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April 8, 2021 at 2:57 pm #1204187062
Judas & The Black MessiahApril 9, 2021 at 6:22 pm #1204189086
Promising Young Woman is bold and beautiful filmmaking. Emerald Fennell was in her ENTIRE bag with this debut. Carey Mulligan is out of this world with an iconic performance. How she hasn’t been a sweeper I will not know bc she has everything going for her to be one. This audacious commentary on rape culture is once in a generation kind of material and will be remembered for years to come.April 11, 2021 at 9:37 am #1204192074
“Sound of Metal” (2020): Riz Ahmed was fantastic here, so I’m glad he’s finally received the recognition he should have had a long time ago for “Nightcrawler.” I was immersed in Ruben’s headspace in a way I couldn’t have imagined before watching this. The sound Oscar should belong to this team with their names already engraved on the trophies. The film itself was fine, but the screenplay leaped from one extreme to another, and I wanted the dots connected better. I have a feeling that in another year unlike the past horrible one, this wouldn’t have been nominated for best picture, or more specifically, the film’s trajectory would have stopped at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Paul Raci was a revelation, but his screentime was slight. I wanted much more of Joe and his commanding presence, especially at the film’s ending, but that wasn’t meant to be. Raci’s entire IMDb awards page is only for this performance! Legend. Olivia Cooke’s character was more of a plot device than an actual character. I’m not sure what Mathieu Amalric was even attempting in his scenes. Certainly worth viewing for Ahmed’s and Raci’s electric work, and I’m glad that both were Oscar-nominated.April 19, 2021 at 7:16 am #1204209042
Decided to hold a Daniel Day Lewis festival in my living room. Started with Phantom Thread which I’d never seen. Tonight, Lincoln.April 19, 2021 at 1:35 pm #1204209912
“The Life Ahead” (2020): I didn’t expect to love this film as much as I did, so that was a pleasant surprise. Sophia Loren continues to radiate intense star quality at her advanced age, and it’s a nice endpoint to a storied career that’s spanned languages and generations. Beautifully directed by Loren’s son, Edoardo Ponti, and exquisite production design from Maurizio Sabatini. I felt completely immersed in the confines of this world, especially the old apartment building that was used with the upstairs/downstairs components that resonated more as the story progressed. Ponti and Ugo Chiti adapted this from Romain Gary’s novel “The Life Before Us,” and there’s also the original 1977 film “Madame Rosa,” which won the Oscar for then Best Foreign Language Film. Italy missed the boat in not submitting this for International Feature Film. I’ll hopefully get to see “Madame Rosa” one day and track the similarities and differences to “The Life Ahead.” I’ve heard that the original focuses more on Madame Rosa as a lead character, played by Simone Signoret. The role of Momo there was Samy Ben-Youb in his sole acting credit. In this film, Momo’s race is changed, and he is given greater significance as a character, portrayed by Senegalese Muslim Ibrahima Gueye. He gave an electric debut performance, and one that should have been front-and-center in any of the breakthrough categories this cycle. Madame Rosa is a Holocaust survivor and aging prostitute who takes care of the neighborhood children of other prostitutes. Momo is the street-wise and motherless orphan who needs guidance and a home. Gueye and Loren crafted one of the best duos of the past year, and even as the film reached its sad conclusion, I longed for more scenes between them and marveled at what Ponti managed from these two actors at such disparate ages. Maybe there’s one slight that the Oscar-nominated song “Io Si” [Seen] wasn’t used during the film content where it would have been perfectly apt, but instead lazily tacked over the end credits. Moving song regardless, and if the overdue narrative was really in play for Diane Warren, she would have had a competitive advantage to finally win her Oscar. Highly recommended for what I’m assuming is Loren’s swan-song role and the stunning emergence of Gueye.April 25, 2021 at 9:59 am #1204221319
“Crip Camp” (2020): Fascinating story about a tireless group of disability rights advocates who fought for hard-earned acceptance in a decades-long battle to pass federal legislation. It all started at Camp Jened, a camp for disabled individuals in the Catskills where so many of them met in the summers of the 60s and 70s to have a place all their own where they could thrive and belong. The co-director of the documentary, Jim LeBrecht, attended Camp Jened as a disillusioned teenager, and one of the camp counselors, the force-of-nature Judith Heumann, lobbied Congress for passage of the ADA and later served in both Clinton’s and Obama’s administrations. I knew little about the ADA, and certainly nothing about Camp Jened. The direction was a tad manic at times, which undercuts the narrative a bit. It could totally win the Oscar tonight, and having the Obamas behind the project can’t hurt. That might have been the deciding factor with “American Factory.” I can’t gauge how popular this really is in light of “My Octopus Teacher” taking up all the media attention and most of the precursors. Both are on Netflix, so I don’t know. The latter seemed a bit more novel to me, and this feels more traditional in scope. I think I’m keeping my final prediction as is, but it’s a tight race regardless. All that I’m pretty much counting out is “The Mole Agent.” The other four nominees each have a path to winning.May 3, 2021 at 11:17 am #1204240840
“His House” (2020): Very peculiar film, but that’s sort of in its favor in interesting ways. It shares many thematic elements to “Get Out,” which I heard going in that this was the British equivalent. They both delve into the idea that simmering racial traumas bury deep within you and are carried wherever you go, and you’re not immune to those collective traumas resurfacing and causing damage. I could tell that this was a first feature from Remi Weekes, especially with a bunch of stop-and-starts that didn’t materialize anywhere narratively. Regardless, there’s major untapped potential that I’m curious seeing him develop in the future. I was mainly invested for Wunmi Mosaku, who was a revelation in “Lovecraft Country” last summer and should be Emmy-nominated for her work. Her surprise BAFTA nomination sent me for a loop, but she grounds the film well as Rial. I wanted more of her when she wasn’t on screen. I’d never heard of Sope Dirisu before, but wow. He reminds me a lot of Daniel Kaluuya, not in physical appearance, but in compelling screen intensity. Bol’s journey pretty much is the film–his stubbornness, his alienation, his defiance, his paranoia, and his eventual acceptance. Excited to see what he does next and if he makes a crossover. Matt Smith also has a key role in this for all “The Crown” fans out there. This film is a surreal experience worth exploring.May 4, 2021 at 11:25 am #1204242367
Believe it or not, yesterday was the first time that i’ve watched Rocky (1976).May 5, 2021 at 5:37 am #1204243284
I just watched Elle. Hupert was incredible but I’m super not into the plot which perpetuates some male myth that women are turned on when being raped. Aah French cinema. Giving no fucks since forever, and “if you’ve got a problem with what’s depicted, that’s a reflection of your limitations you basic bitch.” Also the video game arc felt weird.May 6, 2021 at 5:55 am #1204244536
I watched Interiors (1978). An underrated masterpiece of Woody Allen. Geraldine Page’s performance is just breathtakingly stunning. The production design is so unique and the decision to have no background score is genius. Never did I doubt that I was watching a movie. It was like witnessing a family on a first hand basis, in a truly aching and real fashion. The comparison to Bergman is striking but I found this movie to be really moving. Diane Keaton and Mary Beth are really good too. Maureen Stapleton is a welcome surprise. The last few minutes are brilliant. Page’s eyes express a whole different dimension of meaning. Highly recommended.May 6, 2021 at 6:10 am #1204244542
Just watched Predestination with Ethan Hawke. Bruh. What a trip. Its mind blowing. Crazy stuffMay 6, 2021 at 8:01 am #1204244649
Watched several movies in the past week or two, catching up on old classics and some animated movies from this year.
Silence of the Lambs (1991) – After Hopkins’ win I had to revisit his first. A really incredible movie, fantastic performances all-around. The end sequence (in the house, when the lights go off) is just a little silly to me, but that’s not a huge flaw.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021) – Solid animated movie. Really fun all the way through. Not every joke lands, not every line delivery is great, but I very much enjoyed it. The animation is very fun.
Moonstruck (1987) – I had never seen this movie, but it’s been on my list. Cher and Olympia Dukakis are great, most of the rest of the cast is as well. The story’s pretty good and it’s pretty funny. Nic Cage varies between being good and being… not as good. The end scene is hilarious.
Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) – Very beautiful movie but very obvious the whole way through. Great voice work from Kelly Marie Tran, and I was surprised by how much I liked Awkwafina’s work. Pretty standard stuff, felt a little lacking in terms of surprises and originality. Wish it could have been more because the concept was there, but I didn’t hate it.May 7, 2021 at 12:20 am #1204245535
“Twice in a Lifetime” (1985): Mostly forgotten and dated eighties film, but it premiered on TCM during the festival this year, so I wanted to finally see it. It’s a working-class family drama starring Gene Hackman & Ellen Burstyn as a married Seattle couple who grow disillusioned with one another over time, accelerated by the presence of sultry barmaid Ann-Margret. Hackman’s pretty unlikable here as he obliterates his family and social circles b/c of what exactly? Boredom and malaise seem like the best answers, but the screenplay isn’t interested in exploring that aspect much at all, or defining Burstyn beyond being the scorned, dowdy wife. What chance did she have in the end versus the Ann-Margret? All that’s notable here is Amy Madigan’s performance and sole Oscar nomination, which was from the infamous 1985 season. I thought there would be little to her role as the belligerent older daughter, but surprisingly, there’s some genuine heft to her role. Sunny’s outspoken and defiant in all of her interactions, and there’s a bar sequence in particular that’s bananas for her character. Siskel & Ebert really went to bat for Madigan, and now I see why. Well-observed family scenes, but sentiments and attitudes surrounding gender roles, marriage, and friendship were clearly a product of the film’s time with its dodgy screenplay. Brian Dennehy played Hackman’s best friend, which made me sad when thinking about his recent passing. He had such lived-in presence as an actor with his towering physicality and disarming charisma. Even in a thankless role like this one, he shined in each of his scenes. The ending wasn’t great either, not so much for resolutions to the many plates spinning around, but more like “we’re stopping here…roll the end credits.” Can’t say I’d recommend this film to anyone, but at least I’ve crossed it off of my list.
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