|Day 86/365: Film reviews
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
What were the last three films that you watched, Nanila, I hear nobody asking? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway, because the list amuses me greatly. They were: Black Panther (in the cinema), The Death of Stalin (at home) and Peter Rabbit (in the cinema).
I enjoyed watching this very much. The scenery and cinematography are beautiful. I liked the tech and the city design. I liked the depth of characterisation and the humour and the dealing with difficult issues, past and present. I didn't connect with it the way I did with Rogue One (See my response here), which I felt was both for and to an extent, about, me and my experience. I'm fine with that, because this film is intended to do that for black people, and I am not one.
★ ★ ★ ★
The Death of Stalin
This will probably go down as one of Armando Ianucci’s finest. If you've watched any of his political satire, e.g. The Thick of It or Veep, you'll recognise his style. The film focuses on an epoch defining event, the power vacuum left at the end of Stalin's reign, and uses it to expose the deep character flaws of his surviving inner circle as they battle to succeed him. In Beria’s case, “flaw” is an understatement as he was a violent mass-murdering paedophile rapist. But the others don't seem to be much better, although Field Marshal Zhukov comes off lightly, being an absurdly overdrawn caricature of machismo.
This all sounds depressing and it would have made dire watching if it weren't for the devastatingly hysterical dialogue. There's a scene where Khrushchev is frantically recalling every scrap of conversation that took place the night before and the way Stalin reacted to it. His wife diligently records everything and recites it back to him. What seems a cynical ploy to curry favour is also a desperate attempt to ensure his own survival by remaining off “the lists”, which were used by the NKVD (the police) to routinely round up and torture, exile or kill Stalin's enemies. Stalin's funeral is also employed to maximise the farcical effect, the staged theatrics and genuine grief of mourners repeatedly undermined by the sordid squabbling of the ruling faction.
There are some pretty horrible scenes in the film, violence both implied and explicit, but I found I could cope with it because of the bleak humour and skilful presentation of the narrative.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This was a cinema trip for the children to celebrate Humuhumu's friend S’s little brother's birthday. Most of my parental attention was engaged in ensuring that the little ones didn't run out of snacks. I was grateful for that, as I thought it was mostly terrible. And that was before I knew about the kerfuffle over the scene where allergies are weaponised and one of the main characters has to use an epipen while choking to keep from dying of anaphylactic shock. Really, writers? You couldn't come up with a single other plot device for that scene? I am....disappoint. There was one funny moment when Keiki leaned over and informed me in a penetrating whisper, “This is the sad bit, Mummy.” Humuhumu enjoyed it at the time but I don't think she'll be heartbroken if she never sees it again so I'll be letting that one drop quietly off the radar.
So, two excellent films and one distinctly Meh one. Black Panther: go and see it. The Death of Stalin comes with all manner of content notes for violence and torment. If you can stomach those, then watch it. If you don't have a Beatrix-Potter-loving child then give Peter Rabbit a miss.
This entry was originally posted at https://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1140903.html. The titration count is at .0 pKa.