I like to tell myself that I go into every film with a completely open mind, ready to praise or blame based entirely on what I am about to witness onscreen. But that’s not always true, not entirely. How can it be, in an age when all the talk about a film generally happens before its release? (Everything after that tends to be discussion of box office and sequels.)
So in all honesty I went into The Boss Baby expecting to be disappointed, if only because of the giant eyes, oversized heads, and weird eyelashes of the baby and his brother. A disaster of character design, that. Clearly, they were trying to make adorability distract from aesthetic bankruptcy. Boy, was I wrong. It was a strange thing to go from, “Here we go,” to “I don’t hate this,” to “That was funny” to “This is good!” But that’s what happened.
I had the opposite experience with Ghost in the Shell. When they posted the opening fight scene on YouTube I got a little excited, mostly because of the creepy geisha-bot. A triumph of character design, that. And the whole “what is a person” issue, combined with the impressive cityscapes and the revered pedigree, made me think it might be Blade Runner for a new generation. Boy, was I wrong.
The Zookeeper’s Wife sort of split the difference. The trailer didn’t move me, but once Nazi zookeeper Daniel Brühl started talking about breeding a better bison (well, auroch), I thought we might have something really bold — the contest over the existence of a Master Race being played out in the animal kingdom, with Jews in the underground cages just to hammer home the point. Boy, was I wrong. Or rather, I was right the first time.
It’s worth noting that The Digital Gym is doing last-chance runs of two films that the Reader liked: Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta and Pablo Larrain’s Neruda.