Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.
*Note this review has spoilers for Swiss Army Man (2016), proceed at your own risk,
Movie #1 of 2018 is Swiss Army Man by Daniels (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert) . An independent film ostensibly about Hank (Paul Dano) stranded on a deserted island who finds a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) which Hank names Manny. The film is a strange examination of an unusual friendship between a corpse and a man.
The film dives into Hank's loneliness while he is stranded, but is he really? The opening shots of the film show a series of junk made little boats and trash covered with writing presumably from Hank about being on the island after taking a boat out. There are no signs of the boat, but there is evidence that Hank had a lunch box and some other items with him, but never a boat. Hank is a unreliable narrator, we think Manny can talk, but only because Hank thinks he can. There are enough clues that Hank just came out into the woods and had a mental breakdown.
The movie shines in the wilderness survival scenes where Hank and Manny discover Manny's ability to be a useful corpse, shooting objects at high speed for hunting, chopping wood with karate reflexes, and even as a razor. Hank and Manny build a world of buses, movie theaters, and more with sticks and garbage. Daniel Radcliffe plays the most charismatic corpse in film history throughout these scenes.
There is a dark side to this light hearted buddy romp as well. Hank clearly has a loose grip on reality, and a twisted idea of healthy relationships and sex. Hank and Manny have scenes of dialogue where we are clued in tha Hank's relationship with his parents has impacted these views.
The movie went a bit off the tracks for me in the final act, as Hank and Manny find civilization in the backyard of a suburban home owned by Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Sarah is a woman whose picture is on Hank's phone, who we are led to think he may have a relationship with, but we discover is a woman Hank has been quietly stalking on the bus. Our protagonist Hank is a mentally ill man with an unhealthy obsession with Sarah.
We are thrust back into the real world, a world that Hank can't handle in his psychosis and he escapes back into the wilderness with Manny. We quickly discover that the wilderness arts and crafts world Hank crafted in not far from civilization at all, that Hank has been living in the woods near Sarah's house all along. We get a picture of a deranged stalker has moved close to the person of his obsession and is fighting his own turmoil to return to civilization, or continue to live in his wilderness fantasy. The final scene of the film is another fart joke (of many in the film) that oddly sort of works and hints that not all of Hank's psychosis was in his head, which I feel is a bit of a way to soften the grossness of Hank's obsession with Sarah.
Overall I thought this was an interesting film than gave some insight into the human fear of loneliness, rejection, and feelings of being ugly or inadequate. However I also felt that it gave some legitimacy to male desires of lust and love with women without their consent. Hank definitely has some severe mental health issues and luckily his obsession with Sarah never went beyond his own strange wilderness craft project. This movie could definitely gone a more sinister route with Hank's "love" of Sarah, and changed the film from avant garde dark comedy to a horror film. I'd only recommend Swiss Army Man for those interested in off the wall, indy art house movies. While it does have some high points in the phenomenal physical performance of Radcliffe and some very well done sound design, this isn't a movie for everyone, and I'm not sure it was for me.
Movies new to me watched: 1/292
Total movies watched: 1/365
Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kbdekker.