November 24, 2019
Movies in 2019
The year is not over and I suspect Rise of Skywalker will make a good case for being my favorite film of the year, however here are what I’ve enjoyed the most so far.
John Wick Chapter 3: full disclaimer I have not yet seen the first two John Wick action movies, but that might not really matter that much. The third one does pick up immediately after the conclusion of the second but that all becomes pretty obvious after a few confusing minutes, and I’m not sure really knowing the whole backstory makes a difference. I went in expecting a pretty good action film, but what I didn’t expect was all out hilarious comedy that the movie was. It’s basically a modern day Three Stooges, and it pulls off the best slapstick comedy I’ve ever seen.
Jojo Rabbit comes from Taika Waititi (creator/director of What We Do In Shadows, Thor Ragnarok, Eagle vs Shark …) known for oddball goofy comedy. The story revolves around a 10-year old boy in Nazi Germany whose imaginary friend is Hitler (played by the director), encouraging him through difficult times. Meanwhile he becomes aware that his mother has a young Jewish girl, Elsa, hiding in their home, and exposing her would risk the life of his mother, so he is involuntarily complicit with his mother’s secret. But over time Jojo begins to realize Elsa’s humanity and they begrudgingly form a bond of friendship. The movie is filled with humor and also beautifully sweet moments.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one of the best Tarantino films yet, the story is an interesting take on the true crime genre, specifically the grizzly murder of actress Sharon Tate, retconning the story where instead of a gruesome murder two unlikely heroes intervene in the most hilarious ways imaginable.
Parasite: Subtle meanings, deep subtexts containing a message about society permeate the film. The story in Parasite, a Korean film from the director of The Host (one of my favorite monster thrillers) is beautifully told, beautifully filmed and beautifully acted. There is no way to describe the plot without giving away shameful spoilers so I won’t go into details, but there are no real protagonists, no real heroes, just victims of an unfair world trying to survive anyway possible. It juxtaposes moments of humor with our profound despair so brilliantly. The complex story and stunning visuals reminded me of a masterpiece on the same level as a Hitchcock film.
The end of two Marvel Eras
With the acquisition of Fox by Disney it can be said that we’ve seen the end of the era of the X-Men (and related) films. I’d say that of all the super hero films, the Fox X-Men series was my favorite. Not all were successes, but they ventured into some different territory with some side characters and darker R-rated films. In particular the Deadpool films, Logan, The Wolverine, and Days of Future Past stand out to me as amazing films in the series. Now that Disney owns the Fox films it will be interesting to see how they weave mutants into their already successful non-mutant Marvel story lines.
The other end of an era was the conclusion of a major story arc in Disney’s Marvel films with Avenger’s Endgame. Disney certainly has no plans to stop churning our Marvel movies, but Endgame felt like, and was certainly meant to be, a capstone on the stories up to this point. Considering the film includes the deaths or retirements of some of the most prominent figures in these films it’s clear this is at least a passing of the torch to a new generation of characters.
In a way I’m starting to become tired of all of the super hero movies. I’ve given up on the DC Universe, which growing up was my favorite comic universe, but the DC Universe has been a lot of misses. I didn’t really give Wonder Woman or Joker a chance but after Batman vs Superman there was just too much missing or broken with that series. I’ve also missed a lot of the recent Disney Marvel films such as both independent Spider Man films, Captain Marvel. There is just too much to take it all in.