Monday, September 11, 2017

It review

The protagonists in It are preteens but that does not mean you should bring children to see it. The film is violent with mature themes. And don't go if you are scared of clowns or are a clown because you are going decry clown discrimination. That means Trump won't like this movie.   Yeah, we heard about that boycott by Trump supporters.  Okay, the Trump boycott was about author Stephen King's strong dissent to the blond hair, orange skin one.  Not about Trump being a clown.  Still, the boycott  didn't work.  (Huffington Post)

It's 1989 in Derry, Maine. Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is a preteen student at Derry Middle School. His brother Georgie is missing and presumed dead. In fact, his arm was bitten off and he was dragged down a sewer by Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), a clown. Hey, I told you don't take the kids. Anyway, Bill is the leader of The Losers Club.  It's a group of nerdy outcasts. They include Richie (Finn Wolfhard), a trash talker. Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is chubby and literate. Beverly (Sophie Lillis) is the pretty girl who smokes and has earned an undeserved reputation as being sexually promiscuous. She also has an abusive father. Stan (Wyatt Oleff) is the son of a Rabbi. Eddie (Jake Dylan Grazer) is the kid with multiple health problems and an overbearing mother. Mike (Chose Jacobs) is an African American kid. All of them are tortured by the bullies led by Steve Bannon, Brietbart "News", and Sebastian Gorka. Um... sorry.   The bullies are led by a slightly older kid named Henry. (Nicholas Hamilton)  The Losers are not ordinary kids. They receive visions of their fears and Pennywise terrifying them.

The ensemble cast is simply outstanding.  Any notion that children can't act is put to rest here.   I'm looking at you, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. (1999)  And yeah, I might be biased here, being a geek but I want to be a member of The Losers Club.   I would love to have friends like these.  Affection.  Loyalty.  Caring.    Anyway, two performances stand out here.   Finn Wolfhard as Richie, the trash talker.  He steals every scene with his jokes.  Kudos to the writers for the one liners.  Wolfhard delivers them with relish.  I love this kid.  Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise  turns in a performance that almost doesn't require any special effects.  His movements are inhuman.  He's a predator with human flesh on his mind.   He's that scary.  There's no empathy in him.  Kind of like Trump.  Sorry, wrong clown.   Pennywise only wants to survive by instilling fear and killing.

Film is a collaborative art. And when everybody is clicking, you have a good movie. It works on all levels.   First, this film has excellent writing.  You start with Stephen King's source material which is his novel.  King's story is a mash-up of Stand By Me and The Shining.  Then there is the screenplay by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary  Dauberman. The dialogue is all genuine and there is quite a bit of warmth here.  Yes, the writers put an emphasis on the friendships of the members of The Losers Club. You root for them as they face their human monsters and the paranormal one. I will add that I wish all the adults weren't all jerks but that's a small point.

Director Andy Muschietti certainly knows how to frame a shot. And for the most part, he wisely lets his camera do the story talking versus letting the editor substitute fast cuts for the action. There are some hand held shots but again he doesn't let those dominate the movie. There must be praise for the director of photography Chung-hoon Chung. This is a movie about things that go bump in the night. Chung gives enough light and shadow to let you know there is something there in the darkness. And it's not a kitten. Production designers Mara LePere-Schloop, Claude Pare, art director Peter Grundy, and set decorator Rosalie Board all deserve Oscar nominations for art and set direction. The surreal things like the haunted house, those multiple clown heads in a room surrounding a coffin, black and white photos with Pennywise photo bombing, and creature creations will give you chills down your spine.

For those of you wondering how they cram King's long novel into one film, this movie is only part one. And there is an ending. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait for about two to three years for part two.   Or you can watch the excellent 1990 mini-series or read the book.   It arrives just in time after an August of dreary movies and before the scary times happen.  And I mean Halloween not the antics of the Trump administration.   The grade is A.

No comments: