Before seeing Good Time, I was convinced the only movies I’d see set in my home borough would be either biopics, movies about Kitty Genovese, or Spider-Man adaptations. Despite being the largest and most diverse part of New York, it just didn’t seem like filmmakers were aware of Queens’ own unique character the same way they are of Manhattan, Brooklyn, or the Bronx (Staten Island doesn’t count.)
Ingrid Goes West is a film at least partly about expectations, and so I think it’s only fair to warn you that what you’re reading may drift from review into rant in parts, but I do feel that what I may ramble about is key to my understanding of Ingrid Goes West.
So, upfront, Ingrid Goes West made me laugh a whole bunch. It’s an incredibly well written dark comedy that expertly mines it’s themes, characters, and plot for jokes that connect with the experience of its twenty-to-thirtysomething intended audience, even if some of those jokes might feel a little passé due to the ever increasing acceleration of the type of internet culture it’s playing off of and the fact that movies take time to make.
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is an eight novel, 4000+ page saga written over the course of 30 years and beloved by a sizable and passionate fandom. In other words, it’s the perfect basis for the type of shared-universe franchise that Sony has tried to pull off with their Spider-Man license for the past half-decade; which really makes you wonder what went on behind the scenes to result in The Dark Tower we have in theaters now – a ninety minute slog through an undefined and uninteresting desert of wasted potential.
There are movies where style is absolutely a substitute for substance; where a strong enough lead performance, amazingly choreographed sequences, eye-catching cinematography, and editing choices, among other elements can carry the weight of a lighter plot, inconsistent tone, or flat characters. Not quite incidentally, John Wick: Chapter 2 falls into this category more than the first one does, leaning heavily on a lot of the work John Wick did in establishing the series’ characters and world. Unfortunately, Atomic Blonde, while seemingly intentionally trying to pull this off by having style oozing from every angle and frame, can’t hurdle over its complete emptiness otherwise. All clothes, no emperor.
James (Kyle Mooney) was kidnapped as a baby from the hospital and raised by Ted (Mark Hamill) and Emily (Jane Adams), who convinced him that the world outside their bunker was poisonous and produced a show called Brigsby Bear – about a anthropomorphic bear going on adventures through space and time to save the universe – to keep James entertained and teach him their way of life for the past twenty-five years. After being rescued and reunited with his birth-family (Greg Walsh, Michaela Watkins, and sister played by Ryan Simpkins) for the first time in his live, and having to acclimate to the entire rest of the world, James only wants one thing out of his new life: to produce a finale for the show that only he’s ever watched.
Following the release of Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg said that “every war movie, good or bad, is an antiwar movie;” a pleasant sentiment, but one I’ve got to disagree with. While it’s rare to find a non-propaganda movie that is explicitly pro-war, most movies depicting war suffer from a dissonance between narrative and viewing experience. No matter how much the war is narrativised as horrific and gruesome and pointless and so on and so forth, the depiction of the war itself lends a glory to the whole procedure.
The first five minutes, fifteen seconds of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is one of my favorite sequences in film this year. Set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” we see the history of Alpha, the titular city, which begins as an American Space Station that quickly becomes International, welcoming the crews of astronauts from China, India, Africa, and all of the world’s many cultures, each dressed in their own uniquely designed spacesuits, and greeting them with a handshake. Within a lifetime, Alpha begins to attract extra-terrestrial life, and every species of life that comes aboard, regardless of how alien they might be, is similarly welcomed with a handshake. After about a hundred years of collecting people and modules from across space, Alpha becomes too massive to stay in Earth’s orbit and is rocketed into the stars to further grow and assemble the universe’s various species and cultures.