Hereditary

Went to Girls School Cinema in East Perth to see Hereditary on Sunday night. I had missed it at the mainstream movies but I’d heard it should be seen on the big screen if possible.

It’s the story of a family – Annie (Toni Collette), Steve (Gabriel Byrne), their son Peter (Alex Wolff) and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). The death of Annie’s mother begins a series of grisly and disturbing events that leads her to the heart of a generations-old mystery.

I’d psyched myself up, because I had seen the trailer, which made it look like a combination of every fucked-up horror movie you’re ever seen, times 10. Amusingly, if you haven’t heard, at Event Cinemas they mistakenly played it during the previews for Peter Rabbit, totally freaking out a bunch of children and their mums (probably mainly the mums).

And I’d heard from my friend Sigrid, who is intimately acquainted with horror cinema, that it was one of the most disturbing movies she’d ever seen either. So, grimly prepared, I only let out one terrified mewling noise during the entire thing, which I was rather proud of.

The Ministry of course let out muffled snorts of laughter throughout, which we know was only his male pride deciding to view awful things as funny in order to protect himself emotionally. Right?

Because probably what was worst about this movie was its raw depiction of loss and grief and the terrible dynamics that can fester within families. It’s the combination of that with the intense horror scenes that made it so unusually confronting a movie.

All the performances were excellent, particularly Alex Wolff as the guilty, fearful and confused teenager Peter, but Collette was the obvious standout. She should win an Oscar for that performance. Her pain was awful to behold. It just remains to be seen whether an Oscar could go to a performance in a genre film.

It should! This is a smart genre film, with a dense plot. I’ve decided the use of the miniatures Collette’s character is crafting is just to keep you guessing and kind of freaked out by them (alternative theories welcome in the comments). But there were other elements of the storyline that didn’t seem to make sense, or that we thought were maybe just included for gratuitous horror purposes. We had to Google them before going, “ooooohhhhhh” and concluding that yes, it all made sense. It makes a nice change when a movie makes you work for it just a little.

This is required viewing for horror fans and Collette devotees. I fit both categories and so I’m glad I got to see it on the big screen for the full effect. It was an excellent film. But if you’re not in either category, maybe give yourself a break and pick something funny instead.

 

 

 

 

 

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Life of Pi (2013)

I need not have worried. Life of Pi the movie was visually spectacular – check; sweeping and majestic – check; densely wove themes of religion, love, identity, and the nature of humanity, story and truth – check; depicted passage of time, minutely detailed how to survive at sea and journeyed into fantastic worlds – check.

Even more happily, it did all this neatly within the allotted two hours.

I was amazed by the skill of this storytelling. I was so excited I spent most of the time alternately shrinking back in my chair or almost jumping out of it. The rest of the time I spent silently leaking tears.

I loved this movie so much that I sat there throughout all the ads, all the previews and all the movie, despite the coffee AND the diet coke (I went hungover. I needed both. Don’t judge me). After a while I forgot that I even had a body that needed to pee. I was just spellbound.

The CG and the cinematography were lovingly done, and that tiger was damned impressive.

The two small factors – don’t want to ruin any surprises so will mention only briefly – that I noticed differed significantly from the book were the lack of graphic physical violence and blood-and-bone savagery, and the absence of a plot point in its latter half.

These, really, concerned me not a jot. Go for it. Go for the PG audience. The story deserves the widest audience possible, and our imaginations can fill in the rest.

I am glad about how Ang Lee chose to portray the story Pi tells in hospital towards the end, with an unerring focus on Pi’s face as he tells a story that increases in horror and intensity as it unfolds.

At the end, I even had a cathartic “aha!” moment, in which one line – “and so it is with God” – finally made sense to me. It closed the aching little wound Pi’s horrible story had opened up and filled me with the peace of understanding and acceptance.

Well, it did!

I loved this movie, and I hope Lee wins his Best Director and Best Picture Oscars.