2015 Updates

2015 in Review: 5/11 – 5/24

On this update: preteen girl ghosts, drones, tomorrow lands, documentaries, and fury roads.

Good Kill review

“Now, Good Kill certainly pretends to care about the people on the other side of the drone control screen. The music swells dramatically and the characters wear expressions of utmost consternation whenever they have to take some new morally heinous action. But that only makes the citizens of Afghanistan or Yemen or what have you emotional pawns at the movie’s disposal. None of them are actually humanized. It is of course true that committing atrocity wreaks havoc on the soul, and it might even be considered daring to invite sympathy for one who commits, but that’s not the case at all when you’re dealing with one of “our” guys. We sympathize with them by default. We’re predisposed to understand their point of view, to make excuses for them, even. I’m done with that. I’m done with movies that are all about how doing bad things makes our soldiers feel bad.”

Mad Max: Fury Road review

“All this elevates Mad Max: Fury Road to a near-mythic feel. This is a film that vibrates giddiness into your bones even when no one’s punching or running over someone else. The vehicular mayhem is mostly practical work, bolstered with CGI in exactly the right places. And whenever CGI does take over, it’s in the service of awe, such as when the chase enters a titanic, Biblical dust hurricane. A rollicking two-hour blast with moments of genuine emotion, this is the kind of action movie we don’t deserve. But we should be ever so thankful we have it.”

How Documentaries and Fiction Films Handle the Truth

“… neither Argo nor Our Man in Tehran can claim an edge on the truth of the situation. It can’t even be said that the truth lies somewhere in-between the two stories, since both have massive holes. Any attempt to pit the two against one another instead reveals just how little film as an art form has come when it tackles history. History is multifaceted and dizzyingly intricate—but movies have to keep it under two hours, generally. Time and again, compromise is cinema’s biggest weakness. But because it is such an immediate, visceral art, it’s easy not to consciously notice or think about the concessions.”

Tomorrowland review

“Who will give a shit about Tomorrowland (the eponymous place, not the movie, although the answer to either question is the same) ? There’s nothing terribly new or exciting to behold along its skyline of shining towers and jetpacks zooming about. It doesn’t look at all different from any other future city cinema has brought us. There’s one nifty beat with floating three-dimensional pools, but that’s it. The movie seems to assume that the vision itself will wow audiences, as if this level of CGI is new and not something we’ve gotten used to over the past 15 years or so. It seems to think that it can force wonder on the viewer by insisting upon a wondrous worldview. No sell.”

When Marnie Was There review

“When Marnie Was There is nice. Sensitive, artistically minded young people will likely eat it up, which is fine, since they’re the movie’s main demographic. Taken as the punctuation mark on Studio Ghibli’s oeuvre, it’s underwhelming. Taken on its own terms, it’s … still underwhelming, but significantly less so.”

By Dan Schindel

Born and raised in Maryland and currently based in New York, Dan Schindel is an associate editor at Hyperallergic, freelance culture writer, and available for any copy-editing/proofreading needs you may have. This website was originally a blog called Days of Docs, and chronicled his attempt to watch and review a documentary every single day for a whole year. He was mostly successful at this, and now he knows everything. He puts this knowledge to use by writing about movies, TV, games, books, comics, art, and more.