An Iranian drama, an alien sci-fi and a kids’ (or is it?) animation make up this round of Short ‘n’ Sweet.
The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi, 2016)
This year’s Best Foreign Film winner, The Salesman got extra buzz from its Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, boycotting the Oscars ceremony in response to the Trumpster’s bullshit immigration ban. This was Farhadi’s second Oscar following A Separation (2011), however my personal favourite out of his last three hits was the one that missed out on Oscars glory, The Past. Farhadi continues his exploration of family dynamics in The Salesman, and specifically explores how a marriage is affected by a random event that causes pain for all. While it was consistently engaging, I felt like I’d missed the point when it all wrapped up, even though it wasn’t difficult to follow. It’s a film that will probably be appreciated more for its nuances, whereas the twists and turns don’t have the power they could have.
Life (Daniel Espinosa, 2017)
I hadn’t heard anything particularly amazing about this but I was keen. Then we sat through trailers for Alien: Covenant and Blade Runner 2049 and I thought great, we’re getting the shitter version of those highly anticipated releases. But HOLY BALLS this was intense and disturbing in all the right ways. I spent most of it with my hand over my mouth and just about lost my shit at one point. Babes Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Rebecca Ferguson are joined by Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya and Ariyon Bakare (extra points for diverse casting) in space. They get the first sample of alien life from Mars and some shit goes down. Be warned it gets graphic. It may also heighten your fear of spiders that scurry around corners and won’t freakin’ die no matter how much you spray them, and will make you extremely anxious about anything going into your mouth that shouldn’t. Afterwards I felt on edge and got frightened by a picture of a dumpling on Facebook because it looked mildly like the alien. I thought about this film for days.
The LEGO Batman Movie (Chris McKay, 2017)
This had a lot to live up to, and the trailer was promising. But once I realised it had a new director and different screenwriters I lost a bit of hope. It has its moments and I did laugh many times, but it was always just a titter rather than a hearty laugh. It felt very manic and I guess the same could be said of 2014’s The Lego Movie, but that film was executed so much better and was absolutely riotous. Batman fanboys are likely to get quite a kick out of this satirical look at the franchise – which actually feels like it’s aimed at adults more than kids – but it left a lot to be desired. Here’s hoping 2019’s The Lego Movie Sequel brings a return to form.