Ari Aster Roundtable

So, as Team CineChat try to keep their sanity intact during the current chaos, a bit of an impromptu Ari Aster roundtable formed on our group chat. It all started off with a simple question…

Lee: Has anyone seen Midsommar? I just wrote a review for it but it’s probably a bit too ranty for the website. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood from everything 😄

Clare: 😟 it was one of my favourites from last year!!
Send it to me and I can write an argument explains why you’re wrong 😁

Mary: I wouldn’t be surprised, it’s enough to effect anyone’s mood

Lee: My short little review 😄…

I haven’t seen such complete and utter nonsense since Hereditary.

The bitter disappointment in Hereditary still lingers to this day. The build up, and all of the hype on film Twitter, got me so excited to see it. And then, I ended up in a cinema of people, all laughing at the ridiculousness of it all and all coming out saying how bad it was.

So when Midsommar came along, and everyone online started reacting in exactly the same way as they did for Hereditary, I wasn’t having any of it. The trailer looked OK, but I didn’t want to waste my time being like the person in the story of the emperors new clothes who pipes up and says “hang on a minute, this is actually complete crap”. So I didn’t bother with it.

But now it’s on Amazon Prime, and cinemas are closed. It’s desperate times, so I gave it a try.

And for the first half, it was OK. But by the end of it, I was disappointed again and I really do feel that it actually does follow the same Hereditary formula, only delivered slightly better –

A first half which plays like a beautifully shot drama.

A gruesome shock during this first half.

A beautifully shot, but ultimately dull, second half which struggles to deliver on the initial setup, decides to descend into a ridiculous and laughable mess instead.

A standout performance (Toni Collette then, Florence Pugh now).

Clare: I mean, I’m glad you liked the first half? I’ve just checked and I put Hereditary in my top 10 of 2018 (out of 42) Midsommar only made it to 23, but that was out of 86! (Minimum 4 stars for both though)

Mary: I haven’t seen Midsommar Lee but I felt the same about Hereditary 
It was ok but it was nothing to write home about. I didn’t really get the hype, I’ll probably feel the same way about Midsommar when I get round to watching it

Matt: I enjoyed Hereditary more than Midsommar, I think what let Midsommar down is that it gets to a point where you’re legitimately not sure whether it’s deliberately being ridiculous or not… Its good when films put you in a position of “should I be laughing about this?” but there’s a fine line between laughing WITH and laughing AT a film… But that shock mid-way is crazy haha

Lee: Clare, I think that if you liked Hereditary you’re going to get some enjoyment out of Midsommar. I don’t mind having the unpopular opinion but it’s not even as if I came out of my Hereditary screening as the only one to have felt that way. I’ve never been in a screening before where literally everybody was talking negatively about it during the film (mainly the last 20 minutes), laughing at things which I’m sure weren’t intended to be funny and then complaining about it as they left the cinema. It does seem to have divided people. Still, glad you liked it 😁

Clare: Went and found my original tiny reviews for them:

The bits that are good are amazing – performance and cinematography.
Pugh and Poulter are revelations in this!
Like Hereditary, it is overly long and complicated which end up detracting form the best bits, but Aster is an amazing director and I can’t wait for what’s next.

Great stuff that had me covering my eyes and holding my breath.
I did find it a little long but the tension build and pay off was well worth it.
Amazing performances, beautiful visuals and an interesting and head turning narrative. I wish the ending had been left more ambiguous, but admire the dedication to the plot.

Lee: I agree with your review. I have no problem with, and fully embrace, someone being bold and different. Just need to sort out that overly long and complicated side of things though.

Clare: Some guys just don’t know how to edit. I did not choose to go and see the extended cut of Midsommar!

Lee: I didn’t realise there was an extended cut. Maybe that’s the one I saw on Amazon… 2hr17 I think it was – does that sound like the original or extended?

Clare: That’s the original. There was talk of a 3hr extended cut, as his original cut was between 3 – 4 hrs I think

Lee: And Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is another example of editing – that needed at least 40 minutes chopping from it. Certainly not an extended version!

Clare: Ugh, OUATIH is my biggest disappointment probably of the 2010’s. What a waste of my time.

Lee: Well, at least we can agree on that 😊

Matt: The last 10 minutes of Hereditary could definitely have cut off if I’m honest. I thought the same about The Witch when I watched that at the weekend – the ‘reveal’ of most of the monsters/witches/demons is always underwhelming and a bit silly and far less scary than the build up

Lee: The Witch is another one that I hated

Clare:  I’ve not seen it, but love The Lighthouse, so had high hopes!

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