Column: A look back at the releases of the winter break films
After all the craziness of the fall semester, Winter Break gave us time to sit back, relax, and watch a movie. Fortunately, the holiday season is always filled to the brim with new releases – and this one was no different.
Here are some of the great movies we enjoyed during the break:
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”
It would be impossible to start this column elsewhere. So if you haven’t seen it yet, skip this part.
The most anticipated film of the past two years kicked off in theaters with the second-highest-grossing opening weekend in US history, behind only “Avengers: Endgame”.
And for good reason.
It was by far one of the most entertaining movies to release in 2021. The inclusion of characters from previous Spider-Man franchises ensures a fun and nostalgic viewing experience. Plus, Willem Dafoe was amazing as a Green Goblin.
However, as fun as the on-screen action was, the writing left a lot to be desired. Instead of the well-developed hero with a sense of responsibility that emerges from “Far From Home”, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker jumps back colossally in maturity, risking the fate of the universe just so he and his friends can get into college. .
Not to mention that the writers thought it was a good idea for the protagonists to carry a “deus machina box” that would essentially solve all the problems of the film without any consequences (because, without further explanation of the rules of the multiverse , it seems that even the “healed” wicked would return to their universes to face certain death).
I was just not impressed. 6.75 / 10.
“West Side Story”
I was nervous about this movie right out of the first trailer. Fortunately, it was actually good enough, as any adaptation of the groundbreaking work of lyricist Steven Sondheim, composer Leonard Bernstein, and playwright Arthur Laurents is bound to be.
The adaptation was also faithful, sticking closely to the developments of the original 1957 show. My only problem was that by bringing “Cool” back to the first act, the second act was less tense than in the 1961 film. Despite this, it was still filled with the colors, music and dance that we all know and love.
Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose’s fantastic performances as Maria and Anita, respectively, are sure to get them nods at the Oscars. Ansel Elgort, however, was clearly the wrong choice for Tony, delivering a relatively forgettable performance as a male leader.
Despite the good but not great efforts of director Steven Spielberg, it was nice to see “West Side Story” on the big screen again. 8/10.
“Don’t look up”
I hated this movie.
Satire is better when it’s subtle. But the loud, heavy boredom of an Adam McKay script hits you over your head with painfully obvious references to the Trump administration and other aspects of modern society. It’s extremely smug and out of touch, as the film seems to praise McKay behind the back for being “right” instead of serving as a worried allegory to the existential crisis of climate change.
The film went so far as to make Meryl Streep look bad. How is it possible?
And did I mention it was boring? This movie made 140 minutes sound like 1,400. Even the good performances of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett could not save this disastrously paced disaster movie. I mean, the “climax” (which never peaked) – a failure to save the world from a comet – happened half an hour before the end of the movie.
Once again, I hated this movie. 4/10.
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Finally. Movie theater.
I’m not going to waste my time talking about the Macbeth story. It was a very faithful adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy – a titan of world literature.
Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington brought the deliciously evil Lady Macbeth and Macbeth to life. The minimalist production design, beautiful black and white cinematography, and stunning visual effects created an aesthetically pleasing experience which served to enhance the film’s sensational acting performances.
It was an ambitious, but very successful endeavor from director Joel Coen. 9/10.
Paul Thomas Anderson has done it again. This time, with a terribly fun coming-of-age comedy about the unconventional nature of a first adventure.
Alana Haim excels in her big screen debut, delivering a textured and intricate performance as the film’s protagonist. Drawing on Anderson’s quick and witty writing, his performance highlights the uncomfortable aspects of his character’s relationship with the much younger Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) and provides excellent insight into how whose young adults mature emotionally. Bradley Cooper’s lopsided portrayal of Jon Peters also adds a welcome comedic relief to contrast with the more serious themes of the film.
The production also does a remarkable job of using setting, music, and style to bring viewers back to the 1970s. (However, it must be said that the use of a fake Asian accent by a white character was not necessary to achieve this effect).
Despite its flaws, “Licorice Pizza” was a great character-driven romance and a nice addition to Anderson’s stacked catalog. 9/10.
There were too many vacation movies to be included here.
“The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal’s first film starring Olivia Colman, takes a fascinating and vulnerable look at the challenges of motherhood. 7.5 / 10.
“Red Rocket” was a fun but uncomfortable exploration of the life of a tasteless former adult film actor and the many bad decisions he makes when he returns home. 8.5 / 10.
And there are plenty of others. Fortunately, with the start of the new year, there will be more great movies to watch.
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