triangle of sadness (ruben östlund, 2022)

With Triangle of Sadness, I have now seen 9 of the 10 movies nominated for a Best Picture Oscar this year (sorry, Avatar). I think Everything Everywhere All at Once and Women Talking are the cream of the crop (I'd include RRR, but it didn't get a nomination). I'd put Triangle of Sadness in the middle of the pack.

My guess is by next Monday no one will even remember that Triangle of Sadness got three Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay) and won none. Which isn't a knock on the movie ... there are more worthy/likely winners in those categories, and if the three nominations are a stretch, they aren't egregious. But Triangle of Sadness will eventually stand on its own, regardless of Oscar nominations, and based on what I've seen, it's a pretty typical Ruben Östlund picture. I've seen Force Majeure and The Square, and like Triangle of Sadness, those are odd movies, decent but not great, with just enough bizarreness to stick in your mind. I wrote about The Square, "You might call The Square smug ... at the least, it is quite proud of itself." I added, "None of the characters come off well, although they are pleasant enough on the surface and not exactly evil underneath." I'd say something similar about Triangle of Sadness. It's supposed to be an attack on class structure, it is an attack on class structure, but the rich people aren't mean enough. Which I can see as a good thing, but Östlund sets things up so we can enjoy the comeuppance of the rich, and then makes it less enjoyable because they aren't that awful despite their wealth. I may be asking for the wrong thing.

Force Majeure had an impressive avalanche, and The Square had some kind of monkey man who was also a work of art or something. The impressive avalanche in Triangle of Sadness is a colossal classy dinner served on a cruise ship during a storm that has some of the most ... what word am I looking for, "entertaining"? ... scenes of vomiting. It's not easily forgotten, for better or worse. It's even part of the publicity for the movie:

Triangle of sadness

Triangle of Sadness is too long ... it has three parts, and for me, the entire first part could have been cut without doing any damage to the film. (The Square was also too long.) It's another Ruben Östlund film that you'll remember with a combination of fondness and something less positive. With Harris Dickinson, Dolly de Leon, and Charlbi Dean (who died unexpectedly at 32 just after the film's release).

geezer cinema: operation fortune: ruse de guerre (guy ritchie, 2023)

Another Guy Ritchie movie. He's like Michael Bay, in that you recognize his films, even though they aren't usually any good. There's no question why Ritchie gets to make movies ... they usually make money, often a lot of money (his live-action Aladdin earned more than a billion dollars world-wide). I've seen five of his films, and only liked one of them (the first Sherlock Holmes). Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was tolerable, The Gentlemen less so, and I thought Snatch was a real dud.

There's that category I invented, Not for Steven, but I usually assign that label to movies by people like Terrence Malick, arty directors who know what they are doing and get what they want while not connecting with me. I guess Guy Ritchie falls into that category, although I'm not as certain he knows what he's doing, and I wouldn't call his movies arty. No, they are popular, and more power to him and his fans. But they clearly Aren't for Steven.

Operation Fortune lies in the middle of the pack. Jason Statham is in a lot of Ritchie movies, and I like Statham ... he's made some decent action pictures. Operation Fortune has the added advantage of Aubrey Plaza, who is a lot like Statham in that she's made some decent pictures, and every one of her movies that I have seen are better because she was in them. In fact, Ritchie often has large casts with recognizable people in smaller parts ... it's one of the best things about his movies (this time around, besides Statham and Plaza, he has Josh Hartnett, Hugh Grant, Bugzy Malone, and Eddie Marsan).

I found Operation Fortune incoherent and stupid, but there's always something happening and it's never boring. There are worse movies ... Ritchie has made some of them himself. Me, I'd go with the fact that Aubrey Plaza is once again the best thing in the movie, and if I hadn't seen it, I'd check out Emily the Criminal, which is a bit better and has Plaza in almost every scene.


geezer cinema/film fatales #155: aftersun (charlotte wells, 2022)

Aftersun is the feature debut for writer/director Charlotte Wells, and it is remarkably assured. Wells has a vision and is not afraid to put it on the screen, meaning Aftersun works at its own pace, and Wells only reveals the minimum needed to understand the characters.

There isn't much of a plot. A young woman looks back on a vacation she took with her father when she was 11. It isn't always clear that we are looking at the past, nor is it clear that the young woman is remembering that vacation. Wells lets us figure out the details for ourselves, and the details are in the picture ... it would probably benefit from a second viewing. But that's not really necessary, thanks largely to the acting of Paul Mescal as the father and Frankie Corio as his 11-year-old daughter.

I always say, when a film features a good performance from a young actor, it's important to credit the director for eliciting that performance. Directing youngsters isn't easy. Here, Wells is aided by Mescal, who has a great rapport with Corio. In young Sophie, Wells has created a character that seems the right age, not too precocious, not too childlike. Corio is perfect in the role. She and Mescal are completely believable as a daughter and father.

You have to settle into the pace Wells provides. Not only do events occur at a leisurely pace, there are few "shocking" scenes to startle the audience. Sophie's transgression are minor, and the father's emotional difficulties are buried deep. This fits with what Wells is trying, but it is true that after 102 minutes, I was ready for the end. Aftersun is neither too long nor too short.

The film's pleasures are low-key, but they do exist. It helps, though, if you approach it in the spirit in which it was made. Aftersun is the antithesis of a blockbuster, and it suggests Charlotte Wells has a strong future ahead of her.

[Letterboxd list of Film Fatales movies]