‘The Devil All The Time’ Movie Review

I hope everyone is having an okay weekend dealing with the sheer tonnage of news that’s occurred the past week (most of it bad).

Since I hate myself, I spent some time this week watching Antonio Campos’ new film, The Devil All The Time. This film’s cast is incredible, but do not watch this movie if you are looking for something to pick you up and make you feel better!

That said, it’s one of the top 10 movies on Netflix so most of you probably watched it. What did you think? Did you find it illuminating about the nature of evil and humanity? Or a bit too over the top, as I thought it was in my video review above?

A few thoughts on ‘Hillary’

Love her or strongly dislike her, Hillary Clinton has led an interesting and remarkable life in American politics. Nanette Burstein’s 4-hour documentary (now streaming on Hulu) is a fascinating, insightful, and expansive look at her career. Virtually every major event in Clinton’s political life is covered here, and you get to hear Clinton’s perspective on each one in a way you never have before.

I love the way Burstein structures this doc, cutting from her 2016 election campaign back to critical milestones throughout Clinton’s life. It allows you to see parallels between the present day and the challenges that have dogged Clinton throughout her life.

There is a TON of candid behind-the-scenes footage that gives you a glimpse at Clinton and her staff in a far more unguarded state than we’re used to. You really feel like you get to see the human behind the figure that the media has created.

All that said, those hoping for an extremely even-handed perspective on Hillary will likely be disappointed. This is a largely sympathetic portrait, but not necessarily one that feels undeserving.

But even those who aren’t Hillary fans I think will find a lot of insight here as to how media and politics have changed and shaped our perception of Clinton throughout the years. This being the week that Elizabeth Warren has dropped out of the Presidential race, there are too many parallels to count.

‘The Invisible Man’ Review

Wow it is really upsetting to see Elizabeth Moss being controlled by a sinister force that seeks to strip her of her individuality and define her actions and beliefs in increasingly upsetting ways.

Anyway, on a totally separate note, I saw The Invisible Man recently.

Leigh Whannell hits another solid one out of the park, crafting a horror thriller that’s equal parts scary and upsetting (and seemingly doing it on a pretty low budget). Whannell understands that with a concept like the invisible man, even a simple camera pan can convey terror as you have no idea if the villain is actually standing right there.

Moss is doing top tier work here. At one point she has a conversation WITH A DOORWAY that is one of the most mesmerizing pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. Her performance really elevates this  material.

Other random notes:
-The opening sequence of this film is a masterclass in showing instead of telling.
-I saw this movie in Dolby Atmos and I’d recommend that presentation (or IMAX) if you can, as the sound design in the film is truly excellent. For much of this film you’re only hearing the action as opposed to seeing it.
-I wasn’t a fan of the later plot developments in the film, which I thought gave the whole thing a much more muddled and ambiguous message.

‘Birds of Prey’ review

There’s a scene in Birds of Prey where a character is breaking into a prison and accidentally activates the sprinkler system before she starts fighting the prisoners one by one. Why? Because it looks really cool when people are fighting in slow motion in puddles of water!

That’s the aesthetic driving force of this film: Because it looks cool!

And indeed, it does look cool. None of the characters in this movie have super powers, so in place of the typical CG-heavy razzle dazzle that we’re accustomed to, the movie features extremely well-choreographed and performed hand-to-hand fight sequences. All the actors, Robbie especially, do a great job selling these sequences and they are a joy to watch.

But is there any substance behind the style? Birds of Prey focuses primarily on Harley Quinn and poses the question as to whether this character, who has often been defined by her relationship to another character, can support her own film.

To make that happen, the movie throws a ton of ideas at the wall. It introduces a colorful cast of characters, including Ewan McGregor playing a scenery-chewing villain and Rosie Perez playing a cop who is straight out of an 80s TV show (a fact that’s remarked upon by several of the other characters). It tells its story Fight-Club-style with a first-person narration and rapid time jumps just to make sure you don’t lose interest.

But the fundamental problem with making a film based off of a villain is that at some point the villain needs to be someone you can root for. Harley Quinn always struck me as one of the scariest characters in the DC Universe. When I’ve seen depictions of her in the past, as in Batman: The Animated Series, I always found her psychosis to be terrifying. How could someone who was once a regular, functioning member of society be changed to a killer over something like love? If it could happen to a psychiatrist like Harley Quinn, it could literally happen to anyone. Such was the Joker’s persuasive power and madness.

The film doesn’t do anything to explore that dynamic. Instead, it gives her a redemptive arc – one that I didn’t find particularly convincing. Whether you feel the same way will dictate how much you appreciate the film.

It sure is a lot of fun to look at, though!