Romantic Comedy “The Big Sick” Delights and Devastates

In The Big Sick, ideas about cultural identity and family are united with a comedic style reliant on awkwardness and sarcasm, all in service of a brilliant romantic comedy plot.  Kumail and Emily are growing into their new relationship, but a serious snag slams on the breaks.  Then, a sudden illness befalls Emily and Kumail is forced into reconsidering everything that he just let go and the reasons why.  The comedy and the characters in The Big Sick are great, but the way that the themes arise from this subject matter are far more poignant and impressive, resulting in one of the best romantic comedies of recent memory and strongest films in all of 2017.

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“Spider-Man: Homecoming” Does Whatever a Spider Can to Be Unique and Fun

Though he has only a pair of independent films to his name, director Jon Watts (Clown, Cop Car) sure knows his way around a friendly neighborhood Spider-man.  The product of a team-up between Sony and Marvel Studios, Spider-man: Homecoming places the iconic webslinger in high school.  This choice dictates many aspects of the film, from the story and characters all the way down to the sense of humor and the overarching themes of growing into one’s responsibilities.  At the very least, it certainly establishes Watts’s version of Spider-man as different, which is absolutely crucial given that this is the third iteration of Peter Parker in the last 15 years.

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The Ten Best Films of 2017 (Halfway Edition)

The prime-numbered year of 2017 has been a divisive one, which is at least a little ironic.  Now that the glass is half of something, it is time to broadcast my 100% correct and 99% meaningless opinions on the Ten Best Films of 2017.  I’ve done a few of these Top Ten lists here on Plot and Theme, and I always add commentary to them to keep them from feeling like a Buzzfeed list, but for you William Shakesman fans I will reproduce a brief and witty summary at the very end.

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State of the Blog – July 2017

The summer is in full swing, and it is time to update you with the goings-on here at Plot and Theme.  The standard formula will apply to this State of the Blog post:  we’ll look at the past month, talk a tad about the new movies that are on the horizon, and make outlandish promises about the posts I am going to write this month.

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Music Breathes Beautiful Chaos into “Baby Driver”

Very early in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, as Doc (Kevin Spacey) sketches out the plans to a heist on a chalkboard, he explains to his crew that the driver “Baby” (Ansel Elgort) has tinnitus and chooses to drown out the constant hum by listening to music.  Once he’s done with the obvious exposition, he puts down the chalk and exclaims, “Wow, I drew this entire map while explaining that.  I’d say that’s pretty fucking impressive!”  Thus Wright places his tongue firmly in-cheek, and we immediately understand the tone of the film:  weird, energetic, and not taking itself too seriously.

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Cinematic Components Fuel Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Introduction

It is a sin to write this.  Mr. Stanley Kubrick told me so:

2001 is a nonverbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there are only a little less than 40 minutes of dialog. I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content.1

-Stanley Kubrick

Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey certainly bypasses verbalized pigeonholing, but that doesn’t mean the film defies explanation and discussion.  The present piece will analyze how Kubrick succeeds at the rather lofty goal of creating this  “visual experience” by looking at three key cinematic components that Kubrick uses to tell this story.  First, we’ll look at aural components like dialogue, music, and soundtrack.  Then, we’ll delve into the visual components like special effects and cinematography.  Finally, we’ll deal with thematic components, focusing on Kubrick’s use of archetypes.  Together, these components produce a rare beauty: a pure expression of cinema and the power that it has to inspire the imagination.

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