Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

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Re: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:20 pm

Ok, at least a good one. Not a revolutionary work of art, but a solid, professional effort, well-written, and very well acted. These days this is more than enough.
And it takes courage, I think, to make a movie about such a potentially uncinematic subject as literary forgery. I personally would have liked to see, and know, even more of Israel's fake letters, their content, the methods she used to make them even technically convincing. But I'd say that we can't complain - there's alot to enjoy in this movie anyway, including the way it balances bitterness and humor.
I'm not sure that Melissa McCarthy here is completely different from her usual screen persona, but it's certainly a major departure, and one that suggests an interesting, versatile performer. I'd say probably my favorite of the Best Actress nominees (and yes, I have seen Olivia Colman).
And while I rarely talk about my professional life here, let me say that Richard E. Grant is one of the nicest, most pleasant actors I've ever personally known. I'm glad that he's finally got an Academy Award nomination (anf in his case, I can't say that he's my favorite only because I haven't seen all the nominees yet).

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Re: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:39 am

Sabin wrote:Seconded.

I've yet to see Diary of a Teenage Girl, but the acting in this film is terrific and the lighting is so appropriately golden and amber.



The Diary of a Teenage Girl is worth seeking out. It too is well acted, most of all by Bel Powley, however the subject matter in two short years may have made the film taboo in some respects, but it helps that the source material was written by a woman and adapted by Heller. If a man had made the film it may now be considered problematic by some. It's also a more accomplished, inventive and showy film than Can You Ever Forgive Me? and though the subject matters are worlds apart Heller certainly knows how to handle material difficult characters and material sensitively.

I didn't post when I saw this a couple of months ago.

I enjoyed the film and with its solid screenplay, a pitch-perfect Melissa McCarthy and terrific supporting cast. Heller's direction is very discreet and I think that helps because there is some distance between the audience and Lee Israel and it allows us time to enter her world and mindset.

Such a shame this has failed to find a larger audience.
“Those Koreans. They’re so suspicious, you know, ever since Hiroshima.” Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) from American Horror Story: Season One

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Re: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby Sabin » Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:13 am

Seconded.

I'll single out the screenplay and the direction. I've never heard of Jeff Whitty before, but I know Nicole Holofcener. This feels like her touch. Imagine Catherine Keener as Lee. But every character is so lived in and full of arsenic philosophy. I think for a film to truly be about "loser's losing," there must be a sacrificial quality to their failure. Instead it feels like an outcast's last hurrah with New York energy to boot. But Marielle Heller directs this film with a different touch than Holofcener's that suits the material. I've yet to see Diary of a Teenage Girl, but the acting in this film is terrific and the lighting is so appropriately golden and amber.

Melissa McCarthy is excellent. I'm a bigger fan of hers than most on this board. While I don't love her performance in Bridesmaids (she's fun but largely upends the film), I've found something to enjoy in almost every one of her films, especially the underrated Spy. This is obviously in a different class of work. She's fantastic here. She creates such a fascinating character, like Melvin Udall reborn as an impoverished lesbian -- which in retrospect isn't that hard to do. In the end, I think I would choose Olivia Colman for The Favourite in this lineup if only because you can see McCarthy try a little too much here and there, but I'm a little irritated that I have to choose between the two. But whatever. It's Glenn Close's year anyway.

Ultimately, it's a bit too small in scope to be considered something great but it's a very enjoyable film. There's also a fun, outcasty trolly quality to it. So many films today about the creative process are about finding your voice, making it heard, and being appreciated. For Lee Israel, it's the opposite. She writes her story, but her final act is trolling a bookshop keeper -- a gatekeeper of yesteryear basically.
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Re: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby dws1982 » Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:11 pm

Pretty much agree with what everyone else has said about this film, especially all of the positive things about McCarthy. I've never had a strong opinion about her as an actress, but I thought she was excellent here. Lee Israel would've been so easy pigeonhole as a shrill caricature--she could be played as truly pathetic, or as some type of freak--but McCarthy creates a fully complex (and fully human) character. She gets at the deep loneliness at the heart of the character, and also the social awkwardness, the inability to maintain normal relationships, and just a general sense of not feeling comfortable in her own skin, but without the ability to fully articulate that feeling. Excellent performance, and probably my Best Actress pick, at least of the nominees.

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Re: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Nov 24, 2018 3:20 pm

Back in the mid-70s, I saw a mostly forgotten movie called Law and Disorder -- a slice of life about lower-middle-class project-dwellers struggling to keep afloat, dreaming of improving their situation. I found the film so depressing, it gave me an epiphany: it was easier to watch genuine, big-time tragedy -- as in They Shoot Horses, or MIdnight Cowboy -- than the sad, banal lot of everyday Americans trying to cope with their desperate situations.

I'd been wondering why Can You Ever Forgive Me? had been so under-performing at the box office (relative to its reviews), but now, having seen it, I can understand, as it falls somewhat into this category. It's not exactly in the losers-losing box BJ refers to -- by that, I meant movies where protagonists wait on a big score that inevitably falls through (Toys in the Attic, A Raisin in the Sun) or a horse race/lottery ticket that either doesn't win (A Hole in the Head) or, worse, does win but the ticket's lost (another forgotten movie called Dime with a Halo, and multiple others). The two main characters in Can You Ever Forgive Me? have too much agency -- too many self-destructive traits -- to fall into that inevitability-of-gloom slot; their bordering-on-lunatic actions give the movie enough life that you're not just waiting around for their eventual failure. But, at least for me -- maybe because I have too much experience with negotiating a NY life at times when money's scarce -- there's still a tinge of loser-dom hanging over the film, and it made the part of the film prior to McCarthy's scheme really taking off (which is a longer stretch than I expected) a bit too painful to bear. (Oh, and the film's one truly tragic turn...let's say I anticipated it from about five minutes into the running time, and resented having it wring tears out of me.)

That said, I ended up liking the film, partly because it had a stronger second hour than first, because the unraveling of the scam didn't wreak as much humiliation on the characters as anticipated (the film kind of glides by as almost fait accompli), and because the final 15 minutes of the film are maybe stronger than anything preceding. A solid ending can help a film a lot.

Oh, and one more thing: because Melissa McCarthy gives a terrific, I'd almost say world-class performance. Like BJ, I've watched too many performances over the years from great comic actresses -- Carol Burnett, Whoopi Goldberg -- where their idea of going dramatic has been to scale back everything audiences have ever enjoyed about them...as if not being funny was somehow more genuine. Robin Williams took a different tack, and did deliver some solid dramatic work that incorporated aspects of his comic persona -- in Moscow on the Hudson, The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting. But even there, I always had the sense it was Robin Williams-stand-up taking over/superseding to a degree the character written on paper. With McCarthy here, while I certainly saw traces of her glorious comic self -- in her rant about Tom Clancy, for instance -- mostly, I felt she was showing me a character operating from a completely different center of gravity than that of her usual roles. Very early on, I stopped thinking of her as Melissa McCarthy star, and thought of her as simply an actress embodying the prickly and complex character Lee Israel was. And within that performance she offered some incredibly memorable moments -- none moreso than her climactic declaration to the court, where she's simply unable to get in line with the subservience she has to know would serve her better, but that would make her feel less than herself. I've got lots of other actresses to see this year, but of the awards-touted work I've seen so far -- Close, Colette, Gaga -- McCarthy is far and away the most impressive.

Richard E. Grant is quite good, as well, but more in the way you'd expect: it's very much in his wheelhouse. (And, true to life or not, his situation in the final scene feels like it's laying on the misery a bit thick.)

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Re: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:07 pm

A thoroughly enjoyable movie, even if its pleasures are on the small side. I remember Mister Tee used to say that he long ago got tired of watching films about losers losing -- this definitely is a movie about losers losing, but I'd say the level of wit and humor here make this one far less dreary than the kind of efforts he'd typically cite under that classification. I liked the way scenes of genuine sadness were cut through with laugh-out-loud humor, and the director, writers, and cast all do a strong job balancing the melancholy tone with plenty of cleverness along the way.

The heart of the film is the relationship between Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant's characters, and both actors are completely winning. Grant is an actor who has enlivened many a film over the years, but it's been quite a while since he's had a role this scene-stealingly delightful. And McCarthy is funny in utterly fresh ways -- clearly the role is well outside the typical broad comedy wheelhouse she's established for herself over recent years, but she doesn't dull herself down, the way many comedians do when tackling more dramatic material. Instead, she uses her obvious skill at delivering a one-liner to add unexpected humor to many scenes, while at the same time nailing her character's pathetic, anti-social tendencies that have caused so much self-inflicted sadness in her own life. I like both actors' chances for nominations, and really have a hard time seeing the writers pass on the screenplay (for a film focused on a struggling writer, about writing, and written by someone -- Nicole Holofcener -- who I'd imagine many would be happy to reward with a first nomination.)

I will say, however, that this is the kind of film that I wish I could have seen cold, without having viewed a trailer first, because there's a degree to which the premise basically gives away the whole movie. By the time Lee Israel starts making a decent profit off her forgeries, we're pretty far into the story, and of course we know she eventually gets caught (because otherwise how would there be a movie about it), and the way that happened wasn't necessarily all that interesting. I think the filmmakers and cast find a lot of humor and poignancy along the way -- I don't think there could have been a much BETTER movie version of this story -- but it is still a fairly minor story.

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Re: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:15 am

“Those Koreans. They’re so suspicious, you know, ever since Hiroshima.” Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) from American Horror Story: Season One

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Re: Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:47 pm

Variety added.

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Can You Ever Forgive Me? reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Sep 01, 2018 10:01 pm

Seems to be winning critics over at Telluride, albeit on a low-key level.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/revie ... ew-1139236

https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/c ... 202924611/


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