Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
October 13, 2017
Four Movie Reviews

I watched a handful of movies recently! Here are my thoughts on It (2017), mother! (2017), My Little Pony (2017), and Before Midnight (2013)...

It (2017)

Honestly? I found It kinda boring. The characters were unbelievable and underdeveloped. Certain elements of and changes to (compared to the 1990 miniseries; I haven't read the novel) the story were baffling. Pennywise himself -- the main attraction, at least for me -- ultimately had me groaning every time he appeared (which was a LOT). A friend described Pennywise as less a performance than a special effect; I wholly agree with that assessment. And perhaps the following occurred to me because both feature the same distinctively weird-looking kid, but I kept thinking that the movie played out like an abridged and way less interesting Stranger Things adaptation. (Admittedly I wasn't a *huge* fan of that show, either. It was okay.)

mother! (2017)

Well... mother! is definitely an *interesting* film. It's certainly not as awful as some folks have said, nor is it particularly horrifying -- but for one sequence that takes place toward the very end of the film (like, in the last 15 minutes or so), I wouldn't even call it horror. Mostly not a lot happens; the things that do happen are strange and largely open to interpretation. There's one point in the film where the (female) protagonist's husband -- a poet -- remarks that his readers all had different interpretations of his work, and yet they all perfectly understood it. I think the film itself is aiming for something like that. There’s another comment in the movie where one character insists that the protagonist can’t understand because she’s not a mother, and I think there’s probably some truth to that concerning the film as well. At the very least, certain themes in the movie are easier to parse when one likens them to aspects of childbirth and motherhood (hence the title).

Anyway -- should you see mother!? It's probably too challenging and/or abstract for most viewers; most others will benefit from watching it at home, where one can rewind the film or pause it to ponder the meanings of various developments or lines of dialogue. Dedicated fans of Darren Aronofsky should of course see mother! in the theater, but they probably already have by this point.

My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)

It's a My Little Pony movie. Part of my problem with film adaptations of TV shows is that the shows themselves are generally hard to top. This is especially true when a show has been on for a while (MLP: Friendship is Magic just finished its seventh season), since the show's had that much more time to accumulate standout episodes. For me, a truly satisfying movie would have to at least measure up to and ideally surpass the very best of those episodes... and MLP: The Movie simply isn't up to that task. On that front, it mostly doesn't even try. (Heck, given how brilliant some of those episodes have been -- the show has not only tackled all manner of issues involving friendship, but also such challenging topics as racism and *death* -- that might even be an impossible task.)

But MLP: The Movie does take the ponies on a beautifully animated adventure (the animation definitely surpasses the show's, though for that reason it takes some getting used to) filled with entertaining songs (albeit largely forgettable ones that are mostly inferior to the show's standout numbers), so there's that. All in all, it's worth seeing for MLP fans of all ages, even if said fans will be quick to pounce on certain continuity issues/character absences. (Like, nothing here directly contradicts the events of previous episodes... but considering that the ponies have made some *powerful* allies over the years -- seriously; one of Fluttershy's closest non-pony pals is a freaking *god* -- it seems strange that those allies are awol while the Mane Six trek to faraway lands in desperate search of aid.)

Before Midnight (2013)

I watched this one on my birthday, since the first two films in Richard Linklater's Before trilogy -- Before Sunrise and Before Sunset -- are both probably among my top five and definitely among my top ten movies. (Depending upon my mood, Before Sunrise often occupies the #1 spot.) I definitely didn't enjoy Before Midnight *that* much -- but that's partly because I largely can't relate to the protagonists, Jesse and Celine, at this point in their journey. Whereas in the previous films they were optimistic youths meeting on a train (Before Sunrise) and somewhat jaded thirty-somethings reuniting a decade after their one night together (Before Sunset), in Before Midnight they've been married for eight years and are dealing with issues involving their own children (they have elementary school-aged twin girls) and Jesse’s teenage son from his first marriage.

Also, more than the other films, the dialogue feels somehow unnatural -- the couple will be having a pleasant, flirty conversation; then suddenly Celine gets angry (I'd be curious about how women interpret these conversations, since it always seemed to me like Celine was the one spoiling the mood) and now they're shouting at each other. But real conversations actually do happen like that, and perhaps they're more likely to happen when people have long histories with each other, so these instances aren't necessarily inauthentic -- it's just that those longstanding tensions are hard to convey onscreen in the moments before the arguments erupt. So kudos to Linklater for trying to capture that? But for my part, I think he does a much better -- and more satisfying -- job with youthful optimism and abstract musing (and there's still some of that in this film; the daughters spend most of the movie either asleep or with babysitters, freeing the couple to talk about less pressing concerns). Anyway, Before Midnight is still a worthy entry in the trilogy, and it does advance the story of Jesse and Celine in a meaningful (if not always encouraging) way.

-posted by Wes | 4:31 pm | Comments (0)
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