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« Joan Harris Appreciation | Main | An Ode to Julia for Julia »
Wednesday
Jul192017

150 Words on The Beguiled, The Big Sick, and Planet of the Apes

Three movies I didn't review when they were brand spanking new but opinions don't have expiration dates so why not share 'em, anyway? 150 words on each because you're busy and I'm busy, too. 

War for the Planet of the Apes
The freshest character in War for... is named  “Bad Ape.”  But really, who’s good? The final installment of the Apes reboot is, in essence, a war picture which means everyone is compromised. Yes, even noble Caesar (Andy Serkis) is tempted to do the wrong thing repeatedly. Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) gives the movie its only moments of levity but even those are pitiable, like the abused creature himself. The new film isn’t “fun” at all but proves a fitting capper to a surprisingly meaty trilogy. It’s a danger to interpret all current cinema in light of the apocalyptic choices of the US electorate of late but boy is this thing a compelling downer; you can argue that the final film is all about racism, evil lying fascists (Woody Harrelson), and the willful self-destructiveness of the human race. Let’s hope the series (if not our planet) wraps up right here. B

The Big Sick (reviewed in full by Lynn Lee previously)
Boy and Girl meet cute. They fall in love. Girl goes into a coma. What a fresh detour for “stakes” in a romantic comedy! Only the story of The Big Sick is true so no one was cynically trying to come up with a genre-revitalizing new hook. The film tells the true story of the medically-interrupted romance between comedian Kumail Nanjiani (playing himself but withholding a bit — this must have felt like crazy self-exposure whilst filming) and Emily V. Gordon (Zoe Kazan, sweet and flirtatiously vulnerable) who eventually married. The well-scripted dramedy is elevated considerably by Oscar-nomination calibre performances from Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily’s terrified but feisty parents. Perhaps it’s not a great picture but, journeyman filmmaking aside, it’s a moving and satisfying romantic comedy… in other words, just what this oft-derided and all but dead genre needed. Go see it. B/B+

The Beguiled
It begins in a dream-like fog with a little girl in the woods collecting mushrooms, avoiding the poisoned ones. It’s like a fairy tale — a grim one, pun intended. The haunting sound design makes sure we hear distant cannon explosions but the war in the background (The Civil War) is a total abstraction. For this is, in all recognizable ways, a Sofia Coppola film, which means she’s completely irised out on lost heroines, whether they’re trapped in gilded cages or, in this case, run down boarding schools. Since nothing much happens in The Beguiled until the final half hour — the drama comes from Nicole Kidman’s deadpan gruesomeness, Kirsten Dunst’s melancholia (I can’t quit with the puns today), and Colin Farrell and Elle Fanning both doing something that we only hope isn’t self-parody already (it’s too early for that, guys!). Minor Coppola but the last 20 minutes is fire. [1st Half: C / 2nd half: B+]

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Reader Comments (16)

For me, 'The Beguiled' is Coppola's worst film. The lack of sociopolitical context really does hurt the narrative, IMO.

July 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

I thought The Beguiled was very good—more than Minor Coppola and better than The Bling Ring and Somewhere. It's been 11 years since Major Coppola, so I was very pleased. Middle Coppola?

Anyway, interesting observation about Fanning. Yes, she is riffing on other performances she's given. I thought she was wonderful and perfectly cast for that reason. Wouldn't Elle be great in the Emma Watson Bling Ring role?

I'm dying for Coppola's return to jukebox pop art cinema. She needs another Marie Antoinette inspiration. Frankly I'd be fine if she made nothing but stylistically interpretive biopics of female royalty forever.

July 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Retiring this spelling of my name /3rtful.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArtful

The last shot of "The Beguiled" is amazing. I think the film is wonderful, masterfully taut and appropriately chilling, even if in the end it plays into the castration anxiety scenario some critics think Coppola abandoned (?)

Have you seen "A Ghost Story" yet?

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Off topic, I'm surprised and honestly disappointed, there was an obituary for Martin Landau - a great actor - but no one for George Romero, one of the key independent and genre filmmakers of all time and whose legacy and influence is inmense.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

I loved The Beguiled. I thought it was hilarious (Elle Fanning hoeing that garden with such indignant boredom) and the the things Kidman was able to conjure with just a raised eyebrow, a darting eye or a slight smile.

I liked The Big Sick, but I don't think it's anything more than what's on the box. I am baffled by Hunter and Romano as Oscar calibre.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

The Beguiled was mind-numbingly boring! The final shot was beautiful... That was it. Kudos to the marketing department though for trying to turn it into a thriller. I would see that movie. The one I saw was like watching paint dry!

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Welcome (well, sort of because you never left) Artful!

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Love, love L-O-V-E "The Beguiled" thought Kidman was amazing, Dunst best performance & Fanning solidified her status as the most talented actress of her generation. This is NOT minor Coppola but one of the best of 2017...

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

oh god ive been saying thirtful in my head this whole time. i feel dimb for just getting it now

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

I enjoyed The Beguiled . Sophia Coppola is not one of my favorites and I'd only went to see the movie for Nicole Kidman. But as it turned out , I had a great time. Didn't see the original or read the book so it was all new for me. And honestly I didn't see that ending coming.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

For me The Beguiled is better than The Bling Ring but I'm not sure where I'd rank it with the others. I haven't seen Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation in so long that I'd have to re-watch them to be fair.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

@Marcos

Thank you.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArtful

Artful. Hope you are a new person,also.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenternatalie

@beyaccount - I've been saying thirtful this entire time as well so you're not alone.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Nathaniel - Do you think Kiki has any chance at awards play?

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

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