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Archive | October, 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Review

18 Oct

Clearly designed to elicit reactions, and pretty successful at doing so. Lanthimos has his grasp on every tiny facet of the production, each scene a delicate balance between heightened aesthetics and blank-faced absurdity. His actors–all outstanding– deliver their lines devoid of any normal conventions of human conversation, resulting in a plethora of inappropriately comedic moments and killer lines (Alicia Silverstone owns the best one). The film occasionally gets lost in its own world, lingering too long on certain uninteresting beats and sometimes becoming a victim of its own distance. However, it’s perhaps this intentional distance–noticeable even in the camera placement–from Lanthimos that makes his story so intriguing. It works because he goes into it understanding the very concept of absurdity and the way ambiguity facilitates a seeming lack of purpose. He has no intention of explaining anything in depth because his characters haven’t even figured it out; he takes his Greek tragedy, spins a few metaphors and philosophical questions into the mix, and lets this twisted foray into human behavior to spiral toward its bone-chilling conclusion.

B+

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Blade Runner 2049 Review

10 Oct

Jared Leto doesn’t deserve to be lit by Roger Deakins.

The d.p. legend is back again with a masterwork of epic proportions. As is the case with the rest of his work, every frame here is heavily calculated and pored over, but it’s more readily apparent in this film than in others. It feels overtly artificial for a reason; Deakins, Villeneuve, and production designer Dennis Gassner are first working from a futuristic visual framework, then at key moments slowly introducing hidden depths and pinpoints of humanity into this bleak and foreboding environment. In this manner, the visual storytelling parallels K’s journey from blake slate through memories and towards the soul.¬†There are several main canvasses that we see throughout: the sterile darkness of Los Angeles, the smoggy orange ruins of Las Vegas, and K himself. Deakins has an absolute field day filling those canvasses. Motivated source lighting (see: the lanterns in the Jesse James train sequence) is his forte, and you can see that he realized how much of a gold mine the city scenes are. It’s heightened artificiality. It’s a glorious collection of neon and fluorescent, with huge holograms and ship lights providing even more striking colors amidst the darkness. They all show up in some way during these scenes, illuminating the image in a way that allows Deakins to play with shadows and silhouettes. You’ll notice how mobile the shadows are, whether they’re peeling back to reveal or creeping forward to conceal. This certainly plays in tandem with the lights, which take on lives of their own as they shimmer within the frame.

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The Florida Project Review

5 Oct

The Florida Project¬†is about limitations. The characters are fenced in, their futures volatile and insecure, their places of residence so geographically close to privilege yet so far. There are limitations placed on their employment options, their housing options, and even their pizza topping options. Willem Dafoe’s character acts like a sheriff at times, ensuring that people are paying what they owe and that others are limited from venturing onto the premises. The premises themselves are run-down and grimy in many places, and certain scenes exude sadness without even trying.

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