Two Movies, One Core
In the last week, I saw two movies, and they were both great even though they were totally different.
First up was Pacific Rim. This is the personification of “summer movie”. It’s loud, more than a little ridiculous, and about as subtle as the giant robots that are featured in it. I generally dislike most movies that fit in that genre (e.g. Michael Bay), but this managed to do the things those movies do while having a heart about it. Yes, it requires a bit of disbelief suspension, but it knows that, and uses it to roll you in its tidal wave. I left the theater blown away by what I had just seen and feeling a little bit battered in the process.
The other was the polar opposite: Upstream Color. No explosions, robots, or any special effects. However, I was also entranced by it. It was made by Shane Carruth, who also made the time-travel-mind-messer-upper Primer. It has gorgeous cinematography and incredible characters. Even if things are a little hard to follow, you can get the gist just by the emotions that the characters exude.
Both movies are spectacles, but in completely different ways. In Pacific Rim, each encounter ratchets the tension up a bit, then let’s off a little steam. In Upstream Color, you are sucked more and more into the main characters’ lives and see how they cope with their experiences. And at the end of both there is just a great emotional release that hits home.
Great movies do just that. Sometimes they can do it with giant robots smashing into sea monsters, and sometimes they do it with tender moments between two people.