Moved by movies? In this new podcast from North by Northwestern, Marco Cartolano, David Gordon and Elliot Kronsberg discuss all sorts of films – good and bad. This week, it's "Colossal." Transcript below.
Elliot Kronsberg: No, they explicitly marketed "Space Jam" to furries.
David Gordon: I never saw "Space Jam."
Elliot: You should see "Space Jam," it doesn’t hold up.
Marco Cartolano: Read my review of "Space Jam."
David: I don’t know I think I get my full dose of furries from Disney nowadays.
Elliot: No, Warner Bros. all the way.
David: Anyway speaking of furries, this is “Fresh Films,” and we’re a podcast devoted to discussing movies that are currently in theaters. My name is David Gordon.
Marco: I’m Marco Cartolano.
Elliot: And I’m Elliot Kronsberg.
David: So, today we’re going to be talking about this new film called "Colossal."
Marco: So, "Colossal" is this movie about a woman played by Anne Hathaway who’s currently going through a rough time. She decides to move back to her hometown after she breaks up with her boyfriend, played by Dan Stevens, and she starts working at a bar that's run by Jason Sudeikis’ character. But then, she realizes that she can control this monster that’s wreaking havoc over on the other side of the world.
David: And some notables in the crew of this film would be the director, Nacho Vigalondo, who did "Extraterrestrial," "The ABCs of Death" and segment from "VHS: Viral." And I’ve seen "ABCs of Death" and "VHS: Viral" and fortunately, this movie surpasses both of those in quality. But, another important person in this film was Eric Kress, who was the cinematographer. And he shot "Taken 3," but more importantly David Fincher’s remake of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."
Elliot: Oh, he sounds Danish.
David: He probably is.
Marco: Would you really call that a remake?
Elliot: It’s an adaptation of the book.
David: Anyway so, in reference to Colossal, what did you guys think of the performances in the film?
Elliot: I, being Elliot, thought that the performances were OK. Anne Hathaway was the usual Anne Hathaway, so that even when she was supposed to be a washed up alcoholic ex-blogger she still came off as Mia from "The Princess Diaries," or the girl with early onset Parkinson’s in "Love and Other Drugs." She’s Anne Hathaway and it’s hard to distinguish any one of her characters from her in real life.
David: Yeah, I agree. Anne Hathaway was fine in the film, but fine is where it stops. She’s doesn’t give an exceptional performance by any means and the script is so standard that it doesn’t really let any of the characters shine.
Elliot: Well, I mean except...
Marco: Jason Sudeikis, who I actually think gives a very good performance that you wouldn’t expect from Jason Sudeikis because of his usual association with "SNL" and a ton of not-great comedies. I think that his performance is a lot higher than you’d expect from him. I think it has more range than he usually shows. But, maybe it’s because of what Jason Sudeikis usually plays, but I was impressed with what he did.
David: Yeah, and I think a part of what Jason Sudeikis’ character more interesting than his normal characters would be the narrative. Because the narrative really subverts audience expectations.
Marco: Well, I think what David’s getting at is that the narrative, you usually expect the narrative to have this romantic subplot or very common beats when it comes to these romantic movies. But at the point where you have this common beat of like a fight or something, it’s not instant "Alright they fought, now they get back together." There is more complexity to the narrative. It’s a bit more subversive.
David: And this is a product of the character relationships. The character relationships are not the standard sitcom/romantic comedy pairings that we’re so used to. They’re slightly different.
Marco: I also think that they actually spent a lot of time with the character interactions within the bar and a little less time with the monster stuff then I thought they would in the beginning. There’s a lot of time spent giving some of the characters little quirks like. Elliot, what was the name of that you mentioned?
Elliot: Tim Blake Nelson.
Marco: Yes, like Tim Blake Nelson’s character who has more quirks than you’d think for being a supporting character.
David: Who does he play again?
Elliot: He plays a friend in the bar. He plays the older friend. Like older than Jason Sudeikis and Anne Hathaway.
Marco: Thanks for that David, thanks for the clarification.
David: Anyway, so this film revolves mainly around Anne Hathaway and her interactions with various bar locals including Jason Sudeikis and much less with her interaction with her newfound superpower. So I find that this is an interesting take on magical realism. But Marco, could you discuss that a little further? Give us a definition of what magical realism is.
Marco: So magical realism is usually a genre that is usually associated with a lot of Latin American art where it’s this idea that the supernatural and the magical elements of life are intertwined with everyday struggles. A lot of the time it’s politically motivated because Latin America has a complex political history. A lot of it is very mundane and a lot less grand than say a Lord of the Rings type of magic or a fantasyland type deal. You could have minor things like food that makes people cry or have sudden bursts of emotions and it’s a lot more like a low-key take on magic on bigger budget films.
David: And the most important thing about magical realism is the way in which these films deal with theme, because magical realism films tend to use their supernatural elements to express a certain theme.
Marco: Yes. Of course, that comes from the political elements of it and the political climate of Latin America. I will say that the director is not Latin American, he is from Spain, but I do think that it is an influence and it is a very modern take on magical realism, because I think the monster and the magic of the film is very much used to comment on self-destructive patterns, on alcoholism on the part of Anne Hathaway’s character. And, later on in the film and later on magical realism and eventually the genre trappings of the kaiju monster movies are used to paint abusive and unhealthy relationships that take up the latter part of the film and make it a much more unique film than a lot of other movies.
David: Unfortunately, I don’t think it expands enough on either genre it attempts to parody in order to successfully comment on either, so that was an issue I had with the film. So, no, I suppose we should jump to into our final thoughts on the film. So Elliot, do you want to start us off?
Elliot: Sure, I really liked the film. I actually saw it twice. Once opening night, and once with David and Marco. And I just thought it was a fun kind of film in a time when not everything is so fun. I did think it had some really strange mood swings, especially with Jason Sudeikis’ character and with the general treatment of Anne Hathaway’s monster by the city it terrorizes. It goes from being a monster killing hundreds of people to a hero in a very short time. About a day I think in the narrative world.
David: Would you recommend this film, Elliot?
Elliot: Oh yeah, I would recommend this film. I really like the director’s other work, especially "Timecrimes." That’s like his first big one and I enjoyed it. And I haven’t seen his anthology horror film series, but I’d recommend this one, I’d recommend his previous feature length endeavors. But Marco, what about you, what do you think?
Marco: Well, I liked the movie. I wouldn’t exactly describe it as fun considering some of the topics that come up later in the film. I’m much more forgiving of the magical realist elements not leading to a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense in the end because I think the magical elements of it make it less important than it would be in other movies that are more grounded in reality. I would say that there’s some flashback elements that I don’t think are handled particularly well for this movie, and there’s some structural issues. So, I don’t thinks it’s a perfect movie, but I think it’s a very interesting movie and I think it’s one of the more interesting movies that’s out right now, so I’d recommend it. David, what would you have to say?
David: I certainly liked it as well because, like you guys have already said, it is a unique film on the market. It is an original concept. We’ve been getting a lot of period pieces and animated spin-offs of toy brands that have been oversaturating the market. So it’s nice to see something new and original, so I laud that. However, I think it fails as a comedy because none of the elements are really funny, but succeeds as a drama especially with the character interactions which make up the heart of the film. The monster elements are really sidelined for the character interactions. And although the character interactions are strong and all the performances are solid, the script doesn’t really offer anything special in terms of dialogue. And don’t get me wrong, the film is edited very well and shot very well, and it certainly stands out due to its original concept. But it’s not anything that we’re going to remember in years to come. Despite all that, I would certainly recommend it because it’s an original film – and how few of those do we have nowadays.
Marco: Alright, so I’m Marco Cartolano.
David: I’m David Gordon.
Elliot: I’m Elliot Kronsberg. And this has been “Fresh Films” from NBN Audio.
Marco: See ya.