Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Atticus Ross

QuickView: Soul (2020)

“You know, lost souls are not that different from those in the zone. The zone is enjoyable, but when that joy becomes an obsession, one becomes disconnected from life.”

Moonwind

Pixar’s most experimental film since Wall-E, Soul is also one of its best even though I wish its focus had been slightly different. Pete Doctor has directed Pixar’s most creatively original films: Inside Out, Up and Monsters, Inc. (which for me remains the studio’s pinnacle). As in Up, he uses a masterclass opening sequence designed to communicate a single concept: the transportative power of music. Truly feeling Joe’s consciousness melt away in playing improvisational jazz is astounding. Soul‘s grander ambitions come from the non-musical meaning of its title: exploring the essence of what makes us human and individual. I am unsurprisingly in favour of allowing children to grapple with metaphysical concepts, and they are presented here with wondrous simplicity. It won’t be as outright entertaining as typical family fare, but it will definitely seed ideas and questions. The representation of pre-and-post-life in an abstract way ⁠— divorced from any religious angle ⁠— becomes somewhat sanitised, and its non-literal depiction more difficult to explain, though children capable of understanding Inside Out‘s conceptual take on emotions should be equally able to grasp Soul. So, whilst the richness of jazz may be merely the vehicle used for Soul‘s true intentions, the result is both unusual and impressive.

8/10

QuickView: Mank (2020)

“This is a business where the buyer gets nothing for his money but a memory. What he bought still belongs to the man who sold it. That’s the real magic of the movies.”

Louis B. Mayer

With the freedom afforded by Netflix, Fincher explores 1930s Hollywood by painstakingly creating a black and white film that feels as though it might have been unearthed from that era. It is something of a niche endeavour but the results are remarkable. Structurally, it is less convoluted than it first appears, using the screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz’s work on the screenplay for Citizen Kane as a vehicle for his reminiscing through a series of flashbacks about his experiences with the Hollywood figures who inspired the story. Gary Oldman’s larger than life characters have always been entertaining, but the nuanced roles he has chosen of late reveal his true depth as an actor — as Mank he is self-confident and witty but not always likeable, with alcoholism and a need to sound smart often eroding any self-restraint. Fincher’s focus is less on how Citizen Kane was written than the squalid nature of Hollywood as seen through Mank’s disillusioned eyes, with executives performing as much as actors to manipulate others, and the lies of the silver screen feeding into politics. What holds the film back is (in common with much of Fincher’s work) a lack of emotional weight to any of Mank’s relationships, all of which seem considered rather than felt, more in character for Welles than the erratic Mankiewicz.

8/10

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2022 Priyan Meewella

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