There is nothing more powerful in this world than a determined Michelle Yeoh. In the prologue to this film, arriving rain drenched to some fancy London hotel whose staff refuse to acknowledge her reservation, you wonder how these men are not rendered dead under her gaze. She has a better way to exact revenge though, and one phone call to her husband finds the hotel brought out from under them. She owns it now.
Searching has got me thinking about how we interface with contemporary technology in the aesthetic properties of storytelling. Earlier this year we saw Soderbergh’s Unsane which used the burnt out visual quality of mobile phone footage to great effect in building up its unsettling and uncanny sense of place. This summer came Stephen Susco’s horror sequel Unfriended: Dark Web which built on the first-person, laptop-screen chills of the original by turning its eye upon how the monitor complicates the relationship between audience and participant.
So, the first time we see Marx and Engels meet in The Young Karl Marx, Raoul Peck has to two of them sitting at far ends of this elaborate drawing room. Marx is trying to demand payment for his last two essays from his publisher, Engels is arrived to the man’s house as his patrician guest. The publisher blusters between the two of them trying to keep face with a friend while dismissing his employee. The two seated scholars don’t pay him all that much attention. They’ve only eyes for each other.
Do you wanna fuck the fish man? Cos I lowkey wanna fuck the fish man. It’s surprising I guess, when I was seeing trailers for The Shape of Water you didn’t see much of the wet dude and I figured they’d make him sexier. Y’all know, help the audience buy into your scaly romance feature by making the romantic hero more human, more a Prince Sidon than some weird primordial beast. But Del Toro calls in his consummate monster man Doug Jones, makes him wear a glorious little rubber suit and puts the character in the most alien and uncomfortable environment to him. A literal fish out of water.
I think I habitually overrate Marvel movies. I mean, I’m pretty sincere when I consider them just about the most important contemporary releases. A decade seems to have been the right amount of time for these movies to mutate, a hybrid combination of pap and prestige. They are the most honest reflection of our culture and politics that is being created right now. You can feel it in the struggles, the barbs present in these films’ souls. What they see in society, what they want to be seen, and what remains conspicuously absent from their tapestries.
Now, the film is straight-up, legit goofball nonsense. Neeson plays a man who has rode the same train every day for ten years and on the day he’s laid off from work a mysterious woman boards with him and offers him $100,000 to identify and track a mystery passenger. Just from the premise it feels a little goofy.
I’m not sure if I were feeling particularly weak in the theatre yesterday. There was not a single point throughout Coco that I was not either laughing or crying. Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina’s film flies straight towards the top of the Pixar canon.