I have been off the movie radar for a bit.
I go in cycles like that.
Last movie I saw in the theater (twice) was the excellent BLACK PANTHER Directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by filmic juggernaut, Marvel Studios.
Today a few minutes ago I just got done watching AVENGERS INFINITY WAR courtesy of Amazon Prime, and streamed right in the comfort of my home.
It is definitely a movie that would have been great seen on a huge full size theatrical system, but as I said timing and interest sometimes works out for me to hit the theater, sometimes it doesn’t.
The movie, AVENGERS INFINITY WAR finally seen ( I avoided trailers, special features, reviews etc) it is ten years of Marvel Studios, and ten years of world building codified and paid tribute to; it is not just a great movie, it is a great mythology. It is that first story told around the raging fire to keep back the night. It is everything you want a film to be.
To call it just a superhero film is perhaps to miss the point, and the enduring power and place these four color heroes have held first on the comic page, and now the cinematic stage.
They are our modern myths writ large, and this film by the capable Russo Brothers improves and transcends the source material, to tell tales both of massive victories and massive defeats, but always managing to ground it on a very personal level.
The movie made me laugh, it made me cheer, it made me tear up, and it made me silent. A whole gamut of emotional states in a mere couple of hours. The Russo Brother’s have helmed yet another masterpiece and this one being their best and most haunting yet. Raising the stakes but not losing the man on the ground perspective, that make these films so relateable.
Tales of Gods and Monsters yes, but hinged on wheels of faith and loss and sacrifice and love.
The wheels all of us, can understand and be moved by.
There are reasons to be concerned about a monotheistic Movie Landscape, with all studios gobbled up by the mouse. I do not feel Disney acquiring Marvel Studios was a good thing. I do not feel the Lucas properties being engulfed by them is a good thing. I do not feel the Fox acquisition is a good thing.
I think in the long term this monotheistic film landscape is a very bad thing for culture, and choice, and competition. I think in the long term there are anti-trust and anti-competition issues that will affect all of us; whether fans or not, of these films. But those are fights and concerns separate from the actual review of this one singular film.
This one singular film, celebrating the 10th year of Marvel Studios unprecedented dynasty is filmmaking done as well as it can be done, on a scale and scope that is nearly as mythic as the story itself. I loved it. Full Stop. It is right in the mix with my top 5, being in no particular order AVENGERS, BLACK PANTHER, WINTER SOLDIER, CIVIL WAR, and this one… INFINITY WAR.
Grade: A+. As a fan of METROPOLIS and GREED and SEARCHERS and LION IN WINTER, even though this movie is a ‘Super-hero’ movie and a Blockbuster, and is popular, it is every bit as great and serious and beautiful a film as those lauded classics. It is a new minted classic, and will stand the test of time. From script, to direction, to special effects, to performances, especially performances, allowing the actors to act under those layers of makeup and costumes and CGI, the film is a rare achievement.
I look forward to the sequel. And I look forward to buying this film on DVD/Blu-Ray, and watching again, and enjoying the film commentary.
You can get your Blu-Ray here:
I just came from a sold out upscale theater showing of Ryan Coogler’s BLACK PANTHER for Marvel Studios.
I’m going to try to be brief. As someone who went into this having avoided all trailers, and spoilers, and special feature exposes (that in my experience is like pre-chewing your food before sitting down to eat, making it impossible for fan or reviewer to truly be surprised by a film) I was… blown away.
In terms of look, performance, direction, pathos, and humor, and rock solid action, it is without argument one of the best of the EIGHTEEN Marvel Studio Films released to date. I saw it in 3D and it is worth seeing in 3D. You don’t get the things flying into the audience effect, but the sense of looking down, and into chasms and waterfalls, plays up to 3Ds strengths. So I recommend seeing it at least once in 3D. I say once because like the original AVENGERS film, this is a film that deserves to be seen more than once.
I plan to see it in 2D when I go back next time.
This BLACK PANTHER film, released during Black History month, in my humble opinion is in a three way tie for the #1 Marvel Movie of all time; tied with the original AVENGERS by Josh Whedon and CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER by the Russo Brothers. Those three movies share one shining exquisite truth; they are not just great comic-book movies, they are great films… FULL STOP.
Okay that should be all you need, go see the film now.
Okay still here, the following contains minor spoilers.
BLACK PANTHER is a great film from first frame to last. It is masterfully done; weaving effortlessly between drama, pomp, circumstance, humor, horror, tragedy, and heroism and hope. Chadwick Boseman is astonishing as the titular character, playing him with understated grace and elegance, that carries effortlessly the weight of the film. He is the rock upon which our tale is moored.
Writer/Director Ryan Coogler in three films has catapulted himself as one of the defining directors of our age, and BLACK PANTHER is that talent writ large. This is the tale of the death of kings, of fathers and sons, and things lost in the fire, this is about nothing less than the fate of the world, and about nothing more than the grief of boys for their fathers, a beautifully developed thread in all of Coogler’s films, but never done so well as here.
Coogler takes the admonishment of Hamlet ‘The common theme of life, is death of fathers’ and uses it like a lover and a lance, to both caress and break your heart. And he takes King Henry’s complaint in THE LION OF WINTER ‘I could have conquered Europe all of it, but I had women in my life.’ and here makes of it the saving grace of the protagonist, the film, and the world.
It is the women in this film who save the world, who save the men from their self extinguishing thirst for conquest and vengeance. And taking that line from LION OF WINTER, to also mean parental and familial influence, the difference between T’Challa and Killmonger then ultimately is in their relations to their fathers, even to the structure of their afterlives, one is defined by the inspiration of his father, and one by the lack of his father, and both of them have become completely extraordinary men in staggeringly different ways because of these relations.
It makes for a film of unexpected emotional intensity and depth. Coogler as a filmmaker has my number, as tears unbidden came to my eyes in places in this film. But I would argue he has everyone’s number, if you have the heart to feel, be you Irish or Korean or Ethiopian or American, Coogler will find those places that bind us all,… and squeeze. And then he’ll hit you with the action, then the humor, and sometime when you are laughing, he will squeeze again, and the tears will rise and you will know this is a filmmaker.
And it is wonderful when a director finds his muse, and an actor finds the director that gets him, brings out his best. Coogler and Michael B. Jordan are that combination.
They join legendary director/star pairings such as:
- Ford and Wayne
- Hawks and Wayne
- Kurosawa and Mifune
- Hitchcock and Grant
- Lee and Washington
- Scorsese and Dinero
- Scott and Washington
- Woo and Yun-Fat
- Ayer and Smith
- Fuqua and Washington (It is not lost on me that Denzel Washington’s name appears with three different directors. It just shows the kind of fantastic actor he is, the longevity of his career, and that he can embody for many directors, the perfect actor).
Those pairings when they happen are the source of cinematic gold. And it happens in BLACK PANTHER with Coogler and Jordan, two of the respective best of their generation.
Simply a masterful film, with a stunning cast, and great performances. And Kudos to Kevin Feige who with 18 films under his belt, is not just producing films that transcend the source material, he has proved himself the most successful and influential film producer, in the history of the medium.Supplanting such names as Zanuck or Lewton.
It is a success richly earned.
That said, a lot of fans and reviewers care about the numbers, how much a movie makes. I do not. I could not care less if BLACK PANTHER made $1 or 1 Billion Dollars. In this day where studios own the films and the theaters; that is money that is being taken out of local economies. It is good the movie is successful in that we get more such movies from that director, that producer, those actors, but as far as making Disney richer, that does not concern me.
Now should we go back to the days of local and community owned theaters, then that matters, that we should support, because those dollars are staying in the community.
So I’m happy for the movie not because it does this much business, or that much business, I’m happy for the movie, because such visions raise us all, and the success allows such visionaries to keep telling stories.
Grade: An unqualified A+.
If you like this movie I recommend the following:
The following movies are too good, to trust in the ‘cloud’ or ‘streaming’ to always have them available, or always have them available in unchanged, unedited, or unaltered versions. The below movies deserve to be owned in physical form, in the age of digital.
Chadwick Boseman’s excellent A MESSAGE FROM THE KING
LION IN WINTER
CAPTAIN AMERICA : WINTER SOLDIER
CAPTAIN AMERICA : CIVIL WAR
POWER The acclaimed Curtis ’50 CENT’ Jackson produced STARZ series finally makes itself available on HULU, and man was it well worth the wait. Showrunner/Creator Courtney Kemp Agboh’s POWER is the very definition of binge worthy television.
From opening credits to final fade to black, the show is FANTASTIC!! Omari Hardwick helms a powerhouse cast, in an exquistely photographed, compulsively paced stunner of a show.
‘The Answer must be in the attempt.’
I had no desire to see this film, but finally watched, it is quite a lovely film. Covering one day, one chance encounter between two people. There is something very relateable and universal about meeting someone in passing, and bridging that gap between is there or isn’t there something there.
It’s a wonderful film about those fleeting glances we have all had, followed and acted upon, and leading to something by chance begun. Here that unlikely and awkward and magical and inept circumstance of burgeoning love is told against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful of cities, Vienna, immortalized by Carol Reed’s and Orson Welles’ THIRD MAN.
It’s a wonderful way to pass an hour and a half. Watching a film about the moments that live… because of the attempt.
“I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.” — Celine in BEFORE SUNRISE
When I can find nothing of appreciable interest in the long form format I turn to short films. And there are real magnificent gems to be found there from David F. Sandberg’s LIGHTS OUT to Alec Peter’s brilliant PRELUDE TO AXENAR.
A new addition I’ve recently stumbled on, are the short films of Alejandro Suarez Lozano.
His THE FISHERMAN is a well paced, well performed and beautifully shot tale of a Fisherman haunted by the one that got away. With traces of THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA and MOBY DICK this visually adept tale of man vs nature also adds the fragile geopolitical overtones of the third world and the first world fighting for space in a 21st century poised to outgrow them both. The ending is both unexpected and perfect.
His HIDDEN SOLDIER follows a soldier on a mission behind enemy lines during World War II. Vividly told in haunted Blacks and Greys, this one pulls you along to an ending that is both audacious and chilling.
Both films are the calling card of a filmmaker to expect increasingly great films from.
The best way to see these two films? Use the link below and view them on the Director’s site and tell him… HT sent ya!