Movie Reviews: Where the Crawdads Sing, Robust, Kurt Vonnegut

Published:
13:54 July 14, 2022



Where the Crawdads sing (15)

*

You should never judge a movie by its title but when the title is as horrible as Where The Crawdads Sing, it’s hard to avoid.

It sounds like a line used by a Katharine Hepburn drag act in a Tennessee Williams Wasp parody. This awful, awful title belongs to a much-loved bestselling novel, though, and its 12 million copies sold worldwide demand that a movie be made.

The name at least sends us to the wet swamps and bayous of America’s Deep South. In her first Hollywood starring role, Islington-born Edgar-Jones (Normal People) plays a character known to locals as the Swamp girl.

At the start of the film, Kya is arrested for the murder of the former quarterback in town – which brings us to one of the most mixed courtroom dramas ever filmed. The trial scenes are really just a framing device for a series of flashbacks to his life story. As, one by one, her family abandons her to be away from their abusive father, (Dillahunt) Kya grows up alone in the swamp, becomes a self-taught naturalist and illustrator, before becoming romantically involved with a pair of pretty interchangeable boys. Chase (Dickinson) and Tate (Smith.)

The main problem of the public is not knowing what interests us. With his life at stake, you’d take on the trial, but the movie can’t stand spending one more minute than necessary in that courthouse. Should we be inspired by its independence and its affinity with nature? Or gripped by the heated passion of his Chasentate romantic dilemma? The film employs the rudiments of Southern Gothic but in a chaste way. You’d assume the central character would be wild and savage to some extent, a passionate Catherine luring those hunky Heathcliffes and Edgars into the swamp. But she seems more shy than fiery. Displays of passion are limited to his bare shoulders where his shirt will slide off when things heat up.

I guess it says something for this cutesy, tasteless movie that although it’s built almost entirely of cliches (see Strathairn’s amiable lawyer Atticus Finch), the bizarre way it’s been put together means that a predictable story becomes quite mysterious.

Directed Olivia Newman. With Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Garrett Dillahunt, Sterling Macer Jr and David Strathairn. In cinemas. Duration: 126 mins.


Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) in Columbia Pictures’ WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.
– Credit: Michele K Short

Robust (15)

***

My heart races every time I see the legendary French actor Gérard Depardieu on screen: it always fills me with joy to see someone bigger and crazier than me. The expression letting go suggests flippant contempt, but he throws himself away.

In Robust he essentially plays himself, a temperamental and difficult actor, who grazes constantly, usually with a glass to wash him down and, as a result, lives a life of loneliness, pain and fear. This is a study on corporal punishment.

Opposite him is Aissa (Lukumuena), his new bodyguard. He’s a hulking figure who enjoys wrestling, but seems a bit lost in his physically imposing frame. At the outset, Meyer’s feature debut suggests it’s a provocative exploration of two people trying to come to terms with the alarming disjunction between their outside and their inside.

Soon, however, he settles into a much more conventional play about a pair of mismatched strangers forming an unlikely friendship. It’s safe but still very satisfying. Lukemuena is arguably the more compelling of the two lead performances, but at the very last moment Depardieu wraps up the film with a fantastic, scene-stealing moment.

Directed by Constance Meyer. With Gérard Depardieu, Deborah Lukumuena, Lucas Mortier, Megan Northam, Florence Janas and Steve Tientcheu. In French with subtitles. Duration: 94 mins.


Deborah Lukumuena and Gérard Depardieu in Robust

Deborah Lukumuena and Gérard Depardieu in Robust
– Credit: Athena Films/First Hand Films

Kurt Vonnegut: Unlocked in Time

***

The first line of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five (which comes at the beginning of chapter 2: it’s that kind of book) tells us: “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

Big deal: Over time, we all peel off. When it was released in 1969, Vonnegut’s comedic, time-travelling, sci-fi tale of the Dresden firebombing rang with the Nam-era anti-war zeitgeist and propelled him to the forefront of American authors for a decade or two, before drifting downward. a few levels.

And that biodoc also took off, arriving a few decades too late. It’s as much about how it took four decades to make it as it is about the author. Instead of finishing it, Robert B Weide produced and directed Curb Your Enthusiasm and turned the Vonnegut project into a lasting friendship.

Like all Vonnegut fans, he fell in love with him as a teenager – Vonnegut is surely the greatest children’s/young adult author of all time. His books are short, simple, funny, serious, unconventional, provocative, incredibly easy to read, but 150 pages later you’ve jumped into the realm of literature proper. The best Vonnegut is like The Great American Novel, written by Dr. Zeuss.

Directed by Robert B. Weide and Don Argott. With Kurt Vonnegut, Robert B. Weide, David L. Ulin, Edie Vonnegut and Mark Vonnegut. Duration: 127 mins.


KURT VONNEGUT: UNSTUCK IN TIME STILL 1

Robert Weide and Kurt Vonnegut in ‘KURT VONNEGUT: UNSTUCK IN TIME’ by Robert Weide.
– Credit: Courtesy of B Plus Prods / C. Minnick. An IFC film release.

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