by Rob DiCristino
We often forget that movies are incredibly hard to make. Even the lowest-budget indies are massive undertakings that require wit, skill, and patience to execute. Blockbuster fare is even more daunting, with entire corporations built from the ground up to oversee their production, release, and cultural impact. Auteur theorists may disagree, but film is a collaborative effort, maybe one of the last we have left. The movies that work — which, when we consider all cinema over all time, are few and far between — do so for a rich variety of reasons, each one demonstrating the undeniable truth that movies are the best art of all the arts. Maybe a killer screenplay is fully formed from the start, a dynamic and propulsive piece of literature needing only to be brought to life by great performances. Maybe it’s a director’s bold vision — their uncanny ability to stage a compelling scene — that shapes a lackluster script into something iconic. Maybe it’s an editor’s ear for the music of cinema that molds a shaggy, shapeless mess of footage into a Best Picture winner.
Teaming up with loud-mouthed buddy Dane (Bill Skarsgard), Casi begins navigating the dangerous world of organized crime, falling for the beautiful Lea and consulting with theoretical physicist neighbor Angus (Tim Blake Nelson) along the way. Why theoretical physics? Because the universe is expanding, Angus tells us; the titular naked singularity is just days away. Casi feels odd gravitational anomalies everywhere he goes, which parallel his change in moral perspective and emphasize the collapse of the broken system that surrounds him. This sounds fun, right? Ocean’s Eleven meets Melancholia. And it should be. Boyega and Cooke are talented actors who give us a few moments of real vulnerability, and Skrein makes for an exceptional scumbag. Palmer (who also co-wrote the screenplay for 2017’s It) brings a few visual flourishes to his first feature, finding angles of New York we don’t typically see on screen. If cooked at the right heat for just the right amount of time, each ingredient in Naked Singularity would make for a quality batch of pancakes.