Hearts Beat Loud
At a pivotal point in this film about a father-daughter duo, the daughter asks the father to grow up, putting his ambitious yet impractical self aside to think about their future. This struck me as a rather unusual plot point in this largely subversive musical-comedy-drama. You see, more often than not, when we encounter a film about musicians and artists, we see young, optimistic artists, with a penchant to thrive in the music industry, only dissuaded by the cynicism of the elders around them. These stories then become either about tragically failed careers or about success against all odds.
But “Hearts Beat Loud” chooses to tread a different line, telling a typical tale rather originally. In a quaint corner of Brooklyn, Frank Fisher, a record store owner is about to close his business. His daughter, Sam, is about to join pre-med school. Their evenings involve jamming with each other in their apartment, making random music. At first, both are pragmatic, treating music as nothing more than a past time, a way to de-stress after a long day.
But when his daughter records a sample of an inspiring original song, Frank sees a spark in her, urging her to complete the recording. He even sneaks it onto Spotify without her knowledge. When it starts garnering hits and the interest of record labels, he starts aspiring big - a full album contract, a tour, the works. But the daughter rejects his propositions, adamant about staying grounded. She doesn’t think there is a career in music for her, choosing instead to focus on med school.
Sometimes, the average joe doesn't do a lot with their lives that is radical, but, they still seek and receive excitement. This could be through predicaments: little, quaint, sudden, and unexpected. As such, "Certain Women" follows three women: a lawyer who has a disgruntled client who wouldn't listen to her advice, a homemaker with a disobedient daughter and a not-quite helpful husband trying to get her ideal home built, and a lonely rancher who falls for a teacher.
Some films, this one included, have a serene meditating nature to them, both in how they treat their subject as well as how they make the viewer feel. Their focus is entirely on the metaphorical landscape in which their plot is set. This then, becomes the focus of the viewer too. There is significant attention to the environment, its pace, the surrounding climate, and then, the people that occupy it. Within this setting, the film is content with watching its characters go about their daily business, doing what they would do on any non-descript day.
Swiss Army Man
John Williams' main theme for "Jurassic Park" is one of the best pieces of film score ever composed. In just about 8 minutes, it speaks of a world of opportunity, one that has optimism and a place for all beings: a world of wonder and indefinite fantasy. The soundtrack for "Swiss Army Man" is mostly comprised of acapellas, and its most defining piece is an acapella ode to the Jurassic Park theme, hummed with utter beauty by Daniel Radcliffe (Music by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell). In similar essense, the scene when this piece comes up is also one of sheer magnificence, a point of immense hope in the film's narrative.
With "Swiss Army Man", writer-director pair Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert weave up a gorgeous confluence of visual, sound, and design artistry - all fused together by a keen editor's eye (sharp work by Matthew Hannam). I don't quite know how they have struck upon the idea for the film but if there's a word to describe it, I think "phantasmagorical" would fit the bill. A man (Paul Dano) rowing a boat gets stranded on a desolate island. With no rescue or help in sight, he decides to commit suicide - stopping to inspect a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) he finds on the beach. But this is no ordinary dead body, it farts, it becomes a reservoir for rain water, it becomes a compass, it has utility: a Swiss Army Man.
Atlantic City says so much about two people in a relationship, without saying too much.
A comedy that is fun, while being just good cinema in the first place.