We are back! Here is a list of recommendations just in case you missed some of the best films that the holidays break had to offer.
5. Glass Onion.
After the release of Knives Out in 2019, Rian Johnson left us all expecting the return of one of the most charismatic detectives that the South has ever known. This time Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) travels to a Greek island where Miles Bron, a clear Elon Musk type, has prepared a playful murder mystery party for his closest circle of associates. They call themselves “the Disruptors,” and every single one has a reason to want Miles Bron dead. Naturally, chaos ensues. As Blanc peels the layers of the glass onion, “the Disruptors” are revealed to be something less than what they make themselves to be, and the mystery takes a quite unexpected turn. All in all, the social satire is shallow and on the nose, but worth the watch.
4. The Menu.
Continuing the trend of multi-million dollar movies that poke fun at multimillionaires, Mark Mylod’s The Menu offers an easily digestible satire of the ruling class. The action starts at a harbor, where a small group of elites gather to wait for a ferry that will take them to the greatest culinary experience of their life. Margot Mills, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, is on a date with Tyler Ledford (Nicholas Hoult), an arrogant snob who incessantly brags about his meticulous knowledge of obscure ingredients. All the other guests are equally insufferable. In fact, part of the charm of the film is watching the actors one-upping each other to see who can portray the character most disconnected from reality. The best performance is that of the chef, played by Ralph Fiennes, who even while he tries to teach his guests a lesson might be suffering from their same faults.
3. White Noise.
Noah Baumbach has attempted the seemingly impossible: he made an adaptation of a supposedly unadaptable novel. The film follows the life of Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), professor and founder of “Hitler studies” in an Ohio university, and his wife Babette (Greta Gerwig) who is taking some mysterious pills behind her family’s back. The film is divided in three parts: first part documents the day to day life of the Gladneys, the second explores a catastrophic event, and the third is a return to normalcy that is really not that normal anymore. There is no denying that Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel of the same name is a postmodern classic, but the biggest problem of the film is trying to live up to this legacy. It tries too hard to be “the postmodern film” instead of just focusing on telling a compelling story. Although Driver and Gerwig certainly deliver great performances, sometimes the dialogue is too robotic to be believable. A sentence working on the page does not necessarily translate into it working on the screen. Still, this is definitely worth the watch, especially if you enjoy directors like Charlie Kaufman or writers like Thomas Pynchon.
2. Bones and All.
Director Luca Guadagnino had already proven himself a master of body horror in his 2018 remake of Suspiria, and in Bones and All he continues to pursue a similar kind of gruesomeness. This time, however, his approach to horror is more contemplative. The camera does not shy away from Timothée Chalamet or Taylor Russell feverishly masticating the flesh of their victims as they travel through the American Midwest. Surprisingly, this sincere treatment does not turn them into unlikeable beasts. It shows them for what they are: two outcasts trying to get by in a society that marginalizes them. Although I would be hesitant to draw a comparison between literal cannibals and any real-life oppressed group, Bones and All still manages to come across as a very heartfelt bildungsroman that is definitely worth the watch if only for its beautiful cinematography.
1. The Fabelmans.
Speaking of bildungsroman, last year saw the release of The Fabelmans in which Spielberg directs his own coming of age as an artist. This half drama, half attempt at self-mythologizing really wins you over despite (or maybe thanks to) its cheesiness. This is not to say that the acting is bad – Paul Dano and Michelle Williams do a terrific job playing dysfunctional parents, which might not have worked so well with other actors. I am referring to certain scenes that border on self-indulgence on Spielberg’s part, but these are scarce and never ruin the experience of watching the film. Judd Hirsch and David Lynch undeniably steal the show, even if their respective screen time is less than 5 minutes in a 2 and a half hour film. The box office might not agree, but The Fabelmans is perhaps Spielberg’s greatest work in recent years.
Joan Vega is an English major on the literature track in his final year of college. He spends his days reading modernist writers and listening to music. His favorite movie genres include horror and tragicomedy.