k_grall

IMDb member since July 2000
    Lifetime Total
    10+
    IMDb Member
    19 years

Reviews

Piercing
(2018)

Lots of visual references here. The Body can be seen to be of focus, of/andMia Wasikowska stands out, particularly
I gain a lot by reading others' reviews here on IMDB, and I agree with the camp pseudo-Lynch, Italian and Japanese, 70s touches to the aesthetic, and bookend title and credits. What I like to touch on is something else, what I read from it.

Mia Wasikowska shone in this role, and is practically the biggest factor in my rating. Not her alone I guess, because direction and stage-production is contributory. BUT... what I noticed and came with were lots of disarming shots of Mia Wasikowska's body. In its naturalness, and openness, or frankness, and Wasikowska had the presence to pull her performance off, with flightiness but down-to-earthness too. A lot can be said about a woman in her objectification, but Wasikowska, also particularly emoting in her facial expressions, imbues the character an internality, that I really appreciated.

I want to remain with the Body as a theme of the movie, and I think this is where the tension is, in this movie. The Body or flesh is taught to be sinful, in our culture, and possession or fight for it, evokes that edge to the action of this film, certainly. Structurally, the film features the turnabout of this action as a plaything, in a way similar to the Ellen Paige-lead movie, Hard Candy. But I think I appreciate the shots of Mia Wasikowska and the frankness of her body, more here, as distinguishing and distinct.

Wasikowska's performance was the main thing for me, though. The rest of the movie felt like a clever shell of something that just slightly didn't quite achieve solid brilliance to hang it all together. A low budget movie that was interesting, with obvious visual references. Mia Wasikowska shone in yet another one of these roles (another IMDB reviewer mentioned Double, from Wasikowska's filmography. Yep).

First Reformed
(2017)

A lucid, illuminatory experience; and why struggle, and our cultural-Christianity, remain each compelling
Lucid; that's my keyword for this film. There are other very good reviews posted here by other IMDB reviewers, and I've pleasurably devoured several of them (particularly concerning the movie's end, with Hawke's actual drinking of the drano and accompanying hallucination of Seyfried's character; which I only faintly noted as unusual when I watched it, and didn't truly latch on that the scene was not to be read straight-ly - Bravo, in interpretation, thank you IMDB reviewers!). So, to find something I want to contribute: the film and its translucent, white and boxed presentation, adds to this very lucid quality. Lucid for Ethan Hawke's character and how he is, and presenting the film as such.

Chris Nolan used light-whiteness in Insomnia, and First Reformed does so similarly, I feel. Both films interestingly involve searches for Truth; which may be coincidental but might also be conflated, without that connotation, as a state of lucidity? I find lucidity here, anyway. And the boxedness of non-widescreen presentation also talks to me about constraint, which again is a quality to the lucid state the Reverend is dealing with.

The themes of struggle and a Christian framework of understanding situated in this time and place, are compelling. I will always be suckered in by such discussions, I think, and this is definitely in my oeuvre. I most enjoyed the discussion with the manager of the Church's affairs that strove to point out the Reverend should not feel and indulge in Christ's suffering as much as he does. And I savoured seeing the Reverend's sexuality emerging now and again, through - what I regard not as Priestly, but middle-class and cultivated, repression. Repression and feelings of sexuality, and what to do with them, that we all have (see Freud, Foucault, Shakespeare, etc.).

The film starts with the Reverend's ambitious recording of his thoughts, and ends, apparently, in induced hallucination which the narrative plays straight. Lucidity in form, and, accordingly, compelling matter, here.

Her Smell
(2018)

Good acting and camera-work here leads to a fluid and interestingly constant narrative, on a low budget
What's impressive here from the outset is the cast: Elizabeth Moss, Cara Delevingne (in a minor role, but this supermodel-turned-actress still gets second billing!), Dan Stephens, Eric Stoltz, Amber Heard, and many other fine young actr(esses) I am not familiar with, and do well. The caliber is distinguishing, with this mix of actors that are upcoming-with-a-name, that are looking for presumably more real acting projects, and with older, now less seen actor, like Stoltz. So that's all a clue...

These actors all deliver with camera work that is worthy, in presenting the tensions the film explores. Altogether, there are sections where time leaps, but the narrative presentation moves at a constant pace and the story is impressively told in that manner, I found. I liked the film for these elements.

If I had to comment on the film's subject matter of the pop-Starlet turmoil, it's not really that interesting to me. Why her? Why not?, is the question next begged. So, it's OK, and I don't mind spending some time here, but the subject isn't rip-roaring for me (it's also a subject that was covered in the Natalie Portman-lead Vox Lux; so maybe exploration of roles prominent for women? at a guess, or consideration for both movies' respective raison d'etre). Time passed reasonably well for me watching this, and I credit the elements I have mentioned that make this film reasonably good.

Watch for interest in the cast, and the choices of camera work within the narrative presentation, as worthiest. A good little movie to have watched.

Joker
(2019)

Empathy is key. Indeterminate spaces created that I appreciated a lot
I like sophisticated fiction that creates spaces of uncertainty within them. Whilst watching Joker, I kept on thinking of Fight Club, and I wondered why? Because it's not really like Fight Club - but it is. How one character relates to the world. And then there's the creation of the fictional character in Zazie Beetze's apparition, for Fleck. So, that's one indeterminate space that I really appreciated the whole text as creating. I found it also particularly telling that there is a scene where Fleck admits his original three murders to an admin worker, and it's references Raskolnikov's own admission in Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment beautifully, here. That text is a masterpiece of exploring existential being in a society, and so the reference was not lost on me.

I had empathy for Fleck, and the filmmakers did this wonderfully well. Those many reviewers that judge Fleck as a 'pathetic' and 'sad' 'incel' figure have already objectively judged him, I feel. Empathy at that point of judgment renders empathy not really possible, in my opinion. Much is missed out on. A much more interesting question is how are those actions reached, empathetically? Todd Phillips has given us a very good exploration, that references, and the text is richly complex. I had a good time here.

Gloria Bell
(2018)

Relatable, modernist exploration of contining to live. Keyword: sympathy
I found this movie relatable and universally applicable in its quietly-trained focus on Julianne Moore's character, Gloria Bell. Beyond gender, because I could relate to all her experience, in seeking love, seeing if it fits into your own life, and of just trying to make it through the next ten minutes, let alone live day to day with only your own existence as a bedrock.

There is sympathy here for all the characters, including John Tuttoro's as a romantic love interest. Sympathetic to all their flaws, and it is determined to portray them, and which I find very admirable. There is no comfort to be found here, except perhaps a inference of absurd Sisyphean endurance. And the film's sympathy.

Triple Threat
(2019)

Good enough but not Great, and slightly disappointing for that. Meta- message pro China that I read and don't mind
Good enough action but I could have hoped for more focus and development, for any of the three top-billed actors. They were good but perhaps sharing the top-billing split some of the movies focus?

I came away with a meta-message, or subtextual reading of this movie, that I liked. It has an unmistakable pro- China Belt and Roadways initiative message: The baddies are US mercs, and the heroes are Chinese agents, in Burma, and with an Indonesian. All doing good. It's undoubtedly pro-China, and I can see it, and don't mind the message as China responsibly assumes a/its place in the World Order (hopefully). I genuinely don't mind seeing that message here, and take it as a good sign.

Al di là della legge
(1968)

The sound of the wind on the landscape is in equal measure to the winds of the human soul!
Lee van Cleef. Sorry, even in this unremarkable role here, this actor pulls off a mildly compelling role.

What I loved in this movie was the craft in innovation, of the camera angle and shots taken, repeatedly. And the innovation in these regards was in tune in portraying the innovative ways van Cleef and his three other men gun-fought, or were in wagon chases. This, with the music, is if credit to this probably less -remarkable spaghetti-western. It does it for me, and speaks to the human soul. Directly.

What They Had
(2018)

Family dynamics at play...
The substance of this film is family dynamics and how they operate. As a theme, it is universally felt here, particularly in the aspirations of the children vis-a-vis the parents. And, multi-generationally. Great discussions and things that occur, along these lines. And I just loved seeing Hillary Swank and Michael Shannon act off one another. Blythe Danner and Robert Forster rounded out the accompaniment well for a good ensemble.

What I felt could have been better, or done differently, was the type of shots taken, and the focus of the camera on the main players. It was good enough but.... I compare this film on family dynamics to the excellent French film on the same, The Summer Hours. That film was able to create a real sense of place that the family occupied; the season, the envieonment, everything. In contrast, I didn't get that same moment in time/place with What We Had. It fell on the players a lot more, and it felt just a little heavy on the message communicated, for that. Maybe it's the difference between a US movie and a European sensibility. And it's interesting to me that I slightly preferred the European film more.

What We Had is an excellent movie that I liked though, because of its presentation of family dynamics. Very glad to have seen it!

The Kindergarten Teacher
(2018)

Glad to be taken here
Nice little pot-boiler about a woman's underlying dissatisfaction with her circumstances and the strange hole she goes down in pursuit of what she wants. The teacher makes choices that are incouragable and wrong, but it's unsettling because her choices are singularly right for her. And the film's inclusion of the kindergartener-poet saying 'I have a poem' to no-one, pushes the unsettling note; as does the teacher's compliance when she knows she has been caught for kidnapping. All well structured, psychological and compassionate. The unsettling whimsy of these turns lend the film a realness, although certainly the movie has been constructed.

Well done. Glad to be taken here

Welcome to Marwen
(2018)

Good subject matter gets my ratings up alone
The choice to make a movie on any subject is particularly important in how I like a movie. Doing this on the traumatic results of a hate-crime type of assault is particularly worthy, I find. Does it in a exploratory way of Steven Carrel's inner workings. Reminds me of What Dreams May Come with its visual flair, crossed with Boys Don't Cry, if we were presented with Brandon's psychology -post his bashing and if he went to the cops. Got that magical realism, I guess, that Zemeckis frequently has as a hallmark.

Furlough
(2018)

A film that gets better. Cast attracted to it for some good reasons that become apparent
I initially found this film a little tedious but it must do the groundwork because when we reach the pinacle emotional scenes, I have to say it came away with some profound points. That could be on incarceration, Life, and how time is spent for both Joan and her prison-guard. There's some social-realism here, which is why I think it attracted a good cast in Melissa Leo and Anna Pacquin particularly, as well as Tessa Thompson. Worth a look for that.

Green Book
(2018)

A good Hollywood film. Good acting and the camera work as a foundation
I was impressed by both Mortensen and Ali, and the story is alright. Camera work; more than solid, and it's like the 'best butter' you can find in an Old Hollywood type of way. However... my main complaint is a focus on dialogue scenes, particularly with the Lip's (Mortensen's) wife, played by Cardelini, that just drove a point home... too cute? I don't know, but these 'golden'-type moments in a 'golden'-type movie, just detracted from it all, from what I like, completely.

Also, one final - minor - complaint I had that ticked me was Doc's seeing and observation of the rural black-Southern workers, who were looking back at Doc, dressed in his fine clothes and chauffeured in a car. That shot needed to be there, I'm pretty sure, and it goes to Doc's unsettled identity issues on race, gender and sexuality, later. However, it is, as a scene, comparable to Tarantino's own point on this in Django Unchained. So, it's like I've seen this point recently before, and this took away from the complete profundity of the moment, for me, in this film.

Overall, worth a watch for all the good reasons people are saying though. A good Hollywood film.

Un beau soleil intérieur
(2017)

Modernist, expectations and wants in finding a oarter. Reads something like a play
I read Binochette's experience with various lovers and men in trying to find a partner, was to be universally communicated - like a play does, in exploring the gamete of possibilities, in terms of types of partners. It felt that way for me, even though Binochette is situationally placed by her age, place and even gender. But it is still there to be understood and related to in a way with good depth, to one's own experience.

I liked this a lot. Problems with pain, alienation, where to find things that matter - all very Modernist problems; and I like this as focal subject matter in my fiction. Might present too, some nuggets of wisdom that allude to 'sunshine' and of being 'transitional', that you might find useful in life (I did). Interested how others thought of this, and these things!

Dark Phoenix
(2019)

Everything that I wanted
Enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It didn't milk obvious popular, shiny and gimmicky/fun moments like other movies have, but instead the narrative is mainlined and keyed to the progression of key characters. And this is a GREAT thing.

The interest and question that I had in anticipation of this fourth movie, was where it would beyond the trilogy structure. This is most felt when I regard Jennifer Lawrence/Mystique, as her development and choices are a huge focus and narrative driver in DOFP, and did reach a well attended to end in Apocalypse (ie. she doesn't think of herself as a hero but she is; self-realisation, and a strong point tied neither in ideology to that of Xavier and Magneto). Mystique could have been left there or continued, but what to do with her beyond this three-movie narrative focus that has a natural end?

I was therefore so happy with the artistic choices made in Dark Phoenix. The film is shot in advance of knowing where everything is proceeding. The aesthetics and narrative order all bely this. I was very happy with Mystique being killed (emotionally, and with appropriate payoff and pathos to the trilogy), and for Jean to take the place of narrative focus. To then see what has become of Magneto, Xavier and the others while keeping this narrative focus on Jean tight, is just great. Rewarded everything I liked from the newest X trilogy.

Some things. To look older, characters like Magneto bulked up in weight/muscle. Didn't mind that, and I also don't mind how the characters aged from movie to movie. This is a film about superpowers, so it's already unbelievable/not real/hyper. I am totally forgiving about suspending this minor disbelief, for the good pathos this film and series tries for, and achieves for their characters.

The other thing - there are a lot of tight close up shots, which by itself is a little wearing. However, I found myself fascinated by the narrative order and sombre or melancholic way we knew the order was proceeding. There was a little play and Art to this, and I utterly appreciated it. The choice for close ups were part of that, so I can partially forgive that excessive choice. Importantly, I found it interesting to watch - not perfect or sublime, but just interesting, in its Art. It tries, and has achieved, considerably, for me.

I'm willing to give it a 9. It has everything that I wanted from it.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
(2016)

Watch the Ultimate Edition
This is a review of the Utlimate Edition, and which I rate is as 10 out of 10. For me, BvS Ultimate joins Dark Knight, DK Rises and Logan as among the comic-movies I give the perfect score to; just so you know my sensibilities. However, I feel that a very real argument can be made that BvS Ultimate Edition is in its own league as being THE sole super-hero movie ever made.

My premise is that it has reaction to the Superman - the fantastically alien, ubermensch or God - as its main text. Simply put, no other film does this as its main subject and theme as BvS does. And the Ultimate Edition (i.e. Zack Snyder's full three hour+ artistic treatment) is a brilliant exploration of the theme.

It is the Ultimate Edition which is great. If you've only seen the theatrical cut, then you miss out on the storytelling which acts to balance the movie. Essentially, Bruce is given pathos and pity in his perspective in the UE's longer opening that provides such a balance. Luthor can be seen as more masterfully manipulative of both Bruce and Clark, and Bruce's real pathos and pity gives way to tragedy. Meanwhile Superman remains himself and is the subjected acted upon not only by Luthor's evasive deceptions but also thematic conversations of where and if the superman fits, and is 'good'.

Importantly, the UE also includes a Lois Lane investigative reporting thread that uncovers Luthor's manipulations but she just cannot reach the self-doubting Superman. The tragedy plays itself out, and Luthor remains out of the clutches of The Fourth Estate, and ahead of the branches of Government that serves to define the 'good' (relisten to Holly Hunter's speech for that note).

In all, the humans - Bruce, Lois, the pluralist branches of Government, and even the contemplative/uncertain side of Clark - are shown to have agency in UE, and Luthor manipulates them ALL. Masterful. And then plunge into tragedy, based particularly on Batman's pathos. I have thought since film riffs on The Dark Knight in a big way, if someone was present to 'But Luthor cannot win...'

The first half of Snyder's UE present all of these swirling agencies that focuses into what ultimately happens. I love this movie and I consider it THE only real super-hero to have ever been made. Please watch the Ultimate Edition before judging this movie. Also please sign the petition for a full Zack Snyder extended cut of Justice League, godwilling.

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