If you’re slow, like me, and find yourself bemused by the chronology, don’t worry; your reward will be a topnotch twist toward the end. By rights, that should make you want to watch the movie all over again, in order to sort out what belongs where, except that everything about it is so scummy—even the sight of creamer being stirred into coffee makes you gag—that a second viewing would feel like the grimmest of grinds. Destroyer is a thriller, but only just.
In short, those of us who pursue Mariolatry — the worship of all things Poppins — are free to delight in this film. Indeed, it shifts a little nearer than its predecessor did to the spiky, peppery briskness of Travers’s tales, and the whole enterprise exhales, as it should, an air of the politely mad.
Roma is persuasive in its beauty. It wins you over. The face of Aparicio, in the leading role, is not placidly resigned but serene in its stoicism, and if she is less a participant than a bystander during the major convulsions of the era, well, few of us can claim to be much more.
It’s a mixed bunch, often flimsy, with deliberate lurches of tone, and the Coens, as ever, are unable (or unwilling) to decide whether barbarous bloodshed is something to be flinched from or cackled at. Yet I came away haunted by a scattering of sights and sounds.
Given the upheavals of the past two years, along the fault line between electoral and sexual politics, Reitman could have told the sorry saga from Rice’s point of view — her brush with fame, and her demonization as a temptress, or worse, at the hands of the media. Why must the fall of man, rather than the survival of woman, still be the main event? Can’t we have the business without the monkeys?
The later sections of the story, dealing with Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis, are carefully handled, but most of the film is stuffed with lumps of cheesy rock-speak (“We’re just not thinking big enough”; “I won’t compromise my vision”), and gives off the delicious aroma of parody.
The first time I saw Guadagnino’s Suspiria, I came out pretty much covered in gore, and confounded by the surfeit of stories. Can a splash be so big that it drowns the senses? How does such a film cohere? The second time around, I followed the flow, and found that what it led to was not terror, or disgust, but an unexpected sadness.
The Halloween of today is slick and sick, but little is left of that sleep-destroying dread. Still, not all is lost, because the Bogeyman, bless him, has not forgotten his manners. For old times’ sake, he gets to sit up straight.
Skillful and compelling this film may be, but, if Neil Armstrong had been the sort of fellow who was likely to cry on the moon, he wouldn’t have been the first man chosen to go there. He would have been the last.
The result is pure Saturday-night moviegoing: it gives you one hell of a wallop, then you wake up on Sunday morning without a scratch. (By contrast, the emotional nakedness of the Judy Garland version, poised within formal compositions, can still reduce me to rubble.)
Knightley and West leap without a qualm into these excesses, not least the Feydeau-like saga of a flame-haired Louisiana heiress (Eleanor Tomlinson), who sleeps with both Willy and his wife, unbeknownst to her, though he beknew everything.
The narrative staggers on, enlivened only by the hovering threat of kitsch and the musical dubbing. Moore, like an upmarket version of Lina Lamont, in “Singin’ in the Rain,” lip-synchs convincingly to the sound of Renée Fleming. But not quite convincingly enough.
What lingers, when this movie is done, are not the regular rallies, during which we survey the whole court, but those moments when we focus on McEnroe alone — on the dancing shuffle of his feet as he bobs and races for a return. Swap the sneakers for tap shoes and the dusty clay for a mirrored floor, and we could be watching Fred without Ginger, lost in the delirium of his art.
To be fair, you can scoff at the antics and still be swept away. The final quarter of Mission: Impossible—Fallout takes place in Kashmir, with a helicopter chase through deep gullies and past snowy peaks. McQuarrie keeps the action crisp and clear, to match the icy air.