Director Darren Aronofsky is not known for subtlety or crowd-pleasing. Afterall, his indie debut featured a mathematician obsessed with pi and orthodox Jews who thought his work was discovering the true name of God. He delved deep into every facet of drug abuse, focused a character study around a wrestler, used high-end ballet as a backdrop for a psychological thriller, and put Rock Giants in the story of Noah’s Ark. “Iconoclast” probably doesn’t do him justice.
Move to a new state, start a new job, and your movie blogging suffers. July was something of a testament to that, but I still got to see some cool movies. August was brutal, with only a couple of worthwhile releases, both of which I missed (but hope to get to soon). Anyway, Life Things™ are starting to get sorted, September will certainly be better than August with regards to releases, and thanks to my laziness, there’s a plethora of good content on the way.
Let’s start with everything in the barrel here at Plot and Theme. I’ve five reviews in various stages of completion, and those will start rolling out over the next week. My quick reviews from TIFF, care of cinemaxis.com, will start showing up today with the amazing short animated film Threads, and I’ve got eight total reviews that will pop up throughout the festival. My Kubrick essay on Barry Lyndon is late, and going to be later (who would have thought a 3-hour historical drama would be so complicated?) Don’t worry, it will get done before the next Kubrick essay (which is The Shining). There’s also a pair of Patreon Picks that will be uploaded near the middle of the month.
Now for flicks. September is usually when some of the Awards movies get rolled out, and we have a little bit of that in Battle of the Sexes. Two other wide releases I’m interested in are genre fares, and they couldn’t be more different: It releases this weekend, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle releases the same week as Battle of the Sexes. Then, wrapping it all up, we have mother!, the Darren Aronofsky film starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. I’ve always liked Aronofsky, and getting J-Law away from David O. Russell has to be beneficial.
So, while it may look like my interest in Plot and Theme is wavering, rest assured that it merely stalled due to the convergence of tumultuous life events and a terrible August. September, objectively the best month of the whole year, will help right this ship.
For the third time this summer, it is time to watch a superhero flick where some characters fight other characters for poorly-developed reasons. In this specific case, it’s the X-Men universe and the film is X-Men: Apocalypse, named after the all-power and ancient villain of the film. The eponymous character is central to not only the plot and theme of the film, but ultimately its problems as well. On a fundamental level, this film fails because it could not appropriately handle the character of Apocalypse, and you can almost feel it buckling under the weight of this Frankenstein’s Monster. There are lesser problems as well, including some poorly-used characters and a mismanaged tonal consistency, but you can trace nearly every negative back to the big-bad. Thus, despite introducing intriguing new versions of beloved characters, this is a poor end to the new X-Men trilogy.
Ever since those in charge of the Harry Potter franchise decided that they could make an extra movie near the end without anyone really caring, it has been a common practice, and the story usually suffers. It was the same with The Hunger Games franchise, as the first part of the final book was all set-up. Earlier this morning the first trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 was released online, and it appears promising. There is a distinct revolutionary tone to the snippets of action and conversations, and it is clear that this final film will attempt to deliver on all the wheel-spinning of Mockingjay Part 1 with a stunning climax.