Kathryn Bigelow’s bold cinematic return after seven years out of the director’s chair, and the first in a series of collaborations with screenwriter Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker is one of the best depictions of life in the Iraq war, as told through the eyes of an explosive ordnance disposal team.
This review is part of my Remake Preview series, where I watch the original version (or versions) of a movie that is set to be re-made in the near future.
Wake up little Susie, wake up!
Suspiria is an unconventional horror masterpiece, a nightmarish entry from Italian director Dario Argento. Suspiria is filled with an unrelenting dread, as spurred through a dream logic not unlike that of David Lynch, vibrantly colorful and gloomily lit and off-putting at every turn.
Thor: Ragnarok is the funniest Marvel movie yet, and the best of the three films in the Thor franchise… If this sounds like damning this film with faint praise, it really shouldn’t – while these marks absolutely represent a low bar within a broader moviegoing context, the fact remains – Thor: Ragnarok is quite good.
There’s an inherent cinematic tension to a confined space like a train (Snowpiercer, Murder on the Orient Express), or, in the case of Kathryn Bigelow’s K-19: The Widowmaker, a submarine. K-19 tells the story of a nuclear submarine that undergoes a catastrophic failure to its nuclear reactor, and Kathryn Bigelow takes full advantage of the cinematic tension to create a claustrophobic film that takes a darkly depressing turn into the fatalistic. The images of young sailors, emerging from the irradiated containment compartment of the submarine, already suffering from severe radiation poisoning, are harrowing, to say the least.
Though K-19 is ultimately a good film for what it’s trying to be, it’s easy to see why this was such a boondoggle. This is not an action film – despite being marketed as an action film, despite starring one of the biggest action stars in the world in Harrison Ford (Liam Neeson was not yet an action star in 2002), this is a dark drama at best, claustrophobic, cynical, and depressing.
Some of the accent stuff in this movie is iffy at best. Asking Harrison Ford to do a Russian accent – maybe not the best move?
In many ways, this feels very much like the precursor to Bigelow’s later career, to films like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty – the kind of dark adult drama that Bigelow is now known for, but at the time was not her modus operandi.
David Lynch’s Dune is bafflingly incomprehensible on a number of levels. First and foremost, (and I should say that I haven’t actually read Herbert’s Dune), it’s instantly apparent that, if Dune is even adaptable, it’s not as a movie. This is a staggeringly dense sci-fi experience that, at nearly two and a half hours, still feels as if it’s barely scratching the surface of the story that is meant to be conveyed. Even in its best moments, I felt like Dune was merely summarizing broad story points of a much larger, more detailed story that couldn’t quite be condensed.
I appreciated Walter Hill’s The Driver as a well-made piece of noir filmmaking, very much the ur-text for films like Nicolas Winding-Refn’s Drive and Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. There’s definitely something to be said for a film with humble ambitions that successfully hits all the notes it’s trying to hit – certainly, this is a well-made film.
A movie being slow isn’t always a problem, but The Weight of Water isn’t just slow – it’s ponderous and boring in the worst ways, filled with pretention and unearned weight. There’s none of the fun or joy of a film like Point Break here, but it doesn’t come close to earning the kind of a weight of later Bigelow films like Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker. No, this is a film full of stylistic pomp with little underneath the surface, confusingly told.
It’s astonishing to think a film this slow and ponderous was given a $16 million budget, and it’s not surprising that this film was a colossal flop.