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Thread: A Monster Calls (J.A. Bayona)

  1. #1
    In the belly of a whale Henry Gale's Avatar
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    A Monster Calls (J.A. Bayona)

    BlacKkKlansman (Lee, 2018) **** / 9.1
    Murder On The Orient Express (Branagh, 2017) *** / 8.3
    Mission: Impossible Fallout (McQuarrie, 2018) *** / 8.8
    Blindspotting (Estrada, 2018) *** / 8.4
    Leave No Trace (Granik, 2018) *** / 8.6
    Eighth Grade (Burnham, 2018) *** / 8.5
    Sorry To Bother You (Riley, 2018) **** / 9.2
    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Bayona, 2018) ** / 5.9
    2001: A Space Odyssey [in 70mm] (Kubrick, 1968) **** / 10

  2. #2
    In the belly of a whale Henry Gale's Avatar
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    Didn't think all that much of it throughout most of its running time but then proceeded to cry all through the last 10 minutes so \_(ツ)_/
    BlacKkKlansman (Lee, 2018) **** / 9.1
    Murder On The Orient Express (Branagh, 2017) *** / 8.3
    Mission: Impossible Fallout (McQuarrie, 2018) *** / 8.8
    Blindspotting (Estrada, 2018) *** / 8.4
    Leave No Trace (Granik, 2018) *** / 8.6
    Eighth Grade (Burnham, 2018) *** / 8.5
    Sorry To Bother You (Riley, 2018) **** / 9.2
    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Bayona, 2018) ** / 5.9
    2001: A Space Odyssey [in 70mm] (Kubrick, 1968) **** / 10

  3. #3
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    From the praises of the book, I suppose there's a bit lost in translation here. At its core this is a pretty powerful story, and rather gratifyingly dark and uncompromising for a supposed YA target. However, it is sometimes clumsy in translating those ideas and themes into a film, so especially in the early goings, this feels more like didactic and overtly metaphorical manipulation.

    The film does gather more details and specificity as it goes along though, having a stronger and stronger cumulative power, to some hugely devastating effects. Bayona also directs the fantasy sequences with appropriately imaginative wonders. It's not an animated film, but it might have some of the most gorgeous animation of the year, so evocative and reminding me of Deathly Hallows Part 1's The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and all of it are crucial in having both us and the boy take plights from the intense real world to invest in these fantasy manifestation of a troubled mind, until it can't be contained anymore.

    Speaking of, Lewis MacDougall as the main protagonist is phenomenal, his raw frustration and unbearable heartbreak feeling like a real weight on his whole body and expressive face. Your mileage may vary, but the trauma he's able to convey makes the manipulation and tears feel real and earned enough for me; he pierces through all my defenses.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  4. #4
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Yeah, really can't disagree with the sentiments expressed in this thread so far. This story definitely worked better as a novel overall, and much of the movie seemed to struggle in how to properly translate it to film. But damn if that last 10 or 15 minutes isn't super effective, and I wasn't left a mess in a puddle of my own tears. And Lewis MacDougall was tremendous. Excellent performance that really carried this movie when it counted most.

  5. #5
    In the belly of a whale Henry Gale's Avatar
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    Yeah it's sat well with me since September, I just think it was that during a TIFF that also gave me La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, The Handmaiden, Voyage of Time, Loving, and (the still unreleased) The Bad Batch, the filmmaking here just left something to be desired by direct comparison.

    There's still an impression of staleness from at least the middle third of it that I can't shake, but again, it all ended with me (and seemingly everyone else in the building) in tear ducts squeezed for everything they were worth, so there's no denying its power there, or that the rest of it caught up to it and culminated effectively.
    BlacKkKlansman (Lee, 2018) **** / 9.1
    Murder On The Orient Express (Branagh, 2017) *** / 8.3
    Mission: Impossible Fallout (McQuarrie, 2018) *** / 8.8
    Blindspotting (Estrada, 2018) *** / 8.4
    Leave No Trace (Granik, 2018) *** / 8.6
    Eighth Grade (Burnham, 2018) *** / 8.5
    Sorry To Bother You (Riley, 2018) **** / 9.2
    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Bayona, 2018) ** / 5.9
    2001: A Space Odyssey [in 70mm] (Kubrick, 1968) **** / 10

  6. #6
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    This didn't even crack the Top 10 in the US box office.

  7. #7
    One of the most underrated films of last year I think, based on the reaction here and among the folks I follow on Letterboxd. This is an expertly constructed look at processing grief - it really is wonderfully directed - and I can't really go along with the fact that it is too on the nose - in reality it is told completely from the point of view of the boy (seriously, he is in every scene and we never, ever see anything that is not through his eyes or in his imagination) and thus needs to be a little more clumsy and a little more didactic. And, seriously, Lewis MacDougall would be on the short list for best child performance of all time. He is phenomenal.

    This is really an interesting companion piece to Manchester by the Sea, which WAS embraced by your typical Letterboxd film buff (and which I also liked a lot). There seems to be a bias towards repressed, suppressed, "subtle" emotions that never get articulated at the expense of melodramatic, emotionally direct films - and I can see why, because we like to discover our empathy and feelings ourselves. But this is about a kid trying to figure out a whole bunch of shit above his pay grade, and it benefits from its swoony, surface level melancholy.
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  8. #8
    Social Retard Isaac's Avatar
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    I don't think this was ever released in theaters in my area.

  9. #9
    Replacing Luck Since 1984
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    I feel like this is everything BFG should have been and more.

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  10. #10
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Dukefrukem (view post)
    I feel like this is everything BFG should have been and more.
    Hell, I already forgot that movie even existed. But this, so much.

  11. #11
    Replacing Luck Since 1984
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    Quote Quoting TGM (view post)
    Hell, I already forgot that movie even existed. But this, so much.
    I get that BFG was an adaptation too, but it's still kind of hilarous that Spielberg opted (not that he was given the choice) to make the dumber movie about giants vs giants. Would have loved to see him behind this instead.

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  12. #12
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    Very good film, this one. I agree with all the praise towards the child performance which is incredible. I was often reminded of I Kill Giants (the comic) but I think this movie's plot was even a little better in how it linked the fantasy with the kid protagonist's conflict.

    Another awesome one from Bayona. It's a shame he's currently doing Jurassic World, probably as a direct result of this one underperforming.

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