February 8th, 2016

This weekend was catching up with a film from TIFF that I had be meaning to see.

In The Lobster starring Colin Ferrell and Rachael Weisz you have a tale that speaks about love and relationships in a way that is telling (and funny at times) and also strange and weird.   It is a parable of sorts with an underlying theme reflecting how we humans deal with being alone, or seeking out a mate.
The film starts with Colin Ferrell learning of his relationship ending and then checking into a hotel.   There he has 45 days in which to fall in love and find a partner or he is forever changed into an animal of his choice.   He chooses a lobster.  Most people turn into dogs apparently.  He is joined by others and there are rules and a routine in the hotel.  There are some interesting observations made here.   Being true to oneself, compromising one’s values for the sake of a partner, choosing being a couple (even with the wrong person) instead of alone.  Then Ferrell moves to another area where there are Loners, where there are other rules to be followed and he meets Weisz.   A series of events takes place.
In the end there is a conclusion that puzzles me and was not very satisfying.  There are movies like this which deliberately test and challenge the audience.  You are expected to fill in the blanks with often very little to go on.  Here for reasons that are entirely unclear we have actions taking place that make little sense.  And maybe that’s the point but I don’t think so.   It is a head scratcher and pushes this film over to the side where I cannot recommend it.   I did laugh occasionally and found the observations interesting.   Farrell since he has fallen outside the spotlight of Hollywood has done some interesting films like this, and also Miss Julie.     In The Heart of the Sea is next on the list to come.

Monday it was In the Heart of the Sea, the Ron Howard Moby Dick story.   I had heard the lukewarm reviews and some of the commentary that this was a movie that didn’t know what it wanted to be.   Did it want to be Jaws, or perhaps Cast Away?  I think those criticisms miss the point entirely.   This is a movie that is a story about the creating the fictionalized story of Moby Dick.   From a “real life” tale of a whaling vessel attacked by a mammoth white sperm whale, it speaks to the challenges of men at sea and the drive for wealth and riches.  And the author who has to decide how the tale should be remembered and what is the underlying message.

Drunkard and quiet, a man sits at home never speaking of his time on the ship Essex and what happened off the west coast of South America.  His Wife has never heard the tale.  While whaling, there is an attack on the ship by a whale that cripples and sinks the boat and leaves the men for dead.   All the while, the vengeful whale keeps watch to ensure that the crew (who has killed his pod members) suffer.   Then there are the more predictable stories about survival at sea (like Life of Pi, The Bounty or Unbreakable) that take place and the author has to decide what legacy he wishes to leave for this crew.
I thought that the CGI and the scenes with the whales were well done.   The scene which details out how the last few buckets of whale oil are obtained is memorable.   In the end, there are some sappy parts with Hemsworth, but also some ideas like honesty and truth and keeping the memories of fallen friends and colleagues alive with a story.   My Gramps never told me any stories about WWII and his time on the ship.  I wish that he had.   Those stories are gone now forever.   I am glad that this story was told.   The Google/wikipedia story was more poignant in that Melville who wrote Moby Dick did not sell many copies and he ended up writing poetry.   It was only after his death that Moby Dick got any notoriety.  It is now prescribed reading in many schools in the US in high school, but not here.   I have never read it but remember the Gregory Peck version of the movie.   The whales are more believable and rich here than in the previous version.    One thing that CGI can do is bring about more vivid images for whales, sharks, dinosaurs and other massive creatures.   Better than claymation, even claymation that can go down on one another!!

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