This article will have short reviews for the following films in this order: The Breadwinner, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, July 22, First Man, and The Other Side of the Wind.
With two beautiful animation styles, The Breadwinner tells us a relevant and emotionally touching tale about war, sexism, religion, stories as a whole and their importance. It’s a film that can be enjoyed by both adults and children, and those two audiences will walk away with two different experiences; one will enjoy the overall story and gorgeous visuals, while the other will be left thinking about the films important themes. It’s incredibly impressive how the film was able to stay enjoyable and fun, while also dealing with heavy subject material.
Contrary to my expectations I had quite a lot of fun watching Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. It’s a visually fun film with bright and vibrant colors, fluid animation, excellent voice acting, and a decent story that has a great message for kids. A lot of the jokes land, and I was surprised by how dark some of them could get, but the darkest ones were often the best. It’s certainly a film directed at a younger audience, though nonetheless there are a lot of gags a more mature audience can enjoy as well, like the self-referential jokes, for example. I also liked how they used different drawing styles that referenced the old cartoon, but also had a purpose within the film. The songs were quite catchy as well, and the pacing was great too. Even though the film is pretty short on its own, it felt even shorter.
Like every year, there have to be at least two films tackling the same subject. This year, that is the Norwegian film Utoya 22 July and Paul Greengrass’ take on the events in his film called 22 July. And like every year, there’s always the one film that has to be better than the other. Unfortunately for Greengrass, that wasn’t his film. His film was far less effective than the Norwegian one, but nonetheless, it was still pretty good. The acting was solid, Greengrass documentary style approach fitted the film’s themes really well and I also liked how it explored the aftermath of the events and the impact it had on the victims. I get why people would critique the film, though. The writing could be very cheesy and while the film looks down on Breivik’s ideas, it still gives him a voice to spread them, which is the exact opposite of what Norwegians were pleading for during his trial, which then is also shown in the film, which consequently gives the film a painful sense of irony. I, for one, thought that it was interesting that we got to know more about why he committed his horrible crime, but I can understand why you wouldn’t. The soundtrack also isn’t anything noteworthy and it’s just there to make you feel emotions that they weren’t able to achieve due to lackluster writing.
After La La Land and Whiplash I was expecting a bit more, but that’s not to say that First Man isn’t good, in contrary. First of all, I liked the directing; Chazelle used a lot of close-ups, film grain, and had quite a few shots out of focus, to make the film feel very personal as if we’re watching a home video. His way of building tension was excellent, and I liked the techniques he used to indicate the contrast between how the scenes were shot on earth and on the moon (shaky <-> steady, grainy <-> extremely sharp). Chazelle really knows where to place the camera to get the most out of the viewer and doing so, he was able to create a handful of extremely effective shots and sequences. The cinematography as a whole was nice as well, with a very nice usage of color and visual symbolism. The visual effects were stunning and not for one second did anything feel fake or unrealistic. Every time Neil enters a rocket, it feels like you’re there with him like he’s really going to space like the stakes are high and like that there’s a chance he’s going to die, even though you know he survives. Unsurprisingly, the performances were excellent as well. Ryan Gosling’s really great in his role and gives an emotional performance. He was able to portray Neil’s character in a convincing way as if I wasn’t watching an actor play someone, but really be them. He also had the advantage of Neil being the most developed character in the film, so that he could portray him with a lot of depth. Claire Foy’s great as well, though her character was a bit lacking compared to others, but Foy was still able to make her very compelling. My biggest gripe with the film, however, is the soundtrack. The songs on their own were good, but they were inconsistent in style.
In Orson Welles’ last film ever, we’re served an interesting commentary on Hollywood and the film world in general in a very unique way that’s many years ahead of its time. It gives us an intriguing insight into what’s going on inside of Welles’ head and what he thought of everything going on around him. The rapid paced editing, constant switching of angles, sudden changes from color to black and white, double narrative, Welles’ contrasting approach to those two stories, realistic dialogue, and naturalistic performances make the film quite the experience. It’s very avant-garde and simultaneously a parody thereof. It’s very unique and you should definitely check it out.
Also, if you’re like me and are a little bit lost after having seen the film, I’d recommend the documentary called They’ll love me when I’m dead. It gives us a bit more insight into the making off of this film and it’s quite good.
As you might’ve noticed, I’ve made the screenshots blurry so that the text pops out more, contrary to how I did it previously where the screenshots were in focus. Do you like this change, or would you prefer to see it like it used to be? Let me know!