2015: the story so far (Part 1)…

We’re over a third of the way into the year, and I just noticed I’ve seen 20 movies at the cinema so far.  A nice round number invites some sort of rundown, don’t you think?

(Note: I saw the excellent Whiplash and Birdman last year, so they do not feature here!)

Grade: C-

20: Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Kumiko, a Japanese office lady fantasist, is driven to the point of quiet mania by her mother, office politics, and sexism. So she skips town with her boss’s credit card and heads for Minnesota to locate the buried suitcase of money from the movie Fargo. As with the tru-ish story it’s based on, things do not end well.

There was a lot to like in this movie, especially in the early scenes in Tokyo.  The bit where she says goodbye to her rabbit, Bunzo, by putting it on a train (and then stepping back off) was excellent.  “Bunzo!  Oh Bunzo!” *sobs*. 

I also liked the scene where a well-meaning Minnesota cop, trying desperately to help this young lady, takes her to a Chinese restaurant to see if they can understand her Japanese. “But isn’t it… kind of… similar?” / “No.”

Ultimately though, this was a story about a terminal depressive.  And it gave a very accurate sense of what being a depressive can feel like: mostly draining and dull, with a quiet sense of meaning and hope quietly being snuffed out.  I felt ground down by this movie.  So.  C-.

Grade: C

19: Mommy

Xavier Dolan’s loopy, hysterical, overblown camp soap opera of a movie, following the fortunes and friendships of a bipolar teenage boy, his single mum, and the depressive teacher lady who lives next door.  Freudian and strange, with excellent performances (especially from Anne Dorval as the mother), and a wonderfully normcore soundtrack (Dido! Oasis! Lana Del Ray for the doomy bits!)

Ultimately though, it’s much MUCH too long, and frequently lags.  And so: C.

And yes, it is almost entirely in that 1:1 ratio.

Grade: C+

18: White God

Like a child’s fable in which an ogre-like father forces a girl to abandon her beloved dog, who must then find his way back to her.  Things take a sharp turn, however, when the abandoned dog is captured and taught to kill, before escaping to lead all the city’s strays in a revolutionary rampage that converges on the girl’s home.

Basically this was The Incredible Journey meets White Dog meets The Birds.

A lot of this was very striking, and the dreamlike shots of the dog pack going wild in the city were wonderful (even if the dogs were visibly happy), really bringing out the sense of fable and wonder.

But if your movie has the simple structure and concerns of a child’s film mixed with people getting their throats ripped out, who exactly is that for? in practice the shallow approach didn’t earn the shocking visuals, and as it went on the whole thing started to become disengaging. And so: C+

17: Avengers – Age of Ultron

Over-stuffed, over-formulaic, badly paced, hamstrung by franchise requirements. This wasn’t terrible, but it was less than the sum of its parts and a major disappointment given it was supposed to be the big blockbuster of the summer.

See our full review here. C+

Films 16-12 (Grades B- and B) are reviewed here.

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