Adapting the life and talent of Bob Dylan to the biopic genre was an inevitability. It is hard to see how anyone could stop it from happening. For all the failed markups of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and the big names around the 1960s, pulling off a dissection of The Voice of a Generation is no small feat. I’m Not There plays with the format of traditional detailing. Dylan defines a meaning or passage of time for so many people, spread across generations. To adapt that correctly, no one man can portray Dylan, and that is what director Todd Haynes gets right with I’m Not There. As Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again plays through the opening credits and the passages of time cross the screen, I’m Not There springs to life.
There are few sights funnier than a man nearing his 30s trying to pass as an awkward high-schooler in over his head. There are layers to his beautiful disaster. Dear Evan Hansen is the product of modernity and everything wrong with the self-intolerant, corrupt typography associated best with the likes of Ben Platt. His offering here shows signs of a screeching tantrum. He is desperate for that Academy Awards glory, and Dear Evan Hansen is as desperate a clutch at glory as Welcome to Marwen was for Steve Carrell just two years ago. When will they learn? Probably never, and audiences will be better for it.
As Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) sits in his car in the opening moments of Non-Stop, we can see a keen checklist of tropes and cliché carried out. He does it for his daughter. We know little about him. It is raining. But the brooding angles and fixation on the tired and weary face of this once youthful action star are meaningful and tightly choreographed. There are moments of genuine, emotional understanding of this washed-up air marshal, and while the action genre is not ultimately known for its ability to relate engaged emotions to a thriller that finds itself thousands of feet in the air. But a thriller is only as strong as the action it dishes out along the way.
Wanting to coast along on its Alfred Hitchcock influence, The Woman in the Window does little to separate itself from Rear Window. That is fertile ground to harvest from, and if done right then there is certainly room for characters within this Joe Wright-directed piece to flourish and grow. Here is the shut-in neighbour, nosey not out of interest for others but out of boredom. She uncovers a potential murder and must work from home (like all of us have done for the past year) to solve a potential case of crime. You may know these narrative beats inside out, but it is what The Woman in the Window does with them that brings out the most interest of all. Not much is the answer, but bless them for trying.
With such a promising ensemble, it’s hard to see how Magnolia could be anything other than a superbly layered character study of intertwining lives. Like Desperate Housewives, but over the course of two and a half hours, rather than an aeon. Paul Thomas Anderson’s dramatic titan sees a collection of stories, the highs and lows of a rough handful of individuals connected by chance, flimsy narratives or shady dealings. Whether it works or not, it’s hard not to appreciate how big of an ask Anderson proposes to his cast, a project that has to have the right amount of connection between roles, enough to engage an audience, but not enough to incite obvious cliché.
The various waves and styles there are to the work of director David Cronenberg make it very easy to digest his work. From his early days as a shlock creator, to the maturity he found in the body horror of his prime work, and the eventual spiral into more contemporary oriented, paranoid dramas. With such a level of consistency, it’s no surprise that every fan of his has their preferred era for his work. Me personally, I love his body horror films, and as someone that isn’t particularly fond of horror, I’d say that’s the best praise I could ever get a director. Maps to the Stars is the most recent film from Cronenberg, and by the looks of it, probably his last film. A shame to go out on a rather dud note, but there’s still merits to be found throughout.