A Wrinkle In Time

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Ava DuVernay

Starring: Storm Reid, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Peña, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Ava DuVernay is one of the leading lights in American film making. Blazing a trail for both people of colour and for female filmmakers. Her output is usually politically charged, having directed both Selma, and the documentary feature 13th. The later of which won the academy award for best documentary with its exploration of the incarceration of African-American men in America. It’s somewhat of a surprise then that her next feature is a Disney movie primarily aimed at kids. It’s clear though that Ava had a vision for this movie, and that there was a story here that she wanted to tell. She turned down countless other big budget movies, including Black Panther, but with A Wrinkle In Time she became the first African-American woman to helm a film with a budget over $100 million.

A Wrinkle In Time follows the story of Meg, a brilliant Storm Reid, who has become despondent ever since the disappearance of her father, Chris Pine, four years ago. She lives with her Mum and younger adopted brother Charles Wallace. She gets into fights at school, and her grades are starting to slip. We’re told that she used to be a top student, and her brother tells her she’s got more potential than anybody. When her brother introduces her to Mrs Which, Mrs Who and Mrs Whatsit, she finds out that her father had managed to wrinkle space time, allowing him to travel through the universe instantaneously. He’s now been captured by a terrible evil, and it’ll be up to Meg, Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin to rescue him.

The buzz going into this film was mixed. I don’t understand that, I loved this movie. Disney release one of these every year, a big budget movie which isn’t based on an existing franchise, we’ve had The Lone Ranger, and Tomorrowland, and now we’ve got A Wrinkle In Time. They struggle to find their audience, but are some of the most interesting films Disney release. There’s a part in the film where Chris Pine talks about finding the right frequency to wrinkle space time, maybe you had to find the right frequency to really appreciate this movie, because for me it resonates loudly. If you thought that Ava was leaving the politics at the child friendly door, don’t worry, she doesn’t hit you over the head with it, but there’s a message which runs throughout the movie.

The casting alone sends a clear message, Ava is about diversity, and giving opportunities both in front of and behind the camera. The choice of a bi-racial lead isn’t just a token gesture, it becomes the crux of the movie. This is a film about a young girl who doesn’t love herself, doesn’t believe in herself, and that message is reinforced by everyone around her. When Calvin tells her he likes her hair and she says that he doesn’t, it means something. It’s backed up later when she faces the version of herself she wishes she was, and that version has straightened hair. The film is about fighting conformity, and Ava makes it clear that this is of upmost importance to those who are told that the way they naturally look isn’t right, or isn’t beautiful.

The film looks fantastic as well. It’s clear that this is a singular vision of this story. The vistas of the alien planets are gorgeous to behold, and the way the world is built is ingenious. It’s unlike anything DuVernay has done before and she proves herself equal to the task. The rush you get when seeing this world is something I haven’t felt since Avatar. It’s also an incredibly emotional movie. There’s an emotional note which is hit from the very first scene, and it sounds throughout the whole film, getting louder and louder until you can’t hold back the tears. It delivers the most emotionally satisfying climax to a film this year. The cast are all brilliant, especially the three young leads. Storm Reid is a future superstar, and Deric McCabe is immensely enjoyable.

If there’s any faults with the film, it may be in the structure of the story. The first two acts are spent being transported from place to place, with a lot of exposition. It isn’t until the third act that Meg is afforded any agency, which might be a problem for some, but is kind of the point of the film. It’s about a young girl finding her agency. The messages in this film are all beautifully delivered, about loving yourself, your faults, your differences, and building up those around you. It’s about love in the purest form, which may sound saccharine but it’s anything but.

Overall, A Wrinkle In Time is a film not to be missed. If you have a young child, I implore you to take them to see it. They’ll be awed at the world created, but they’ll also learn some important lessons along the way. Ava DuVernay continues to blaze a trail, and I can’t wait to see what she does next, and to see what those who follow her come up with.

9/10

Fury

2014

Dir. David Ayer

 

Starring:

Brad Pitt

Logan Lerman

Shia LaBeouf

Michael Peña

Jon Bernthal

 

There have been two high profile World War Two films out this year; Fury, headed up by Brad Pitt, and The Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney. These two films couldn’t be more polar opposite to each other. The Monuments Men was light hearted in tone, ponderous, and most disappointingly, boring. Fury on the other hand is a punch to the gut that doesn’t let you go from the start. Making you look at the darkest of humanity, and asking you what you would do in the same situation.  It is a movie about survival, courage, companionship and necessary evils. The Monuments Men asked whether art is worth dying for, after watching Fury you’ll think “fuck the art”.

 

Fury tells the story of a five-man tank crew advancing into Nazi Germany. Focusing on Wardaddy, the leader of the crew, played by Brad Pitt, and Norman, the new assistant driver of the titular tank, played by Logan Lerman. Norman has never had any combat training, much to the displeasure of Wardaddy, who has promised to keep his team alive. The film shows us the lengths that Wardaddy has to go to in order to keep his crew alive, and the extent to which Norman has to compromise his ideals in order to survive. The war isn’t the only conflict within the film, as the characters all have to battle with themselves over the acts they are committing, and come to blows with each other when emotions are running high.

 

This is one of the best war movies I have ever seen. It’s up there with Saving Private Ryan. They both share a similar visual style, and although Saving Private Ryan is bigger in scale, and nothing in Fury quite matches the opening beach landing of Saving Private Ryan, I think Fury is the better film. Ayer’s direction is nigh on faultless. A lot has been made of the violence and the gore on display in this film, but it is important to state that it isn’t gratuitous. It is balanced so that you never get desensitised to the gore. A leg being blown off in the middles of the film is just as shocking as it is at the end of the film. The film is grim to look at, it’s full of mud, blood, and sweat. It is incredibly visceral, but the subject matter demands it. It takes a good hard look at what human beings are capable of, and doesn’t flinch. It is a film which never pulls its punches. The plot moves along at a great pace, but also takes time in the quieter moments, really building the characters. You will love them, hate them, pity them, and cry for them. The battle scenes are brilliantly tense, and immediate. You feel each near miss. It has to be said though, that the most nerve shredding scene in the film is set around a dinner table, with just the five men of the tank crew and two German women. It’s in this scene where the film really shows what makes it so good, the performances.

 

Brad Pitt is simply outstanding in Fury. I have liked Brad Pitt as an actor for ages, and I honestly think he is one of the most underrated actors around. He commands this film with his performance. Powerful when he needs to be, subtle in the smaller moments. Like a grenade that could go off any second. When awards season comes round I wouldn’t be surprised to see him nominated in the best actor category. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Logan Lerman nominated in a best supporting category. Excellent in Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Lerman is incredible here. His character is a boy at the start of the film, thrown into a world of hyper-masculinity, who will need to become a man in order to survive. His transformation is entirely believable and right at the heart of the film. Honourable mentions must also go to Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal, especially Bernthal who carries a real presence whenever he is on the screen. Shia LaBeouf also delivers his best work to date, and if he takes on more roles like this, performing at this level, he could become one of the best character actors around.

 

Fury, is exciting, visceral, and thoughtful. It’s a film about men. What men can do to each other, and how far we can compromise our minds, bodies, souls when we are fighting for something we believe in, or just fighting to survive. It is not for the faint of hearted, and that’s a good thing.

 

10/10