Just a thought… Most good movies are about the style, tone and vision of their makers. A director will strike a chord in your imagination and you will be compelled to seek out the other works. Directors become like friends. [Roger Ebert]
Happy Friday! Of course, everyone’s thoughts are with the Canadians competing under our beautiful maple leaf in Korea. In case you’ll be waiting out the night time broadcasts, may I suggest a movie? It’s three weeks now until the Oscars and I thought I’d visit the topic of films again, in the event you were thinking of going to see a movie this weekend. After Wednesday’s journal about the “mean moms of the movies” this year, I got emails asking what I thought of The Shape of Water, which leads the Oscar pack with 14 nominations this year. Let me tell you – with some background.
A good friend here on the island went to see it and, like so many, just didn’t like it. And that’s the thing with this film: people either seem to love it or hate it. I saw it because I knew, with over a dozen nods, there had to be something to it.
I can’t remember going into a film so ready to hold my nose as I was with The Shape of Water because I usually avoid those I know I won’t like. I’m not a big fan of super hero movies or other fantasies (count me among the few who didn’t love the Lord of the Rings or Star Wars films). I understand why people do love them, don’t get me wrong. And who am I to say my choices in movies are the right ones? As a friend used to say, “If everyone liked the same things, there would be long lineups for everything.” So true.
There’s willful suspension of disbelief when you buy your ticket for TSOW and I was fine with that. A cleaning woman in a Cold War era USA lab forms a bond with a water creature that has some human characteristics – especially that of needing connection. It’s a love story, a horror story, a thriller and a sci-fi homage to 1954’s Creature From the Black Lagoon. Michael Shannon is perfection as the actual monster of the film; I even thought he bore a resemblance to his scaly nemesis. I’d love to hear if anyone else had that thought.
Can I recommend this movie to you? Let me put it this way: last year I saw La La Land and lo-lo-loved it. It was audacious and, although it paid homage, I thought it was daring and original. But as I watched it, I thought, Oh, Cooper (my radio partner Mike) would hate this. He’d get up halfway through saying, ‘what the hell is this?’ (I don’t know if that’s actually what Mike thought of it, by the way. I’ll have to ask him.) But that’s the thing: movies are a deeply personal experience. Your enjoyment or dislike comes in part from the filters you run this film through.
The Best Picture winner, Moonlight, was exceptional, too, but to compare it to the frothy originality of La La Land would be futile. Apples, meet oranges. Likewise, although it was a nod to sci-fi films like Black Lagoon, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen or experienced anything like The Shape of Water. If that is something you seek in a movie, then this is the one for you. It’s also fun to spot locales like the Elgin Theatre and Hamilton City Hall in this Toronto-area production. Writer/director Guillermo del Toro, who is Mexican, calls Toronto home.
The performances by Shannon, Oscar nominees Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer are top notch. The story is, as I say, a fantastical step away from reality. But it’s the human connection that is the basis for this film and that stays with you, long after you’ve emptied the popcorn grebbles out of your bra.
Have a gentle weekend – it’s a long one here in BC, which gets a jump start on the whole Family Day thing – but I’ll be back with a journal for you here on Monday.