October/November Movies Review


Oliver Folan, Arts and Entertainment Editor '22

2021 is shaping up to be a pretty great year for cinema! Here are some reviews for the new films I watched this October/November.


Dune (2021)- 10/10

Synopsis- Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

It’s felt like an eternity since we’ve gotten a film like Dune, a film so epic and large that it demands to be seen in a theater (although I’ve also seen the film on my TV and my experience with it was still phenomenal). Watching this film gave me the same sensation as when I watch a good Hayao Miyazaki film. The near-perfect visuals combine with an awe-inspired musical score to create an experience that is so visceral and sensory-based. I was getting chills once every five minutes because what I was seeing and hearing was so gorgeous and masterful, and when it ends you’re just floored by the sheer power of this epic. This film is heavy and its scale is massive. Dune is certainly not for everyone, given that it is very slow, but for a mainstream and expensive blockbuster, this is everything it should be. Movies like this need to be watched and supported.


The French Dispatch (2021)- 9/10

Synopsis- The staff of a European publication decides to publish a memorial edition highlighting the three best stories from the last decade: an artist sentenced to life imprisonment, student riots, and a kidnapping resolved by a chef.

Perhaps the day will come when Wes Anderson’s distinct style becomes repetitive and overbearing. However, despite having made 9 incredibly unique films before this one, Wes is still developing his style even further, perfecting the quirky worlds we all come to expect as if he hadn’t already perfected them before. The French Dispatch is truly one of the most innovative and delightful films I have ever seen in theaters. Each frame has so much personality. Each character is so memorable and well developed. Each individual story is filled to the brim with so much love and passion. The film oozes with Wes’s obvious love for not only journalism but for all forms of storytelling. A lot of people seem to be taking issue with the film’s lack of emotion as a result of Wes’s style and the film’s anthology format, but I completely reject that criticism. The film is so laser-focused on world-building, and despite the fact that the film tells three different stories within its runtime, I found myself emotionally invested in just about every character Wes brought to life, so the criticism of the film not having an emotional backbone is just ridiculous to me. Anyway, this film is incredible and a must-see for anyone with a passion for storytelling.


Last Night in Soho (2021)- 4/10

Synopsis- A young girl, passionate about fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to be falling apart with shady consequences.

Given that I’ve loved everything director Edgar Wright has done up until this point, I guess it only makes sense that he would eventually make a flop, although it is surprising that it took him until this point in his career to do so. I’m really confused about how he managed to make something so lifeless and uninspired. It certainly has some cool shots and good filmmaking, but it lacks the uniqueness and the innovation that I’ve come to expect from his films. The characters were all very forgettable, and the story was ineffective in doing anything remotely interesting, or even competent for that matter. I understand that he was trying to make a serious film, but even when you look at more comedic movies like Baby Driver or Shaun of the Dead, the serious moments in those films are all super effective. Shaun of the Dead especially, despite being a hilarious horror comedy, has more genuinely intense sequences than Last Night in Soho, a horror film whose main focus is to scare you. I would have been more disappointed with this movie had Dune and The French Dispatch not delivered on all of my expectations.


Spencer (2021)- 7/10

Synopsis- Covers a critical weekend in the early ‘90s, when Princess Diana decided her marriage to Prince Charles wasn’t working, and that she needed to veer from a path that put her in line to one day be queen.

Spencer isn’t an amazing film from front to back, but it does have quite a lot in it that elevates it above most historical dramas. Kristen Stewart plays Princess Diana in the film and does a fantastic job. She feels like the perfect embodiment of her sad and trapped energy, spending basically the entire film on the verge of tears. The cinematography was stunning, which should come as no surprise given that the woman who shot this also shot Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Jonny Greenwood’s score was an odd blend of classical and jazz, and while it was a bit inconsistent at times, I seriously can’t stop thinking about it. The jazzier parts were effective in elevating the more stressful moments of the film, which there were a surprising amount of. In a lot of ways, Spencer is a thriller, which was very unexpected and cool. The jazziness of the score is also representative of how Princess Diana doesn’t fit in within this royal family, so not only does the score fit the stressful tone of the film but it was also very purposeful. I do feel as if Spencer drags in the second act, but maybe that will change on a rewatch. Still, this is a really strong movie with a lot to love about it.


Petite Maman (2021)- 5/10

Synopsis- Eight-year-old Nelly has just lost her beloved grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods where her mother used to play and where she built the treehouse Nelly has heard so much about. One day her mother suddenly leaves. That is when Nelly meets a girl of her own age in the woods, building a treehouse.

Petite Maman is fine. I think it’s a significant step down from Celine Sciamma’s previous film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, but it’s also a much different film. It’s light, significantly shorter, and just overall less emotional. I’ve loved the minimalism in her previous films, but that minimalism was used in an effective way to highlight the subtle nuances and complexities of each character. I didn’t feel a strong connection or emotional attachment to the characters in this film, so after a while, the minimalism became a bit of a nuisance. That being said, I still recommend this film to anyone who might be interested in checking out Celine Sciamma’s other films, since she is such a talented and important filmmaker.