This is the beginning of the end for my wallet. I saw two movies in theatres this week, and movies are so damn expensive these days. I’m seeing two more later today, and one more tomorrow, so best believe I’ll be broke by the time I walk out of Jojo Rabbit on Wednesday. It’s all worth it, though: we are witnessing what may be the best year of all time for movies, and awards season has only just begun. I saw 3 movies and a TV show this week and have at least a little bit to say about all of them, so here they are:
Oct 19: Zombieland 2: Double Tap (Theatre)
Zombieland 2 is really, really dumb. It’s dumb in a good way, it’s dumb in a bad way, and then the mid-credits scene happens and it’s dumb in the best way possible, but I won’t spoil that.
Zombieland 2 picks up 9 years after Zombieland, a movie that probably should have been terrible but ended up being pretty good mostly due to its fantastic cast. Everyone is back for the sequel: Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Woody Harrelson return to make a sequel that nobody was begging for, but I think everyone was happy to hear exists; it’s not like the original was so fantastic that a sequel would ruin it. We start off with a bunch of scenes that define what makes this series so charming: all the wacky characters simply having a great time killing zombies and hanging out, making the best of a post-apocalyptic situation. We’re then introduced to Zoey Deutch’s character, who on paper is just a generic stupid hot girl, but Deutch elevates her into a hilarious generic stupid hot girl. We’ve reached Zombieland 2’s peak.
The second half begins – and I’m purposely not splitting this movie into acts, since the movie contains a bunch of random events followed by a shoehorned third act – and the movie becomes a far less entertaining mess. Zombieland 2 often grinds to a halt to introduce a bunch of unfunny characters who are promptly done away with, and our protagonists go right back to whatever they were doing before. There’s a fundamental flaw in the plot of Zombieland 2: it’s supposedly about a journey for our main cast to seek out Abigail Breslin, who as far as they know, is in grave danger. But the audience is shown what’s happening with Breslin repeatedly, and she’s totally fine, meaning for 90% of the movie there are no narrative stakes whatsoever. It was fine when the movie was still funny, but these issues come to light once the hilarity fades. There are a bunch of other absurd writing contrivances and egregious, unfathomable mistakes to rival Caddyshack, but I won’t bother mentioning those because at the end of the day, it’s just a really, really stupid zom-com, and I never should’ve expected anything more.
Oct 20: Living With Yourself (Netflix)
Paul Rudd and Paul Rudd star in a quick little show about clones and marriage. I don’t know how they managed to make this show so damn boring. I said to Vic after the first episode, I said, Vic, this is a six episode premise stretched to eight episodes. She said we shall see. Turns out I was wrong; it’s a four episode premise at most, and even that’s pushing it given the way they decided to present the glacial, meandering story. So little happens in each half-hour long episode, it makes you wonder if this was some kind of mediocre SNL sketch Netflix decided to pick up for an entire season, and the writers had no clue what to do with the format. Paul Rudd is the saving grace of the show, to nobody’s surprise. His performances are varied and as entertaining as they can be given the circumstances, and any scene of him talking to himself is seamlessly edited. It’s probably better than Gemini Man, though, so I’ll give it that.
Oct 23: Man Up (Prime Video)
I said to Vic, I said, Vic, I want to watch another bad movie. I searched for a long while until I finally settled on Man Up, because the idea of Simon Pegg and Lake Bell (with a British accent) in a rom-com is wild and could never, ever work. I then told Vic that no matter what, my entire review will be this line: “Man Up? More like Man DOWN!” She said what if you end up enjoying it? I laughed, I genuinely never even considered that outcome. Man Up works, it does. I don’t know why or how, but it works. It’s funny, it’s kinda cute, and for some reason I sorta liked it. If a rom-com can make me actually care about the relationship it depicts, it’s an automatic win in my books, since so many fail to do the bare minimum. Man Up is just barely funny enough, just barely sweet enough, and just barely well written enough for me to have a shockingly good time watching it. But the title is absolutely baffling; manning up has literally nothing to do with this movie. Lake Bell is the protagonist who I guess wants to put herself out into the world more? Is that what the “man up” business is? I have no clue.
Man Up? More like Man DOWN!
Oct 24: The Lighthouse (Theatre)
Robert Eggers’ first feature-length film, the VVitch – which I will always pronounce the way it’s spelled – was up there with Hereditary as far as new age arthouse horror cinema goes. Both Aster and Eggers decided to release their sophomore efforts this year, making 2019 an extremely exciting year based on that alone. All I knew about The Lighthouse was that it’s in black and white, stars (exclusively) Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, and that that combination of elements means there’s a 0% chance of me not loving it. As usual, I was right.
The Lighthouse is so good, in fact, that I’m going to see it again on Sunday, and will surely have an Examination Collection post about it following my second viewing. There are a ton of themes and imagery I’d love to delve into, but I would first like to get a new perspective on the experience. That, and I want to do a better job of understanding the words Pattinson and Dafoe are saying.
Willem Dafoe’s performance is the best of the year. Yes, in a year with both Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaptrio being brilliant in the same movie, Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wick takes the cake. Despite the fact that I found it difficult to parse what the heck was coming out of his mouth for the first ten minutes or so, once I got used to the accent, every word he said was the most captivating one I’d ever heard. The way he tells a story, the way he says a blessing before a meal, the way he orders Pattinson around, it’s all brilliantly entrancing. This is aided by masterful cinematography and lighting, accentuating every detail and subtle movement in Dafoe’s face as he chastises Pattinson in certain scenes.
Pattinson is no slouch himself. I think his career post-Twilight series is incredible, and he’s quickly become one of my favourite actors in the business. The Lighthouse continues this trend with a performance that couldn’t have been done better by anyone else. It’s tough to talk about it without going into spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that until the Examination post, as well as any information about the plot.
Ugh, I’m so excited to talk about it, but I have too much to say for one of these mini-reviews. You can expect to see it on Monday or Tuesday. In the meantime, go see The Lighthouse if you’re into arthouse horror comedy. Yes, you heard me correctly, arthouse horror comedy. That’s all I’ll say.
This week’s shoutout goes to my bones, they keep me from being all wobbly.