Reviews

457 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
9/10
Bradley Cooper's A Star is Born
14 October 2018
As it is plainly visible from the homepage on this site for the new film, A Star is Born, there are so many user and critic's reviews for this new movie, that I can safely say that I can't say anything that hasn't already been said, or written about it, but in my effort to try and review most of the new films I see at the theatre, I will certainly try my best to do a worthwhile review, even if the majority of the people who usually read these reviews have had enough reviews of this new film already. As, I think it is also pretty clear, this new version of this story is nothing new as it has been made already three times and I also have to be honest and admit that I have never to this day seen any of the other versions, so how closely this new film follows them, or if they have a certain sequence, or story arc between them I do not know, but from what I understand, writer/director Bradley Cooper borrows a little bit from all versions, but also certainly makes this film his own with his own unique stamp on it and also a very unique and worthwhile debut as a writer and director as well also in this case as a singer and songwriter as well. I think over the years having seen many films about showbusiness and the lives of either actors, singers, or people in the entertainment industry in general we as an audience have come to expect certain things from these movies. Usually they feature a celebrity of some kind who can not deal with the various pressures from being famous and this causes them often to go off the deep end with either alcohol, or some kind of substance abuse, or abuse of their bodies in some excessive way. I think it would be something new and even perhaps refreshing to have a story about a celebrity who avoids these pitfalls and basically can hold their own both while performing and keeping a handle on their personal life, but perhaps I am being the naive one here and the many deaths of musicians and people in the entertainment industry just goes to show that success and fame truly can be a hard act to juggle and maybe more credit, or understanding is due to those who in some ways we know very little about outside their public persona. The substance abuse issues are certainly on display in this new version as well and jealously, power hungry managers and agents and the various pressures that stem out of and because of this is all here. It is handled in an interesting if not altogether entertaining version and the performances can be very powerful here even if at times it does border a little bit on melodrama. I think a lot of questions people had about this film include how is Cooper as a writer/director/singer and how is Lady Gaga in her first starring role for the big screen? I can safely and assuredly tell you that Cooper directs and writes like he has been doing it for ages and he truly is a wizard behind the camera and his writing as well as singing is all well done also. For his performance I can also say that I think it is the strongest as well as the best performance of his career thus far and I think choosing to write and direct films and to only direct films he has written himself is a wonderful career move and gives hope to Hollywood as we have another true auteur in the making and a good one at that. Lady Gaga who I know has appeared on American Horror Story, which I have never delved into, but here for her big screen debut she is certainly very impressive not only with her singing and songwriting, but also a emotional performance and a moving one at that. I think it is pretty much guaranteed that both Cooper and Gaga will be up for acting Oscars as well also with Sam Elliott in a wonderful supporting performance. The songs where Cooper and Gaga accompany each other are well done and should also be up for nominations as well as writing, directing and even Best Picture. The film is certainly not my favourite film that I have seen this year, but that is not to say it isn't worth seeing because it certainly is and I was impressed at how many people at my theatre came out to see this film in it's second week and overhearing how much they loved it. For a mainstream outing it is as good as it can get in a time of remakes and cliches being done countless times, but I look forward to seeing more from Cooper and Gaga and what they have left us with is certainly impressive and worth the time out at the theatre.
8 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Searching (III) (2018)
10/10
Searching
9 September 2018
As I age, I find myself having to get used to and adjust to the new norms and ways of filmmaking that are being introduced to us as viewers and critics alike. I had heard great things about this new film, Searching, but as I was watching it and discovered that most if not all of the film was told using various means of social media such as Face Time, YouCast, or various other methods of calling, texting and communicating over the world wide web. To some this probably seemed like an interesting way of telling a story in a radical and brand new way, but to me, I found myself getting a little agitated and also losing interest as I really have no desire to watch, or engage with someone using these various means of communication and nor do I use any of those services myself. I thought the overall film would be lost on me, but I stayed with it and mustered all the patience I had with it and I am glad to say that my perserverance paid off and I started to like this film a lot more and I then started to see that a truly mesmerizing story was taking place in front of me and because of the zeitgeist and times of our day, perhaps this new approach of telling the story was not so useless after all and maybe I was just being too old fashioned and I am glad that I soon found much interest in the story, the film and yes, even the technological approach it took to telling this tale. Searching is not just your run of the mill mystery, or thriller film because I think it is a lot better than that. It takes a story that very easily could have become cliched, or formula ridden and instead gives us something new to look at whilst all the while keeping us the viewers in complete suspense and not only capturing our interest, but truly keeping us guessing as to what and how this mystery would end and I for one could not see the various twists and turns in the film coming and I would go as far as to say they were a very pleasant surprise as well as turning what could have been a mediocre film into a true masterwork. The film knows how to tell a good story and certainly keep everyone guessing as to how it will turn out as well as capturing your interest and holding it throughout the film, but I would also say that this film is a bit of a commentary on several bigger issues that I am very glad were explored through the course of the film. One such issue is again as I have gone on about in various other reviews is the danger of technology and how young people of this generation are getting more and more familiar with it and also at the same time how they seem to be getting less careful with it by exposing much critical and personal information online that could ultimately cause them harm not just to their computer, or online status, but to their personal safety as well. There are a lot of good things to say about computers, the internet and technology, but we can also say that it has taken away communication and has made life in a sense too easy and caused us all to become a lot lazier. I would hate to see how people would communicate and function in society in a generation, or so to come when this will be an even more widespread problem. The other issue that is a key note to this film is the topic of parenting, especially in a day and time where we are too wrapped up with our own lives to truly care about what our children are doing and also just not spending time, or taking an interest in their activities. Parents seem to be reaching out more to their kids in social media platforms, but I would still venture a guess and say that good old fashioned one on one talking is what is needed here and actually taking an interest and being a part of your children's lives is so important and perhaps less tragedies such as the one depicted in this film will soon fade away if we could simply just take the time. Finally in a smaller, but still impactful way, the film shows how the media also has truly taken over and glamorized tragedies and sorrows of other people and how nothing is essentially private anymore, but all made tailor ready for one's viewing pleasure. It's hard not to think that maybe there is a lot of fake news going on and maybe a lot of what they are covering is not nescessarily the truth, but a well written story as well. The acting is very good here particularly by leads John Cho and Debra Messing and I give kudos to the amazingly suspenseful script which uses no violence, or profane material to tell this story and they don't need it either and they provide a film that is not only enthralling, but told in a unique and original way with also a lot to say. I am glad I stuck through the film and it turned out to be one of this year's best achievements and times out at the movies. Highly recommended.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Blackkklansman
3 September 2018
Spike Lee has not had a commercial, or critical hit since 2006's Inside Man, and after that he would often attempt to get bigger films off the ground such as Miracle at St. Anna, or his remake of Oldboy, a few years ago, but both films were neither received well, nor did they have the box office receipts to prove they were hits, in fact the complete opposite. Lee, who I have always admired as a filmmaker, did get other projects going since and during that time, but mostly they were smaller films that would only play in the very biggest of cities meaning that if you lived anywhere else you would either have to rent, buy, or stream the films in order to keep up to date with his body of work. Lee needed a film that was both going to be a critical success, but also one that would attract audiences and actually make some money as well. When his new film, Blackkklansman premiered at Cannes, I am certainly not sure what audiences, or critics were expecting, but the result turned out to be Lee's best reviewed film in probably longer than a decade as well as winning some of the top prizes at Cannes, which in my mind because of their very particular, yet often right on the money judgements, this meant that Lee's new film was great, but how would audiences fare and let alone the movie when it had a theatrical release date right in the middle of summer which we often know can be very difficult for smaller and more intelligent films? Blackkklansman continued to earn rave reviews as more critics were able to see it and the film was even given a wide release by it's distributor and the film was made for roughly 15 million dollars and after not even a month of release it has already doubled that amount in box office returns and has many saying that it is certainly a contender for Best Picture at next year's Oscars and in my mind, I wouldn't be surprised if the film, or Lee himself were standing on that stage next year picking up their awards. Having now seen the film myself, I will have to be honest and say that the style and tone of the film was a bit of a surprise to me because I was not expecting it to be so comedic and yet I found it often worked by also dealing with pretty upsetting subject matter and allowing us a chance to breathe and also to get immersed within the film and have a good chuckle as well as getting some hard hitting material as well, so I felt the balance which at first may have taken a little bit to get used to, ended up working beautifully. The story in itself is one of this year, or any recent year's most interesting plots around and the fact that it is all based upon a true story further adds fascination and a great emotional impact at the end of the film. The performances both by the leading cast as well as supporting were all fantastic and some of the best of the year. The script which Lee had a hand in writing is often smart, funny, intriguing and like any of Lee's best films, it also hits home and gets a point across that will certainly leave you shaken and stunned by the time you have walked out of the theatre. Lee has always been known for being angry at the world's injustices especially regarding race and this new film is no different. I appreciated that the violence in the film was toned down and realistically there was very little of it, so I think it would also bring more viewers in that way. The racial hatred, bigotry and language of which the film has lots, can be offensive and almost sickening at times, but we know why Lee went for this and he certainly gets his point across and then some. This is a film that is fascinating entertainment and also entertainment that will make you think about what you have just seen and may even change the way you look at current events and American history itself. The all too true aspect that is most disturbing is that this kind of hatred and acts of violence still exist and there are too many of these type of stories in the news today which makes the message of this film all the more timely and prevalent. This is one of the year's best films if not the best film of the year so far.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
12 August 2018
In telling the true story of cartoonist, John Callahan, the new film, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, is not a conventional biopic in the sense that it follows a simple formula from beginning, middle and end, but here director Gus Van Sant cleverly uses segments from Callahan's past and the current time when the film is taking place and often it is out of sequence with how things actually happened, but it is still marvellously coherent and it makes for not only one of the most entertaining films of this year, but also one of the most thoughtful and moving as well. I think where the film primarily puts it's focus is Callahan's goal of becoming clean and sober after years of alcohol dependency. We see other aspects of his life as well, but the extraordinary thing about it is that how his life really did not start to come together till he realized he had a problem and sought help for it. Callahan is assisted on his troubling journey by a compassionate and yet honest group leader for a local Alcoholics Anonymous group and while going through this group he has to confront and come to terms with aspects of his life that he probably wishes he could leave behind, but with encouragement and following the steps of the program we see how Callahan now only discovers the strength inside himself, but also learns to have forgiveness for himself and the mistakes he has made in the past. He needs to seek forgiveness for the people he has wronged and most importantly also learn to forgive himself for what has caused him to become a quadriplegic and bound to a wheelchair and also how unwillingly his alcoholism spun out of control. Callahan never unfortunately develops a higher power in the sense that I was personally hoping for him, but at the same time I think he does develop a different way of looking at life and instead of hating his past and the things that at one point he blames for his decision to start drinking, he stops making excuses and blaming everyone and thing for how life turned out and instead starts to realize that maybe everything that has happened in his life was not an accident at all, but instead to cause growth not only as a person, but in maturity as well and help him to become the person he would later become and not only escape the tight grasp of alcohol abuse, but also to become one who would later speak and write this book about his own battles which has helped many a person who has suffered from the same troubles as himself. We see his growth and how he not only reaches out to people, but also becomes more aware of himself, his feelings and others as well. We see him develop relationships and also discover a hidden talent in cartooning and whilst his cartoons were quite controversial and brought in the same amount of praise and criticism, it gave him an outlet for expressing himself and also finding a way to support himself to not have to rely on welfare payments alone. This is a story that is brought to life with tremendous Oscar worthy performances, especially from the multi talented Joaquin Phoenix as John Callahan and also Jonah Hill, who has certainly come a long way from his crude comedy days and here delivers a subtle and yet nuanced performance as John's sponsor and leader of the Alcoholics Anonymous group who we later learn has had his own share of troubles in life and yet how he used his goal of helping others because of a will inside of him, but at the same time having the incomparable joy of helping others and seeing people overcome their goals whilst helping them even in the midst of your own troubles. Joaquin delivers an impassioned performance that is at times full of humour and at other times where your eyes well up with tears because of the great emotion and empathy we develop for Callahan who at first is not so likable, but later becomes someone we are truly hoping to achieve and conquer the goals he has set forth. This is a film that is moving for anyone trying to overcome any number of addictions, or illnesses and it proves that with the right mindset and people to help you along your journey that you are never helpless and that somehow even our darkest moments can be used for good not only in our lives, but also that of others as well. This film truly has a zest for life and living and it's positive spirit is certainly contagious and even the darker moments also ring true with authenticity and a mood that will certainly stimulate your emotions and deeply move you. This is not only a film for great entertainment, but also a film that shows that you can overcome your obstacles no matter how great they may seem and offer a little encouragement as well as top notch entertainment along the way. One of the year's best films.
2 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Eighth Grade (2018)
10/10
Eighth Grade
5 August 2018
As I write this review, for me personally, it has been almost 20 years since I was both in and graduated from my eighth grade class. In seeing a movie about what the eighth grade is like in 2018 as opposed to 1999 and 2000, it really is quite amazing at both the similarities of when I was there and also things, particularly involving technological advancements that now play a large role both in the lives of the students, but also in their education as well. This film is different in the aspect that in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria and pretty much anywhere they can, their iPhones are accessible and there seems almost to be a lack of communication verbally between students and their peers and most of the conversation is written down via text messages being sent not just periodically, but frequently throughout the day. I did not have that when I was in the eighth grade and when you look at cell phones from back in that time period, they were big clunky things and only a select number of people had them and it was not at all in pretty much the normal way of things as this current culture and generation has made of it. Facebook was also not invented till I finished college and I have had many opportunities to use it, but still to this day I choose not to and with the recent information that users of Facebook have pretty much had their identities sold for a profit to other companies, I am glad I took the stance I did and continue to not use it. Nevermind the fact that I still believe that a lot of this technology has taken away what used to be a simple everyday thing of actually talking and engaging with one another in conversations. Now it seems like a fine art and even when I see people both at my workplace, or in the local shopping mall, most people tend to have their head bent over and engaging in who knows what on their cellular phone. The main character of this film is also constantly on her phone checking videos, posting videos and basically liking all the new posts, videos and pictures that become available. I am not in school now and nor do I plan to be again, but I can certainly sense that all this liking and disliking and trying to meet your peers approval over social media must be an extremely vexing if not downright depressing thing. Also look over the years at all the bullying that has also been done with this so called great technology. It has lead to embarassment, being ostracized and sometimes even sadly suicide of people who were so young that they barely even had a taste of what their future had in store for them. The whole technological advancement is certainly a big change and I would personally hope that within the school system that there is more done to keep it under control and that people do actually engage in conversations and extra curricular activites because if not we are a society that will not only get dumber, but more and more socially awkward and this is not something that I think anyone would agree is a good thing. Many things after all these years do still stay the same within the middle school and high school years as well and these include such things such as trying to fit in, personal insecurity, bullying, making friends as well as a little thing called hormones which is about to really come into play about that grade. Our main character here is pretty much an ordinary girl going through ordinary situations and emotions and yet because I have been in her shoes so to speak, there were times during the film that I just wanted to give her a hug and let her know that it would all be okay and that those few years we spend in school will not dictate the rest of our lives, but even if I was to say that to my teenage self all those years ago, would it have helped, or would I have believed it? I know of more and more people now who have decided to home school their children and for probably some very good reasons as well as some negative including my fear that it may isolate the children too much and may become a detriment to their social skills as they get older, but I think that most people would agree that there are problems with the current system. Eighth Grade does not try to answer any of these dilemmas and quite frankly sometimes I got downright uncomfortable watching this young girl go from one difficult situation to another, but at the same time it was refreshing in the sense that this isn't new just for this generation, but from mine too and the one before and also the next. This is a film that deals with this subject with great honesty and also has a deep sense of humanity and empathy for our characters. It shows that if we stick it out it may, or may not get better, but things will eventually hopefully come our way and school is such a short part of our lives even though it is so influential in good ways and bad. This is a marvellously astute film that has one of the best scripts in quite some time and the acting is so natural and honest that it ranks with some of the year's best performances. Whatever age you are, you should see this film if you are a student, or parent and it should be a jolt to your senses and may hopefully invoke changes within the schools and more ways to help our youngsters. One of the year's best films.
0 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
American Animals
8 July 2018
American Animals, falls into a select group of films through no fault of the film itself, has been reduced to a pretty bare bones and very limited release just playing in a handful of theatres across North America. Having just seen the film last night, I was wondering as I was watching it why the film's distributor didn't choose to be a bit more adventurous and give the film a wide release. Was it because the distributor only has certain amount of seats allotted to them, or was it not a finanically viable option? Either way, I think that even if the film's current distribution company couldn't for whatever reason give it a wide theatrical release that any number of big players could very easily have done so and I could almost guarantee that with the right marketing and with the positive reviews and word of mouth that the film already has going for it, that it could become quite a hit and the reason that it hasn't already done so is because for most people it is not playing in theatres that are anywhere close to where they live, so henceforth leaving the option of either driving a long distance to see it, or catch it when it becomes available on streaming. I think more major studios need to take bigger risks by releasing films like this because I think they would score more with audiences than they think they would. Anyone now can tell you that their basic movie multiplex is full of all the lastest Marvel, Star Wars and superhero films which do seem to take in a large amount of the money that the box office brings in, but I would encourage these major theatre chains as well to also cater to a smaller demographic and bring in films that maybe an older audience, or an audience who has far outgrown your usual Summer movie fare has to offer because for myself I find that within the last little while my theatre trips are becoming less and less frequent for the simple reason that there is nothing worthwhile playing and I am so very fortunate when a film like American Animals does come along to have a much needed break from the normal fare that is out at this time of year. The film is based on a true story and combining aspects of a documentary as well as the film being a fully realized and played out drama, it becomes one of the most fascinating as well as entertaining films of this year and what the cinema has had to offer lately. I was quite impressed by the film's overall style with it's mix of 60's and 70's musical tunes as well as flashing between the past and to the present where we see the real life perpetrators of the crime depicted in the film in reality and get to see their thoughts and opinions about what made them decide to do what they did and also giving us a look at basically these characters had for the most part everything going right for them in an academic, or career oriented way and just out of sheer boredom, or really having nothing else to do, came this not very well thought out idea of pulling off a heist at their local university library. Whether the following events were true, or not, either way the film makes for some of the most thrilling times you are bound to see in a theatre thus far this year and it has a great mix of comedic scenes, drama as well as a good sense of suspense and timing when the said heist is actually attempted. The young actors here who I am mostly unfamiliar with all do a very commendable job of showing you what drives them to do this event all at the same time showing that we can not always figure out the reason they did it. The parents don't seem to be overly involved in the film, but whether that was factual, or just an aspect they didn't seem to show I don't know. One of the main characters we see his parents living in a very strained and dysfunctional relationship that later leads to divorce and you can't help but wonder if that had any effect on the decisions that this character would later make in the film. Otherwise these characters seemed to be bored and had little else going on in life and as we hear from their very own mouths, we see that they regret the decision to ever get involved in these events and if they had sitten down and thought rationally, or talked to an older, or more mature person, these events most likely would not have been carried out. It is a fascinating yet disturibing look at society and what makes and triggers people to do the things that so often destroy not only ourselves but those and our society around us. American Animals doesn't try by answering any of these questions, but instead takes us on a thrilling ride that is just as much for contemplation as it is for entertainment and with that perfect balance it becomes one of this year's must see films.
5 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
You Were Never Really Here
10 June 2018
I definitely need to get caught up with Lynne Ramsay's body of work. I saw her first film, Ratcatcher back when they played it at my local university film series back in 2000 and even though it has been close to twenty years since I saw it, I still remember the film and the impact it had on me. The film was done in Scotland, but within the first few minutes you will notice that there are English subtitles throughout the film and you might be wondering why as I did myself at the time mainly thinking that a film spoken in the English language would have no need whatsoever for subtitles that would also be in English. Within a short while within the film you will see that the dialect and accents of the characters are so thick and they will often use some slang, which I guess is more familiar to the residents there than it was to my Canadian ears. The film also showcased and brought to attention the sometimes downright grimy and filthy conditions that the characters were living in as well as the poverty that went with it. In many ways, Ratcatcher was an eye opening film because of it's frank and sometimes startling look at these all young characters who are living in slum like conditions and trying to make something of themselves and I remember being slightly disturbed while watching it and yet at the same time I could not keep my eyes away from it and even at the most uncomfortable, or disturbing scenes, I still found it to be a rewarding experience and a film that I will probably always remember even if I do not ever have the chance of giving it a repeat viewing. Ramsay has done only a handful of films since this marevellous breakthrough motion picture and I hate to say it, but the only one I have seen since is this new film, You Were Never Really Here, which certainly has a lot going for it as well, so if and when I get the chance, or find how available her other work is, I will for sure have to pursue it because she is certainly a gifted filmmaker whose talent has not worn off from her initial first outing of Ratcatcher, just shy of twenty years ago. You Were Never Really Here, is a different film altogether and comparing this to Ratcatcher, would be the equivalent of comparing water and oil, but the one thing that is consistent is the style of both films and what Ramsay does as a director which certainly takes a story that could very easily have gone wrong had this project ended up in the wrong hands and she gives us a film that is not just a film to see and forget, but more than anything else it is an experience and one that will touch you on several different levels and the professionalism of Ramsay and how she accomplishes this is truly nothing short of amazing for the previous film and this one too. This is a film very much in key with how to make a film that certainly will target not only your senses, but your emotions as well. Whether it be to the opening few minutes with it's powerful and hypnotic music score to the dark night street scenes that evoke a sense of unease and yet mystery and intrigue all the same. This is a wonderful example of a film that has a lot of style and yet does not lose it's substance in the process. It has a lot to offer as a visual experience as well as giving your brain a good work out and leaving you with plenty to chew on after the film is over. The storytelling style steers away from anything remotely conventional which to me was a refreshingly different take, while others will definitely lose patience and most likely interest in the whole thing, but your filmgoing audience who is after something more substantial and a break from your usual Summer fare will be much rewarded for sticking with a film like this. The style of storytelling certainly is unique and at the same time it never gives us easy answers for what we are seeing and there are times when what we are seeing we are not sure are real, or not, or possibly just an illusion, or hallucination. I commend the film for giving us something to contemplate and reflect upon rather than being a sell out and trying to downplay everything to appeal to a wider audience. Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the lead character is in my opinion one of the best working actors today and his performance here is often quiet with few words spoken, but what he converys by body language and behaviour is so expressive and we can tell that this is a character with much pain and torment inside him and he is truly fascinating not only to watch, but to study as well. The cinematography is beautifully captured by giving us shots of sometimes brutal, or unpleasant things to look at, but it was truly one of this year's best shot and looking films which also goes to the overall style of the film that comes across right away. This is an unconventional film that certainly has a lot to offer from a very gifted filmmaker whose other work I need to get caught up on and a cast and crew who truly do their very best and the result is pure movie magic.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Unsane (2018)
8/10
Unsane
26 March 2018
The fact that the new film, Unsane was shot completely using an Iphone may be something that would turn many a number of potential viewers away from seeing this film, but actually having now seen it, I can safely say that the camera work for this film is far and above the main reason to see it above anything else that it offers. Initially the idea turned me off as well as I was worried that it was going to be a handheld experience much like The Blair Witch Project, which I remember seeing in theatres back in 1999 having no idea of the handheld camera cinematography and the fact that the camera was seldom one steady clean shot, but instead was moving around all over the place and henceforth even after a brisk 90 minute running time I felt nauseated and sick for the rest of the afternoon and thankfully Unsane did not bring about the same type of experience because for me once was definitely enough for that. The cinematography here often feels focused and yet what it is able to capture often shows the drab and grungy conditions of the mental institution where the film takes place. Instead of just looking like a cheaply made film, I would argue that this only heightens the paranoia and unsettled feeling that the film is trying to convey because often we have great shots of these actors faces often with little to no makeup, or costumes, or anything glamorous and we can truly see their facial expressions from scene to scene and it is here captured better than I think it could have been with just a normal digital camera. Soderbergh our film's director also has his camera person do some interesting effects with this new type of filming including giving us some beautiful shots at nighttime as well as again heightening the paranoia of the film by allowing us to not only feel ourselves in the same mindset as the characters, but also giving the film a closer and more intimate feeling which I think makes the film all the more unsettling and further gives the effect of intensity as well as fear. Unfortuntately the film probably has no chance whatsoever for being nominated anywhere for it's truly genius camerawork, but instead it takes a film that is still a pretty good film on it's own merits and really does something a lot more interesting with it and truly elevates it to a film where you feel the fear, dread and the unsettled paranoia feeling that the main character is going through also. The film on it's own beside the fantastic camerawork is still a good film on it's own even though at times I would have to say that certain parts felt a bit uneven and some scenes played out longer than perhaps they should have been able to and there are some characters, or scenes that have been integrated into the movie and at times even with a short 98 minute running time they feel unnecessary and some scenes just make the film feel a little unbalanced and that it technically could have been a little bit shorter than it was, but as a whole the experience for Unsane was an interesting one and at first I wasn't so sure of the direction in which it was going and even as we the viewers slowly start to see what is going on, the film still has plenty of surprises to offer and it is the furthest thing from boredom that you can possibly imagine and some of the scenes of suspense it crafts here are actually pretty well done and quite effective and it certainly leaves one feeling unsettled and even a little shook up after walking out when it's over. Claire Foy who portrays the main characters does a very admirable job and even if at times we don't like her character because of her irritability, or arrogance we still find an attachment to her and can certainly feel her grief and frustration at the turn of events going on in front of her. It is a very passionate performance and I think that she nails it perfectly. The supporting performances are interesting as well even though some of the characters only appear for a short time and didn't always feel like they should have been there in the first place, but perhaps a slight script overhaul could have helped that, but basically the film runs and has a good pace even if slightly uneven at times. The look of the film is I think supposed to feel and embody a type of B movie thriller perhaps from the 1970's or around that time and the film succeeds with that on every level. I prefer a Steven Soderbergh film like this as opposed to say the Ocean's trilogy, or films like that because with this he is definitely taking more of a risk and it feels all the more original and worth our money for the admission. This is not a perfect film by any means, but it is still one of the most interesting ones I have seen as of late and for being bold and trying new things I would still definitely recommend it and commend this filmmaker to continue to prove that he is not just a predictable filmmaker, but has many a trick up his sleeve as does the film itself.
2 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread
21 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Phantom Thread, is an absolutely wonderfully detailed and observed film that I feel is an important film and even a very relevant film in today's world of Hollywood scandals of sexual harassment and abuse. What I am getting at here, or suggesting is not because of any physical, or sexual violence in this new film because there is none, but what I could keenly observe was a man's overbearing and dominant relationship (if one could call it that) over a woman, and again while there may be no physical, or sexual violence, there is still the damage of hurt feelings as well as countless other forms of damaged emotions and inner hurt that as we all know is still a form of abuse and is still painful and terribly damaging. One looks at Daniel-Day Lewis's character here, who is a man who seems very almost obsessive compulsive and routine to the point of almost being fanatical about how he lives his life. Everything has to be according to his schedule, or timing and if the tiniest thing even slightly irritates him, or takes away his focus from his work, or whatever it might be that he is doing, he either becomes cold to the point of being distant and almost getting pleasure out of seeing the other party be witness to his terrible bouts of mood swings and his ever changing mood which here seems to change as often as the weather. He is in many ways a quiet man and may even be classified as a genius in his line of work, but at the same time he is a control freak when it comes to his work and the events going on in his life and this also comes into effect here when a new relationship is brought into his life. Pretty much from his first couple of encounters with this new girl named Alma, Lewis's character Reynolds, seems to want to mold, or even conform her to a certain image that is not what the world, or society deems women to be, but instead how he things they should act, speak and behave and again because he has to have everything so rigid and to a very fine routine, this means that he not only more or less has a dominating role over Alma, but she has very little freedom to behave, or just be herself and instead must adapt to Reynolds every and any whim, or personal standard of status that he believes she should have. The sad thing is that at first, Alma completely goes along with this. Maybe because deep down she is a lonely and damaged person herself and maybe this is the only kind of acceptance she has ever received. Maybe she is afraid of losing the only relationship that up to now she has ever had. The dominance of Reynolds is equally fascinating and disturbing to watch and it immediately made me reflect on today's abuse of women in Hollywood which is in the media almost daily with new accusations of sexual assault against people pretty much weekly. This is a problem that I fear has been not only in Hollywood and the film industry for a long time, but also just in society in general where women are often under valued and even still today treated as sexual objects. The interesting thing about Phantom Thread, is that Alma doesn't put up with this attitude for too long and instead she starts to play Reynold's game right back at him and in a sense there is almost a feeling of trying to play games with each other till eventually both parties will be dominant, or acceptable to one another. It certainly is a fascinating character study and one well worth observing and I fear that not only in the period piece setting of this film, but even today, that unhealthy and destructive relationships like this still exist and how they are completely damaging and ruining people's lives because one member, or the other is too timid, or afraid to speak out against it. Paul Thomas Anderson has always proven how wonderful at bringing to the screen unique and well developed characters he is and this may be one of his most interesting and best to date. Day-Lewis, who says that he is retiring from acting after this role, gives what I think is one of the best performances of his already legendary career. With Reynold's observances of life and his tics, mannerisms and body language, Day-Lewis makes this a character that we both loathe and yet can not take our eyes off at the same time. It is truly this year's most well written and fascinating character and I would also call Lewis's performance as the best male performance of the year. The supporting performances by Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville are also fantastic as is the writing, direction and attention to detail. This is a film for serious film goers who love to study and observe people, places and situations and if you are a lover of character studies and deeply involving films, then you could not have a better film you could ask for and Day-Lewis ends his career with another honourable and wonderful performance that continues to prove he is one of our best living actors. One of 2017's best films.
5 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Sean Baker's The Florida Project
14 January 2018
Sean Baker's The Florida Project is an absolutely perfect if not maybe too painfully astute look at what is currently wrong with America today and what seems to have been a problem for far too long and yet little to nothing seems to have been done about it. And no, I am not talking about President Trump, or how he is residing over the country, or giving an overall favourable, or negative opinion on his presidency because that is neither here nor there and does not effect the purpose, or intent of this review one iota. I will just say that after this weekend's faux pas over things said in a meeting that were overheard and made public and these were not exactly words, or language that depict, or show the president in the best kind of light, but all I will add here is that if he wants to remain president and seek a second term, he will really have to be careful about the words that come out of his mouth, whether they be in public, or behind closed doors and that also includes being cautious and considerate about how you use and what you write on certain forms of social media, in this case the one with the cute little bird. There enough said and done. As for The Florida Project, it addresses the long standing issue of poverty in America, and shows an unflinchingly realistic portrayal of the lives of several people, particularly in focus being a young mother named Halley and herv daughter Mooney. People watching this film can come away with many different opinions, or theories based upon what they have just watched. I am personally of the opinion that Baker here is neither glorifying these people and how they live, or personally finding fault, or blaming them either. Maybe there stems a much deeper problem and issue here than what lies on the surface. There are examples of how the motel they live and can hardly pay rent for is one thing, but also how they have no real sense of how to spend, earn, or even save money. If money is so tight do you really need to go out and buy all those cigarettes you are seen smoking, because I do not know about America, but here in Canada they are heavily taxed and if you are anything even close to a chain smoker you probably blow a large part of your monthly income on the deadly and yet very stupid things. You can also look at Halley and her friends and instantly notice that they are covered from head to toe in elaborate tattoos that encompass their entire body. There is more of their body that is covered in ink than that is not. Again tattoos depending on the size and the elaborateness to them are not inexpensive either and again you are not really investing your money here in the best way. Halley also seems to be a person who unfortunately is her own worst enemy by having an extremely rebellious attitude towards any kind of authority, or just basically people in general. While Halley tries to scrape together some kind of income to afford the small room her daughter and her call home, Mooney is meanwhile out with her friends getting into all kinds of mischief just for the sake of doing it, including such things as vandalism, arson and even begging other people for money. Halley you can tell as much as is possible for her, truly loves Mooney and yet she is setting an absolutely terrible example for her by the way she lives her life on a day to day basis and when Mooney is reprimanded by the kindly yet firm manager of the motel named Bobby, Halley just shrugs it off and then seems to forget about it until more problems ensue and what begins as just harmless pranks become more and more harmful and Halley herself also seems to be spiralling out of control with both her temper, her wild lifestyle and just having no sense of self control, or knowing when to call quits on this destructive lifestyle that is not only damaging her, but also her daughter's image of a mother and role model is in very sore and sordid shape. One can argue that perhaps if Halley had continued on with her education, or perhaps done some volunteer work, or gotten involved in some extra curricular activities she would be a lot further ahead than she is right now, but the film asks the question of who is really to blame here. Is it always a government's responsibility to play nanny to it's citizens, or should the powers that be offer more in ways of incentives and encouragement and maybe even social programs to help out, so that these kind of problems don't risk the tipping point. Maybe also the individual needs to be a bit responsible for themselves and try to put their best foot forward in life and not be afraid to try new things to better one's self. There are no easy answers to these questions and yet poverty and the type of behaviour I have mentioned is still on the rise and it is definitely something that needs to be addressed one way, or another. The Florida Project is not always the most easiest film to sit through because of the very disturbing self destructive behaviour that is on screen in front of us. And yet, I was glad the film gave us a no holes barred look at the problem and allows us to think, pray and grasp about the problem at hand. This is a powerful film that should definitely be a wake up call to any and all people in government as well as to educators and parents as well. The performances here are the best of any film this year from mostly a crowd of new faces, but they all do such a fantastic job here and Willem Dafoe as Bobby, is one of my favourite, if not absolute favourite performance I have seen him in. A tender man with a good heart who also knows how to be firm and authoritative when he needs to be and yet he knows the trouble of those around him. This is a powerful film that will hit you hard whether you want that, or not, but there is no denying it's impact and the questions that arise from it. One of 2017's best films.
1 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Darkest Hour (2017)
7/10
Darkest Hour
1 January 2018
In reviewing Darkest Hour, I find it extremely difficult to write this review without making comparisons to this year's other film about Winston Churchill, simply titled, Churchill, starring Brian Cox in the leading role. The two different films have areas where sometimes they compliment each other and at other times it is as if they could not be any further distant, or opposite from one another. This same thing happened when back in 2005 you had Bennett Miller's film version of Capote come out telling the true story of writer and social figure, Truman Capote as he researches and writes his most famous book, In Cold Blood. The film was a smash with critics and was nominated for several Academy Awards including winning the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman the Best Actor Award for his uncanny and terrifically spot on portrayal of Capote. About a year, or possibly even less than that you had Infamous come out which starred Toby Jones as Truman Capote this time and yet still was about him conducting the interviews and even befriending one of the inmates on death role for the crime he committed which would later result in Capote's best selling book, In Cold Blood. I never saw the version with Toby Jones entitled, Infamous, but I remember one critic on television saying that of the two versions, Infamous was the one he preferred even though it got neither the awards, or media coverage that the earlier Seymour Hoffman film did. Is this always nescessary to have two films about a certain event, or person coming out in such short time apart from one another? And yet as I saw Churchill back in the Summer, and am now have seen Darkest Hour, in the days following Christmas, I have to make a distinction about which film is the better of the two and also which one I liked better in my opinion and I will go against popular opinion here and say that I actually preferred the Brian Cox film better for reasons which I will now elaborate on. The Brian Cox version of Churchill, I found to be not as technically polished, or shall I say that it did not come near as having the same financial backing, or behind the scenes talent that Darkest Hour did. You can tell right away that Churchill was more of an independent production whereas Darkest Hour probably cost a fair bit to make and of the two, Darkest Hour trumps it in terms of visual flare having what I consider to be some of the best cinematography, lighting and period piece attention to detail of any film I have seen this year. How the crew of Darkest Hour can set a tone and a mood just simply by it's lighting, or use of objects whether numerous, or few in a room was quite respectably and admirably done. The film was gorgeous to look at even though at times some of the scenes it was capturing were bleak, or the furthest thing you can think of away from the word 'gorgeous'. Also of the two performances, both were good, but Gary Oldman as Churchill in Darkest Hour, wins the prize here just as he most likely will on Oscar night as well. Everything from the miraculous make up and hair transformation of Gary Oldman into Churchill to his ravenous and empowered performance is the stuff that Oscar voters go for and truth be told it was an excellent performance. Brian Cox's performance used little to no makeup and yet while still a good performance on it's own merits, Gary Oldman's will be the one that is remembered. In terms of film structure and composition, Darkest Hour also overtakes the earlier film and you can tell that a much more experienced team worked behind it and they achieved what they set out to do and then some. So if Darkest Hour is visually a better film as well as technically structured better and has a better performance, why do I go with what is obviously the underdog between the two? I think more than anything it comes down to the fact that I overall found Churchill more of a pleasurable viewing experience and I was not only engrossed, but also fascinated by it's subject matter and for a fan of history as well as politics it was a satisfying night out at the movies. Darkest Hour on the other hand often to me felt very dry and at times it bordered on even being a bit slow, or dare I use the word 'boring'? It wasn't nearly as exciting, or as engrossing as the earlier film and I felt it also lacked emotion whereas it looked great, but there seemed lack of empathy at times and I do not think we got to know Churchill as well as we did in the earlier film where it often focused on his deteriorating health and on the rocks marriage as well. Darkest Hour feels more like a history lesson out of a really academic text book which is informative, but makes for a dull and dreary study session. Still both films have their merits, but of the two I have made my choice which I prefer and I am sticking by it. I am probably in the minority with my opinion kind of like that sole reviewer who preferred Infamous, to it's more awarded and decorated Capote, but in this case sometimes smaller is better and more effective.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Downsizing (2017)
9/10
Downsizing
27 December 2017
When, I first read that Alexander Payne, a filmmaker I have come to really admire and also enjoy the films of over the years was going to make a film about shrinking people and putting them into miniature societies, the whole thing sounded off to me and like it could not be any farther than his usual fare which for the most part is expertly done satires, or great characterizations about human beings in general to what can make them great, but mostly I think Payne likes to portray them more in a realistic light showcasing their warts and all and totally not shying away with showing the things that are downright unlikable, or even loathsome about them. Downsizing sounded to me more like an idea of a television sitcom that I would never even want to bother to sit through for 22 minutes plus commercials and the fact that the reviews coming out of various film festivals were for the most part pretty negative even more soured my opinion of the film and I more or less just thought that I would skip it when it came to my local multiplex theatre and maybe not even bother with it when it came to streaming. As the release date of the film came closer and closer, the reviews in a strong majority were mostly negative and I would have gone with my initial impulse to skip the film entirely, but then I read in a small blurb where Jonathan Rosenbaum (one of my most admired and also most influential film reviewers in my opinion) had posted earlier reviews of Alexander Payne films that he had seen and for the most part would give them a mediocre, or even a scathing review when it came to something like Payne's first film Citizen Ruth, as well as Sideways, which was a film I could not warm up to when I first saw it and although subsequent viewings have enhanced my overall opinion of the film, I would still consider Election, About Schmidt and Nebraska to have been his best work to date and his film, The Descendants, was to me a very immature and at times ridiculous film that I would consider his weakest, if not worst film to date and please keep in mind that I have never seen Citizen Ruth, in it's entirety, but I know Rosenbaum found it to be overly cynical and was overall offended by the film and it's crass depiction of subject matter considering whether to be pro choice, or pro life when it comes to a woman's pregnancy. Rosenbaum said in a quick little blurb that as of now, he considered Downsizing to be Payne's best work to date and as I usually agree and respect his opinion very much I overall gave in and decided to give Downsizing a chance even though I expected it to be more or less a sellout picture by Payne by giving in to Hollywood demands and standards and yet pleasantly I could not have enjoyed the picture more, or have been more wrong about it. The plotline about shrinking human beings and placing them into small communities just seemed to be a basic outline of the film that I would say does not even cover about fifty, or more percent of the film's plot, or running time. Instead we are given a film that gives us a lot to think about, be in some ways encouraged by and also a film that is as far from a commerical film that you could want and thankfully steers away from any and all sitcom like material. The film asks big questions about one's own meaning in life and what our actual purpose here is on this earth. Payne presents us with a character who has lost a lot in the process of becoming small, but at the same time by helping others by donating not just his time, but putting others instead of himself and overall showing great acts of love and charity, he not only discovers how good it makes him feel inside, but perhaps he has a bigger purpose in life than just looking after his own needs, but instead helping out those less fortunate than himself and this is what will truly anchor him in life and give him happiness. The film at times has some good laughs, but really it is more of a thinking person's drama which addresses the issues I mentioned above about own's own destiny and self worth, but it also takes a look at the environment and just how as a human race we truly do in a lot of ways need to focus less on ourselves and more not just on other people, but also where we live, breathe and call home as well. This is a film that tackles a lot of big questions and does it's best job to answer them, but in the end I found myself deeply moved by what I saw as well as thinking that although this is not marketed as a Christmas film, it perfectly fits the bill of a film dealing with one who gives selflessly and to help others and also just a celebration of who we are as human beings and the overall message to love and how giving is so much better than receiving. If you look at the real meaning of Christmas this is what it is all about and I don't know what Payne personally believes faith wise, but he has constructed a thinking man's film that as well as giving you much to reflect upon will also touch your heart and may just inspire you to do more with your life as well. I was so glad this film was entirely different from the trailers I saw and I hope people will give it a chance and see where this film will take them.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Lady Bird (2017)
9/10
Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird
9 December 2017
Greta Gerwig has more than earned her fair share of praise for her writing, such as scripts with Noah Baumbach like Frances Ha and Mistress America, and I find her a very warm and welcome presence in any, or pretty much all films that I see her in as an actress. She has a fine range of showing great humour and delivers and writes comedy and comedic moments very well, but she also has something about her and the films that she writes, or stars in that allows us to connect with her and just almost in a sense be around her and spending two hours, or an hour an a half with her is never boring, or a waste of time, but always these are very fulfilling and rewarding movie experiences and sometimes they can bring about great joy, or even cause you to reminisce about yourself and what certain situations were like for you that present themselves in her movies and often they can cause you to laugh, cry and even reflect, or look deep in yourself and for someone who looks for a little something more when I go to the theatre, I find these particular qualities worth very much and can instantly make a film a masterpiece in my mind. Having now just seen her directorial debut, Lady Bird, I am glad to say that everything I had just written above about her performances and her other writing credits can all safely be said for this new piece of work as well. Gerwig does not herself star in this new film and yet it is embodied with her charm and sense of self discovery and worth that most of her work brings about. Saoirse Ronan, who is a very great actress on her own, gives what I would consider to be the best performance of her very short, but what is sure to be a very lengthy career because how not just with this role, but previous ones as well, where she can totally immerse herself into any kind of character, or genre, so flawlessly and each time deliver a performance that can be subtle yet very powerful and here I think she gives a screen presence that shows just as Gerwig can deliver comedy, or comedic scenes, so can Ronan, and yet this is also a performance and film of great emotional depth and a film that requires much soul searching not just for the actors, but for us watching as well. Ronan captures what can be one of the hardest roles to nail down perfectly and that is playing a teenager and young adult who are trying to forge their way ahead in life and meeting any and all obstacles on the way. We see how at many times and stages of her life that she just wants to be noticed and accepted by those around her, from her peers to even winning the approval of her mother, who may seem distant and uncaring and yet loves her unconditionally, even if she has a difficult time showing it. We see how things for Ronan's character 'Lady Bird' as she calls herself is not always the most easy at home as her father who is a warm and deeply caring man is dealing with unemployment and because of this and other issues, has been dealing with depression issues for years. The household income is also a problem causing them to be extremely careful with their expenses and having the mother working at any and all hours and sometimes even double shifts to help care for her family. Lady Bird goes to a catholic school and yet seems to have no real exploration of faith, or any sense of a higher power, or belief system which is something that seems to change as she gets a bit older and also question the bigger and more important issues in life. There are the added pressures of fitting in at school, dating, sex and just trying to carve out her way and have a prosperous and rewarding future. Lady Bird has done many acts of rebellion and makes a lot of mistakes on the way, but this is also a sense of growing and yet after each fall she seems to pick herself up and eventually develops the emotional maturity and outlook that will get her not only through high school, but into the tricky stage of being an adult. Ronan's character brings about much joy and laughter and yet there are also times where we come close to tears and can identify with this character in more ways than one. The supporting performances by Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts, are moving and essential to this film. There were a couple of scenes with Metcalf, where her performance is so true and yet moving, I could feel tears building in my eyes, especially in a couple of select and yet beautifully moving scenes. Gerwig proves that she not only has the capability to act and write, but also to direct and put together a film that any young, or older person can identify with in some way shape, or form and is not only an enjoyable ride, but an enlightening and moving one that makes this film one that will linger long after you have watched it and is powerful enough to make you look at life and things a little differently. For this great sense of the human spirit and how great Gerwig masters writing what it means to be human, this makes the film a grand achievement that I think will only improve after repeat viewings. This is already an awards darling and expect it to continue to dominate any and all awards for very good reasons.
34 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
2 December 2017
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, is unfortunately a prime example of a case where you have a film dealing with real people and events that in the right and most capable of hands could potentially have turned into a riveting and overall fantastic movie given the fact that the overall subject matter and the real events and surroundings are fascinating in their own right and yet unfortunately the crew behind this film turn what could have been a truly mesmerizing film into a dull and ultimately lifeless piece of film. The film if you do not already know, is based upon the famous whistle blower who helped convict and later turned in secret evidence concerning then President Richard Nixon's association with the Watergate Scandal and how that ended his second term as President of the United States with him resigning as commander and chief which was probably a smart move because otherwise he would have been impeached. As anyone who is familiar with my reviews knows that I have a deep and passionate interest in politics and not just in my home country of Canada, but overall across the globe. I was not even born yet when Nixon was in office, or this whole scandal occurred, but I was nonetheless very familiar with it from my childhood days of reading old Doonesbury comic strips amongst the countless films and pieces of media that have been made upon the subject. The story and subject matter in itself is a fascinating one and was even made into the award winning, All the President's Men back in the 70's. And yet here the cast and crew do not seem to know how to approach this material and one of their biggest faults is turning what could have been an endlessly fascinating film into one of the most dull and I will say boring films of this, or any number of recent years. The film has a screenplay that seems to suffer from lack of ambition on all and every account. The film takes Mark Felt and makes him dull, boring and not a character who captures, or maintains the least amount of interest among the viewers. Neither do the side characters as well, they all feel very uninspired and in search of a better film to have been made about them. Most people probably know most if not all of the things that lead up to Nixon's resignation as well as the Watergate Scandal itself and this film manages to tell it in a way that seems to be flailing all over the place with no true direction, or end in sight. It takes what should be a simple and straightforward story and makes it jumbled and confusing which doesn't add much to the fact that the film is an outright bore in every other area. Even some subplots including Felt's missing daughter have no emotional impact, or any lasting interest upon the viewers because the characters have not been developed well enough for us to be invested in them, or care really one iota about what is going on when in fact in reality these were fascinating things and yet everything this film touches seems to be made wooden, lifeless and in bad need of resuscitation. I also can not give any accolades to the acting because it also is all over the place with some of the actors going too over the top with their performances, some who look like they are sleepwalking throughout the course of the film and others whose performances are so hammy that the Golden Raspberry Awards do not have to look far for some of it's worst performance of the year awards. One of the film's major problems is it's screenplay because it simply does not seem to know how to tell this story, to deliver a simple and yet effective plot line without making it all confusing and muddled and these characters all seem so one dimensional and we neither care about them, or what is happening to them and this is a film that is less than two hours in length and yet because it is so meandering and meaningless the film seems like it is coasting on autopilot for eternity leaving us sleeping in the backseat. This is a film that could have been potentially great in the right hands and yet as it stands it will remain a film that will not rouse even the least bit of interest and feels amateurishly done in the worst way possible. In other words, avoid like the plague.
7 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
The Man Who Invented Christmas
26 November 2017
The Man Who Invented Christmas, is an account whereas how much is purely fiction and how much is based on fact is completely unbeknownst to me, but it does make a very entertaining and at the same time heartwarming story of how author Charles Dickens came to write one of his most beloved stories, A Christmas Carol. The film takes place in the mid 1800's and Charles has just had a string of unsuccessful books and is badly in need of a bestseller and yet unfortunately he is currently having a bad bout of writer's block and no inspiration, or ideas seem to be forthcoming. As the Christmas season approaches and while Charles has various stresses as well as pressures of everyday life going on around him not only in his home and with his family, but with the mounting pressure of having to come up with the next big story and also find a way to pay the bills and keep the family afloat with some of their more lavish living and a new baby on the way as well. However as the tension builds, Charles eventually starts to get inspiration from the various people in his life from complete strangers he has chance encounters with to as well considering his own past and his relationship with his father. These spark ideas of a story set at Christmas and with various influences as well as based on the negativity and bitter spirit of those he meets in the street who seem to have much contempt and no empathy whatsoever of the homeless and the growing problem of poverty that surrounds the country, he then comes up with his lead character that will forever live on in infamy both on page and the screen with the name of Ebenezer Scrooge. Whilst Charles is trying to put the perfect story together, visions of the characters he has created narrate and show him visions of where the story should go as well as getting inspiration and insight from the everyday people in his life. This is not giving anything away, but we all know how the story eventually turns out, but an interesting side note to pay attention to is the creative process of writing and of Charles Dickens himself. Again, I have no idea how factual the information here really is, but like I mentioned earlier, it still makes for a very watchable and interesting film. Charles is plagued with writers block and at times he can be a ferocious beast to the ones around him including his own family and the people who serve and are loyal to him. Also whilst writing this new story and Scrooge coming to his eventual epiphany of living a different life than the cold, miserly and selfish one he once lead, this will eventually also touch Charles and elements of his own life and he will eventually come to the realization that perhaps he has been distant from his own family and loved ones and missed what is truly important in life as well as perhaps being just as cold and heartless as the character who he is writing. This is a perfect family film as it captures not necessarily the true meaning behind Christmas as few films really do, but it does show a sense of loving your neighbour and being kind to others and I think that in itself is a noble enough thing and something that will hopefully touch and shatter even the most hardened of hearts. We see how through his fictional character Ebenezer Scrooge, how he eventually learns more than anything else is how to love, be charitable and help your fellow man. Charles whatever he was like in reality makes an interesting counter point to the Scrooge character and drives home a valuable lesson here as well as making it's subject matter entertaining and well done technically as a film as well as boasting some excellent cinematography and it's attention to detail for that time period is exquisite and seems to have been excellently researched and developed. The acting is all very good here as well and allows for times of both laughter as well as more touching and humane moments as well. The cast who for me were mostly newcomers who I was unfamiliar with all do a serviceable job here and should definitely be commended on a job well done. As far as modern Christmas films go this is definitely one of the better ones to have come out lately and it succeeds not just because of the warmth it gives, but also championing the spirit of love and goodwill to your fellow man as well as being a film that is appropriate for the whole family and also one that all should enjoy. For these merits alone this film is one to see during this Christmas season and should be a staple on television as well on Christmases to come become it definitely has the potential to become a classic.
8 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Roman J. Israel, Esq.
25 November 2017
Having only directed this his second film as a feature film director, Dan Gilroy, continues to prove that he is not only a master at creating wonderfully diverse and original characters, but also bringing them to life with rich and detailed storytelling followed up by excellent direction of the events he is filming as well as getting great performances from those who he is working with. Now, I admit that when I saw his previous feature, Nightcrawler, back in 2014 that I had a few issues with it, mainly being Jake Gyllenhaal's performance as the hyper and manic lead character because I often found that the performance felt a little too gimmicky for me and felt more of a put on and as an effect than anything truly real, or concrete. I think I felt at times that there was no richness, or great character development of said character, but instead I felt that often at times the character and the film itself, almost found itself distancing, or even alienating itself from it's audience. In some ways this worked well giving the film even more of a mysterious and yet haunting ambiance which is I think what it was going for and yet while I respect Gyllenhaal very much as an actor, I would have to say that the performance to me felt more weird than truly wonderful. And yet there was still much to like with Nightcrawler including wonderful performances from Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed as well as boasting a wonderfully photographed film and capturing a dark and shady side of the news world and media as we currently know it and maybe has been for awhile. I would have to say that Gilroy definitely continues to grow both as a filmmaker and a writer and here with Roman J. Israel, Esq., he provides us with another character that at times may be hard to like, or even empathize with at times, but the big difference here as opposed to the last time as I found we had more development of this character both on an emotional level as well as giving critical analysis as to the things that he does and why he chooses the way he lives and ultimately what would lead to some of the major plot devices of the film. This is a character who is very socially awkward with mannerisms and other body language that always seems to come out at the most inappropriate of times and he isn't exactly the most delicate with how he speaks, or in what way he delivers his speech which through the course of the film has turned off more than one, or two characters. We see at the same time that this is a character of a very high intelligence quota who also has a deep sense of his own morals and what he considers to be right and wrong. The character goes through a number of life changing events and some are good and some definitely are not and we see over the course of time that the ideals and his high moral sense eventually become decayed and seem to fade away as he seems to lose faith not only in the people around him, but also society itself and how our times are certainly changing, but not necessarily in a good way. He eventually caves in and can not be the person he once was, or so we think, because deep inside this complicated and yet fascinating character still lies is very moral core and he will have to truly evaluate both what is important to him and how he stands as a person at the end of the day and maybe not all hope is truly lost. Gilroy as he did with Nightcrawler, again shows us a troubling side of human nature and has developed a wonderfully intricate and fascinating character of Roman J. Israel, and unlike Gyllenhaal's performance, I found here that Denzel Washington pulled off what must have been a tricky performance to nail, and yet he does so with the utmost skill and craft that this is I would say one of his best performances in a long time and it would definitely rank among his best of all time. It is so wonderful to see Denzel stepping away from big budget Hollywood fare and truly sinking his teeth into a rich and truly rewarding role and the fact that he also produced this film gives me even more reasons to celebrate him as an artist for a job truly well done. This is a film that deals with our moral actions as human beings and shows what is important to us and also as a society we have lost a lot of caring towards our fellow man and greed in a lot of ways has completely corrupted. The film still shows a glimmer of hope though and perhaps shows that in our counter cultural times there are still people out there who want to make a difference and change what they see before them. This is a film with one of the best performances, script and direction of this year and I hope it catches on with more viewers because this is definitely a film to see more than once and have rich and meaningful conversations about. It is truly refreshing to see a film like this in this day and age and I have no hesitation about calling it one of the best films of the year.
5 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
30 October 2017
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), is the type and kind of film that I am so glad exists and especially now in a time where we as film goers see stuff that rarely borders on the edge of brilliance, or has something new to offer, or say, it is truly almost a revelation, or a strong breath of fresh air when you get a film like this of this kind of quality and achievement. I have been a fan of Noah Baumbach's work since I first saw his 2007 film, Margot at the Wedding, and his screenplay credit which he shared with Wes Anderson, on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Over the years, I have caught up with most of his body of work and while there still remains a few films of his that I have not seen yet, I have to say that he is one of my favourite contemporary filmmakers and screenwriters which I think is really an honour especially in today's world of film when all you see coming out at the mainstream theatres are just countless remakes upon remakes, unnecessary sequels, or films based on comic books in where the source material is not something even as a child I would have been interested in. I have always been a firm believer that to have anything close to a great film you have to start with a great screenplay and go from there. Baumbach has consistently proved over and over again that he is a master at writing screenplays and fills them with his at times very cynical look at the world, but at times he also can be quite playful and infuse his films with such richly layered and wonderfully constructed characters that they just give his films so much humour as well as a wonderful and yet sometimes fractured look into the lives of families as well as taking an honest look into various kinds of different relationships and seeing what makes them grow apart, but also what strengthens them and the people in those relationships. Baumbach is a great observationist as he seems to be so in tune with people and can capture sometimes how as a human race we can be so incredibly flawed including times of selfishness, arrogance, pride, jealousy and a large swath of emotions that I think if anyone were to take an honest look at themselves, could easily find within not only themselves, but many people in our family and in our midst whether we be in a relationship with them, or not. This new film again takes the look at various members of a very dysfunctional family and at times we are laughing with the characters and sometimes at them as well. And yet, Baumbach seems to have a love for each and every one of these characters and they are not just written to be mocked, or made fun of in a negative, or overly critical way, but instead I think he is just showing the true side of human nature and how over time our true flaws and neuroses will eventually come out. With any family we see again the things that unite us, the things that tear us apart and then there are those times in between, but nevertheless with all the members various eccentricities and their own desires of what they think they need in this world to make it work for themselves, or at least somewhat in their favour, we see them openly and honestly and with his great use of characterizing people and giving them both a sense of humanity and great personality these characters feel rich and layered as well as so wonderfully real and at times, in fact most of the time it is an actual joy to watch them on screen and interacting with one another. Baumbach has toyed over the years with making bitter and cynical statements about family life such as in The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding and then later in his career he infused a lot of playful and fun qualities into his films such as Frances Ha, Mistress America, or While We're Young. I am happy to report that this new film has a great balance between the old and the new and being able to offer criticisms and things that this family has really got to work on as well as truly celebrating who they are as individuals and allowing us to laugh with them, cry with them and ultimately share their pains and joys all in the course of a two hour film which feels like a warm and yet very rewarding family reunion that for a change I was glad I was invited to. The Meyerowitz Stories, has one of if not the best screenplay of the year so far as well as the best performances I have seen of any film thus far this year. Everyone here truly goes above and beyond by enhancing the written qualities of these wonderfully written characters and really making them work. This is a film which is just so brilliantly observed and so true to life and for it's accuracy, and how we can not only relate to it, but also have a wonderful time watching it makes The Meyerowitz Stories, the best film of the year so far and another accomplishment in Baumbach's already impressive body of work. Also, I hope the fact that this is a film that was released directly to streaming devices will not hurt it's chances of being up for any major awards because each performance in here is so truly deserving as well as it's wonderful screenplay. I hope Hollywood and the Academy take notice now and anything that would prevent this from getting top honours would truly be a saddened case of a film being overlooked and something of this quality of calibre I hope is richly decorated come awards time.
1 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Victoria and Abdul
21 October 2017
Momentarily after the new film, Victoria and Abdul starts, there is a title card that humorously tells us that the story we are about to see is inspired by true events, at least mostly as the playful title word play suggests. As you will later discover having watched the film, this statement not only about the film, but what takes place and what did apparently happen in reality may in some ways be found to be humorous, as there is a lot of comedy and things to find amusing within this account, but at the same time there is also tragedy that is all the more disturbing because it is not caused by unforeseen circumstances, or events, but instead at the hands of your fellow human beings, who still after all these years have racist and xenophobic tendencies that as much as we may progress as a human race in some ways, these are things that are unfortunately still alive and well as much as we wish they weren't. The film which is as we later learn based on journals and writings of one of our main characters, chronicles the friendship between then Queen Victoria of England and a man named Abdul, who is living over in India, which is then under British rule because of colonialism and she is considered to be Queen not only of England, but also as an Empress of India as well. How a very humble and in many ways, simple person such as Abdul should come not only to meet, but also befriend Queen Victoria, when in actuality they are literally world's apart, I will leave to your viewing pleasure to see the story unfold before you. This is a friendship much to the exasperation of not only Queen Victoria's staff, children and fellow ruling members of the British aristocracy, but even to Abdul, who comes from an entirely different background, culture and world than what he is introduced to when he comes to England in the presence of Queen Victoria. Instead of being pompous, or even hateful because of the British rule in his homeland of India, Abdul willingly serves and also befriends Victoria, and the two of them really bring out the best of themselves and also each other. We see how Victoria, is getting in many ways feeble and frail because of her old age and in a lot of ways she has little to nothing in common with her own family, or the people who work beside, or under her. She is respected by them, but as the film moves along these other counterparts who are meant to be loyal, really just seem to be in it for themselves, and their own best interests are at the heart of everything they do. Abdul, as I mentioned is extremely humble and unlike the fellow ruling class at that time, he is a man that seems not only full of life, but also of joy. Often when we see him, he has a gigantic smile on his face that is almost infectious and he has an optimistic attitude at most if not any time and situation. Victoria is often tired, bored and grows weary of everything that sits in front of her and yet Abdul breathes life and energy into her and makes her not only love the life that she has, but to treasure the things in her life and also what makes this world so very precious indeed. They write together, he teaches her and they just generally have a wonderful connection and bond to one another that I can safely say that she had with no one else within her quarters. For the sake of the monarchy and power that was in her grasp, her fellow servants, family and monarchy all try to stop Abdul, and get him as far away from her as possible, but even when he is threatened he remains both loyal and the best friend that Victoria could possibly have. This is a story of a friendship which knew no boundaries and a love that may have tried to have been suppressed, but instead grew all the more because of it. And instead of hating, or ridiculing each other because of culture, or other background issues, they instead embrace what each other and their culture and world views have to offer. There is a lot of beauty and hope to be found in this film by witnessing this relationship and in a lot of ways there is a gentle and kind quality to this film. We also do witness as I stated earlier the evil side of mankind which is just as prevalent today as it was back then. The film falls a little bit victim of melodrama and some clichéd if not familiar territory in the second half, but it still holds up well as a film as a whole and is a beautiful story that needs to be told and also a lesson in acceptance and tolerance that everyone should see. The performances are all spot on and this is a film not only to inspire, but also as a valuable life lesson of acceptance and even love which I think will win over even the most hardened of hearts.
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Wind River (2017)
9/10
Wind River
9 September 2017
Wind River, is a film that certainly packs an emotional wallop and punch to the gut and will be sure to linger with you quite awhile after you have seen it. This is accomplished not just simply because this is a film and filmmaker in total control of their craft and just filling the project with emotionally rich and well developed characters, a haunting yet beautiful musical score and also a sense of tension as well as dealing with the grief and the hurdles that these characters have to go through as well as incorporating a message that because of it's resonance and truth now more than ever is sure to connect with many people who look at the news on a daily basis and know just generally about the true subject matter of this film. By divulging this I am not giving any spoilers away for this film, but it is indeed based on true events about a murder and rape outside of a Native American community to a young Native American woman. The film takes place and I assumed that actual events also took place in Wyoming, but as a Canadian who has never been to Wyoming, I can certainly tell you that missing and murdered Aboriginal women is nothing new in Canada and has dominated and been a big part of the news over the years and sadly decades even. The last federal election we had here in Canada, this was an issue that was brought up by the opposition parties against then prime minister Stephen Harper, who with his Conservative party seemed a little chilly if not downright cold on the matter where there was little to no follow up, or investigations to these murders and missing girls across our country. While, I generally do not consider myself to be a member, or fan of the Liberal party which is currently in power under Justin Trudeau, I do hope however that they follow up with their initial persistence during rounds of parliamentary question periods and look into these deaths and murders with not only more resources, but also funding and the proper authorities to follow through with it. Are these a case of outright racism against these girls, or are there more underlying problems that may have to do with it? Here in Canada as well as depicted in the state of Wyoming, here in this film, it shows the true and yet sad state of how society in many ways has failed it's Native population. I am not sure how publicized it was at the time, but these days you can find much information about the residential schools that these young Natives were sent to several decades ago and how these schools affected them severely psychologically and perhaps in many other damaging ways as well. I know that within the Aboriginal communities alcohol and drug abuse can be a major problem and I say this because as depicted with some of the characters in this film, I think a lot of these individuals have not only been discriminated against within their own communities, but also by the governments who have sworn to protect them and this unfortunately has led to communities and areas that are supposed to be well funded and taken care of, but instead there has been cases of corrupt leaders who are stealing money away from their own people not to benefit others, but instead to lavish themselves with yearly bonuses and fancy living. The homes were these people are living are often run down and dilapidated and are in no means safe to call proper homes, or should even pass the health bill for safe living. I feel that these individuals often feel like there is no hope for them and often society has shunned against them which has caused them to turn to suicide and other means of abuse to one's self including high volumes of not only suicide, but also of alcohol, drug use and in many cases it is no wonder that these poor people can not survive on anything less than their monthly welfare checks. Hopefully soon the governments both here in Canada and over in America, will realize what a national problem will be and already is and I hope they will be swift to act and actually accomplish something to greatly benefit these people. The film also deals with the subject of grief and loss which is something that I think any audience member who sees this film can agree with. It shows that time may go by, but these wounds are internal and we may come around eventually to accepting certain things, but we will always have that deep loss and void that perhaps only true healing can fix. This is a powerful film fuelled by a passionate and yet moving screenplay and anchored by terrific performances and direction. This is certainly a film to see and also talk about after and perhaps get involved, maybe even within your own community because this is a problem that needs to be addressed and ignoring it any longer will just escalate things to an even greater tipping point.
1 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Neighborhood (I) (2017)
10/10
The Neighborhood
19 August 2017
I find with each new Frank D'Angelo film that I see, that he continues to improve as a filmmaker, actor and I think most of all in this case, as a storyteller as well. People could easily find things within the film with both how it was made as well as structured to find fault, or criticism over and they may have some valid points, but I give D'Angelo credit because this is the third film of his that I have seen and I notice that he continues to improve and get better with his filmmaking, but most of all with his acting and storytelling. He has proved that he knows how to carry a film as an actor and he can be quite expressive when he needs to be and show a range of emotions to whatever the particular scene in question is needing. I have no faults whatsoever with his acting and I think he is gradually becoming a very solid actor and I would definitely be curious to see him in some projects that he didn't write, or direct himself because I think that he definitely has the capability and talent to star in films by other directors and still pull off passionate and effective performances even if he was not the one doing the film itself. Here again as the other two films that I have reviewed of his, he has gathered himself with a lot of actors who are not usually in the spotlight, or receive a lot of due notice when it comes to other Hollywood stars who get both more publicity and more fame and glamour as well. And yet I find that he always has had a good supporting cast within his films. Some performances definitely hold the picture in place better than others, but most of these performers definitely can also carry a film and should be given a second look when it comes to casting agents for major as well a minor film roles as well. Here some of the acting is very impressive at times, especially from some of the more season and experienced actors, but generally everyone here puts their best foot forward and achieves what needs to be done and then some. D'Angelo's directing could use a tiny bit of fine tuning here and there when it comes to framing shots as well as having a more coherent and steady flow with both the story as well as moving from scene to scene, but these are just minor faults and did not detract away at all from my overall enjoyment of the film and I truly did enjoy it very much and I only mention these constructive criticisms because I know that D'Angelo will continue to perform well and master his technical abilities behind the camera and I know that he will just get better as times go on and I hope that more people will not only discover his films, but that they will have wider releases as well as more reviews and talk of them in public and in the media. I think he is quite good as a storyteller and one thing that has impressed me in all three films, but is truly standalone here is his sense of good dialogue and how to write interesting characters. In his film Sicilian Vampire there was a lot of back and forth banter and humorous although foul at times conversations between the main stars, particularly the male characters and I find that he has a good sense of how to write characters with good camaraderie as well as having interesting discussions and the odd foul joke as well. The dialogue he has and the actors who pull it off very well, make it feel very natural and breezy and it truly is a great delight to watch it because it is written well, performed well and just makes for compelling viewing as well. Some of the themes he touched on in earlier films can find their way back here and yet the story feels quite original at times and I truly found myself captivated not just with the various goings on of the plot, but also with it's interesting characters as well. As those who have read my reviews before know, I am not a huge fan of crime, or gangster movies because I find that too often they fall into the same category and can feel clichéd, or if you have seen one film you have seen them all. However this film with it's sharp dialogue and truly fascinating characters and storyline truly captured my attention and didn't let go till the end credits rolled. I appreciate that this is a smaller film with a more minuscule budget and yet it makes up for it with it being a more captivating and engrossing film than most in it's genre and again some of the actors here really do a terrific job pulling it off. There is violence in the film, but it is very tastefully done and not done to excess, or to be offensive which I for one could really appreciate. I continue to be fascinated by D'Angelo's new films and as far as the ones I have seen go, this one is definitely my favourite and in my mind his most skilled accomplishment yet and I dare say one of my favourite films of this year. I look forward as always to see what he will do next because I think he is an auteur to watch who keeps getting better all the time and that is an great triumph in itself. See this while it is playing near you and give it a shot, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
2,066 out of 2,072 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The Glass Castle
16 August 2017
I remember reading Jeannette Walls' memoir back in 2012. A good friend had given it to me as a gift because he himself had read it and liked it very much and thought that I would too. At the time that I read, The Glass Castle, it was either the Fall, or Winter of that year and I remember that during that year I was dealing particularly with some unwanted anxiety and depression issues which were mostly situational issues and yet nevertheless they were there. As, I read this memoir, I found myself appreciating it and yet perhaps because of the fragile emotional state I was in where any little thing could bring about a strong anxiety attack, or racing thoughts, I found the book a difficult read not because it was overly academic, or anything of that kind, but instead because of the high emotional intensity of the book and the themes that the book ran on which in this case was a true story about a girl growing up in an extremely dysfunctional family. I remember whilst reading the book that I became almost exasperated at the two parental figures in the book and why they chose two live the way they did and why so much trauma and difficulties were thrust upon their young children at such a young and impressionable age. I haven't read the book since then as usually I will finish one book and then jump right into another with me very seldomly returning to a book to reread it, but one thing that stuck out about the book to me and it becomes even more apparent now that I have seen the film version of The Glass Castle, is that basically we are dealing with two parental figures who for reasons either of their own choosing, or perhaps some like other things were maybe situational as well. Needless to say they did not want to live a swanky, posh lifestyle and give their kids everything handed to them on a silver platter. These kids really had to witness a lot of difficult and what I would consider traumatic life changing things as they were growing up in the Walls' family household including alcoholism, poverty and going without daily necessities such as food as well as the fact that their father, Rex, could almost be really friendly and warm one minute, but in the next be the exact polar opposite and could come on strong, intimidating and even down right scary and mean. The alcohol he consumed any chance he had probably did not help this and there were often many family arguments and things that could get so tense and uncomfortable that you could probably cut the thick dense air around them with a butter knife. One element that is really rewarding to watch amiss the dysfunction is how these young kids really stuck together and would defend one another and more, or less made a pact between one another to always be there for each other because I think that even at a young age they knew that their family dynamics were not in the least bit what you would call "normal" and that to survive that they would have to make it on their own and be self sufficient and be able to provide for themselves and also each other. While, I was at times incredulous with these two parents while I read the book and also watched this new film, I have to say that the film also gave the story a new light to the subject in my eyes as while it showed the unhealthy living conditions of this family and what to most children would have caused irreparable psychological damage, the film also shows us that while living like this certainly wasn't easy for any of them that because of their surroundings they all grew up to be perfectly functioning and capable people who were not hindered because of their upbringing, but instead grew all the more strong because of it and truly learned to persevere and stay strong in the midst of whatever storms came their way. The film also showcases that while Rex Walls in particular was a terrifying figure at times and a true nonconformist and yet he had his own personal demons and troubles to deal with and even if he had an odd way of showing it, he really did love these kids with all his heart and that no matter what happened nothing would change that. And, I think also as the kids became adults they could put aside the troubling and bad times and remember everything that was good because there were certainly those moments as well. This film version of The Glass Castle, is top notch in each and every way possible and while it can not include each and every moment of the book, what it does leave us with is quite memorable. The acting here is beyond phenomenal from the young child actors to greats like Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, who I sincerely hope are both up for Oscars for their powerful and moving performances. This is a film that hits you quite hard emotionally, but at the same time is a completely rewarding experience that made me appreciate the book even more, but also gave me a different look at this family and dysfunction in general with even a sense of acceptance and love towards this family. This is the most powerful and moving film of the year so far and also with the best performances so far this year. A true masterpiece in each and every sense of the word.
13 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Detroit (2017)
10/10
Detroit
6 August 2017
While sitting through the new film, Detroit about the Detroit riots from 50 years ago and also what happened afterwards at The Algiers Motel, which could be described in no other terms than extreme police corruption, intimidation as well as flat out abuse of power and racism, it left me pondering as I sat in my theatre seat about how exactly I would rate this new film in my review for it and what also I would say about it. The problem proves to be a perplexing one because as one who reviews films would know, you basically have to review a film on a number of different levels and looking at several sections of criteria and merits within the film to give the film a proper rating and overall review. If, I was to look at this new film as someone who is overall judging the technical achievements, or faults within it when it comes to things such as direction, writing, cinematography, acting and just overall how this new movie was made I have to say with great and precise determination and praise that it far excels in each and every one of these levels of craft and overall filmmaking. There really is no weak link here because everything on a technical as well as skilled level is just done so well here and everyone both in front of and behind the camera has achieved true greatness with this film and I think however you felt about the film after you came out of viewing it, I think few people could say that it was poorly made, or even the least bit amateurish because nothing could be farther from the truth. It is probably the most skilled and polished piece of work I have seen thus far this year as far as sheer craft, technical ability and overall filmmaking talent goes. So why am I hesitating and not just singing the film's praises repeatedly over and over? My main problem lies not so much with the film's subject matter, or what it is about, because even though I am sure that there was much fabricating and the writer and director took a certain amount of liberties when telling this true story and even within the end credits it admits that some, or maybe more than we think of what we saw was up to the writer and director involved because some things that would make the film more coherent, or just that much more effective as far as storytelling goes was added, or dare I say made up to make things a bit juicier, or probably the best word I can use here is 'shocking'. I realize that to make a film powerful and overall to have a great affect upon it's audiences you have to leave your viewers sometimes with strong emotions, or a sense that what they just saw was powerful, or moving, or whatever adjective best suits the film in question. This is a story that definitely needs to be told to shame both the police force and attitudes of the law enforcement in this particular situation, but also raise questions about one's own moral duties, or questioning inwardly about what we ourselves would do in these particular situations. To film a story like this, I realize that to capture it authentically you do need to show some violence and brutality up to a certain point as well as both scare and perhaps even provoke your audience into some kind of fear, or tension to really get the mood across about what you are displaying on screen. On the other hand, I felt that while this film needed to be forceful with it's approach that it crossed on my levels what is appropriate and after awhile the language as well as the violence seemed to not just border, but over engulf itself by being far too excessive with it's use of screen violence and language that at times it was not only a turn off, but also quite unsettling as well. I realize the filmmakers really wanted to pack a punch with this story and the overall product and they certainly achieved that, but perhaps going to this far an extent was not necessary in my opinion and I feel that in the meantime they are going to turn off many potential viewers of this film and may even cause more sensitive audience members to leave the theatre in disgust. I feel that to make a film effective you do not need to resort to these type of tactics to get a response from your audience and again here it feels excessive and almost like it was trying to attack and manipulate the audience. However as far as technical achievements go this far far surpassed all my expectations on that level, so I am giving it a perfect rating for that alone as well as the fact that this is a story that needs to be told even if it would have been just as effective, or preferable if they toned down the brutality a notch. Overall you be the judge, but be forewarned.
7 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Big Sick (2017)
10/10
The Big Sick
18 July 2017
I think that it can be safely said that pulling off a great, or even a good comedy takes a lot of talent and a lot of hard work because you not only have to appeal to a small base, but in order to make a successful film work, usually it has to be fairly accessible and you have to have strengths within the film to propel it along such as great comedic delivery by your actors as well as having a razor sharp script, or a least a script that knows how to both tell a good story and yet be very humorous in the meantime. There have been many great comedic films over the decades and some would probably fall into my own brand of comedy that I personally favour which would tend to be a bit drier, or have a least some kind of observational, or even neurotic, or self deprecating humour involved in it. Unfortunately a lot of the comedies today, or at least what is considered to be on everybody's radar, or considered "the next big thing" usually escapes me as today's sitcoms on television I can't stand and it leaves me missing the great comedic legends such as the television productions of Norman Lear in the 1970's such as All in the Family, Maude, Good Times and One Day at a Time. These were shows that knew how to tell a good story, were downright hilarious at times and also what I think was really fascinating was how those shows captured both the mood and events of the times that they were portraying. Such as political opinions, racial attitudes, poverty and the list goes on and on. I wish today's shows and movies too would learn, or take a page from these old shows and make a biting yet fascinating look at today's world and the events going on instead of just endless jokes involving profanity, scatological humour, or things involving, or around perversity. This new film, The Big Sick proves to be the new reigning champion in today's comedy film because it works so successfully on a number of different levels. It accomplishes the task of being a comedy because it is at times very funny and there were several laugh out loud moments during the film and also some small moments where I laughed inwardly and probably had a big smile on my face. The film kept the crude jokes and language to a minimum (yes, they are still there, but not thankfully the main goal of the movie) and instead it uses these very witty jokes alongside telling a story that when you come right down to it is a story of great depth and a truly insightful and yet honest look at modern relationships and just love in general. The film tells a good comedic story and has lots of laughs, but yet it also pulls off the tricky balancing act of adding drama and even some sadness into the mix with this comedy and yet it all feels so natural and like these events could be going on in our very own lives (probably with a few variables here, or there), but the film successfully allows us not just to laugh at these characters, but also allows us to empathize and feel their sadness, joy, grief and a whole gamut of emotions throughout the course of the film's running time. The film is based on a true story of it's main star Kumail Nanjiani and he also co-wrote the film with his wife, Emily V. Gordon and we cheer for these two during the course of the film and even if we have a sneaking suspicion of how it will all turn out, it still allows for plenty of moments of both laughs and sometimes coming close to tears as well. The Big Sick also commendably shows relationships and finally gets the message across to audiences that today people truly do take relationships too flippantly where there really sometimes does need to be some effort involved and when we as people engage in one night stands, or brief affairs, is that really love, or does it just end up hurting us and making us all the more vulnerable in the end? We as people need to evaluate our relationships and what we think about love and what it truly means to have a healthy and functioning relationship. As with anything worthwhile this can take work and a fair bit of effort, but I think most people can tell you that the end result is worth it. The acting by the main stars and supporting are amongst the best if not the best performances by an ensemble cast I have seen so far this year and the writing by Gordon and Nanjiani has depth, laughs, sadness and true heart to it that not only makes it a true winner as a comedy, but in a range of different categories and one of the most perspective and yet also effective looks on relationships and love to come out in awhile. Truly one of this year's best films.
45 out of 86 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A United Kingdom
1 July 2017
A United Kingdom, is truly a fascinating film and the fact that it is based on a true story only enhances both the power and the overall affect the film has on it's viewers. This is a good example of a film that is very rarely made these days and yet when you get a film of this kind of quality and yet also a film that is truly inspiring and also leaves you cheering and elevates your mood while watching it, these are all the signs of a truly well done piece of art. The film also feels classic as it is also very tastefully done and there is really nothing here that is offensive, or that young viewers would not be allowed to see and it just shows that in today's culture and way of looking at things that you truly do not need excessive language, sexuality violence, or any kind of various depravity and or, immorality to tell a good story, or to make a film in any way more appealing, or commercially successful. Unfortunately as A United Kingdom, was originally released in theatres several months ago, it was not a big box office success which is truly a shame because I think if it had been more heavily advertised that you would have had more people going to see it and perhaps also people who normally stay away from theatrical motion pictures these days who will actually come out and see a film like this because of not only it's wholesome qualities, but also the fact that it is telling a story that is not only riveting, but powerful and inspiring all the same. It truly makes what comes to the theatre on a weekly basis look like absolute junk because as said earlier this film does not need to sink down into depravity, or offensive content to tell an interesting story and to tell it very well. The acting here by it's two leads is fantastic and I have enjoyed both David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike in various other roles as well and here they continue to prove what great and versatile performers they truly are. And with Oyelowo with films such as Selma and The Butler, both of which I had a few issues with, I do truly have to commend him over his choice of roles as he does not seem like the kind of actor who will sell out, or do a film that is offensive, or vulgar, but instead he seems to choose films that in their own way are both inspiring and gives the viewer a lot to think about. He also plays characters that seem to be good role models and characters who not only respect themselves, but also the people around him and I think he is truly paving a great way for younger actors and those who just like to watch films with roles of truly commendable characters and people and I think that is more rewarding then say playing in a silly box office hit, or degrading himself by starring in offensive, or lewd pieces of work. A United Kingdom, is generally a very moving film that chronicles in the late 40's as well as 1950's, the kind of racism that was going on both in Europe and around the world as well. Often you look at the characters and the oppression and hatred these two leads experienced just because they were a couple of mixed race and I truly was horrified at times while I witnessed not only acts of violence and words of hatred directed towards them, but also the level of ignorance and bigotry within my fellow human beings and the fact that this story is true and all these events happened is a depressing thought at first, but then when you look at how everything turned out and how these two people persevered even at the most difficult of times and facing oppression and hatred both from forms of government to their very own family members to the point where they truly proved that a dedicated couple who are sworn to each other and who never give up on one another will truly achieve great things and that they will find their happiness. The supporting players here are all excellent as well and the writing is good because of how it deeply explores the issues of hatred we have towards each other and the levels and lengths we unfortunately as humans will go to see that it stays that way, but it also shows that love and acceptance truly will overcome and nothing is ever so bleak that it can not find it's way out of it's troubles. This is a film that not only should be seen by young people, but will be a film that I think will truly be embraced by audiences who unfortunately didn't see it the first time. Now is your chance which I hope you won't pass up.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Churchill (2017)
10/10
Churchill
24 June 2017
The new film Churchill, is an account of several days during Winston Churchill's role as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and it especially takes place when the United States and other allied countries decide to set up an attack as this is right during the second world war and yet Churchill himself wants to be a great leader and put an end to this war, but at the same time he does not know if the plans laid out for defeating the Germans are perhaps the best laid plans, so he struggles both inwardly and outwardly in the course of a couple of days to make a decision not only for himself, but for the people who put him into office and the rest of the world. I always love a good political, or historical biography and over the past ten years, or so, I would definitely say that this film could be counted among the best of them. The film has several things that really propel the film along and one of the best things it has going for it is Brian Cox's portrayal of the man in question. I have always admired the acting of Brian Cox over the years and sometimes you see him in so many films, but unfortunately you often forget what you have seen him in because he is more of a character actor who usually plays supporting roles, but he almost always is great in the roles he has been assigned and as his role as Churchill, he plays the role to perfection. I am quite sure that there was some makeup and facial reconstructing to get Cox to look as close to Churchill as possible and that was pulled off quite well I think, but other than at times looking like the man, he also seems to embody him with his strong screen presence in this movie as a man who is often very passionate about what he believes in which can lead to him sometimes turning off those around him, or often there are scenes where Winston is shown ranting and raving, but it is the farthest thing possible from any kind of lunacy, but instead is because of how deeply this current second war as well as the first has affected him and how his leadership of the country is not just something he puts on the back burner and lets someone else decide the big decisions for him, but instead he wants an opinion and decision on each and every thing that is going on and you can safely say that it was his life's mission to put the people first and to do what was right for them while in office. Cox's passionate performance elevates and accentuates a powerful and very passionate man who was known for fits of rage and truly being steadfast and sometimes stubbornly unmovable when it comes to the things that he believes in. You will often see Winston walking around, sometimes pacing back and forth with a large cigar in his mouth and he is deeply perplexed and sometimes troubled to the very core of his being as to what to do about situations, with the war being the biggest thing, or one of the biggest challenges he has ever had to face in his years as a prime minister. His wife sometimes gets completely exasperated with him and you can tell that it is not a perfect marriage in any way, often because Winston seems to put his job ahead of the jobs and duties of being a husband and in this regard he truly does put his wife secondary and often himself as well to the various things going on at the time. Churchill's mannerisms and overall social behaviour could be described as a little rough around the edges, but as the saying goes I think that often his bark was worse than his bite. The film does play out quite in a fascinating way both as a character study, a work of history and world events and also the world of politics and geopolitical goings on. I have heard and read some feedback where people have claimed that this new film has taken on quite a few artistic and other liberties with the events they depict in the film and even with Churchill himself. As to all the nitty gritty and deep historical facts to the film and the events and people they are based on, I truly have to play dumb as a lot of this is stuff from grade school history class that I would need a refresher course on to say how accurate, or inaccurate it is. As a film though and as a piece of entertainment it passes with all flying colours and is a great achievement in the field of acting as well as depicting a public figure and history and making it riveting and truly memorable and that is at least worth the price of admission.
14 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

Recently Viewed