This article will have short reviews of the following films in this order: Hostiles, Revenge, Midnight in Paris, Bone Tomahawk and Zoe.
“Wow” is the word I’d use to describe this film. It’s the perfect example of how to write layered characters that speak like real people and that undergo a near perfectly executed arc. Even the minor characters were given a character. Practically all of them start off as assholes, but as the film progresses, you really don’t want them to die. The realistic violence makes it so that every bullet has a consequence and that you can’t be sure who’s going down next, which makes each already finely crafted action scene feel even tenser. The landscapes our characters travel through were also captured beautifully by Masanobu Takayanagi with some impressive camerawork. Scott Cooper directed Hostiles brilliantly, often using a slow pace to let you soak everything up and thus creating some very powerful scenes. These scenes would’ve lacked a lot of punch if the performances weren’t good, but they too were phenomenal. The cast is studded with underappreciated stars; there’s Ben Foster, Stephen Lang, Rosamund Pike, Jesse Plemons… and they all give it their all, but no one was able to top the fantastic Christian Bale. The only two grasps that I have with this film are that the story could be a bit jumbled at times and that the slow pace didn’t always work in the film’s favor as there were moments where there wasn’t anything to soak up, which beats the intended purpose of the slow pace, but other than that it’s one amazing film.
Belgium and France may collaborate more in the future if they keep on making films like this and Raw. Revenge is a solid B-film, with decent performances, great directing and pacing, fantastic cinematography, but the symbolism was a bit too on the nose. It tries to be artsy but fails at being so. It just didn’t entirely embrace what it truly was: a fun action film that pays homage to the grindhouse era of filmmaking. The film was just a tad bit too self-serious to achieve that, but it was nonetheless a great film.
Midnight in Paris tells a very lovely and touching story about a man who feels like he was born in the wrong century. It’s about a man with a desire we’ve all had or at least have fantasized about before: living in the same time period your deceased heroes lived. Due to this relatable character trait, I was able to sympathize with Owen Wilson’s character very well, which eventually caused me to be happy every time he was. Owen Wilson’s likable performance also helped with this, as did the amazing writing as a whole. Rachel McAdams too was excellent, but for once she played an unlikeable character, which was a surprising breath of fresh air.
The cinematography is gorgeously put together, though the color grading could be off at times and made the characters look orange at moments they weren’t supposed to. It’s certainly a film that’ll take you on an emotional journey and that’ll make you reflect on your own life, the mistakes you’ve made and it’ll possibly make you appreciate even more what you have right now. It has the heart that was missing in Cafe Society, and the clear emotion that was put into making the film, gives it a warm and familiar feeling. The film’s story isn’t necessarily perfect, as some bits felt rather unnecessary. There was one subplot in particular that could’ve been cut out entirely.
Fun Fact: this was the 100th film I watched this year.
While Bone Tomahawk succeeds at telling a captivating story, it can drag on sometimes, especially in the beginning. But other than that, I don’t really have any complaints: the acting was stellar; the cinematography style fits better with this film than it did with Craig’s latest film, Brawl in Cellblock 99; the costuming felt authentic and the make-up was done brilliantly as well. Craig’s experience in telling stories in novels really translated well onto the big screen as he was able to tell a gripping story from beginning to end filled with interesting characters that had their own obstacles to overcome. His sparing usage of gore really made it feel even more intense when it was used, and on top of that, there’s some incredibly well-made prosthetics and sound design to make each torture scene feel bone crunching. It’s miles better than Brawl in Cellblock 99, and I even liked that one for quite a bit.
It’s not terrible, it’s fine. The soundtrack was fantastic, the cinematography was decent, but the color grading made each frame look like it came from a random commercial. It looks very stale, bland and boring and it made the film feel like any other independent artsy film that’s come out in recent memory that tries to stand out, but ultimately ends up in the endless sea of arthouse wannabes. Shots often repeat themselves with the same type of lighting and composition, which gives the film an overall stale look. It’s never daring or inventive with its visuals; it’s playing it safe. The film brings up interesting topics that have been discussed before, but the film’s approach isn’t necessarily novel. The things it does add to the conversation are handled well, even though its intentions are pretty on the nose. Its futuristic ideas weren’t really original either, except for a select few items. Some of these ideas stick some don’t. When they didn’t, the film could get boring, when they did, it made for some fantastic scenes, like the one of which I used a screenshot. The performances were all excellent and their respective characters were written interestingly. Their well-written characters and good performances made it so that there were some heart-wrenching moments in the film. It being a quite predictable and cliché film, could ruin some moments, though.