Movies reviewed this week: All Sorts, Wisdom Tooth, Deadly Cuts, Censor, Tove, and Wyrm.
4/9/2021: All Sorts (2021): ***
Impressively executed even before you allow for the low budget, and it walks the line between whimsy and frivolity nicely. There’s still gold to be found in the eccentric office mines, apparently. Also, man, good acting throughout. Real characters in a surreal world.
I wish we’d gotten some of June’s inner life. Greena Park is great but the movie really centers Diego (Eli Vargas is also really good). June is a bit of a cipher, although now and then the person behind the love interest shows.
Well worth watching.
4/10/2021: Wisdom Tooth (2019): ****
From the promotional material you’d think this is a crime thriller of some flavor or other. Nope! It’s a quiet coming of age piece that happens to be structured around some criminal activity.
Really self-assured directorial debut from Liang Ming. Excellent acting, especially Xingchen Lyu as the protagonist, Guxi. The fragmented sequences towards the end are perfect reflections of her internal conflicts. Even Dongzi — the fourth wheel in the tripartite conflict between Guxi, her brother, and his new girlfriend — is a well-realized character.
4/10/2021: Deadly Cuts (2021): ***
The Commitments plus Zoolander plus pretty much any Baz Luhrmann with a bit of Letterkenny. This kind of goofy comedy works if it has a good heart, and this one does.
4/11/2021: Censor (2021): ***1/2
Impressive debut movie. Really really smart piece of work. It feels like every frame was a conscious choice. I spent a lot of the movie thinking about the contractors who review objectionable content on Facebook, and stories about how traumatizing that work can be. I’d guess director Prano Bailey-Bond is pretty aware of those stories. Censor really grapples with desensitization and trauma, and I loved it for that; at one point I thought the movie was going to reach a conclusion, but then it deftly undercuts the easy answers.
4/11/2021: Tove (2020): ****1/2
I’m a fan of the Moomins, but this goes way beyond that. Alma Pöysti Is vibrant, in joy and in sorrow. It’s about Jansson’s life, what it’s like to disappoint family, class tensions, art versus craft, and I guess really about a genius finding her path. There’s quite a bit packed into this one.
I keep coming back to Pöysti’s performance, because she has to carry all that. There’s an exchange, very early on, about a self-portrait:
“Do you think I’m the rock, the fire, or the storm?”
“You’re all three of them, aren’t you?”
That’s a lot of pressure to put on an actress before we’ve seen her be any of those things. She pulls it off.
4/11/2021: Wyrm (2019): *1/2
Sometimes I think Wes Anderson has a lot to answer for. Anyway: I was sort on board for this as a lightly amusing comedy, but I could have done without the magical Latina girlfriend.