Tag Archives: Julianne Moore

tv + film by Philbert Dy

The Meticulosly Crafted ‘Wonderstruck’ Brings Plenty of Warmth

Arthouse favorite Todd Haynes directs a really unusual children’s movie

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Wonderstruck splits its attention between the stories of two children. In 1927, the young Rose (Millicent Simmonds) runs away from her Hoboken home, hoping to find her mother, a famous silent film actress. In 1977, Ben (Oakes Fegley) runs away from his home in Minnesota after an accident, following a lead on the identity of his father. Both of them end up in New York City, which proves to be both wondrous and dangerous. Their separate journeys converge in unexpected ways, their fates connected as they wander through the same city streets and end up in the same museums, discovering worlds far larger than they have ever known.

Wonderstruck is an adaptation of an illustrated children’s book by Brian Selznick, best known for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which became the Martin Scorsese movie Hugo. In the director’s chair this time, though, is Todd Haynes, an auteur whose oeuvre would never have indicated that he would ever make a film intended for children. And it is this odd mix that the movie represents. The film displays many of the same qualities that Haynes is known for: a certain sense of loving nostalgia harnesses to tell a story that is essentially about loneliness. But it’s now tempered with an unmistakable sweetness that makes for a compelling brew of a film.

The elements of the story allow for some interesting experiments in form. The parallel stories has the film cutting often between the two children, their separate narratives at times presented as a seamless sequence. And the circumstances that the characters find themselves in provide a platform for some sumptious visual storytelling. A lot of the film plays out without dialogue, mimicking the aesthetics of silent cinema. It’s a challenge that the movie more than conquers; the cinematography, the music, and the direction just all coming together to perfectly craft one sequence after another.

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The story itself is strange for a children’s film. It unfolds slowly, with long sequences that don’t seem designed to really push things forward. It withholds satisfaction, and lingers in sequences where nothing important is really happening. There are a couple of chase-like sequences, but there’s hardly ever a sense of danger. The movie instead delivers a sense of warmth, its strongest moments built on a foundation of kindness and wonder. There isn’t so much a plot, as there are just a series of encounters establishing the ways in which a big city like New York can be strange, terrifying, sad, lonely, and at times, wondrous.

Haynes reunites with some of his collaborators from his last film Carol, and it’s a good fit for what the film has to offer. Carter Burwell’s score is integral to the way the movie presents its story, and it’s thoroughly wonderful. Edward Lachman’s cinematography captures two very different spirits of New York. The two children at the center of this story, Oakes Fegley and Millicent Simmonds, do a fine job in their respective sequences. In the supporting cast, Julianne Moore graces another movie with her tremendous presence.

Wonderstruck is an odd film, to be certain, but it’s odd in really interesting ways. One just wonders if it’s the kind of thing that actual kids will be into. It might feel a little slow, or a little too obsessed with aesthetics that they weren’t around to experience. But then again, people have been complaining for decades that a lot of entertainment aimed at children is dumb. Wonderstruck is certainly not that. It’s a meticulously constructed film that exudes warmth in every frame. That’s something worth seeking out.

WONDERSTRUCK IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS.
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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.
tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Doubles Down on Both the Good and the Bad

This sequel is a little more clever, and a lot more problematic

NBHD movie 2-2 ticketsKingsman: The Golden Circle kicks off with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) fending off an attack from Kingsman rejectee Charlie (Edward Holcroft), who is now apparently working for a new criminal organization, a powerful drug cartel known as The Golden Circle. Soon enough, the entire Kingsman infrastructure is taken out by a coordinated attack, and Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) are left to fend for themselves. But soon enough, they discover that Kingsman has an American counterpart known as Statesman, and with their help, Eggsy takes on The Golden Circle.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.11.43 PMThe first Kingsman movie was a reasonably fun but overlong James Bond riff that moved just quickly enough to gloss over the somwhat noxious themes just lurking underneath. This sequel is a little more clever, but also longer and more problematic. The puerile elements of the first movie come closer to the fore, in sequences that put up the illusion of commenting on the underlying misogyny of the Bond myth while still taking advantage of the lurid material itself. The film is best taken as pure action spectacle, its big fight sequences still deliriously staged. It’s harder to accept if you give it any thought at all.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.17.47 PMLike the first movie, the plot is mostly one big joke. The film rarely moves with immediacy, the whole thing more concerned with looking stylish than actually moving the story forward. To an extent, this is fine. The action is actually stylish enough to distract from the characters’ strange detachment from the dangers that the world is facing. But the film is surprisingly long for such a silly lark, and it fills up a lot of its runtime with indulgent digressions that aren’t nearly as funny or as clever as the film seems to think. The most intriguing diversion involves the U.S. president’s reaction to the crisis at hand, which is oddly relevant to the local situation. But the movie is hardly capable of any trenchant commentary.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.26.42 PMIt just doesn’t take anything seriously enough to make its attempts at relevance matter. It makes it pretty clear at every point that nothing of consequence is ever really happening. People might die, but within this cartoonish world, it is entirely possible that they might just come back. It’s all in the name of good fun, one supposes, but the “good” ends up being pretty debatable. As much as the film seems to be making fun of the standard formula of the Bond film, it never really does anything to remedy the more noxious elements of those stories. It still uses them in the end.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.16.09 PMYou might remember the slight controvery over the final joke of the first film. The film doubles down on it, calling it back no less than two times. In general, the movie just doesn’t treat its female characters very well. They are either princesses to be rescued or narrative sacrifices that give the male characters their tragic motivations. Performances are okay, but they don’t matter much. The action sequences are the main attraction in this movie. These absurd, frantic, VFX-assisted, faux-long takes are thoroughly entertaining, if excessively violent.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.24.17 PMOne’s acceptance of the excesses of Kingsman: The Golden Circle will be dependent on one’s acceptance of the excesses of the first movie. If you were able to overlook the thematic problems with the first film, then it’s likely that you’ll find this an equally fizzy entertainment. On the other hand, if you took the film to task for its various indulgences in puerile material, then you’ll likely find this film twice as disgusting. Either way, the fun action sequences aren’t entirely enough to acquit the film of its rather ridiculous length, though they do go some way in making stuff bearable.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE 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.