Welcome back to my Home Movies! Today, we have two very different films in Smile and The Woman King competing for attention, along with plenty of other titles. In fact, there’s even three movies joining the Criterion Collection. Read on for more…
This surprise horror hit is one I got to later than most, but I see why it was such a success. Sure, the beats are familiar and it’s largely jump scares, but it’s rarely done as successfully as it is here. So, while I might prefer It Follows to Smile, for example, my added affection for the former takes nothing away from the latter. In fact, it placed in the top ten fright flicks for 2022 for both Myles and myself over the weekend here.
The Woman King
Viola Davis kicks major ass in his historical epic from Gina Prince-Bythewood. Back at the Toronto International Film Festival, I was taken by the movie, and especially Davis in the action-centric role, while finding the drama a bit more middle of the road. In my review out of TIFF (here), I had this to say about The Woman King:
The historical epic can often feel pretty old fashioned and have a “been there, done that” feeling these days. After, haven’t so many of the pivotal events in human history already been covered? Well, The Woman King is here to offer a counterpoint to that, showcasing a story we’ve never seen on screen before. Anchored by a strong lead turn and some very solid fight sequences, this is an action epic that’s somewhat old school in its plot beats and presentation, but very much unique in terms of the actual story it’s depicting. A high profile debut here at the Toronto International Film Festival should precede a healthy box office later on this month.
The Woman King is at its best when our heroines are kicking ass. The dramatic beats and subplots are fine, but they lack some of the consistent effectiveness that the fight scenes do. The focus is split pretty evenly, but it’s clear where the more successful work resides. The characters are well drawn, but some of the plot beats leave something to be desired. The battles, however? They’re spot on.
Call Jane (Interview with Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver here)
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile
Reacher: Season One (TV)
South Park: Post Covid & The Return of Covid (TV)
From The Criterion Collection: “Chicago, 1964: it’s the end of high school for aspiring poet Preach and his best friend, Cochise, and they have a full slate of extracurricular activities: swinging dance parties, late-night joyrides, and the stumbling pursuit of romance. Of course, when you’re a young Black man in America, there’s no guarantee that your coming-of-age story will be free of complications. Director Michael Schultz and screenwriter Eric Monte—who drew on his own experiences growing up in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project—arrived at something truly unique in 1970s cinema with Cooley High: an endearingly funny, tender, and authentic portrait of Black teens striving toward a brighter future, brought to life by a dynamic ensemble cast and set to a heavenly hit parade of Motown classics.”
Three Films by Mai Zetterling
From The Criterion Collection: “A fearlessly transgressive, long-overlooked pioneer of feminist cinema, the Swedish actor turned director Mai Zetterling ruffled the feathers of the patriarchal establishment with a string of bracingly modern, sexually frank, and politically incendiary films focused on female agency and the turbulent state of twentieth-century Europe. Her ability to render subjective psychological states with startling immediacy is on display in thesethree taboo-shattering works from the 1960s, featuring some of Swedish cinema’s most iconic stars. With their audacious narrative structures, their elaborate use of symbolism, and their willingness to delve into the most fraught realms of human experience, these are models of adventurous, passionately engaged filmmaking.”
The Velvet Underground
From The Criterion Collection: “Emerging from the primordial soup of glamour, gutter sleaze, and feverish creativity that was New York’s 1960s underground culture, the Velvet Underground redefined music with its at once raw and exalted blend of experimentation and art-damaged rock and roll. In his kaleidoscopic documentary The Velvet Underground, Todd Haynes vividly evokes the band’s incandescent world: the creative origins of the twin visionaries Lou Reed and John Cale, Andy Warhol’s fabled Factory, and the explosive tension between pop and the avant-garde that propelled the group and ultimately consumed it. Never-before-seen performances, interviews, rare recordings, and mind-blowing transmissions from the era’s experimental cinema scene come together in an ecstatic swirl of sound and image that is to the traditional music documentary what the Velvets were to rock: utterly revolutionary.”
Stay tuned for more next week…