30 November 2018.
THE GRINCH ***
Now here’s the bittersweet fable from our trusty old Dr. Seuss, about that grumpy, nasty Grinch who hates Christmas. But why is he so, and why the resentment towards all that is friendly and shiny, especially around Christmas time? This latest animation illustrates with humor and lots of adventures that pain is often the cause of nastiness.
So besides the gorgeous lights and merriment of the holidays, there’s a sweet message for the kids about the true meaning of Christmas. And the troubled Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) at least has his cute, loyal sausage dog, Max, to lighten the load.
Fun for the whole family.
This Steve McQueen is not the iconic actor, but the black, English, multi-awarded director of such powerful films as “Hunger”, “Shame” and “12 Years a Slave” (all starring Michael Fassbender). We start with him as the director and not with the film because frankly, after the scenario, the director is the most important element of any film, for it is his vision and art that create the final product.
McQueen has become a huge name in directing for his daring style, both passionate and cold, and for his pick of sensitive subjects such as Irishman Bobby Sands’ martyrdom in “Hunger”, sexual excess in “Shame” and the tragedy of black history in “Twelve Years a Slave”. He does not shy away from such tough topics, nor water them down into sensationalism. He bares them to the bone, often making the audience squirm uncomfortably in their seats as they are faced with his harsh truths. His work has been known until now for its boldness and quality.
But in this violent thriller about a botched-up heist where the four crooks die and their clueless widows have to clean up their mess, he’s gone Hollywood and sensational.
The film is clichéd and often implausible. I seem to be in the minority, but I believe he’s riding high here on feminism and the rampant MeToo movement. So he lets the women take over the dirty work of their husbands and, despite lack of experience, do it even better! If men can be crooks, so can they! Even if for different reasons? Come on…seriously?
There are big stars – Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Colin Farell, Robert Duvall – on display and quite a few threads to follow. There are corrupt politicians, black and white rivalry in the tough districts of Chicago, hidden affairs, a battered Polish girl morphing into a tough chick while being coaxed into becoming a call girl by her mother, turns and twists of the plot… clichés galore. The Polish girl played by Elizabeth Debicki steals the show here.
You want excitement and gore, you’ve got it here. You want a shocker of an opening scene, you’ve got it here. It’s manipulative and crass, and they’re all falling for it. You might too. It’s called the Emperor’s New Clothes….
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.