Look at all the movies I'm watching!
LOOK AT THEM.
The first (and until today, only) time I had seen Spartacus, I thought it was bloated and boring. Being an 18-year-old watching it on his 13-inch dorm room TV may have had something to do with that impression.
Today, I’ve got a greater appreciation for what the film is doing (and a better TV). I still don’t think Spartacus is an interesting character (every shot is a hero shot) and the love story between him and Varinia feels perfunctory. But…
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.
I went into Rocketman expecting to like it, but I absolutely loved it. The film, in addition to being marvelously directed with showstopping renditions of Elton John’s songs, takes its biggest liability—the well-worn tropes of the music biopic—and turns them into an asset, letting go of a specific history of John and instead trying to channel the spirit of his story. Rather than build up a myth, John, who served as an EP on the film, lets Rocketman tear him…