The Lobster

I adored this. And I am also incredibly sad having just watched it. I feel emotionally empty and also ridiculous in myself.

Colin Farrell is a revelation, and I never thought I would be saying that.

Just the tiniest bit irritated by the voiceover, but that’s nit-picking.

Sicario 

What drew me to this film? Two things – Emily Blunt and director Denis Villeneuve.

For two-thirds of the film, Blunt is great. Then she more or less disappears in a strange point-of-view shift, presumably at the request of the director. And while I’m used to Villeneuve introducing twists (see Incendies, Prisoners and Enemy) this effective sidelining of the – to that point – main character had me feeling quite deflated that yet another female role had been downgraded. It left me with the feeling that Blunt’s talent was being criminally underused and summarily dispensed with once her usefulness was complete.

And yet, reflecting on this just an hour or so later, I realise that this is exactly what happened to her character in the story. The film isn’t named for Blunt’s character Macer; its translation is ‘hitman’ so the clue is there all along. Now I’m wondering if Villeneuve didn’t go far enough and should have just dropped her altogether for the third act (controversial?).

But while I’m sitting here now pondering how far I can forgive this manipulation for being a reflection of the storyline, I certainly can’t forgive the manipulative storyline of the Mexican cop. I can’t really comment further without entering spoiler territory.

But yay for Benicio del Toro. I often find him simply too much, too mad dog, too unpredictable. But he was just perfect here. Yay too for the score, which was also perfect for the visuals. And there are some great images – perhaps the overhead vistas were overused on occasion, but the night-view shots were something else.

This film has moved up a star for me in the last 24 hours precisely because it doesn’t tie up the ends. The ends will never be tied. More Villeneuve, please.

Macbeth

I love Shakespeare, but I’m not a purist who insists that everything should be done as ‘written’ by Will himself. So it didn’t bother me that things had been ‘cut’ for the screenplay here – in fact, often it’s totally necessary to help a play make the successful move from stage to screen.

And with top class actors of the like of Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine and Sean Harris to work with, this should have been a walk in the park.

Yet I found this oddly lacking in emotion to the point where I was bored. The decision to bookend with battlefield scenes certainly allowed some stunning photography, I will give it that. But the crux of the story isn’t about the battlefield – it’s about power, and ambition, and the toll that can take on the mind. I didn’t feel anything more than a little unrest from Macbeth, and a chasm where the passion between Fassbender and Cotillard should have been.

Banquo’s young son Fleance had a puzzled expression on his face the entire time he was on screen. I was with him – I, too, had no idea why soliloquies were being delivered to boys, with the result that I was pulled out of the narrative.

People sometimes say they don’t like Shakespeare because they don’t understand the language. My feeling is that if the actors are delivering the lines properly, then you don’t even realise it’s odd. And though I know the story of Macbeth, I struggled to keep up with what was going on in this version because it seemed like the actors themselves didn’t have a handle on the language – in particular Fassbender and Cotillard, surprisingly. I don’t for one moment think that Fassbender can’t do Shakespeare – but I do think that whatever he thought he was doing, or had been asked to do, did not translate to the screen.

Dare I say it, the great man’s Scottish accent even slipped once or twice, and Marion Cotillard just seemed lost.

Don’t even get me started on the weird sisters …


 

The Martian

At last, an intelligent space film that isn’t full of navel gazing introspection, and which is fun without being silly.

Helped by Matt Damon’s natural charm as a screen presence, this is actually a film about science and problem solving. Figure this first thing out, you’re one step closer to your goal. After you’ve found the answer to the next four puzzles, that is.

It’s funny, tense and engaging, with yet another great supporting performance from Michael Peña.

I’m so glad Ridley Scott didn’t get to put out his 165 minute first cut – it would have been wrong. The Martian is fine just as it is.

In the meantime, I’m off to stock up on duct tape, as it seems to be the solution to anything the universe can throw at a person.