Sunday, 9 February 2020

My Week in Film: 5

Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Dir. Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti & Rodney Rothman, 2018, USA, Superhero Animation

Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse oozes its very own brand of jubilant energy. From the tongue-in-cheek opening scene to the divine post-credits gag it is perhaps the film that has most freely and expressively made use of the Marvel licence since the first Iron Man rocked the world way back in 2008.

Its infinite visual stamina for sight gags and split-second references almost reminds me of the non-stop editing of an Edgar Wright film- except less Monster Energy and more masterful wonder: Skipping along with a clean understanding of animation’s limitless potential not only in design but storytelling- freeing itself into a world of comic panels and split storylines to fire off like a bullet with butterfly wings.

I really had to fight to appreciate its art style and its focus on wit over wisdom still leaves it a little short of something as earnest as Spider-Man 2- but this tri-directed treasure was already pigeonholed by the long-suffering cash-grab abuse of its titular character and the way it shattered that twenty-year mould without a care in the world should honestly make the MCU more than a little nervous.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

My Week in Film: 4

The Souvenir
Dir. Joanna Hogg, 2019, UK, Mystery Romance

Given the next week is designed to finally catch films I’ve been desperate to see for ages; I hate to start so ruthless- and I can only promise to be brief. The Souvenir is vile. Joanna Hogg’s abjectly autobiographical Jackson Pollock of a ghastly, anaemic ‘love’ affair seeks bewildered applause for its decidedly banal story- slicing it up into so many little pieces that the overwhelmingly abhorrent structure might be misconstrued for Byzantine complexity instead of conceited student-film slop.

It wears its self-‘confessed’ privilege like a badge of noble dishonour, injecting contemporary politics into the pallid lifestream of its listless, weightless half-moments as if social currency might inflate their flaccidity with some enduring purpose- though we can’t exactly take credit for being “woke” (someone catch my bile) in a sickly 16mm saccharine post-pack of the early 1980s. If Hogg’s muttered pitch was to capture the savage beauty of elliptical love, she might have taken a page out of Pawel Pawlikowski’s book and made it about two people I don’t want to throttle.

The Souvenir’s couple, bled paper-thin by the inept intangibility of their schizophrenic screentime, are done few favours by Hogg’s spineless self-insert: Reflecting on her character with an aged confidence so blinding that even a style as obnoxious as this runs completely untempered. The grand irony of her film’s skin-shedding discomfort in its own social environment is that it seems tailor made for the Mephistophelian superficiality of the “art-house in-crowd”, enjoyed by people over glasses of champagne with their feet up on their corgis and a smug sense of superiority tickling the ego where great cinema should be touching the heart. The Souvenir seems uninterested in building one, settling for no more than a minute at a time before distractingly itself with another chillingly vile conversation, or rectum-gazing piece of framing. It entitles itself an entrance to the gallery, but to be frank I’d probably burn it to save it stinking up the rest of the garbage.