Movie Review – Downsizing

I’m a little annoyed at Downsizing. The trailers presented this as a lightweight, fluffy comedy about being resized to five inches tall (in order to use less planetary resources). Great! Except this isn’t actually a comedy, and you barely get the sense of being shrunk. After the first half hour, it may as well be a drama about regularly sized people. The funny elements come to a screeching halt and never resume.

I feel like Matt Damon tricked me into seeing an environmental polemic, with little-to-no sci fi elements. Not my idea of fun tonight. I expected a story about how unusual life would be in a really different, unique scenario. What a cool idea — you can live like a prince with the abundant resources now available to you! A little heads up from the studio would have been nice, letting us know this was a serious story about politics. Gotta mentally pick movies for the mood! Grrr.

Kudos for presenting scenes in the film with forced perspective, to make the viewer feel disoriented. Some of the sets looked like toy models, which was no accident. I noticed a lot of interesting filmation choices, and props obviously made to give viewers the sense of normal proportions being off. Some places looked like adorable miniature sets, which worked well.

There were also (mostly) scenes where nothing seemed small at all. Those were frustrating, since the plot became, out of nowhere, all about race and poverty. Again, great if you’re in the mood. I prefer my entertainment to lift me out of sad reality, and make me smile a while. This film WON’T.

NOTE to Mr. Damon: please stop it. I’m happy to see your movies if the studios present them accurately. No more pet satires to make us ‘think”, disguising themselves as light fare. This isn’t the first time this year (Suburbicon comes to mind).

Anyway. This film didn’t go near where it should have gone, and I’m kind of leery of Damon now. It seems he’s doing a lot of sardonic projects examining senseless violence, race issues, or some other meaningful, topical theme. I could have seen one of the many comedies out this week, and gone home happy instead.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Review – Suburbicon

Ominous, paranoid, depraved, slow, violent, pessimistic, foreboding, and dark — both metaphorically and visually. Racist, and rather evil. None of the named characters are likable. If these traits sound like movie accolades to you, you’ll enjoy this film.

I didn’t. It was vile. If I wasn’t seeing it for work, I would have walked out. I felt grimy afterwards.

I was thinking it might be something like *Pleasantville*, another grim portrayal of mid-century bland suburbanite fantasies. *Pleasantville* at least was a good story. *Suburbicon* is the kind of film you’ll probably love or hate, depending on your tolerance for demented imagery and disturbing humor. There’s some deep stuff with the overtly racist storyline treated as an afterthought (interesting choice), framing the grisly hidden reality of the apparently squeaky-clean, whiter than white Lodges a few feet away, next door. I can see where the Coens were going with this, but they just didn’t get there satisfactorily. There’s no real payoff. At least the film is short.

I will give this a C+, which is more than I want to, because director George Clooney clearly had a vision for how he wanted to tell this story: he used a very stylized tone/color palette, with a restrained soundtrack, to accomplish a certain look and feel. It’s quirky in a vulgar way, and there are filmatic callbacks to the old Hitchcock films. Some of the camera work made me nauseous, and I’m sure that was intended. So there was this.

The acting? Oscar Issac has the best lines and energy, and the mostly listless film picks up some zing in his brief scenes.

Matt Damon does his role reasonably well, and so does Julianne Moore. Even if you can’t like them (or anyone else).

 

Movie Rating: C+