July 13, 2016

What Are You Afraid Of? A Review of "It Follows" (2014)

It Follows 
(David Robert Mitchell, 2014)

There are several movies in recent years that are masterfully crafted and extremely disturbing at the same time. They do not fit standard genre formulas so it is hard to lock them into the mold of drama, art, action or horror. Films that come to mind include Donny Darko, Dogtooth, Upstream Color, Under the Skin and It Follows.

These are movies that you have to pay attention to. The characters often suck you in. You begin to care for them. You persevere with them. Your fear for them. In all of these films the audience witnesses acts that would normally be disturbing. But...somehow in the context of these films we grin and bare these sites.

It Follows plays off of fear. What we are afraid of may, indeed, be following us. It plays of of a literal manifestation of fear. And ultimately that fear leaps from us and into the minds and lives of others. Fear not only follows us, but can be passed along to others. Not unlike an STD.

I liked this movie exactly because it was not formulaic. The characters seemed real. Like teenagers in my neighborhood. It's not a freak out film. It's not a monster under the bed film. It's about slow, creeping fear that begins to take hold of all who buy into it.

(8/10: MH)

July 9, 2016

The Walk (2015)

The Walk (2015)

The story of Philippe Petit's high wire walk between the World Trade towers is fascinating to say the least. While best captured in the documentary "Man on a Wire" - the recent Hollywood release "The Walk" offers additional insights into this fascinating feat.

Arguably, the best portrayal of Philippe Petit's story is in the James Marsh documentary Man on a Wire - which was inspired by Petit's book "To Reach the Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers" (recently retitled "The Walk" to fit with the Hollywood release).

Robert Zemekis' adaptation The Walk still makes for compelling cinema - I sat throught the entire movie.

Zemekis' focus is more on Petit, whereas the true stars of the documentary are the two towers.

Where Zemekis' focuses on the war that wages within the self; Marsh's documentary was about a challenge by an inanimate competitor that Petit' felt compelled to meet.

Where Zemekis' attempts to instill some connection with Petit and his friends; Marsh sets us up for the big showdown: first showing us Petit's strengths and accomplishments; then presenting a documentary-within-a-documentary on the building of the World Trade Center buildings.

I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And he is almost believable as Petit - faux French accent and all. Overall, however, the Hollywood adaptation feels like 20-somethings playing dress-up. Compare with the documentary where we view real film reals and photos of the real gang.

In someways The Walk augments Man on a Wire. It gives us insights into characters, where the documentary focuses on the significance of events. The documentary brings to mind remenbrances of 9-11 and thus takes on additional significance.

The Walk (2015) [6/10 stars]
Man on a Wire (2008) [9/10 stars]