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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 8:17 am
by MaxWilder
Big Magilla wrote:Donna Rice, Hart's squeeze for the weekend, comes off as a bimbo who, contrary to the evidence, wants to be taken seriously as a pretty girl with a brain.

It was very strange how they presented her. She's deliberately hidden from us at first. We only see her from behind on the boat and again when she's followed at the airport. I thought their intention was, "Once you see her, you'll understand why he risked his future." Nope! We get to the big reveal and Sara Paxton, a very pretty girl, is a crying mess in a deeply unflattering wig. Were we supposed to think the opposite: she's why he threw it all away? I couldn't tell you. As you said, misfire from beginning to end.

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 6:04 am
by Big Magilla
Sound mixing was only part of the problem with The Front Runner.

The screenplay was poorly constructed. It wastes the first thirty-seven minutes of the film on boring meetings and press conferences instead of building a case as to why we should care about Gary Hart who is presented as an arrogant, self-centered jerk with nothing to distinguish him from other candidates other than his nice hair which doesn't look nice at all in the wig they gave Hugh Jackman to wear.

Donna Rice, Hart's squeeze for the weekend, comes off as a bimbo who, contrary to the evidence, wants to be taken seriously as a pretty girl with a brain. Hart's wife comes across as a total doormat even in Vera Farmiga's capable hands. The blurb at the end of the film that Hart and his wife are still together begs the question, why?

This was a total misfire, bad from beginning to end.

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:12 am
by Precious Doll
MaxWilder wrote:I watched The Front Runner. Worst sound mixing of the year. Apparently Jason Reitman interprets 'Altman-esque' as 'make your dialogue near-impossible to understand.'


I noticed that at the beginning of the film and thought of Robert Altman straight away :roll: . Did it continue all the way to the end because I don't recall it going on maybe I just stopped noticing it. There is a good film at the very least buried in The Front Runner but Jason Reitman, like his father, generally reduces almost everything to a basic superficial sheen. Hugh Jackman's wig was very distracting too and its hard to muster up enthusiasm for a film that wastes Vera Farmiga.

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:46 pm
by anonymous1980
THE RIDER
Cast: Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Cat Clifford, Lane Scott.
Dir: Chloe Zhao.

A young man who has a passion for riding horses and works as a horse trainer and rodeo rider gets a debilitating brain injury. He struggles with the fact that he may never ride again. This film reminds me one of the reasons I love cinema. It allows me to take a glimpse and put myself in the shoes of people who are far different from me and live a far different life. Writer-director Chloe Zhao is a very empathetic filmmaker, based on this one film. It really makes you feel for this young man and get you into this world. The film is almost a biographical since the lead of this film is in the exact same situation as his character with whom he shares his name and he gives a very natural, assured lead performance, amazing from someone who has never acted before. This might make my final Top 10 of 2018.

Grade: A-

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:07 am
by MaxWilder
I watched The Front Runner. Worst sound mixing of the year. Apparently Jason Reitman interprets 'Altman-esque' as 'make your dialogue near-impossible to understand.'

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:28 pm
by dws1982
Custody
Seems, at first, like a two-sides-to-everything divorce drama about two divorcing parents who use their kid to get back at each other. But it ultimately takes a turn in a different direction. It's not exactly an unexpected turn--the groundwork was laid, even in the first scene--but there's still an elements of surprise because Xavier Legrand has been so good at handling all of the tensions and relationships and perspectives. And then near the end, when it takes another turn, it's both surprising (because we hadn't quite expected this) and in keeping with the groundwork that he had laid with these characters and relationships. The kind of balance that Legrand achieves here is really impressive, and it's just an all-around top-notch film, from the shots and edits to his use of actors. (The kid is really impressive; a lot of what he has to do is reaction, but it's really good.) It's currently free to watch on Amazon Prime in the United States. Very much worth watching.

Thunder Road
The story is fairly standard--a small-town man having a meltdown after some personal tragedies--but Jim Cummings (writer, director, editor, leading man) doesn't take a standard approach. Like Custody, it has some pretty big shifts in narrative and tone. Whereas those shifts in Custody were pretty smooth, these shifts feel abrupt and out-of-nowhere at times which, to be fair, is something that Cummings intends, and I think that these abrupt shifts fit with the story and the character at its center. This is a story about someone who is only holding things together from moment to moment, and when it falls apart--as it does several times--it's as uncomfortable as hell to watch. I don't really know exactly how I feel about this--it's a movie that almost defies the binaries of "good" and "bad" or "excellent" or "flawed" that we try to put on films. Even within the confines of a story you've seen variations on in the past, this is still very much its own thing made by someone who is playing by his own rules. Like I said, I'm not sure how I feel about this exactly, although I am definitely very interested to see what Cummings does next.

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:12 am
by anonymous1980
VICE
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Jesse Plemons, Eddie Marsan, Justin Kirk, LisaGay Hamilton, Lily Rabe, Bill Camp.
DIr: Adam McKay.

A biopic of sorts which chronicles the rise of Dick Cheney, the infamous Vice-President who basically pulled the strings on the War in Iraq and other atrocities committed under the Bush administration and its ripple effects still affect us to this day. This is less a movie and more of Adam McKay's woke liberal cinematic essays that he also did with The Big Short. That's not to say it's bad but it's much wildly inconsistent here with its weird, distracting editing and its mish-mash of wanting to be a comedic satire and a straightforward serious biopic. There are good moments. Christian Bale looks so much like Dick Cheney, it's almost uncanny. While I agree with its politics, the film doesn't say anything I don't already know or already on board with. It's fine but it doesn't offer anything insightful like it wants us to believe.

Grade: C+

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:26 am
by anonymous1980
GREEN BOOK
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini.
Dir: Peter Farrelly.

Purportedly based on a true story. It's the early 1960's and Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip is hired to be a driver/assistant/bodyguard to renowned African American pianist, Dr. Donald Shirley as he does a concert tour in the Deep South. Ever since this became a Best Picture Oscar front-runner, this has been the target of a lot of controversies. From its charges of historical inaccuracy to the off-set antics of its makers down to the criticisms of its treatment of racism, I've heard them all. But forget all about that. What is it really? It's a funny, sweet buddy road comedy with a couple of likable performances and its heart in the right place. Lots of think pieces have already been written how problematic this is. While I understand that, I didn't think it was all that bad. Best Picture material? No. (But I think it would've won easier if it had been released, say, 20 years earlier). As it is, it's a pretty good film. I prefer Peter Farrelly's more broad stuff though.

Grade: B.

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:12 pm
by dws1982
Free Solo
I mentioned this a little bit in the Unseen Oscar Nominees thread. I'm glad I saw it in a theater, on a big screen, even though I had mixed feelings about the movie itself. The climbing footage, where you see the vastness of the landscapes in contrast with the smallness of one man, is really impressive. I wish there were more of it, and on DVD, where the climbing footage is less striking, viewers will be left with a fairly standard documentary with a truly inscrutable subject at its center. I don't understand Alex Honnold, even a little bit, and while there's nothing wrong with having someone like this at the center of a documentary, the film and filmmakers are a little too awestruck and uninterested in delving into what leads Honnold to take up this hobby in what is ultimately a very selfish quest for personal stimulation. I thought going in that this might be a winner for Best Documentary at the Oscars, and I guess it's possible, but I wonder if voters, especially those who watch it on DVD, will be as put off by the protagonist as I was.

The Old Man and the Gun
David Lowery is another one that I don't understand. He clearly has talent, and even vision--his movies are clearly not the work of someone just going through the motions to cash a paycheck. But my goodness, what an unusual (and uninteresting) group of films he's used his talents to make. It's well-made, well-shot, and well-acted. But there's just so little substance. Personally, I would've preferred it to make the Redford character a supporting one, and focus on Sissy Spacek's far more interesting character, a lady who, for whatever reason, decides to take a chance on Redford's character. It's a different, better movie when she's on screen.

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:23 pm
by anonymous1980
THE MULE
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Pena, Dianne Wiest, Andy Garcia, Ignacio Serrichio, Clifton Collins Jr.
Dir: Clint Eastwood.

An elderly man runs into financial trouble and decides to act as a mule for a drug cartel. This is said to be Clint Eastwood's final film at least as an actor. I hesitate to say he ended his acting career on a high note, but I will say he ended on a decent, respectable note at least. For a film which could have played this story, which is based on a real incident, as an action thriller or even as a comedy, it's a surprisingly straightforward and subtle human drama. Though far from Clint Eastwood's best directorial work, it is a return to form to what he does best.

Grade: B.

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 9:28 am
by anonymous1980
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Jane Curtin, Anna Deaveare Smith, Stephen Spinella, Ben Falcone.
Dir: Marielle Heller.

Based on the true story of a rather misanthropic writer Lee Israel, once a successful biographer but now currently unable to pay her bills, decides to forge and sell letters allegedly written by famous writers. Hearing this premise and hearing who was cast in the role, at first I thought this was going to be a laugh out loud broad comedy and yes, a lesser filmmaker could have mined this premise for laughs. Although there is still some humor in it, it is, in fact, a drama. Melissa McCarthy absolutely blew me away in this. She gives this rather unpleasant character so much humanity that you can't help but empathize with her. She's more than just that loud actress. Matching her is Richard E. Grant who, likewise, does the same with his character and they work so well together. I wasn't a big fan of director Marielle Heller's previous film. This is so much better.

Grade: B+

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:55 pm
by anonymous1980
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Michael Beach, Brian Tyree Henry, Teyonah Paris, Aunjenue Ellis, Diego Luna, Dave Franco, Emily Rios, Pedro Pascal, Ed Skrein, Finn Wittrock.
Dir: Barry Jenkins.

Director Barry Jenkins's follow up to Moonlight is an adaptation of a work by James Baldwin. It's about a young black man in jail on a false rape charge and his young pregnant girlfriend's efforts to try and free him. The original novel was published in 1974 and it's just infuriating that the film's subject matter is just as relevant today as it probably was then. The non-linear structure makes things even more heartbreaking yet also gives it a beautiful, almost dream like quality. The performances are all pitch perfect. Both Stephan James and KiKi Layne deserve to be big stars and Regina King deserves all the awards. This will probably end up in my 2018 list.

Grade: A-

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:39 am
by anonymous1980
LEAVE NO TRACE
Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Dale Dickey, Jeff Kober.
Dir: Debra Granik.

A war veteran suffering from PTSD raises his young daughter off the grid but finds that this living arrangement may not be good for her. I can't help but compare this to Captain Fantastic which is also about a parent raising his kids off the grid but this one strips away any romanticizing of such a life and really gets to the realistic nitty-gritty of the entire thing. The two central performances are both outstanding. Ben Foster, who is really kind of an underrated actor is superb as the father-war veteran. You feel for him, you kind of understand what he's going through. There are times when you're frustrated with him but you still sympathize. Thomas McKenzie is a real find though. She's fantastic as the daughter. I love that despite being raised this way, she isn't depicted as a weirdo. The film's emotional impact really sneaks up on you in the end. Another fine film from director Debra Granik.

Oscar Prospects: Best Actor and Best Actress would be deserved. Adapted Screenplay is possible.

Grade: A-

BOY ERASED
Cast: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Flea, Cherry Jones, Xavier Dolan, Troye Sivan, Joe Alwyn, Britton Sear.
Dir: Joel Edgerton.

Joel Edgerton's second directorial effort is an adaptation of Garrard Conley's memoir about his experience in a gay conversion therapy camp. These are one of two gay conversion therapy films, the other being The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I think this one is a better film because even though it's not without its problems, the fact that it has more nuance and is more accessible to people who should be hearing this message (as in, religious/conservative parents of LGBTQ children). It's this quality, I think, that gives it a bit more heft. Lucas Hedges is terrific but I think Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe made the film better by their performances.

Oscar Prospects: Actor, Supporting, Supporting Actress and Original Song are deserved.

Grade: B+

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:56 am
by Precious Doll
dws1982 wrote:Definitely agree with all of the positive things said about Shoplifters.

I think it's easily Kore-eda's most accessible film (although his others aren't exactly impenetrable), and I think it's great to see him have some success in the States after all of these years. Totally agree that Sakura Ando is excellent; the whole ensemble is, really--the Boston Society of Film Critics' Best Ensemble award to this film is easily one of my favorite critics award selections all year.

I'm really interested to see Kore-eda's upcoming non-Japanese debut. It stars Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve, so I'm guessing it's in French. Supposedly it's finished, so it may turn up at Cannes.


Thought it would be worth discussing Kore-eda (sometimes known as Koreeda in general). dws also made this remark on another thread which I have my own opinions on:

"And why has Magnolia not tried to get Shoplifters in a few of these above-the-line categories? I feel like they could've made a play for a spot in this lineup."

I think Magnolia is not pushing Shoplifters for a number of reasons the primary one being lack of funds. They also probably lack the expertise of other smaller distributors in mounting any kind of campaign for any of their films. Maybe if Roma wasn't already anointed the foreign language 'film of the year', Magnolia may have made some effort but really they would be throwing money away. The same applies to Well Go and Burning. Netflix appears to have a bottomless supply of funds and smaller distributors simply cannot compete with that.

Its also worth noting that at this point in time anyway, Magnolia are only planning on a DVD release of Shoplifters in the US. :evil:

Its particularly shortsighted of them considering (and this is an assumption but I'm pretty sure I'm right), that Shoplifters has made/or will ending up making more money outside of Japan than all of Kore-eda's previous films combined.

I'm pleased to see that Kore-era has finally received the international recognition on a larger scale than he has received since Nobody Knows (2004) because his films have largely remained on the fringe outside of Japan. He has received scant acknowledgement of his ability to work so well with children and the important role that they play in most of his films - most reviews seem to have not actually noticed this with Shoplifter but I put that down largely to being not that familiar with his previous work. Children have literally been the narrative drive of a number of his films (Nobody Knows, Like Father, Like Son, I Wish & Shoplifters) and play important roles in many of his other films. If anything Shoplifters has proven that films festivals like Cannes still mean something - would the film had reached a wider audience without the Palm d'Or attached to it?

I feel lucky to have seen almost all of Kore-eda's films in the oder that he made them. The exception being that I saw The Third Murder after Shoplifters. Must say I'm a bit dubious of his next film. Asian directors have a history of underwhelming when making films not of their native language with exceptions being South Korea's Joon-ho Bong & Taiwan's Hsiao-Hsien Hou.

Kore-eda has occasionally strayed from his comfort zone over the years with generally underwhelming results (Distance, Air Doll & The Third Murder), though Hana is a gem. He is at his very best examining family dynamics in its various forms. Interestingly his is not a 'favourite' of the conservative Government of Japan as he has made comments critical of some Government policies over the years. That some of his films show a side of contemporary Japan that the Japanese Government would rather ignore probably doesn't help their lack of acknowledgement of his achievements.

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:43 pm
by dws1982
Definitely agree with all of the positive things said about Shoplifters.

I think it's easily Kore-eda's most accessible film (although his others aren't exactly impenetrable), and I think it's great to see him have some success in the States after all of these years. Totally agree that Sakura Ando is excellent; the whole ensemble is, really--the Boston Society of Film Critics' Best Ensemble award to this film is easily one of my favorite critics award selections all year.

I'm really interested to see Kore-eda's upcoming non-Japanese debut. It stars Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve, so I'm guessing it's in French. Supposedly it's finished, so it may turn up at Cannes.