Thursday, July 15, 2021

Capsule Reviews - July 15, 2021

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

A French action movie about a secret society and the monster they unleash on a small village. Set in the late 18th century, Brotherhood of the Wolf features moments of pure sophistication; aristocrats sit around a big dining table, dressed in their finest, and discuss politics, society, the monster, etc., etc. But Brotherhood of the Wolf also contains scenes of abject terror, like when the monster attacks a peasant woman as she attempts to retrieve her lost lamb. The CGI is in line with what was being turned out in the early 2000s, which means it doesn’t hold up (the monster’s first attack - set in a small house in the woods - reveals the limitations of the time), but it’s not so bad that it detracts from the overall experience. Brotherhood of the Wolf is a total blast, and a flick I always enjoy revisiting.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I, Tonya (2017)

A 2017 biopic centering on Tonya Harding, a former ice skating champion who is today more notable for the role she played in a 1994 attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan. Margot Robbie delivers a bravura performance as the erratic Harding, and was nominated for dozens of awards for her work here, including an Oscar and a Golden Globe. As for the movie itself, it is simultaneously funny and heartbreaking (you’ll laugh out loud one minute, and be in tears the next) and the stylish direction of Craig Gillespie keeps it engaging throughout. Also strong is Allison Janney as Harding’s bitter, less-than-supportive mother (Janney won an Oscar that year for Best Supporting Actress, which was well deserved).
Rating: 9 out of 10

Shadow (2018)

Filmmaker Zhang Ymou has been on my radar for well over 20 years. In the ‘90s he turned out deeply moving dramas (Raise the Red Lantern, To Live), then in the early 2000s focused on historical action films, combining gorgeous imagery with amazing, martial arts-inspired sequences (Hero, House of Flying Daggers). His 2018 film Shadow, centering on the intrigue generated by an ancient Chinese monarch (played by Ryan Zheng), combines elements of both; a movie set hundreds of years in the past with beautiful action sequences that is also an intense character study, as well as an effective romantic drama. This one has it all, and I recommend you not only watch Shadow, but Zhang Yimou’s entire back catalog as well.
Rating: 9 out of 10

No comments: