I saw three pretty good movies last week so I want to mention them here:
First up Your Name which is a very popular anime movie in Japan which has finally gotten a wide release here in the States. I enjoy anime a fair amount although it gets a bit same-y to me (and yes, I know about Yuri on Ice and Silver Spoon). The trailers for this said "teen body swaps followed by gendered hilarity" and I wasn't terribly impressed, but every review I saw raved about it so I decided to take the plunge.
It definitely started out with the teen body swapping and hi-jinks, but at the halfway point it becomes a very different movie and it really starts earning its accolades. It handles one of the trickier elements of magical/sci-fi movies pretty well and the ending has this delightful tension right up to the last frame.
It's really one of the better RomComs you'll see this year, in part because it has a deeper bite than RomCom would suggest.
Next I saw Free Fire. It's a 90-minute movie of which 85 minutes are a gunfight in a warehouse. It's big, dumb, stupid, and a great deal of fun. The movie takes place in Boston in the 70's. Some IRA members are here to buy a bunch of guns from a South African hustler and his crew. They meet up in an abandoned warehouse to make the switch. Both sides are snarky and insulting to each other and then a couple of low-level mooks on both sides try to settle some personal business and everything goes south in a hurry.
The movie keeps adding complications to prolong the gun fight. Plot-driven ammo counts, people keep getting shot but only badly enough to hobble their movement leaving them free to keep spouting quotes, that suitcase full of money, a working phone ringing in an upper floor office (did we mention everyone's been crippled by gunfire?), and a few other surprises keep things in the mix. Although there are times where the fight gets a little muddy, I think those are deliberate choices to mimic the confusion at that moment. In general, they do a good job of laying out the space and showing where folks are in relation to each other and goodies they want to get.
Again, it's just a gunfight movie and that's about it. Don't ask about the plot because it doesn't want to answer those questions (or at least, it never wants to explain it's answers). But it's violent, mindless fun and I rather liked it.
Finally, we have Colossal which...here's the exchange I had afterwards:
Me: "It's the best giant-monster movie America has ever made."
Her: "What about Pacific Rim?"
Me: "OK, fine, Colossal is the thinking man's Pacific Rim."
I think that's pretty accurate. Gloria is a young writer with a drinking problem who gets kicked out of her boyfriend's swanky New York apartment, so she goes back upstate to her hometown and moves into a house her family owns. She still does a lot of drinking and shuffles home with an early morning hangover. Meanwhile, Seoul, South Korea, a giant monster appears out of nowhere, smashes up some buildings and then disappears into thin air.
These things seem unconnected, until Gloria realizes that the monster only appears when she walks through a playground on her morning trudge back to her place. A little more experimentation reveals that not only does it appear when she walks through the playground, it copies her movements exactly. So...she is the monster.
The trailer makes the movie look like a comedy and it is funny in a lot of places, but this movie gets pretty dark in a hurry. Nothing overtly violent, just a lot of toxic relationship stuff slowly bubbling up and making things more and more uncomfortable. Luckily, the protagonist is a protagonist and even when things are dark, you can see her fighting. The movie touches on a lot of big themes and even though giant monsters are some of the least subtle metaphors you can use in a movie, this one adds some great nuanced touches to it all.
In short, not a fun, entertaining romp, but an entertaining, thoughtful film. Well worth checking out.