Film Discussion-May

Hello, fellow film lovers, I bring you May’s film discussion with some films I started my year with in 2021. Hope you enjoy watching these powerful, ethically charged dramas that look at interesting characters as much as I did.


Burning

A unique drama where the viewer is invited to piece together the shuffled jigsaw that is this film. With subtle, yet impactful acting techniques, meaningful use of sound and no actual exposition, this requires a viewer’s full attention to piece together snippets of character study and clues that bind everything together. Burning follows Jong-su, an aspiring writer who agrees to housesit for his childhood friend/love interest Hae-mi while she travels to Africa. However, when she returns Hae-mi is not alone, introducing Jong-su to charismatic Ben (Steven Yeun)As the friends spend time together, Jong-su begins to suspect that something lurks behind Ben’s seemingly perfect façade. Directed by Lee Chang-dong(Poetry, Secret Sunshine) and adapted from the short story Barn Burning by Murakami, the director wanted the audience to feel the film as they watch it, creating a unique cinematic experience. The character of Ben is meant to convey the quality of life that so many people strive for, regardless of the negative consequences that money can bring, representing the somewhat monstrous repercussions of this life.


This is a relatively simple plot, featuring a believable set of characters including slack-jawed slacker Jong-su who spends his time dilly-dallying about a large farm, Hae-mi who constantly falls asleep in restaurants and Ben, who cooks amazing meals, has an enigmatic smile, living in luxury and extravagance. Time was spent developing these characters, each scene showing some semblance of their personality. While the plot was a bit too simple for my liking the characters, particularly Jong-Su and Ben, have a lot to them and are fully brought to life through the acting of Yoo Ah-In and Steven Yeun. I love Steven Yeun in everything after I was introduced to Glenn in the Walking Dead and taken on a journey through a zombie apocalypse both there and in Mayhem. I know he is an actor with a brilliant range that can bring a complex character to the forefront of any story. No exception in this one, he brings across that fantasy of a perfect man that is witty, handsome and successful. Silence is used to add impact and create relationships between characters, representing the lonely solitary life that Jong-su leads while also adding depth to intimate scenes.


A thriller that entices the reader to dig behind its perfection to find the gritty bits, Burning may have a simple plot yet what has been done with its subtleties and characterisation makes it a winning film.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

sound of metal

A heart-warming film that took me on an emotional journey with the main character as he navigates hearing loss. Sound of Metal is a character study of Ruben, a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing and needs to adapt to this. Written and directed by Darius Marder( Loot, Writer of The Place Beyond The Pines) this film involved 23 weeks of sound mixing and focuses on a co-dependent relationship and the effect on it when one of the characters goes through a life-changing event.

The plot was engaging showing the impacts of hearing loss on a person who relies on their hearing to make a living and do the thing they enjoy. Reuben goes through a lot of loss and the change in him is evident from beginning to end. This film took care to show exactly how a character was feeling about their experience and their journey to both emotional and physical recovery. The things he isn’t dealing with but needs to in his life are brought to the forefront as he learns more about himself. Reuben starts to gain new experiences and friendships as he learns sign language and becomes more involved in the deaf community, showing that despite losing his hearing he gains something of greater value through new relationships. The viewer is on a complete journey with Reuben from start to finish, Riz Ahmed bringing across a relatable character in his portrayal.

The dialogue used is deep creating a tone of frustration and sadness as Reuben faces new challenges in his life. The sound and lack of it is utilised well, bringing viewers into the experience of hearing loss. An epic journey film that is perfect in every sense bringing across its key messages and bringing the viewer into the mind of the main character and his struggles, Sound of Metal is my favourite new character study.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

promising young woman

A thriller highlighting issues that historically have been swept under the rug, Promising Young Woman takes the viewer on a journey with a strong-minded woman dedicated to her mission in life. A bright colour scheme, poppy soundtrack and an emotionally charged performance from Carey Mulligan as Cassandra bring the serious subject matter of Promising Young Woman to the forefront, producing a faultless film that elicits an emotional response in its viewers. I certainly hope this has encouraged people who contribute to such behaviours to take a hard look at themselves. Cassandra, an ex-medical student leads a seemingly regular life working as a barista at a coffee shop however her plans on the weekend are a bit different, to say the least. Written and directed by Emerald Fennell who wanted to make a revenge film with a strong female character at the centre of it, Promising Young Woman shows how people may not be as good as they appear at first glance, shown through some of the characters in this film.

A bright colour scheme of light pinks and blues throughout produces beautiful shots, creating a light-hearted vibe in some scenes with serious overtones throughout. The ability of the tone to change from light to serious and do this well gives this film major points. Carey Mulligan’s performance gives the issues being discussed further weight, as the viewer can see the effect they have had on Cassandra and her life. The use of Paris Hilton’s Stars are Blind accompanied by a dance routine in pharmacy aisles has got to be one of the best montages of a developing relationship I have ever seen. Alison Brie’s performance as Madison and comedian Bo Burnham as Ryan were both believable as you become invested in each of the character’s stories.

A thought-provoking watch that provides its meaningful messages through a strong-minded protagonist, highlighting a major issue in society, creating a tone of sadness and disappointment with the state of the world.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

i care a lot

Following the journey of a truly despicable character in a film depicts the effects of its characters’ situations through its cinematography and captivating dialogue. Some characters do get more development than others, however, I Care a Lot communicates to the viewer everything it needs to throughout. A court-appointed legal guardian takes unethical measures to get guardianship of elderly people, subsequently putting them in retirement villages and selling their possessions. Written and directed by J Blakeson (The 5th Wave, Gun Powder) who read a news report about professional guardians in America and was horrified at what they were doing, deciding to explore the themes of humans as commodities, ambition and living the supposed American dream. The tone reflects how much these ethically dubious professionals enjoy being immoral, Marla claims to care but it’s really about whether the viewer believes her or not based on her actions. Her care appears more quantitative( she has a lot of people under her care) rather than caring for them.

Rosamund Pike successfully brings across Marla Grayson, a court-appointed legal guardian that seems to have everyone in her pocket, stealing money from elderly people who are completely capable of still looking after themselves that she deems unable to. Sly and silver-tongued she makes life difficult for many until she steals from the wrong person and starts learning there are consequences. Peter Dinklage is believable as crime boss Roman who gets pulled into this sea of lies. While this was an interesting concept that openly discusses issues of ethics through the actions of a protagonist that we wholly see as a selfish villain, there wasn’t enough structure and substance in the plot to give this a full five stars. The piercing, direct dialogue of Marla creates unease and disappointment in each scene she gets away with her damaging actions. Dianne Wiest represents the sense of entrapment felt by Marla’s victims through the way her character Jennifer Peterson reacts with her environment when she is trapped in the retirement hope. The shots used in these scenes make the rooms look small and warped to create a sense of entrapment with no escape in sight.

A captivating drama that looks at an incredibly cold and heartless main character, introducing the viewer to her world of deceit, however not providing much development to its host of supporting characters, or enough of a substantial plot to be faultless.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

the art of self defense

If you know me you will know I quite enjoy martial arts and wrestling films/ tv shows. I binged watched Kobra Kai and quite enjoyed Fighting With My Family( Another good one to watch if you haven’t yet, highly recommend and Florence Pugh is great in it) The art of self-defence shocks with a host of lines and characters that are morally challenging, pushing a formulaic martial arts film to new heights and succeeding in this. When straight-laced dog owner Casey(Jesse Eisenberg), gets attacked on the way to the supermarket he decides to start karate classes and learn how to defend himself. Directed by Riley Stearns(Faults), this deadpan world where humour is not a thing as the characters truly believe what they say comments on masculinity, exploring metal music and martial arts, two things the director enjoys as he does Ju-Jitsu. We see the character of Casey as someone who the world seems to be against, making him quite complex and producing a character that changes by going through an experience.

Without giving too much away I will say that I loved the plot and the main themes throughout. It does escalate very quickly and introduces well-developed characters throughout. Eisenberg brings forward his usual charm as a loveable animal lover who gets on with his boss and is disliked by his colleagues, adding believability to his situation as this could happen to anyone who is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Imogen Poots is incredible as black belt Anna, who needs to constantly prove herself, with sharp retorts and a tough personality Alessandro Nivola delivers the winning line of “You can call me sensei” representing a multifaceted character with ease. The martial arts action scenes and training montages provided an impact on the story showing how Casey develops as a person as a result of his classes.

A comedy that pushes the limits of the martial arts film, creating a relatable character and taking us through the twists and turns of his karate journey.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hope you enjoyed May film discussion and enjoy watching these films as much as I did.

As always have a look at my letterboxd to see what I’m watching:

https://letterboxd.com/Lily2707/films/diary/

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