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A for Anomalisa
Acclaimed Writer-Director Charlie Kaufman's films might not be for everyone, and they are an acquired taste; but one thing for sure is that Kaufman is an anomaly in so many filmmaking ways. Kaufman goes for the stop-motion animation in his movie "Anomalisa", which he co-directed with animation Director Duke Johnson. Anomalisa's protagonist is Michael Stone, a middle-aged motivational business speaker & author who travels to Cincinnati for a gig as a keynote speaker at a conference. Stone finds people and life in general very monotonous and with much sameness. But things go anomalistic when he meets Lisa, a depressed telemarketing representative who is attending the conference. Michael sees Lisa as a vibrant, standout woman and falls for her. His "hands of Stone" even get in Lisa's private parts. OK, that is enough. I will let you figure it out. But I do highly recommend to visit this eccentric, visionary film that had me quite engaged throughout its narrative. There is spectacular voice work from David Thewlis who voices Stone, Jennifer Jason-Leigh who voices Lisa, and Tom Noonan who voices everyone else. The animation was divine, and the score was right on. Kaufman's screenplay was a simplistic but original tour-de-force. And Johnson and him directed the hell out of "Anomalisa". Anomalisa! Anomalisa! Men have loved you!!! Hope women love it too, because it is in motion as a "must see" stop-motion animation treat. ***** Excellent
Saul fia (2015)
No Saul I mean Sell for me here!
The Oscar-winning Hungarian Holocaust movie "Son of Saul" has received a bountiful of critical and award love. I don't wanna sound like a sour grape, but this sour movie did not move me at all; you want more Saul on your entertainment taste, "Better Call Saul" instead. In all seriousness, "Son of Saul" stars Geza Rohrig as Saul, a 1944 Auschwitz Jewish prisoner who is forced to burn corpses of his own people. Saul is presented with a dilemma when he sees his son is in the group next in line to be incinerated. Saul then goes on a conquest for his son not to be one of them. He takes heavy risks, connives his allies, all the works really for his son not to be put in flames. Director Lazlo Nemes shoots the picture in close proximity with the lead character, which I found it to be very irritating instead of capturing. I was trying to be Finding Nemes in Nemes' chronological work, but it seems this was his first real picture; and it showed. I am sorry to say nothing struck me profoundly in "Son of Saul"; not the directing, the writing, nor the acting. And yes, I do think it's extremely overrated. But maybe, me who is the Son of Jose (dad's name) just did not see "Son of Saul" the way others did. ** Needs Improvement
The Girl on the Train (2016)
Director Tate Taylor went down a taylor-made cinematic arena and took an auteur ride with "The Girl on the Train". The movie stars a fantastic Emily Blunt as Rachel; a lonely, depressed, and alcoholic woman who rides a train everyday that passes by the house she used to reside with her ex-husband Tom. A few houses down, there is another house Rachel fixates with, it's one of a blonde woman named Megan who appears to be happily married to her husband. But Rachel is literally a trainwreck due to her lushing ways, and when she sees one day (obviously from the train) that Megan might be having an affair, Rachel goes more off her rockers but not off her Johnnie Walkers. What follows on "The Girl from The Train" I will leave for you to get on track with. Taylor does provide some twists & turns in this psychological thriller, but nothing that will shock you. The up-and-coming Haley Bennett does impressive work as Megan, and Rachel Ferguson was quite steady as Tom's new wife Anna. The rest of the supporting cast including Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, and Allison Janney needed more "train"ing for this one. But to put it bluntly, it was Emily Blunt's "on the right track" performance that made this movie watchable. So don't miss your stop for "The Girl on the Train", but if you do, it's not the end of the world. *** Average
Woman in Gold (2015)
I give it a Bronze!
The true-story based drama "Woman in Gold" did not deserve any gold medals, but was bronzely deserved as solid cinematic offering. Helen Mirren stars as Maria Altmann, an older woman who was a Jewish refugee in her homeland of Austria. Her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer sang the original version of Adele's "Hello"; not even Lionel Richie sang it better! Hello! Hello! Are you still there? Please don't say goodbye yet to my review of "Woman in Gold". In all seriousness, Adele Bloch- Bauer was the subject of an infamous painting during the 1940's. However, that painting and much artwork of Maria's family was seized by the Nazis in Germany-occupied Austria. During the late 1990's after a few occurrences including a deep letter from her deceased aunt Adele, Maria decides that it's time to get what is rightfully hers; most notably the startling "Woman in Gold" painting, in that time displayed in an Austrian museum. So Maria hires a nice young Jewish lawyer named Randy Schoenberg, and their fight for art-recovery justice is in full plight as they tackle many obstacles, most notably the Austrian government, to recover to Maria what is rightfully hers. Director Simon Curtis does hold par in his orchestration of the picture, even though Simon says way too many times what is obvious. Alexi Kaye Campbell's screenplay was moderate at best, but shined brightly within Maria's charismatic dialogue. Helen Mirren did shine with a golden performance as Maria, and Ryan Reynolds deserved a silver-thespian medal with his work as Randy Schoenberg. "Woman in Gold" does paint a pretty picture on art justice, and though not perfect, still deserves a look. *** Average
Infinitely Polar Bear (2014)
Beary good, but not great!
Novice Writer-Director Maya Forbes has made a touching film based on her family growing up; which features her bipolar-disorder diagnosed father. Forbes' "Infinitely Polar Bear" stars Mark Ruffalo as Cam Stuart, a bipolar man from Boston who has two young daughters and is currently semi-separated from his wife Maggie played by Zoe Saldana. When Maggie decides to flee to New York to pursue her Masters' Degree, Cam is left with the grandiose responsibility of taking care of his two daughters Amelia & Faith. Forbes hardly includes any huge dramatic scenes of the ill effects of bipolar disease in the picture. What she does include is the daily eccentricities of a man with a mental disease carrying task after task of caring for his daughters and all the challenges behind it. The only hiccup I have of this is that subtly Forbes does not incorporate much how horrific it is to live with a mental disease as bipolar disease, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. Nevertheless, this film is really the vehicle of Mark Ruffalo, as he once again shines infinitely in a character. Mark has made his mark as one of the best actors working today. Zoe Saldana was very solid as Maggie. And Imogene Wolodarksy and Ashley Aufderheide were outstanding as respectively Amelia and Faith. So get on the Polar Express, and go infinitely to "Infinitely Polar Bear". **** Good
Not loving it!
Writer-Director Jeff Nichols' film "Loving" is a lovely true story about Richard & Mildred Loving; an interracial married couple in Virginia in the late 50's who were ostracized and condemned by Virginia legislation for their interracial matrimony. A Virginia Judge judicially ordered them to leave the state for 25 years,if not they would be imprisoned for one year. Their case was presidential, because with the assistance of a couple of young civil rights lawyers, they were able to take the case to the Supreme Court; which ruled that all interracial marriages would be legalized nationwide. An important movie, but there was not just enough cinematic loving in "Loving" for me to love it. Nichols, who is usually brilliant, develops a lackadaisical and dreary approach in directing & scribing the film; which in turn, creates a very boring tone to an important subject. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star as Richard & Mildred; their performances were mediocre at best; I just did not believe they were in love with each other within their work; needed to see more loving in The Lovings. Michael Shannon does bring some life to the movie as a Life Magazine photojournalist; but his brief performance was too short lived. Nick Kroll was kruelly miscast as Bernie Cohen, one of the lawyers who assisted the Lovings to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Maybe, some of you will love "Loving"; unfortunately, it does not have my supreme support. ** Needs Improvement
I do feel this movie is great in this world!
I don't feel at home when I don't pun anymore, so get ready for some cheezy puns in my review of the black comedy "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore". First time Writer-Director Macon Blair almost pulled a comedic Exorcist Blair here with this bizarre flick. It stars an excellent Melanie Lynskey as a depressed nursing assistant named Ruth. She must have had bad luck throughout her life starting when she was a Baby Ruth. However, Ruth has a vengeance side in her. And that is displayed when her house is burglarized, as she not only goes full bravado to get her stolen items back but also to teach moral lessons to those who stole from her. In that quest, she enlists the help of an eccentric rocker neighbor named Tony played marvelously by Elijah Wood; lordy, lordy, Wood rocked it here in what is sure to be his best performance of his career. Blair presents the film in a very unpredictable fashion with some outlandish scenes that I don't wanna reveal too much about them, because that would rob of you of your entertainment. Besides excellent performances from Lynskey & Wood, the supporting cast of "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" was more of a treat. I say Wow! to David Yow's villainous performance as Marshall, the grand Marshall scheme artist of the macabre in the movie. Christine Wood's scene-stealing performance as a wealthy bored housewife was another great wood in this picture. And Myron Natwick as the geriatric pawner Killer Sills was masterfully silly. Therefore, I do feel that you make yourself at home in your cinematic world and catch a viewing of "I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore". ***** Excellent
Central Intelligence (2016)
Central Comedic Perks in this one pairing Johnson & Hart
I did not think that the comedy "Central Intelligence" was going to be under the covers of a surprise enjoyable flick, but it sure was. Dwayne Johnson stars as Bob Stone, a former paunchy punching bag target of high school bullies; who years later becomes a musclebound CIA Agent. Kevin Hart co-stars as Calvin Joyner, a former high school athletic phenom who years later is displeased in just being a straight laced accountant, which in reality it calculates to a decent living. Joyner and Bob (in high school, Bob was known as Robbie Weirdicht) were not the best of friends in high school, but Joyner did help that Weirdicht in an embarrassing "all dicht out" left-in-the-nude prank on Robbie that was orchestrated by nasty high school bullies. Weirdicht, now a Rolling Bob Stone, never forgot Calvin's graciousness and reaches out to him to help Bob in a CIA case where he is being semi-framed. The plot is not the central intelligent point of "Central Intelligence"; its rather the clicked chemistry between Johnson and Hart; and most notably Johnson's uproarious comedic performance that simply (what's the word?)... rocked!!!! Director Rawson Marshall Thurber did not manufacture a complex narrative, and that was not his intent. Thurber's direction of the Joyner & Stone interactions is what made him a Thurber King in helming the picture. So I rest my "Central Intelligence" case, and I suggest you should investigate it for yourself, you will be pleased. **** Good
45 Years (2015)
I give it a 45 out of 100! Kidding, more like 70 out of 100!
Hey, I have a Haigh movie to write about. That would be Writer- Director Andrew Haigh's drama "45 Years". It stars the fabulous Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer. Kate is retired and lives in the England countryside with her husband Geoff. She is in the process of planning her 45th Wedding Anniversary party when a letter comes in the mail detailing the death of Geoff's former girlfriend. To say that puts a damper in the festivity planning, is an understatement. There is a silent tension that builds in "45 Years" that is very well directed. Haigh directs the movie in a very simplistic tone that is semi-effective but does leave room with some boredom. Nevertheless, Rampling ramps it up with a mild mannered but outstanding performance as Kate. Veteran British actor Tom Courtenay held the thespian court quite swiftly in his performance as Geoff. "45 Years" is not a movie that you should see in the next 45 minutes or hours for that matter, but worth a look for you in the next 45 days. *** Average
Here comes a puntapod arriving to your viewing eyes, as I review the sci-fi flick "Arrival". Please don't run away, I pun in peace. Acclaimed Director Denis Villeneuve's "Arrival" stars the astounding Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks, an expert linguist professor who is called in by the U.S. Government when semi-oval saucers arrive in several locations throughout the globe, including Montana in the U.S. Her duty is to try to decipher communication from the arriving heptapods, not an easy task. They should have just called Trump to deport the illegal alien heptapods, problem solved. Anyyyways, off the politics. Dr. Banks is paired up in this mission with Dr. Ian Donnelly, an expert physicist, played well by Jeremy Renner. This is not your simple alien story, there is a twist thrown in by the brainy humanoid movie director Villeneuve that will throw you for a loop. You can take it to the bank that Adams was robbed of a Best Actress Oscar nomination in her performance as Banks. Eric Heisserer's screenplay of "Arrival" was earthly sound, even though it had a tad too much of the scientific jargon; but I guess that comes with the sci-fi territory. If you still have not arrived to the viewing landscape of "Arrival", I suggest you do so now. **** Good