Connect with us

Blog

Cannes Film Review: Wonderstruck

The meticulousness of Haynes’s execution overburdens his work’s conceptually exhilarating sense of wonder.

Published

on

Cannes Film Review: Wonderstruck

Full as it is with ideas from, and allusions to, Todd Haynes’s other films, Wonderstruck still represents the director’s most dispiriting work to date. This story of children finding themselves through their discovery of art and the past is adapted from Brian Selznick’s Y.A. novel of the same time, so it inevitably bares some resemblance to Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo, which was also a Selznick adaptation. But the better comparison, ludicrous as it sounds, is an entirely different Y.A. adaptation, one released the same year as Scorsese’s: the execrable Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Haynes, with a film light on dialogue and entirely too reliant on Carter Burwell’s impressive, ever-expanding and changing but nonetheless incessant score, draws on the hollow sentimentality of his premise rather than the emotional specificity of his characters’ engagement with the art and history that saves them.

A lot of the reason for that comes down to the oppressive formal control exerted over this story. Both of the film’s central characters are deaf: Ben (Oakes Fegley), a boy growing up in 1970s Gunflint Lake, Minnesota, and Rose (Millicent Simmons), a girl of about the same age but in a parallel storyline set initially in 1920s Hoboken, New Jersey. Because of their ailments, Haynes conducts much of his film as if it were a silent, at least logistically. Rose’s story, shot in black and white, begins in the cinema, with the girl captivated by the fictional silent Daughter of the Storm, starring her estranged actress mother, Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore). Rose, frustrated with her father thrusting deaf manuals on her, runs away to New York City, where her mother is transitioning from silents to the stage in the dawn of the talkies.

There are shades of The Artist here, and it’s hard to imagine why those who took umbrage with the way that film paid homage to the silent era—by exercising a disinterest for its aesthetics and cheaply riffing on period whimsy—are giving Haynes a pass for a similar result here. Wonderstruck was shot by Carol cinematographer Edward Lachman, who captures Rose’s misadventures with the generally stately elegance he brought to Haynes’s 2015 film—and with the same entirely modern grammar. In Carol, the anachronism of Lachman’s intimate, period-defying visuals complemented a challenge to its era’s social mores. Here, the cinematography cuts against what’s otherwise Haynes’s most hermetic fetish object, and for no clear purpose.

The film’s other narrative varies its influences and techniques but also feels even more incoherently motivated in terms of its style. Unlike Rose, Ben isn’t born deaf; in an early scene that flashes on the surrealistic montage of Haynes’s Poison, a reference point never really picked up again, the boy is struck by lightning, which forces him to communicate primarily by pen and paper—and leaves the film prone to tedious shot sequences of a confused-looking Ben and close-ups of his notebook. Ben’s interest in his past and lack of a future at home likewise leads him to the Big Apple, and begins the film’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close-esque treasure-hunt portion, which is ultimately much less engaging than Haynes’s indulgence of a seedy ‘70s NYC milieu, as in a montage set to the Etta James’s deep cut “All the Way Down.”

Haynes clearly intends for all of these disparate narrative directions to find a certain thematic and emotional unity through two extended set pieces, one involving the Museum of Natural History in New York and an intuitive crosscutting between Ben and Rose’s simultaneous exploration of the space in two different time periods. But this is also the point in the film when Haynes hurriedly wraps up one of his narrative threads and rushes into his ambitions final act, with a sequence that plays as both the most exciting in the film and its most frustratingly perfunctory. Again drawing on a nostalgia for his earlier work (this time the reference being to his superlative Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story), Haynes packs a lot of information into a visually flamboyant but exasperatingly expository denouement. If nothing else, it feels like the perfect encapsulation of the film and its failings in miniature (quite literally). There’s an increasing sense that the meticulousness of Haynes’s execution overburdens his work’s conceptually exhilarating wonder.

The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 17—28.

Advertisement
Comments

Blog

Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

Published

on

Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

Continue Reading

Blog

Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

Published

on

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

Continue Reading

Blog

Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

Published

on

Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Donate

Slant is reaching more readers than ever, but as online advertising continues to evolve, independently operated publications like ours have struggled to adapt. We're committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees—so if you like what we do, please consider becoming a Slant patron:

Patreon

You can also make a donation via PayPal.

Giveaways

Advertisement

Newsletter

Advertisement

Preview

Trending