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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Monster Calls (J.A. Bayona, 2016)

Lewis MacDougall in A Monster Calls
Conor: Lewis MacDougall
Grandma: Sigourney Weaver
Mum: Felicity Jones
Dad: Toby Kebbell
The Monster (voice): Liam Neeson
Harry: James Melville
The Head Teacher: Geraldine Chaplin

Director: J.A. Bayona
Screenplay: Patrick Ness
Based on a novel by Patrick Ness from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd
Cinematography: Oscar Faura
Production design: Eugenio Caballero
Film editing: Jaume Martí, Bernat Vilaplana
Music: Fernando Velázquez

The fable of A Monster Calls is the intertwining of grief and guilt. Young Conor, mourning his mother, who died of cancer, is haunted by nightmares in which he tries and fails to save her as the earth crumbles beneath their feet. The nightmares cause him to be dysfunctional at school and in the home of his grandmother, with whom he has gone to live.  Eventually, the nightmares come to life in the shape of a giant monster yew tree that gives him parables which reveal to Conor something more terrible: that he wanted his mother to die. But the revelation also makes him aware that his wish for her death was the product of his wanting her to be released from suffering. The psychological complexity of the fable is richly imagined, but its subtlety tends to get overwhelmed by the impressive special effects -- yet another lesson that film is not always the best narrative vehicle for complex ideas.

No comments: