The Shape of Water

January 28, 2018 at 12:58 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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A well crafted Guillermo del Toro movie. It is not a mainstream movie – more of a indie one. The staging, lighting, framing – cinematography (?) – and the costumes created a comic feel to the film. The good guys are ‘bright’, the bad guys are ‘black and grey’.

The plot at its most basic is a love story, that manifests itself as a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story. Romeo is a ‘fish-man’; his ‘adoptive’ family a secretive US government agency; his home a secret US government facility – that is a huge tilt to James Bond (Dr No & You Only Live Twice). Juliet is a mute woman; but she is not a teenager; she works as a cleaner in the Base; she lives above a movie theatre that shows B-grade movies.

The film is a wonderful character study – or rather of various characters:

  • Elisa Esposito, played by Sally Hawkins, is the woman who falls in love with the prisoner, and breaks him out of custody;
  • Amphibian Man, played by Doug Jones, is the ‘asset’ ‘taken’ by the US government in the amazon; he is brave and noble, in the face of mistreatment and torture; he is curious and cultured; he has the mis-fortune to have lungs and gills – making him an object of interest as the space race heats up.
  • Giles, played by Richard Jenkins, is Elisa’s neighbour, down on his luck,  someone sidelined by changing world; but loyal; a reluctant accomplice to the ‘jail break’ – discovering a determination that he did not know he had.
  • Strickland, played by Michael Shannon, is the ‘man in black’; on the surface he is a loving family man, but underneath he is ruthless and remorseless – without a heart of gold.

Elisa sees the treatment handed out to the Amphibian, and sees that it is wrong. Both are unable to speak, so she teaches him sign language. Elisa and Giles represent humanity. Strickland embodies the dangers of focusing on ‘goals’ and ‘black and white’ thinking. He suppresses all emotions to get the ‘job done’. But the biggest betrayal is reserved for Strickland: when he finds that the system doesn’t recognise his years of faithful service.

Hawkins and Shannon turn in two outstanding performances. Jones, though encumbered by a full bodysuit is able to portray nobility and tenderness.

A film with an amphibian cannot be made without CGI and special effect, and there are plenty, but they don’t get in the way.

I enjoyed it. Worth a go, but not for children.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

January 3, 2018 at 1:55 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Having seen Karen Gillan while binge watching Dr Who, when I recognised her in a trailer for Jumanji 2, I thought that I give it a go.

I was not disappointed. Gillan plays Martha – a shy teenage girl – temporarily put into the body (and clothes) of a tomb-raider-like persona. The basis of the film is that four not quite high school friends are drawn into a video game. The students are cast as characters well out of their comfort zones – into personas and bodies very different to their own. I thought Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black gave two amazing performances. Johnson overcame his strong muscular build to completely sell ‘Spencer’ – a thin nerdy X-Box gamer. Black played ‘Bethany’ – a self absorbed wannabe It girl – perfectly.

The four must overcome their insecurities and work together to win the game. If they don’t win the game they are stuck in the game forever. A further impediment is that the characters only have three lives in the game.

Worth a go: Johnson channeling a thin nerdy who lacks confidence is a revelation; Black as a teenage girl is hilarious and his genitalia jokes had the whole theatre laughing; and Black/Bethany instructing Gillan/Martha on how to flirt also had the theatre laughing.

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