My Week in Movies (4/2-4/8)

The Departed (2006) – dir. by Martin Scorsese

Matt Damon plays a great villain.

You Should Watch If: You like needle drops

You Should Not Watch If: You don’t like Mark Wahlberg

4.5/5 stars

The Five Devils (2022) – dir. by Léa Mysius

The placid unhappiness of Vicky’s parents is upended by the arrival of her aunt Julia. This domestic drama introduces time travel and magical realism to tell a story of trauma, tragedy and rebirth.

It’s a beautiful movie when you break down what it intends to do, the emotions it intends to convey and the sincerity of its message. But there are also a few plot holes and perplexing character decisions (or lack thereof) that made me all too aware of the artifice of the movie.

Vicky is a young girl who has an incredibly fine sense of smell. When her aunt Julia arrives, she steals a vile of liquid (or is it a gel?) to create a concoction of Julia’s smells (just as she does for her own mother). When she sniffs it she is surprised to find herself waking up in the past, watching her young mother, father and Julia interact when they were teenagers, or not much older.

This unexpected method of time travel serves to introduce us to Julia and to the incident which we know will essentially excommunicate her from the small French town where they live.

In these forays, Vicky is a ghost to all but Julia, who can see her and is very much afraid. These recurring encounters convince Julia that she is losing her mind, and they will lead to the act 3 climax in which all our main characters once again find themselves crossing paths.

But it’s a movie with a modest scope, centered on Vicky, her parents and Julia. Hidden secrets come to life, and yada yada it’s a pleasant movie, clearly well made but the time travel device never quite feels… right.

This is an effective coming of age story and family drama that ends on a compelling note, and the time travel raises questions that the movie is unconcerned with answering.

You Should Watch If: You like airport novels

You Should Not Watch If: You don’t like subtitles or emotion

3/5 stars

127 Hours (2010) – dir. by Danny Boyle

127 Hours is far more watchable than it should be, considering it’s a story about a guy (Aaron Ralston/James Franco) who gets stuck under a boulder, waits for five days then cuts his arm off. It’s not exactly cinematic until it’s suddenly gore-ific.

That said, it’s engaging and does that survival movie thing of making a game out of “what do you do next?” It’s a process movie, I suppose, like any prison break movie (Escape From Alcatraz, A Man Escaped) or survival movie, where all you can do, as the main character, is take it one step at a time. And then the ending sequence cut to a Sigur Rós track always gets me.

You Should Watch If: You enjoyed Into the Wild but wish it was gnarlier

You Should Not Watch If: You’re over-caffeinated

4/5 stars

65 (2023) – dir. by Scott Beck & Bryan Woods

65 has sat on the shelf for a couple years, for reasons unknown. Shot during the end of 2020, start of 2021, it’s about Adam Driver and a young girl trying to survive on prehistoric Earth. It’s a simple action/survival movie but struggles to remain coherent or emotionally consistent. It also seems to want to surprise you with the reveal that this apparently futuristic space ship has crash-landed in the past while at the same time using that information as a hook for the audience.

But using that information, 65 raises a lot of questions that it has no interest answering. It’s just a movie about Adam Driver using futuristic guns and grenades to destroy dinosaurs. And that’s all it needs to be.

*But it’s still a bit laborious to get through.

You Should Watch If: You love action movies but don’t have much time to spare

You Should Not Watch If: You like well-written movies with little studio interference (presumably)

2/5 stars

Air (2023) – dir. by Ben Affleck

What’s not to like? This is a movie about people operating in lanes they know they’re good at. It’s the movie version of someone shutting up and play the hits, a movie with modest ambition, great performances and then a message that is half shoehorned in and half quite compelling for the times we live in.

You Should Watch If: You like “dad movies” (I.e. Ford V. Ferrari)

You Should Not Watch If: You can’t stop thinking about how much this celebrates capitalism

4/5 stars

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