The movies that I watched this week were so different from each othe this week, I feel like I really went from one universe to the other. One was an action movie that I re-watched, the second was a movie about a young African-American girl who wants to join a dance troupe, and the third was a psychological drama with post-apocalyptic overtones. Here are the movies:
John Wick: Chapter 2 – dir. Chad Stahelski
I have already written a full review praising this movie here and I was every bit as pleased with it the second time around. There has been a surge in quality in action movies recently with the John Wick movies, The Raid movies from Indonesia, and Mad Max: Fury Road with a greater reliance on good old-fashioned stunt work and balletic choreography over CGI. I hope this signals a trend that will continue.
The Fits (2015) – dir. Anna Rose Holmer
This is one of the most surreally intriguing films I’ve seen in a while and it is one that you have to meet halfway to appreciate. The movie’s tone and thematic approach require some patience, especially as the first half has hardly any dialogue. Then you realize it is resolutely capturing the pure, unadulterated perspective of a preteen trying to fit in and belong in her school environment (the characters in focus are all young people in school and the adults’ faces are not seen or kept out of focus). The main character is a young African-American girl, Toni (a guilelessly captivating Royalty Hightower) who is somewhat of a tomboy and training in boxing. Then she tries out for a girls’ dance troupe that she gradually becomes enamored with. Some of the dancers then start having seizure fits. What The Fits of the title means symbolically is one of the intriguing points to be debated and I think it adds up to a beautiful story about the rite of passage into adolescence and feminine freedom of expression.
It Comes at Night (2017) – dir. Trey Edward Shults
There are many audiences who feel disappointed by a movie after it is not the same as what the previews advertise and I fear that this movie will fall prey to that as well. The trailer, as trailers often do, is misleadingly marketing this as a horror film with boos and jump scares. However, while there are subtle elements of horror, this is really a tense psychological family drama about internal fears set against the backdrop of a pervasive surrounding threat. Paul (Joel Edgerton, who seems to pick one intriguing movie after another) is a father trying to protect his wife, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and teenage son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) with his own strict sense of rules to guard themselves, especially at night. Then, a man, Will (Christopher Abbott), who also has a wife, Kim (Riley Keough) and young son, Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner), suddenly comes in, seeking shelter. I won’t say too much about the movie, because this is a chamber drama with a small number of characters and the psychological and moral tension crucially depend on character more than plot. But if you saw a movie called The Trigger Effect from back in 1996, which had the intriguing premise about a domestic environment with no electric power but failed to live up to its potential, this film is the one that realizes the inherent drama better with a similar theme.