It’s very telling that Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts, like its predecessor, is more concerned with the past than the future. Once again, young Emily (Winona Mae) is visited by a clone from her future (Julia Pott), who wishes to mine her brain for memories and hopefully gain a version of wholeness. Only, where the first clone took her on a journey through future-history as she remembered it; this one takes her inside their own heads.
The Disaster Artist may be the year’s most ontologically fascinating film. Not only is it an adaptation of a book, but it’s a movie about making a movie, but not just any movie, the “best worst movie”, and not is it just a movie about the making of this movie, but is also in part a shot-for-shot remake of said movie. And, in true Borgesian fashion; The Disaster Artist is as much a movie about it’s director/lead actor, James Franco; as it is about the writer/director/lead actor of the movie it’s about, Tommy Wiseau.
Guillermo del Toro is the most whimsical director working today. He’s someone who clearly loves movies and the power fiction has in the real world; how the love and beauty created in those worlds can spill into ours. Del Toro crafts modern fairy tales, as dark in tone for today as the classics were for their time, warning their audiences of the world’s darkness, and giving them tools to shine through it. His latest fairy tale, The Shape of Water, is his best yet. In many ways, it is a spiritual sequel to his last great fairy tale, Pan’s Labyrinth, which also concerned living under authoritarianism. But where Pan’s Labyrinth was about growing up in that environment, The Shape of Water is about finding love in spite of it.
Summers of youth are almost designed to be wasted; endless until they aren’t, each long school-free day followed by another, blank canvases waiting to be filled until Fall. And while it may be in Spring that a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, Summer is the season of heat, when those fancies are, like the muscles of statues of antiquity, more obvious to touch than to sight. Unlike Spring’s bloom; Summer love is not communicated through grand gestures, but a poetry of passing glances and soft touches, of feints and bluffs preceding the final climax before Autumn signals the death of warmth.
Justice League is not a good movie. It’s actually a great big Frankenstein’d mess of a movie, and if you know about its long and winding production process, it’s more than clear why; but even that’s not an excuse for how visible all the seams are. Justice League is a movie that can barely carry a plot from scene to scene, what’s depth of character development reaches about as deep as “Should I save the world or nah?,” and what’s post-production CG and color-regrading makes the entire thing look like a worse version of the Injustice games, to the point where it ruins the appearance of physical props like characters’ costumes and one character’s entire jaw. But in spite of all of that, Justice League was the most I’ve enjoyed a Superman movie since Brandon Routh rescued that plane in 2006. It’s a movie that, in spite of what’s come before it, turns these heroes into symbols of hope and optimism, and actually makes saving the world look fun.
Mildred Hayes, Frances McDormand’s character in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is more than just Marge Gunderson’s (McDormand’s character in 1997’s Fargo) geographic opposite. Where Marge was a cop so good natured she couldn’t even comprehend why people do bad things to each-other, Mildred’s life has been dominated by a single moment of evil that turned an already hard woman’s blood into piss and vinegar aimed squarely at her small town’s police department. The titular billboards spell her war out in black letters, impact font, on a red background: “RAPED WHILE DYING,” “AND STILL NO ARRESTS,” “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?” referring to the murder of Mildred’s teenage daughter less than a year prior.
It seems that, at least since John Hughes, coming of age movies have been defined by the upper-middle class. Problems are always “will I get into college?” rather than “can I afford college?” Even though they might not get what they want, the teens always seem to have what they need, protected from the real world and real consequences by a thick shield of privilege. And yeah, growing up, I hated these movies because I was always jealous of that. Growing up poor in New York, my family never had a big house, getting made fun of for having a hand-me-down car was a non-issue because everyone took the subway to school, and even if I ever wanted to go to a mall, I knew I couldn’t really afford anything. I might have been warmer to the genre as a whole had Lady Bird been around when I was still that age.