Shorts #12.2

Today’s Shorts: A Monster Calls (2016), 48 Hrs. (1982), George Washington (2000), Jumanji (1995)

Reminiscent in essence of Pan’s Labyrinth and one of the most audacious films to have come out of the past few decades that I have seen, A Monster Calls is a surreal family movie about a boy who must face his inner demons as he watches his mother, who is riddled with cancer, deteriorate.

Though this has a few aesthetic faults – none of which concern the fantastic CGI and animation – and lacks a certain magical spark in its first half, this film has all the traits of a truly great maovie. It is then in spite of a few faults that A Monster Calls emanates true heart and cinematic intentions; something that is entirely respectable, never sentimental, cheesy or disingenuous.

It is ultimately the captivation and confrontation of a dark, but irrefutable truth that lies at the core of all that makes this a wondrous film. And so it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if this lasts the test of time and becomes an elusive classic.

Fuckin tremendous. There isn’t any other way to say it.

A simple buddy cop movie, this time with a convict as a partner, that we’ve all seen versions of a million times before – and this is probably the best one ever made (the closest competition being Lethal Weapon).

The cinematography is excellent, capturing the textures and lights of a city masterfully. The direction is brilliant, full of precise cinematic language – a stand out scene containing a great long-take set-piece in a police station that brings together Spielberg (Welles) and Altman (Renoir) through a sweet oner and some intricate sound design. Murphy and Nolte are fantastic, bringing so much to this terrific script that only has a few shaky lines of dialogue.

… I’m running out of adjectives, but this is a pure classic. If anyone says anything bad about this movie, just know they’re a dickhead and probably wrong.

Technically flawless, George Washington is a well-shot and impressively performed movie. With heavy themes of coincidence, death, responsibility and repentance, this film is staggering in quite a few ways – some good, some bad.

Concerning the positives, this narrative is highly impactful with a hefty emotional punch. Every single one of its characters are beautifully constructed, giving this film an immense amount of verisimilitude; it even feels part-documentary at times. This comes together with the realist aesthetic and dramatic story quite perfectly.

However, something seemed very off about the manner in which this narrative concludes and hits certain plot-points. In pivotal scenes that I won’t spoil, it then feels as if characters make cheap and incomprehensible decisions – all of which are captured by an off-putting tone of sentimentality and forgiveness.

Not knowing how to really feel about this, I can’t say that this movie completely worked for me on this viewing. I may have to then see this again.

I’ve always enjoyed this movie, and having just seen it after a long while, I still do. The CGI has dated, of course, and there are quite a few holes in the film; the director fails to express the nuances of scenes, leaving problems with logic, and the screenwriter leaves quite a few interesting questions concerning characters unexplored.

What I noticed on this watch that I never have before is the use of the past, memory and expectation through the fantasy elements of this narrative. In such, the main antagonist that comes out of the game is seemingly Alan’s grandfather – or someone higher up in his family tree. It’s through this narrative that Alan then has to confront his family legacy and heritage, overcoming elements of his childhood to become a responsible man, so that one day he may be able to raise functional children (which implies Sarah, Julie and Peter’s role in this narrative). Along with this, however, comes a plethora of African animals. This of course adds spectacle to this plot, but it also brings in possible themes of colonialism; the legacy of the Parish family probably extending back to England and the days of their colonialist rampaging through Africa as implied through Van Pelt.

This suggests that this film is, in part, a critique of this past – especially with the juxtaposition to impoverishment and economic decline in (what was) the present day, moreover, with the use of Carl. But, this is an incoherent part of Jumanji that, whilst seems to add aspects of character to this narrative, doesn’t amount to much at all.

All in all, despite the downfalls of this movie, it was still a lot of fun. I really am not looking forward to the up-and-coming re-imagining of this movie though…



Previous post:

End Of The Week Shorts #12.1

Next post:

Roti Kapada Aur Makaan – Spaghetti Musical

More from me: