Five new reviews on Influx Magazine from Steve Pulaski




Films about the writing process and the creativity needed to fuel it are intensely different to capture, for a writer can only illustrate so many scenes of an author clacking at a typewriter before an audience feels like they’re being punked. Having said that, director Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) and writer Susan Coyne (Mozart in the Jungle) have crafted an intriguing personification of the creative process by having the sufferer be the man who wrote one of the fastest-selling and most popular stories of all-time.


For years, Pixar has wanted to make a film centered around the popular Mexican holiday Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), which begins on Halloween and continues until November 2nd. It’s a holiday that, when contrasted to American customs, presents a stark difference in the way Americans and Mexicans view their late relatives. In America, death is commemorated in an individualistic sense, with the anniversary of a loved one’s passing maybe prompting a trip to their gravesite or a small family get-together in their honor; wakes and funerals that take place shortly after a death are usually somber affairs where emotions flood a church like a broken reservoir.


Anger and desperation can make a person do the unthinkable, and the spectacle that results from such emotions quite often becomes the subjects of films. The energy and adrenaline are usually the secondary components. It’s easy for screenwriters and directors to capitalize on the act of someone beating up another person in a fit of rage rather than the take a look at the butting emotions that manifest inside a person that, in turn, motivate them to carry out potentially heinous action. With that in mind, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri dares go where few filmmakers even bother.


Since seeing several trailers for Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder, I’ve colloquially been referring to it as “I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying: The Movie” as a way to point out the general nature of films like it.Wonder is cut from the same secular inspirational cloth as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Patch Adams in that it tells a story tailor-made to tug at your heartstrings and get you to weep on several occasions. Films like this get on my bad-side quite easily, as they scarcely offer any natural emotions to brew for the audience and they preach tired morals that bear little difference than the ones we were taught from books in nursery school.


Lady Bird clearly comes from a place of empathy and resonance on behalf of its all-star actress-turned-writer/director Greta Gerwig, and that’s one of the many reasons it’s so authentic. Gerwig is an actress I’ve long adored since her collaborative directorial/starring effort Nights and Weekends, where she worked with Joe Swanberg and greeted an unapologetically intimate film for next to no money. On top of that, Gerwig has been the best thing in nearly everything she’s acted in, from Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha and the followup Mistress America, two films as zippy as she is, to manifesting strong supporting roles in bigger projects like Jackie and 21st Century Women.

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