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7 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Solid Film But 'The Lion King' with Dinosaurs, 25 November 2015

Pixar offers another base hit for its already stunning performance as a well-oiled studio with Peter Sohn's "The Good Dinosaur." Standing tall as one of the Pixar's most beautiful creations to date. A lusciously crafted piece that stands as another key example of cinematography executed brilliantly in animated features. While the story hawks too much back to past Disney films like "The Lion King," there's no denying the emotional and cautiously executed impact the story and its characters possess. It also assembles an impressive cast of voice work that should surprise no one as each one excels in their own way.

"The Good Dinosaur" tells the story of Arlo, an Apatosaurus who makes a perilous journey back to his family, while meeting an unlikely human friend named Spot.

Young Raymond Ochoa, who voices Arlo helms the picture with gifted innocence and a palpable feeling of growth. Arlo, who's small, fearful, and unconfident is visually seen growing and maturing before our eyes. Ochoa nails every nuance and emotion required of him. Around him, Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand, who voice Momma and Poppa fearlessly engage with the very mature subject matter. As one of Pixar's most "adult"-like themed movies to date, there is still a sense of naïvety as the parent dinosaurs attempt to teach life lessons. The rest of the cast is littered with the works of Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin, Sam Elliot, and more, all culminating in a smorgasbord of raw talent.

From top to bottom, "The Good Dinosaur" soars on its visual elegance. Using the backdrop of real nature camera work, the two worlds are blended in a most fascinating way. You never feel as if the animated dinosaur and human are plucked into the scenery unwillingly or awkwardly. It works in every frame. Also worth noting is the another vivacious musical score by Academy Award winner Mychael Danna and his younger brother Jeff Danna. The two come together for a swelling of tears and suspense, all littered throughout the Pixar treat.

With all the positive vibes and words that "The Good Dinosaur" inhabits, the story structure and baseline for our main character doesn't fall into Pixar's most original database. Essentially "The Lion King" for dinosaurs, the film takes queues from many animated tales seen before, and while those aren't exactly poor representations, you are very much aware of its predecessors. There are also two or so dead spots, where the film feels like it hits a brick wall. Possibly suffers from lingering too long on a moment or not exactly going places well enough, its apparent by the middle of its highly publicized troubles before release.

All in all, "The Good Dinosaur" works. On an emotional level, I felt it hit better than "Inside Out," but in terms of innovation and originality, it come up a little short. Great for kids and adults like always, Pixar does its job and does it with satisfaction.

"The Good Dinosaur" opens on Thanksgiving.

Anomalisa (2015)
27 out of 53 people found the following review useful:
'Anomalisa' is the classic Kaufman we all Love!, 11 November 2015

There comes a moment in "Anomalisa," from co-directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, where you stop fighting the need to try to understand the weird yet invigorating story structure, and surrender to all the quirks, charm, and emotional tension its displaying on screen. Hypnotizing in the words ad expressions of its stop-motion characters, Kaufman's screenplay is right up there with his top-tier works of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Being John Malkovich." If anything, it's as if Kaufman merged his brilliant writing style with the works of Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze, delivering a newly interpreted work that shows itself as one of the year's gargantuan masterpieces in writing. The less you know, the better. Watching the recent trailer that dropped for the film did it no favors as it presented itself as the animated version of "Lost in Translation" when its anything but. Simply put, it focuses on a man named Michael Stone, who has made a career about stressing the importance of customer service. When he takes a one day trip to Cincinnati, he begins to focus on the mundanity of his life. I've banged this drum too often, with some help from notable critics and viewers, but voice work has to be looked upon as a genuine performance, and you'll find just another example of it with the outstanding works of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan. Thewlis' Michael Stone is intricate and calculated with a real sense of disparity and hopelessness. He envelops the essence of a lost man, attempting to regain normality in a world where everything is far too familiar and similar. Jennifer Jason Leigh captures the essence of innocence and perplexity, as her Lisa tries to make sense of a situation that can either be interpreted as fate or coincidence. Visibly broken, and aching to be put back together, Leigh enriches the morose yet intriguing nature of the film with zeal. It's one of her best performances and one you can look back upon as another staggering performance from a voice-actor. Tom Noonan where's so many hats in "Anomalisa," a chameleon transcending the inner workings of a broken man. It's a breathtaking performance, one not obvious at first, but eventually opens up in the most awkward but satisfying manner. When walking into Kaufman and Johnson's world, one of the first questions you have to ask is why stop motion? Does this have the opportunity to be interpreted in different mediums that could be more satisfying and accessible for the viewer? It's a perfect marriage of narrative structure and story. As an adult animation drama, you can see the freakish elements of films like "Fantastic Mr. Fox" but it is in no way for children. This speaks to the minds of adults. If you have ever struggled with depression, or have been stuck in the abnormality of a current state of living, the film may hit some very real chords with you. "Anomalisa" is an astounding achievement on every level. Exquisite and ravishing animation is on full display, using divine, subtle tones of color to capture the mood of a world all too distant but so uncomfortably close. It's single-handedly one of the best films that 2015 has to offer. Don't deny yourself this experience.

Concussion (2015)
31 out of 60 people found the following review useful:
Will Smith Steps Up to the Plate, Script Falters, 11 November 2015

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An inspiring, academic by the name of Dr. Bennet Omalu takes on the titan of Sundays, the NFL, in order to prove a direct link from head trauma during football games to CTE, a football related injury that occurs. Writer/director Peter Landesman takes on the very detailed, and dramatic thriller "Concussion," with an insightful amount of control in direction, mostly thanks to Academy Award winning editor William Goldenberg, who keeps most of the film at a decent pace. However, with a clichéd script that brings the eye-rolling effect to a fever pitch, you can't help but wish that the material was more rendered and secure in its delivery. Surely to bring on an inner rage as we watch these men, so revered by Americans on a weekly basis, beg for absolution as they lose sight of themselves as time progresses. What doesn't work in "Concussion's" favor is the glossing over the real human condition that is so desperately apparent in each frame the film attempts to show.

Starring two-time Academy Award nominee Will Smith as Omalu, he delivers one of his strongest performances ever. An impeccable capture of a man from Africa, soulfully searching for acceptance in America, Smith brings a visible intensity in each line spoken. Settling into a role that calls for the best parts of Smith's charisma, which he has demonstrated effortlessly throughout his career, he handles it with an equally emotional heft that garners most of the film's best moments. This is a performance that deserves to be considered for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Landesman also constructs a decent cast with Alec Baldwin (not totally owning his own southern-ish accent in his exchanges), Gugu Mbatha- Raw (beautiful but utterly wasted in under developed scenes), and David Morse (who deserves much more roles and is quite effective in his limited screen time). Of all the supporting players, Albert Brooks delivers as the vulgar Dr. Cyril Wecht. It'll call back to his beloved turn in "Drive" just a few years back (minus villainous murders). As a distracting entity, Luke Wilson cast as Roger Goodell is a poor choice by the filmmakers, serving nothing more as celebrity wallpaper.

Composer James Newton Howard puts his horns on overload, sweeping into scenes that work well in films like "The Village" but with a film such as "Concussion," it begins to grate on the ears at times.

At 123 minutes, the film bloats like you over indulged at dinner time. In some bizarre, and almost "too try hard" choices, Landesman attempts to focus on some of the more "human" and "natural" elements of Dr. Omalu's life. As we find ourselves more interested in the case at hand, the writer/director almost sets out to make his version of "The Insider," which would be fine if he got a better grasp on which elements he should focus on.

"Concussion" isn't a complete failure, delivering at times with a grandiose turn from Will Smith. If anything, he's more than worth the admission ticket but I believe most of all, the film does successfully place a spotlight on an issue that is in desperate need of change. The final title cards will prove the NFL's power, and even deepen your frustration and anger. I think that it'll at least offer up a discussion point. That's success on its own.

Brooklyn (2015)
60 out of 79 people found the following review useful:
Everything a Nicholas Sparks Movie Wishes It Was, 8 October 2015

Often movies have a magical quality as you're viewing them. Some will demand your undivided attention, others will hypnotize your senses, leaving them to simply wash over you with their exuberance and classic filmmaking procedures. In the case of John Crowley's "Brooklyn," the latter is certainly the case. There comes a moment in the film when you are taken in by the film's classic style filmmaking, and tenderly thought-provoking performances from its cast. Director Crowley, in partnership with Oscar-nominated scribe Nick Hornby, create a beautiful and sensitive love story that is everything a Nicholas Sparks film adaptation wishes it could be. With a vibrant turn from Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan at the helm, "Brooklyn" utilizes all of its tools in its arsenal to convey a potent message of love and family.

"Brooklyn" tells the story of Ellis Lacey (Ronan), who in 1950s Ireland and New York, has to choose between two men and two countries. One is the charismatic Italian plumber Tony (Emory Cohen) while the other is the reserved yet sensitive Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson). Both are making a case for Ellis' love.

The film is helmed with a strong and undeniable confidence from Saoirse Ronan. Feeling the internal battle just pouring out of her in nearly every sense and every scene, Ronan finds Ellis' struggle and wears it on her sleeve. She doesn't just have fear of choice, she goes through a barrage of emotions, and we actively see the character progress in each milestone that she hits throughout. It begins with the yearning and devastating separation from her family in Ireland, before gradually being brought to a yearn for acceptance in a new city. Her mild but rewarding progression into comfort and confidence is shown before being abruptly ripped away when tragedy strikes. Every instance is felt in Ronan's work, all of which is authentically true and vivaciously real. It's one of her best turns, and further proof that her name will be on our lips for quite some years.

After breaking out with a scene-stealing turn in Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines," Emory Cohen shows his sensitive and charming side of his range, resulting in an equally measured and tantalizing performance to his co-star. Don't sleep on this kid. Domhnall Gleeson's reservations to Jim Farrell is haunting in a role that doesn't call for many words or emotions. You can see the ache and pain in his movements, desperate for love and an overwhelming feeling of being lost. In a few scenes, Julie Walters as Mrs. Kehoe sustains as a surprisingly comic relief in a very serious drama. Her stoic, passive demeanor is such a treat to watch in her scenes of interaction with the girls of the boarding house in which Ellis is staying.

Screenwriter Nick Hornby constructs the story with real life emotion, taking very few short cuts for its characters. He allows Ellis' feelings to make the journey in each instance in which she faces them. The foundation of Tony and Ellis is honest, and rings true as something we'd see in any instance within our own lives. Where he really shines in the connection between Ellis and her family. Thousands of miles away, and with little interaction on screen, you are heartbroken and pulled through the ringer as Ronan exemplifies the loss of her family and determination to see them once again. If there is a chink in Hornby's armor, it's the case he creates for the audience for Ellis to stay in Ireland. Up until the second half of the film, Hornby makes his case for New York, I'd only wish he made a more compelling case for Ireland, giving the audience a more fruitful and difficult dilemma in making their own decision about where Ellis should be.

One must acknowledge how impeccably constructed the film is from head to toe. Crowley assembles a dynamite team behind the camera, who all standout in their own right. Cinematographer Yves Bélanger, with a yellow hue and soft palate, capture the country and the city to stunning results. He frames each scene intimately, capturing the heart and emotion of every word spoken. Production Designer François Séguin and Set Decorator Suzanne Cloutier capture the 50's homes as if plucked from the time period themselves, along with transporting us to a foreign land we can only dream to visit. Odile Dicks- Mireaux's magnetic costume work elevates each performance, allowing the actors to fully engage with their characters and the time. And finally, the music of Michael Brook is a breathtaking swell of emotion, creating moments that will surely bring you to tears.

"Brooklyn" is a damn fine movie, following all the classic beats that we've grown to love about the most timeless love stories. "Brooklyn" will join the ranks of those timeless stories in the coming years. It's a joyful and heart aching film that stands as one of the year's best, and a sure-fire contender for several Academy Awards.

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72 out of 90 people found the following review useful:
The Gifts of László Nemes and Géza Röhrig, 5 October 2015

We simply don't deserve László Nemes, the first-time writer/director of Hungary's submission for the Oscar's Foreign Language category, "Son of Saul." Nemes vacuums everything we think we know about filmmaking and the Holocaust, and gives it a raw, intense, and fresh outlook that we haven't seen since Roman Polanski's "The Pianist," perhaps even Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List." Not to mention, he is thoroughly aided and indebted to the stunning and remarkable talent of Géza Röhrig, in his feature debut. The two simply dance circles around other films and performances seen in this year, with an authentic and genuine approach to art, that we just don't get to experience too often. I'm in awe.

"Son of Saul" tells the story of Saul Ausländer, a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large- scale extermination. In October 1944, Saul discovers the corpse of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkomando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task.

Its direction like Nemes that should make the world very optimistic about the future of cinema. If we have filmmakers like him, getting in the trenches of history and the human spirit, and beckoning its awakening into our souls, we should be so lucky to have him display the beauty and evil of the world in such a provocative and engaging manner. His choices in which to shoot the film, and portray one of the most heinous acts in the history of our existence is just downright scintillating. "Son of Saul" plays as if we're watching a disturbing, noxious, and depraved home movie about a time in which we never want to see. From a near first-person perspective, we enter the revolting world of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He uses out of focus camera work, to not bath in the bloodshed, but wallow in the psyche of a man, that is desperate for purpose. It's the single best direction of the year. I'd go so far to say this could be the single best direction seen this decade. His script, along with co- writer Clara Royer, is so painstakingly simple but echoes decades of oppression in its short, respectful run time.

Don't call him a "poet by profession" because newcomer Géza Röhrig doesn't believe in the word profession. There's only artists. Géza Röhrig is an artist, of which I haven't seen in some time. With little words, he says countless and devastating things about what he's feeling and what we know about ourselves. He doesn't use cheap tricks to engage the audiences like "really intense face" or "really scared moving." Röhrig displays the numb, almost disengaged weight of the world in every physical and vocal movement he chooses to exhibit. It's a flawless, masterful performance that we need more of in this cinematic world.

Cinematographer Mátyás Erdély is your next great craftsman to watch, even though making his mark on films like "The Quiet Ones" and "Miss Bala." He frames close-ups that Danny Cohen himself, would hope to achieve in his next collaboration with Tom Hooper. He stays with a person, a scene, a moment, so intelligently, and so vibrantly, he places each one of us in the rooms, full of fear, and full of hopelessness. The subtle yet effective music by László Melis is sonorous but the Sound team is what really needs their praise. Tamás Dévényi (Production Soundmixer), Tamás Székely (Sound Editor), and Tamás Zányi (Sound Designer) create monstrous and dynamic effects that essentially become its own focal point of the story. We are listening intently, desperately, and just fearful at every nick, boom, and cry we come in contact with. It's something everyone should and will notice and applaud.

"Son of Saul" sneaks up on you. It's too important and critical to our cinematic landscape to overlooked or forgotten. I can't imagine a more dour and sullen experience this year that fills my heart with this much adoration. It stands toe-to-toe with most Holocaust films created in and before my lifetime. It may be the definitive one this millennium.

Steve Jobs (2015)
15 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
'Jobs' Proves Fassbender and Winslet's Worth, 5 October 2015

There are dozens of things to truly admire about Danny Boyle's new film "Steve Jobs," from its ambition to tell a compelling story about a famous man and the structure in which it decides to tell it. The initial casting of Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender was criticized initially because some felt he was "too good looking" to interpret a man, who was essentially a computer nerd. By the film's third sequence, Fassbender fully melts into the role and delivers one of his most visceral and intriguing performances to date. What's equally measured to his work is the talent and ferocity of Academy Award winner Kate Winslet, who falls into a sympathetic, determined woman, whose conscious is complicit in witnessing vile behavior. Aaron Sorkin's script is a multitude of words and one- liners, and is just plain smart in its dialogue exchanges between its characters. And finally, Boyle himself has never been more reserved in his direction, letting the words flow through the screen like a tractor trailer through a corn field. He sits on the sidelines, only letting instances of his vivacious direction show its head, which may or may not be a plus for Boyle enthusiasts. With all this said, it sounds like just a romp at the movies. Then why am I left underwhelmed by the final product?

We have to begin with the story's narrative structure. Choosing three set pieces in 1984, 1988, and 1998 to show the progression of the film's characters was genius. We see a growth and progression to not just Steve Jobs, but the surrounding players in which are a part of his life. The film is jam-packed with wall-to-wall dialogue, something that is truly impressive to watch unfold in the moment, but hard to take in as key information and thoughts are being displayed. I needed some more beats, to take in, and disengage from the moment, to properly move on to the next. Its a movie that clearly needs two or three viewings to get everything from it. This may be its ultimate downfall. "Steve Jobs" demands so much of its viewer. Our attention, dedication, and fearless endowment to the characters and the moment. I'm not entirely certain that general audiences can do that for 122 minutes. It becomes a double-edged sword. Is it okay that a movie such as this exists that will require us to give repeated participation to fully understand everything it has to say and reveal or does a film only deserve one shot to say everything it wants to say? I'm not sure I have a clear answer to that but I feel comfortable that general audiences members probably feel more towards the latter. Sorkin's work is compelling, with vibrantly preyed upon dialogue that simply sings through the theater. Its surely one of his most ambitious efforts of his career, and likely something that will forward his progression as a screenwriter, even in his later years.

From a performance standpoint, the film stands near the top of ensembles and individualized works seen in 2015. Fassbender approaches Jobs with a familiarity, like he knows the man. He finds sarcasm to be a second language, and repugnancy to be a way of life. Boyle and Sorkin do very little to have Jobs redeem himself, as he continues to pile on immorality with repulsive, revolting behavior that may make you think twice before talking to "Siri" ever again. I can't recall a Lead Actor candidate this unlikable in quite some time. It's a tour-de-force to behold, and one that will surely place near the top of Oscar ballots, but I'd be lying if I say I was looking forward to spending time with the character "Steve Jobs" again.

What Fassbender benefits immensely from, is a squad of supporting players, each making their individual mark. Winslet firmly plants her feet next to "Jobs," declaring herself as one of the finest actresses we have working today. Jeff Daniels as John Sculley is easily the most comfortable with the script's barrage of words. Daniels handles it with a defined purpose, delivering his best portrayal since "The Squid and the Whale." To a pleasant surprise, Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak is tenderly inserted, and holding back all his normal tics and signature mannerisms that have made him a star. It's a welcomed entry into serious and challenging roles in the actor's future. Staggeringly underused but equally effective as each of her castmates is Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Jobs' high-school girlfriend and "possible mother" to his daughter, played by three talented child actresses, Makenzie Moss, Perla Haney-Jardine, and Ripley Sobo. The dynamic and vigorous Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld is a sensation to watch, and will go down as one of the key players by a select group of movie-goers. Let's just call this a SAG Ensemble lock, shall we?

Boyle's market for his bombastic colors and dance sequences are sure to miss them because they are non-existent. It's great to see him taking a different approach to his storytelling, though letting running text play a role should feel familiar for many. What I found dizzying was the camera work by Alwin H. Küchler, who in the spirit of "Birdman," has the audience constantly moving along with its constant walking characters. At one point, you want to just beg them to sit down and chill out for a second. Hats off to Elliot Graham's editing, who cuts to a commanding pace, even if more pauses would have been appreciated. What shines above all the technical merits is the score by Daniel Pemberton, orchestrating a symphony of music that swells in at the finest moments, and breathes new life into the work of composers everywhere. It was a truly remarkable piece of music that just flies off the screen.

11 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Just Solid, Classic Spielberg, 5 October 2015

One of the most prolific directors in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg, returns to the silver screen with his new period thriller "Bridge of Spies" starring two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks. It features competent and solid filmmaking from its director, writers, and crafts team however, the film doesn't quite ignite passion and excitement from its standard storytelling. What really manages to standout is the impeccable and sensational performance of Emmy Award nominee Mark Rylance, who steals and owns every scene he's present.

The film tells the story of James Donovan (Hanks), an American lawyer that is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot (Austin Stowell) detained in the Soviet Union. It all begins with the discovery of a probable spy on our own soil Rudolf Abel (Rylance), who tests Donovan's profession and safety net.

Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg brings many of his signature techniques to the spy tale. Tugging at the emotional heartstrings is an Olympic event at this juncture in his career, although not exactly hitting the mark the way it was intended. He frames his scenes with the same familiar authority that we've grown to love about Spielberg, and it definitely exceeds some of his lesser works like "War Horse" and "The Terminal." What the film truly lacks is a daring approach to its source material. Unfamiliar with the story and real life individuals, Spielberg, and the writers, Joel & Ethan Coen and Matt Charman, don't enter the grit and horror of two countries at a feud, literally on the brink of a real devastating war.

Tom Hanks brings his natural charisma and wit that we've loved about him for decades. His James Donovan is caring, engaging, and reminiscent of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird." His devotion to his family and the human condition is truly admirable, all clear and on display thanks to Hanks. As Rudolf Abel, Mark Rylance is just a joy to behold, filling in the gaps of the film's shortcomings with charm and seasoned acting ability. It's a brilliant turn by a brilliant actor. It's one of the year's best supporting turns and a contender for the Oscar statue.

As James' wife Mary, Amy Ryan is relegated to just a few scenes but great nonetheless. Also brief are the works of Billy Magnussen and Alan Alda, who have good, solid one scenes to chew on.

Technically the film does present qualms. Janusz Kaminski's camera work is distracting in parts, shining bright lights through windows, and keeping a one note camera style all throughout its 135 minute run time. Thomas Newman's score isn't put to its best use, as it swells in inopportune moments, even managing to overwhelm a key and fantastic scene by Rylance. Michael Kahn cuts the film to a bloated expansive run time but manages to keep you involved enough to make it through. The film really shines in its Production Design by Adam Stockhausen and its Costume work by Kasia Walicka-Maimone.

"Bridge of Spies" may find lovers in mass audiences. What it does well is ignite a curiosity and power to look at the history of its subject. Spielberg succeeds at introducing the world to James Donovan and what else he contributed to society, along with the supporting players at hand. We do wish that a better, more dynamic treatment had hit the screens. From an awards standpoint, it's going to appeal to a great deal. Perhaps a second viewing will open up more possibilities.

Carol (2015)
14 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
'Carol' Puts Blanchett and Paulson at the Top of their Game!, 30 September 2015

The seduction and hypnosis of a Todd Haynes film is hard to deny. His attention to detail in such films like "Far from Heaven" and "I'm Not There" are simply superb, and one cannot overlook the vision he engulfs upon as he directs each one of them. In his newest venture, "Carol," which is based on the book "The Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith, the luxurious command in which he approaches the material is confident and pristinely evident once again. He pulls out some outstanding performances, especially from Cate Blanchett and Sarah Paulson, and crafts another multi-layered deconstruction on love during a time where it was simply one note to modern society. With all that said, there's a barrier between the film's central characters and its audience, resulting in a good, not great cinematic endeavor.

"Carol" tells the story of Therese (pronounced TER-REZ and played by Rooney Mara), a department store clerk who dreams of a better life outside the normalcy of work and her persistent beau Richard (played by Jake Lacy). Set in 1950s New York, she falls for an older, married woman names Carol (played by Blanchett), and the two embark on a journey of forbidden love.

"Carol" is as lusciously made as you come to expect from any Haynes film. Sexy, sultry, and vibrantly crafted, Haynes pours his heart and soul into each frame he directs with generous and respectful admiration. He transports us to a time we can only see in our dreams, with stunning cloths of the 1950's, thanks to outstanding Sandy Powell, and gorgeous set design, thanks to Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler.

The script by Phyllis Nagy, whose only credit is the TV Movie "Mrs. Harris," which she also directed and was nominated for an Emmy, is profound in parts. It's natural to go back to something like "Brokeback Mountain" for comparison, a story that succeeded so much on the subtle and quietly spoken thoughts of its characters. We see their love present in a secret kiss on the side of an apartment, or on a quiet standing by a camp fire as Ennis goes to take care of the caddle for the night. These are factors that add to up a forbidden love.

In "Carol," there's a missing variable in Carol and Therese's relationship. They meet, flirt awkwardly, and then suddenly are together in a strange circumstance. Now, one can argue that love knows no boundaries of time nor space. Perhaps you would be correct in that, but the main difference between Ennis and Jack versus Carol and Therese, is that the love in the former felt just as high-stakes at what they threatened to lose. Ennis loses his family, wanders the Earth essentially, still unsure of his own place, even without theoretically any more obstacles. Yet, Jack visits him upon the news of his impending divorce, and with still a real fear of exile and being true to himself, Ennis sends him away. Jack is heartbroken by this behavior, that translates well into one of the most iconic lines, "I wish I knew how to quit you."

Carol feels like Ennis in this regard, destined to live alone despite embracing her own sensibilities and self. However , in Therese's young, unconfident mind, she doesn't equal or amount to the yin, of Carol's yang. Her exploration comes off like curiosity rather than love. Perhaps that's the intent, and if it is, then I applaud it, but when the film reaches its conclusion, nothing supports that claim. I find little reason to root for these two to be together. "Blue is the Warmest Color," even with intense and ill-fitting explicit scenes, manages to show the passion between the two main characters. I think that's the key word that's missing from the film: passion.

With those hurdles, some of the performances surpass any and all expectations. With a stellar year in hand with James Vanderbilt's "Truth" already loved by so many, Cate Blanchett delivers an even more breathtaking portrayal in Haynes' film. Blanchett captures the lioness quality of Carol, steaming forward with blinders on as she finds herself entranced by Therese's innocence. Her slow, sultry hand moving across her lover's shoulder is a vibrant action that speaks impeccable volumes. I thought it was one of her best performances ever.

Rooney Mara's sensitive yet disengaged nature from her surroundings is particularly moving as she walks through the film. Her quiet breakdowns are felt in the moment but have no lasting effect for the rest of the story. With such strong Supporting Actress buzz for the performance, I'm a little baffled by its unanimous love fest. Especially when standing next to the great Sarah Paulson, whose role and performance will hawk back to Patricia Clarkson in "Far from Heaven" but with such depth and assurance. Not exactly developed to its full potential, but as Abby, Carol's best friend and former flame, Paulson engages it all with a vigorous and palpable energy. As Carol's husband Harge, Kyle Chandler's desperation and urgency is lively and vivid, but with not enough substance and time to really make an impact.

"Carol" is fruitful in the cinematic capacity of its structure but it leaves some things to be desired. For a Haynes enthusiast, they'll likely run the gauntlet on its construction and performances, eating every morsel of it up with a spoon. For others, the appreciation will surely be clear, but there may be some that are left out in the cold.

94 out of 149 people found the following review useful:
A beautiful dream with Colin Farrell's best screen role ever..., 27 September 2015

It took some time to let Yorgos Lanthimos' new film "The Lobster" settle into my mind. On the surface is a dark comedy, full of rich images, and staggering performances from its principal cast. Deeper lays one of the most original and heart wrenching stories on modern relationships, likely the best seen in film since Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." "The Lobster" tells the story of a dystopian near future, where single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty- five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods. At the center is David (played by Colin Farrell), who enters the Hotel with his brother, who's been turned into a dog, and begins a domino effect that will make him both an outcast and a fugitive. Beginning with a hilarious and smart script by Lanthimos and co- writer Efthymis Filippou, "The Lobster" gets some of the year's biggest laughs. The two create a symphony of truth about our society's perception of relationships and love. When David first enters the hotel, you can see the initial despair and fight against the system. He believes in the idea of love but isn't particularly fond of being under its spell once again. Its simply life and death but when the story makes him an outcast, where love is forbidden, you see his hopeless romantic self become drawn to his "Short Sighted Woman." (played by Rachel Weisz) The evolution of David's outlook on his current situation is authentic and real, as he shows the center of his heartache in only intermittent spurts. You can thank all that to the powerhouse performance by Colin Farrell, who delivers his best and most audacious film role to date. "The Lobster" isn't just about its script and lead performer. It also assembles one of the year's best cast ensembles. Rachel Weisz is a sensation, giving her best work since her Oscar-winning role in "The Constant Gardener." As the "Lisping Man," its refreshing to see John C. Reilly dig deep into a role like this, one of which we haven't seen from him in nearly a decade. As the "Limping Man," Ben Whishaw continues to build an arsenal of titanic-like performances, all of which solidifies him as one of the best kept secrets working today. More roles for him please. As the "Loner Leader," La Seydoux's villainous and vile demeanor is a fantastical addition, adding a needed depth and danger to the film and role. Olivia Colman's Hotel Manager is a bonus treat, as she effortlessly brings chuckles and fear to her mystery woman. Cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis finds his stride and vision early on, capturing an aesthetic that is both stylized and advantageous. The visual contrast is dazzling and particularly noteworthy but what's lurking between each and every frame is especially dynamic and robust. One of the year's very best. Upon first viewing, Yorgos Mavropsaridis' editing work can seem bloated but over 24 hours later, it's a taut and vivaciously engaging piece, cut with a resemblance of Jeff Buchanan and Eric Zumbrunnen's snubbed work on Spike Jonze's "Her." The score is insanely haunting and very appropriate for its dark natured comic look at life. It took some time to digest but "The Lobster" feels full of life and is a soulful opus on love. Quirky and clever, its black comic tones shouldn't distract from its core narrative and mission; to engage the parimeters and infatuation of devotion. Just a dream.

The Walk (2015/II)
16 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
'The Walk' is Half Visual Spectacle and Half Dreadful, 26 September 2015

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Robert Zemeckis has created some of the best films of the last 30 years. "Forrest Gump" is one of cinema's finest masterpieces, "Back to the Future" revolutionized the time travel genre, and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" is a beautiful merge of animation and the real world. With his newest effort "The Walk," Zemeckis creates an apparent respect and adoration of New York City and the twin towers that haven't really been seen in film post-9/11 however, his narrative tones and setup are both uninspired and dull, all leading up to a grand finale that makes the film simply watchable. Helmed by a very determined Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the visual spectacle creates a real sense of height and wonder, portraying breathtaking effects. Though its only half passable, the film feels like an appropriate and perfect opener for the New York Film Festival.

"The Walk" tells the story of high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who in 1974, recruits a team of people to help him realize his dream: to walk the immense void between the World Trade Center towers.

Written by Christopher Browne and Robert Zemeckis, "The Walk" is narrated by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, on top of the torch of the Statue of Liberty, with the World Trade Center towers in the background. He addresses the audience with every thought, which is heavily relied upon from the film's writing team. From the opening of Levitt's monologue, the entire set up looks like the beginning of a "Saturday Night Live" episode where Levitt himself, was hosting. Giggles were sprinkled among the audience as the first minutes passed but eventually Gordon- Levitt settles into his role. His accent was impressive, speaking fluent French, and to the untrained ear, he nails his lines. From an emotional perspective, Levitt leaves much to be desired. In his defense, the script does him no favors. Browne and Zemeckis inflects a wit and charm into Philippe that can come off annoying and unlikable.

Co-star Charlotte Le Bon, who plays Annie, Philippe's girlfriend, is a sensitive addition, trying her very best to elevate the one- dimensional character that she's given. James Badge Dale is best- in-show, giving personality and spunk to a vastly underwritten role. Ben Kingsley is added as veteran acting wallpaper, just to show experience and dignity in a role that can be done in his sleep.

IMAX 3D is put to fantastic use. The final hour is a sequence that stands as one of the year's best. To watch Petit set up for the death-defying stunt was totally engaging, and seeing him take his first steps on the wire was a fantastic spectacle. The natural thoughts go to the Oscar-winning "Man on Wire," but what Zemeckis focuses on is his time on the wire, walking back and forth, making daring moves, and utilizing 3D imagery to inflict real fear and anxiety into the audience. From a directorial standpoint, Zemeckis attempts to make his "Hugo," using 3D as something to progress and tell the story impeccably, placing the audience right there on the wire.

"The Walk" is an ambitious and respectable misstep. The Visual Effects are well worth the price of a ticket in an IMAX theater, and with the final sequence as long as it is, you should definitely seek it out.

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