A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)

Colin Farrell has had an odd career, never quite making it to major stardom, but continuing to work in sometimes offbeat films like the wonderful In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008). And when it comes to offbeat, there are few films that march to a more eccentric drummer than The Lobster, in which Farrell has tamped down his typically assertive persona and bloated his trim figure with an unhealthy-looking paunch. It's not quite the transformative performance that often wins Oscars for actors, though it has earned Farrell quite a few nominations from critics groups as well as one for a Golden Globe. Farrell plays David, whose recent breakup with his wife has caused him to be sent to a hotel whose residents are given 45 days to find another partner. If they fail to do so, they are turned into animals -- David tells the hotel manager (Olivia Colman) that he wants to be turned into a lobster. He is accompanied to the hotel by his brother, who has already been turned into a dog. But ... oh, there's no point in going on with a summary. It's a film of multiple turns and revelations, each of which has to be discovered by viewers with their own fresh insights into the quite unusual vision of its director, Yorgos Lanthimos, and his co-screenwriter, Efthymis Filippou. It's part dystopian fantasy, part tragicomedy, part satire, part fable. Farrell is quite good, as are Colman, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux, and Ben Whishaw as the present and former residents of the hotel, some of whom have escaped into the woods to avoid being transformed and are now in a kind of guerrilla war with the residents. Comparisons to Kafka's stories have inevitably been made, and while it's not quite of that exalted original order, The Lobster is one of the few recent films that feel fresh and daring.