2 posts categorized "Magical Realism"

January 14, 2019

A BOY CALLED SAILBOAT

Sailboat posterAustralian actor-turned-director Cameron Nugent’s debut feature is an inept magical realist story infused with a tone-deaf sense of humor and a vague sense of thematic direction. This film’s rudderless political subtext, involving an immigrant Mexican family living in an unnamed dusty American border town, gives way to bizarre sexual content (witness Jake Busey’s cock-show as an elementary school teacher in tight sweat pants with no underwear). A pro-Big-Tobacco message gets smuggled in for good measure. Shooting guns into the air for no reason also happens out of context. Nothing adds up.

Noel Gugliemi plays Jose, a face-tattooed Chicano family man with Meyo (Elizabeth De Razzo), his loyal housekeeping wife, and their six-year-old son Sailboat (Julian Atocani Sanchez). Jose supports his family’s leaning ramshackle house with a single wood beam that prevents the structure from collapsing on its occupants, ostensibly killing them. Jose drives around in a homie-not-approved four door ‘50s Oldsmobile missing its backseat doors.

There might be some arcane political commentary the filmmakers are attempting to make with the collapsing-house metaphor, but it doesn’t come across. 

Sailboat2

The child actor Sanchez delivers monotone voice over narration that upends the movie before it gets started.

“You find the most important things when you’re not looking.” Sailboat finds a ukulele that every character inexplicably calls a guitar.

Sailboat 1

This “important thing” enables our young musical prodigy to write a song that casts a spell over anyone who hears it. The problem is that the filmmakers didn’t go to the trouble of creating a piece of music to fill the bill. They instead play a single tone akin to a honking car horn whenever Sailboat performs his soul-quenching sonic creation. This is just lazy filmmaking. It’s infuriating for an audience to feel so openly insulted by irresponsible filmmakers.

Without irony, a repeating guitar motif arrives in the guise of “The Sound of Silence.”

JK Simmons

J.K. Simmons’s presence seemingly endorses “A Boy Called Sailboat,” although the A-List actor probably shot his scenes in a single day, and didn’t know much about the movie beyond his isolated bit as a used vehicle salesman in the middle of nowhere.

The people who come from miles around to hear Sailboat play his (silent) song sure do enjoy Meyo’s spicy meatballs. There are a lot of things not right about “A Boy Called Sailboat,” not the least of which are the mixed messages the film sends to kids. This is not a movie to leave laying around for your children to watch alone or even with parental guidance.

Not Rated. 92 mins. (D) 

One Star

November 29, 2017

THE SHAPE OF WATER

Shape_of_waterThe five years that Guillermo Del Toro spent writing and developing “The Shape of Water” (with co-writer Vanessa Taylor) pays off handsomely for this return-to-form behind Del Toro’s most recent masterpiece “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006).

The wildly imaginative auteur once again delves into magic realism, albeit with a determinedly America-based story that presses on social issues of racism and sexism in a methodical way. Everything about the film is balanced to an acute degree. The result is an instant classic of magical realism that takes the viewer deep into the souls of the narrative’s six primary characters; no simple feat, especially considering that one of them is a tall sea creature capable of biting the head off a cat or of falling in love with a human.

Richard Jenkins

“The Shape of Water” is a movie that works best the less you know about it going in. Suffice it to say the story is set in Cold War era Baltimore where a mute cleaning woman (played with earthy aplomb by Sally Hawkins) finds an unexpected soulmate. The ubiquitous Richard Jenkins gives a beautifully nuanced portrayal of a closeted gay ad artist living in the oppressive political landscape of 1962 America. Michael Shannon is ideally cast as a Government agent brought in to investigate, assess, and supervise a sea creature (elegantly embodied by Doug Jones) that is considered to be a God in his country of origin.

Sally Hawkins

Paul D. Austerberry’s flawless production design supports Del Toro’s mercurial approach to a stunning color palate of watery blues and greens. You will never think of turquoise, or “teal,” the same way again. Few films achieve the stunning beauty that this one does.

Most pronounced is Del Toro’s effective use of sexuality to ground his characters in their humanity, or lack thereof. The terrain is magically real, but the characters are anchored in their humanity and corporal needs.

Shape-Of-Water

“The Shape of Water” is an unapologetically adult movie that commands multiple viewings. It is not a film to be watched on a small screen. This film’s estimable visual impact requires a large scale in order to drink in and digest its narrative weight. As the title implies, this is a movie that surrounds the viewer’s psyche and physical being. It is a film that achieves everything it sets out to accomplish. The cinematic experience of watching it is truly breathtaking. That Del Toro was able to make the movie on a budget of just $19.3 million, with Toronto sitting in for Baltimore, is a testament to his visionary and communicative abilities as a gifted filmmaker capable of creating real magic.  

Rated R. 123 mins. (A) (Five stars — out of five stars)


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