Pillbox

Some Summer Movies

I saw some films this summer. Let's talk about them.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

At least we got two good Spider-Man movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) before the Sony-Disney deal fell through. Far From Home is another delightful addition to the MCU with the same great cast, another good villain, and a good extension of the events of Avengers: Endgame. What’s interesting about this movie is that I enjoyed it for the exact opposite reason I enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming. While I enjoyed the high school teen drama aspect of Homecoming the most and found the Spider-Man aspects of it to be less engaging, I actually liked all the Spider-Man material in this much more than the high school teen drama aspect. I wasn’t a big fan of the chemistry between Peter Parker and MJ in this one. The chemistry was there, but the dialogue just didn’t gel with me. The real star of this movie is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. He has been one of my favorite villains from the comics, and the movie did a great job to create a compelling villain who also had all the coolest scenes in the movie. There were also very shocking revelations, especially in the post-credit scenes, that solidify this as one of the more shocking entries in the MCU. It will be interesting to see where the movies go next following the information revealed in this one. Overall, this movie was pretty good, and I personally liked it a little more than Homecoming. If these are the only two MCU Spider-Man movies, I think the majority of us will be satisfied with what we got. I’ll give this a 7/10.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

Tarantino is an interesting director for me. He is a horrible human being, but he is a generally good writer and director. I would always add Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs to any film essentials list, but it would always be towards the bottom of the list rather than the top. He has a formula, and after Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, the formula has become stale for me personally. That’s what makes his newest film such a refreshing change of pace. For the most part, it’s not standard Tarantino. The beginning 10 minutes and the last 20 minutes are more of the Tarantino you’d expect, but it’s balanced out by the middle portion between those two sections that seems to revel in its 60s setting and its cast of well thought out characters. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie are all amazing in their roles, and Tarantino’s direction is good as usual. I’d say my complaint with this film is that nothing really happens until the end. It’s very weird because there seems to be a lot of dialogue scenes that just go nowhere, but it feels like they have a purpose that’s hard to pinpoint. Perhaps on my second watch I’ll understand it more, but as of now, that’s what it seems like to me. Overall, I enjoyed myself watching this film, and if you’re a Tarantino fan or if you like good dialogue, you can watch this too. I am also giving this a 7/10.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

What on earth did I watch? I really am genuinely confused. I hated every second of this movie, but I also loved every second of this movie. I walked out of the theater and had a mental breakdown because I was so distraught over what I saw. I laughed so hard throughout the whole thing, and even during the sequences that weren’t supposed to be funny. A little girl next to me asked her mother, “Why is he laughing so hard?”, which only made my laughter worse. It’s a Nickelodeon TV movie made for the big screen, with an attempt to have Deadpool levels of meta-commentary. Dora is basically a schizophrenic psychopath in this movie, but you absolutely adore her. Meanwhile, everyone else is just really, really, really annoying, especially Dora’s parents. The plot makes absolutely no sense. There is a drug trip sequence in this movie for some reason. There are references to the horrors of colonization that no kid or even most adults would know about, including a reference to U.S. fruit companies creating banana republics. They hire actual Inca descendants who speak Quechua. There are CGI abominations of both Boots and Swiper who both talk and are voiced by Danny Trejo and Benecio Del Toro, respectively. It’s so clear the writers didn’t care about this movie and the studio mandate, so they knowingly created something terrible and the studio profited. The industry is dead everyone. This is the end as we know it. Let’s all be prepared for the Dora Cinematic Universe. It has been a month since I’ve seen this, but I’m still distraught just thinking about this movie. I am purposefully not revealing much about this because honestly, everyone should see it. I’m giving this a 2/10, but honestly, it was a 10/10 experience, which is why I’m conflicted as to what score to give it.

Midsommar (Unrated Director’s Cut)

In the realm of “what did I just watch?”, we have Ari Aster’s new film, Midsommar, which is the most disturbing film I’ve seen since Hereditary, Aster’s film from last year. This is also one of the best films of the year, and it’s an extremely weird, terrifying, gut-wrenching, darkly funny, and oddly inspiring experience. I hadn’t seen the theatrical cut, so I got to watch the unadulterated vision Aster had for this masterpiece. Frankly, there isn’t a single scene that can be cut for this. Everything is necessary to build the character arcs and relationships, as well as creating this eerie and strange world that the director brings these characters into. The sun soaked vistas of Sweden offset the disgusting rituals and the ugliness the characters exhibit towards each other as the film goes on. It’s an incredible story about overcoming grief and finding healing from those who genuinely care about you. The dissolution of the main characters' relationship is so beautifully and painfully realized that it’s odd the theatrical version cut out important scenes that depict that. As the film progressed, I only felt more and more perturbed by what I saw, and I slowly sat on the edge of my seat in awe. I wasn’t scared like I was by Hereditary, a film that almost made me vomit from how stressed it made me. Instead, I was just deeply unsettled to my core, feeling a weird mix of emotions by the end, and having it all just rattle around in my head for a few days. I’m sure the theatrical version of this film is very good, but the only real way to watch this is with the director’s cut of the film. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you like strange art films or disturbing psychological experiences, watch this film as soon as possible. I’m giving this one (an actual) 10/10.