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Runner Up: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Runner Up Back to the Future Part II (1989)
And extra suggestions (from 71 onwards)
Top directors include: James Cameron Paul Haggis Denis Villeneuve Denys Arcan Jean-Marc Vallee Xavier Dolan Atom Egoyan Sarah Polley Deepa Mehta Ricardo Trogi David Cronenberg Philippe Falardeau François Girard
Some have English, French, Spanish, Inuktitut or even Hindi language
Noteworthy Canadian films from non-Canadian directors are: Atlantic City, USA (1980) - Director: Louis Malle (France) Bowling for Columbine (2002) - Director: Michael Moore (USA) My Life Without Me (2003) - Director: Isabel Coixet (Spain) Room (2015) - Director: Lenny Abrahamson (Ireland) Brooklyn (2015) - Director: John Crowley (Ireland)
Oscar-nominated other films (I rated 5, 6 or 7) In the Heat of the Night (1967) - 5 Love Story (1970) - 7 Jésus de Montréal (1989) - 7 The Sweet Hereafter (1997) - 6 Up in the Air (2009) - 7 Rebelle (2012) - 7 Dallas Buyers Club (2013) - 7 Arrival (2016) - 6
Runner Ups: Viva La Frida! (2001) Biggie and Tupac (2002) 9/11 (2002) Control Room (2004) Electric Yakuza, Go to Hell! (2004) La marche de l'empereur (2005) Mystery of the Nile (2005) Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005) Manufactured Landscape (2006) My Winnipeg (2007) Shadow of the House (2007) Up the Yangtze (2007) Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk (2008) Alexandria: The Greatest City (2010) First Position (2011) Samsara (2012) Marley (2012) To the Arctic 3D (2012) The Invisible War (2012) Visitors (2013) Corée, l'impossible réunification? (2013) Le monde en face: Leçon de propagande chinoise en zone interdite (2014) One Couch at a Time (2014) The Visit: An Alien Encounter (2015)
# (rating) 1-6 (10/10) 7-25 (9/10) 26-55 (8/10) 56+ (highly rated but not seen)
5 Best Directors Louis Malle Claude Chabrol Cedrick Clapiche Jaques Rivette Gaspar Noé
10 best shows aired from 1993-2018 (25 years) and no show before was as compelling.
Runner Ups: The Newsroom (2012) - 3 seasons - 25 episodes Boardwalk Empire (2010) - 5 seasons - 57 episodes Battlestar Galactica (2004) - 4 seasons - 73 episodes Rome (2005) - 2 seasons - 22 episodes
Ongoing / Stellar Debut: Humans (2015) Mr. Robot (2015) Better Call Saul (2015) Empire (2015) Fargo (2014) True Detective (2014) Black Mirror (2011) - 5 seasons - 25 episodes
Childhood's End (2015)
Great Start, OK Finish
I have read and loved the book long time ago so was excited to see this production. It is uneven and has a bit of missed potential but still worth a viewing.
Part 1 - 8/10 Has all the elements of good sci-fi and took a decent take on the marvelous Arthur C Clarke novel. It had philosophical issues, clever dialogue ("you are my world'), situations and good visual effects. It had both emotional resonance and distance
Part 2 - 7/10 Starts brilliantly with the boy now being an astrophysicist and the appropriately chosen Imagine song (Eva Cassiy version of John Lennon masterpiece) with the visual montage and narration at the beginning that are as idyllic as the utopia it portrays. It falters with the introduction of a new family and their problem child. It focuses too much on religion and starts to become too much like the Exorcist, Stigmata, Da Vinci Code or any movie too focused on Devil/Evil parables and paranormal. The bond between the astrophysicist and his friend is great and their acting. The setting in he South Africa party is also a good ambiance. The Overlord powers are downplayed here versus part 1 when their power is almost infinite. They line that humans are deceiving themselves (in answer to the part 2 title) is priceless! Some good moments to be had with a few faux pas.
Part 3 - 7/10 Has a good relationship angle between the astrophysicist and his girlfriend as well as his/their journey. The love triangle with the main character continues to be well written and acted. The ending is strong in the way that it is daring and unexpected, however the whole children aspect is played out rather poorly in my view. A fitting ending but that could have been done much better with more dramatic tension and better screenplay. The last video-recording of the scientist feels out of place and scope. Pop tarts? Pop art?
Star Trek: Discovery (2017)
Federation GOOD, Klingon BAD
As a huge Star Trek fan for years who has watched every Star Trek episode of the 28 seasons of TV and all the hits and misses at the movies, I was pretty excited to hear of Star Trek: Discovery premiere night and gathered my extended family - some trekkies and some oblivious to the universe - to watch together this Sunday.
Star Trek Deep Space Nine premiere got me hooked on Star Trek and I could not expect the same stirring sense of awe, universe creation and strong characterization. However, having followed the new series development and push back from May launch date and seen some impressive trailers, I wished for the best to revive a TV icon that had been dormant since Enterprise got cancelled and aired last in May 2005.
So just fresh of this 'fascinating' experience here are the GOOD, the BAD, (and the BADASS!) after the first two episodes:
The BADASS is Sonequa Martin-Green and her rebellious Michael Burnham character. She acts well, has strong dialogue and character development, especially in the second episode with the Sarek and Vulcan arc. She also has some action, self-reflection and intellect to showcase.
The GOOD are the stunning special effects and Starfleet crew. From the new race to mysterious robot, but mostly the interactions from the captain (Philippa Georgiou), commander Burnham and chef science officer (Saru) are spot on. Great tension, friendship, work ethics, chemistry and captivating acting. A shame we may not see too much of Michelle Yeoh in the future. I have faith for similar good character development for the seldom seen or heard rest of the core crew. I think creators and writers got it right so far for the Federation side which should be the focus.
The BAD is all the underused Klingon subplot where the series not only change the prosthetic and physical appearance of a well known documented and liked alien race in the canon universe, but also some of its culture and history. To portray the Klingons as only war-like and hungry for battle is not incorrect but is falling into the trap of creating an easy villain. Klingons are liked because they have a culture that also include good-natured laughs, drinks, food and friendship. They have time honoured traditions but can also break them, they think, feel and try not to fear for honour and bravery. They have reasons, reflexes and often a cause. They have memorable characters like Worf, Martok, Torres, Gowron, Kahless, Kurn, Kang, Chang and the Duras sisters to name a few. They have also a lot of language and culture already well developed so to see a new way they treat their dead in Discovery for instance feels unnecessary and not complementary to Sto'Vo'Kor (their Heaven or Valhalla) tradition and thinking.
BOTTOM LINE: every scene with Klingons and their dialogue so far seem useless and uninteresting compared to previous Klingon depth of culture or possible new avenues for this known race or even new made up race. This is poor and reflects limited reflection and petty fear fostering rather than enriching the palette of a wide and wide-reaching tapestry. Thus T'Kuvma, the Klingon new Messiah, is the weakest character as of now and all this Kahless reborn and ritualistic machination is not working to better the understanding of this beloved race.
As for the show it seems to have the potential to finish the 15- episode first season with strong story arcs, well-developed characters and situations. It will surely find some personal and philosophical aspects to explore as well as new ways of life and thinking like most good Star Trek did. My only current hope is this Klingon oversight is temporary and will balance itself out in an otherwise top sci-fi addition to the impressive Star Trek universe. I will give this my full attention as we await the fate of some interesting characters and can't wait to DISCOVER more.
Angie X (2017)
Truth, Trials and Errors
Angie Wang is a warrior in life and made a daring artistic contribution sharing parts of her college year life trying to cope with family and money issues and achieve academic, romantic, economic and human success.
Angie X, played perfectly by Annie Q, is a romanticized version of an angry, conflicted but smart, sexy and resourceful youth that comes to a collage where her first generation immigration and social class makes her adaptation more adventurous.
The casting choices, camera work, wardrobe and sets to match the 80s feel all seem right and we are able to do what director Wang, asked us the the start of her Mnotreal Worl Film Festival first screening: immerse ourselves in the movie and be transported.
After an hour and a half in the theatre, that felt much longer in terms of content, but also timeless and not wanting the movie to end and leave these likable characters and their quirky lives.
The only personal choices I felt could have been better are the over-expression of anger which I later learned are Angie's character traits and constant reaction based on her past and way to deal with pressure, as well as some occasional superfluous flashbacks that did not always work to enhance the scenes and character development. Everything else about this independent film written, directed and produced by Angie Wang with a great deal of passion and perseverance is pristine and palpable.
Angie is contrasted by her two best friends, a Chinese American boy classmate and an "All American" rich girl roommate and their respective families. They have different views and values but lots of love, attention and affection for Angie. She also has her own distant parents and brother, especially her father figure. We see her dysfunctional family through flashbacks and she also decides to be a big sister to an even more dysfunctional crack addict family.
Angie becomes a drug-dealer of a then legal party drug for rich kids "White" kids (MDNA/Ecstasy) - and becomes a master chemist like Walter White - which affects lives around here in different ways. In parallel, and paradoxically, she also tries to rescue a "Black" little sister affected by lower class street drugs, both legal (alcohol and cigarettes) and illegal (crack).
Angies tries to find respect and pleasure in school and social settings with her grades, her drugs and romantic interests. A particular sex scene is quite alluring and seems natural, beautiful, beneficial.
The ending which follows a particular dramatic denouement is sad and hopeful, open and soft-spoken. It lets the viewer know that life is not perfect, but life goes on. The best advice, story and point of view comes from her father Michael, played with gusto by Ron Yuan.
This film is a well worth addictive addition to the drug dealer movie for the low, middle and upper class, college student and parents alike.
Bravo Angie! Looking forward to a following project from this fine first time filmmaker.
USA 2017 | 94 mins | MONTREAL WORLD FILM FESTIVAL | English
Bad Genius (2017)
Fun for all: humour, human connection, conniving and all
Bad Genius is based on a true story, but takes many liberties to create compelling storytelling. The movie is about taking entrance exams which may be relatively important in Europe and the Americas but extremely important in the Asian academic performance cultural frenzy. Nonetheless, the power of the film and Nattawut Poonpiriya directing is that is makes exam cheating and everything around it fun and exciting. He is able to make a teenager's dilemma feel like a life and death situation with style, intrigue and humour.
Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying shines as the lead, but all the characters and actors serve justice to the material. Even the supporting roles and extras all add to the well played chess game. The movie is smart and has "swag". Interesting take on the school teenager world up the stakes and mistakes, looking at morality and the subtleties of human ambitions, abilities and interactions.
A hit in Thailand and it has all the elements to be an international success to the attentive audience.
Thailand 2017 | 130 mins | FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL | Thai (English subtitles)
San geng (2002)
Cinematography and Horror
3 shorts with varied results
"Memories" Kim Ji-Woon (Korea) 8/10
"The Wheel" Nonzee Nimibutr (Thailand) 5/10
"Coming Home" Peter Ho-Sun Chan (China) 9/10
Kim Ji-Woon has some stylish and effective camera-work (Kyung-pyo Hong) to convey the plight of a separated couple. There are some scary and beautiful moments. He is a Korean director that seems to be able to do not wrong and his cinematographer would later win awards with landmark movies like Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004), Mother (2009), Snowpiercer (2013) and The Wailing (2016). The female lead from Busan (Kim Hye-Soo) is gorgeous and well captured on film in this fantasy horror.
Nonzee Nimibutr manage some set pieces with some symbolic fire and details traditional statutes and wardrobe, yet fails to convey fear or interest in his haunted puppet ploy. His sexual-charged Jan Dara (2001) is a classic of Thai cinema.
Peter Ho-Sun Chan makes a daring take on (also) a sort of separated couple story. He boasts brilliant editing and engaging writing and acting. He works with cinematography legend Christopher Doyle who delivers solid city atmospheric scenes. This Hong Kong director had more than 10 feature films before this short and later would direct the well-received The Warlords (2007).
Va savoir (2001)
Rivette Goes Beyond the Theatre and Art
Jacques Rivette's acclaimed La belle noiseuse (1991) is a masterful meticulously crafted portrayal of a painter, his model, his friends and family in a complex and climactic drama. Ten years later, Rivette is even more riveting with an astonishing screenplay working again with long-time collaborating writing team of Pascal Bonitzer & Christine Laurent.
Va savoir (2001) - aka Who Knows? - is a story we have heard before of an actress dating the plays director and theatre group owner. They happen to be touring Europe and we see them in Paris, which brings back memories for Camille, the main actress. However, as we advance in the story and see the main character quirkiness, hopes, fears and dreams and feel the tension of their past, present and future love interests intertwine we enter an alluring drama way beyond conventional clichés of performing art in cinema.
A lot of details are in the screenplay with funny twists and turns, discomfort, joy, questioning and dismay. We find unconventional and uncompromising story lines that are curious and captivating. Moreover Rivette's directing and some fine acting from all the cast elevates the piece and allows tension and storytelling threads to weave a tight deliciously unpredictable narrative.
There is a play being performed that has some relevance to the world outside the theatre. The rhythms and tones of the play feel somewhat exotic performed in its native Italian in France and with more or less convincing depending on the performance night and mood. The real life events of the the characters outside the theatre are even more theatrical and has never been done quite as well, although Iñárritu's Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) came close as a theatre actor backdrop. Aronofsky' Black Swan (2010) also come to mind but for dance.
Va savoir (2001) has so many interesting elements with side stories of a life that lead to prison or the central search for a unpublished and never performed play. There are many sexual and emotional tension building between the strong central and secondary characters over the course of two and a half hours and an unexpected funny and fitting finale.
Rivette's choices make the situations intense and bring the viewer into an in intellectual, emotional and physical experience of high calibre that is not quite like any other. An understated masterpiece to be enjoyed.
I found John Michael McDonagh's previous work The Guard (2011) lukewarm and trying to be funny more times than succeeding in my eye, even with some positive critics finding the humour to their liking. His recent War on Everyone (2016) has had rather poor critic and audience appreciation. I thus watched Calvary (2014) with some reservations, although I was hoping to find why there was more praise for Brendan Gleeson acting and McDonagh's writing and directing. It now seems that McDonagh may be much better with unconventional priests than with comic cops!
From the unforgettable first line of the crisp script to the last shot of the film showing a single tear, the screenplay is pure genius. It is a dark comedy, a philosophical contemplation on life, pain, loss, forgiveness and frailty. The many characters and potent actors each add their own depth to the devoted priest centrepiece who is trying to help the community, but is also very aware of the reality and the limitations of his rhetoric.
I have rarely seen a movie about a religious figure be so morally ambiguous, subdued yet ambitious. IT is not preachy or propose any universal truth, but rather explores humanity as is, raw, flawed and in search for: pleasure, closure, redemption, revenge, reparation, meaning, happiness, communication and communion. Communion as in deeply sharing and beyond the Christian shenanigans of the body of Christ. The priest who sees himself as inherently trying to do "good", and not only God's work, is an endearing character how is as flawed as all the others. He drinks, swears, gets violent on occasion, exhibits greed and has done some harm, somewhat inadvertently, to his suicidal daughter. Yet, he is real and relatable. He questions the moral compass he holds himself up to and tries to be the pillar of his town and community. He sometimes fails, but gets up and tries to do better.
He says there is "too much focus on sins and less on virtues". He finds a way to teach his daughter true forgiveness and love.
The film is ultimately beautifully filmed, acted, directed and edited and is based on a off-beat, cynical, but surprisingly smart and sensible screenplay that delivers laughs, emotions and life reflections. Bravo Mr. McDonagh. You hit the nail... to the cross.
More than a Zombie Movie and a Good One at That + History of Zombie
(If you want to skip zombie pseudo-history, please go directly to the fourth paragraph for the film)
Train to Busan (2016) is the "best Zombie movie ever" like a few reviews mentioned, but I am not a particular zombie movie fan. In fact I may have seen a dozen and do not watch The Walking Dead (2010) but do highly recommend "Men Against Fire" episode of British Black Mirror (2011) sci-fi TV series as a perfect example of social, philosophical, psychological and political warfare examination with a mutant premise, akin to zombie in some aspects.
Korean anthology of short films Doomsday Book (2012) had "A Brave New World" segment that dealt with Seoul zombies in a thoughtful, sensitive way, while Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror (2007) film (segment of Grindhouse) was the best zombie movie before Train to Busan (2016). They surpass classics DAY OF THE DEAD (1985), 28 DAYS LATER (2002) and DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) but I haven't seen George A. Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) or his earlier NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). Re-Animator (1985), Dead Alive (1992), Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Zombieland (2009) are supposed to be lots of fun. The Evil Dead (1981) and The Evil Dead II (1987) are excellently cheesy and gory and zombie-like enough to include here.
Yet, from all these United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) productions, perfection of the craft within the genre has not been reached. Western origins of Zombies (Haitian voodoo) and Vampires (Eastern Europe) and popularization in the US and Western Europe has not allowed a fresh look at the genre (fresh flesh?). Now Asian cinema is taking things to the next level with its innovation and history with effective horror. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) and Jee-woon Kim's Coming Out (2001) are some example of the best Vampire tales every shown and they are from Iran and Korea.
Train to Busan (2016) is a zombie film that is also a great action movie and a drama that holds its own weight. The characters are admittedly mostly one-dimensional but the dramatic action, moments, movements and details make it memorable and palpable. The main relationship is a failed father-daughter relationship that is fleshed out enough to be felt at many crucial moments of the film. Secondary characters are also important and contribute greatly to the narrative and emotions. The couple expecting a baby are the perfect counterpart to our main characters while other (regular or bizarre passengers, train personnel, baseball players) play adequate parts. The suspense is real even if you need some suspension of belief at many moments!
This is an action-packed ride and expertly paced. The dilemmas are non-stop and drama keeps unfolding until the final frame. Zombies are scary and cool, the cinematography and special effects play well into the narrative. The tension is well created and the twists and turns keep on coming even if a few or far-fetched or questionable, the majority of the story is strong and holds together. More than anything this is a fun, fast and relentless ride with people we get to care about in an impossible situation after the other. What movies are made for, more or less. In this case: more!
No reused Resident Evil (2002) profitable but predictably poor franchise here. I hope to also check out the animated work from the same director including a companion piece zombie movie set in Seoul...
Pablo Larraín and Nathalie Portman make Jackie emotional, complex and real
Jackalie portmanteau could be used to describe the results of the tremendous skill Portman put into portraying the iconic Jackie Kennedy. Director Pablo Larraín takes a strong script which focuses on a compelling and complex individual faced with a drama-intense week at the highest level of personal, family and state/world turmoil and makes it visceral with his vision. Portman is pitch perfect and although La La Land is probably my favourite movie of the decade, I am not certain I can say Stone deserved the Best Actress award more than this nuanced controlled breakdown and bravery in face of adversity acting tour de force.
Inventive and risky editing (Sebastián Sepúlveda)and music (Mica Lei) are other key elements to tell this story emotionally and immerse the viewer in the near meltdown. The supporting cast shines on occasion even though Nathalie casts shadows on everyone with her brilliant role. Acting legend John Hurt delivers some soothing and straightforward philosophy as the priest who gets to hear Jackie's deepest fears and secrets - while we see some of the best cinematography from Stéphane Fontaine who has many other great visual pleasers and shockers in this and did marvels in French productions A Prophet (2009), Rust and Bones (2012) and Elle (2016). This will be one of his last role before his death at age 77 two months ago. Peter Sarsgaard who shined in The Experimenter (2015) gives a few good counterpoints and delivers some well-written lines as Bobby concerning his brother's possible legacy.
Watch Bobby (2006) for the rest of the Kennedy story five years later. A completely different but equally captivating multi-layer narrative by Emilio Estevez.
Polina, danser sa vie (2016)
Polina is pure art and passion
A modern dance piece like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly used to do in the 1940s and 1950s. Instead of the magical musical and dance acts, Polina is grounded in contemporary realism , but the magic comes from the process of perfecting one's art and pursing one's passions. I walked in this movie by accident and stayed by curiosity, sitting next to a kind movie-goer who was there for a purpose - and on purpose. I asked her briefly what this was about and she seemed to know what she was in for, and it intrigued me enough to give it a try. She also happen to ended up enjoying it immensely as we spoke more after the experience,
Not a particular dance aficionado myself, having seen a mere dozen of ballets and modern dance performances, I was impressed with Wim Wenders'homage to Pina Bausch in his beautiful daring documentary of modern dance. In Polina, neither dancer nor choreographer is at the centre, but rather dance itself, the collective dancers and their lively creations. This fiction grounds you first in the characters and their passion for life, themselves and art, namely dance in various forms, and thus amplify the artistic achievements that is stellar in its own right with emotions, conflict and conviction. Polina is because of this much better than Pina (2011) can ever be, as good as the dance choreography, venues and performances are in Wenders Academy Award nominated film.
Polina starts in Russia with what may seem a typical ballet banality, but quickly evolves into a change from Eastern to Western Europe, but an internal change, brought by challenges and exploration of one's love, limits, power, purpose and potential. The journey is unexpected and worthwhile, where failures or dead ends are seen as progress and positive understanding of a beautiful world of creators where this is no right or wrong. Beauty emerges from these discovery and Valérie Müller films the process with powerful scenes and engaging visual organic ordinary beauty.
The last dance is the ultimate gateway into the gorgeous world of dance and is much simpler but more powerful and beautiful than for example the famed American in Paris ballet at the end of American in Paris (1951) The editing and emotional tie-in to Polina's past and possible future elevates the deciding audition dance into a euphoric endeavour of love and possibilities.
La La Land (2016)
Life-Affirming Artistic Masterpiece Awaits Awards
Damien Chazelle dazzled with Whiplash (2014). Pace, acting, music, struggle and storytelling sure hit. He had toyed with the musical idea when at Harvard with low budget and black & white Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009). He now delivers beyond any expectations.
An Oscar-tying record of 14 nominations and rave reviews if just a reflection of how good this is. More than all that this movie is a collection of transporting feelings: freedom, love, passion, infatuation, nostalgia. It explores dreams, hopes, fears, sacrifices and reality. It has gorgeous and appropriate fantastic elements that add layers instead of detract from the story. Like Titanic (1997), although a different beast all together, I cried, I laughed, I smiled and was transported.
Ryan Gosling and especially Emma Stone sell ever detail with their extraordinary skills and dedication. They are often spell-binding. An on-screen chemistry and crafted from an assured writing and directing vision that take us places movies have never taken us before. The best Musical since Moulin Rouge! (2001) fifteen years ago with added cool choreography and gusto.
Cold Fish (2010) was the last movie that blew my mind in such a graphic, edge of the seat, emotional, artistic, fantastic and physical way. It also had a theme of planetarium and stars. I am so glad I saw this in theatres too and in IMAX with incredible image and sound.
Talking about sound and music, Justin Hurwitz gets 3 Oscar nods for his score and two songs: quirky City of Stars and adorable Audition (The Fools Who Dream). Audition is a tour de force visual and visceral scene from Stone and bittersweet song. Hurtitz should come home with one or likely two statuettes after been looked over in Whiplash (2014). The Jazz in both films is magical, but here there are other elements of music (even to the choice of 80s pop music in the mix) and there is the explanation of jazz origins and essence that enhances the music as art and is contrasted with John Legend radio-friendly record-selling reality which books tours and pays bills.
Sharp (C-sharp?) Chazelle deserves his two Oscars but has though competition in both writing and directing including the return of writer/director Kenneth Lonergan after bar-raising You Can Count on Me (2000) and Margaret (2011). Canadian Denis Villeneuve's Arrival (2016) which is nominated for 8 Oscars and 9 BAFTAs is also a contender although not my personal favourite film of his.
The only assured Oscar win would be Tom Cross for Editing who won for Whiplash (2014) and put every beautiful detail of Damien in a dizzying and delicate succession, but I predict La La Land could sweep the Oscars. I guess it could get from 10-13 Oscars potentially beating the 11 wins tree-way tie of epic Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). It won 7 out of 7 Golden Globes and should win a fair share of its 11 BAFTA Awards nominations this Sunday. Wishing it long life and success. Hard to beat something that steals your breath and hard beat for 2 hours like this.
Not just a movie experience, a revelation! Rejoice, live, love, sing and dance...
L.A. Hollywood - La La Land is the best Hollywood film of the decade or maybe the millennium...
A Most Violent Year (2014)
Jessica & Oscar with a good script and directing by J.C.
Oscar Isaac in his prime here, fresh off leading role in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) and before his sci-fi year with Ex Machina (2015) and Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), delivers deadpan and conviction as a medium-size business owner faced with financial, fiscal, legal and physical trouble. He stars opposite Jessica Chastain, Oscar-nominated for The Help (2011) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) who plays his wife which turns out to be the most complex and interesting character. Jessica had "A Most Stellar Year" with Interstellar (2014) and her riveting performance here. She did carry her lesser role in The Martian (2015) the next year, proving to be the sci-fi year for her as well.
Isaac is a force as Abel Morales and the writing and directing builds characters and tension to a boiling denouement. He has good scenes with his wife, lawyer, employees, friends, competitors and law enforcement. He even acts a crucial scene in his native Spanish. However a deleted scene where his character scolds his oldest daughter off the road is perhaps even better than all the scenes actually left in the final cut. Make sure to look for it in the DVD/Blu-Ray.
Jessica plays the tough Anna Morales and the script could have windows for her to overact, but she is mostly able to nuance her performance and keep it believable and engrossing. Her scenes with her husband are the best, but she manages to protect his and their interests in others.
J.C. Chandor who was nominated for Best Writing, Original Screenplay for Margin Call (2011) writes a compelling story with some strong dialogue. He directs his two leads and creates a mood of suspense and thrill as we feel for the characters their bonds, their struggles and their fate.
A stunning crime drama that creeps on you and leaves you wanting more with a succulent last act. A lot of superb details in the script and a near flawless execution. Just shy of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright power couple as the Underwoods in House of Cards (2013).
American Gangster (2007)
American Gangster = American Hero
Pros: Interesting story and strong performance by Denzel. Cons: Predictable. A few directing and acting flaws.
In the tradition of Blow (2001), here is a real American Hero...
America has been glorifying gangsters way before hip hop and gangster rap, way before television "The Sopranos" (1999), hit movies Scarface (1983) and Goodfellas (1990). Guns and seemingly limitless funds (read "fun") were an end and a mean (by a mean I refer to both the demeanor and misdemeanor, and I mean by any means necessary) before the Godfather (1972) et al. had every prototypical Italian American and his neighbour imitate Brando, Pacino, De Niro or Pesci ad nauseum and quote lines of gangster movies like people used to quote Shakespeare. The American Dream, before "American Idol " (2002) produced prefab Pop Stars, was of an entrepreneurial spirit realistically closer to the original spirits-bootlegging Scarface than say an arguably antisocial, enigmatic, Bill Gates. America's gun culture endures. Thus the title of the movie alone, alas, says a lot about the American subconscious.
This may even go beyond the United States boundaries as Hollywood and U.S. influence on the world culture is still very powerful--in Japan, you have the Yakuzas From Bonnie and Clyde (1967) to American Gangster (2007), movies about money and violence has been very popular. For example, there is a clear preponderance of high ratings for such movies in the Internal Movie Database – IMDb, the most popular movie website in America and on the planet. At the time of this original article (Nov 2007), four out of the five overall best- rated movies in the TOP 250 out of hundreds of thousands are of that kind!
In this rendition of the gangster movie genre which focuses on a clever, ruthless 'black man' in Harlem's 1960s who builds a drug empire, the glorifying is not overt, yet it is not really made in a way that you will realistically root for the "good cop" instead of the "bad a*s villain". The movie has depth in content in that it deals with connected racial tension and government involvement in corruption and drug trafficking. A big angle to the tale is that bypassing regular drug channel and getting the product straight from the source in Far-East Asia with the help of the US Army in Vietnam, this 'black man' or nig*r (America's subclass or worse than nothing) was able to overshadow even the Italian Mafia's chokehold on organized crime, which unsettled more than a few people from both sides of the law. Also, the systematic corruption in New York law-enforcement agencies that permitted the fight on drug trafficking to be very lax as well as these state employees actually profiting from this decadence in the streets, was brought to light and to life quite vividly.
In this picture, Denzel dazzles and is a great villain in his portrayal of Frank Lucas, although not to the degree of his Oscar- worthy Training Day (2001) performance. He gets a chance to shine occasionally and more so towards the end, but the script and directing did not allow him to show his full arsenal on celluloid. Russell Crowe plays a cop again (L.A. Confidential, 1997) and is as subdued as his character. What I did not like is that the subplot of his personal life, although maybe interesting on paper and a worthy contrast to add complexity and not fall into black-and-white territory, did not really work and detracted instead of enhanced the picture. These were the only parts that really felt long and underused out of the otherwise well-paced 157 minutes. Carla Gugino did not really hit the mark as the wife, but it seemed to me that it was more of a storytelling mishap out of Ridley Scott's directing. He should have handled it differently to have a better impact or not use it at all and maybe spend more time on Frank Lucas' personal or "professional" life.
Besides this little lack of character development that can be seen for pretty much most of the characters, the film is a good story, well told and well placed into the context of the time and place of the narrative. The conclusion wraps everything up nicely. Thank you, come again.
Ma mère (2004)
Son of a...
Pros: Daring, intriguing, intelligent Cons: Not for everyone The Bottom Line: A refreshing take on freedom of action.
So what can be said about this movie? It is at face value, very sexual and somewhat perverse. However, once having sit through it, it is evident that the abundance of sex scenes and situations all serve the unconventional coming-of-age story. In fact, even though the scenes are more graphic than average, they are much more natural and realistic than an overwhelmingly unimaginative traditional treatment of "the love scene" . That said, those who are not comfortable seeing nudity and sex on screen (or who are, but say would like to be warned before renting this and watching it with your in-laws) should be advised.
More than the sex, there is the freedom. A different freedom than say the antisocial libertinism of Lars Van Trier's Idiots, inasmuch as that it is more thoughtful and mature. It is a conscious choice to explore deep desires and to live a life unafraid and non-accepting of personal and societal self-imposed boundaries. In that, the film succeeds wonderfully, woes you, open doors, set the stage for interesting reflections, and is bound to spark up dialogue by laying the foundation to ask the tough questions.
That said, the plot is almost an afterthought as the philosophical content is the resonating factor here. The sparking idea is that a boy is confronted with the fact that his mother is a self-proclaimed slut. A plot construction reminiscent of Kevin smith's Chasing Amy so far, yet the focus is not on accepting one's past here. Not only is the son suppose to accept and love her for who she is, he is also to embark in a eye-opening motherly exposition to this life of saturated senses, openness and constant exploration. A bond between the son and mother is formed and various characters come in and out of the boy's life, including Hansi, played precariously by beautiful Emma de Caunes. All the character's are interesting in their own way and bring other dimensions to the "alternate lifestyle" revealed.
Based on George Bataille's work written decades earlier, but put in the context of the new millennium, the film adaptation serves as a sort of compass to examine how far along we have gone in our sexual emancipation as a society.
The acting is superb, especially from an assured Isabelle Huppert and the director's vision shows in the consistency of his actors performances to support his thematic goals. The recurring music is a soft, barely audible Barber's Adagio for Strings, as Pierre, the son, contemplates life in the sand dunes of the Canary Islands. The pacing is good, as the movie builds momentum and the ending is very fitting for a film that is not afraid to tell its story.
Strange, but not over-the-top. Frighteningly and enchantingly real. The film is always, like its characters, somewhere between imaginary boundaries.
The DVD has a deleted scene, a less poignant alternative ending that I was glad was edited to the final cut and two excellent interviews with the insightful writer/director Christophe Honoré and a wide-eyed Emma de Caunes.
To watch with your mother (or not).
Human Universe (2014)
Humanity progress and the potential of the future
Brian Cox is the new face of science along with Neil deGrasse Tyson who's Carl Sagan Cosmos update is out of this world. Cox's Wonders of
Trilogy made us wonder about life (5 episodes). the universe (4 episodes).and the solar system (5 episodes). Here Cox makes us think and is a bit more pragmatic and culturally sensitive to present the human perspective of the universe. The series starts strong with a link to our adaptive ancestors all the way to our impressive space achievements. Cox awaits a Soyuz reentry and rendezvous in Kazakhstan to greet cosmonauts. We have permanent presence in space (ISS) and here are humans coming back from this home
The second episode asks the tough philosophical question and proposes some answers, while the third episode asks about the likelihood of aliens, interviewing famous Dr. Frank Drake who's equation has been the base of scientific speculation since the 1960s. The episode however talks about some of its variables and implications, yet the conclusion reached at the end of the narrative is hasty and ill-explained. If that was the direction intended then the episode could have been longer, better researched or better edited.
After this still interesting chapter, the two last episodes are simply brilliant. The last one is the crown achievement of the series and perhaps also is the conclusion for the Wonders of Trilogy as well as it is extremely well-written and delivered by Brian Cox. From the initial cave in Spain to the penultimate revelation of potential Neanderthal culture & intelligence that were extinct as alternate theory, thinking and warning, the script is science and philosophy at its best. The final shot in the Space Station window is priceless and says it all. Bravo!
Americans spend 10 times more on their pet grooming than in fusion energy research which could change humanity's future We haven't put another human on the moon since 1972, 45 years ago We can do better! Thanks Brian and BBC team
Education (and entertainment) is key
Episodes 1 "Apeman - Spaceman" 10/10 2 . "Why Are We Here?" 9/10 3 . "Are We Alone?" 8/10 4 . "A Place in Space and Time" 10/10 5 . "What is Our Future?" 10/10
Effective Space Travel and Love Story
Morten Tyldum is one of the best up and coming director in my opinion and I thoroughly enjoyed his fine Norwegian crime thriller Headhunters (2011) and even more so his multi-Oscar nominated, including for best directing, The Imitation Game (2014) which may have been the best movie of that year. I was looking forward to this science-fiction project, a genre I like when it delivers on its promises, and the trailer even though it looked commercial, seemed promising. Unfortunately, it seems the critics picked the movie apart and I hesitated and doubted before seeing it, but decided that Tyldum was worth a try even with the naysayers.
Firstly, Jon Spaihts'script is actually very good and shines on occasion with philosophical/psychological dilemmas and themes without losing the human factor and contact. We empathize with the characters and are afraid, lost, torn, and even in love (yes) with them. The technology, the setting, the context and the beautiful set (real and digital), including a stunning star swimming pool and luxury rooms on this passenger spaceship. One of the character is a writer and the words take on poetic and philosophical turns to trump and triviality or banality of more predictable or run-of-the-mill sci-fi films. Of course there is some plot turns that are a bit far- fetched but all in all it is well within its dangerous and wondrous world it delves into.
Secondly, the directing makes the two leads make nuanced performance and illicit the right emotions from viewers while also keeping the oddness, awe, tension and adventurous factor.
Lastly, this film is a timeless love story with secrets, sacrifices, choices and serendipity in an attempt to understand and live a potential eventual human migration to the stars and planets with its joys and perils.
What do we do with the place and time you leave behind and what do you have to look forward to? To paraphrase the terrific and thoughtful screenplay, we are all just passengers in life... even if we want to be the captain of our lives. What is the meaning of time, life, love, loneliness? This raises great questions and leave you wanting more at the end.
This is a great addition to Tylum's body of work and to science- fiction in general. Kudos and hope this will get more recognition in the future... hopefully not in 120 years like this fictional space travel...
House of Cards: Chapter 36 (2015)
Best Written House of Cards Episode Thus Far
House of Cards is a TV drama modern masterpiece with top rate actors and directors and based on previous British material. The first two seasons were near-perfect and a tough act to follow. The third season is slightly less compelling but still above most TV drama that ever aired.
Having enjoyed Kevin Spacey's consistent stellar acting, great guest directors David Fincher and Joel Schumacher who normally make movies or TV director Allen Coulter, the show has been mostly about acting and directing. James Foley takes the most directing workload for the first 3 seasons before leaving the show with varied success helming 12 out of the first 36 episodes. Robin Wright is an amazing actress and directs dutifully since season two too!
In general, the writing material matches the tone and tension and is clever and captivating in its own right, yet in Chapter 36, Frank Pugliese's screenplay steals the show for the first time. The right words are riveting and work even better than the hurricane metaphor of Chapter 34 which was trying to be a writer's episode. Frank Pugliese is also a producer of the show since season 3 and crafted a seminal screenplay in Chapter 29. He was spectacular with the Russian Arc and introduction of the Viktor Petrov character well portrayed by Lars Mikkelsen. Two 10/10 episodes for Frank (Pugliese, not Underwood) so I look forward to see what else he comes up with in Chapters 42 & 48 next season.
Two fists to the table...
Villeneuve is masterful, but hints on mainstream while missing some opportunities
Aliens, first contact, language and non-linear or circular time are all the elements of great science-fiction films like Contact (1997) and Interstellar (2014) which prevail in Arrival (2016) which just arrived in theatres last week.
Three of Steven Spielberg's sci-fi movies deal with first contact: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T. the Extra- Terrestrial (1982) and War of the Worlds (2005). They all approach it very differently. Here Denis Villeneuve who's last five films I have enjoyed immensely does a superb job with the material and keeps it edgy and unconventional. He focuses on the unorthodox methods and wonder of linguist Dr. Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, while she tries to decipher the intentions of aliens arriving on Earth.
The movie is getting rave reviews by critics and moviegoers alike and I am proud as a Quebec native myself and a fan of the humble and fantastic filmmaker. However, I must admit a few things prevented me from connecting completely with the characters and the narrative here. The science and language part are well dealt with and with occasional humour, but I am very critical about the constant military framework and the claustrophobic feel that does not insight fear or more importantly enough wonder.
Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and even more so Zemeckis'Contact (1997) had at their core wonder and danger. Jodie Foster's portrayal of Ellie has a deep passion, reverence and awe about her opportunity to be the primary first contact human that I didn't quite find in Louise's matter-of-fact character
Forest Whitaker is underused and almost one-dimensional, while Jeremy Renner delivers as Ian, but is no Matthew McConaughey. It is possible that no science-fiction movie will equal the elevation of Contact, but if a director could have done it, I had my bets or hopes on Villeneuve. He seemed happy with the script by Eric Heisserer, but I think it could have been better adapted from Ted Chiang's short story I have admittedly not read yet.
I did not connect with any character. Did we need more screen time to get to know General Shang (Tzi Ma)'s perspective and related to the fear? Could the daughter scenes capture more moving and relevant elements? The movie remained intellectual, but I did not get the emotional and visceral part.
I was hoping brilliant composer and Villenuve's partner in crime, Jóhann Jóhannsson, could help simultaneously alienate and intrigue us. Perhaps help make us fear and feel, but he lacks his usual swagger here and Max Richter in facts provides the best sonic complement with its song "On the Nature of Daylight" also used by Scorcese in Shutter Island (2010) which Villeneuve integrates to the compelling opening, but that somehow lost some of its appeal by the end reprise when some elements and emotions do not quite fit.
Again the militaristic feel worked well in Sicario (2015), but I found it had less it's place here or should have been better balanced not to end up as a caricature if showing pacific and scientific aims may have higher values was a goal.
The major plot twist and the climax worked well. The scene when Louise actively confronts the chain of command is riveting, but contrasted to lackluster other scenes where Louise drifts off and does her thing almost as an afterthought. Her character often shows ambivalence, but does best when it turns into conviction.
So there is a lot of good film material in here, but just not the masterpiece it could have been for me for these reasons. Perhaps the editing by best of class Joe Walker did not present the story in the right way for me either. I will even try another viewing eventually, but I can only hope Blade Runner 2049 who should be about done filming now in Fall (with Roger Deakins who was missing in this project!! - no offence to young and gifted Bradford Young) delivers more punch next year.
In the meantime, Zemeckis' Allied (2016) comes out next week which could be riveting drama and Star Wars: Rogue One (2016) hits theatres next month for more sci-fi. Happy November!
Medical Ethics and Uneven Episode
The content of the episode is one of the best in terms of philosophical musing on medicine profession dilemma of patient right to refuse treatment, religion/superstition vs public interest. We can think of vaccine or pharma refusal or typical Jewish observance of Sabbath and Jehovah's Witnesses and blood transfusions parallels to name a few. The episode features great scenes, conflicts and dialogs, but is plagued (pun intended) with a few unconvincing performances from non core characters and stereotypical one-dimensional portrayal of Sagittarons, save a quick not particularly insightful comment from Dee (Anastasia Dualla). The themes and story elements are strong, but directing and acting could have been better to hit the point home. The writing created a perhaps simplistic story arc with personal internal drives which led to an unsatisfactory ending instead and of raising more questions and reflection.
All in all a good watch and canvas for further discussion. The Helo and Sal personal opposition was noteworthy, but more time could have been used to examine the themes and weigh the pros and cons like Star Trek usually does.
Free World Pens (2015)
Dichotomy of thoughts, feelings, images and sound
Nika Khanjani's amazing short film had a special screening in her now resident town of Montreal. This short toured some International festival including RIDM 2015 (Canada), Cambridge Film Festival (England) & Uppsala International Short Film Festival (Sweden) and we were lucky to screen this at "Les Dames du Doc" Cine-Cub.
This is a story, based on Texas, My Brother, and Me (2009) initial sketch by Nika Khanjani and took years to develop fully with riveting results. It deals with the solitary confinement in a Texas prison of Nika's younger brother who got thrown in jail there before she moved to Montreal. She did this movie in order to express and share his condition and how this situation affects her personally.
Beautifully haunting images of Montreal and sad narration of prison letters, spoken with Nika's voice, provides a stark contrast of freedom and beauty versus dark days, loneliness and repression experienced in another world. The connection between the siblings is real and the conflict and guilt felt by both, and perhaps also the audience, is revealing. What are we doing with this freedom?
Are we enjoying our simple life to the fullest? Do we see the beauty in it every day?
Streets, alleys, park, metros and other wonders have rarely being filmed and put into context like this. The change of seasons symbolizes time passed and the hope for change. The images on their own and cinematography by Shanon Harris are very powerful, but the choice of narration tone, content and overall mood make it masterful.
Canada 2015 | 21 min |Les Dames du Doc |English (with French subtitles)
Sex in Japan (or How Not to Make a Porno)
Anti-Porno is another mind-bender by prolific Japanese cult cinema director Sion Sono. The North American premiere had a sold out seating of intrigued moviegoers. Some liked it including myself and my Japanese-Canadian friend who speaks fluent Japanese and other utterly disliked this bizarre piece of cinema. Understandably, this is not for everybody and is definitely in the sexually charged vein of Strange Circus (2005) and Guilty Romance (2011) realm rather than palatable post-apocalyptic dramas like Himizu (2011) or Land of Hope (2012).
Sono is an artist and has one the most disparate notions of time for his movies with his two best, Cold Fish (2010) and Noriko's Dinner Table (2005), clocking around 150-160 mins, but Love Exposure (2008) rambling on at 240 mins, while Tag (2015) ticked by in 85 mins. The Whispering Star (2015) is only 100 mins but feels like years with sparse dialogue and landscapes, long slow takes and black & white interplanetary postal robot mood. Anti- Porno is his shortest here at 78 mins but packs a lot of tricks in a tight vision of lust and lost.
The movie starts with cute clichés and colourful art direction concerning sex and seduction in an S&M and bisexual tension kind of way. Add a toilet, a toy, other girls as audience / participants, a taunt and a twist!
Ami Tomite who also started in Sono's Tag (2015) and The Virgin Psychics (2015) plays the lead and seductress self-proclaimed whore. She is a superstar and has her assistant prepare her packed daily schedule, including a photo-shoot, but verbal abuse, nudity, submission, sex, slicing of wrists and depravity ensue. Take a photo-shoot and video of all this
Then comes the role reversal and question of identity. Who is shooting who and playing who? Who is directing? Who is writing? Who is shooting a sex scene in the woods or in a room? Who is a whore and a virgin? How to emancipate ourselves? What is sex and what does it say about society and individuals?
This film raises many questions, is a welcome criticism of sex as a taboo and explores Japanese sexual repression and oppression specifically, but touches on worldly and beautiful themes with a mature, daring tone. The conversation of teenage girls and their parents at dinner table is priceless and unheard of. A necessary discussion of equals that makes you think while shocking your preconceived ideas about sex and parenting, even if you are a liberal!
Thank you Sono for again pushing the boundaries.
Lots of beauty and thoughts in this seemingly absurd and self- absorbed subtle sexual and mental exploration.
Japan 2016| 78 min | Festival du Nouveau Cinema | Japanese (English subtitles)
Shavua ve Yom (2016)
Dealing with Death with Life Affirmation and Imagination
"A week and a Day" is Asaph Polonsky's first feature film and tries to combine drama with humour, levity and death. It does so successfully and warmed the crowd in Montreal where it received deserved praise. It deals with a tough subject, arguably the greatest loss, done slightly better and with more bitterness in 2001 with "In the Bedroom" and "Lantana". "Rabbit Hole" (2010) was also riveting, but "A week and a Day" (2016) is superior to more recent, yet good and critically acclaimed "The Broken Circle Breakdown" (2012) and very different than all the others and succeeds in a change of perspective and cinematic catharsis.
An only child has died from cancer and the parents sit Shiva when the neighbours come to express their wishes. The mother and father react differently in their grieving process and the neighours and their son come to be an important part of a difficult road back to the light.
Quirky and endearing, this tale, like its characters, matures from off beat to the right beat. The last 20 minutes are sublime and include an eulogy with effective editing. This eulogy as I would later learn asking a question to the director during the Q&A is a modified version of Polonsky's real father who wrote it for his sister and is very poignant and the center of the movie even if it comes very late. It is worth the wait and the voyage. As for the eccentric neighbour's son who knew the deceased and played together as youth and a little girl cancer patient who knew him in his dying days, their love for life and imagination make for two memorable scenes of air guitar playing and phantom operation
All the characters create the mosaic of life to be cherished instead of remaining miserable, malcontent and bitter. Even the mom who's dentist appointment is the saddest one has ever experienced finds joy and solace in herself and the arms of her husband who loves her and forgives himself.
Very poignant and effective film-making here. I wish the best to this young writer/director who should shoot his next feature in Canada's West Coast if all goes well.
Israel 2016| 98 min | Festival du Nouveau Cinema | Hebrew (English subtitles)
Oscar rewards the musical movie
Liza Minnelli shines as Sally Bowles in the Cabaret musical film adaptation. The musical itself was adapted from a novel and played on Broadway(NYC, US) and West End (London, UK) from 1966 to 1969. Liza was a real nightclub singer and although she carries the role and act well, she is like the character she plays, a better singer than actress.
"Maybe This Time" is the best song for melody, lyrics and performance, but "Money" with Minnelli and Joel Grey also delivers. They would both win an acting Oscar for their role. Joel Grey is also delightful in "Two Ladies" with another funny choreography and fitting art direction. Director Bob Fosse, along with cinematographer, editor, sound, score and art direction won awards and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture and Screenplay but lost to The Godfather (1972) which was better in both aspects. Its 8 wins are the most ever won for a movie that did not win Best Picture.
The directing succeeds in a few scenes, including the disarray of the German woman, Natalia Landauer (played by Marisa Berenson) who has been ravished and feels lust and love- She asks advise and confess to promiscuous Sally in probably the best non musical scene.
The rest of the movie carries through nicely and neatly but with less flair. Cinematography does shine on occasion with some swift visuals. Colours, movements, feelings in either interior or exterior shots.
A nice musical that could have benefited from slightly better source material but that transit to the screen effectively and also deals with the slow and innocuous rise of the Nazi in the background.
Flirty, full of life and rich beyond its minor imperfections.
Poetic, Purposeful and Powerful
Writer/ Director Stephen Chbosky gets all the right notes from this acclaimed musical and deep-reaching story and lyrics. The actors and atmosphere of sadness, seduction, friendship, hardship and rebellion shine. The film medium is well used to make a remarkable adaptation, using some of the original cast. Chbosky masters the material and makes a fitting legacy.
Based on the late Jonathan Larson's Broadway Musical masterpiece, this film fits well with the 2005 themes of sexual orientation and identity and deals with homosexuality, HIV/AIDS, drugs, relationships, art and bohemian lifestyle in a hard, yet enchanting way. Great music, lyrics and editing. Dark and not for everyone, it is funny with plenty of witticism and likewise endearing. Good signing and acting from a strong ensemble cast. This will have you signing and thinking for a while.
Sully Soars while Plane Performs a Daring Water Landing
Tom Hanks is in top form and gives his best performance since Cast Away (2000). After playing a man on the 105th floor of the WTC on Sep 11, 2001 in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011), he plays a captain of a doomed double-engine failure plane on January 15th, 2009 in NYC. Writing, editing and emotional directing crafts the portrait of this modern day modest hero with bravo.
The storytelling choices, non-chronological order, details, scenes and people portrayed all add the the tension and depth of this fascinating, and familiar to some, story. Laura Linney who is always seen only on the phone gives a credible (incredible!) performance, while Aaron Eckhart and his co-pilot character are well utilized.
Clint Eastwood ultimately nails it with the right choice of music he also contributes to, like in low-key but grandiose Gran Torino (2008), along with the flashbacks-flashforwards and figments of Sully's imagination to tell the story and inner feelings the best way, and the sheer thrill of a serious and spectacular life and death situation.
Everything unfolds perfectly, ends on a high and comical note and feels like hours because of its intensity instead of the taut 96 minutes in actuality, like the only 24 minutes rescue. Thirteen years after the acclaimed Mystic River (2003), Eastwood and "Sully" safely and improbably land on the river.
Like Sully who thanks his co-pilot and crew, the passengers and first respondents for this amazing team effort rescue, Eastwood has many people on his team to thank, including long time contributor but first time real lead editor Blu Murray, for all putting in the pieces together to this cinematic masterpiece.