My May in Review

The month of May was one of self-mutilation and few genuine thrills. Having seen (twice) and subsequently been blown away by Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, curiosity got the best of me as I took in a number of unabashed atrocities, from Hasbro’s latest live-action board game adaptation to a frequently aggravating, scare-free radiation-laden snoozefest, I’ll admit to making more bad decisions than good ones. Thankfully, there were a couple of pleasant surprises thrown into the mix as I ventured into the realm of singular, exceedingly independent Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan as his 2002 feature Distant, for lack of better phrasing, blew me away.

Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, 2011)

Sarah Polley’s latest is one of questionable ideals and unlikable characters, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. At least getting off on the right foot, Take This Waltz offers unique if ineffective insights into immaturity and restlessness in relation to long-term relationships and life in general. Learning the hard way that life’s supposed to have its lulls; lulls that you can’t help but wait out instead of jumping right to the next thing, Michelle Williams’ Margot is a thoroughly frustrating individual, and one that drags the film down to the bowels of Hell during the film’s latter act. It gets points for Seth Rogen’s turn as Williams’ humdrum, straightlaced significant other, but Take This Waltz is only half successful in being an emotionally resonant commentary on the human condition.

Men in Black 3 (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2012)

As far as pure escapism goes, Men in Black 3 fits the bill and then some. Maybe it’s because the initial film in the franchise was big hit both commercially and in my adolescent mind, but one thing’s for sure: chemistry between costars can go a long way. Trying a bit too hard to garner laughs here and there, the performances and serviceable gimmicks that go hand-in-hand with the barebones narrative are enough to occupy your time. It’s not the greatest way to spend your hard-earned dollars and, after waiting nearly a decade since its immediate predecessor, a bit unnecessary, but what Men in Black 3 is rises above that of more recent schlock.

The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012)

As one of the most highly anticipated theatrical releases of the past five years, The Avengers assuredly sits comfortably among the discernible elite. Raising concerns as to whether or not certain heroes would steal the show for better or worse, writer/director Joss Whedon handles the lore surrounding The Avengers’ inception with the utmost finesse, striking a perfect balance between all involved. Priding itself on ample wit and pulse-pounding, appropriately frenetic action sequences, The Avengers is far from divisive as it rarely falters in delivering the ultimate comic book adaptation experience.

Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

In preparation for Prometheus, I decided to pay a first-time visit to the film that started it all. A thin, if visually stunning and suspenseful sci-fi horror mash-up, the original Alien still holds up even today. I personally prefer this entry to James Cameron’s more action-infused Aliens, and while the latter’s just as great, I prefer the slow burn of Scott’s initial effort and horror-oriented take on the genre he helped define.

Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2002)

To say Distant is repetitive would be fairly accurate; we easily recognize the emotional disconnect plaguing one character and the financial instability taking its toll on the other, however Ceylan’s hand has lent itself wonderfully to the film’s glum aesthetic that compliments their corresponding crises. It has the potential to test one’s patience, but for what it’s worth, Distant does what it does for a reason, and that reason is to aptly illustrate the monotony and despair haunting Mahmut until Yusuf pushes him to a noticeable, if repressed breaking point. It’s a quietly beautiful film, and while not perfect to any degree, familiarity is once again overcome by stronger than usual artistic principles and a unique look at a loner both needing and wanting space from everything around him.

Total number of films watched (including re-watches): 11
Other first-time viewings (in alphabetical order): Battleship (Berg, ’12)Chernobyl Diaries (Parker, ’12), Damsels in Distress (Stillman, ’11), The Giant Mechanical Man (Kirk, ’12)

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