The Films of October 2018
(as seen by theric)


Frailty (2001)

This is the second film* of the Elder Quorum's unofficial new film group, modeled after the Relief Society's decades-old unofficial book club. I'm not quite sure what I think of it yet....

I have a couple complaints, but many of those complaints were resolved in the conclusion. But that doesn't mean the conclusion is satisfying. It's more ... unsettling. It warps easy definitions of right and wrong, good and evil. But it's shaped like a clean conclusion. And so I need to let it settle. Luckily, I'll have some blokes to discuss it with tomorrow. That may help.

(Incidentally, it also made me want to rewatch Unbreakable and finally watch Take Shelter.)

The Truman Show (1998)

I believe I've seen this twice, once in theaters and once when it arrived on VHS.* I liked it okay. Aspects of it really stuck with me. Moments.

Seeing it now, into my adulthood, my opinion is higher. I think it's terrific. Moving and intelligent. Strong.

Truman's not trapped so much by his choices as by outside forces---and that's not entirely unlike the world. His heroism in asserting the right to choose over the machinations of an entire world built to prevent his greatest desires. And, in place, what do they provide? Peace. Happiness. Safety.

Reminds me of George Orwell (i) . . . and the Devil.

Batman Begins (2005)

I still love this movie, but after a decade of constantly watching superhero movies (thank you, Marvel), I'm better able to see its flaws. They're not serious flaws. The constant reexplaining of the water-main issue, for instance, is handled well even though it's rather a lot. And years of superhero films has also made me consider more deeply, mid-action sequence, the fate of innocents during, for instance, a massive citywide carchase. "It's a miracle no one was killed," says Alfred. But people were certainly hurt.

The question of risking others to save Rachel (or whoever) will be more seriously addressed in the next movie, but here it's just a couple words of dialogue and on we move.

The watching of this film was to finally introduce the kids to these films. I gave them the choice between this or Lord of the Rings. You tell me if they picked the right one to watch first.

When Marnie Was There (2014)

This movie is beautiful and lovely and fun and perplexing. I never quite felt like I was sure what was going on, but that was okay. I was happy in the world and willing to follow the plot wherever it led.

For quite some time, I was thinking it was a ghost story (and maybe it was?), but it was never a tale of horror. Even when it did get a bit scary. It's important you believe that, because movies it reminded me of include The Shining, The Haunting, and Sixth Sense, but Marnie IS NOT a horror film. Not even close. But that same sense of confusion and bewilderment is key to what Marnie IS doing. And doing well.

I also thought it was a prepubescent lesbian love story, but given the explanations that flow out at the end, this must not be true. Better not be true, anyway.

The Explanation Portion of the movie is its weakest spot. I'm satisfied with the explanation, but it's a bit ... well, you know how it is. Explaining things too much can kill them. And while the payoffs that are possible after the explanation are moving, the explanation is still a bit much.

(Disclaimer: I watched the movie over two days, so that might have messed up the storytellers' ability to win me over.)

One last comparison:

Early on, I assumed this would be Spirited Away without supernatural elements. Not so. But after one viewing, I feel it's likely Marnie holds its own against that masterpiece and they would make an interesting pairing if you're putting together a doublefeature.

Children of the Corn (1984)

I can't believe I've been living in fear of this movie my whole life.

I mean, to be fair, it probably would have terrified me at age eight---I still haven't worked up the courage to rewatch Gremlins---but now, it's pretty hokey. And the final act is just stupid.

That said, props on its jump scares. It had me popping like corn, for sure.

Justice League (2017)

Wow is this a stupid movie. I mean---the reviews were not exactly glowing but it comes up in conversation enough I thought maybe there might be something to it. But not really. It's bad. Zack Snyder's overdramatic impulses are largely unchecked, most of the jokes aren't funny, the writing is terrible, the actors---many of whom I know to be good---can barely work through the material, the editing is awkward, and, after a decade of Marvel movies, the fight scenes and cosmic elements feel derivative.

It's just a bad movie. Which is a shame. Because I still think DC has a leg up on Marvel, at least for me personally, in terms of quality of universe. It would be nice to see them figure it out.

(Which is not to say I think a Marvelesque incorporated movie universe is the way for DC to go. I would rather see them turn the DC universe into a playground laboratory where good filmmakers can try out different ways of using the characters. Some of the recent announcements make that sound possible.)

My Friend Dahmer (2017)

The book has stuck with me lo these five years and so I've been looking forward to seeing the film. It captures much of what I liked about the book---Dahmer is a sympathetic character, filled with confusion and self-loathing as he begins to understand himself. He's an exaggerated and distorted version of any kid that's struggled to understand his sexuality.

Watching the movie, it's not easy to tell how accurate this movie might be. So supplementing with the book ain't a bad idea. Unless you're happier believing there's nothing to see here, ha ha, what a charming entertainment. (But good luck with that.)

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