Wasp Network (Olivier Assayas, 2020)

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Never Cursed
Such is life on board the Redoutable
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:22 am

Re: The Films of 2020

#1 Post by Never Cursed » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:41 pm


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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Wasp Network (Olivier Assayas, 2020)

#2 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:18 am

Reviews are in, and apparently this is as bad as the trailer looked.

Glowingwabbit
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:27 pm

Re: The Films of 2020

#3 Post by Glowingwabbit » Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:21 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:18 am
Reviews are in, and apparently this is as bad as the trailer looked.
Haven't watch it yet. But I would take reviews of an Assayas film with grain of salt.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Films of 2020

#4 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:10 am

Glowingwabbit wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:21 am
Haven't watch it yet. But I would take reviews of an Assayas film with grain of salt.
I always do - but it's not the metascore I'm concerned about, as much as that the trailer made it look like his fingerprints aren't apparent, while the reviews seem to be supporting that. I was hoping Netflix just cut a trailer to show a more run-of-the-mill kind of movie than what it actually is, so reviews (from Assayas fans) supporting my perception is what is disheartening, but I guess we'll find out if that's the case. I haven't disliked a single film he's made yet, though I admittedly have a few blind spots left.

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Fiery Angel
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Re: The Films of 2020

#5 Post by Fiery Angel » Fri Jun 19, 2020 5:06 pm

I found it to be an interesting failure, but after sitting through The King of Staten Island, anything looks good.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2020

#6 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 19, 2020 5:57 pm

Fiery Angel wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 5:06 pm
I found it to be an interesting failure, but after sitting through The King of Staten Island, anything looks good.
Yeah that’s not the bar I want to set for my viewings this year, but I was never going to skip a new Assayas film no matter what the response.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Films of 2020

#7 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jun 23, 2020 1:02 am

Fiery Angel wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 5:06 pm
I found it to be an interesting failure
Re: Wasp Network, I'm more interested in what you thought was interesting about the way in which this failed than I am about anything in the film. I can see how Assayas is familiarly exploring barriers to socialization (via geographical politics and secret lives prohibiting full-connectivity between romantic partners this time out) but his usual attention to characterization and meditating on mannerisms with an empathic eye is sidelined for the voracious plotting. There were times where the story seemed to slow down to stall on an interpersonal exchange, but then the shot would cut just as energy was beginning to pass between two people. This was particularly frustrating given the amount of potential in so many scenes- the wedding being a prime example of Assayas giving space, but without saying anything- though it was still easily the highlight (letting Ana de Armas flaunt her organic personality is never a bad idea, and she's a perfect actress for Assayas' usual style).

Gael Garcia Bernal's role, especially his communication difficulties with his partner, was briefly interesting, but wow- that potential for (internal, interpersonal, who cares- some kind of) conflict was diffused immediately as he spills all in the very next scene! Cruz and Ramirez have a late-act argument that remains stagnant for a few minutes, but it's just playing catchup and unearned because we never knew them as a couple together. I have no idea what happened to this conception, but even though I had little interest in these characters or story the way it was shown, I would have gladly sat through a three or four-hour film if it meant that we would be watching a more typical Assayas effort, played to his strengths. This felt like a rushed job that would only retain his fingerprints, and actually be an interesting genre-bending exercise for Assayas- as we know he is more than capable of, if the runtime was extended to give some breathing room. I got the sense that all the script pages that weren't emotionless narrative-progression were scrapped.

Nasir007
Joined: Sat May 25, 2019 11:58 am

Re: The Films of 2020

#8 Post by Nasir007 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:07 am

Glowingwabbit wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:21 am
therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:18 am
Reviews are in, and apparently this is as bad as the trailer looked.
Haven't watch it yet. But I would take reviews of an Assayas film with grain of salt.
It's pretty bad. I saw it at NYFF last year and found it baffling. What was he even trying to do? What was the story he was even trying to tell? The movie does not connect.

And I do not quite know whether I am a fan of the fact that he got Penelope Cruz for the film and she gets top billing and a lot of footage but it is still the wife/mother role not involved in the political plot at all. How about invent something interesting for her to do since this is historical adaptation anyways?

Assayas I absolutely love as a filmmaker but he's flagging on inspiration. Both Non-Fiction and this were kinda lame 3rd tier works. Non-Fiction was a little bit better but felt limp.

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zedz
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Re: The Films of 2020

#9 Post by zedz » Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:21 pm

Wasp Network (We're probably at the point that this needs its own thread)

This is easily the most anonymous Assayas film to date. I kept waiting for it to kick into higher gear, and it threatened to a couple of times, but then sputtered out. For me it was a good subject for a film without a good story, and it sort of floundered around trying to find one. What it settled on - the relationship between Rene and Olga - was too generic and roughly sketched to support much interest or emotional payoff, try as hard as the actors might.

The relationship between Juan Pablo and Ana Margarita was, briefly, much more interesting, after the confrontation that introduces an element of threat into their forthcoming marriage. But that was practically a one-scene special, with the new dynamic ignored until that narrative thread is resolved and the characters disappear.

There's a much more interesting movie implied when the network is first revealed about an hour in, and I would definitely have been up for a fragmentary espionage film in which the principals never met one another, and we weren't expected to get emotionally involved with any of them.

The film ends up like a low-wattage, dumbed-down Carlos, without that film's complicated messiness or any of its spectacular set pieces.

Nasir007
Joined: Sat May 25, 2019 11:58 am

Re: Wasp Network (Olivier Assayas, 2020)

#10 Post by Nasir007 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:22 am

I just recollected some initial thoughts I had about the movie based on zedz's review and I will add them here.

I think another reason the movie is confounding is that it assumes knowledge of this particular set of circumstances. There is no background - sociological, political - provided and we see these events unfold without sense of what are the stakes, who's trying to achieve what outcome, it is all a muddle.

I remember making the following observation to a friend which is all too common these days - this should have been a Netflix series. With 7-8 hours, they could have fleshed out the entire situation, given more context and developed everything better. Like Narcos or something.

It is sad to me that "should be a series" seems a regular refrain of our cinema conversation. It seems the art of making dense films with elaborate stories is a dying art.

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Slaphappy
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Re: Wasp Network (Olivier Assayas, 2020)

#11 Post by Slaphappy » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:11 pm

Carlos is one of my all-time favourite miniseries, but when I saw this, I didn’t even realize it was made by Assayas. My initial impression was, that who ever had made the movie had bit of a ”virtue is it’s own reward” type of approach and was happy just tell sympatethic anti-terrorism espionage story from the other (=non-western) angle and very little ambition for anything else.

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