Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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I enjoyed The Lobster, and I wish I liked this better. The cinematography is pedestrian, deliberately I guess, almost provocative - and I did not care for that. ( It comes to life during the gymnast routines, where the director cannot contain his excitement!) And this is a movie you would benefit from visiting it twice. But who would want to?
Some achievement - grinding a tense and gripping novel into the most mediocre movie ever made. Like watching a caterpillar turning into a dung beetle.
Yes, the wonderful world of portmanteau movies! From "The Yellow Rolls-Royce" to "Au hasard Balthazar" objects and animals pass through different hands and give us insight into the human condition.
And then there is "Wiener-Dog". Director Todd Solondz is also a teacher of film, at University level, and this movie surely was made so he and his snivelling students have something to snigger about. He is even too lazy to establish whether the (impeccable groomed) dachshund is the same in every episode or not. The first segment is the best - a family with a son recuperating from cancer where the parents behave like this was only their ordeal. You are never sure about mother Julie Delpy - does she talk with her son because she cares or to make him stop his constant questioning. With a tracking shot straight from the bowels of hell this should be used as a stand-alone government short: "Why you should not give your dog chocolate".
Enter Wiener-Dog in person, this time portrayed by Greta Gerwig. Solondz does not do Feisty Indie Saviour Girl, but this is as close as you get. A woman (Zosia Mamet) we meet later aspires to be one - a path that certainly will lead to misery. As every other path in this movie. Even the bright colors seem to mock all this human navel-gazing. The world is rather beautiful, but no-one notice.
What else? Danny DeVito pops up as the film teacher who put the burn in burn-out. And at no point does the dog become a cop or puts on basketball shoes. "Wiener-Dog" was Solondz seventh feature. Long may the sniggering continue.
Remember the buoy that was no help to the first victim of Jaws? Well, it`s back and bigger and this time! Jaume Collet-Serra is the guy who makes actionthrillers with Liam Neeson when he is not Taken. You know, the good ones. Not surprisingly, when he turned to shark movies, the result was a cut above the rest. But he couldn`t really put Neeson on a surfboard, could he? Cue Tara Reid, no wait, Blake Lively - a med student who needs to mend herself before she can mend others. Literally. And it works. The beach is mapped out and feels almost real. Tension ebb and flow like the tide. Critics describes this as taut, and yes.
The moment came early on, when Laureline complains about the state of her dress seconds after an attack leaves most of her co-fighters dead. Laureline would never say such a thing! Yes, I read the comic, and boy will I remind you. And Emma Stone actually looks like her, for heaven`s sake! But that moment set me free. I could relax and let the movie wash over me. Hazy images and haphazard plotting, I salute you. Look, there is Rihanna. That girl looks good in any outfit. And...she is dead.
The movie touched base from time to time. The comic revelled in sinister plots, often involving peaceful, indigenous cultures in peril, proudly refusing to change their ways. And outlandish creatures - like the ready-to-wear jellyfish and the converter. The movie is shy about exactly which orifice is used in the process. The comic was not, and still it was cute.
The book peaked, in my opinion, with the splendid Metro Chatelet, Direction Cassiopeia (1980), continued in Brooklyn Station, Terminus Cosmos (81). (Later, artist Jean-Claude Meziers, got rid of the splash panels and went for small. Very small.) Valerian evolves as a person, and Laureline completes her journey from sidekick to pulling the strings. Not primarily through fighting - a French intellectual like writer Pierre Christin is more interested in discussing Simone de Beauvoir than fantasize about Wonder Woman in a boudoir.
As a fan, I drifted through the Eighties in why-don`t-the-bastards-make-this mode. Oh well. It is not as awful as his bowdlerization of Jacques Tardi`s Adele. But I wonder if Luc Besson really thinks his adaptations are fantastic, or just the best, in our cultural climate, he can do. Either way, we lose.