Hollywood used to produce “porridge” by the truckload, a tradition that lives on in rom-coms on the big and small screens, which are an industry unto themselves. But the dream of True Romance just around the corner, which audiences have long expected to be part of the entertainment package, now seems false in any other genre context. Indeed, these days we are more likely to derive indirect satisfaction from films that anti-romantic, analyzing relationships in eerie, gleeful detail as they crumble. Marriage story, one of the best mainstream films of recent years, was actually all about a terrible divorce. in recent FairSecret workplace lovers don’t even make it to the altar – by the time they get engaged, they’re ready to kill each other.
God knows, modern love was hard enough before social media came onto the scene, raising expectations and reducing conversations to toxic levels. Four new films take different dramatic looks at this discord, and let’s just say their collective understanding isn’t entirely reassuring. (You might be more pleased with the straight-up horror of John Carpenter’s 1982 vintage double bill. Thing remake of the 1988 sci-fi fascist parable They liveplaying at the Castro Theater this Saturday/14.) But they do provide moments of catharsis, not to mention a degree of schadenfreude over someone else’s trainwreck.
Justine Triet Anatomy of a fall, which won this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes, more or less begins with a death: returning home from a walk with his service dog, visually impaired 11-year-old Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) finds Samuel’s father lying in a pool of blood in front of their French ski chalet. Alps, fell from the top floor. Mother Sandra (Sandra Haller) looks equally surprised and saddened by the discovery. But as soon as the police arrive, suspicions turn into tragedy. Inconclusive autopsy results add to the doubt: It is unclear whether Samuel (Samuel Tice) suffered a fatal head injury before or during the fall, let alone whether it was an accident, suicide or murder. We already realized that there were… problems in this marriage.
An hour later, a year passes, and Sandra appears in court, her lawyer is Svan Arlaud, and her prosecutor is Antoine Reinartz. The latter is a grinning killer, but as disgraceful as he may seem, he makes some compelling points because the more we learn about Sandra, the less sure of her character we become.
Half an hour later, we see her having a heated argument with Samuel the day before his death (as secretly recorded audio of the fight is played in the courtroom), and an ungodly amount of disagreement is revealed. Not least the fact that both parents are writers, but one was much more successful than the other. The balance of power between them was upset, but each side felt wrong. This only adds to the dark public fascination with the case, which Sandra’s novels clearly draw from her real life, making the whole drama seem like life imitating art – perhaps setting the stage for another book.
Despite the volatile emotions underlying this, Anatomy of a fall has a certain procedural detachment that forces us to weigh the accumulating evidence as lawyers ourselves. Triet keeps the aesthetic so raw that we are rarely distracted by “style”, carefully weighing every word in her and Arthur Harari’s very chatty script. With its well-executed, if not terribly likable, characters and razor-sharp narrative – on which our certainties of guilt or innocence precariously balance – the film feels slow, almost uninteresting, until suddenly you realize it’s holding you by the throat. Eventually you realize that this is not your average suspense drama at all, as how and why Samuel died becomes less important than capturing the tension between two people whose struggles have brought them together as surely as in eventually separated. Anatomy opens Thursday, December 12th at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco.
Marriage in the future is also doomed Enemy from writer and director Garth Davis. It is based on a novel by Canadian writer Ian Reid, whose previous I’m thinking about ending things was directed by Charlie Kaufman. Like a 50 year old Soylent Green, which we wrote about this week, is set in a world whose resources have suffered from the effects of climate devastation. Only here, instead of stuffy and overpopulated New York, our main characters are stuck in a stuffy, sparsely populated once agricultural center, which by 2065 has turned into a landfill.
But despite this sci-fi structure, Enemy Basically we are talking about dead-end relationships. Junior (Paul Mescal) and Henrietta (Saoirse Ronan) are stubborn people living in their family’s 200-year-old Midwestern farmhouse as if nothing has changed, even though everything has. (For one thing, there’s no agriculture here anymore, at least not the kind that’s outdoors.) They seem to have been drawn here by some kind of nostalgia, but neither of them is old enough to remember when things were significant. -to another. Isolation and disappointment had turned their seven-year marriage into a sullen, dissonant cloud. You think that sooner or later one of them will leave the other.
They are then unexpectedly visited by Aaron Pierre as a government and/or corporate representative who has a special supply and/or demand. He requires them to participate in an experiment that will help create a “new form of life,” introducing new tension into the marriage, which becomes something of a triangle.
There’s a big twist towards the end, but strangely it doesn’t really change the central dynamic, which is tediously atonal. We’re not rooting for this couple: He’s a hostile boor and she’s just dumb. The actors fail to generate any chemistry with each other, although Mescal especially tries – perhaps too hard. Indeed, the entire film is a somewhat bewildering slog, soporific and sour, visually interesting at times but completely uninteresting in terms of narrative or character. You can’t help but think if this humanity needs saving from environmental disaster… well, come on. We have done. Foe opens Friday the 13th at Kabuki in San Francisco, Friday the 20th at Piedmont in Oakland.
No more encouraging in message, although much more cheerful in tone, is the second feature from animator Signe Baumane, who grew up in Latvia and lives in Brooklyn. My love for marriage, an international co-production that is largely autobiographical and a cartoonish musical comedy. Our heroine Zelma (voiced by Dagmara Dominczyk) is a social misfit who decides at an early age that her best, perhaps only, chance at happiness is to embrace the stereotypical trappings of femininity and find True Love, that is, a man whose sun she will become. . in orbit around.
But it’s not that simple and it doesn’t work the way it should. She falls in love with Sergei (Cameron Monaghan), who turns out to be domineering and unfaithful. She later found her own path, but was led astray by the attentions of Bo (Matthew Modine), a Swede who is nothing like Sergei but has his own problems. This subtle story about learning to be yourself is constantly interrupted by information from biology (Michelle Poke), which tells us that Zelma’s impulses and decisions are largely determined by neurotransmissions and the like. It’s a one-note trick that soon becomes tiresome.
But too long, episodic Love relationship simultaneously admires the colorful variety of animation techniques used, as well as the song scores, whose satirical lectures have something of a School rules! atmosphere. Like many artists who practice primarily visual art, Baumane’s considerable talent is not ideally suited to the structural demands of a feature-length narrative film. However, her sensitivity is disarming and this film is sure to please many viewers, although I was only occasionally amused by it. The director will be attending a post-show Q&A when he screens Vogue San Francisco on Monday 16 and New Parkway in Auckland on Wednesday 18, more information here.
The least successful of these films is the film with the greatest built-in cultural reserve: Personal Cat was inspired by a short story by Kristen Roupenian that was first published in a 2017 issue of the New Yorker and then went viral as an all-too-memorable horror story about dating in an age of predominantly online communication. (His fame was later complicated by the discovery that Roupenyan had apparently used details of the couple’s real-life relationship without their consent.)
At the heart of this disconcerting miniature was the recognition that, in fact, the situation has not changed at all: Millennial women are still expected to be “nice,” while men’s frustration quickly turns to anger. Or, as Margaret Atwood says at the beginning of the film: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” As that quote suggests, director Suzanne Vogel and screenwriter Michelle Ashford’s film takes the threat of danger much further.
College sophomore Margot (Emilia Jones) is trying to navigate the minefield of modern gender relations, but she’s not exactly helped when her ex-boyfriend at home excitedly announces that he is now asexual. While working at a movie theater, she sparks a relationship with an older patron, Robert (Nicholas Braun), although their text messaging seems more natural than face-to-face interaction. The date, which later turns into awkward pity sex, seems like a major mistake due to his intrusive conversations and her roommate’s (Geraldine Viswanathan) tendency to assume the worst. Soon the tearfulness becomes terrible; errors in judgment are made. Things get hyperbolic in a way that the story thankfully left off.
Personal Cat well made, but ultimately so melodramatically contrived that it reveals the complex issues it sets out to explore. There are many “triggers”, to nothing in particular, confusing the reality of the immaturity of Margot and Robert (of very different types) with excessive tricks – brief mental fantasies, fears, memories. This film provided an opportunity to create something simple, yet subtle and true. instead it devolves into a spectacular mess, and on a much smaller scale, it’s one of the worst abuses of a famous literary source since. Bonfire of the Vanities. Personal Cat is gradually opening in a limited number of cinemas across the country.