The phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) is for posts on the Internet that you want to know about but can’t be bothered to read. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2018 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.
However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.
So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review. 2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.
BONUS: This year, I’ve added bonus content baby! This year I will be reading each review in a podcast format if you don’t even time to READ. There will be a podcast of me reading each review and THEN a bonus podcast where I discuss the film with a fellow film friend.
TLDNW: 1 Word
TLDNW: 20 Words
All that people want to talk about is the peach scene but there is a whole lot more going on here.
TLDNW: 500 Words
Three out of Four Stars
I have decided that Call me By Your Name is the most artistic of the best picture nominees this year. This is not to say that it is the beautiful or the most intricate, but simply to say that it is the film that feels the most like art. Luca Guadagnino has sculpted a piece of art. Every shot and frame is so carefully established. Each pose and action is sculpted. It’s as if Guadagnino crafted this film out of marble.
Art, and especially sculpture, however can be rigid. And this too is the case for Call Me By Your Name. Yes, it’s artistic and beautiful and very carefully made – but it also in many places feels a little too rigid.
The rigidity, I think, stems from the script and although the adapted screenplay by James Ivory (of Howard’s End fame) is slated to win the Oscar on Sunday night I can’t help but feel that the dialogue itself is nothing more than just fine. The first forty minutes of the movie drag on a little longer than they should and none of the characters are very well established in this time. Elio, played picture perfectly by Timothee Chalamet, seems convinced that the world hates him, but no one in the film gives any indication that this is true. I’m sure part of this comes from regular teenage angst but Elio is otherwise such a funny confident kid that this aspect seems out of place.
Oliver, played JUST FINE by the perfectly named Armie Hammer, is not particularly well written at all. He is initially painted as a sort of over confident playboy but this veil is fairly thin and I was left feeling confused about any of his character’s intentions.
It is Michael Stuhlbarg who shines in this cast, as he does in every cast, and his final monologue alone is why he should have been nominated for supporting actor and why the screenplay will win.
And to be fair, after the forty-minute mark- once Elio and Oliver begin their romance the art really takes hold. The acting after this point is tremendous and the shots are beautiful. Sufjan Stevens’ soundtrack adds such a beautiful feel to the love sequences. This is where the artistry shines through. It’s almost like Guadagnino said, “yeah I know the first bit is a bit rough, but wait until you see the second half!” Like showing someone a masterpiece while you’re halfway through painting it.
I will say as well the use of Roman statue and exploring the Roman tradition of an older scholar taking a male lover is really clever. There are a ton of really incredible shots of roman statues or slideshows of bits of roman statue that seem to mirror the young bodies of Chalamet and Hammer (Chalamet and Hammer sounds like a terrible Law Firm by the way). The story actually sort of reads like a Roman tragedy – “what if we watched the love story between Hadrian and his young lover?” These are the themes explored in the film and Guadagnino does a fantastic job overlaying that.
This is perhaps that is the biggest problem I had with Call Me By Your Name – it’s 2/3s of a masterpiece. It’s actually frustrating seeing how good the whole thing could have been. I almost enjoyed it less because I could see the potential for a perfect film. Instead what I got was the first draft of Michelangelo’s David. All I saw was the rough cut of a perfect piece of art.