Ian Thomas Malone

Author Archive

Sunday

23

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

Sundance Review: Dual

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

Advances in technology may not necessarily allow humanity to cheat death, but maybe help mitigate the circumstances. Cloning strikes at the heart of the nature vs. nurture debate, a person with identical genetic makeup, begging the question of when DNA stops and when individuality begins. The film Dual sorts of centers its narrative around these kinds of themes, never quite sure of what it wants to say.

Sarah (Karen Gillan) is a young woman with a seemingly terminal illness. Set in a future-lite world where cloning is a relatively affordable mass-market commodity, Sarah is supposed to treat her replacement self as a sort of understudy for her remaining days alive in order to make a relatively seamless transition. The clone (also played by Gillan) is supposed to learn what Sarah likes so that she can provide comfort to her loved ones once she dies.

Trouble is, Sarah’s illness goes into remission. Clone Sarah quickly takes on a personality of her own, becoming the preferred Sarah in the eyes of her mother (Maija Paunio) and partner Peter (Beulah Koale). While clones are supposed to be decommissioned in the event of their source material’s survival, the U.S. government apparently ratified the 28th Amendment giving clones the right to opt to challenge their originals to a trial-by-combat style duel on a football field to remain alive.

Director Riley Stearns’ third feature bears the marking of his previous films, namely drab aesthetics and dry, deadpan dialogue. Gillan is a perfect match for Stearns, able to bring both Sarahs to life in the sort of lifeless fashion that has become his trademark. There’s a novelty aspect to Dual’s worldbuilding that works really well, for a while at least.

Despite Gillan’s best efforts, Dual perpetually feels like a half-baked production, a script that gives its cast little to chew on. Sarah is a painfully underdeveloped character, apathetic to such an extent that you can’t help but wonder why she’d even go through the effort of cloning herself at all. That’s not a question that Stearns necessarily needed to answer, but the characters aren’t interesting enough to cover up the broader questions bound to be on the audience’s mind.

There is some charm in Stearns’ minimalist world-building, an uncommon atheistic for a sci-fi premise. One can forgive an intimate indie film for not wanting to deal with the broader geopolitics of cloning. Suspension of disbelief can certainly get the audience through the absolutely clownish idea that America would ever ratify an amendment sanctioning trial by combat for everyday citizens.

The film largely ignores the subject of the morality of the duel, a dynamic that works until a scene in the third act where Sarah suddenly confronts the brutal nature of taking a life, as if she’s just pondering this concept for the first time. In an America that’s divided on every single political issue under the sun, it’s absolutely outlandish that there’s no group around fighting like hell to stop this barbaric sense of justice. This wouldn’t be a problem if Stearns had simply chosen to leave morality out of the equation entirely, allowing his feature to exist in the alternate-America he crafted. Instead, he just looks sloppy for his brief feint toward an idea bound to be on plenty of his audience’s minds.

Some of the film’s best sequences feature original Sarah training with her dueling coach Trent (Aaron Paul), doing their best to transform her into a killer. Stearns struggles to tie his whole feature together in a way that doesn’t leave Sarah and Trent’s time together feeling like charming filler. The obvious comparisons to work displayed in his last feature The Art of Self-Defense hardly helps the situation either.

Dual is never boring across its 94-minute runtime, but the end result leaves a pretty empty experience. Stearns is clearly more concerned with exploring themes than providing answers, but he doesn’t do a good job showing his work to the audience. It’s hard to walk away from this one not feeling disappointed for what might have been if the script had spent a bit more time on the drawing board.

Share Button

Sunday

23

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

Sundance Review: Call Jane

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

Period dramas strive to transport their audiences back in time to bygone eras, often involving issues that our society has thankfully put behind us. Set in 1968, Call Jane focuses on a group of women who worked to provide safe abortion access in the years before Roe W. Wade codified a woman’s fundamental right to choose. More than fifty years later, with the current makeup of the Supreme Court, one can’t help but be reminded of just how close our nation is to repeating the mistakes of the past.

The film centers on Joy (Elizabeth Banks), a happy wife with a cozy suburban life. Joy and her husband Will (Chris Messina) are excited to welcome a new baby into their family, until a medical emergency complicates the pregnancy. The hospital medical board quickly dismisses the idea of an abortion, disregarding Joy’s safety, and the agency she deserves over her own body. A fruitless trip to a shady backroom abortionist leads her to a flier for a group, suggesting they could “call Jane” for help with their unwanted pregnancies.

Led by Virginia (Sigourney Weaver), the Janes are doing their best to help women under quite constrained circumstances. Their abortionist Dean (Cory Michael Smith) overcharges for his services, the mob taking a piece of the cut to squelch any potential police interest. The bulk of the narrative focuses on the relationship between Joy and Virginia, two very different women united by a shared devotion to the cause.

Director Phyllis Nagy does a fabulous job balancing Joy’s story with an exploration of the era’s complex politics. The Janes are an imperfect group, initially largely limiting their services to those able to pay Dean’s expensive rates. Privilege plays an undeniable role, an element that Nagy never tries to sweep under the rug, even if a couple of sequences come out a bit heavy-handed. The cinematography handles the anxious intimacy of the actual procedure with immense grace.

The acting is pretty top-notch across the board. Banks delivers a commanding, generous lead performance that really makes Joy feel less like the main character than someone serving a movement bigger than themselves. Her chemistry with Weaver hits at the nuances of grassroots activism, where differing perspectives have to coexist to survive, often casting aside pleasantries in the process.

Nagy has a keen awareness that’s she not really directing a period drama in the truest sense of the word. This isn’t a days-gone-by-type story, but one that remains vitally important in America. The script manages to speak to contemporary issues without sacrificing its late 60s aesthetic. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, but one that Call Jane handles quite well.

The film also deserves a lot of credit for not losing sight of the importance of putting forth an engaging narrative that can entertain its audience while serving its broader objective of bringing attention to the need for safe abortion access. Not all movies need to be enjoyable to move their viewers, but Call Jane repeatedly works its charm. It’s not the easiest film to watch in the world at times, but Nagy’s cast and crew have put forth an effort brimming with obvious love.

Share Button

Saturday

22

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

Sundance Review: Fresh

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

The horror genre faces an increasingly uphill battle to shock and disgust their eager audiences in a world that’s becoming quite desensitized to such material. Something as heinous as cannibalism reached a beloved perch in pop culture lore more than thirty years ago. Occupying a similar space Fresh carves a niche amidst well-trodden territory.

Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) has had enough of online dating. Who hasn’t? A chance grocery store encounter leads to some flirting over grapes, the smooth Steve (Sebastian Stan) capable of igniting sparks in the produce section. Steve’s shunning of technology and his pedigree as a doctor are quite alluring for Noa, who takes him up on a romantic getaway early in their relationship. Steve’s house is in the middle of nowhere with bad cell reception, cutting her off from Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), her best friend and surrogate family member.

Director Mimi Cave makes a quick impression on her audience, boldly displaying the opening credits about a half-hour into the film, signaling its pivot from rom-com to horror. Not only is Steve not the pleasant grape-loving sweetheart, but he’s an artisanal butcher of human flesh, with a house full of women waiting to be chopped up on behalf of his clients. The whole dynamic is almost enough to make you want to reactivate your Tinder account to roll the dice on obnoxious hipsters named Chad.

While most of the film is told from Noa’s point of view, Steve is really the X factor that sells Fresh. Stan is clearly having the time of his life with Cave’s slick material, powering the narrative through its bloated runtime. Edgar-Jones brings an important sense of intrigue to Noa that keeps the protagonist interesting as she navigates plenty of genre tropes, most vitally doing her best to ensure that the audience doesn’t fall for Steve like they might for Hannibal Lecter.

Fresh does have a bit of trouble keeping things fresh over its 116-runtime, on the longer side for a horror film. There are a few sequences a bit after the hour mark that feel more than a bit unnecessary. Gibbs brings a lot of depth to Mollie, but Cave isn’t particularly interested in moving the spotlight off of Stan or Edgar-Jones for very long, giving the impression that Mollie’s subplot spent some time on the chopping block.

Fitting given its title, Cave does introduce some fascinating perspectives on the allure of human flesh, with luscious cinematography in the styling of intricate food blogs. At times, there’s almost too much beauty to be grossed out, a fitting dynamic for a horror film. The narrative occasionally does fall into formulaic genre traps, but it’s hard not to enjoy spending time in Cave’s world.

Share Button

Saturday

22

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

Sundance Review: After Yang

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture, Reviews

Technology is slowly moving out of the realm of the impersonal. The endless data collection that was welcomed by the dawn of smartphones and social media will gradually produce updates to AI like Siri and Alexa that feel like they understand who we are. The idea of what it means to be human will naturally be affected by the ability to replicate the experience, or produce a convincing facsimile.

In a distant future where cloning and adoption are the predominant methods for making a family, Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith) strive to ensure that their daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) remains connected to her Chinese roots. They purchase a lifelike robot Yang (Justin H. Min), part of a line developed to teach Chinese history, in order to give Mika a “big brother” of sorts. The four make for quite the loving family, until malfunctions take Yang out of commission.

Much of director Kogonda’s narrative focuses on the efforts of Jake to repair Yang, fighting an uphill battle against a corporation that wants to replace him instead, allowing them to harvest his memories. While his efforts fall flat, Jake is left with a cube containing the essence of Yang’s experiences and consciousness. As Jake learns more about Yang’s “life,” particularly his secret friendship with Ada (Haley Lu Richardson), he comes to understand just how much more this seemingly household appliance had to offer the world than simple trivia.

The combination of Farrell’s conflicted grief and Kogonda’s carefully crafted aesthetic powers After Yang through familiar genre tropes. There’s much to appreciate in the way that Jake earnestly engages with the world, sometimes out of his own lust to uncover the meaning of life and at other times simply for the love of his daughter. Kogonda doesn’t show too many of his cards with regard to his vision of the future, but it’s neither overly nihilistic nor oblivious of the present’s current trajectory.

There are plenty of scenes where After Yang displays a keen grasp on the pulse of its philosophical intentions, but also several meandering sequences that make the same points about the nature of memory. The film is a beautiful yet somewhat overly simplistic entry in the broader sci-fi genre. As Kyra, Turner-Smith feels a bit wasted in a predictable supporting role.

The 101-minute runtime hardly feels well-utilized, but there’s enough going on in After Yang to justify the experience. Kogonda crafted such a beautiful world, but didn’t supply enough material for his eager cast to work with. Farrell’s predictably solid lead performance isn’t enough to shake the sense that this film should’ve landed with more of a thump than a thud.

Share Button

Saturday

22

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

Sundance Review: The Worst Person in the World

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

Turning thirty carries a certain natural feeling that one should have their life sorted out, or anxiety at having not done so by that arbitrary milestone. Adulthood lacks the distinct markers for what constitutes a grownup that we can perceive as children. The recipe for a fulfilling existence is as elusive as the quest for the meaning of life itself.

The film The Worst Person in the World (original Norwegian title Verdens verste menneske) centers its narrative on a woman who’s not so much searching for purpose as she is trying to avoid the wrong destination. Julie (Renate Reinsve) begins the story as a medical student, only to pivot toward psychology, photography, and writing over the course of the film. Her romantic life follows a similar chaotic pattern, falling for a successful comic artist Askel (Anders Danielsen Lie) while on a date with another man.

Askel brings stability to Julie’s life right as she approaches her thirtieth birthday. Fifteen years her senior, his ambitions to start a family like many of his friends stirs a fire in Julie. After leaving Askel’s book launch party early, Julie spontaneously decides to crash a party where she has an emotional variant of a one-night stand with Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), dissatisfied with the trajectory of her life thus far.

Director Joachim Trier divides his film into twelve chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue, giving the narrative the feel of a novel while also firmly operating under a traditional three-act structure. The fairly straightforward plot is greatly enhanced by the chapters, allowing space to explore Julie as a character without feeling obligated to further the story. Trier repeatedly shows off his technical skills as a director with elaborate sequences visualizing Julie’s emotions.

As the film’s title suggests, Julie is not a particularly likable character, nor is she designed to be. Reinsve delivers such an expressive performance that you get behind Julie as a protagonist, even if there’s often more sympathy for the film’s other characters who are caught in her orbit. Relationships require an intricate balance so that one partner doesn’t feel like they’re a supporting player in someone else’s grand adventure. One can grow frustrated toward Julie while understanding the motives behind her indecision.

Trier occasionally explores broader contemporary issues such as the #MeToo movement and our overarching obsession with screens. The film doesn’t try to put forth a generic rallying cry to “live in the moment,” understanding that the moment itself is an arbitrary construct. Life doesn’t wait for you to get your act together. Each new day brings us all along with it, until the day that it doesn’t.

The film does hit a few snags in its third act, meandering a bit too long for its 121-minute runtime. While Askel receives a substantive supporting arc, Trier is less sure what to do with Eivind, left with what feels like a bit of a truncated story that might have been better suited for a miniseries rather than a feature. The slice of life narrative manages to wrap itself up in a way that doesn’t feel arbitrary while also rewarding the audience for the time spent with Julie’s life.

Few films tackle the messy nature of growing up with such eloquence. Reinsve throws a lifeline to anyone in their thirties wondering what the hell is going on. The Worst Person in the World isn’t here to solve the meaning of life, but the narrative manages to provide comfort amidst all the uncertainty that comprise our collective existence.

Share Button

Friday

21

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

Sundance Review: Emergency

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

College narratives often ground themselves in the fleeting sense of adventure before the pressures of the real world consume lives that were once preoccupied with red solo cups and late night glow parties. Students of color have often lacked the full freedom to engage in such youthful indiscretions with the same benefit of the doubt that their white counterparts might enjoy. Director Carey Williams blends dark comedy with social commentary in his powerful second feature Emergency, adapted from the 2017 short of the same name.

Kunle (RJ Cyler) and Sean (Donald Elise Watkins) are best friends doing their best to navigate a superficially woke college campus. Seeking to attend seven college parties in one night, the two second-semester seniors hope to make the most of their remaining time together before the real world pulls them apart. Unfortunately, for them, their plans are scuddled by the presence of a random girl (Maddie Nichols) passed out on the floor of their off-campus housing.

The bulk of the narratives follows Kunle, Sean, and their roommate Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) as they attempt to drive the girl, nicknamed Goldilocks, to the hospital, understanding the reality of how the optics of three students of color and a catatonic white girl will be perceived by law enforcement or their university. Kunle, anxious about his acceptance into a Princeton Ph.D. program, also carries the anxiety of not being sure how to break the news to Sean, exacerbated by the dark turn of what was supposed to be an epic evening. Tying the two story strands together are Kunle and Sean’s differing perspectives on what it means to be black in America.

Williams is a fearless director able to craft humor amidst horrific circumstances, aided by Cyler and Watkin’s delightful chemistry. College narratives often have “teachable” moments that basically exist to bookend the film’s storytelling intentions. Emergency manages to have some of that same harmless fun without ever blunting the social commentary about what it means to be a young black man in America.

The tonal shifts are at times quite jarring. The streamlined narrative does drag a bit at times across the 105-minute runtime. Williams’ greatest strength as a director is his ability to shock his audience, even in scenes that might otherwise be completely predictable in nature. The humor doesn’t always land, but Emergency possesses a degree of sincerity rarely found in a genre that often celebrates the superficiality of the college experience.

College films often invite their audience to live vicariously through their protagonists. Emergency peels back the layers enough to explore the inauthenticity of that sense of shared experience in higher learning, but without abandoning the trappings of the genre entirely. Few narratives manage to run such a diversified gauntlet of emotions in a single feature.

Share Button

Friday

21

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

Sundance Review: The Princess

Written by , Posted in Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

The past year has seen the release of several new works focusing on the life of the late Princess of Wales, but in many ways, it feels weird to label this era a “Diana resurgence.” The public has hardly lost interest in Diana since her tragic death in 1997. Her legacy continues to shape the Royal Family and the public’s engagement with the venerable, archaic institution.

Comprised solely of archival footage and contemporaneous media commentary, the new documentary The Princess takes a look at Diana’s life as it was depicted back then. Director Ed Perkins rarely strays away from the conventional narratives that have developed in the decades since her death. Married at age 19 to the future King of England, a man hopelessly in love with another woman, the Princess of Wales saw her life transform practically overnight into a non-stop media circus that followed her every move, until she was quite literally buried in the ground.

The main overarching narrative of the documentary is Diana’s relationship with the media, though Perkins occasionally switches gears to focus on her doomed marriage to Charles. The lack of modern interviews feels quite refreshing, giving the film space to let its points speak for themselves. There’s no expert testimony about the grueling nature of the paparazzi that could land more powerfully than an extended sequence of the young Diana being unable to even get in a car without being hounded by bizarre intrusions into her personal life.

The Princess possesses a weirdly intimate quality for a narrative focusing on one of the most famous individuals of the era, one that rarely goes more than a single scene without shots featuring hordes of cameras. Aside from Charles, the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family only appear briefly. Perkins repeatedly returns to the tug-of-war between Diana’s modernity and the Firm’s staunch resistance to anything resembling change.

If there are any hidden mysteries about Diana’s life yet to be discovered, Perkins certainly hasn’t found them. The Princess is a gorgeous documentary, albeit one that relies a bit too heavily on its subject’s innate appeal to make its mark in the crowded Diana landscape. The 106-minute runtime flies by, a combination of strong pacing and the breathtakingly obvious appeal of its subject.

Viewers will undoubtedly recognize many of the famous interviews depicted in the documentary, but Perkins does manage to capture the mood of England as the circus unfolded. There is still tremendous power to be found in extended sequences of Diana’s funeral as it was processed by millions across the world, an exceedingly rare global sense of unity. Perkins may not have brought anything new to the table, but his film still packs quite a punch for the countless individuals who still can’t get enough of the Princess of Wales, even after all these years.

Share Button

Wednesday

19

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

The Matrix Resurrections is too meta for its own good

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

The past twenty years have tipped the real world toward the Matrix in ways no one could have imagined in 1999. Much has been made of the transgender themes present in the Wachowski’s original work, a community that’s largely benefited from our changing society. The Matrix is a world where people can bend the very construct of reality to their will, something that modern medicine has afforded to those seeking transition.

Over the course of their post-Matrix careers, the Wachowski’s have often tried to bend the landscape of modern blockbusters to their will. In a world full of derivative sequels and reboots, films like Cloud Atlas and Jupiter’s Legacy dared to get weird. However one feels about the end results, especially in the latter’s case, there is much to enjoy in the way the Wachowski’s dared to be different.

The Matrix Resurrections, Lana Wachowski’s first solo film without her sister Lily, had the power to reinvent the modern blockbuster, an art form that’s quite resistant to the queer undertones that permeate through the science fiction genre. Instead, Wachowski’s efforts to subvert her previous work ended up embodying many of the same tropes that plague practically every major franchise. What should have been a triumph of the present instead found itself solely consumed by the past.

The biggest problem with the film is its inability to ever really progress past first-act territory. The long-awaited return of Neo gives Keanu Reeves ample room to shine, but Resurrections never stops basking in his glory long enough to let him add to the canon. Reeves often feels like a spectator in his own film, a dynamic that might have worked better if he was there to pass the baton to a future star.

The same largely holds true for Trinity. Carrie-Anne Moss played as pivotal a role in the success of the first Matrix as Reeves, but Resurrections largely reduces Trinity to the mere object of Neo’s subconscious affection, a dynamic exacerbated by the film’s meandering attention span. Frequent flashbacks to the first film serve as little more than a distraction, reminding viewers of their ability to simply watch that one instead.

Resurrections’ fascination with meta-commentary might have worked if Wachowski had been able to rein herself in a bit. Newcomers Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff look like they’re having the time of their lives as they deconstruct the very nature of sequels, but those kinds of scenes are supposed to be icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Wachowski’s ability to poke fun at Hollywood’s sequel industrial complex falls flat in the midst of a film that is itself not very entertaining.

The new cast perform their roles admirably. There’s a lot of exposition dedicated to the crew of the Mnemosyne, led by captain Bugs (Jessica Henwick), that doesn’t accomplish much other than padding an already-long 148-minute runtime. The actors all look like they’re having the time of their lives, which would be easier to get behind if it was in service to a better plot.

Audience members might be miffed that Lawrence Fishburne wasn’t asked back, owing to Morpheus’s death in the seemingly-canon game The Matrix Online. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II absolutely crushes the role, a performance full of intrigue that pays ample homage to Fishburne. Problem is, this movie doesn’t know what to do with Morpheus. You could literally trim all his scenes out and change nothing about the narrative, a bizarre way to handle one of the franchise’s most important characters.

The fatal undoing of The Matrix Resurrections largely stems from a point it concedes in the narrative. The film would exist whether Wachowski returned or not. There is some sense in the rationale that a Wachowski-directed Matrix might be better than a Wachowski-less Matrix, but that point alone isn’t enough to justify the existence of the former. Inevitability is not a key component of quality.

The third act is atrocious, lacking the innovative stunts that defined the first trilogy. For all the scorn thrown at the original two sequels, at least Reloaded introduced ample new terrain for the choreographers to explore. Like its narrative, Resurrections doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

LGBTQ people rarely have such a prominent seat at the table of blockbuster franchises. Representation isn’t really enough. It can’t be. Trans people hear all the time about how bright the future will be.

You can’t have a vibrant tomorrow if your present is so squarely focused on the past. The Matrix Resurrections has no purpose beyond stoking nostalgia. It’s unclear if a fresh director might’ve been able to craft a better film in this universe. Unfortunately Wachowski set the bar so low that it’s hard to imagine anyone making a worse mockery of such a beloved franchise.

Share Button

Tuesday

18

January 2022

0

COMMENTS

Classic Film: Pale Flower

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

Loyalty is a concept that’s fundamentally incompatible with the pillars of capitalism. A worker can spend decades serving the bottom line, devotion impossible to replicate in the opposite direction. Criminal organizations such as the Mafia or Yakuz lean on the history of loyalty to keep subordinates in line, expecting underlings to take the fall for mishaps with time from their lives for which they could never be adequately compensated.

Masahiro Shinoda’s 1964 noir classic Pale Flower centers its narrative on a life spent in service, for the sake of loyalty, with little to show. Muraki (Ryō Ikebe) is released from prison after a lengthy sentence for murder. Lacking a family or any semblance of a meaningful existence, Muraki lives in squalor by day, only coming alive in Tokyo’s nighttime gambling parlors. A fellow player Saeko (Mariko Kaga), catches his interest. One of the few female players of the “Flower Card” game, Saeko’s lack of skill does not hinder her appetite for higher stakes games, urging Muraki to connect her with clubs that can provide more enhanced thrills.

Much of Shinoda’s work focuses on the mundane interactions between Muraki and Saeko as they navigate Tokyo’s criminal underbelly. The bulk of the 96-minute runtime takes place at night, often indoors as rain pours in the background, a dreary, unforgiving world for Muraki to return to after his years in jail. Shinoda carefully deconstructs any notion of glamour to be had in organized crime, a world with little to offer anyone who’s not at the top.

Pale Flower’s lasting legacy comes largely from Shinoda’s carefully constructed aesthetic. The gorgeous cinematography brings the gambling parlors to life, capturing the anxiety on each of the players as they spend their meager savings on flighting thrills. Composer Toru Takemitsu delivers a jazz-infused score that perfectly illustrates the appeal of this lifestyle without ever attempting to offer up an endorsement.

Shinoda digs into the heart of a life in decay, years of unrewarded loyalty blunting the natural longing for a greater purpose. There’s an easy chemistry between Ikebe and Kaga that captures their draw to each other, two aimless souls looking for a friendly orbit, if only for a little while. The audience doesn’t learn much about Saeko, or practically any character for that matter, but the film has a way of speaking volumes without the use of words.

As a genre, noir often concerns itself with exploring the ugly nature of humanity, focusing on morally dark figures with their backs against the wall. You’re not supposed to necessarily identify with someone like Muraki, a cold-blooded killer, but there’s ample beauty to be found in the process of understanding the lives of people who have been cast out by society. Shinoda isn’t just concerned with the story of Muraki, but also the sound of Muraki as he sits alone with his thoughts, coming to terms with the wasted potential that is his very existence.

Pale Flower captures the raw power of noir to shine a spotlight on the corners of humanity most of us would prefer not to visit, at least not in the real world. Few entries explore their dark environments with such unrequited beauty. Less concerned with story than the sheer emotion it evokes, Shinoda’s work is a triumph of the human spirit.

Share Button

Tuesday

14

December 2021

0

COMMENTS

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Written by , Posted in Blog, Podcast

Our journey into the Rankin/Bass cinematic universe continues with the 1985 special The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus their final production to use traditional stop-motion animation. Based on L. Frank Baum’s 1902 novel of the same name, the film is a pretty bizarre Santa origin story that often feels more like a riff on The Lord of the Rings than holiday entertainment. Despite it’s weirdly complex narrative and confusing characters, the special is a ton of fun to watch, even if it delivers a much weirder brand of festive cheer.

This is almost certainly our final holiday episode of the season. Be sure to check out all of our Christmas coverage from 2020 & 2021. From all of us at Estradiol Illusions, we wish you a very pleasant holiday season and thank you for spending a bit of it with us. 

Share Button