We live on the edge of an era defined by Artificial Intelligence. Day by day, AI is being further integrated into our lives, with advances being made to make it more useful, more lifelike, and more knowledgeable. We've known for a while that this would happen, that AI would one day take over our lives, but now we are closer than ever to this vision of the future that we've held for so long. Cyberpunk has for decades been a genre of speculative fiction that held sway with a select sub-culture of people, with works like Neuromancer or Blade Runner defining people's lives, inspiring both awe and fear as they collectively imagined what the future might hold. Ghost in the Shell is a key part of this genre, one whose influence can be found across all forms of media, and the way that we viewed the future of the internet for decades was filtered through the lens of this movie, whether you knew it or not. Obvious influence is drawn from Blade Runner which came before it, but in it's more direct and specific confrontation of the perils of widespread adoption of the internet and the advances in Artificial Intelligence, Ghost in the Shell set itself apart from everything else, becoming something more than just another piece of fiction drawing inspiration from Ridley's accidental cyberpunk masterpiece. Never once being afraid to seem impenetrable or pretentious, Ghost in the Shell draws the audience in with stunning visuals, frenetic action, and iconic characters, and leaves them with questions of existence, consciousness, and identity. These questions have always haunted our species in one way or another, but Ghost in the Shell asks them in ways that deal directly with mankind's adoption and dependence in technology, and now even more than when the film was first released, the answers to these questions have become both more important, and more amorphous.
Often before seeing a movie, I like to take a look at the runtime, just so I know what to expect. The runtime can really tell you quite a lot about what a movie wants to be. If you get something over 2 and a half hours, clearly it wants to be a sort of sprawling epic. If you get something that clocks in under 2 hours, generally it knows what story it wants to tell and feels no need to stretch things out. So when I took a look to see what Lynne Ramsey's You Were Never Really Here clocked in at, I was surprised to see 89 minutes as the listed run time. Under 90 minutes was not what I was expecting to see, and I wasn't sure exactly what information to draw from that. What kind of deeply moving, emotional story could be told in such a short amount of time? As it turns out, the short runtime is perhaps the biggest indicator of where the film's most obvious strengths lie. You Were Never Really Here is a perfectly crafted movie, that at all times knows exactly what it's doing and feels no need to do anything more. Not a single second of this tight, brutal thriller is wasted.
Sound is something we really take for granted. Not only in movies, but just in our daily lives, we live with constant sound, that either we are generating, or just ambient noise that drifts into our space. So how do you deal with real, true silence when it's essential to your continued survival? This is the question posed by A Quiet Place, an incredibly tight, well-made thriller from John Krasinski. I can only imagine that early on in the creative process, he understood the challenge of making a movie where not only would dialogue have to be sparse, but the audience would be required to be near silent in order for the movie to effectively build it's atmosphere. It succeeds immensely in both departments from my point of view, and it made for one of the most memorable theater-going experiences in recent history.
My obsession with Wes Anderson came on very suddenly. I had previously seen Fantastic Mr. Fox, but that didn't necessarily make me pursue all of his other films immediately. It was during a sort of random selection, where I decided "I suppose it's time to watch some Wes Anderson movies", where I suddenly fell in love with his style of directing. Even among his peers, it's entirely unique in it's complete disregard for the rules that everyone else seems to follow religiously. That isn't to say that Anderson is the only one who eschews typical directing techniques, but he does so in such a way that seems to run counter to everything that they would teach you to do in film school. It's this style of directing (and of writing) that lends his movies such an irresistible charm, and Isle of Dogs is no different. Clearly he enjoyed making Fantastic Mr. Fox so much that he knew he had to return to stop-motion, and the result here is something of simple beauty to behold, a movie with surprising depth that is simultaneously very easy to enjoy on a surface level.
Adam Sandler infuriates me. He is lazy, he is crass, he is complacent, but more than anything else, he is a good actor. After watching both Punch Drunk Love and now this movie, The Meyerowitz Stories, I can honestly say that Adam Sandler has very clear acting talent. Here in particular he is one of three siblings, the other two played equally well by Ben Stiller and Elizabeth Marvel, who are members of a very dysfunctional family. It's played for laughs several times, but ultimately this movie is an attempt to take a very real look at what it means to be a part of a family that just doesn't want to work. It's very distinct from Sandler's other work, but similar in a way to Punch Drunk Love in that here, a sort of typical character for him is not played as a goofball, or a dork, but as a very real human being, with regrets, hopes, and fears.