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Unconventional, ambitious and admirable
I'm not familiar with Leos Carax's work but having seen Annette now, I'm very interested to watch his previous films.
Annette follows Henry McHenry, a stand up comedian, and Ann Dufrasnoux, an opera singer, whose lives completely change after the birth of their daughter, Annette.
This is so far the strangest film I've seen all year but it's also the most unique. What Leos Carax and The Sparks Brothers have created is something very ambitious and whilst not everything works in the film, it's still a film I have respect for. What I really loved about Annette was its style. Carax's take on a musical is something I've never seen before. He includes many strange shots and scenes that'll leave you gasping. The film literally opens up by breaking the 4th wall with Leos Carax starting the film which I thought was pretty creative. Experimental moments like this throughout the film is what made me enjoy Annette and Carax as a director. I love the production design with the colour green being dominant during many scenes. There is a theatrical atmosphere Carax creates with many sequences of Annette, like a scene on a yacht, and it works considering the story. Visually, it's one of the best films of the year. The music in this film was helmed in a way I didn't expect. Rather than having dance numbers, a lot of the dialogue is said in a musical manner. I didn't really find any of them to be particularly memorable and it also came across as repetitive with how many times they repeat the same lyrics. The long runtime didn't feel fully justified either. I wasn't bored at any point but it could've definitely been shorter to ensure a smoother pace.
All the acting was solid. Adam Driver has been consistently impressing me and his performance as Henry McHenry is fantastic. His singing could use some work but for the most part he did well in that department. Where I really liked him was during his stand up routines. There are some impressive long takes of him performing comedy on stage and he owns it. Marion Cotillard is excellent as usual and brings forth the angelic presence of Ann very well. Simon Helberg also does a great job for the time he's on screen.
I really admire the ambition of Annette. It's a very weird and unconventional musical, unlike any I've seen before, and Carax's abstract vision is something to behold. Not everything gels as well as it could've but it's an experience that you won't get very often and, for that reason, Annette deserves a watch.
Black Swan (2010)
May be Darren Aronofsky's best work
Darren Aronofsky is a very talented director that makes very twisted yet brilliant films. I love Requiem for a Dream and Mother a lot but Black Swan may be his best film as of yet.
Black Swan follows Nina, a ballerina wanting to win the main role in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. She has to play the role of the White Swan, which she fits perfectly, and the Black Swan, a role essayed perfectly by her rival Lily. The pressure builds as she competes for the part leading to her descent into madness.
Everything about this film was phenomenal. As expected from Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan retains a similar style of filmmaking and themes he's been tackling over the course of his other films. Aronofsky's direction is perfect in every way. The level of detail in the shots and symbolism to convey the deterioration in Nina's sanity is simply astounding. I love the way he used black and white in the film to differentiate between characters and their traits. The way he blurred the line between the two colours as the film got increasingly tense and dark was excellently done. There's so much detail from the set design, costumes and Natalie Portman's performance that gets us to grips with Nina's innocent personality. The gradual downfall of her character into madness and obsession felt so organic. Aronofsky is able to build tension so well and it's due to the unpredictable nature of the film. We get a sense of what each character is like but enough room is left in their character to the point where we don't know their true intentions and motivations. The element of mystery surrounding the supporting roles contribute so much to the suspense and darkness that engulfs the film as it goes on.
Another key element to Black Swan is mirrors. There are mirrors all around this film that not only convey themes of self-reflection but also captures Nina's losing grip of reality. Aronfosky stages the camera in perfect positions that bring out the more horror elements and the frequency at which they appear later on the film confuses the audience on what's real and what's not. The ambiguity of those scenes perfectly illustrate Nina's developing psychosis and helps the audience relate to her character more as we're experiencing it with her. The visuals are really something to behold as all of it feels very purposeful and is executed very well. The slick editing and score are contributing factors to all of this. The score is beautiful yet eerie and builds towards the insanity, especially during the riveting finale. The film moves at a great pace, never losing steam and keeping the audience transfixed onto its intense imagery.
Natalie Portman gives a career best performance here as Nina. She gives this role her all and is mesmerising to watch. The childish voice she has in the film fits in so well with the innocence of her character and the way she portrays the transformation of Nina is brilliant in every way. She swept the awards scene with this performance and I cannot complain. Vincent Cassel is also amazing as the director of the company and shares some great scenes with Portman. Someone who really surprised me was Mila Kunis. Casting her as the naughty and Nina's opposite, Lily, was a great choice. She suits the role very well and gives the best performance of her career. Another excellent performer is Barbara Hershey as Nina's overbearing mother and Winona Ryder also does a great job.
Black Swan is an exquisite and disturbing character study that had me on edge from start to finish. From Natalie Portman's incredible performance to Darren Aronofsky's insane direction, Black Swan is a film that definitely deserves a watch.
Could've gone down the obvious route but didn't
There's always something to look forward to in a Nicolas Cage film. Even though nowadays Cage does abysmal films, there's one or two great ones that come with it and Pig is one of them.
Pig follows Rob, a truffle hunter who lives in the woods with his beloved pig. One day, his pig gets kidnapped and he returns to Portland to search for it.
This film could've easily gone down the simple revenge route these stories tend to have but Pig decided to take a slower and deeper approach. In his directorial debut, Michael Sarnoski displays a lot of promise as a director and storyteller. He takes this simple premise and creates a lot of emotion in it. For his first film, it looks really good. The camerawork is fantastic and I liked a lot of the darkness and dim lighting that captured the devastated mood Rob was in the entire time. Despite its 90 minute runtime, the film does move at a slow pace and the lack of action may be bothersome to some people. I did start to feel the pacing at certain points and I definitely could've been more invested in what was going on but I wasn't.
It was refreshing to see characters handle a situation like in a calm yet emotionally effective way rather than going down the typical action route and a lot of the emotion works due to the solid acting. Nicolas Cage is the best he's been in years. Beautifully understated and a man of very few words, Cage is able to channel the distressed nature of Rob in such a believable manner. As much as I would've loved to see Cage go ballistic, it was a nice change of pace to see him in a role he doesn't normally do. I was also surprised to see Alex Wolff in a film like this but he did a good job as well and played along nicely with Cage. Another great performer was Adam Arkin who had some great scenes with Cage and Wolff.
Pig ended up being an experience I didn't expect. I didn't feel as emotionally invested as the film wanted me to but I admire Sarnoski's unique approach to this story and Nicolas Cage for providing one of the best performances of his career.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
I'm a massive fan of Spike Jonze's films. He's made some of the best films I've seen such as Her, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Where the Wild Things Are is easily his weakest film but it's still a good one.
Where the Wild Things Are follows Max, a young boy, who runs away from home and sails to an island inhabited by creatures that hail him as their king.
Based off Maurice Sendak's book of the same name, Where the Wild Things Are is one of the strangest kids films I've seen. The book is very short and to turn it into a feature length film is no easy feat. I had known this film to be a film for kids but I found Where the Wild Things Are to be surprisingly mature. It has a very depressing tone throughout and deals with mature themes like leadership and selfishness. I really liked this take on Sendak's book as I think it builds upon the themes more and therefore we got a better understanding of Max's character. The cinematography doesn't capture the bright and colourful nature of the book but it's very fitting for the tone Jonze went for. The dreary scenery and scale of it is amazing to look at and gives a grand look to the overall film. What I was very impressed by was how good the "Wild Things" looked. Through the use of animatronics, practical effects and CGI, they were able to make the creatures look very real and convincing.
The voice work done for the creatures was very good as well. James Gandolfini was great as the hot tempered Carol, Lauren Ambrose did a good job as the calm yet lonely KW, Forest Whitaker as the gentle Ira was great, Paul Dano did great as the mistreated Alexander, Chris Cooper was solid as Douglas, Catherine O'Hara was great as the aggressive Judith and Michael Berry Jr was good as the quiet Bull. However, the one who really carried the film was Max Records as Max. This film rests on his shoulders as he's a part of nearly every scene and he delivers one of the best child performances I've seen. Catherine Keener also did well as his mother in her small role.
Where the Wild Things Are is a pretty underrated film. When it comes to Spike Jonze's films, I don't hear about this one much. Whilst it may not have translated into a very entertaining film, Where the Wild Things Are deals with some complex themes in an interesting way. The themes along with the fantastic performance by Records, the cinematography and the admirable creation of the creatures themselves make Where the Wild Things Are worth a watch.
A dark comedy with plenty of surprises
With each film I see of theirs, the Coen Brothers manage to surprise me every single time. Their films are so different from each other and yet they're all so good and Fargo is amongst their best work.
Fargo follows Marge Gunderson, a pregnant police chief, who is investigating roadside homicides after a car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard, hires two criminals, Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud, to kidnap his wife in order to extort money from his father-in-law.
Going into Fargo, I was expecting a mystery thriller but that's not what I got. This film is actually more of a dark comedy than a serious thriller and the way the Coens weaved in the comedic elements to this absurd story was fantastic. A lot of the comedy comes from the Minnesotan accents several characters have especially from Frances McDormand's character. The way they speak in the film brings so much to the levity of some scenes. It's borderline caricatured but the Coens manage to maintain a balance so it doesn't become too much. McDormand does such a brilliant job as the polite Marge Gunderson and is one of the bets parts of the film. Another funny aspect is William H. Macy as Jerry Lundegaard. The inept nature of this person and his reactions to situations not going his way was hilarious to watch. Macy captures the pathetic personality of Jerry incredibly well and is one of his best performances. Then we have Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare who are absolutely terrific. I loved the contrast between Stormare's quiet and Buscemi's loud persona as it gave us a handful of funny moments between them. Both suited their roles and played them very well, especially Buscemi.
Where Fargo really exceeds is how the Coen Brothers executed it. The Coens have written a solid screenplay that develops the characters and events in a very organic manner. The Coens are known for leading the story and its characters down paths you wouldn't expect and Fargo is no different. There are many unexpected moments that surprised me but it all made sense. The editing is also excellent. The film wastes no time in getting into the main story and every scene has a purpose. Even a scene where Frances McDormand is having lunch with an old friend seems pointless at first but, in hindsight, it plays an important role to what happens next. The characters are fleshed out beautifully and the progression of events feel believable. I also loved the way the Coens used violence in the film. There isn't as much as I expected but when it does happen, it left me shocked. Its excessive nature was done in a way that I actually felt it and it blended right in with dark comedy. The chilly cinematography by Roger Deakins was also really good.
I think Fargo is one of the best Coen Brothers films. The casting is so good as Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare are all phenomenal in their roles and the Coens have crafted a story that has memorable characters and scenes, avoids clichés and is thoroughly entertaining.
The Gentlemen (2019)
Back to doing what Guy Ritchie does best
It's been a very long time since I've enjoyed a Guy Ritchie movie. He hasn't been able to capture the magic of Snatch ever since that film but thankfully, Ritchie went back to the drawing board and gave us The Gentlemen.
The Gentlemen centers around Mickey Pearson, an American born marijuana kingpin, who's trying to sell off his business in London leading to a chain of events involving blackmail and schemes.
Guy Ritchie's recent films like Aladdin have been disappointing me so it was very satisfying to see him back in his element with The Gentlemen. It felt really to see him go back to doing what he does best and I had a lot of fun with this film. This is Guy Ritchie at his most Guy Ritchie. The script is as snappy as you would expect from him with dialogues that flow very beautifully. They come at you fast and include some great moments that are hilarious. One of the things I enjoyed was the meta aspect to the film. There's a whole element where Hugh Grant is writing a script on the events that take place and the references to the filmmaking was fun to watch. Like Snatch, this film paces at breakneck speed. The film moves so quick that I feel like it needed to slow down at times to give some breathing space for the audience. The story has many twists and turns and the fast pacing can make it difficult to keep up with everything.
The cast that Ritchie assembled for this film is amazing. Matthew McConaughey is excellent here as Mickey Pearson. Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan and Henry Golding all do a great job as well. Michelle Dockery is great but I wish more was done with her character. The standouts in my opinion were Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam and Colin Farrell. Hugh Grant was very entertaining to watch and the witty dialogue he was given added so much to the fun of his character. This is the best I've seen Charlie Hunnam in a film. I loved his calm demeanour but he was also someone you wouldn't want to mess with. Colin Farrell was absolutely hilarious and gave another strong performance. I was also surprised to see Bugzy Malone here but I thought he did well. There's one amazing sequence with him and Farrell that had me laughing out loud.
Whilst The Gentlemen doesn't reach the levels of Snatch, it's still an entertaining watch and a return to form for Guy Ritchie. I hope Ritchie continues making flicks like this as this is where he plays to his strengths.
Alfonso Cuarón's personal work of art
Alfonso Cuarón is one of my favourite filmmakers working today. He displays such flair with the camera and the stories he tells. With Roma, he has made his most personal and honest film yet.
Roma shows us a year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City during the early 1970s.
What I genuinely love in Alfonso Cuarón's films apart from the story is the way he uses the camera. Not only do the long takes he does look incredibly impressive but it feels like a character itself. Cuarón focuses on the immersive quality of films and the way he blends the camera into scenes of action and emotion brings us into the film's world and leaves us entranced till the very end. His latest film, Roma, is a prime example of this. Being his own cinematographer, Cuarón uses stunning long/medium shots panning around the location without breaking the take for extended periods of time, providing a transcendent experience like no other. Told through the perspective of Cleo, Cuarón takes us through her struggles and hardships as well as the family's she works for and the city in general. His moving camera here takes upon the role of the audience and guides us through the scenarios as if we were witnessing it first-hand. What adds to the immersion is the amazing sound design. The sounds heard from the background of every shot builds to create a natural environment that captures the raw intensity or drama displayed by the visuals. I wish I saw this in cinemas to get the full effect of the sound design because it's that good.
There's no doubt that Roma is one of the best shot films I've seen. Aside from capturing the troubles these characters go through and the turmoil the city is in, the intricacy of those shots are impressive in itself. There are scenes involving hundreds of extras with stuff going on in the background and it's such a feat for the eyes. It's no wonder Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director. Every single performance in Roma is fantastic. Yalitza Aparicio is phenomenal as Cleo. She gives such a natural and believable performance that it's crazy to think that this is her first time acting. There are some scenes that demand a lot from her but she pulls them off brilliantly. Marina de Tavira was fantastic in the supporting role and the children acted very well.
Roma is yet another fantastic Alfonso Cuarón film. It's a nice change of pace from him and felt very special considering how intimate it felt to him. Cuarón displayed top-notch filmmaking once again and gave another reason as to why he's such a great director.
Eighth Grade (2018)
Hits so close to home!
Bo Burnham is one of the most talented comedians I know. His recent special, Inside, was one of the best films to come out this year. With Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham continues to show his immense skill.
Eighth Grade is about Kayla, an introverted teenage girl, as she navigates her way through her final week in eighth grade.
From the coming-of-age tales I've seen relating to school, none of them have managed to capture the authenticity of what it's like going through that period as well as Eighth Grade. If you've ever been an unconfident or shy individual during school then Eighth Grade is going to hit very close to home like it did for me. The level of understanding Bo Burnham has for teenagers of this generation as well as social media is very impressive. There are so many details, small and big, that contribute to Burnham's honest portrayal of an eighth grader's life. It's so good to see actors that actually look like they belong in eighth grade rather than looking like they're in their twenties. I also love how Kayla actually has acne as there are so many films that give teenagers the perfect skin. It's small details like that which make me appreciate how much Burnham cared for this story. Another aspect that many filmmakers don't portray properly is social media. It's so gratifying to see someone like Bo Burnham actually depict social media in the way it is. The amount of teenagers constantly on the phone and the long duration of time they're on the phone is depicted so well and accurately reflects today's generation.
Burnham's script is filled with many wonderful and cringey moments. He manages to set up so many relatable situations that look like they're going to work in Kayla's favour but we, the audience, know that's not going to be the case. He merely shows these situations as they are without adding any style to it. It's the sheer simplicity of the dialogues and presentation that make these scenes hit so hard. Burnham tackled the difference in generation between the kids and parents so well with Josh Hamilton's character. Hamilton does an excellent job playing Kayla's dad as he's trying to fit in with today's generation, creating some emotionally powerful moments. All the actors do a great job but I have to give a special mention to Elsie Fisher as Kayla. She's so likeable in the role and conveys Kayla's discomfort and want to fit in incredibly well. She's truly phenomenal here and has a very promising career.
I didn't expect to like Eighth Grade this much but I'm amazed by how well Bo Burnham was able to provide a realistic depiction of that stage in a person's life. Directing kids, especially for your first feature, isn't an easy task but Burnham managed to succeed with ease. This is one of the best directorial debuts I've seen and is a film I'm going to keep close to my heart.
It Comes at Night (2017)
An ambiguous psychological thriller with solid tension
Two years ago, Trey Edward Shults impressed me a lot with his latest film, Waves, and I've been wanting to check out his other films ever since. It Comes at Night is very different from Waves but it's another triumph for the director.
It Comes at Night follows a family living in a remote home in the woods. One day, another family arrives to seek refuge leading to trust issues, fear and paranoia.
What got me so interested in this film was not only because of Trey Edward Shults but also the divisive opinions on the film. It's clear that the marketing was way off in terms of getting across what the film was actually about. To be clear, this is NOT a monster movie. I'll be hesitant to even call this a horror film as what plays out is more of a psychological thriller. Shults creates this world and gives information about it without revealing much. We get a basic outline of the living conditions these characters are in and only know as much as they do. Limiting our knowledge of the film's outside world was a great choice by Shults as it allowed us to connect with the characters and the situation they're in. The level of questions Shults leaves up to interpretation in relation to the state of the film's world enabled me to feel the same level of fear and paranoia the characters were going through. What added to the tension was the amasing score by Brian McOmber. It was haunting to listen to and managed to instill a level of eerieness to the atmosphere which felt very necessary and purposeful to the overall story. Another element, which Shults used heavily in Waves also, was the changing aspect ratio. The aspect ratio changes play a huge role in understanding the characters' state of mind, particularly Travis's, and becomes very important towards the fantastic climax.
The film is small in scale and has very few actors but every single person delivered a strong performance. Joel Edgerton was fantastic as the paranoid father in the family. I loved Kelvin Harrison Jr in Waves and he puts forth another terrific performance as the troubled son, Travis. Christopher Abbott was another standout and played the role of a suspicious person very well. Carmen Ejogo and Riley Keough were also really good as the mothers of their family. The only real issue I have is the use of a jumpscare in the beginning which felt like a cheap way to get a scare out of the audience.
Trey Edward Shults is proving to be a very promising director in my eyes. It Comes at Night is a very polarising film that leaves us with few answers but it's that exact ambiguity that kept the film engaging and fresh in my mind. By making two polar opposite films, It Comes at Night and Waves, Shults has not only shown his skill as a storyteller but also his versatility.
Very over-the-top but consistently entertaining
I love gangster dramas so I've been meaning to watch Scarface for a long time. If there's one reason to watch Scarface, it's for Al Pacino's performance.
Scarface follows Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who arrives in Miami with nothing and goes on to become a powerful drug lord.
Scarface has a lot going for it and it's very loud in its presentation of its story. Director Brian De Palma did not hold back with the film's violence and drug use which I liked as it added to the stakes of the crime world. The excessive and loud tone of this film worked in some ways and didn't in others. The over-the-top treatment of the story made the film consistently entertaining through its long 2 hour 50 minute runtime without having a single boring moment. The over-the-top nature of the film may have been intentional but it's something I'm not too sure on as it made some scenes, particularly the ending, very comical. Oliver Stone's screenplay is filled with great and iconic dialogues that keep the characters fun and interesting. The production design is grand and fits the film's bombastic personality very well. The music is also something I'm mixed on. At times, the music fits well with the 1980's time period but some of it comes off as very cheesy looking at it from today's point of view.
What really kept the film going for me though was Al Pacino's performance. Pacino is fantastic as Tony Montana and brings forth the brutal and commanding presence of the character very well. I'll admit he's very over-the-top but the rest of the film is seemingly in the same tone which is why I think it works. Michelle Pfeiffer also does a good job essaying the role of a bored trophy wife. Steven Bauer is also great as Tony's friend, Manny. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was one of the standouts to me as Tony's sister, Gina, and conveyed the trouble she was going through very well.
Scarface is a very entertaining gangster flick. It's got elements that may not hold up as well today and its excessive portrayal of the story can be divisive amongst viewers but I think it's definitely worth a watch regardless.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
I had never seen a Woody Allen film before Midnight in Paris and now I'm definitely more intrigued to see what else he has made.
Midnight in Paris follows Gil Pender, a writer who's on a trip to Paris with his fiancée and her family, as he's able to mysteriously go back to the 1920's every night at midnight.
If Paris ever need something to advertise their city, it would be Midnight in Paris. Woody Allen portrays the city of Paris with such beauty and style, making it as colourful as can be. Not only does it look stunning but it has an artistic feeling to it which works so well due to the overall themes and Gil's perception of the city. Allen's screenplay is top-notch all the way through. It was a lot of fun to see and follow Gil as he meets and interacts with famous personas from the past like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso. The conversations they have were full of wit and even insightful to an extent. The sharp screenplay puts us in the same position as Gil as we traverse through the city with him at all times and see it the way he does. With Gil fiancée, Inez, Allen is able to make us further understand Gil's love for the city and helps make his arc by the end so satisfying to watch.
Woody Allen created a brilliant ensemble cast to go along with the charming story. Owen Wilson was a great choice to play Gil. He makes the character very likeable and captures Gil's fondness for the past so well. Rachel McAdams is also great as Gil's polar opposite fiancée. Adrien Brody, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill and Kathy Bates were also very good playing various famous people from the past. One person who really stood out was Marion Cotillard. I loved the relationship she builds with Gil and brings such a nice aura to her role.
With Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen has crafted am endearing and unique love letter to Paris that takes you on a beautiful journey of inspiration, nostalgia and art. From the fantastic soundtrack to the gorgeous scenery, it's clear this film was very personal to Allen and he created something very unique out of it. This was an absolute treat to watch and I hope there are more films like this in the future.
Understated in its storytelling
South Korean cinema has some really great films. I've discovered directors like Bong Joon-Ho and Park Chan-wook who've created outstanding movies and joining them now is Lee Chang-dong.
Burning follows Jong-su, a man who meets his childhood friend, Hae-mi, after a long time. After coming back from her trip to Africa, Hae-mi introduces Jong-su to Ben, a mysterious man with a strange hobby.
Burning is one of those films that people may adore or be frustrated by. This isn't a film that provides many answers to its questions but the ambiguity is what made me fall in love with this film. The way Lee Chang-dong constructed this twisted story is so clever by having the audience see the story through Jong-su's perspective. He's in pretty much every scene and we see and react to the world in the same way he does. This works so well as the film gets more sinister and further suspicious starts to arouse, we see all of this from Jong-su's point of view that leads us to speculate in one direction. However, what we could be seeing may be a coincidence or not as it seems and that's where many interpretations can be made about the characters and situations. It's amazing how well thought out the characters and events are as it leaves just enough hints so the answers aren't very obvious. The overall structure and presentation of Burning adds to the intrigue. The way the story shifts tone is beautifully done and takes us through scenes that come across unexpectedly, adding to the mystery and suspense. The score by Mowg is very strange and makes the atmosphere very haunting, especially during the second half where the tension seemingly builds. The cinematography is also terrific. There is one extremely beautiful long take that captures the beauty of the landscape so well that's it's hypnotising.
The performances by the three main actors are all fantastic. Yoo Ah-in is terrific in the kead role as Jong-su. The shy and suspicious nature of his character was communicated really well by him. I've known Steven Yeun for starring in American films so to see him speaking and starring in a Korean film is something different. He does a really good job maintaining the mysterious aspect of Ben and gives off expressions in such a natural way. Just a shot of him yawning after Jong-su looks at him is done in such a compelling and natural way. Jeon Jong-seo is also really good here as Hae-mi. For her film debut especially, she's really convincing in the role and has a lot of potential for the future.
Burning is one of the most fascinating films I've seen recently. Lee Chang-dong has really proven his filmmaking talent here. With its abundance of themes, audience manipulation tactics and a heavy sense of atmosphere, Burning is a film that'll stay in my head for months to come.
The Green Knight (2021)
An encapsulating and visually breathtaking experience.
After a year long delay, I was finally able to watch David Lowery's The Green Knight and it was one of the best films of the year.
The Green Knight follows Gawain, King Arthur's nephew, who goes on a journey to the Green Chapel to find the Green Knight.
David Lowery is a director that understands the importance of visual storytelling as shown by his previous film, A Ghost Story. I had my issues with A Ghost Story but I was able to appreciate it more as time went by. The Green Knight, however, is probably his best film yet. Knowing David Lowery and A24 were behind this project, I expected this film to be more of a slow character study and that's exactly what The Green Knight was. Lowery's recreation of the medieval era is absolutely fantastic. From the production design to the costumes, they all contribute to making this world feel real. There are some absolutely stunning shots that capture the vast landscape of the world making it feel like a cinematic experience. Lowery also uses colour in an interesting way. Not only are they appealing to the eye but they clearly serve a purpose towards the film's story and protagonist, Gawain. I especially loved the use of green during the scenes involving the Green Knight. The actual look of the Green Knight is marvellous and Ralph Ineson's powerful voice makes this character have so much more of a brooding presence. The score by Daniel Hart is one of the film's biggest strengths. It adds an eerie and weird atmosphere alongside the grand visuals which I thought fit the tone perfectly and helped enhance the overall experience. My only issue would have to be some of the visual effects. There's a fox in the film and the visual effects for it didn't look that good in some of the close-up shots.
Aside from the breathtaking visuals, what also encapsulated me was the way Lowery told this story. Like A Ghost Story, The Green Knight doesn't explicitly say what it's all about. A particular sequence towards the end is told entirely through its visuals without any dialogue and is a core element to the entire purpose of the film. Lowery evidently wants the audience to pick up on certain clues he's hidden and interpret based on what they find which is what I like to do with a film. I see Gawain's journey as a test of honour and chivalry which are elements that make up a good knight. There are many details hidden throughout where people can take away multiple interpretations and that's what makes David Lowery such a brilliant visionary.
Lowery has built up a strong cast of talented actors, all of which deliver stellar performances. Dev Patel gives one of his best as Gawain. I didn't expect to see him do a role like this but he managed to make it work. Alicia Vikander is also terrific as the two characters she plays. Sean Harris, Kate Dickie and Barry Keoghan aren't in the film much but they all do a commendable job. Joel Edgerton also puts forth a strong performance and Ralph Ineson captures the mighty aura of the Green Knight very well.
David Lowery has managed to impress me again with his version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Along with the mesmerising visuals, Lowery's method of visual storytelling kept me engaged and wanting to analyse it on a deeper level. This film isn't for everyone but if you would like a thought-provoking experience, I would highly recommend The Green Knight.
Has glaring issues that prevent it from being good
To me, a Bollywood spy film that succeeded in its execution was Baby. Bell Bottom has its moments and tries to reach the heights of that film but doesn't come anywhere near it.
Bell Bottom follows Anshul Malhotra, a RAW agent with the codename Bell Bottom, who plans a covert operation to save over 200 hostages on a plane and capture the four hijackers.
Akshay Kumar returns to the spy genre with Bell Bottom. It's hard not to compare this film with Kumar's previous ventures like Baby, Special 26 or Airlift. I'm not sure if it was the intention to feel like a Neeraj Pandey film but that's what it felt like to me. An aspect of Bell Bottom which I really didn't care about was the romance angle with Vaani Kapoor. It's something that didn't need to be included and didn't have any relevance to the main story at hand. Vaani Kapoor does a decent job but I wish she had a role that had more purpose. The motivation behind Akshay Kumar wanting to take on the mission was done in a melodramatic way which is sad as this film could've taken on a more grounded approach allowing the events to feel more suspenseful. The VFX is what really worried me and, unfortunately, they were as bad as expected. The climax is where the special effects looked laughably bad and took away from the tension that was meant to be felt. Clearly more time should've been spent on polishing the VFX. There are also a few fight sequences towards the end which looked fake in my opinion. I also noticed a few small details that ruined the film's quality in my eyes. We see a man getting stabbed in the beginning but no blood is shown on the knife, an obvious plastic baby is used rather than an actual one during one scene and you could even see a Just Eat sign in one shot which doesn't make sense considering the film was taking place in the 1980's.
The performances were good throughout. Akshay Kumar has done spy films like this in the past and does a good job. I'm amazed at how good the makeup and prosthetics are on Lara Dutta to make her look like Indira Gandhi and she's good in the film as well. Adil Hussain and Huma Qureshi also do a good job. Zain Khan Durrani was great as one of the hijackers and Denzil Smith feels like a wasted opportunity as he's not given much to do. One of the better parts of this film is the background score. Composed by Daniel B. George, the score brings that sense of adrenaline and excitement for a spy thriller like this and manages to work. The pacing is surprisingly fast and prevents the film from become a snoozefest.
Bell Bottom has elements that work well but has glaring issues that prevent the film from being as good as it could have been. There are better films like this in the past that I would rather watch, making Bell Bottom a pretty forgettable film.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Filmmaking at its finest
There's no doubt that Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest directors to ever live. The Master is my favourite film of his but that may dethroned by his 2007 masterpiece, There Will Be Blood.
There Will Be Blood is a story of family, oil, religion and madness told through the perspective of Daniel Plainview.
What Paul Thomas Anderson achieved with There Will Be Blood is nothing short of astounding. For me, the technical craft matters a lot and There Will Be Blood has some of the best filmmaking I've had the pleasure of viewing. The cinematography by Robert Elswit is absolutely stunning. Filled with gorgeously framed wide shots, some of which go on for an extended period of time, the cinematography delivers an immersive and grand experience like no other. Anderson has always been great at recreating past time periods and There Will Be Blood is no different. Everything from the set design to the costumes to the makeup, all contribute to the authenticity of the time period. I have to mention Jonny Greenwood's impeccable score which creates a very eerie and haunting atmosphere to the visuals. It fits in with the tone and personalities of the characters beautifully and enhances the experience altogether. I always found Paul Thomas Anderson's writing to be striking and the dialogues he's written are phenomenal. They capture the essence of the character and develop them in ways I didn't expect. Anderson's direction is top-notch from the way he depicts the oil business to the slow descent into madness Daniel Plainview goes through is done with immense care and research. This is clear proof of a perfectionist that has an enormous love for his craft.
I can't go without talking about Daniel Day-Lewis's performance as Daniel Plainview. This is simply one of the best performances I've seen in my life. It's shocking how different the character is in the beginning compared to the end. The slow transition of Plainview seemingly being a likeable person into this deceiving, greedy and power-hungry individual is captured perfectly by Day-Lewis. He's in nearly every single scene and absolutely commands all of them with his presence alone. It's no surprise he won the Oscar for Best Actor. Paul Dano is another actor I really like and he does a fantastic job as the priest, Eli Sunday. Yet another unlikeable character, Dano conveys the extreme nature of Eli's beliefs so convincingly and stands out especially during the church sequences. Dillion Freasier also delivers a strong performance as H. W. Plainview. I have my skepticism towards child performances but Freasier honestly conveyed the vulnerability and mistreatment of his character very well.
Altogether, There Will Be Blood is an insane character study that shows the best out of the people involved with the project. Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted something truly special with many themes underneath that'll keep you thinking and Daniel Day-Lewis has proven himself to be a master in acting.
The King's Speech (2010)
Told in a simple yet charming manner
Colin Firth is a fantastic actor that has delivered great performances over the years but his portrayal of King George VI may be his best.
The King's Speech is about King George VI as he ascends to the throne and is aided by speech therapist Lionel Logue to overcome his stammer.
With a story about British monarchs, The King's Speech does have that label of being an Oscar bait film. However, so many aspects of this film work so well together that it's hard to not to like it. Immediately, the best part of this film comes from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Colin Firth may have given his best performance to date as King George VI. Firth truly embodies the role as this monarch. His stammer is completely believable without ever feeling overdone, he has all the mannerisms a monarch would have and brings out so much emotion and vulnerability to the character based on the struggles we see him go through whether it's to do with his speaking or his family. He wholeheartedly deserved the Oscar that year. Supporting Firth is the excellent Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue. The relationship Rush has with Firth was so heartwarming and fun to watch. The initial struggle Firth had opening up to Rush to the eventual bond they create was played out very well. Guy Pearce did a good job as the difficult brother and Helena Bonham Carter was also really good as the supportive wife of King George VI.
The filmmaking to go with the fantastic performances was also outstanding. Filmed exquisitely with stunning visuals and angles, Tom Hooper's direction excels in every way. The costumes and production design mesh to create an accurate depiction of that time period. As much as the visuals are great, the screenplay by David Seidler shines in its own right. The dialogue along with the acting capture the personalities of each character beautifully. It's filled with moments of humour, sadness and optimism whilst remaining engaging for the viewer. I can see why this won Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars in 2011. What also stood out to me was Alexandre Desplat's score that compliments the scenery and adds to the emotion.
The King's Speech is a simple film that is executed really well and is a sure crowdpleaser. Aside from its predictability and blatant Oscar bait nature, it's a film with exceptional performances, well developed characters and a charming story that'll leave you feeling happy, motivated and optimistic.
The Master (2012)
One of the best acted and written films I've ever seen!
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best directors working today. He has a way of creating stunning period pieces that bring out the best from its actors and The Master is one of his biggest achievements.
The Master follows Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran that's struggling to live in a post-war society. One day he meets Lancaster Dodd, the leader of a new religious movement known as "The Cause", and travels with him to spread his teachings.
After the film finished, I was in a state of awe. I haven't seen There Will Be Blood or Magnolia yet but The Master is my favourite Paul Thomas Anderson film so far. Every single aspect of this film is done to the best of its ability. PTA loves to shoot on film rather than digital and the visual look of The Master is jaw-dropping. Each scene is shot impeccably well with a beautiful scenery and lighting to go with it allowing it to be the visual spectacle it is. Not only is it one of the most visually stunning films I've seen but it's also one of the best acted. I didn't think Joaquin Phoenix would be able to top his performances in Joker and Her but I think his performance in The Master is the best of his entire career. Freddie Quell is a very damaged character filled with confusion, anger and lust. It's a difficult role to pull off but Phoenix is able to communicate Quell's troubled soul so well. As much as I love Daniel Day-Lewis, I genuinely believe Phoenix deserved that Oscar. Alongside him, we have Philip Seymour Hoffman in his greatest performance to date. Like Phoenix, Hoffman plays the film believer of his teachings, Lancaster Dodd, with utmost confidence. He brings out Dodd's eccentric and powerful personality with ease and commands every scene he's in. There's no doubt that he should've won an Oscar. Amy Adams is terrific and the same goes for Jesse Plemons, Rami Malek and Laura Dern.
As much as I love the acting and filmmaking, what I truly loved was the development of the characters. This is very much a character study. The story progresses in ways you don't expect but its main focus is Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd. Paul Thomas Anderson provides us with extraordinary long take sequences that reveal their flawed personas and the troubled relationship they both have as we see them go head-to-head. It's a thought-provoking study into the human condition of these two men whilst playing out a clever commentary on religious cults as a whole.
The Master has been lingering on my mind for a long time. It's pretty disappointing that this film didn't get nominated for Best Director, Screenplay, Cinematography or even win for Joaquin Pheonix and Philip Seymour Hoffman's insane performances. With some of the best dialogue I've heard and some of the best acting I've seen in my life, The Master deserves more appreciation and is Paul Thomas Anderson's masterpiece.
Ingrid Goes West (2017)
Well made but not anything special
I heard of this for a while and gave it a shot since I like Aubrey Plaza and it turned out to be better than expected.
Ingrid Goes West follows Ingrid, a social media stalker that moves to LA to befriend her new Instagram idol, Taylor.
The film is an obvious study on the dangers of social media and specifically the obsession people get towards certain influencers and Ingrid Goes West executes this idea pretty well. What I loved here were the performances. Aubrey Plaza was a great choice for this film and she gave an outstanding performance playing a lonely and obsessive stalker. Elizabeth Olsen was also really good and acted the traits you would expect in a social media influencer in a convincing way. O'Shea Jackson Jr was great in Straight Outta Compton and once again delivers a strong performance here. I really liked his character and he played it off very well. Wyatt Russell did a good job and Billy Magnussen was also great. For his directorial debut, Matt Spicer does well in bringing to light this story. He knows how to use comedy during a scene and is able to bring out emotion wherever necessary. As much as I like the performances and premise, there isn't anything special about it. The film is engaging but goes down a predictable route and isn't something I feel like revisiting or remembering.
Ingrid Goes West is a well made film with solid performances and explores its themes relating to social media obsession and loneliness in a competent way. It's just not a film that I have much to say on and won't stick with me in the long run.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
A light-hearted satire that's surprisingly touching.
Taika Waititi caught my attention when he made one of the best and most surprising Marvel films with Thor: Ragnarok and Waititi continues to surprise with Jojo Rabbit.
Jojo Rabbit follows Jojo, a Hitler Youth member that finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home's attic.
This film has been a part of my watchlist for the longest time and I'm amazed by Taika Waititi's creative vision. Making a comedic film about the Holocaust is sure to stir up controversy but it has to be understood that this film is a satirical take on the subject. It takes guts to make a film like this but Waititi's incredible skills as a writer and director turned this film into a triumphant one. What genuinely surprised me was the amount of heart it had. The comedic elements were great all the way through and had me laughing quite a few times but where Waititi excels is the balance between the comedic and serious tones. The caricatured portrayal of the Nazis were fun to watch and it's visible how Waititi is poking fun at them. The light-hearted tone works in the film's favour as it's shown from the eyes of a ten year old boy. From Waititi's portrayal of Adolf Hitler to the colourful backdrop, all these aspects play according to Jojo's perspective. It's when he meets the Jewish girl, Elsa, the film slowly loses the comedy and takes a serious yet heartwarming turn to show the true horridness of the situation. Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr.'s change in lighting can attest to that. I didn't expect the film to be this touching but it worked and really stuck with me.
The dynamic between Jojo and Elsa works so well due to Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie's fantastic performances. They work so well together and the script gives them opportunities for fun and tragic moments that stick with you. The supporting actors all do a wonderful job in their roles. Archie Yates as Jojo's best friend is very good despite his limited role. Taika Waititi's caricatured performance as Adolf Hitler is very entertaining. Scarlett Johansson is terrific as usual. Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson are given some amazing dialogues and are also great in their roles.
Jojo Rabbit was a huge surprise for me. To get strong child performances and create a light-hearted film about such a dark event from the past is no easy feat but Taika Waititi's manages to successfully execute it. I honestly cannot wait to see what else he'll come up with.
American History X (1998)
Not entirely believable but Edward Norton steals the show
Edward Norton has been an underrated actor in my eyes. Delivering great performances in films like Fight Club, Birdman and Moonrise Kingdom, there's no doubt he's an outstanding actor. His performance in American History X is some of his best work.
American History X follows Derek Vinyard, a former neo-nazi skinhead that tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same path he did.
The widespread love for this film got me interested to watch it. What I admire is how far they went with a subject matter like this. Its portrayal of racism is unflinching throughout with sequences that truly had me on edge and even shocked me. The film doesn't hold back and I found that to be helpful to get into and understand Derek Vinyard's perception of the world. The use of black and white during the flashbacks was an excellent choice as I felt it was very representative of the hatred and violent nature Derek possessed. Not only that, it added a murky feeling to the film that suited the dark and angry tone of the film. My main issue with American History X is how the film depicted Derek's reformation. Witnessing the large amount of hatred and racism built up inside of him, I found to be quite unbelievable how quick he was able to switch against his morals. For me, this weakened the film as this was the entire character development Derek had but it didn't come across as very believable. In addition, the ending is also something I'm not sure how I feel about. The best part of American History X is Edward Norton. He always manages to disappear into the characters he plays and Derek Vinyard is no exception. He lives and breathes this role and does an incredible job playing him. Edward Furlong as Norton's younger brother is also very good.
American History X does have a lot of interesting things to say. The filmmaking is very well done and Edward Norton delivers an exceptional performance but I think the story required more subtlety and needed more to happen in Derek's life to make his reformation more believable in my eyes.
The Game (1997)
Enthralling until its far-fetched ending
I love David Fincher as he's a skilled director that is able to make outstanding films. The Game is one of his most suspenseful yet weaker films.
The Game follows Nicholas Van Orton, a wealthy banker that receives a gift from his brother which allows him to participate in a mysterious game.
Thrillers have been something David Fincher has been good at making. He has the talent to bring out so much tension and stretch it all the way through to create a captivating experience. The Game is another example of Fincher's abilities to conjure suspense as a large portion of this film was tense and very interesting. Not only was it fun to see Michael Douglas get into strange situations but the film leaves us with many questions as to what is actually going on. The constant guessing of what's taking place had me hooked onto The Game's story. It builds and builds to situations that you don't see coming and Fincher utilises its intense premise to its advantage. There's a particular scene taking place in a taxi that's so well executed. As the film was building, I was excited to find out the big reveal at the end. However, when the ending happened, that's when the film came crashing down for me. The ending seemed way too convenient in my eyes and it became very difficult for me to suspend my disbelief.
The performances are all very good. Michael Douglas gives one of his best as Nicholas Van Orton. He pulls of the desperation and paranoia the character develops throughout the film really well. Sean Penn is also great in the film even though he has very limited screen time. Deborah Kara Unger did a good job as well and it was fun guessing whether she was in on the game or not.
The Game is a strong thriller through its first acts but the third act is where the film asks us to suspend too much disbelief which I wasn't able to do. Despite that, Fincher does a great job keeping the suspense intact and Michael Douglas delivers a strong performance in the role.
The Suicide Squad (2021)
The NEW and IMPROVED Suicide Squad!
The 2016 Suicide Squad left me disappointed beyond belief. When The Suicide Squad got announced with James Gunn as writer and director, I regained faith and I'm so happy to say he didn't disappoint.
The Suicide Squad follows a group of imprisoned convicts that join to create a task force and are dropped off at the island of Corto Maltese to complete a mission.
With The Suicide Squad, James Gunn has made one of the best and most memorable comic book films in recent memory. Having the film be R rated opened up a lot of doors for Gunn and he used the rating as well as the creative freedom Warner Bros gave him to his advantage. He introduced me to characters I've never even heard of and managed to make them so much fun to watch. What was missing in the 2016 film was character depth and the bond between the squad. Gunn includes many funny moments that kept the camaraderie of the team going. There were also a handful of emotional moments from characters I didn't expect which leads into one of the film's biggest strengths: its unpredictability. Whilst Gunn's method of telling of the story doesn't break boundaries, he includes various surprises involving these characters that I honestly didn't see coming. Whether it's for shock value or merely a set-up for a joke, The Suicide Squad has moments that genuinely took me by surprise and kept me entertained.
This is very much a James Gunn film. His style, which we've gotten accustomed to since Guardians of the Galaxy, is what increased the entertainment value for me. This film is filled with jokes all the way through. Albeit some of them fell flat but I was laughing my way through most of them. Gunn knows where to place a joke so that it doesn't take away from the more touching moments. I'm happy that Gunn didn't hold back on the violence either. The violence is very gory and over-the-top and the way it's all shot and edited is very well done. What really impressed me were the visual effects. Especially during the choatic third act, the CGI was immaculate and its consistency made this a very immersive experience. It's crazy how a film like Black Widow, a movie with a larger budget, has scenes that look much more fake than the ones in The Suicide Squad. An irritating aspect of the 2016 film was its soundtrack. Whilst being filled with fantastic songs, the songs themselves didn't fit with what was going on. However, Gunn chooses music that feels much more appropriate and compliment the scenes well.
The performances were also fantastic and seemed much better than the ones in the 2016 film. I loved Rick Flag and Amanda Waller much more here with Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis giving strong performances. Idris Elba's Bloodsport is reminiscent of Will Smith'a Deadshot but Elba does a better job and is given more to work with. Margot Robbie is great as usual as Harley Quinn. John Cena suited the role of Peacemaker well and had some great moments. For me, the standouts were Sylvester Stallone as King Shark, David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man and Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2. I wasn't familiar with their characters but they were a lot of fun to watch and stood out to me.
The Suicide Squad surprised me in ways I didn't expect. It's certainly not perfect as some jokes didn't work and I wish the villains got more depth. Nonetheless, James Gunn definitely delivered and I hope Warner Bros see this and give more directors freedom when it comes to these kinds of films.
Suicide Squad (2016)
A very poor attempt in making a Suicide Squad film
WARNING: *MILD SPOILERS*
To prepare for The Suicide Squad, I decided to rewatch the 2016 Suicide Squad and it was even more painful than last time.
Suicide Squad is about a group of imprisoned supervillains that are recruited by a secret government agency in order to save the world from a dangerous threat.
The DCEU have been really struggling and when Suicide Squad was slated to come out, a part of me was excited to see something different from the studio. However, before the 2017 Justice League film came out, I considered this to be the worst DCEU so far. The story has potential but the way it was told was so amateur. The script is one of the worst. It's filled with expository dialogue, that fails to flesh out characters properly, and jokes that do not work at the slightest. For a film with such a colourful poster, why does it look so ugly? Most of the film takes place at night and doesn't even look lit properly, the action is also incredibly dull with the final fight being so poorly shot and lit that I didn't know what was happening and the build-up to these events were so boring that I nearly fell asleep. The editing is some of the worst I've seen with scenes coming and going with no real structure and sometimes it would cut to these vibrant colours that felt so jarring due to the ugliness of the rest of the film. The soundtrack is filled with well known pop songs but they don't fit the scenes they're playing over. It's trying to be edgy but none of it feels coherent.
The film introduces all the characters and gives plenty of time to explain the backstory behind Deadshot and Harley Quinn whereas the rest (Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and El Diablo) get barely a minute. None of these characters are given proper character development and there's only one scene where the film tries to have these characters bond but it completely fails as it made me feel nothing. We also get introduced to another character named Katana halfway through the film. Not only is her introduction purely expository but her character is given nothing to do. Then we have The Joker, which may be the worst part of the film. Jared Leto isn't completely at fault since the script is terrible but his portrayal is still laughably bad. Margot Robbie is perfect for Harley Quinn and I love her in the role but she's given some of the most cringey lines. The villain isn't given anything to work and so her character is very bland. Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman try their best and Will Smith essentially plays himself.
Suicide Squad is one of the worst comic book films I've seen. It's trying to be so many things but it just comes across messy and dull. With poorly developed characters, an awful script and boring story, I wouldn't recommend anyone see Suicide Squad.
Neat visual choices but left me wanting more...
I've heard about this film since Sundance 2020 and have been interested ever since. One year later, I finally got the chance to see Zola and
Zola is about a part-time stripper named Zola who takes a trip to Florida with a new friend she makes and gets into something she doesn't expect.
What really fascinated me was the visual style director Janicza Bravo decided to take with this story. The film has a level of graininess in its visuals and when the opening title showed up, it reminded me of exploitation movies from a past era. This choice was something I really liked and it felt fitting for the kind of story it was presenting. The score and music choices were also aspects I liked. Mica Levi has composed some of my favourite scores, such the one in Under the Skin, and the score in Zola creates an atmosphere that's beautiful yet haunting. The film is hilarious at times but it has great ways of building tension and unsettling moments like a stylish montage that left me feeling quite uncomfortable. The performances were a strong factor too. Taylour Paige is excellent as Zola and expresses the discomfort the character feels during some situations very well. Riley Keough is amazing as she fully disappears into the role of Stefani. Nicholas Braun is very funny to watch and every scene with Colman Domingo is tense yet entertaining with the performance he delivers.
Where I'm feeling conflicted is the development of the characters and the ending. The film ends at a point I didn't expect it to and I didn't find it to be satisfying personally. The film jumps into its story very quickly and does develop characters to some degree but I was left wanting to learn more about these people especially the titular character. The voiceover was also something that didn't work for me. After the film, I went and read the full Twitter thread and there were parts I wish were included which I felt would have helped developed characters further and made me feel more pitiful towards them.
Zola was an interesting experience that had great performances and Janicza Bravo's way of telling the story made it more creative and fun to witness. However, I was left wanting more from the characters and ending.
American Psycho (2000)
Quotable, memorable and perfectly executed
When I think of Christian Bale's performances, two come to mind: Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Trilogy and Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.
American Psycho follows Patrick Bateman, a wealthy businessman in the 1980's that hides his alter ego from the people he knows during the day and enjoys his murderous tendencies at night.
Easily one of my favourite films of all time, American Psycho is a film I won't ever get tired of. To be clear, American Psycho isn't meant to be viewed as a serious thriller but rather a dark comedy. The film does such an excellent job introducing us to Bateman's persona as we really learn how narcissistic and superficial of a person he really is. It leaves great hints into the violent thoughts he has at the start and slowly descends into the chaos in a way that feels organic. Not only that, the film provides us with very clever commentary on the self-adulation of businessmen during the simplest of scenes such as a group of them discussing business cards. The direction, sound design and acting all combined tells us all about Bateman and his co-workers. Mary Harron directed this story with immense skill. She balances the violence with enough comedy that somehow makes it hilarious rather than disturbing and the script, filled with memorable sequences and quotable lines, attribute to that tone.
The creation of the 80's is also an aspect I admire. From the visual representation of New York City to the monologues on music from Huey Lewis and the News, Phil Collins and Whitney Houston, all of this meshes to create an accurate representation of that time period. When it comes to performances, Christian Bale steals the show. One of his best performances to date, Bale's portrayal of Patrick Bateman is brilliant on so many levels. With the tone he uses for certain lines to reveal the character's narcissism to the deep, dark and piercing effect he creates once he goes about violent tendencies, Bale's acting is top-notch. Willem Dafoe and Jared Leto are also great in their short roles.
American Psycho is a unique character study that works incredibly due to the synergy between Mary Harron's direction, the script and Christian Bale's powerhouse of a performance. It's a beautifully constructed piece of work that will remain as one of my favourite films of all time.