Film Round-Up: Amsterdam, Knock at the Cabin and Women Talking
Let’s talk about some movies.
Christian Bale and Chris Rock get pulled into a massive conspiracy when trying to investigate the death of their friend. Sigh. Years ago, this probably would have been a massive hit. It has a massive cast, it’s a showy period piece and it’s designed to win awards. But this shows off all the worst attributes of these so called prestige dramas. The plot is meant to be a classic ‘pull the thread and reveal more’ sort of film but it often forgets about that because one of its big name actors needs to come in and gurn for a bit. That’s the biggest problem with the film. Every actor needs their big moment to show off to the Academy Awards voters and to have fun with whatever they are given. Christian Bale certainly does, but his performance is more distracting than a fly with a chainsaw buzzing around your ears. Add to the fact the plot is so nonsensical that the introduction of Nazis is expected at that point and you have a film that made no money, will win no awards and will probably kill the career of its director.
Knock at the Cabin
A couple and their adopted child have their cabin invaded by four people who claim that if one of them doesn’t kill one of the others, the world will end. Welcome to M Night Shyamalan’s latest where instead of being absolutely terrible like he was with Old, he enters the realm of decent. That’s because the film has this nice central idea of ‘would you sacrifice one of your beloved for a load of strangers’ as well as wondering if these people are telling the truth. I also quite like the fact that after deciding to have a gay couple as the lead characters that they use prejudice they’ve faced to inform the decisions made. After all, why wouldn’t someone who faces so much hatred not just go burn the world? The issue is that the film doesn’t feel like it escalates until the conclusion. It kind of stays in the same position throughout and it doesn’t help that you as the audience never really debate how true this group are because you can tell what’s going to happen with movie logic. This is still a fairly decent movie which will keep you occupied for a night, but it is strange to have a Shyamalan movie which doesn’t prove either love or absolute hatred.
A group of Mennonite women who have been constantly raped by the men in the village have a choice, forgive their abusers or be cast out. This film has the feel of a play. It could easily translate to the stage, for the most part we have one set inside of a barn and a group of characters talking their situation out. And it’s a brutal one as well, because this film is basically a very good talking exercise about women leaving abuse. This may be a group of women, but this could easily be the inner thought process of an abuse victim debating on whether to escape. So as a man, it’s particularly interesting as it’s very easy to on the other side of the gender divide to wonder ‘Why didn’t she just leave?’. This film makes the point of why not better than any article ever could. I also love that everything about this film feels like a period piece, but then you get a reference to something modern and even a pop song, which drives home how something that feels so in the past is happening now. The film does feel like it’s missing something just to elevate it, but I’m not sure what because I’m terrible at this. This is still a great movie though that will have women and men talking.