Study for finals or watch movies? I like to think I’ve struck a nice balance, and obviously I’ve been working hard since I’ve only seen four movies this week. Sure, okay, three of them are upwards of two and a half hours long, but still. Anyway, I review movies and I’m gonna keep doing that regardless of my workload, so here are this week’s hot takes:
April 21: The Long Dumb Road (Crave)
You’ve seen this movie before. Everyone has seen this movie before. It’s every single other roadtrip comedy in existence, and follows the necessary story beats religiously. So why the hell did I enjoy it? Jason Mantzoukas and Tony Revolori star, and their chemistry is undeniable, but that can’t be the only explanation. Also, I feel it’s necessary to rank this Mantzoukas character in terms of insanity compared to his other characters: Of the things I’ve seen him in, I think this ranks last, though last place means he’s still about 5 times as insane as a normal person. #1 is obviously Rafi from The League (“Let’s all get the same girl pregnant tonight!”), closely followed by Derek in The Good Place (wind chimes in lieu of a penis) and Jay in Big Mouth (“Uuuuuuunnuhhh I’m forty!”). Anyway, my best guess is that I was simply in the mood for a relatively feel-good buddy story or something because on an objective level, it ain’t anything special.
April 24: Avengers: Infinity War (Netflix)
In preparation for Endgame, me and Vic rewatched IW, mostly because Vic was drunk when we saw it in theatres and she was a little hazy on the details. I was hoping seeing it again would make me see that the nitpicks I had initially weren’t all that annoying, but it turns out I still feel just as annoyed by how unnecessarily stupid some characters are. I won’t bother with any details since I have to keep you engaged until we get to my Endgame review, but the strange editing and pacing, while understandable and arguably unavoidable with such an insanely large cast, is still a negative worth noting. I walked out of the theatre a year ago claiming I didn’t care to see Endgame, and though obviously I changed my mind on that, I haven’t changed my mind about anything else. Except maybe Iron Man surviving his stab wound, I’ve come around to that being an interesting decision.
I should also make it clear that we skipped the scene where Starlord makes the stupidest decision of all time and his actions pretty much directly lead to half of all life in the universe dying. This review would be far, far more vitriolic had I endured that scene for a second time. That scene is unforgivable character writing, and it’s baffling it made it into a rough draft let alone the final product.
April 25: Avengers: Endgame (Theatre)
I pretend not to care about the Marvel movies. I’ve seen 20.4 of the 22 MCU entries (that’s 20 + 0.4 representing the amount of Ant-Man I sat through until I got too bored, for those of you keeping count, and obviously I didn’t bother with Ant-Man 2), and can only say I genuinely like 9 or 10 of them, and the rest I either hate or don’t care about whatsoever. Spider-Man: Homecoming has remained my favourite due to it being a surprisingly hilarious and remarkably clever comedy, followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because it’s a fun-without-trying-too-hard-to-be-funny badass action movie with some great fight choreography. It’s been a while since The Winter Soldier, and I’ve become much more cynical since then. Black Panther sucked, Infinity War was fine but highly flawed, Captain Marvel was just plain bad, and my interest was waning. That didn’t mean I didn’t want to see how it all ended, though. In the days leading up to opening night, I found myself getting excited even though I didn’t want to be. I had this feeling, this odd notion that Endgame was going to be good. I have no clue where it came from, but I tried to reject it so that I could go in without high expectations. I failed, and I was hyped. Real hyped. So, as it turns out, um…
Endgame is fucking amazing.
It didn’t fully hit me how unique an experience this movie could be. Never before has there been a series of movies that comes close to being as ambitious as the MCU, and Endgame is a culmination of every single thing that all 21 previous movies set up. 21 movies. I’m trying to find something to compare it to, but such a thing doesn’t exist. Even though I’m not a fan of more than half of them, I have to retroactively respect them a bit more due to how incredible it is that they pulled off the ending so perfectly.
One of my biggest gripes about Infinity War was how focused it was on characters that I couldn’t possibly give a single shit about, Scarlet Witch and Vision being by far the worst offenders. In Endgame, they are dead. Super dead. As is half the cast. This allows the movie to stay far more focused, and is relieved of the inherent issue of trying to shove about a hundred characters into a single movie. The result is a first hour that feels truly personal and refined, and slows down to allow the characters to mourn the loss they endured at the end of Infinity War. Any hint of action waits until more than an hour of the movie has gone by and we’re introduced to a bunch of familiar MacGuffins. Not familiar in a repetitive or stale way, though, familiar in a “oh shit they’re doing this again, hell yeah!” way.
Now, as much as I’d like to, I can’t go into spoilers just yet; the movie is too new and sensitive. What I’ll do is wait a couple weeks for everyone to get the chance to see it, and then put out a full review, spoilers and all. For now, I’ll just say this: Endgame is the perfect finale to an imperfect universe, and my new favourite movie in the MCU.
April 26: Suspiria (Amazon Prime Video)
From the director of the delightful romantic drama Call Me By Your Name comes Suspiria, an uncomfortable arthouse horror. I love to see a director take such an entirely different project from their previous one and prove their versatility, and Luca Guadagnino does just that. Suspiria is a slow burn horror, the best kind of horror, and uses every moment it can to try to make you feel uneasy. A simple shot of women dancing in a room can feel menacing, making scenes in which metal hooks are used for unspeakable things all the more horrifying. Dream sequences are an attack on your eyes and ears, visuals jumping from one bodily horror to the next interspersed with toilets and glass, while audio cuts in and out, leaving you entirely disoriented. Even though the ending leans a bit towards being too silly, Suspiria is worth a watch for its fantastic soundtrack, haunting performances (although I’m not totally sold on Dakota Johnson just yet), and a plot that reminds me of Hereditary in all the best ways. Oh, and Tilda Swinton plays three different characters, including an old man. What more could you ask for?
Joey loves a Marvel movie but finds a flaw in a pretentious arthouse film? It truly is the end of days. Honestly, I’m just happy I didn’t have to sit through another Korine disaster. This week’s shoutout goes to Korg the rock monster from Thor: Ragnarok, who remains my favourite character in the MCU, and it’s not even close. Thank you Taika Waititi.