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.
I’ve noticed that in the last few years film fans have gravitated towards films that are happy, or at least uplifting. In the age of rampant kleptocracy and mass shootings on the news it’s easy to understand why people prefer a film with a tone like Thor: Ragnarok, over a dark film like Seven. And if I’m being honest I’m in the uplifting camp nine times out of ten. Films are an escape, a journey out of our own depressing existence for 90+ minutes. Film noir is a very interesting genre to me, I adore the stark visuals and the economic dialogue. At the same time the cynicism, fatalism, and nihilism so prevalent in the genre can be a turn off to many. It’s an acquired taste, and noir is not for everyone. Sci-fi master Duncan Jones delivers one of the most deeply disturbing noir films I’ve ever seen in Mute (2018).
The story follows bartender Leo (Alexander Skarsgard) a Amish man who is rendered mute after a childhood accident. When the love of his life goes missing, he becomes an obsessed detective stopping at nothing to find her. American back alley surgeons Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux) are vile and detestable. Yet we almost care for them at times and only grow to hate them as Duncan peels away the layers of their depravity as the story unwinds. The story is foul, gut-wrenching, and no moral value. This is the most pessimistic view of where our society is headed, and that makes it hard to watch. If I’m being honest with myself, I could totally see our world ending up like this, and I think that’s what makes it hard for people to watch.
The world building and art direction of this film are stellar. This city and citizens of the film are fantastic, imaginative, lived in, dirty. Everything has a layer of grime, moisture, and filth. The world is lived in and real while also being foreign and wholly futuristic. The people of the film are both beautiful and ragged. This dark world has taken a toll on them and everyone in the film has some weight, debt, or demon haunting them. The look of this film is pure cyberpunk but it’s nihilistic cyberpunk. There is no joy in this world, the future is bleak.
If you want a seminar on physical acting, look no further than Skarsgard as Leo. For a character with zero lines of dialogue he speaks volumes. His sunken eyes, arched shoulders, and movements tell a story without ever saying a word. This is a top actor at the top of his game, breathtaking. Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux are so good as the most horrible human beings in this film (that’s an achievement in such a dour setting). It’s such a change for both actors, it’s gut wrenching watching these men fully becoming human trash. My one critique of the film is that it is devoid of women who are anything more than plot points and motivations for the three main male characters. Maybe that’s the point Duncan is trying to make, when there is this much toxic masculinity there is no hope (I could be giving him too much credit).
This film will turn off most people who watch it, and I won’t fault them for that. It’s completely cynical, pessimistic, hopeless and packed to the gills with moral ambiguity. Duncan Jones has crafted a stellar piece of art that will sink most people people into a depressive funk that is not suited for a time when the news is dark and the outlook is grim. This is not escapist filmmaking, this is a punch in the gut. I couldn’t turn away and this is a film people will be writing and talking about for decades to come.
Movies new to me watched: 44/292
Other movies: 10/73
Total movies watched: 54/365
Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kbdekker.