Monday, January 22, 2018

Screen Log 3: The Killing of a Sacred Deer; Detroit; All the Money in the World; Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes; Thelma


I loved Yorgos Lanthimos' last two films--"Dogtooth" and "The Lobster," the latter being my favorite film of 2015. His latest, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, left me baffled the way an otter falling from the sky and landing square on your yard would. This is why I usually avoid movies and TV series that have to do with medical stuff: More or less the errors can be distracting. That's particularly true with the stuff that ABS-CBN and GMA feed their audiences on a daily basis. But I did not expect Lanthimos to be so carelessly dramatic. No doctor would see his patient refusing to eat and looking ill and not think right away of giving IV feeding. Setting that aside, what. was. the. deal. with. this. movie. Like I couldn't even. It managed to be both arid and arctic at the same time. Blank and not amusing at all, somewhat akin to a general anesthesia. Overall, a chilling disappointment from one of my favorite directors.

With Kathryn Bigelow's DETROIT, the impulse to look away was blown to smithereens. Granted this is not a perfect film: the latter third didn't quite live up to the other parts, both in terms of dramatic tension and cinematic fluidity. Film critic Bilge Ebiri, writing for the Village Voice, called it the film's own form of "shell shock." Still, what a thrill. Not that the movie's most intense parts--the whole ghastly ordeal at the motel--were enjoyable. Far from it. But they were as close as one could possibly get to the horrors of those times. No looking away, the bloodshed and humiliation and unjustifiable hatred right in front of the viewer's face. You just know it when a modern master delivers.

To call Ridley Scott one of the masters of our time wouldn't be inaccurate. But ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, his second feature for 2017 (after "Alien: Covenant"), strangely left me cold. I could not for the life of me figure out why Scott submitted himself into making this terribly prosaic movie. Christopher Plummer was excellent in the Kevin Spacey role--one actually wonders how Spacey could have pulled off that role--but the rest of the film was a blah. Blah, blah, blah we're in Rome. Blah, blah, blah something about family history. Then an ear gets cut off. Michelle Williams cries. Mark Wahlberg does another Mark Wahlberg-ian cop-ish role. The end. It wasn't bad, really, but the final product made you question the point of the whole endeavor.

Jun Robles Lana's ANG DALAWANG MRS. REYES was just so much fun. This is how you do a comedy, guys. Push everything to its limits. I loved this whole experience so much, despite the flaws. Gladys Reyes delivering a no-nonsense Gladys Reyes speech, for starters. And the leads--Juday and Angelica Panganiban--were everything you could possibly hope for, and more. Made you wish, really, that Filipino comedies were always this intelligent.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum is Joachim Trier's THELMA. Now I'm a fan of Trier's last two movies: "Oslo, August 31st" and "Louder than Bombs." This one, styled as a supernatural horror flick, hits its peak pretty early with its first sequence, showing a father aiming a rifle at a deer, only to shift his aim towards the back of his young daughter's head. Cue title card. Not won over by the horror though; felt that the supernatural elements are this movie's weakest. And that's all I really have to say about it, because the ardent fans might come after me with flaming pitchforks.
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