The Water Seems Fine

I have to admit that when I learned a bit more about Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water I was somewhat underwhelmed (partially because the color palette of the trailer seemed too evocative of earlier Del Toro films and partially because it also seemed like a stealth Hellboy prequel, which sucks because we never ended up with a third movie in the series; though that’s no longer the case, it will be an entirely different animal than the Del Toro movies).

So reviews have begun to filter in, and they so far seem rather effusive with their praise (though keep in mind that there have been relatively few reviews thus far; no more than eight to ten.  So expect The Shape of Water‘s perfect score to fall when more are posted) with lots of comparisons to Pan’s Labyrinth–though for my money The Devil’s Backbone is a more interesting movie.

Advertisements

The Shape of Water – Trailer

Guillermo Del Toro is, visually speaking, one of the most distinctive directors working today.

The way he lays out a scene, the color palette he uses…typically unique and unlike any anyone else.

So, why am I (atypically) lukewarm toward his latest project, The Shape of Water?

Maybe because it looks very much like things we have already seen from the auteur before.

The set design of the laboratory where the creature is held looks too similar to designs he’s used in movies like Blade II and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army while the Deep One itself looks like a not-too-distant relation of Abe Sapien from the latter movie.

In fact, the trailer plays almost as a Hellboy prequel (minus Hellboy, that is) which is certainly odd.

‘Calvary’ Review

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 4.20.12 PM

John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary had a preview showing in Washington, DC, where the director as well as Brendan Glesson discussed not only what they were trying to do with the film, but the broader landscape that it existed in.

Interview

A discussion with John Michael McDonagh and Brendan Gleeson

There was a period for questions from the audience as well, which made for a pretty interesting evening.  It also had an (unfortunate) effect of highlighting what McDonagh was trying to do with Calvary, and was only occasionally successful at.

Which I will get into momentarily.

Brendan Gleeson plays Father James Lavelle, a Catholic priest in Ireland, who’s faith was his sword and shield in a world where he now serves as little more than a person of interest, of curiosity.  It’s an attitude that he contributes to, and seeming cultivates, seeing that he wears traditional Catholic vestment on virtually all occasions.

His clothing harkened back to a time when a Catholic priest was believed to virtually of unimpeachable morality, before the seemingly rampant pedophilia in the Church stained the reputations of all that promoted its teachings.

As you can probably tell, Calvary is a pretty serious film; and if that were it’s only goal, it could be called nothing less than a rousing success.

But McDonagh is more ambitious that than, which in this particular instance is problematic because Calvary also wants to be a comedy–admittedly of the very dark variety–and comes up short.

The problem is that the subject matter is so serious, so loaded with pathos, that the comedy has to be bold as well, and for the most part, it isn’t.  Though there is one moment, when Father Lavelle has a potentially violent encounter with Dr. Frank Hart (Aidan Gillen) that you could see where the film is trying to get to.

There are other instances and characters that are included for what I assume is primarily comedic effect, such as an altar boy, which works, and an odd parishioner, which doesn’t and brings to mind the two murdered twins from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining more than anything else.

And the movie needed more humor because it’s not an easy film, and it’s inclusion would have gone a long way toward justifying the ending, which is more Mel Gibsonesque that I would have expected.