Quick Hit: This French film goes through some pretty intense moments, with fairly good acting.
Kind of like Personal Shopper, Raw is one of those films that Film Twitter took a huge liking to this year. It kind of bounced along in my periphery until fellow reviewer Steve Donahue took up the call and reviewed it. Shannon and I had an extra day in between Christmas weeks and our latest and greatest end of the year post, and so we decided to plug in Raw to the schedule.
And while I’m glad that I watched it, it’s not one that I think will merit repeat watchings.
For those that don’t know, it’s a film that is about a young lady who goes off to college and discovers that she has cravings. For meat. No, get your mind out of the gutters – I mean actual, bloody meat. She’s a vegetarian by trade and now she is craving meat to the point she’s eating it raw and frozen. And sometimes, even fresher than that.
It’s a film that is a bit out there. First off, it’s French and subtitled, so I know that will turn off a lot of people. Second there is a lot of sexuality and obviously some gore involved, so that’s going to turn people off as well. Essentially, the movie itself seems to be a bit of a not so subtle metaphor to the experience of going off to college and learning about one’s sexuality. There’s also some themes about family and sisterhood in particular that exist throughout, though those are a bit more forced.
The strongest thing this film has going for it is the effects. They are really, really good, and at almost no time did I doubt what Justine (Garance Marillier) was eating. It was pretty gross, and that was alright with me. The acting is also particularly strong, with Ella Rumpf as Alexia, Justine’s sister really standing out for me. She has some of the most genuine reactions to the horror of what’s around her. That’s nothing to discount the job done by Marillier, who perfectly maintains the aura of confusion coupled with desire that is necessary to maintain a film like this.
What I didn’t like was the way the film tries to encapsulate so much of what’s going on around Justine. She’s going to school to be a veterinarian, and the film takes a lot of time to establish that fact. Each time the film returns to the university rather than just focusing on the relationships that Justine is forming (or attempting to), the film starts to slog down a bit. There’s also a few side characters that aren’t very well developed, and their inclusion within the film doesn’t make much sense to me.
The final twist, while entertaining, didn’t do a whole lot for me. I felt like it was a bit of a cop out from some of the horror aspects of the film. But, that may just be the horror purist in me, whereas I think this was more of a drama with horror elements.
For other suggestions about cannibalism, I would suggest Ravenous and The Hills Have Eyes. This movie gets a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: It’s exactly the movie that you’d expect – and that’s not a bad thing.
Stop me if you know what these movies have in common, besides their director. 2012, Independence Day, White House Down. If you answered that all three movies were good – please. But if you answered that all three movies feature at least one scene where the White House is destroyed, you’re correct. Today’s movie, White House Down, doubles down on the idea and sets up almost the entire movie in the White House.
Starring Jamie Foxx as the President, and Channing Tatum as a Secret Service wanna-be, the film doesn’t pretend to be anything besides blockbuster fodder. The bad guys, which include James Woods, really have no decisive agenda besides a rough plan to blow up the Middle East and/or get rich. But that’s not important. What’s important is the buddy cop dynamic between Foxx and Tatum, and the comedic moments it provides. Is it weak, easily attainable comedy? Yes, but they’ll still elicit some chuckles from you.
The one thing you can almost always say about a Roland Emmerich movie is that the destruction is often total, complete, and entertaining. We watched the scale model of the White House get obliterated in Independence Day, and now we get to watch the Capitol building be blown to smithereens. We also get to watch tons of famous White House items become bullet-riddled. It’s fun to watch, and there isn’t any Michael Bayishness here – there’s no slow motion zooms in on explosions. Instead, we get to watch things happen in a manner that they would occur in real life, and it gives the movie a bit of a zip.
Tatum and Foxx are pretty solid in their roles. I wasn’t disappointed in them, but I wasn’t exactly sold either. That’s because there’s very little meat to their characters, and end up looking like either John McClane (by the way, in a hilarious bit of screen writing, Tatum’s character is named John Cale. I mean come on, we’re not even trying now) or President Obama. And while I’m sure the political and movie allusions are intended – Emmerich isn’t exactly known for subtle political messages – they distract a bit from what little story is actually there.
Overall, if you want an entertaining two hours, you could definitely do worse, especially if you’re a person that enjoys guns and explosions. I had fun, and think you will too, and I’m giving it a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Flashy and vibrant and full of life, but falters in the final execution.
This is definitely one of those movies that our readers are going to get hit with an initial impression that may change. That’s because if this movie is anything, it’s extremely overwhelming and entertaining visually. Repeated viewings may not hold up just because the characters are painted very simply, with little to hold them up. But the movie doesn’t seem interested in presenting P.T. Barnum as a character so much as an architect of a movement.
Hugh Jackman has been attempting to get this movie made for years. After his musical turn in the film version of Les Miserables, he has been forthcoming about his willingness to star in another musical. He stars as P.T. Barnum, the first real purveyor of the circus. The movie gives him a quick rags to riches story drenched in some love and light, but not before it takes time to introduce us to his slightly below-board ways. Right from the start it’s evident just how much Jackman is enjoying himself in the musical scenes. He has a solid singer, and the choreography (which I’ll highlight in a moment) he excels at as well. It’s nice to see Jackman as a character who is happier and livelier.
What’s unfortunate is that there is so little going on around him. Most of the other characters have very little known about them besides either A) they don’t fit in or B) they love/hate Barnum. It’s a little disappointing because there are a lot of scenes featuring characters like the Bearded Lady, or Barnum’s wife Charity (played by Michelle Williams from Manchester By The Sea). Even Zac Efron, who comes into the film around the halfway point as a wealthy understudy and eventual ringmaster, comes across as shallow. The love affair with acrobat (played by Zendaya, or the new MJ from Spiderman: Homecoming) isn’t fully fleshed out, and that’s evident in their scenes together.
However, many of these flaws are covered up by the extreme dedication to the musical aspects of it. Showman plays as a bit of a Moulin Rouge in that it is constantly full of motion and song. The lyricists from La La Land, Benji Pasek and Justin Paul, fill the songs with longing and a willingness to be true to yourself (wouldn’t surprise me at all if the two were fans of Miss Lady Gaga). The choreography is a visual spectacle, and some of the best scenes aren’t even the large scale productions – though those are really good – but the smaller ones, in particular a scene featuring Jackman and Efron in a bar. These are wonderful scenes that liken back to huge musicals like Singin’ in the Rain, and you can’t help but feel elated to have them back on the big screen.
Inevitably, Showman will be criticized by certain critics (rightfully so) and will therefore garner lower scores. But I think that most audiences will come out of this movie enjoying themselves nearly as much as Jackman. I know I did, and it’s a film that I haven’t quite been able to get out of my head since I saw it nearly two weeks ago. I’m refraining from giving it as high of a score as I originally thought I would, after days of reflection, but I’m still giving it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"