September 27, 2018 at 3:02 am #1202642191This post was found to be inappropriate by the moderators and has been removed.October 22, 2018 at 10:38 am #1202659040
“The Sisters Brothers” (2018): This is the first English-language film for French director Jacques Audiard (“Un Prophète”), and it’s a hybrid Western of all things. I enjoyed this immensely and hope that it’s not forgotten during awards season. Westerns aren’t my favorite film genre, but I’ve seen enough of them to know what works and what doesn’t. Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly are both great here as unlikely assassin brothers in 1850s gold rush Oregon tasked by their boss (The Commodore, played by Rutger Hauer) to find and kill a chemist who has developed a formula that can easily detect undiscovered gold in water. Riz Ahmed is the chemist (inspired bit of casting), and Jake Gyllenhaal plays the lure for the chemist until he isn’t. The techs are superb, and I’d at least nominate it for Adapted Screenplay. Such an odd meditation on brotherhood and masculinity, but it all works out well in the end. Don’t miss this film when it arrives at a theater near you!October 22, 2018 at 10:54 am #1202659045
Michael Myers, it’s so nice to have you back where you belong. You may be in your sexagenarian years, yet you continue to bash in brains and slice and dice horny teenagers with masterful precision. It’s just too bad the picture around you this time doesn’t operate at your same commanding level.
I am a Halloween nut, through and through. Not only do I of course worship John Carpenter’s 1978 original – both among the finest pictures of its decade and greatest horror films of all-time – I’m even quite taken with Halloween II and Halloween: H20. Hell, throw Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers on television and I’ll cancel all of my prior commitments!
So, you can imagine I was quite surprised and more than a little heartbroken as I found myself not so enamored with the latest entry in the franchise, David Gordon Green’s Halloween – a follow-up to the Carpenter original that opts to pretend all prior sequels never came to fruition. Perhaps most key of all is it erases that pesky development, which first arouse in Halloween II, that Michael and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode were siblings. This is something I was completely down for, yet Green’s Halloween doesn’t even satisfy at the same levels of Halloween II or H20.
In the dismal Halloween: Resurrection, Michael found himself confronted by the craze over reality television. This time around, it’s true-crime podcasting, presented in the form of a pair of British journalists (Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees) who, 40 years following Michael’s murderous rampage in the first Halloween, pay the psychopath a visit at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. You see, Michael has been imprisoned there since his capture by Dr. Loomis (RIP Donald Pleasance). Now, with Dr. Loomis having passed on, he’s being treated by another eccentric doc, Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer).
After egging Michael on, both showing him his former mask and bringing up Laurie, the podcasters pay a visit to none other than the sole survivor herself. Laurie has spent the past 40 years battling PTSD and preparing herself and her family for what she sees as Michael’s inevitable return. She’s been married and divorced twice and lost custody of her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), who now has a teenage daughter of her own, Allyson (Andi Matichak).
Laurie, no surprise, hasn’t the faintest interest in cooperating with the Brits. She’s far more focused on her old foe, who conveniently is being transferred to a new facility on the eve of Halloween. It should come as scant surprise that Michael of course manages an escape, gets his hands on his old mask and greets Haddonfield with a long overdue, plenty grisly return. If Laurie is prepared, the rest of the community, per usual, is very much susceptible to Michael’s prey.
Never before has this series been such a meandering slog as it is in its opening half hour. The insertion of true-crime podcasting into the franchise must have sounded timely and inspired on the page but it’s not the least bit compelling on the screen. Once Michael is back in action, the proceedings do at least muster the same satisfaction as a competent slasher picture, yet it’s never nearly on the same level as Carpenter’s original.
As always, Curtis gives it her all as Laurie and especially provides the picture a boost in its final half hour, a cat-and-mouse duel between she and Michael that is claustrophobic in the best sense. Unfortunately, the supporting cast around her isn’t terribly memorable and there is at least one character and plot twist that, thankfully briefly, sends the film jumping the shark. Kudos to the very funny Jibrail Nantambu, portraying the only character (besides Laurie) you’re genuinely rooting for Michael not to knock off.
Green does a fine job staging the rousing grand finale but the rest of his direction is strictly workmanlike stuff, decidedly not Carpenter-caliber. Speaking of Carpenter, however, his musical score, jazzed up a bit this time around, remains a stirring winner.
If Halloween is hardly the worst entry in the series, it also falls tragically short of the greatness once so present in this franchise.
For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!October 22, 2018 at 6:49 pm #1202659422
Halloween Michael Myers, it’s so nice to have you back where you belong. You may be in your sexagenarian years, yet you continue to bash in brains and slice and dice horny teenagers with masterful precision. It’s just too bad the picture around you this time doesn’t operate at your same commanding level. I am a Halloween nut, through and through. Not only do I of course worship John Carpenter’s 1978 original – both among the finest pictures of its decade and greatest horror films of all-time – I’m even quite taken with Halloween II and Halloween: H20. Hell, throw Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers on television and I’ll cancel all of my prior commitments!
Unfortunately, the supporting cast around her isn’t terribly memorable and there is at least one character and plot twist that, thankfully briefly, sends the film jumping the shark. Kudos to the very funny Jibrail Nantambu, portraying the only character (besides Laurie) you’re genuinely rooting for Michael not to knock off. Green does a fine job staging the rousing grand finale but the rest of his direction is strictly workmanlike stuff, decidedly not Carpenter-caliber. Speaking of Carpenter, however, his musical score, jazzed up a bit this time around, remains a stirring winner. If Halloween is hardly the worst entry in the series, it also falls tragically short of the greatness once so present in this franchise. B- For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!
You make valid points. I am a Halloween fan as well. I have watched the original many times and still enjoy it and found thrills in Halloween II and H20. I have also wanted to send to jail the writers and cast of Curse and Resurrection (sans Pleasance and Curtis) for making those two abominations. I guess the issue here is that there was not much new to bring in terms of the storyline in 2018; I see it as a proper closure for Laurie Strode’s arc. I mean, Michael is 61 so someone has to kill him. Eventually. Before he turns 100.
Let’s not forget this is still a slasher so character development will never be a strength. I think the characters were likeable, obviously not throughly developed, but I doubt anyone was cheering for the victims to die (the murders need to have an empathetic response in the audience as they are murders; for example, Friday the 13th always fails in this). In Halloween 2018, they got that one right, having the characters of the daughter, grandaughter and the sheriff help the story move forward. Nambamtu, as you say, had excellent timing and got the biggest laughs from the theater where I was. Really funny kid.
The music really deserves more praise. Lately, there have been so many ‘horror’ movies with unispired scores and that hinders the whole experience. Halloween excels when Carpenter’s themes kick in and the final piece provides a blend of undeniable liberation and tragedy. One of the best of the genre without a doubt.
Jamie Lee Curtis does deserve a nomination for Best Actress, period. Hollywood wants an unforgettable heroine? There you have her. It won’t happen and that’s why the Oscars remain disconnected from bigger audiences.
On the negative side, there were moments where the editing could have been better. Michael keeps teleporting so I had to make peace with that (yet again). I see what they were trying to do with Michael’s doctor, but it really did not work for this movie. My biggest concern is what is to come because it’s like a rule that after an entertaining Halloween entry, shit seems to follow. Create a new villain and close the story of these characters. With dignity. 40 years has been quite a good run.
October 25, 2018 at 11:12 am #1202661558
- This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by wattsgold.
“Halloween” (2018): Also just watched this film, so I’ll comment on it here. Complete newbie to this franchise, and in fact, the 40th anniversary of the original is playing near me at an arthouse theater for one night only this weekend, so I might give that a watch now. I’m sure I didn’t catch many of the inside jokes and callbacks to that and the many sequels. Okay film. Wasn’t nearly scary or gory enough for my tastes. Everyone wants to be “artsy” now with horror, and I say that considering a.) horror is one of my least-favorite film genres, and b.) “Get Out” was my favorite film of 2017 and should have won BP. Far too much time spent with exposition, and surely that ending sets the stage for yet another sequel. I actually liked the two British crime podcasters as a serial podcast fan. Nice send-up work there that felt topical. Jamie Lee Curtis was truly fantastic. Just as a psychological character study on agoraphobia and PTSD, the film reaches its highest peaks focusing on Laurie Strode. I didn’t care much about Michael Myers at all. It makes me wish Curtis found work worthy of her talents beyond nonsense like “Scream Queens” and gross Activia commercials. No reason at all why she can’t headline a Neflix or Amazon comedy of some sort if Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin can. Oscar-worthy? Not quite, but this is just in comparison to the much better “Hereditary” and Toni Collette’s fiery acting work there. I’m all for the Jamie Lee Curtis career resurgence regardless and applaud her historic box office victory. I just need “A Nightmare on Elm Street”-level horror again, or I guess B-movie gore instead of this middling effort.October 25, 2018 at 11:34 am #1202661583This post was found to be inappropriate by the moderators and has been removed.November 3, 2018 at 10:34 am #1202667459
Giulietta degli spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits, 1965)
Lesser-known Fellini film, about a woman who discovers her husband is having an affair, told from the woman’s point of view. This movie made a vivid impression on me the first time I saw it years ago, and time has not diluted its effect. The dream sequences are amazingly beautiful; nobody does surrealism better than Fellini. Grade: ANovember 3, 2018 at 3:50 pm #1202667616
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
In 1967, the year of Spencer Tracy’s death, up-and-coming writer Lee Israel broke through with a devastatingly great profile on Katharine Hepburn, published in Esquire. Over the following two decades, Israel penned a trio of celebrity biographies, one of which, Kilgallen (a portrait of journalist and game show panelist Dorothy Kilgallen), was lauded as among the finest bios of the 1980s.
By the 1990s, however, her past works proved long forgotten, as Israel found herself earning attention not for her biographies or countless magazine articles but rather her recent criminal activities.
Director Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, based on Israel’s eponymous memoirs, opens on Israel (Melissa McCarthy) who, in 1991, is struggling to make ends meet, months behind on her rent and devastated that she cannot afford medical treatment for her beloved cat. Israel is desperate for an advance on her latest project, a biography of Fanny Brice, but her agent (the formidable Jane Curtin) cannot make that happen, nor does she terribly want to. The irksome, surly Israel has burned bridge after bridge in recent years and has no industry allies to speak of.
At last, Israel finds a companion in Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), a vivacious grifter who shares in her disdain for society and dependency on the bottle. Hock isn’t the least bit shaken when Israel presents her grand scheme to bring home that elusive dough – she is going to earn a living fabricating signed personal letters from deceased, high-profile writers, from Brice to Noel Coward to Dorothy Parker. Israel finds fleeting success but, when suspicions are raised around her documents, Hock steps in as a partner in crime to sell them on her behalf. With the FBI on their trail, however, is it inevitable that Judgment Day lurks on the horizon.
With a sparkling screenplay from Jeff Whitty and the reliably amazing Nicole Holofcener, and led by a pair of actors in career-best form, wholeheartedly committed to the material, Can You Ever Forgive Me? ultimately emerges one of the year’s very best pictures.
McCarthy and Grant have a dazzling rapport, with each going to town on the comic and dramatic opportunities presented to them. Not to be overlooked is the rest of this splendid ensemble cast, including Curtin (who slays in her two scenes), Anna Deavere Smith (superb as exasperated ex) and particularly Dolly Wells, warm and perceptive as Anna, a book shop owner who takes a liking to Israel. A dinner between Anna and Israel proves one of the film’s most absorbing and affecting scenes, in a film full of them.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? will be richly deserving of every accolade it inevitably earns for McCarthy and Grant – but I sure hope they aren’t the picture’s lone recognition this awards season.
For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!November 3, 2018 at 8:13 pm #1202667757
I just watched Marty for the very first time, and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a nice, heartfelt little film. So now, I’ve seen about 62 of the 90 Oscar winners for Best Picture. There’s also a couple fun facts about it I’d like to share.
1. Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale were asked about the fact that the Best Picture winner of 1955 was Marty, and their main character in Back to the Future is named Marty McFly, who goes back in time to the year 1955. Both Zemeckis & Gale said that it was all purely coincidental.
2. The plot of this film actually inspired the plot of a 1998 episode of the Nickelodeon animated series, Hey Arnold!, which was titled ‘Hey Harold!’.
4:38November 4, 2018 at 8:26 am #1202668029
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018): Very intriguing slice-of-life story about the world of literary forgery, which isn’t something seen much in feature films. Part of me kind of wishes that this was a documentary instead, since the real players and milieu had to have been more lively than this. I would have watched that on Netflix in a heartbeat. Truth is stranger than fiction, after all. However, this is the kind of role I hoped Melissa McCarthy would take on for a good while. She’s fantastic here as Lee Israel, and I have no problems placing her in my final five Oscar predictions for best actress. Richard E. Grant enlivened every scene he was in and had astounding chemistry opposite McCarthy. I had no prior knowledge of these events, so seeing this all play out to its inevitable end was sad yet fitting. I think I was just waiting for something monumental to hit somewhere or the filmmaking itself to be more compelling than the flatness on display, but neither really happened. There’s the turn, of course, and then we’re barreling onward toward the conclusion. It’s the kind of film that will likely only receive acting nods for McCarthy and hopefully Grant, and maybe screenplay if voters really go for it. But cheers to McCarthy for stretching herself and Grant getting a memorable showcase like this again.November 6, 2018 at 8:03 pm #1202669861
I just finished watching Out of Africa for the very first time, and I must say that despite the best efforts from everyone involved (both in front of and behind the camera), it was to be the most boring Best Picture winner of the 1980’s.November 6, 2018 at 8:16 pm #1202669867
Can You Ever Forgive Me: A-
Bohemian Rhapsody: CNovember 8, 2018 at 12:44 am #1202670725
The House With a Clock in its Walls
This is a handsomely-mounted production that has its moments but is otherwise pretty ho-hum. It is meant for younger viewers, yet the dark subject matter may not be that suitable. For adults, the movie is neither scary nor that hilarious, although some of the quips are funny enough. The visual effects are okay, but if you have been watching movies for the past half century like i have, then there is nothing new, different or special that will wow you. It is always fun to watch Jack Black and Cate Blanchett act but here, they are outshone by young Owen Vaccaro, who is the best reason for seeing this movie.November 13, 2018 at 10:33 am #1202674235
“Shoplifters” (2018): I wanted to go into this film cold, so all I knew about it was the Palme d’Or win. Skipping reviews and synopses really helped immerse me into the entire experience. The story revolves around “family” and what that really means. I was blown away by what I saw, and b/c of it, I think this could genuinely challenge “Roma” in the Foreign Language Film Oscar category. It’s the first film I’ve seen from director Hirokazu Koreeda. There’s such a sensitivity shown here to how families form and the tentative connections between them. It’s not always the easiest film to watch. None of the actors were familiar to me, subtitles (the horror lol), but that was less of a distraction and allowed me to focus on the story itself. The ending is very subtle, but afterwards, it hits you like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to give more away, but when this film comes around to your area, don’t hesitate in watching.
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