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December 25, 2020 at 2:06 pm #1203945107
I have just finished watching Soul on Disney+. What starts out as a fun comedy where two characters of different backgrounds have to team up ends with such emotionally enriching themes. I found the main character voiced by Jamie Foxx to be very charismatic and relatable. The designs of everything in The Great Before from the characters to the landscapes are so imaginative. The musical score by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross is quite unique. In my opinion, Soul proves to be an instant classic that I think is right up there with some of the best animated films Disney & Pixar has ever made. It should be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.December 29, 2020 at 11:15 pm #1203952555
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (2020): I vaguely knew of the film’s existence pre-NYFCC wins, but this was an early casualty of the pandemic with its early spring release date. I’m both moved and somewhat distanced by it. I’m not familiar with Eliza Hittman’s work, though I was taken by her stark, naturalistic direction here and sparse dialogue. It felt like clear choices were being made, which I always like seeing from auteurs, for better or worse. This film reminded me of a tamer version of Cristian Mungiu’s masterpiece “4 Months, 3 Weeks, & 2 Days.” The distance arrived from not fully knowing the two main characters like I hoped I would, as well as arriving at this from a decidedly male perspective that I can’t help but have. I know I’m not the intended viewing audience for the film, which is perfectly fine, but all of the men portrayed were on some sort of predatory scale, which seemed excessive. I’ve also never been a seventeen-year-old girl seeking an abortion across state lines in this current political climate. Sidney Flanigan was riveting in her debut performance. Nothing felt overplayed or actorly in her unadorned work as Autumn. It’s crazy that before this role, she worked as a janitor with no prior film experience! Talia Ryder is another standout discovery that I hope has a fruitful career ahead of her. Skylar was such a calming presence and support system to Autumn, and I immediately bought into their familial connection and friendship. The titular questionnaire sequence at Planned Parenthood was as devastating as I heard it was, and the empathic counselor used in it really works for the organization. I’d support an Oscar nomination for Flanigan in that scene alone, but I’m guessing that her age and lack of name recognition will pointedly hurt her chances. I’m at least keeping this as an original screenplay contender for Hittman in my current predictions. This film will be on my mind for quite some time.December 30, 2020 at 7:13 pm #1203954036
I have just finished watching Promising Young Woman. This movie is such a dark, twisted, comedic thriller that surprisingly has its moments of heart. Kudos to writer/director Emerald Fennell for pulling off that kind of tone in her feature directorial debut. Magnetic performance from Carey Mulligan, in what I think is her most impressive work to date. She gets to show off quite a range of personalities as her character from being seductive to having her share of empathy as well. I also loved her chemistry with Bo Burnham’s character. With so many twists and turns this movie takes, I think the end results are so frickin’ awesome!December 31, 2020 at 6:44 am #1203954591
Rewatched Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which is a grower, among Tarantino’s top 5 films.
It gets better and more layered on multiple viewings, unlike other gimmicky movies of the moment that only work for a first time view (i’m looking at you, 1917!).
A modern classic with DiCaprio and Pitt at the top of their game both doing their career-best work.
Heavily suggest to watch/rewatch it for New Year’s Eve.January 2, 2021 at 3:30 am #1203957533
Russell Crowe’s comedy, Unhinged.January 3, 2021 at 6:51 pm #1203960571
“First Reformed” (2018): Tough film to sit through, but I’ve wanted to see this for a long time. I missed the brief opportunity in theaters, and after Ethan Hawke’s recent, brilliant work in “The Good Lord Bird,” I had to see the role that earned him the critics trifecta sweep and almost Oscar nomination. Stunning performance that’s easily better than the majority of the lead actor field that year (leagues beyond useless winner Malek, Bale, & Mortensen; haven’t seen Dafoe, who was most likely battling Hawke for fifth slot; I’d only keep Cooper). Reverend Toller is a sea of fascinating contradictions, and I’m still trying to figure them all out. I sat on this review for weeks, because I’m baffled by what I watched. The austerity, the uneasiness, and the grotesqueness all left me with such an odd feeling. The controversial ending that I’d vaguely heard about was very abrupt and unnerving. I won’t reveal it here, but needless to say, it colored all of my perceptions of the work I’d seen prior to it, and not in a good way. The supporting cast was fantastic, starting with a surprisingly effective Amanda Seyfried as Mary, a pregnant woman seeing the reverend’s counsel over her troubled, environmentalist husband (Philip Ettinger, unrecognizable from last I watched him in “I Know This Much Is True”). Cedric the Entertainer plays a serious role as Toller’s boss and mentor of sorts. It’s the most dramatic I’ve seen him, and he managed better than I expected. Paul Schrader is a tough and difficult director, but maybe that works to his advantage here as he grapples with big questions of faith, mortality, fanaticism, and ecological collapse. The film invites multiple rewatches, which I’ll do at some point, but not anytime soon.January 7, 2021 at 2:06 pm #1203968121
“First Reformed” (2018): Tough film to sit through, but I’ve wanted to see this for a long time. I missed the brief opportunity in theaters, and after Ethan Hawke’s recent, brilliant work in “The Good Lord Bird,” I had to see the role that earned him the critics trifecta sweep and almost Oscar nomination. Stunning performance that’s easily better than the majority of the lead actor field that year (leagues beyond useless winner Malek, Bale, & Mortensen; haven’t seen Dafoe, who was most likely battling Hawke for fifth slot; I’d only keep Cooper).
Nah, I think John David Washington might’ve been the one who finished in sixth place for a Best Actor nomination that year. He was recognized by the Golden Globes and SAG for his performance in BlacKkKlansman, which was a Best Picture contender at the Oscars.January 7, 2021 at 2:09 pm #1203968127
I got to watch Pieces of a Woman on Netflix earlier today. I found it to be a decent movie with quite a few aspects to admire. Under the direction of Kornél Mundruczó, he approaches several scenes with one long continuous shot (especially the home birth sequence), which allows we the audience to pay attention to the performances from each member of the cast involved. Vanessa Kirby gives incredible work in this film as she gets to display such raw emotions throughout. I must imagine how hard it was for her to perform that scene where she was giving birth as Kirby herself has never even gone through anything like that before in real life. In the aftermath of her character’s trauma, you really feel for her as she experiences various stages of grief.
While Shia LaBeouf has been in quite a bit of trouble recently due to recent allegations of sexual assault, with that aside, I do think he’s very good in this film. Though acting legend Ellen Burstyn gives a such a strong performance as Martha’s grieving mother. She even has a monologue that takes place about almost an hour and a half into the movie, which I think is a great showcase for her. Not to mention that Howard Shore has crafted quite a haunting musical score that in my option perfectly fits the mood of the film.
If you’re a parent with young children or about to become one, Pieces of a Woman is definitely not going to be an easy watch for you. If you don’t fit into either of those criteria, I wouldn’t call this movie a must-see. But overall, I think it’s worth watching for the performances alone.January 7, 2021 at 3:07 pm #1203968217
Nah, I think John David Washington might’ve been the one who finished in sixth place for a Best Actor nomination that year. He was recognized by the Golden Globes and SAG for his performance in BlacKkKlansman, which was a Best Picture contender at the Oscars.
Yet Washington couldn’t get in over Dafoe, whose film had no support beyond him? Dafoe and Hawke were competing for the critics slot, fifth and sixth positions, respectively.January 17, 2021 at 12:47 am #1203987589
Melancholia. I’m currently reveling in it.
FYC: Michaela Coel and Rosamund PikeJanuary 17, 2021 at 7:41 am #1203987881
After New Years I have seen:
Pieces of a Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7
One Night in Miami
The Matrix Reloaded
The Talented Mr RipleyJanuary 25, 2021 at 2:33 pm #1204001364
“First Cow” (2020): Never watched a Kelly Reichart film before, but after the film’s strong critical reception, I decided to give it a proper watch. The closest prior to this was “Meek’s Cutoff,” which didn’t maintain my interest, so I didn’t finish it. As a story, I was instantly hooked by the peculiar source material (“The Half-Life,” by Jon Raymond, who is also the co-writer of the screenplay). Two pioneering, industrious men seek to make their fortunes in 1820s Oregon Territories (jointly occupied by the British at the time, which I didn’t know until I did some research), and through the course of the film, discover a unlikely friendship that serves them more than elusive riches. John Maguro & Orion Lee were both spectacular here. I completely bought into this duo’s adventures, particularly in their quiet scenes where Cookie & King-Lu imagine a possible existence where they’re running a successful hotel & bakery together. To do that, they enlist the assistance of the town’s Chief Factor (Toby Jones) & his beloved prize cow. They develop a pretty ingenious plan to make money by selling a tasty pastry (“oily cakes”) to the town’s settlers & travelers. Needless to say, schemes go awry, the duo’s dreams are thwarted, & the plot barrels forward to its inevitable conclusion. Jones was great as the “villain” of the piece. It’s a cosmic injustice that his career didn’t reach the heights it should have with “Infamous,” the other Truman Capote biopic that was unfortunately overshadowed by “Capote” & rarely thought about today. I think this was sadly Rene Auberjonois’s final performance as the old town kook who barely spoke & had a parrot on his shoulder. Special kudos to Evie the Cow who effortlessly stole every scene she was in lol! She gave birth in real-life to a calf named Cookie, which is amazing. This is a slow-moving film, & some scenes drag on longer than they need to. I would applaud Oscar nominations in production design, costumes, editing, makeup/hairstyling, score, etc. It’s probably too small of a film to reach high-profile nods, though adapted screenplay or directing would be incredible. The framing device wasn’t necessary to me, and the ending was unsatisfying. But the journey getting there was compelling, so I’d watch the film again for that reason alone.January 25, 2021 at 3:58 pm #1204001499
I finally watched Tenet earlier today. Throughout the first half of it, I thought the movie had an interesting concept that while very well made, still could’ve been fleshed out more in its execution. However, I found the second half to be far more engaging. Despite him pretty much playing a one-note character who we know nothing about (not even his name since he’s only credited as ‘The Protagonist’), I thought John David Washington was able to make the most of what he was given. Though I was definitely drawn to the tensions between the married couple played by Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh. As someone who has always been fascinated by the idea of time travel, I found the way it was used in this film was quite intriguing. Overall, Christopher Nolan has given us another movie with complex storytelling that is sure to challenge audiences. I’ll be very curious to see how this plays on a second viewing.January 30, 2021 at 12:07 pm #1204010007
I got to watch News of the World last night. I found it to be such an atypical kind of western largely thanks to the raw approach by director Paul Greengrass. The movie may be a bit of a slow burn, but I was able to stay invested throughout. Tom Hanks gives a performance that is very laid back while he also stays his usual charismatic self. Though Helena Zegnel’s performance in particular I found to be very compelling, especially in her character’s quieter moments. She was even able to hold her own against Hanks really well. Not only that, but I thought the two of them also had some great onscreen chemistry together as he pretty much became a father figure to her over the course of the film. They both even shared a very touching moment near the end.
The images in this movie brought to life by Greengrass in collaboration with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski are visually stunning. James Newton Howard was able to craft quite a terrific musical score that I thought was very evocative of the mood, setting, themes, and emotions on display. Overall, I wouldn’t necessarily call News of the World a must-see, but I do think that it is worth watching.January 30, 2021 at 12:31 pm #1204010019
Watched Midsommar. Maybe horror isn’t a genre for me. I recognised that this is so well made but it was so long and the scares made me feel queasy not thrilled. Horror as a genre is dependant on cruelty to others and I can’t watch that.
For Your Consideration:
Best Picture: Wolfwalkers
Best Animated Feature: Wolfwalkers
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