It’s easy enough to write off Mercury Rising as nothing beyond a generic action thriller from the 90’s. But it only goes to show another reason as to why Mercury Rising is absolutely terrible, because of its approach to rather sensitive subject matter. Maybe it isn’t so much for an outsider but my personal experiences having grown up with autism have only made me all the more critical of how films depict people on the spectrum. Given how perceptions of people like myself who struggle within their daily lives as a result of their mental health have been shaped thanks to media, it was certainly never easy and films like Mercury Rising aren’t helpful to our cause. These aren’t films that know down to the bone how we can be like, it just feels more like a deliberate sidelining for the sake of schlock.
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Cinema poses lots of different mysteries to be encapsulated within any amount of running time, Eraserhead is arguably one of the grandest of such enigmas. I first saw Eraserhead at a rather young age and what I remember rather fondly of it was that it left a specific taste in my mouth that couldn’t be described properly, and the next day I watched it once more. The idea became more clear to one like myself, yet it still fascinates me for there’s always more to pick out on every watch. When I watched Eraserhead for my first time, I was always thinking to myself about how to piece together what it was that I just watched. Parts of it all managed to make more sense when I got around to watching David Lynch’s own Mulholland Drive (which is my favourite from his body of work this far) and as Eraserhead remained in my head, I grew much more fondly of it – something that still runs within my own head today.
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Something snapped inside of me after having revisited Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul in so many years: it was the urge to let out a storm. I wasn’t exactly sure at first, but I still recall my first experience with Fassbinder’s Douglas Sirk-inspired melodrama and I found it to be a stunning, if difficult experience at that. It was difficult because what I saw from Ali: Fear Eats the Soul wasn’t only a film that tells of a romance that was made impossible at the hands of societal norms. It was a frightening experience that brought back my own fears – and I froze on the spot like I always do at the hands of my own paranoia. I froze because I was reminded of everything in my life that I’m most afraid of and think about on a regular basis. I just sense fear eating me away at every minute, my soul is slowly leaving day by day – and I can never escape.
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This was something that I wanted to love, because the sort of experiment that it is posing onto viewers was always something that intrigued me. No dialogue is present throughout the course of the film’s running time, and instead all that we receive is visual communication through the form of Ukrainian sign language. The film’s lack of any use of subtitles was yet another factor that intrigued me, but the final result that I got from The Tribe was one that only left a bitter taste in the mouth. It wasn’t a film that speaks for the deaf community that I was watching, but rather a tasteless experiment that prides itself on exploiting what they experience – one that even left me feeling sick to my stomach while we’re at it. I know it isn’t at all what director Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi would have wanted, and that’s a part of what I think makes the bitter effects of it much worse.
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Perhaps it’s a tad snooty on my end to say, but I’m amazed that few people seem to really “get” Starship Troopers in this day and age. Although it’s a wonderful sight to see that it has acquired a cult following in more recent years, I would only have imagined that Paul Verhoeven’s name being attached to adapt a novel written by Robert Heinlein – an author I’ve disliked for the authoritarian and borderline fascistic readings into his own text was already in for yet another bite. And knowing where the satire present in RoboCop and Total Recall had leaned, the idea had only hit me as cheeky – and admittedly it was something that even went over my head the first time I saw Starship Troopers. Over repeated viewings, however, the cleverness of Starship Troopers became even clearer – working within the same in-your-face charm that made RoboCop so brilliant.
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Plays out more along the lines of a really bad Black Mirror episode than an actual feature film. But given the odd marketing methods that have allowed the Cloverfield films to stand out amidst many, it also makes a case for what’s to be expected of The Cloverfield Paradox. While it’s respectable for someone like J. J. Abrams to allow a person of colour to helm a blockbuster whose diversity will undoubtedly shine, the film itself isn’t quite the game changer we would have wanted it to be since it happens to be the exact opposite. It’s the opposite because the fact it was released on Netflix less than 24 hours after it was announced also gives away the feeling that perhaps the film was never good enough to get a theatrical release and was merely dumped onto the streaming service like a direct-to-video film. It wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case for The Cloverfield Paradox because it certainly feels as if it was made as such.
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What exactly is it like to enter the mind of a serial killer? Perhaps morbid curiosity can drive the soul somewhere, but the sort of experience that Gerald Kargl has provided in Angst is a most unforgettable one. But to think about how Gerald Kargl had never directed another film afterwards, I was only left to think about how Charles Laughton would eventually go on never to direct again after The Night of the Hunter because like Laughton, I would only have imagined that Kargl could have directed many more classics had the initial box office reception been much more welcoming. As a matter of fact, just thinking about how much had Gerald Kargl formed in here makes it all the more impressive of a feat as a debut feature because the sort of grit present in an experiment like this seems near impossible to repeat.
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I remember the first viewing of Frances Ha well enough and how it treated me then. At the time, I was unfamiliar with Greta Gerwig and my first impression only had me thinking that what I was watching was cute and funny. The more I watch Greta Gerwig, I slowly realize what it is about the way she writes her characters that keeps me watching them as their stories are being told for us on the screen, and what I think about from then onward is the state of her own life in which she is living in. Frances Halladay is old enough to own an apartment, find a job for herself, but she spends her days living in Brooklyn as if she were younger. But it isn’t her own fault either, rather instead she lives the way that she does because it’s the result of her own environment as Gerwig and Baumbach write her to be. It is the very feeling that you know the circumstances of such a lifestyle so well enough that pulls yourself closer to Frances Ha.
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Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time is a film of a rather significant first, because it is the first film with a budget of over $100 million to have been directed by an African-American woman. While it’s certainly admirable on Ava DuVernay’s end that she managed to get this made, unfortunately talking about the film itself will be a whole other story. The film’s social significance cannot be overstated but because of that whole other story regarding the actual quality of the film, it also sets a worrying note for WOC filmmakers working in Hollywood. It’s worrying because of the possibility that this film will end up being weaponized against them, especially when it isn’t so much a failure as said concept would end up making it out to be.
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Joe Wright’s films come off to me as the sort that show off whatever is possible without offering much beyond that. I remember trying to watch Atonement for a history class and I was struggling just to stay awake, and his Pan film was just about one of the most awkward experiences for myself (I think the anachronistic soundtrack was already jarring enough whether it be the inclusion of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or the Ramones’s “Blitzkrieg Bop” that gave everything away for me) – and yet I find Hanna strangely enchanting. Quite frankly I also remember it as the first time I had seen Saoirse Ronan in anything, and her performance here was enough for me to say that Wright had opened me up to what seems missing from the action genre in this day and age. She doesn’t hold back and it only creates something all the more tense in Hanna.
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