kids! I know you’re Super Dad and I know you’re wife is Emily Blunt, but still, maybe not the best time to bring kids into the world!

Mild concerns aside, there’s a reason IT, Get Out, and A Quiet Place are three of my favorite movie going experiences of the past few years. The way you and 50 strangers can wince and laugh in harmony is still one of the best reasons to go to the movies.

1 comments on “Let’s Catch Up”

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