MOUNTAIN, 2017

Directed by: Jennifer Peedom

IMDb

‘Mountain’ is a feature length collection of beautiful cinematography of mountains, great classical music and Willem Dafoe narrating vague, important sounding fluff. That’s it. If that sounds up your alley, it will be. It’s pretty straightforward.
 
I, however, found it a total slog. To the vast majority of my readership (if you’ve even aware of its existence), I’d recommend avoiding it.
 
Near every shot could be framed on a wall, and the added dimension of motion only adds to the experience. It’s pretty remarkable just how beautiful mountains can be; this is pretty much the premise of the film. An hour and a quarter of just the mountains though is a bit much of an ask in my opinion. This is definitely not a documentary, in that you don’t learn anything. The narration truly amounts to important sounding bullshit, the only purpose of which is to attempt to keep the audiences interest. Attempt being the key word.
 
My favourite part of the film is about half way through, where the it starts to focus on how humans interact with mountains. It highlights skiing, mountain biking, mountaineering and rock climbing, and this is where the cinematography gets the most breathtaking, when you have something relatable to give a sense of scale and peril to the mountains. I legitimately got vertigo in a couple of shots, and a few bits got a gasp from me. For about 20 minutes I was invested.
 
‘Mountain’ is a film about mountains. Mountains just are, they do not do. If that kind of static non-storytelling appeals to you, and you really like looking at pretty mountains, go for it. Otherwise, don’t make my mistakes.
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Mother!, 2017

Directed by: Darren Aronofski

Starring: Jeniffer Lawrence, Javier Bardem

Mother! is not what the trailer depicts in the slightest. I liked it anyway.
That said, it’s an incredibly difficult movie to talk about without spoiling, so I actually have no hard feelings about the marketing. I have no idea how else they could do it without spoiling the entire experience. So if it sounds like I’m tripping over eggshells in this review, that is why.

The director, Darren Aronofski, is most famous for the excellent Black Swan. Mother! and Black Swan are similar in that they use a great number of figurative elements, having the on-screen actions as acting as completely non-literal metaphors or allegories.
The difference? Black Swan has elements of both the literal and the figurative. Mother! is, from start to finish, all metaphor. It’s honestly pretty shocking to see what effectively constitutes an art film nabbing such a high marketing budget and Jennifer Lawrence, but that is certainly what it is.

So. A metaphor for what? I won’t say. The absolute best part of the film for me was when I figured it out, but that only happened after about 90% of the runtime, and for the friend I saw it with, after the credits started rolling. For this reason, you might not enjoy the film – it’s hard work. I spent most of the film with a furrowed brow, just trying my best to figure out what the hell was going on. Once it hit me though… I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed rethinking and reinterpreting a movie so much in years. But then, I’m a film nerd. So take that with a pinch of salt.

Jennifer Lawrence did a great job. Not only her performance, but the way that the camerawork and writing constantly kept her as the central focus of the film, and as the audience surrogate as she seems to be the only character at all who acts with any level of rationality. Despite her strange purity, her character is very relatable in that if all this crazy shit were happening to you, you’d be just as confused and upset. If I have one complaint about her performance, is that I still can’t detach the actress from the role, and even though I think she acted better than in any other film I’ve seen her in, I think the role would be better suited to a lesser known actress.

I liked the way the film constantly fed subtle clues as to what it’s all about, but never enough to fully explain itself until you connect two key dots, and then it all unravels. The film is pretty damn cynical, which I feel some may interpret as pretentious, but I personally did not.

If your idea of a good time at the movies is to sit back and relax I’d avoid Mother!, as it’s quite hard work. But if you don’t mind having to think when going to the cinema, then I recommend it! I think you’ll get a lot out of it, both during the film and after the credits roll and you’re discussing with whoever you saw it with.

IT, 2017

Directed by: Andy Muschietti

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis

IMDb

I saw IT, a horror movie outside of October, at an 8:45pm Monday night showing. The theatre was packed to the brim. So the question is: Why is IT so popular?

It really shouldn’t be. The 1990 version is pretty bad. Not only was it bad, but it was long, boring and had a disappointing payoff. Its only real saving grace was Tim Curry as Pennywise, who appears to be having an absolute riot at any given moment, as to be expected of Tim Curry. My answer really must come down to the iconography and meme-ification of Pennywise, the continuing prevalence of the fear of clowns, misplaced nostalgia and some pretty great marketing. Regardless of WHY it’s so damn popular, my recommendation is to take advantage of the popularity and see it in a big audience. The audience will scream, laugh and overall have a great time. IT is a literal crowdpleaser.

IT, however, is not without flaws. The biggest of which is its story. Excluding the prologue, the plot only really starts after a full hour, with that first hour being used for world-building and establishing the (rather large) list of main characters. And even then, some of the characters feel really underdeveloped, to the point where their inclusion more seems to be out of fear of backlash at their removal than an actual desire to utilise the character. Once the plot gets going, it still doesn’t deliver anything stellar. I liked the themes of grief and abuse specifically, but I don’t think anything else was really worth even bringing up.

Somehow, though, the film still remains highly entertaining all the way through. Performances were mostly great. All of the kids (especially Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things) and Sophia Lillis) were very well played, except for the Stanley character, who stuck out like a sore thumb to me. This film made the excellent decision to cut the entire adult plot from the original and just focus on the kids, who were much more interesting and fun to spend time with. It was especially cathartic to see kids with realistic conversational language. The simple fact that I can’t recall another movie where I heard a kid make a ‘your mum’ joke made it funny. And this is a funny, funny movie. I also appreciated the 80’s aesthetic, this particular story would only be more dated by trying to modernise it. Plus it’s 2017, it’s only natural for me, being born in 1996, to be nostalgic for 1987 right?

Bill Skarsgard did a fantastic job as Pennywise. I personally prefer Tim Curry’s “I don’t give a shit” attitude, but this new Pennywise has just enough new to keep it fresh and just enough kept to keep it being the same character. Good adaptation. One nitpick I have is that they use this weird shaking effect whenever he’s running at someone (you can see it in the trailers) which I found really obnoxious, and I wish there was less of it.

Ultimately, IT was a good time and I recommend IT. I guarantee that IT will be a good time if you see it in a large group or in a big crowd. IT was a surprisingly good movie.