Weekend Watchlist | Visual Marvels

By The Pitt News Staff

This weekend’s streaming recommendations celebrate the visually stunning. Get ready to sit back and stare — at least, in between frantically looking at the news.

Beautiful Boy (Amazon Prime) // Nadiya Greaser, Staff Writer

“Beautiful Boy” lands on your chest like a butterfly but sits on your heart like an elephant, heavy and overwhelming. Directed by Felix Van Groeningen, “Beautiful Boy” is an adaptation of an addiction memoir by David and Nicholas Sheff, the father and son at the center of the film. While films that deal with drug addiction often feel like either after-school specials or “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Beautiful Boy” is careful and deliberate without feeling practiced. It moves backward and forward in time with unnerving ease, swerving from crisis to recovery to relapse in a cycle that is impossible to look away from. Groeningen leans on long, music-driven scenes that play with light and the lack of it, while never pulling away from the faces of his characters. Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet play David and Nic, and while the story is often centered on David, it is constantly searching for Nic, even when he is in frame. Chalamet’s performance of Nic is elusive and strategic — at times he plays open and vulnerable, but he is always looking offscreen, ready to disappear. Carell’s surprisingly serious performance anchors Chalamet’s feverish intensity, and when they are together this energy explodes.

Pride and Prejudice (Netflix) // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

For all you romantics out there full of yearning, yearn no more. I come to you with dreamy sunsets and proclamations of love of misty moors. “Pride and Prejudice” starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy is the 2005 film adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel on comedy, manners and romance. Novel purists may stick their nose up at this particular adaptation in favor of the 1995 BBC series, but this film sacrifices authenticity for not only heightened romance and fantastically witty dialogue but what amounts to a visual marvel in the English countryside. While Lizzie is running around from manor to manor entangled deep in the heart of high class courting politics, treat yourself to the many shots of bright farmland, sunlit warm parlor rooms and one scene dedicated solely to the perusement of a sculpture room Darcy owns, much to Lizzie’s chagrin. There is so much to explore in this film. The aristocrats, snooty as they may be, have homes perfectly fit for a film camera. The chiffon dresses, the pearl-laced hair, the almost-kiss in the grotto in the rain, all these scenes and more wait for you, to soothe the eyes and patter on the heart.

Suspiria (YouTube/Tubi) // Vikram Sundar, Senior Staff Writer

Dario Argento’s 1977 classic “Suspiria” is so visually stimulating and auditorily anxiety-inducing that it almost feels like sensory overload at times. Some people have described the film as an acid trip, others have interpreted the vibrant colors and melodramatic acting as campy. Regardless, the film is a visual feast for the eyes. In the story, we follow a young American dancer traversing her way through a German ballet school riddled with mysteries and supernatural occurrences. Cinematographer Luciano Tovoli showcases masterful lighting and framing to take advantage of the labyrinthian set design and create a sense of dysphoria. Not to mention, there is a play on symmetry throughout the film to give every shot an unnaturally pristine feel. When it comes to color, the film takes full advantage of emotional associations with colors, bleeding bright sanguine reds to evoke the macabre and oozing sickly neon greens to convey unease. The visual marvels of “Suspiria” are only one detail of the overarching portrait, as it cannot be appreciated without recognizing how the incredibly ominous soundtrack by Goblin heightens the nightmarish feel of the film. Bottom line, “Suspiria” is a film that is not meant to be watched, but experienced through the senses.

The Darjeeling Limited (Prime Video) // Nick Suarez, Staff Writer

Wes Anderson is well known as a director with a distinct visual style (some would say bordering on self-parody at times), but in none of his works is it better executed than his 2007 film “The Darjeeling Limited.” The story follows three brothers — played by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody — reunited following their father’s death as they travel across India by train and depicts their misadventures, rivalries and fraternal squabbles. From a visual standpoint, Anderson’s penchant for pastel color palettes and arranging actors and rooms like oversized miniatures is somewhat curtailed — especially when the characters strike off on their own, away from the diorama-like train compartments and into the clamor of the city and sparse serenity of the countryside. Likewise, this maturation of Anderson’s visual style is reflected in the interactions of the characters, who transcend their roles as the witty and humorous mannequins I expect — and have affection for — in Anderson’s other works and become fully fledged and relatable persons. Between its parallel stylistic choices — in the directing of its actors and the visual environment in which their dramas unfold — the net effect is to create a narrative that concurrently achieves irreverence, gravity, humor, loss and poignance. It’s not a bad film to watch during these times.

Violet Evergarden (Netflix) // Sarah Stager, Contributing Editor

In addition to having that beautifully resonant name, “Violet Evergarden,” is an anime that features some of the most intricate and visually pleasing animation ever. I’m not exaggerating. The story is somewhat basic — Violet, an ex-soldier trained to kill without emotion, learns to feel through her job at a writer’s agency where she writes letters that express the feelings of the senders. The plot makes for sometimes unbearably sappy moments, but the dazzling visuals, featuring elaborate steampunk fashion and almost unbelievably realistic lighting, make up for the somewhat lackluster writing. You will be wowed by the punchy saturated colors and the environments in which you can easily appreciate the long hours of perspective work and artistic effort. Every frame of “Violet Evergarden” is a work of art in and of itself, and you will want to live in this beautiful world, regardless of the characters it holds.