Film Reviews

Cats (2019) 2/5

I saw Cats.

I really don’t know how else to start this, the inaugural review on 1080MM. Except that I saw Cats, ten days ago, and I still do not know what to make of it. I think I had some kind of profound metaphysical spiritual experience. I think I may have transcended a dimension. 

Let me start at the beginning. 

It’s been a rough and weird past couple of months, personally. I have a lot of Shit Going On. My day job, as some of you know, is a total thing. I’m in school. And I, in my infinite wisdom, make plans to see Star Wars: The Last One in theaters not once, but twice. I miss it both times. 

I am adrift in the all-too-familiar emotional dilemma for anyone who struggles with a severe illness: I would like to do a thing, and I cannot do it, and this exhausts me. I am emotionally paying penance for not seeing a Star War on a big screen opening day, even though this is irrational as hell. I am seeing lightsabers everywhere in my field of vision. I digress. 

Anyway Cats comes out. 

Suddenly everyone I know will not shut up about Cats. It is the absolute thing that we must all consume, quickly, because that is what the cool kids are doing. I refuse to argue with this form of peer pressure, as I have always considered it a survival tactic. Maybe my lizard brain would like to jump off this cliff because everyone else is doing it. You don’t know. You really don’t. 

My beloved partner’s Mother gives us a Fandango gift card for Hanukkah, which to our destitute selves means that we can see a movie any time of the day. Not just on a tuesday for $5. A whole world is suddenly available to us, and it is in surround sound and someone’s kicking the back of my seat.

I have a day where I am in a good place, for a brief moment, and we decide to pick up my hilarious co-worker and see Cats. 

I would like to clarify, at this point in the review: I was not in any way sober when we saw this film. Thank you. 

Cats is, without a doubt, one of the most simultaneously uncomfortable and enjoyable film-viewing experiences I’ve ever had. I could not tell you what even literally happened in 75% of that film. I felt like I was joyously along for the ride, except the ride was a mine-cart spiralling through the circles of Hell. 

Everything was bad, and I consider that a particularly remarkable achievement because a lot of films, even technically, just have a handful of bad things. Whether it’s bad direction, performances, writing, cinematography, or what have you. But all of it was terrible, and I do not blame the actors, crew, and cast one bit. 

Here’s the thing about Cats, as an entity- Cats is really fucking weird. Just as a musical by itself, even as a book of poems, it’s bizarre. It is also incredibly British, cat-centric (as you would assume), and horny. Oh boy, is it horny. 

So you consider all of this, and then you ask yourself: is a big-budget musical a la The Greatest Showman involving horny, British cats really what should be the holiday blockbuster of 2019? NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. 

I cannot even dream up a universe where that makes sense, especially because, as we all know, Starlight Express would be the unequivocally right choice for a holiday film (thank you I will not be taking questions about Starlight Express at this time). 

I’ve just spent 600 words spitballing and barely even said anything about the film, so I hope you’re here to be entertained. I’ll make the rest of this as painlessly quick as possible, featuring an itemized list:

  • Taylor Swift’s British accent. Whoever signed off on that is no longer legally allowed to own a cat. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
  • Funhouse camera angles can eat shit and die.
  • I have seen a lot of discourse about this online, but I am still not sure what a jellicle cat is. I know that it says, in the song, what a jellicle cat is and what they do. I understand. But I also have no earthly idea what any of that means.
  • I would bet $5 that Rebel Wilson ate a child in the film, except I think the child was… a cockroach? The perspective was incredibly messed up. She also zips her own skin off. 
  • One of the most enjoyable parts, to me, was watching everyone’s hands morph from cat hands to zombie-esque human hands with every shot change. It was mesmerizing. 
  • Dear God, the VFX.

I loved it, I did. Can I do my utterly infuriating thing here where I give an arguably terrible film a high rating? So kind of- I don’t have it in me to give it a higher rating than a 2. If I did a fun only rating system for this one, yes, it’s a 5. If you have the opportunity to see this in theaters, I would very much recommend it, as the larger screen gives you ample opportunity to criticize the hell out of it. Or just sit back, and enjoy the jellicle ride to the heavyside god I am so sorry that was awful I promise I won’t make a joke about that again

Rating: 2/5

Film Reviews

Captain Marvel (2019) 5/5

There’s always been something pretty incredible to me about movies, as a medium. Compared to some other forms of media, films are a multi-sensory experience that can just transport you to another place in time, like… instantly. My life was kind of an inescapable hell for a long time, as a kid, but my parents did take me to the movies pretty often. It was this utterly captivating form of escapism to be able to sit in a dark room for two hours and visit another complete, fully-fledged world.

There’s also something to be said for seeing a film at the right time in your life. I don’t know if it’s a case of the universe feeling that you need to see something, or your own unconscious pulling you towards a specific movie, but I’ve always been an advocate for the restorative power of cinema. The right movie can make you think about your life, contextually, for hours, if not days afterwards. I can’t think of many other forms of media that have had the same effect on me.

Truthfully, I didn’t think I’d be seeing Captain Marvel last night. I left it up to my Twitter followers (in a poll) and I figured I’d end up seeing Shazam. The response was, overwhelmingly, in favor of Captain Marvel. I thought in the back of my mind that people just wanted to see how I’d react to a film that was just alright, in a lot of ways, and coming from Patreon as a film critic I’m pretty used to that. My partner didn’t think I’d like Captain Marvel all too much, for good reason, as they’d already seen it and just didn’t have it pegged as my sort of thing. I’d seen a couple trailers but, overall, it just wasn’t a compelling prospect.

Well: Twitter was right, I was wrong, and I love being wrong. It’s hard to even put into words how much I utterly adored this film, in every way.

Around six years ago, something unspeakably bad happened to me. Even in the context of the rest of my life, this was past that in terms of severity and trauma. While I was already diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, my mind chose to repress what had happened, along with the majority of the rest of my life. Most people I know don’t realize that, every day, I go through the world with little to no memory of my life or who I am. I get that this is a protective measure, and I’ve been working hard in therapy (since I escaped to safety two years ago) to unearth what I can… but I still feel like an empty husk of a person the majority of the time. People bring up past memories of spending time with me- a joke I made or a gift I gave them- and I have absolutely no recollection of it. I feel empty, and broken, and less than human. On top of this, my body remembers, emotionally, the pain that I experienced and I’ve been irrevocably scarred by it.

I cried for roughly a third of Captain Marvel.

There’s something to be said for experiencing someone’s story, in a multi-sensory perspective, and having it feel so intensely familiar to your own experiences. The sense of loss Carol (Brie Larson) feels as she navigates the world, uncovering the person she used to be and dissecting the trauma that created her as she is now, was incredibly relatable to me. I was able to empathize with her as a character in a much more fulfilling and emotionally real way than I have with even people I’ve gotten to know in person over the past handful of years. Brie’s acting really hits this home, and she captures the character’s humor with a serious level of skill.

I’m also regularly disappointed with the way in which most films approach memory loss as a topic. It’s always shown as a character being triggered by something and then It All Comes Back and that isn’t how it works. Carol sees things incrementally, processes them, and then uses those realizations to re-contextualize her identity and experiences. Memory isn’t some lock-box you just figure out and then it’s all there. It’s this messy, dysfunctional stream of things that are hard to hold onto. The sequence with Carol being shown past photographs (and her old belongings) was seriously emotionally liberating for me.

I haven’t kept up regularly with watching the films in the MCU, and I’m also not a fan of superhero comic books (they generally just aren’t my kind of thing). I realize that, on some level, a lot of this is the “male power fantasy” that these stories tend to express, and it is incredibly liberating to see a story that acts as a female power fantasy in the same way. Carol’s power, and how it relates to her femininity, reminds me of some of my favorite magical girls growing up (Sailor Moon) and how they used aspects of their lives as abject strength. On top of this, the elements of Carol’s experience that awakened her powers involve traits traditionally associated with women, such as self-sacrifice, emotional awareness, and communication. Although Carol’s emotional response is framed throughout the film as a sign of her weakness, she channels this into her portrayal of her identity as a human being and shows that it makes her special, just as she is. I am overwhelmingly pleased this film exists, and so excited that a new generation of young women get to grow up experiencing it.

Additional Notes:

– God, Brie Larson, you are just everything to me. Perfectly cast here, I wish they’d made her more overtly gay but also… y’all know she’s gay. You just know.


– Every time Goose was on screen I started screaming and I’m not even sorry. That last end credits scene had me absolutely dead. Someone make an edit cut of this film with just Goose and Samuel L. Jackson having moments.

– Also damn did they do a good job de-aging Samuel L. Jackson.

– YO, THE 90’S VIBE IS A BIG MOOD. Setting a climactic fight scene to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” is high key inspired. Plus I got to stare at Brie Larson wearing a Nine Inch Nails shirt for like twenty minutes and I am incredibly bisexual.

– If I had to criticize this, I’d say that it falls victim to the same general pitfalls I have re: the MCU in general- they try to cram way too many in-jokes and comic hints in here. This is a movie. Let it be a movie. You don’t need to wink wink nudge nudge at me about the parallels you’re making with existing media, because I promise the majority of the audience seeing this aren’t acquainted with Captain Marvel as a property anyway.

I was going to take off 0.5 of a star for pacing and then as I wrote this, I just… decided against it. I can’t wait to see this movie again.