I’m not sure what to write about Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. The movie is as observationally distant as many of her previous films, especially Somewhere, to a lesser extent Lost in Translation, looking at its vapid, materialistic, fame-obsessed central group of teenage reprobates with the same disaffected malaise they themselves project. It’s aggressively nonjudgmental, the film choosing to view its protagonists with a detached superficiality that doesn’t connect emotionally but still manages to pack something of a major, uncomforting wallop all the same.
[Maniac] takes the basic idea from the previous film and then runs energetically into an entirely new direction, upping the slasher game by crafting a first-person you-are-there narrative structure that in large parts makes this effort the Enter the Void of B-grade exploitation terror.
I didn’t dislike Man of Steel, not at all, but I just as readily didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to, either. Nothing about this latest Superman iteration captivated me, none of it connected on an emotional level, and while the action theatrics fly considerably higher than any previous adaptation the shortcomings found in the human department frustratingly kept the project as a whole from soaring.
Yet what it’s talking about, the thematic subtext behind all of this horrific carnage and depravity, that does have basis in the here and now, and one could easily imagine certain talking points coming from the mouths of various political candidates and television cable news hosts sounding terrifyingly similar. Say what you will about either movement but the heart and soul of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party did bring about conversations about wealth disparity and cultural (and corporate) privilege in this country, those ideas taken to a grotesquely unsettling extreme in the world imagined by DeMonaco.
In the end, Now You See Me isn’t anything to get worked up about one way or the other, and while I’d never recommend the watching of it I have this sneaky suspicion it will play rather well on Cable television for viewers with short attention spans and other things on their minds.
Unlike a lot of summer monstrosities that label themselves as being nothing more than “dumb fun” but forget to treat the audience with respect, Fast & Furious 6 remembers that people who do in fact watch this might actually have brain. While the movie itself is pretty stupid, it doesn’t treat viewers as being so themselves, understanding and respecting the audience in a way big budget enterprises of similar ilk rarely do.
It’s ebullient and joyous but still laced without the proper amount of pain and pathos, everything working in incandescent tandem with its various pieces in order to make the movie come alive to its own free-flowing beat. Make no mistake, Frances Ha is a stunning achievement, an exercise in pure cinema that’s as rare as it is spectacular.
Problem is, after so much build up, after a great introduction to the possibilities of doing something fresh and original with characters many of us might think have done it all, the movie doesn’t just drop the ball it pops it with a bobby pin leaving its shriveled and lifeless husk out on the playing field like bits of discarded garbage. The last third of the movie is an insult, having characters do things, not because they need to, but more because having them do it just calls more attention to the fact the filmmakers are repeating in their own mirror-world way what has already happened before.
His version of the story might not be perfect, might not know at all times exactly what it is it wants to say, but it understands the source material in an intimately intoxicating way other adaptions have sadly lacked. This movie feels like it needed to be made now, maybe even in this very way, this new take on The Great Gatsby a saga of artifice and excess worthy of deeper explorations.