Directed by Sebastián Lelio — Screenplay by Emma Donoghue, Alice Birch, and Sebastián Lelio.
General audiences are unlikely to see an opening shot as surprising or even mystifying as the opening shot in Sebastián Lelio’s The Wonder. If you go in knowing that you are about to watch a period drama set in the 1800s, then you’re going to raise your eyebrows when you see what awaits you. Lelio’s first shot shows an empty film set warehouse and a scaffolded house that likely contains a principal set for the film. A female voice sets the mood by way of an absorbing and mysterious narration that emphasizes how the characters in the story cling to and fully believe the stories they tell. As the camera glides into a set containing Florence Pugh in-character, the film begins properly. It is a showy opening that is effective in underlining the questionable reality of the stories we ourselves gather around a television — or inside a theater — to watch, and, even though this framing device is a narrative-breaking technique (not its only fourth wall-breaker in the film) that isn’t wholly unique (just see last year’s HBO Scenes From A Marriage remake), it absolutely is an opening that takes your hand and asks you to partake in the story’s mystery. I think you should accept the offer and the instruction to buy into what you’re seeing.
Directed by Olivia Wilde (Booksmart) — Story by Carey van Dyke, Shane van Dyke, and Katie Silberman.
Whether by design (for marketing purposes) or not, Don’t Worry Darling has amassed one of the wildest behind-the-scenes on-and-off-set dramas in recent memory. Olivia Wilde’s sophomore effort as a director — following the hit teen comedy Booksmart — is one of the most talked about films this year, but ‘the talk’ isn’t about the film itself. It started with an embarrassing public disagreement about whether Shia LaBeouf was fired or if he left the project of his own volition (and a leaked video wherein Wilde tried to get LaBeouf back on board), but it snowballed into stories about on-set tension (alleged screaming matches between the director and her leading lady), internet sleuthing about whether or not Harry Styles spat on Chris Pine at one of the film’s premieres, and Olivia Wilde’s alleged absence from the set has even been compared to Boris Johnson’s rule-breaking COVID era behavior.
It’s a lot of noise that is far more interesting than the film itself, honestly. But it is also true that certain male directors (and their films), which others have argued, have gotten away with even more questionable behavior. It’s a mess that may ultimately help the film at the box office (again, inadvertently or not), but I just wish the film was anywhere near as good or memorable as the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding it.
Disney’s Marvel Studios — the masterminds and architects of the global cinematic sensation, the Marvel Cinematic Universe — now also spends a lot of time on TV/Streaming shows due to the arrival of the streaming service Disney+, which Disney knows can thrive on several shows aimed at the Marvel and Star Wars fandoms. In the first year with MCU content straight-to-Disney+, Disney and Marvel Studios gave us four live-action series and one premier animated show. In this article, I’ll take a look at each of the ‘first-year’ shows in bite-sized reviews.
Directed by Cate Shortland — Screenplay by Eric Pearson — Story by Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson.
After numerous delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow is finally here. Out now in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the first film in its so-called Phase Four — which also already includes Disney+ series WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki — but it is also the first theatrically released Marvel Studios product in two years (since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home).
My fellow Marvelites and so-called True Believers can now rejoice as the wait is finally over. However, while I’d say the film is quite good and, at least to some extent, worth the wait, I also have to say that it is clear as day that this film is ‘out of time’ in more ways than one, which makes the film feel quite strange even though it is ‘just’ a long-awaited solo film with a beloved character.
The following is a review of Little Women (2019) — Directed by Greta Gerwig.
This is a movie that I have wanted to review for a very long time. As I often bemoan, in Denmark, distributors tend to theatrically release major Oscar-nominated films months after they have been released in the United States. This often means that I miss out on the conversations that these films bring up. It also means that, in this case, I couldn’t discuss the only film nominated for Best Picture that was directed by a woman during awards season for the 92nd Academy Awards. Now that I finally have my hands on a Blu-Ray of the film, which I bought on Amazon UK, I have had the chance to watch and review a film that my peers already have plenty of thoughts about. Coincidentally, the film is now finally being released in Danish theaters just as the UK Blu-Ray arrived. Continue reading “REVIEW: Little Women (2019)”→
This is it. We are finally here where it all matters. This is where I highlight the best technical achievements and performances of the year. This is where I get a chance to recognize all of my favorite films that I saw this past year. As always, I also have a lifetime achievement film award at the end of the post, so don’t forget about that one. For the full list of nominees, go here. Continue reading “7th I’m Jeffrey Rex Awards, Part Two – 2019”→
It is finally time for me to announce my own personal film nominations for the 7th I’m Jeffrey Rex Awards. Sure, we’re in 2020 now, but I needed some time to watch some of the films that weren’t released until January 2020 in Denmark to properly celebrate 2019 films.
Some people in the industry may have been questioning the future viability of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe after the incredible infinity saga came to an end recently. If Spider-Man: Far From Home didn’t convince the naysayers, then what Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios announced last night certainly did. Today, let’s talk about the Marvel Studios announcements at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con. Continue reading “Feige Announces MCU Phase Four at San Diego Comic-Con – Special Features #54”→
The following is a review of Midsommar — Directed by Ari Aster.
As a Scandinavian, any film that revolves around Scandinavia or a specific part of Scandinavian culture, naturally, intrigues me greatly. So Midsommar already had my curiosity, but Ari Aster’s involvement pulled me in and seized my attention, as it were. Ari Aster is one of the most interesting new filmmakers. He is a gifted director whose first narrative feature — Hereditary — was one of the best and most disturbing horror films of the decade. With one of the decade’s best films in the genre under his belt already, his second feature film had a lot to live up to, and even though Midsommar isn’t quite as accessible as his directorial debut, Aster’s slow-burn second feature film showcases his distinct visual style, has thematical depth, and it proves that he is one of the most exciting new auteurs. Continue reading “REVIEW: Midsommar (2019)”→