Apr
Feature Article, Film Festivals

For the weekend, I was only able to pop up in and out at the Nashville Film Festival so I wasn’t able to see a ton of movies. Thankfully, the movies I saw were definitely worth seeing and did not waste my time.

DAY 3

lobster

The Lobster

Synopsis: In a dystopian near future, single people are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in 45 days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

Alright, right of the bat, I should say that I came into this movie as a huge fan of the director. His previous films – Dogtooth & Alps – were pretty much perfect for me. They were both very high concept, but tackled a very specific subject. For Dogtooth, it was the subject of overprotective parents & fear of the outside world (in fact, I truly believe Dogtooth would make a fantastic double feature with Finding Nemo, as absurd as some of you may think). For Alps, it was the subject of his people cope with the death of loved ones. And for The Lobster, it focuses on an everlasting subject that will continue to haunt us until the end of time – finding love (awwww!).

Now, in the same style as his previous two films, the film starts off by diving directly into the high concept story. The rules of this world are slowly trickled out as the setting becomes more & more absurd. It’s a world where people are desperately looking for love…DESPERATELY. Why? Because if they don’t find a partner within 45 days, they get reborn as an animal of their choosing. What’s so great about this film is that these rules-of-the-world are at once both slightly humorous & truly affect the story. The revelation about being turned into an animal places some incredibly high stakes in the laps of these characters. It gives a charge to the proceedings, knowing what will happen if they fail. You want these people to find a match. You also see the psychological effects this has on some characters when they can’t take the pressure to find a mate.

The Lobster continuously adds new rules and elements of the world to keep it all fresh. It doesn’t hammer the same point over and over again. Situations evolve, characters make huge decisions and there is no going back. I also want to praise the acting style they employed in this film. There is an oddly distant, detached method to how these people interact which truly speaks volumes about the subject matter. The Lobster has been my favorite film of the festival so far.

DAY 4

High-Rise

High-Rise

Synopsis: London, 1975. Robert Laing is a young doctor seduced by the lifestyle in a high-rise, an isolated community, cut off from the rest of society. Laing discovers a world of complex loyalties, a dangerous social situation develops and the high-rise eventually fragments into violent tribes.

This movie was one of my most anticipated of the festival. I had seen the trailers in the past and it looked like something I would absolutely love. I had not seen any of director Ben Wheatley’s films before and was looking forward to getting a chance to see what kind of movies he likes to make. Overall, I liked High-Rise, even if it wasn’t quite the slam dunk I was hoping for.

Visually, this film was fantastic. They nailed the 1970s British aesthetic, the camerawork was great and the colors were amazing. The high-rise definitely felt like a real, lived in place. The cast was completely on point, with a special shout out to Luke Evans whose unchained performance pretty much stole the whole movie. I feel like the 1st half of the film is pretty much perfect; while the 2nd half isn’t bad, it can’t quite keep up with the momentum it established. Once we see the society of this high-rise come into conflict, there are really no surprises left. We witness variations of the same thing over and over as things escalate. In a sense, it kind of hits the same notes repeatedly – although, admittedly, the note is quite good.

Without giving too much away, the main character makes certain decisions that make a great point about society but doesn’t exactly make for out-of-this-world storytelling. This movie was adapted from a J.G. Ballard novel and I have a feeling that many of these elements in the latter half read a lot better on paper. Storytelling in cinema definitely has a different set of mechanisms than books do and I’m sure it’s hard to tell the difference until you finish editing your movie. As it currently is, though, I still liked it quite a lot. If you dig the trailers, you will still dig this film.

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