This article will have short reviews for the following films in this order: Dark River, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, That Obscure Object of Desire, Tripple Frontier, and The Old Man and The Gun.
While it’s gorgeously shot, and wonderfully acted, Dark River does not particularly make for an enjoyable film, but rather for an intriguing one. At the center of the story, there is a brother-sister relationship. Their relationship is more frustrating than enjoyable, though in that frustration lies a certain interest, eager to find out as to why it’s so frustrating. It’s that sense of intrigue that keeps the film going and from running stale. Because it’s a very visual story, the film’s bound to have a very slow pace. I don’t mind films with a slow pace, and I didn’t mind it in this film either, though it could’ve been shorter if they had cut the last six minutes or so. The film would’ve benefited from it and we would’ve had a slightly more ambiguous ending.
With the recently introduced “choose your own adventure”-technology, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch presents us a story about decisions and the lack of free will. They could not have picked a better story for this gimmick and they introduced it extremely well. From a technological standpoint, it’s an incredible film; transitions from different decisions move very smoothly, the way the decisions affect the overall story is clever, and the cinematography was pretty good. The amount of planning that must have gone into this must have been insane. One tiny, seemingly insignificant decision, like choosing which cornflakes you want to eat, can slightly alter scenes that come later in the film, even if it’s just for a brief moment. The film’s filled with rich and entertaining characters that were all performed really well. Will Poulter, especially, was very enjoyable to watch, and his character was the most interesting out of the bunch. My biggest complaint about the film is its endings. While some were fun, others were quite dull. Some endings lacked closure and I often wasn’t entirely sure if I had just seen an ending or if it was just part of the story and that it was still going on.
I’m so glad my professor briefly mentioned this film during his lecture, as I absolutely loved it. He solely said that in it, two actresses portrayed the same character, but that alone was enough to pique my interest, and I hope it does yours as well. It really is a brilliant film, and it breaks the conventional rules of filmmaking on multiple levels. For one, the casting of two actors to play one role. It fitted perfectly with the alternating moods of the character and the two actors portrayed her to great complexity, though both had their own interpretation of the character as well. It’s a very unique experience, and far from as jarring as one would think of going into the film. Another one of the classical film conventions that That Obscure Object of Desire breaks is having a relatable protagonist. This one is just a jackass, but an interesting one nonetheless, and portrayed wonderfully as well. It was an intriguing decision to tell the story from his perspective since from that one he’s the hero and Conchita’s the villain, though, from Conchita’s perspective, he’s understandably the villain. The story is brilliantly told and directed wonderfully by Luis Buñuel. He used plenty of impressive and meaningful long takes, and the way he switched actresses, even during a scene, felt incredibly seamless. His camera movements had a purpose and oftentimes managed to make you feel the uncomfortableness a character was feeling in a certain scene. He’s excellent at evoking emotions, and it shows in plenty of scenes. The cinematography was gorgeous and the colors which often decorated the frames were chosen excellently. Green, for example, was a very prominent color and it symbolized wealth, but also sexual frustration. The film’s use of color often made for vibrant and meaningful shots. There are just a few tiny faults that I have with the film, like a mouse in a mouse trap looking extremely fake, and some minor contiguity errors, though this is just me nitpicking. However, it’s the dubbing that could be bad at times and that could take me out of the film. All in all, it’s still an entertaining, funny, well-made, arthouse film, and certainly not one to be missed.
While Triple Frontier is J.C. Chandor’s worst film as of yet, it’s still quite enjoyable and not necessarily bad. It’s essentially two films merged into one, and while the two films mesh together well, this makes for a relatively underdeveloped story as a whole. Both stories deserved more time put into them so that they were fleshed out some more and some oddities could have been fixed. The five main characters all have a distinct backstory and personality, and they were all performed really well. Ben Affleck especially, fitted his character particularly well and he gave a fantastic performance with which he added a lot to the character itself, but so did the rest of the cast. Hunnam’s accent, however, wasn’t all that good, but other than that, he was great. All of the actors had excellent chemistry and it was very enjoyable to see their dynamics play out, especially during the second half of the film, where their moralities are drawn into question and the characters are faced with the consequences of their actions. The characters were explored throughout the film, though since there are five of them and there’s just limited time, I felt like I didn’t entirely get to know them well. Still, the limited information is sufficient enough to make you slightly care for these characters and understand why they are doing what they’re doing and where they’re coming from. Chandor is absolutely incredible at creating suspense, which he was able to showcase in numerous intense scenes. He directed the action sequences following an intense build-up in a very clear and thrilling manner as well. He used the musical score to great effect, but the already existing songs sometimes felt misplaced. Furthermore, it’s also a good-looking film. Gorgeous silhouettes are often used, and the characters are thrown into these beautiful locations that are captured really well. The ending, however, was certainly the film’s worst aspect. It was very cheesy, unnecessary, and just kind of dumb, though not to say that that’s the only dumb moment in the film. There are parts where the characters make odd decisions, but these are often justified by the character’s motivations.
Once again, David Lowery delivers a wonderful little film that’s overseen by most. Lowery played a lot with the colors brown and blue, resulting in meaningful costuming and beautiful cinematography. The style he adapted for this film was similar to old school robbery films, utilizing a very mobile camera, making the film feel more fun and alive, which was quite contrasting to his previous film, A Ghost Story, that had a very minimalistic approach. The editing was a pleasant surprise, as the film was paced well, and it made use of creative transitions and emotionally powerful cuts. Daniel Hart’s score was fantastic and Redford’s last performance certainly was one of his best. He’s very charismatic and makes a character that doesn’t particularly color inside the lines sympathetic and enjoyable to see. His chemistry with Sissy Spacek was impeccable as well, and she too was quite fantastic, as was Casey Affleck. Of course, since it’s a Lowery film, there are some interesting themes at play about, among others, age, growing older, the lurking of death and what it means to be alive. However, unlike Lowery’s previous films, this one’s also quite funny and he manages to balance the comedy with the drama and romance extremely well.