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Movies to watch in quarantine: ‘The Lighthouse,’ ‘High Life,’ ‘Ford v Ferrari’

This week, Mark York and Nitish Vaidyanathan review ‘The Lighthouse,’ ‘High Life,’ and ‘Ford v Ferrari’

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Recommend movies for us to watch using this form, which is also embedded at the bottom of our article.

Intro: Hi! We’re Mark and Nitish, and we (like most of you, we hope) are practicing social distancing to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. We recognize that this is a super stressful time for a lot of people and that many of you are being harmed by the virus in one way or another. So, we thought we’d do something that would hopefully lighten the mood. We are going to be watching and reviewing movies available on streaming platforms. Our column will be published (roughly) every week on Wednesdays. We hope that you can watch along, send us your thoughts and recommend movies that you like or want us to watch. Best of luck to all of you in these trying times!

(Photo: A24)

The Lighthouse” (Released in 2019; watched by us on June 15, 2020)

A psychological horror film by Robert Eggers, which we watched on Amazon Prime!

Mark:

A little over a month ago, I wrote a not-so-enthusiastic review of “The Witch” — or, “The VVitch” — if you made a typo in your script and decided to lean into it instead of admitting your mistake. Robert Eggers’ experimental fever dream of a movie had artistic merit but also some massive limitations, and it stood out to me mostly as an embodiment of why I thought the horror genre did not work for me. 

Little did I know that Robert Eggers went on to direct one of the best movies of 2019. 

Yes, it makes you almost doubt your prior opinions when a director you had previously criticized goes on to create a masterpiece. It is like a reverse Bong Joon Ho situation (in which I loved “Parasite,” only to later discover and hate “Snowpiercer.”). But, I really do think “The Lighthouse” improves on Eggers’s frightening, surreal, and very very weird take on horror, and the result is a masterpiece. The result is also a frightening, rabid beast that I don’t want to go anywhere near. The madness might be contagious. 

“The Lighthouse” follows two lighthouse keepers, the youthful Winslow and his elderly boss, Wake, as things get weird on this deserted island. A storm brews, tensions rise between the two men, hallucinations occur, beans get spilled, mermaids are involved somehow and the lighthouse might be some sort of eldritch abomination — I don’t know what is happening! This is the weirdest movie I have ever seen… and Nitish has made me watch a lot of weird movies. 

I have heard somebody (I believe it was the YouTuber Schaffrillas Productions) liken “The Lighthouse” to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and I can sort of see it. Eggers twists and warps the visuals, audio and any sense of realism — things the audience mostly takes for granted in the typical cinema room. Both movies end in uncertain ways, making the moviegoer unsure of what was supposed to be real and what was hallucination or metaphor. The black-and-white, square ratio of “The Lighthouse” also creates a hypnotizing effect that is difficult to put into words, sort of like the most engrossing parts of Kubrick’s masterpiece. Yet this is where I think the similarities end. 

“2001: The Space Odyssey” is a complex and non-linear story that breaks all the rules that comfort aspiring authors like me. “The Lighthouse,” on the other hand, actually tells a very straightforward story when you get past all the weirdness. It is about Winslow slowly going insane. 

While we do not get all too many humanizing scenes with our two main characters — something I complained about in my previous Eggers review — I think it works here. This is in large part due to the smaller cast. By dedicating roughly 95% of the story either to the leads’ relationship with each other or to their relation to the setting, I believe the audience is in a much better place to understand the nuances of necessary character relationships and the logic — warped or lacking it may be — of their decisions. These characters are not walking, talking horror catalysts; they do not make decisions seemingly only to move the story along. While I cannot imagine Winslow and Wake’s dynamic working outside the horror genre, it works here, and I can understand better how the movie’s events corrupt them. 

Then again, it could be something as simple as the two lead actors — Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson — giving stellar, ten-out-of-ten performances. They not only raise the bar from, in my opinion, the wooden performances in “The Witch” — the two bury said bar alive, then proceed to axe murder it. The acting here is both grounded and other-worldly when it needs to be, making the whole piece come together. These contributing factors go on to make the world of “The Lighthouse” feel lived-in and engrossing, making for one trippy — and unsettling — experience. It works as a horror film, but I think it thrives as just a well-directed, well-shot, well-acted and well-told story in general. I can, with confidence, recommend it. 

Nitish:

I have an ulterior motive in picking this movie and in picking “High Life:” Robert Pattinson is in them. He’s one of modern cinema’s most intriguing actors, kicking off his career in the cinematic equivalent of purgatory that is the “Twilight Saga,” but he’s worked his way into an interesting niche as an arthouse film actor. Most important to me, however, is that he’s jumped from this niche into the waiting shadowy embrace of the Batsuit. I have been a Batman fan since I was three and a half. I have read most of the literally thousands of comics that Batman has appeared in; I have played all of the Arkham video games; I have watched all of the Batman movies (even the one with bat-nipples) and TV shows. I know Batman better than I know myself. For some unknown reason, I was not asked to participate in the casting process for Matt Reeves’ new Batman movie — I forgive you Mr. Reeves, email me anytime for advice — so this is me trying to evaluate Mr. Pattinson’s acting chops before he adorns the famous proprietary tri-weave kevlar suit in front of the big screen. Turns out “The Lighthouse” is a pretty good movie and has a lot going for it other than a Robert Pattinson audition tape. 

“The Lighthouse” is a (drama? horror? religious?) movie by one of America’s most inventive directors, Robert Eggers. It features a grand total of two actors: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. There’s a ton of extraordinary acting; the writing is absurdist and clever; the direction is amazing with some of the best shot composition I’ve ever seen. But most interesting to me is the somewhat-scrutable meaning beneath it all. Eggers yet again conceals a fascinating and intelligent fable within an otherwise excellent movie. This is a great movie, and it definitely deserves your time. 

For starters, Pattinson and Dafoe give incredible performances, and I am definitely feeling good about Reeve’s pick for the new Greatest Detective. Dafoe plays a bizarre lighthouse keeper, and Pattinson plays his new apprentice. They’re both utterly convincing in everything they do, whether it be drunkenly dancing arm-in-arm or conjuring up spells. Pattinson plays a recovering alcoholic who relapses and starts to get driven mad by his addiction and his isolation. Dafoe’s character is mundanely mythological, a lighthouse keeper who guards the beacon atop the tower with more venom than Ladon guarding the golden apples. As Mark says, madness is a major feature of this movie, and insanity dances in Pattinson and Dafoe’s eyes. They have a thick turn-of-the-century accent, and I will confess that I had to use subtitles, but it’s still incredibly engaging. I am so very impressed with the acting in this movie, and I think that even if the movie had none of its other admirable qualities, it would be fascinating viewing just as a masterclass in bringing characters to life. 

So I got what I came for: satisfaction with the new Batman. But I ended up getting so much more. Eggers’ shot composition is meticulous and engaging throughout the entire film. He appears to be attempting to give the movie a sense of age, and he uses a square aspect ratio and a black-and-white color palette. These two tricks may seem gimmicky, but Eggers elevates these choices to fascinating and very effective artistic features. The monochrome cinematography transforms the sea and the torrential downpour into earthshaking forces of nature. It also accentuates the contrast between light and dark, and in a movie centered around a lighthouse, this allows for some wonderful shots and moments. The square aspect ratio is probably the more interesting feature though. Eggers uses it to marshall our attention to the characters, and it works like magic. 

So what’s it about? In order for me to discuss this, I will have to give some pretty big spoilers in the next few paragraphs. Consider yourself warned. 

***spoilers start here***

I’ll add a brief disclaimer — this is my interpretation of “The Lighthouse,” and I’m sure it’s not the only one, and I also don’t make any claims to its veracity.

Eggers’ movie resists easy description, and it touches on a ton of themes. To me the most interesting are the theological questions that “The Lighthouse” provokes. Pattinson’s Tommy is a man fleeing his past, trying to turn over a new leaf after murdering a previous boss. His shot at redemption, at entering “The Lighthouse,” comes through the steadfast execution of his duties as a wickie, which is both a lighthouse keeper-in-training and a sort of janitor to keep the place in working order. To me, this set-up is awfully familiar to Eggers’ previous outing in “The VVitch,” with a prior crime acting as a sort of original sin leading to banishment and the current ordeal as a test to achieve salvation. 

I think, as he was in “The VVitch,” Eggers is pessimistic about a human’s ability to resist the forces of evil. The ocean and the rain are cruel isolating forces, pushing Tommy deeper into madness and depression. He is wheedled into breaking his sobriety by Dafoe’s lighthouse keeper. At one point, Tommy’s masterbation is euphemistically described as “self-abuse,” and I think Eggers is being a little more literal here — Tommy’s inability to guard himself from temptation leads to his spiritual reduction. Seagulls are omens of evil, cruel little creatures that torment Tommy and eventually kill him. Evil in the world of “The Lighthouse” is signaled with water: it is an image of a mermaid that leads Tommy astray; the spirits in the glass bottles are indistinguishable from water in the grayscale; the rainstorm floods the house and rips pots and pans from the wall. The small house is no safe refuge from the waves of evil, and it manages to creep in. 

Dafoe’s lighthouse keeper is inspired by Proteus (a shape-shifting sea god jealously guarding his knowledge of the future), but I think he takes on several additional characteristics. In “The VVitch,” I questioned why God was absent while the Devil was present. Eggers seems to be portraying them as one and the same. The keeper is malicious and manipulative, seeking to corrupt Tommy. He offers no sure promise of salvation and indeed refuses to grant it to Tommy. He judges Tommy for conduct that he himself encouraged. He gaslights Tommy, refusing to admit that he had murdered the previous wickie. Dafoe’s God demands adulation and absolute adherence to his will. At one point, Tommy is condemned to a grisly death for the simple act of admitting that he isn’t particularly fond of lobster. This is not an optimistic view of God. 

Denied salvation, Tommy is driven to commit deicide in an attempt to gain it for himself. He rips the key from the keeper’s body and climbs up to the top of the lighthouse, and he gazes upon the light. But it’s too much for him. We close on a shot of a naked Tommy with his entrails being snacked upon by the seagulls. It’s a clear reference to Prometheus, but the act of defiance of the tyrannical god plays a lot differently in “The Lighthouse.” In traditional tellings of the tale of Prometheus (the best, to my reckoning, is Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound”), the obtaining of knowledge and its dissemination to humanity is a profound revolutionary act, the obtaining of freedom. The whole getting pecked to death by birds shebang is the price that Prometheus has to pay for the obtaining of knowledge, a price he readily accepts. But in “The Lighthouse,” the final obtaining of knowledge is what directly precipitates Tommy’s terrible fate. His grisly death is the tragic but inevitable end to a futile attempt to gain salvation in a cruel world that simply cannot allow such a thing. Eggers’ story of God and Man is a brutal tragedy, where God’s promises are lies, and faith and service are no path to heaven. 

***spoilers end here***

Eggers’ vision of the world is stark and uncompromising, and it’s one of the most interesting things about him as a director. I liked “The VVitch” a lot, but here Eggers exceeds himself, asking more interesting questions and posing more intriguing answers. His cinematography is stellar, and he has managed to summon two magnificent performances from his leads. “The Lighthouse” is a masterpiece, an incredible sophomore performance. I am so very deeply impressed by his work here, and I think Eggers is one of the most exciting directors working today. I’m looking forward to his next project. 

(Photo: A24)

High Life” (Released in 2018; watched by us on June 17, 2020)

A very, very graphic sci-fi film by Claire Denis. We watched it on Amazon Prime!

Seriously folks, cannot stress how graphic this movie is — it’s packed with rape, murder and suicide. 

Mark:

Um… ok, dear reader. I can, with confidence, say that “High Life” is a movie. And I can also say that I did not enjoy a single minute of it. I sure wish I was living the HIGH life when seeing it — HA HA! 

Obvious joke aside, we’ve made it no secret that there were movies during this quarantine marathon that Nitish and I did not like. Sure, we might not exactly agree on which ones are the bad ones, exactly (“Secret of NIMH” is not feel good, fight me, Vaidyanathan), but the stinkers were undeniably there somewhere. Yet, despite “Snowpiercer”’s and “The VVitch”’s [Nitish: “The VVitch” was not a stinker, how dare you], I was never in the position where I struggled to get through one of these movies. I never found myself actually procrastinating on my movie watching, choosing instead to do internship work or look up job applications. I never thought I would be in such a terrible state. But “High Life” managed to break me. 

And yet, I can sort of see why somebody might like it…

“High Life” (wow, that’s an objectively dumb title) follows a group of Death Row inmates who are sent on a rocket that was, unbeknown to them, never set to return. This includes our lead character, Monte, played by Robert Pattinson (noticing a theme this week?). The main objective is to extract some energy from a black hole. In the meantime, they are also the subjects of a set of highly invasive scientific experiments at the hands of Dr. Dibs. She is obsessed with creating a child through artificial insemination. 

Also, here is yet another elephant in the room (more of these… fun): this movie depicts rape in its storyline and shows it quite graphically. I won’t go into detail, of course, but I will be discussing its presence, if briefly, in this review. I would not blame you, dear reader, for skipping this segment of the column. In all honesty, that is what I would choose to do. 

Here is the basic gist of my frustration: when I was not bored out of my mind, I was deeply — and repulsively — uncomfortable. These are not things I want to feel in any movie. 

First, I will elaborate on boredom (this is always a good start to a paragraph). While the above premise is the main bulk of the story — it is three-fourths of the Wikipedia summary at least — it is told as a flashback, only really in the middle chunk of the movie. We instead spend the first thirty minutes watching Monte, the only survivor on the ship, trying to take care of a baby. I wanted to die. There were so many long, crawling shots, and the editing was so slow and lingering that this whole first act could have easily been just a five minute sequence. In fact, there was so much baby crying that, no joke, my dog (who usually loves to stay in my room) flat out left in what I presume was annoyance. And he never came back. I don’t think he will ever come back again. Thanks, “High Life!”

But, don’t get me wrong… the whole movie is like this. None of the characters are written to be particularly interesting (well, when they’re not sexual predators, but that’s for later in the review), and the acting all throughout is shockingly wooden. In fact, some major performances — the character of Boyse in particular — felt, in my opinion, bad. Robert Pattinson here is passable, but I wouldn’t call him an asset either. The dialogue is delivered with some odd inflections at points, and there is generally little emotion. I always feel especially bad for picking apart acting because, for whatever reason, it always feels more personal. But to be fair, it is not as though the script and setting is giving these actors a lot to work with… you know, other than being emotionally dead and irritable inmates. This is a classic case of a movie trying to make its characters miserable but failing to give the audience any reason to care about it. 

Yet… we will miss the long, nostalgic shores of boredom. I now have to elaborate on what I meant when I said I felt very, very uncomfortable. As can be easily derived from the premise, there are a lot of sexual themes in this movie, and it does not hesitate to… um, show and not tell. I am not usually one to bash a movie for going sexual, even if I generally prefer that they don’t, but when it is seemingly the only notable thing in its story, that’s when I start to raise some problems. The movie, for some reason, insists on showing us Dr. Dibs, um, entertaining herself for four minutes straight. The film is also not shy about showing off varying body fluids and degrees of nudity. There are also numerous rather graphic rape scenes, meant to demonstrate the oppression and inherent danger of this world… it feels justified, but it does not help the inherent tonal issues in the slightest. I should be clear — none of this I believe is meant to be at all gratifying, but it leaves an undeniably horrible taste in the mouth. Discomfort, especially when it comes to sex, is not a tool I would like to dismiss outright persay. I’m sure it has its place. But when discomfort is the only thing a story manages to make me feel, isn’t there something wrong with that? 

I’m fully aware, however, that there are those more tolerant of these kinds of narratives than I am. There are some that see fiction as a tool for exploring highly uncomfortable themes, situations and hypotheticals. This is especially common in short stories, I find, where the experience will at least be over shortly, but it’s not non-existent in other mediums. Discomfort is the point, and to them, that is not necessarily bad. 

So, despite how much I personally loathed this movie-going experience (and trust me, I did… I ran a day late in this column for exactly this reason) I cannot dismiss it completely. Or at least, I feel ill-prepared to do so. If the initial premise interests you, and you do not mind seeing the darkest aspects of said premise, then it might be worth a watch… maybe. As for me, there was nothing either positive or thought-provoking that I got out of “High Life.” Only negative thoughts, a feeling of genuine nausea, and a baby’s crying stuck in my head like a blaring alarm clock. 

Ending today, I am not sure if I am in the mood to watch another movie for a long while. I just wanna watch “The Great British Bake Off.” 

Nitish:

“High Life” is a movie about prisoners on death row being sent off in a spaceship to a black hole to see if they can harness its energy. But really, it’s about how bored Claire Denis can make me. I kid you not, I got so bored that I watched an entire other movie (“Ford v Ferrari,” it was ok) halfway through this one just to try and get a little less bored. It didn’t work. 

I’m not super great with sci-fi films. I watched Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” with Mark and Noah (who wrote a piece about my experience watching it with him, changing my name to Daryl), and it took me hours to realize it was a masterpiece. So I want to hedge my review — maybe I’m wrong! There may be something to “High Life” that I’m not grasping, a meaning or narrative that eludes me at the moment. 

But as it stands, I think this movie is terrible. Claire Denis’ “High Life” drips with pretension (and with a whole host of bodily fluids to boot), but it seems to offer very little. It’s slow, moving aimlessly from one thread of the narrative to another. I’ve heard very good things about Denis’ direction, so I’ll watch her other films before I make a judgement about her, but this movie is not a good advertisement. It feels like this script was fished out of the trashcan of a middle-school creative writing class, where shock is mistaken for substance and ruthlessly uninteresting stretches of nothingness serve as an almost welcome respite from mediocre (at best!) acting and terrible dialogue. 

I’ll start off with the first thing that caught my eye (in a bad way). The interior design of the set is really, really bland. That might seem like a lame critique, but when shots are held for arbitrarily long times, without any interesting shot composition or camera movement to boot, you start to realize that they’re filming in some random room with a few vaguely spacey looking items strewn around. I get that this film was pretty low-budget, but my roommate made my dorm room feel more high-tech when he strapped a projector to the underside of our bunk bed. The spaceship feels bland. And at least for me, it wasn’t bland in a dystopian way, just in a visually uninteresting way. 

The direction cannot transform this ungainly setting into anything interesting. If you’ve been following along, you know that I love directors that linger on a beautifully composed shot. Denis lingers all over the place, but so rarely on a shot that is compositionally interesting. 

The writing is very, very lackluster. There’s a weird cut to an interview in the earlier parts of the movie that has to be one of the worst ways that I’ve seen exposition delivered. Dialogue is stilted and very clearly pretentious. And again, I don’t mind pretentious writing, but it has to sound good — Sorkin’s script in “The Social Network” has a hum to it, a distinct rhythm. It sounds like poetry, and it’s written by Aaron Sorkin, a man whose pretension knows no bounds. In contrast, Denis’ script is graceless and discordant. 

The acting is not enough to save this movie. The performances are all pretty meh. I really like Robert Pattinson, and he has a few interesting emotional beats, but he is painfully underutilized. Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000 from Outkast!) gives a solid, charismatic performance when he is given something to chew on, but that happens so very rarely. I thought everyone else gave performances that ranged from uninspired to downright bad. 

I can hear you shouting: “But wait Nitish! This is a movie about ideas!” And I ask, where are they? Denis has thought about this movie, clearly, but it’d be nice if she let us into the thinking. There are a variety of grand scenes: where a character masturbates and we get to watch her for three minutes, or where a character tries to rape another and then is killed. We think that these are supposed to mean something. They are shocking, crude and it seems like they ought to mean something. But Denis never helps us connect the dots, never fashions her shocking images into something meaningful. The images that she shows us are haphazard and impressionistic, but there’s no indication of the type of feeling she’s trying to instill. I suppose she could be going for pessimism in human nature — certain parts of this film play like a discount “Lord of the Flies.” But this movie is clearly angling for more, and I just didn’t get it. Some reviewers theorize it’s something about prison reform; others theorize it’s about sexuality and reproduction. I can kind of see vague ways that any one of these themes might play in, but I am flabbergasted as to how they tie together with the complete picture. It’s not that this movie has to have some kind of clear message or argument to be philosophically interesting; it could simply raise interesting questions. But I’m not even clear what it’s about

And I’m inclined to think it’s not my fault. “The Lighthouse”’s themes were not obvious, but we were fed lots of clues. And more importantly, I cared enough to put them together. “The Lighthouse” was interesting enough for me to spend a little extra time trying to figure out what the movie means — reading up on my Greek myths, theorizing about Eggers’ work. It was visually interesting. Performances were airtight. But for “High Life,” the movie is so deeply boring that I don’t think you could pay me to try and figure out what Denis is going for. 

I think this movie sucks. Maybe you’re smarter and more motivated than I am, and maybe you’ll get some profound meaning out of it. If so, I’d be eager to hear your thoughts. But I was just disappointed. 

(Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Ford v Ferrari” (Released in 2019; watched by us on June 19, 2020)

A sports film by James Mangold. We watched it on Hulu!

Mark:

Mind the quick preamble, dear reader — I thought some context would be useful, if not interesting. 

We originally did not plan on reviewing “Ford v Ferrari” for this week. Nitish and I had a sort of Amazon Prime streak planned on paper, but for many reasons, we changed course (haha, get it?). For starters, we had initially planned on reviewing yet another horror movie, and three in one week seemed like a bit much. Also, I was put behind schedule by actively not watching “High Life,” while Nitish just so happened to have watched “Ford v Ferrari” — again, to avoid watching “High Life.” Things just sort of lined up, and since I’d watched this movie before, reviewing this seemed like a kill-two-birds-with-one-car sort of situation. Besides, it is a nice change of pace (Nitish has informed me that this too is a pun). 

Based loosely on a true story, “Ford v Ferrari” follows the unlikely duo of engineer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale). They don’t get along too well, but they put their differences aside as the two are enlisted by the Ford company to perform a seemingly impossible feat: to beat the latest Ferrari in a race. 

It’s a classic underdog movie meets cars (not to be mistaken with the underdog animated movie titled “Cars”), and with movies like these, the critic is hardly needed. If the premise sounds interesting to you, then you will like this movie… this happens to be one of my dad’s favorite movies of the last year.  If the premise does not interest you, then you might get a little less out of it… my mom fell asleep twenty minutes in, proceeded to sleep through it, then had some very weird automotive-related dreams as my dad blasted the movie at full volume. He insisted it was very important. 

As for me, I lie in the middle of the road (another pun — I’m really going full throttle). I like to think that I’ve built up the reputation of being at least somewhat easy to impress, and it doesn’t take a whole lot for me to like a film. The dynamic between our two leads was enough to capture my attention throughout the majority of the film. Driver, Ken Miles, is an especially entertaining character who commands my attention with every scene he’s in — this is, in no doubt, due to Christian Bale’s performance, who does a lot with the admittedly standard temperamental sports star archetype. Unlike most sports movies, “Ford v Ferrari” is able to focus on a duo of characters — a team working together to push the Ford brand past the finish line. By the movie’s end, I truly believed each member was equally vital to reaching the goal, and I enjoyed seeing them work off each other. 

On the other hand, I personally found the history behind the movie to be fascinating as well. Call me a capitalist shill, but I enjoyed the little snippet of brand competition depicted in this film, as they managed to exaggerate the two companies — Ford and Ferrari, of course — just enough to become entertaining characters in and of themselves. Ford becomes this old, scrappy and kind of angry entity that risks becoming obsolete, while Ferrari becomes the snooty, jerkish newcomer. 

Yet “Ford v Ferrari” did not do enough to get me interested in the very core of the story… the car races. I will admit: it is an uphill battle — I cannot even drive, much less am I interested in seeing other people driving in front of me. While through the medium of animation Pixar’s “Cars” franchise is able to use dynamic shots and edits to make the viewer feel in the action, “Ford vs Ferrari” plays out more or less like a typical Nascar bout in my opinion — which, I should remind you, is notoriously boring. I had a hard time following who was winning or losing, or really what was going on in general. Unlike football or wrestling, not enough happens in a car race to keep me interested. 

That aside, I did ultimately enjoy “Ford v Ferrari,” as its portrayal of the human side of this famous story outshines the faults in the sports side. I believe it will at worst make for a harmless, fun and at times even bittersweet flick to pop on as you do your own thing (I’m sure you all have a variety of hobbies throughout this quarantine). And at best, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. I like these odds!

Nitish:

This movie is fine.

I am sorely tempted to leave my review at that one sentence. “Ford v Ferrari” is the carefully-distilled essence of a milquetoast family biopic. There’s an eccentric genius who builds a really fast car despite the meddling of the evil marketing team, and he (spoiler) wins the race. The acting is good. The direction is good. The writing is good. But other than that? Nothing. This movie is an ode to competency and a full-throttled (haha) rejection of artistic ambition. There are some sports movies which I think are better than this because they discuss interesting themes or they have well constructed characters that you empathize with. This movie was stripped of any distinguishing features, almost as if the director feared that if its characters were too well drawn or the cinematography too artistic or the dialogue too engrossing he would have been run over. I will similarly exercise my commitment to fulfilling the bare minimum, and I’ll even use their neat technique of starting and ending the movie with the same quote! Mark said that I should add a few more paragraphs to this review, but I can’t bring myself to. So I’ll conclude:

This movie is fine. 

Contact Mark York at mdyorkjr ‘at’ stanford.edu and Nitish Vaidyanathan at nitishv ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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