Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"The Shape of Water" and the Three Forms of Loneliness

Scene from The Shape of Water
*Note: Spoilers for The Shape of Water

It is a moment that comes between two phases of Eliza (Sally Hawkins) and Amphibian Man's (Doug Jones) relationship. They have escaped the lab and are in their last passionate moments together before Amphibian Man returns to the sea, possibly without the requited love of Eliza. She is mute, only ever able to communicate through a mix of sign language, eggs, and Benny Goodman records. Yet it's in a fantasy moment that she gets her only spoken lines of the film. As the scene trades a dumpy apartment with a leaky room for a black-and-white set out of a musical set, she sings "You'll never know how much I love you." It's a moment where repression breaks through, and moves the subtle themes of the film to the forefront. The Shape of Water is more than a film about loving someone different, it's about understanding loneliness when you don't have love readily available. It's may be a story that's been trivialized as the "woman who loves a fish" story, but it's so much more. It's a look at how loneliness can be used for good as well as bad. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

R.I.P. Johan Johansson (1969-2018)

Johan Johansson
On February 9, 2018, composer Johan Johansson passed away at the age of 48 in Berlin, Germany. To some, he was known as an Icelandic musician who composed a mix of traditional music with electronic accompaniment. To the world of film, he was known for his work on films like The Theory of Everything, and several Denis Villeneuve movies such as Prisoners, Sicario, and Arrival. He received two Oscar nominations for his work, which managed to mix the ethereal with classical compositions in a way that captured the mood of the film. He was considered to be one of the best modern composers and leaves behind an enviable body of work. In his short legacy, he leaves behind an incredible body of work that shows the power of music in film better than most people.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

"I, Tonya," "Molly's Game," and the Idea of the Modern Olympic Movie

Scene from I, Tonya
*Note: Spoilers for I, Tonya and Molly's Game

If a sports movie is supposed to be a triumphant vision of the self, then an Olympics movie should be something grader; like the combination of athletes competing for the gold medal in an Avengers-esque story. After all, it is a journey on the world stage where many countries have risen to the challenge and the country is sometimes more important than the individual. It's the type of logic that has fueled Olympic movies like Best Picture winner Chariots of Fire before, depicting the strength of a country in time of need. With the Pyeonchang Olympics set to begin this weekend, it seems like a chance to see triumph on film. So why then are the films currently available (and Oscar-nominated) a bit more of a down note? While there have been upbeat stories in recent years (Eddie the Eagle, Race), there's a sense that an Olympic movie in 2018 isn't about the competition, but a metaphor for self-identity. The films I, Tonya and Molly's Game depict this struggle in different ways - often with Olympics being the last thing on their mind - but come clear on one point. The Olympics are a game of personality politics, and these two films capture it in the news media age.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A24 A-to-Z: #26 "Mississippi Grind" (2015)

Scene from Mississippi Grind
In case you didn't know, A24 is one of the great purveyors of modern cinema. Since 2013, the studio has found a way to innovate independent cinema by turning each release into an event. As a result, A24 A-to-Z will be an ongoing series that looks at every release from the studio by analyzing its production history, release, criticisms, and any awards attention that it might've received. Join me on a quest to explore the modern heroes of cinema by exploring every hit and miss that comes with that magnificent logo. They may not all be great, but they more than make A24 what it is and what it will hopefully continue to be for ears to come.