John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum ★★★★★

It deeply upsets me that the Oscars don't have a category for choreography.

There's a sense of wide-eyed wonder that overcomes me in certain moviegoing experiences that makes me feel the way I imagine everybody on this website felt when they first saw a spectacle like Star Wars as a child. As soon as that feeling hits me, all sense of critical objectivity goes out the window. I don't care to think about any lifeless, trope-ridden dialogue or over-explicit sequel set-up that ruins a movie's ending, I can only think of the feeling it gave me. And in my heart, I believe that's what movies are supposed to be.

Criticism has it's place in the culture of film, and thoughtful criticism is always appreciated for sparking discussion and proving that the idea of objectivity in film is garbage– but there's no way to truly explicate a gut feeling, because it can be so different from person to person. But that's the only thing I care to "rate" movies on anymore. And for John Wick: Chapter 3, that gut feeling almost made me cry.

Everything career/life choice I've ever made since I was about 14 has been in the service of wanting to one day write and make movies, but it wasn't until I was an adult that I thought about what I really appreciated in films as a visual medium and not just a story-telling platform: I love how absolutely alive everything can feel in the way things move. In the way people move, in the way cameras move, in the precision and tact of successfully choreographing an in-camera sequence that is so wondrous it can cut through that mental sheen of editing that reminds you you're just watching a movie, and lets you feel swept up in live, theatrical nature of it all because you know everything you're seeing involves skill, and really sells the idea of a talent. It wipes away the part of my brain that is bored by the same ol' tools being used in different ways and turns me into the little boy who just can't believe he saw an honest-to-god magic trick.

When I watch Donald O'Connor exhaustingly run around a set doing vaudevillian pratfalls, I think about how fucking impressive it is that a person can do that. When I watch Michel Gondry run Cibo Matto or the cast of Green Hornet through an incredible series of camera-splits to visualize a sequence in a way we've never seen before, I'm thinking about how fucking impressive that camera ops and directors can manage that. And when I watch John Wick make his way through stunningly-designed corridors, using guns, knives, swords, motorcycles, books, a pencil, dogs, table corners, belts, glass (et et et et cetera) to maim people in outstanding single-take-sequences where the director, camera op, ADs, vehicle operators, stunt choreographers, prop/set designers and several stunt and actual actors (and in some case, animal trainers!) have to all work in conjunction to pull off a genuine ballet of snowflake-unique killings (many of which are imbued with a Chaplin/Keaton-esque comic sense that casually pulls off physical comedy better than most of the movies I have ever seen) I can't help but laugh and cheer and lean forward in my seat with my jaw agape. In legitimate awe! 

I could go on forever about the things that wowed me about this movie. The gorgeous glowing lighting and production/costume details of ubiquitous tattooing & piercing that we see everywhere. The respectful psychopathy (and GREAT performance) of Mark Dacascos and his henchmen that really define the people in this universe. The incredible efficacy of building up a world so well across three movies that the very ridiculous plot of THIS one absolutely works. But the production and costume design could get major awards recognition. So could the directing, the acting, and the writing. They won't! But they could. This film– and really, so much of many genres of incredible film– are entirely made by the choreography of incredible teams of people putting forth incredible, time-consuming work to actualize the impressive, childlike sense of wow that defines film for people. And isn't recognizing that talent the point of these major awards?

So, yeah. It deeply upsets me that the Oscars don't have a category for choreography.

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