Movies reviewed this week: The Gleaners and I, The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later, Shadow in the Cloud, and We’re All Going to the World’s Fair.
4/25/2022: The Gleaners and I (2000): ****1/2
What a tapestry. To glean is to take that which is discarded and make use of it. That’s food. That’s the raw materials of art. That’s the delightful flexibility of Varda’s new-found digital camera: specifically, to make the point, the accidental footage of the lens cap dancing at the end of a string. That’s the aging human body, not just her own, but the weathered faces of those who’ve lived rough most of their lives.
That’s people themselves. Varda wasn’t done being creative. The Senegalese immigrants weren’t useless. Nobody is.
4/26/2022: The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (2002): ***1/2
It only doesn’t quite match its predecessor because it can’t stand alone, but the added layers of depth make it completely worthwhile. Come for the chance to see old friends again; stay for the thoughtful reflections on her own film-making process. And some cats.
4/29/2022: Shadow in the Cloud (2020): ***1/2
If Roseanne Liang says she completely rewrote the script, she completely rewrote the script. Fuck Max Landis. As always.
This was going to be cheesy but OK, but then it got awesome. It is in your face about Chloë Grace Moretz kicking ass. One of the ways in which it gets awesome is that once things get going she doesn’t hesitate or flinch at all, and it becomes clear that any trepidation she had at the beginning of the movie is just about keeping her secret. Once that’s gone? Yeah, fuck it, time to fight.
Another way it gets awesome is disregard for the laws of physics. Liang is not interested in pretending that action movies are realistic. We’re in Big Trouble in Little China territory here, and why shouldn’t we be?
The soundtrack is phenomenal. It’s an 80s synth dream. This is really weird for a 2020s movie set in the 1940s, but it works like a charm. Maybe because the movie’s really kind of timeless? Bit of a fever dream, and the music carries that along nicely.
For an 80 minute movie there are an awful lot of things happening. That’s okay.
5/1/2022: We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021): ***1/2
That’s going to sit with me for a while. It was challenging: the influences of Lynch and Cronenberg are familiar ground for me, but I have never submerged in some of the Internet worlds this movie draws from. Would that one scene hit differently if I listened to ASMR often? Hard to say; all I know is that the elements that seemed like they might be comforting to Casey were just another flavor of unfamiliar to me.
On the other hand, yeah, that’s roleplaying on the Internet. JLB’s decisions were impeccably plausibly poorly made. Two people pursuing different ends in the same context always ends that way, and it’s not always a roleplaying context, for that matter.
Anna Cobb was amazing. She’s going to be great. The landscape scenes felt like wrapping your tongue in aluminum foil and going around all day like that, so I’d say those worked too.