Death Note

Death Note ★★★

compelling almost in spite of itself, wingard's try hard direction is agitating, dude takes too many notes from the jordan vogt-roberts school of filmmaking, he's throwing together neon and slow motion and low angle shots with no rhyme or reason, he has no distinct presence as a filmmaker. but uh holy shit this is compelling as hell. the criticisms over the whitewashing are completely justified, would argue the film isn't racist like another movie based on a japanese anime that came out in 2017 with a white lead, simply because it does actually change the cultural context, it's not just inputting a white person into a japanese environment with the exact same character only now they're white and there aren't any asian people and if they are they're killed by the white people or relegated to second fiddle. it's clearly changing the cultural context and playing like a straight remake in a different country, which is fine, it's a fine thing to do, magnificent seven successfully lifted seven samurai and reframed its cultural approach to an american lens. problem is that it does still try and keep the japanese culture instead of mutating it fully, making it feel more like something trying to be like the anime and therefore having the cool japanese shit without the japanese people. and plus, it's not like america is solely filled with white people, almost half the country isn't white and those numbers are increasing, attempting to change the cultural landscape and casting a white man while still trying to imitate the culture present in it is woefully misguided. if you want a complete reinvention of it don't call the demon "ryuk" and make constant mentions to the japanese cultures while only having one asian dude in the whole cast. easy to see why this caused backlash and completely justified although films like ghost in the shell and doctor strange are way worse in this regard and both genuinely racist in their depictions of asian people and blatant whitewashing, i'll give it credit for being one of the best possible versions of this but they would have saved a lot of shit if they'd just cast an asian-american dude. nat wolff is doing fine, he does not need this movie to survive! there are plenty of parts for him, would have been a good shot of representation. but the movie is actually really good, performances are ridiculously tremendous especially from a career best lakeith stanfield who manages to craft such a compelling and emotionally detailed portrayal out of basically an archetype and a hollow backstory is astounding, he delivers one of the best performances of the year here, and to his credit wolff's no slouch, the man can act, he's good in everything he does, and he manages to both be utterly compelling, understandable and a massive piece of shit all at the same time, he balances it all really well. dafoe's impeccable as a sinister maniacal demon and shea whigham's perfect as a grieving father who is trying to grasp between his love for his son and his duty as a police officer. film's super compelling and handles the breaking of morality perfectly, and making it focus on the relationship between these two teenagers, how they use this death book as a declaration of their love and a way to feel like they have control in their own lives by ending other people's. how it's almost an addiction to them. it's clear never to have light be the hero, he's the antagonist in any other story and it handles the moral murkiness with surprising weight. the dynamic of the idolisation of "Kira" could have been handled a lot better, felt like they were trying to make a v for vendetta style crowd response but didn't entirely succeed at subverting it to show the fractured and frequently merciless desires and beliefs of the masses, but what's there is solid. it's a fascinating movie, one that successfully entranced me in its world, i'm sure it would come across worse if i had seen the anime or read them manga but i haven't and this fucks. wingard however really needs to get his shit together formally, and i don't look forward to any future film from him until i'm confident that he won't shoot everything he has with a budget like absolute arse

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