The Lobster

Sorry that this is turning into the year I keep talking about pAcing in movies, but after working in post production for a couple years it seems the first department I address to fix fumbles is in the edit. So, listen, I started with an apology because I loved a lot of this, completely LOSING IT for much of the runtime, and I just feel like I could have lost it top to bottom had a post hoc script doc been sitting in the edit bay with a 90 minute mind and a wild eye. This needs to drop about half an hour, almost but no not entirely in the latter third. Keep all the components, but pile them on quicker and I bet this movie would feel more like one sequentially developing thought than a meander through them.

That said—holy shit. Holy shit, The Lobster. I do not know when I’ve last seen a more excitingly nouveau partnership between director vision and actor skill. Just a leapingly talented group here, a bunch of weird gazelles bounding around half in this world half somewhere else. I am [holds up defining hand] obsessed with the outlandish way people deliver their lines in this. This straight ahead, staccato clear, like-monotone-but-not-monotone affect that they express around and through, somehow? Delicious, I could eat this all day. I love black comic absurdity with beautiful coloring, I love it. The staging, the gorgeous compositions, the choices, the brutality…god this gang is fearless, a deadpan pendulum swinging between attractive and repulsive. It took me two tries to actually watch the last minute of this! I had to work up to it!

Anyway. Yes. Yes to the (sur)realism of watching characters who seem like a bunch of lost alien children scrambling around in the woods dressed up in suits and dresses they found in a dumpster behind a Macy’s because that sure feels like the Adult Experience. Yes to wry studies on societal obsession with partnering, and also how we try to match our brokenness, and what is compatibility, and what is arbitrary, and what does it matter. Yes to riotous gruesome whimsical movies by art ho-teurs, with structural problems.

Madeline’s Madeline

Well this is as FUCKING UNUSUAL as promised. Like no piece of cinema I’ve ever seen before, begins in a dream built of bewildering woozy close-ups sliding over people’s mouths and off behind their shoulder through a guttural Lynchian sound design, and then never leaves it, just pulls you through its 90 minutes in a writhe of emotions and bodies and masks in a warped mirror of the cultish, ethical labyrinth that is so often a physical theatre troupe’s ~artistic process~. Madeline’s Madeline is a horror movie for the theatre set, two members of which I brought with me (I had a hunch), and we stumbled out partly delirious and sharing traumatized tales of Evangelines we’d known.

What I liked best was the final 20 minutes or so, a vividly still and then wheeling kaleidoscope that felt like the film was collapsing into a kind of humorous realism all while reaching its most surreal heights, in a finale one of my friends winningly described as “Sleep No More done by the cast of Cats.” Something was ready to break in me at this point, and one particular visual joke by the stage manager character (Sunita Mani, wackily endearing as she is on GLOW) cracked me so soundly that I doubled over into a full belly laugh.

I’m sure that this is not going to be one of my favorite movies of the year or anything, but I value it a lot. Again, it looks and sounds like nothing else playing, and that’s just a neat thing to experience. And I feel like this is going to lodge itself in the river of the medium, and maybe divert a path or two, and somewhere downstream I’ll recognize the impact of this movie on one that will be a favorite. If nothing else, we have a star in young lead Helena Howard. “A whole damn star, like a planet that is impossible to comprehend with what we know of the universe right now,” as Barry Jenkins enthusiastically described her.