At the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to watch more movies again, because I noticed I hadn't been watching as frequently as years past, and it's not like the movie industry is slowing down anytime soon. At the same time I decided to look into a little studio called A24, because I had just seen The Florida Project and wanted to know more about this little indie company. Turns out they're a pretty big company now, winning Academy awards and getting nominated left and right, and in my research I discovered that the few A24 films I had already seen were really good.
So I decided to combine my newfound passion for A24 with my goal to watch more movies, and here we are. I'm watching every A24 movie, from start to finish (here's hoping it never ends), and now that I've gotten through their first 10 pictures, I want to give my brief thoughts on each.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III (2013)
I must say, when this turned out to be the first movie I was a bit worried. It's not a terrible film, but it's definitely one of the worst of the first ten. That said, it was enjoyable watching Charlie Sheen's character, Charles Swan III, go on an emotional journey following a breakup. The supporting characters each go through a little development as a result of Charles's actions, and everything gets wrapped up at the end. I wasn't a huge fan of the way it all came together, but it was fun to watch Charles's absurd life unfold, especially as he fantasizes about being a brave hero saving the damsel, in various scenarios.
Final Thought: You could skip it, fo sho.
Ginger & Rosa (2013)
I didn't know what kind of movie Ginger & Rosa would turn out to be, but I'm glad I watched this little gem. Ginger and Rosa are best friends living in England during the Cold War, and the story focuses on Ginger as her life slowly changes in every scene. We see her discover that her relationships are not what they seem between her and her mother, her father, and even her best friend Rosa. All of these personal dilemmas are mixed into her ever-growing passion for reform and revolution, fighting to save a society which seems doomed to destroy the world. Elle Fanning did a fantastic job as Ginger, giving just the right amount in every scene to glean insight into her troubled life.
Final Thought: Don't overlook this little gem.
Spring Breakers (2013)
When I first saw this movie being promoted, I thought it was just some mindless teen flick exploiting spring break culture as a cash grab. But going into it years later, I had actually heard some great reviews over on The Film Vault, and I was excited to finally see it. Well, let me tell you, Spring Breakers is definitely one of my favorites of these first 10 films. I can see why it helped launch A24, being a sharp look at not just spring break culture, but the desire of so many young people to have a care-free life, break the rules, not work, and still feel like an important part of society. And then there's James Franco, who did do a great job as the gangster and rapper Alien, but isn't the greatest person in the world.
Final Thought: Definitely worth the watch, despite James Franco.
The Bling Ring (2013)
At this point, I've started to get a feel for the pacing in these A24 films. Slow is one way to put it, but I'd say deliberate. At first glance, I thought the Bling Ring was going to be poppin', but I was disappointed after the first few trudging scenes. There are some cool shots, no doubt, but with the concept of reckless teens stealing from celebrities, I expected more of a fun time. I thought Emma Watson's portrayal of Nicki was distracting throughout the film, but after watching an interview of the real-life Bling Ring criminal Alexis Neiers, she was pretty spot on with her very annoying tone of voice. Still, this is a boring look at youth and their obsession with celebrities and fame, and I feel like it was a missed opportunity to make a fun movie.
Final Thought: You're not missing anything by skipping this.
The Spectacular Now (2013)
The Spectacular Now was one the few movies I heard of in advance, and for good reason. It's a memorable love story about two teenagers that are a bit lost and need each other to grow. This was the first time I've seen Shailene Woodley in any role and she did great, but I was able to relate to Miles Teller's Sutter Keely on a personal level, because my father also left my family when I was young. That said, there was one scene in particular that took my breath away, but I don't want to spoil it so be sure to check this one out.
Final Thought: Watch it, you'll like it.
Denis Villeneuve is officially one of my favorite directors. I went on about Blade Runner 2049 in My Top 5 Movies of 2017, but I also loved Arrival, really enjoyed Prisoners, and Sicario wasn't half bad either. Enemy sits right in the middle of the 5 films I've seen of his, because Jake Gyllenhaal does a spot on job convincing us he's two different characters... but is he? I can't say too much about this one, but I'll give you the concept: A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie. Sounds interesting, right?
Final Thought: You've gotta see this one, it's great.
Under the Skin (2014)
I thought The Bling Ring was bad, and that Charles Swan was worth skipping, but Under the Skin did nothing for me to even come close to recommending it. If there was some higher message the movie was trying to get across, I missed it, and I enjoy trying to decipher avant-garde films. Scarlett Johansson plays an otherworldly being that seduces men and then... steals their skin? The first half of the film is light on plot, and heavy on atmosphere -- soul-crushing atmosphere. The second half picks up the plot a little, giving Scarlett's character a short and tragic story arc, that just made me happy the movie was over.
Final Thought: Skip this was a slow burn with no pay off.
Locke is one of the few A24 films I've seen before I started this journey, so I skipped the second viewing to save time. However, I would love to watch it again once I've seen all the A24 movies, because it is a really enjoyable movie that should be the definition of limited storytelling. Tom Hardy plays Locke, a supervisor of a large concrete pour (which he's very proud of), and the entire film takes place over the course of a two-hour car ride. Yes, that's right, the whole film is just Tom Hardy in his car, during which he holds 36 phone calls and goes on a roller-coaster of an emotional journey, all leading to an satisfyingly ironic ending.
Final Thought: I'd watch it again, so you should watch it at least once.
Obvious Child (2014)
It's cool that a lot of the A24 films are directed by women, and this one definitely has a woman's touch. In Obvious Child I learned quite a bit about what it's like to be a woman, although I can only imagine this isn't even the half of it. Jenny Slate plays amateur comedian Donna Stern, who has a one night stand with the love interest, gets pregnant on accident, and decides to have an abortion. We follow her as she grows into a more responsible adult, falls in love (maybe), and wrestles with the idea of having the abortion and how that affects what others think of her, while still being confident with her decision. It showed me a side to abortion and female choice I hadn't had any reason to know before, and I thought it was refreshing, even if the rest of the plot was a little forgettable.
Final Thought: Men should watch it and learn something.
The Rover (2014)
And now, the most recent A24 film I've seen is The Rover, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. The poster makes the movie look cooler than it is, and I kept waiting for Mad Max to show up in this dystopian Australian outback drama. It's a high concept film, with Eric's (Guy Pearce) sole motivation being to get his car back after it was stolen by some ruffians. He takes Pattinson's Rey along with him, since he's the only one who knows where the car might be, because it was his brother who stole it. I honestly don't think I'll remember any of the journey, but what will definitely stick with me is the moment you see why he's so driven to find his car.
Final Thought: I probably shouldn't suggest you watch it to see the end, but I liked the ending in a weird way.
So, 10 down and a little over 60 to go. The movies I'm looking forward to in the next batch include Tusk, The Captive, and Revenge of the Green Dragons. I'll let you know what I think of each in the next installment!