Tag Archives: Collateral Beauty

culture by Philbert Dy

‘Colossal’ Brings a Human Face to High-Concept Weirdness

Self-destruction becomes actual destruction in this magical realist tale.

NBHD movie 4-2 ticketsColossal concerns Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an unemployed young woman who has just been kicked out by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) for spending too much time drunk out on the town. Gloria returns to her hometown to stay at her family’s old, empty house. She runs into a childhood acquaintance, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who helps her out with some furniture and offers her a job at his bar. So far, this might sound like the setup for a romantic comedy, but the movie has other things going on. On the other side of the world, in Seoul, South Korea, a giant monster appears out of nowhere and wreaks havoc on the city. And Gloria soon discovers that she has something to do with that.Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 10.03.33 PMThis movie is pretty sneaky. It plays all sorts of clever tricks with familiar genre elements, and ends up subverting a lot of them on the way to telling a very human story of a flawed person trying to do better. The movie takes the visual meat of the kaiju film and ties the literal destruction of a city to personal emotional chaos; its monsters standing in for the horrors of an abusive, controlling relationship, all the while exploring the way that people engage with disasters on the other side of the world.Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 10.03.41 PMAs much as this story takes advantage of the familiar kaiju visual, it lives as much off of standard romcom beats. It casts an ominous shade on what in other movies would be treated simply as cutesy behavior. There is always just something off about the relationships in this film, the characters never as harmless as they might first seem. And as the film goes on, it reveals layers of damage and darkness that casts an even grimmer shadow on all their previous interactions. Self-destruction soon leaves a trail of actual, physical destruction in its wake, the internal turmoil of these characters creating a body count.Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 10.04.07 PMThe film ends up playing a little fast and loose with the psychology in the end, but it still earns its moments. It’s built in such a way that it doesn’t even have to show the monsters to convey the horror of what’s being done. And it gets really clever in the details, the film able to express a greater indifference among the general population of the setting in little background bits. The film revels in the great contrast between those who are simply witnessing the disaster, and those who have an emotional stake in it.Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 10.02.33 PMAnne Hathaway delivers a terrific performance that somewhat recalls her turn in the late Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married. She is once again a mess of a human being, and she is once again able to make it about much more than that. There doesn’t really seem to be a whole lot of background to the character in the script, but Hathaway tells those stories anyway. Equally good is Jason Sudeikis, who channels his sturdy, middle America maleness into something rather complex.Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 10.09.58 PMColossal is pretty great, though it might not be what you expect. It isn’t really a monster movie, and it isn’t really as fun and quirky as the trailers make it out to be. It is fun and quirky, but it also gets much darker than that. In fact, the film might indulge a bit too much at points, falling in love with its own ability to delve into the darkness of its characters, spending a little too much time hitting the same grim nail on the head. But as a whole, it’s a unique, rather rousing piece of art that deserves some attention. And in a time when every big movie is really just a collection of scenes of empty, glorified destruction, Colossal emerges as a healthy antidote.

COLOSSAL IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
culture by Philbert Dy

‘Collateral Beauty’’s Narrative Acrobatics Dehumanize Grief

This movie just exhibits bad judgment all around.

NBHD movie 1 ticketCollateral Beauty is about Howard (Will Smith), who is initially introduced as a brilliant advertising mogul at the height of his powers. Three years later, he’s falling apart following the death of his six-year-old daughter. While his business partners try to find a way to save the firm, they discover that Howard has been dealing with his loss by writing letters to the abstract concepts of love, time, and death. Howard’s best friend Whit (Edward Norton) hires three actors to take on the role of these three concepts and answer Howard’s letters, hoping that this radical approach will help him heal. Failing that, they’re hoping to just get some footage that proves that Howard isn’t fit to be running the firm anymore.screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-11-38-12-amAdding contrivance to this already shaky premise are the personal struggles of each of Howard’s business partners. Whit, who deals with the actress playing Love (Keira Knightley), happens to be trying to connect with his daughter, who has come to hate him following his divorce. Claire (Kate Winslet), who is briefing the ersatz Time (Jacob Latimore), is considering making up for lost time by having a baby. And Simon (Michael Peña), who talks with Death (Helen Mirren), has a terminal illness that he is hiding from everyone. And there’s an added wrinkle that involves Howard and a woman from a support group that is better left not discussed.screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-11-39-05-amAmazingly, none of this is a joke. Everyone involved in this production read this screenplay, mulled over the strange premise of actors pretending to be abstract concepts in an attempt to rile a sad millionaire out of his grief, and then later doing it again for the sake of attaining digitally manipulated footage that proves his unstable state of mind and somehow decided that this was a worthy dramatization of how people deal with grief. The overly contrived structure, which has the film filling out an easy narrative pattern of scenes, is so removed from human experience that it is difficult to fathom how no one among the considerable talents that took part in this picture seems to have brought up any objections.screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-11-41-27-amThis movie just exhibits bad judgment all around. Right from the start, it seems bent on telling the audience everything they need to know, rather than showing them. This is a movie basically made up of conversations, its prestige aspirations apparently keeping it from showing us anything more visually exciting than dominos falling over. The suffocating seriousness keeps the camera from doing anything remotely interesting. The film seems thoroughly convinced that all of its value can be found in these actors delivering their overly explanatory dialogue.

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-11-36-00-amAnd this proves to be a poor investment, especially in the final portions. The film has one last twist to deploy, and it’s a doozy. It is just another step away from the simple humanity of grief, these characters becoming so far removed from reality that their emotions become unrecognizable. It does help that Will Smith seems to have decided that the best way to convey his character’s complex feeling is to not move his face a lot. The combined might of Mirren, Norton, Knightley, Peña and Winslet do nothing to salvage this bizarrely pitched screenplay.screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-11-37-41-amCollateral Beauty is the kind of film that may lead you to suspect that Hollywood is indeed out of touch with the common man. Perhaps the people involved have become so successful that they no longer no how to function like regular human beings. Because this film paints a picture of grief and recovery that goes to a pretty ludicrous extreme and treats it like it’s supposed to be heartwarming. But it is bizarre and inhuman, the narrative acrobatics of the script taking priority over any sort of emotional verisimilitude.

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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.