Vox Lux

This film is distinct. The message is not muddled. The style does not stray. Brady Corbet directed the hell out of this film. And it paid off.

The opening sequence is deeply upsetting. And I couldn’t tell if it was upsetting for the shock value or if it truly added to the story of this troubled young girl becoming an adult at age 15. Either way, I’d use caution when viewing.

This movie is stylish, well sequenced, and beautifully acted. I loved the little things, like Willem Defoe narrating, the credits rolling at the beginning, and the glow-up of the agent.

5/5, I’d watch this again, sans the first 5 minutes.

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Enemy

I appreciate a film that establishes time and space early on. We are quickly transported to the early 2000s in Canada. This is given to us via a relic, the video store, extensive use of house phones, a lack of Googlablity in cell phones, and a giant pair of bug-eye sunglasses. Don’t get me started on that Volvo.

Initially, this film is confusing. It requires some thought and some puzzle skills. I didn’t understand the symbolism of the spiders at first, but that gripping final shot brings it all together. This man, Adam Bell or Anthony Clair, is afraid of the women in his life. He’s afraid of his girlfriend, his wife, and his mom. They are each represented by different stages of his spider fear. His mother is shown to us as a giant looming spider over the city, and his wife is given to us as a spider backed into a corner, fearful. Both of which brew a space where Adam/Anthony does not feel safe.

I get so many Twilight Zone vibes, matched with Annihilation from earlier this year. The film has a haunting and yet totally metaphysical sensation. It becomes increasingly clear that Adam and Anthony are the same person and the film becomes more and more about the depth the mind will dive to hide unpleasantness into the subconscious.

Jake Gyllenhaal successfully places us a world where we forget that the two leading men are acted by the same person. And it’s especially wild and crazy when the same actor is playing the same character that is written as separate characters who believe they are separate characters until the end when one dies and they have to be the same character, and then the one character adopts the life of the other character, which quickly fades into the only characters life.

A24 is a powerhouse. This film is gritty, it’s strange, it’s hard to watch, and it’s good. And Jake Gyllenhall is super hot. Even as a crazy person.

5/5. I’ll watch this again. I’m so impressed with Denis Villeneuve, always.

Cape Fear

This film has three parts, a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is clear delineation between the three, and that’s a classic 1991 formulaic tactic. This doesn’t bite off more than it can chew, and it delivers well what it promises to. We have a thrill ride into strangeville and we have some powerful performances, but as a whole, this isn’t the thrillest or the strangest.

Young Juliette Lewis is so annoyingly fantastic, it takes away from the fact that we are supposed to be irritated with her as an audience. She gives us the quintessential 16-year-old-hates-her-parents-and-doesn’t-understand-her-life and we buy it. She doesn’t know what’s going on, and makes no effort to understand because she doesn’t have to.

There are some weird plot devices that I didn’t buy. Why, WHY does Bobby D. hang on to the undercarriage of the car as a means to “follow” the family?! I mean, he’s inventive, but I don’t believe his anger enough to believe he’d risk his own life. Sure, I believe his anger enough to stalk his prey to the airport, to kill, to sneak into a high school, to smoke in a high school, but to risk his own life? No. It’s weak.

Scorsese makes movies for everyday people. He makes movies that are easy to follow, easy to understand, and lack a certain amount of depth. This isn’t my favorite of his. I didn’t appreciate a lot of the direction, including weird camera angles, poorly incorporated Foley, and imperfect line delivery. It’s no Silence though.

3/5. I won’t watch this again. Nolte really didn’t age well, did he?

The Stanford Prison Experiment

YES, ENSEMBLE. This CAST! Ezra Miller, Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, and Olivia Thirlby! I loved guessing where I remembered each cast member from. This ensemble was to die for. I could see every single one of these people as a student at Standford in the 1970s.  

The progression of this study is hard to watch. The film isn’t done particularly well and we don’t get in depth reactions from anyone. The study is worth the film itself, but wow is it dull and slow. The hard work is done outside of the prison, and we try to get into the mind of Dr. Zimbardo. But even at the end of the experiment, we don’t know what the fuck is motivating this guy. Or the prison guards. Or the break-out prisoner, 8612.

This film spends a lot of time trying to be objective for the audiences’ sake, but I would have rather been guided to what we are supposed to feel. IFC has a knack for delivering dry aesthetic films with underwhelming, but beautiful cast casts. I guess we are supposed to believe science is actually happening and that we are enveloped in science. I didn’t buy it. I was bored, and found myself reading the conclusion of the study before the films’ end.

The feigned claustrophobia is lost on me, but I wanted to believe in the immense pressures these guys felt. Superbly acted, poorly paced, and not well edited. I won’t watch this again, but this cast will stick with me. It’s just so right. 2/5. Snooze.

Cam

This is current, relevant, and smart. We know this girl. We all went to school with this girl. We grew up in this town, and know this family. We’ve seen this in real life, and are forced to live in this terror for a full 94 minutes longer than we are comfortable.

This first half of the film is fun and episodic, it builds a world we can understand and we are given an easy to follow narrative in the form of a goal that Alice/Lola sets. She wants to break into the top 50 of the most watched cam girl on her preferred website. We are led to believe that jealously and pettiness is bringing our protagonist down, and we are instead led into an internet wormhole.

Calling this film horror is a bit of a stretch. There is a successfully identified threat, but the biggest horror of this film is the lack of rights that sex workers have when it comes to protecting their assets on the internet. Bots are easier to manipulate than humans because they have no limits and they have no rules.

Madeline Brewer is compelling and promising. She boasts a powerhouse performance of what loss means and the panic of being left behind. I look forward to seeing her in the future. She’s good.

I won’t revisit this, 4/5. I appreciate the small town New Mexico setting. Shoutsout.