Tag Archives: MICHAEL STUHLBARG

Tea & Review: ‘The Shape of Water’ is Incandescent

{All images used courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.}

Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary.

The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro. Produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Copyright 2017. (Seen December 5, 2017.)

You ever read a book where the writing is so glorious it almost distracts from the plot of the book? Where you spend just as much time admiring the writing as you do thinking about the actual book? The Shape of Water is a gloriously filmed movie, with absolutely gorgeous cinematography — almost to the point of it being a distraction.

Set during the Cold War, The Shape of Water is del Toro’s take on the fairy tale. We are introduced to Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman. She works alongside Zelda (Octavia Spencer) during the night shift at a government facility as a cleaning woman. She lives with Giles (Richard Jenkins), a closeted gay man who does artwork for advertisements, watching musicals and variety shows on television. And every day is the same.

Every day is the same, that is, until Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) is introduced, having acquired ‘the asset’ in South America for the facility to study. At first, we only see a container with water, with movements indicating some sort of creature. But one evening, Elisa is cleaning the room it is in, and meets him (Doug Jones).

At first, it’s a friendship: she sees him as a bit of a pet, trying to tame it and not wanting to see him hurt. But, this is at heart a fairy tale, and so the friendship turns to love as Elisa explains to Giles at one point that the amphibian man (as is listed on IMDB) is the only person to not care that she is mute, and sees her for who she is.

Continue reading Tea & Review: ‘The Shape of Water’ is Incandescent

Tea & Review: Fargo – The House of Special Purpose

If last week’s Fargo was a symphony and the week before’s an interlude, this week’s can only be classified as a funeral march—although no one actually died. The solemnity was more in form than function, expressed through muted colors, elegiac music selections, and slightly more methodical editing. That is, until the final scene.

As was established in past installments, Season Three’s halfway mark is essentially the point of no return, the moment wherein the true stakes are established and the more farcical capers give way for darker plots. Think of the brutal killing of the hapless personal trainer in Season One, or the ambush of the Kansas City mobsters in Season Two. Both reversals were prime examples of the show’s ability to transitional naturally between tones per the story’s demands.

But this time around, the shift feels a whole lot starker.

Continue reading Tea & Review: Fargo – The House of Special Purpose