A few capsule reviews of recent theatrically-released films.
Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi) is an almost juvenile black comedy that in pre-screen publicity makes much of the fact it’s employing an historical trope to comment on the modern world’s hatred. Not sure what that means and the entire story is set in a mythological Nazi Germany. There are sight gags and stunts galore as 10-year-old Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) becomes an incompetent member of the Hitler Youth who confides in, yes, Adolph Hitler (played by the director). The film’s problems are that it’s overproduced, the gags not quite timed right and we’ve seen countless versions of Nazi era films, serious and otherwise.
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers) is a terrific film on several levels. Its screening in an almost square aspect ratio black and white 35 mm print is perfect for both the maudlin outdoor environment and the psychological dismalness of the two characters, Thomas Wake (Willem Defoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pettinson). The film, shot in Nova Scotia, takes place at a remote New England lighthouse with Winslow a new “wickie” under the supervision of his master Wake, who bullies him relentlessly. The film not only displays various dimensions of a twosome power struggle but is immersed in hallucinatory images and mythological allegories. And Defoe and Pattinson give it their best.
Give Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton) five stars for its extremely realistic 1950s sets and for Norton’s brilliant performance of a PI with Tourette syndrome. The film is also Norton’s salute to 1950’s noir and works to a point. The complex crime plot delves into wider issues including racism and the era of slum clearing and massive public housing and expressway development with Alec Baldwin’s Moses Randolph, a stand in for the notorious and iconic New York Master Builder Robert Moses. The problem is that the movie’s plot doesn’t sustain enough interest over its more than two hours length.
Notes: Very much looking forward to seeing Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, possibly tonight at 10 pm (it clocks in over three hours), as part of the Windsor International Film Festival’s screening of the movie several days this week and next. Kudos to WIFF for scoring exclusive rights to show the film in Windsor.
And next week at Cineplex Silver City, I might be checking out, this time on the big screen, the great rock film 24 Hour Party People (Michael Winterbottom) about the Manchester 1980s music scene featuring Joy Division and New Order.....And I probably shouldn’t miss the British theatrical sensation, Fleabag (Tony Grech-Smith · Vicky Jones), part of the National Theatre Live series. Check for times.....Cineplex is stepping up its screenings of unconventional films and theatrical presentations, particularly in Windsor, and it's something we should be grateful for and is rather overdue.