Look at all the movies I'm watching!
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So this is brilliant. It’s wild that Brooks perfectly satirized reality TV before reality TV was even really a thing, but it’s delightfully incisive that the entertainment incentives of a project that’s being filmed for mass consumption will override and kind of pretensions of scientific value. It’s also a great commentary on the documentary form and the observer effect where there’s really no way to render yourself invisible because the storyteller is always making choices. It’s just that here, for…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Between this and Hereditary, I’m confident saying I’m not an Ari Aster fan. On a technical level, his skill is undeniable, but it lacks artistry. Everything he does is painfully self-aware and there’s no empathy for his characters. The deaths of family members are exploited and crassly used for shock value with minimal reckoning. He’s made two movies that are ostensibly about unimaginable grief, and yet they both get bogged down in mythological bullshit. By the end, you’re no longer focused on the protagonist because of some threatening cultish other. Spare me.
The meta first act is my favorite part of the movie, but the whole vibe is sort of Lana Wachowski acknowledging studio pressure for the film to exist and then clapping back with a big, unabashed love story. Not everything works (the action doesn’t come close to the original trilogy, the Smith and Morpheus characters are undercooked), but it has a true north in the Neo/Trinity relationship and that keeps the whole movie together.