Movie Review Roundup – LIFE, RAW, and WILSON

This weekend was filled with multiple releases.  Click through for our look into Focus World's RAW, Sony Pictures' LIFE and Fox Searchlight's WILSON.

Based on the graphic novel WILSON written by Daniel Clowes, Woody Harrelson stars as Wilson, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope who reunites with his estranged wife (Laura Dern) and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara) he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her.  From WILSON website.

Daniel Clowes work is material that seems off-kilter and weird at first glance, but with a little time and commitment actually screams reality.  WILSON is a perfect example of a witty yet completely outlandish character that is on a even more trippy journey.  But moments after leaving the film the first three fellow critics I talked with all repeated my thoughts.  "I feel like I've met this guy, or at least someone similar".  That is the crazy reality to Clowes graphic novels and film adaptations, he seems to know real weird people really freaking well.  The neurotic Wilson is a reflection of so many qualities shared by folks all over the place.  It's that commonality with the uncommon person that actually makes Wilson fully enjoyable.  It's funny, it's kooky and it's actually quite moving.  Overall the investment in the unusual lead of Wilson gives insight into those quirky characters (or yourself maybe!) that are so real and vivid in our lives.  Wilson's plot is a bit outlandish to decipher other than it's a personal odyssey that pulls in the most intriguing of connected folks.  But it's the lessons we see learned and not learned by crazy Wilson that highlight the truth in understanding our day to day neurotic lives.  This is a film that deserves your time simply because it'll shock you how much you do know these weird ass folks. 

Everyone in Justine’s family is a vet. And a vegetarian. At 16, she’s a brilliant and promising student. When she starts at veterinary school, she enters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world. During the first week of hazing rituals, desperate to fit in whatever the cost, she strays from her family’s principles when she eats raw meat for the first time.

Justine will soon face the terrible and unexpected consequences of her actions as her true self begins to emerge…

From RAW website.

First off, RAW is not as gory and crazy as the trailer hints.  The film actually showcases a unique and honest look at how awkward the transition can be in a young person's life.  Especially the jump into the big bad world of college.  Whether it's a Vet school in France or Kansas, either way sometimes life and college violently collide.  Now the collisions that are going on in Raw are extremely vibrant, violent and vulgar.  Justine's coming of age begins so innocently and each escalation is fascinating in it's believability.  The outside world of the vet school may come across as to out there to be real, but honestly it echoes most college atmospheres just with more horse blood.  The sexuality and even the crazy amounts of blood don't really seem that far out of place from most of our college experiences.  I honestly felt like I saw just as wild ass shit at UNT as Justine goes through at this French vet school…minus the horse blood of course.  The drugs obviously scream reality for any generation of human from 1960 to modern times.  So once you get past the OMG this is so crazy and look at the reality of what is going on you can tackle the slight weird tone that the filmmaker is touching on.  This film to me is not about a cannibal figuring out what she is, but rather is a young girl awakening to the truth that has burned inside her for all her life.  The shocking reveal at the end of the film showcases just how knowledgeable those "older" folks are to this crazy ass world.  There is a wonderful moment in the film where the two daughters see a picture of their successful intelligent mother shown in the same ridiculous "rookie" hazing year pic they have been involved.  The ending fully brings that photo to full reflection when you realize just how wild ass the connection is for this family.  Also it makes the opening car accident sequence seem all the more surreal when you gather that it could have been in the future or the past!  Yes, Raw is gory, filled with sex, drugs and evil rock n roll (well techno rap fusion but whatever) but damnit it's also really good and insightful.  Just as last year American Honey was a bold film that needed to be seen, I hope folks will flock to see this outrageous and important film.  Take a chance and don't worry the subtitles aren't that tough, especially when the film doesn't need that much dialog to freak with your mind.

A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.  From LIFE website.

LIFE is a film that is beautiful but sadly obvious.  Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey continues to showcase just how bad ass he is.  Life looks and feels so real.  The cast is fun with the big names and the slightly not that well known diverse supporting cast.  The plot is the issue.  The film has a rather fun tag line and yet the more you continue down this story the more you realize o fuck you better not end this the way I know you will.  That is the ultimate issue I have with the film.  It's fully enjoyable and has the regular cliches that make space movies fun, but that is really all that is here.  Calvin, the LIFE form, for instance is a unique creature until it becomes the crazy killing figure we know it will become.  The screenplay tries it's best to continue to remind us that Calvin is merely showing survival skills and that means obviously killing everyone…blah blah.  Please just don't make this a film that shows Calvin reaching it's obvious "sequel" begging (but won't ever happen cuz you've already proven it's an indestructible super Life form…).   But as this predictable film does you are left with what you knew was going to happen.  Now that simple fact of where the film is going is why this is a schlocky blockbuster summer popcorn film and instead a wildly inventive "alien" film like Arrival or even the unique 10 Cloverfield Lane.  That's not to say you can't enjoy the film.  Just don't expect to have a grand change of your world by seeing this typical summer alien film.  I will once again point out McGarvey is an awesome Cinematographer and the cast is a lot of fun, especially our good buddy Hiroyuki Sanada!  Overall a film that will be seen by a lot of folks, but don't kid yourself, T2 Trainspotting, Raw and Wilson are all better releases this past weekend.

Until next weekend's batch of films.