Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby flipp525 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:05 pm

I’m trying to get a scoop or two from my friend Malaya who played the female news reporter in the film.
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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:57 am

Of course they think they work for the greater good. Who said otherwise?

The scene in the film still rings false, as do many other scenes, but it's just a movie. I don't see it as anything to get worked up over, but that scene has been accused of being anti-Catholic as well as anti-religious by some critics. DWS and Precious were not the only ones to point it out.

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:18 am

I might question that thesis. Many clergy that I've met or have heard about, often think they are working for a greater good and with enough members of the community complaining to them about an issue, they might take it upon themselves to speak for the community even if they do not.

That's especially true in the U.S. today. Think about how many times priests and pastors have spoken out for the safety of the nation thinking they speak for all people of faith when they speak for a small portion of the community of faith in the country.
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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:20 am

To clarify, any clergyman of any faith might speak to a member of their congregation in the manner that the priest in the film did, but they would not speak for the town unless they were the only game in town.

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:46 am

In a small town, Peter, they most certainly would, but you point out (and a point that I thought of early this morning) the main reason it feels inauthentic. It should have been a protestant minister, not a Catholic priest. In Missouri, 77% of the population is Christian. 58% Protsetant and only 16% Catholic. Most small towns in Missouri, if they have only one church, that church will be protestant and not Catholic. Even slightly bigger towns will have more protestant than Catholic churches.

In Springfield, where I live, there are only four or five Catholic churches, but dozens of protestant churches, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God, Churches of Christ, etc. There's only one Mormon church, one Jewish temple, and I believe maybe one Muslim temple here. Yes, those Catholic churches have more members than the smaller denomination protestant churches, but we have two very large churches, one Baptist and one AoG.
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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:19 am

A Catholic priest in the U.S. would not presume to speak for a town, which would more than likely be predominantly Protestant, though it might be something they still do in County Galway in Ireland where McDonagh spent his holidays at his Irish Catholic mother's parents' home, in which Catholicism is the predominant, if not the only, religion. That scene was pure McDonagh.

McDonagh is an angry playwright. All of his plays, even his comedies, are confrontational. I'm not sure Three Billboards shouldn't be seen as a comedy, a very black comedy, but a comedy nevertheless. Although set in the Midwest, it's a very English-Irish sort of thing that I enjoyed without taking it too seriously. My only objection was the ending. I like my mysteries to have a resolution. I don't require that you find out who the murderer was, although that would certainly be preferable, but at least give the characters some sort of closure even if all they do is give up. As Precious alluded earlier, this plays out like the opening chapter of a TV mini-series rather than a real movie. That's probably enough to keep it from winning Best Picture everywhere except at BAFTA where it should be an easy winner for Best British Film with Christopher Nolan having pulled Dunkirk from consideration for that prize.

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:29 am

It felt right out of a Ken Loach film, expect that McDormand spoke back to him. In Loach's films the characters getting the lecture usually cower down and are left speechless.
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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:39 am

I remember a lot of British dramas where the Vicar comes forth to act as a spokesman for the town. And, honestly, that felt like a very authentic thing to me. I'm from the Midwest and when a pastor is concerned with one of their flock, at least they used to do this, they would go out of their way to reach out to them. It's definitely something an incredibly a preacher in an incredibly small town would do.
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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby dws1982 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:57 pm

My take is pretty similar to yours, Precious, although I was expecting to like it after being a big fan of In Bruges. I felt like it was well-directed (I think McDonagh has a much stronger knack for filmmaking than a lot of playwrights-turned-filmmakers), but I think the script really let it down. I didn't remotely buy anything to do with Sam Rockwell's character, didn't buy how Frances McDormand's character could firebomb the police station and no one would care, despite it being obvious who did it. Also thought it was ridiculous that a Catholic priest would come to McDormand's house presuming to "speak for the town" in a very small, very rural Missouri town--I think it was just so McDonagh could include that out-of-nowhere anti-Catholic monologue from McDormand's character. Kind of interested in seeing it again, because while I was watching it I mostly enjoyed myself. But it really just fell apart on reflection.

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:10 am

I'll be the party-pooper here. I didn't much care for Three Billboards but can't say I was surprised by my response to it as I don't like Martin McDonagh's previous two films or his brothers work with the exception of War on Everyone.

The humour is so obvious, punchlines through in to put the audience ease, clucky plotting and largely one-note performances. I thought it started out well enough but once SPOILER ALERT Frances McDormand starts fire bombing the police station it completely lost me. The redemption of Sam Rockwell by then going to work with Francis McDormand just seemed unbelievable and it's open morally dubious ending left me most unsatisfied.

McDormand has given similar performances before and I never felt I got a lock on her. Sam Rockwell fares better but I found his change of heart a little too much to take. As a pilot to an ongoing TV series this may work but as a two hour motion picture it feels like a lot has been left aside in favour of some lame jokes, sometimes at the most inappropriate times.
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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby nightwingnova » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:15 pm

I have to respectfully disagree with the assertion that Mildred (McDormand)’s role is that of steadfast fury battling against systemic and cultural impediments to justice.

It has been argued that one of those intentional roadblocks is the “patronizing” attitude of fellow town folk, who while expressing sympathy about Mildred’s tragedy, refuse to help or support her outre strategies to spur additional action. As has been noted, there are no concrete restraints to tracking down and punishing the perpetrator of her daughter’s murder. There is no further evidence to follow (unless one wants to indulge in outrageous and unconstitutional activity such as retrieving a DNA sample from every male within the region). To compare the town folk’s attitudes to society’s cultural non-urgency or disbelief of sexual harassment charges is ridiculous.

As such, it is ludicrous to paint Mildred’s mistargeted and misfired attempts (billboards, police station arson, etc.) as being impeded. Her actions have no reasonable chance of advancing the investigation. They are the acts of a woman crazed with grief striking at everything around her. Classic filmmaking would have turned the situation into art: beautified unending pain and anguish.

In this movie, it is simply a crazy woman striking at the empty air. She does not exist as the moral core in raising issues or establishing points. There is not a moral core that works, and with that, the film fails.

The rest of the film is, as said, full of wonderful character and plot developments – though, even here, ridiculous plot occurs that weaken the story and message. For example, Mildred is not arrested for assaulting her dentist with a dental drill. Why? That was quite a wound for which not to file charges. It was a clear sign that she is a danger to others. So what is the issue being raised or commented on here? Being crazy with grief justifies attacking someone who offends you?

And finally there is the acting: the remarkable though minor work of Woody Harrelson, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, and Peter Dinklage. The rich work of Frances McDormand – though I sometimes found her strained to make this character make sense in the context of the imperfect movie plot. And there is the gem of Sam Rockwell, who seamlessly, seemingly effortlessly blends the complex character of dull, browbeaten, immature yet with a nugget of decency into smooth humanity.

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby Okri » Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:32 pm

I really liked it but not as strongly as everyone seems to here. Strong performances across the board and McDonaugh's usual facility with plotting and dialogue are fully on display so it'll likely end as one of the year's best regardless.

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby Reza » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:59 am

Sabin wrote:Ditto. BJ and Tee, this thread is an excellent resource post-viewing.

At this point, we should just retitle this thread THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI -- SPOILERS! right?

flipp525 wrote
I think this and Get Out are perhaps the two most relevant and timely films of the year (and you just know The Post would love to take that title) in different, yet equally compelling ways. And that's why I think they'll be on their own at the top, vying for Best Picture against more traditional Oscar fare this year.

I agree. Watching Three Billboards..., I felt keyed up. It tackles themes of systemic racism, police brutality, rape and murder, and sickness within Trump's America, featuring a proud old cunt taking a stand against injustice. I don't know if Martin McDonagh wrote this with the ghosts of Treyvon Martin and Michael Brown in mind, but it was a cathartic viewing experience.

But the film excels to me as a piece of dramatic writing, not necessarily as a statement. It succeeds on character exploration and genius scene-work. A friend of mine asked "What is this film about?" and I said "It's about what two people do with their anger." Mildred Hayes is a resolve character, and her act challenges her unwavering resolve, while Dixon is a change character, and his arc builds towards an unlikely education. And ultimately, I think that's what the film is "about." At first, this is a film appears primed for explosion (driven by Carter Burwell's extraordinary score). By the end, it builds towards understanding. But clearly, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri isn't an endorsement of vigilante justice. It's the only ending I think I could accept without contrivance, but I felt a bit let-down.

RE: genius scene-work.
No Country... comparisons have been bandied about. Stop this film seconds into scene and watch a new viewer, where could it possibly go? Frances McDormand is cuffed in prison and the scene ends with her comforting Woody Harrelson, her arrester, and calling for aid. After Sam Rockwell chucks Caleb Landry Jones out the window (for me, the most harrowing scene in the film), what is the worst possible inhumanity to him? Being fired by a black superior.

It's a charged, exhausting experience afterwards I needed a drink and silence to unpack what I'd just watched. I think I want a bit more from the ending, although I'm not sure what, but Three Billboards... is a cleansing experience. I have more than a little anger these days, so it was more than welcome.

I'd be remiss if I didn't single out Sandy Martin, Charlie's Mom from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as Dixon's overbearing mother, and of course Samara Weaving as Charlie's young girlfriend whose dimness arrives with a hilariously off-beat affectation. Not a dumb girl, but clearly in a different world. I loved when Frances McDormand "joined" them at the table, seemingly poised to thrash Hawkes with the bottle of champagne but instead handed it to them and said simply "Be nice to her, Charlie." (Or was it "Don't be mean to her"?)

This moment reminds me: Martin McDonagh must be nominated for Best Director. This is a gorgeously paced and laid out story but with more than enough visual storytelling to warrant mention.

Right now, I think this film is going to win but I don't know where it's going to win beforehand. It's hard to see Dunkirk losing the PGA, DGA, or BAFTA. Perhaps it takes the SAG, but I could also see that going to Get Out. It's ineligible for a WGA nomination, so it could possibly win Best Picture without a single precursor going its way. As I've written elsewhere, my reasoning is that this film is going to hover near the top of everyone's ballot. Fans of Get Out and Lady Bird will have Three Billboards... near the top as well. Wins for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress seem in the bag. I have the most difficult time imaging anyone wrestling Best Actress from Frances McDormand ESPECIALLY after whatever speech she gives at the Golden Globes. I'd imagine it will make Meryl Streep's Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes seem likely the tiniest fart in the back of the room. I can't imagine Frances McDormand playing Mildred Hayes, harnessing this much strength and rage for a performance, and not saying something terribly memorable. Nominations for McDonagh, Carter Burwell's score, film editing. When one looks at cinematographer Ben Davis' career, a nomination seems in the cards as he usually works on huge profile projects like Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange, two of the most visually distinguished Marvel movies. But it might be a stretch. Either way, that would put it at three wins which seems to be par for the course these days.

And then Best Supporting Actor... Sam Rockwell is in. His character has such an arc. Despite his horrific actions, you may not like him by the end of the film but he is clearly a better person. And yet, I never felt like I was watching a performance that was going to win. But I never felt that for Mahershala Ali either, so what do I know?
I love Mister Tee's idea that Woody Harrelson is the soul of the film (McDonagh writes good suicidal souls), but I also don't think this performance is anything new for him. He doesn't even seem warmer than usual. And I think I know why...it's his forgotten performance in The Edge of Seventeen. That lovely little performance in a mess of a film that began his redirection from Woody Boyd roles to Sam Malone roles. I wouldn't be opposed to a nomination, mainly because Harrelson has been excellent in just about everything this decade, no matter how forgettable, from his terrifying hick in Out of the Furnace to his GBF in Friends with Benefits.


Wow this film really resonated with you. So much passion for it. Can't wait to see it now.

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby Sabin » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:54 am

Ditto. BJ and Tee, this thread is an excellent resource post-viewing.

At this point, we should just retitle this thread THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI -- SPOILERS! right?

flipp525 wrote
I think this and Get Out are perhaps the two most relevant and timely films of the year (and you just know The Post would love to take that title) in different, yet equally compelling ways. And that's why I think they'll be on their own at the top, vying for Best Picture against more traditional Oscar fare this year.

I agree. Watching Three Billboards..., I felt keyed up. It tackles themes of systemic racism, police brutality, rape and murder, and sickness within Trump's America, featuring a proud old cunt taking a stand against injustice. I don't know if Martin McDonagh wrote this with the ghosts of Treyvon Martin and Michael Brown in mind, but it was a cathartic viewing experience.

But the film excels to me as a piece of dramatic writing, not necessarily as a statement. It succeeds on character exploration and genius scene-work. A friend of mine asked "What is this film about?" and I said "It's about what two people do with their anger." Mildred Hayes is a resolve character, and her act challenges her unwavering resolve, while Dixon is a change character, and his arc builds towards an unlikely education. And ultimately, I think that's what the film is "about." At first, this is a film appears primed for explosion (driven by Carter Burwell's extraordinary score). By the end, it builds towards understanding. But clearly, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri isn't an endorsement of vigilante justice. It's the only ending I think I could accept without contrivance, but I felt a bit let-down.

RE: genius scene-work.
No Country... comparisons have been bandied about. Stop this film seconds into scene and watch a new viewer, where could it possibly go? Frances McDormand is cuffed in prison and the scene ends with her comforting Woody Harrelson, her arrester, and calling for aid. After Sam Rockwell chucks Caleb Landry Jones out the window (for me, the most harrowing scene in the film), what is the worst possible inhumanity to him? Being fired by a black superior.

It's a charged, exhausting experience afterwards I needed a drink and silence to unpack what I'd just watched. I think I want a bit more from the ending, although I'm not sure what, but Three Billboards... is a cleansing experience. I have more than a little anger these days, so it was more than welcome.

I'd be remiss if I didn't single out Sandy Martin, Charlie's Mom from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as Dixon's overbearing mother, and of course Samara Weaving as Charlie's young girlfriend whose dimness arrives with a hilariously off-beat affectation. Not a dumb girl, but clearly in a different world. I loved when Frances McDormand "joined" them at the table, seemingly poised to thrash Hawkes with the bottle of champagne but instead handed it to them and said simply "Be nice to her, Charlie." (Or was it "Don't be mean to her"?)

This moment reminds me: Martin McDonagh must be nominated for Best Director. This is a gorgeously paced and laid out story but with more than enough visual storytelling to warrant mention.

Right now, I think this film is going to win but I don't know where it's going to win beforehand. It's hard to see Dunkirk losing the PGA, DGA, or BAFTA. Perhaps it takes the SAG, but I could also see that going to Get Out. It's ineligible for a WGA nomination, so it could possibly win Best Picture without a single precursor going its way. As I've written elsewhere, my reasoning is that this film is going to hover near the top of everyone's ballot. Fans of Get Out and Lady Bird will have Three Billboards... near the top as well. Wins for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress seem in the bag. I have the most difficult time imaging anyone wrestling Best Actress from Frances McDormand ESPECIALLY after whatever speech she gives at the Golden Globes. I'd imagine it will make Meryl Streep's Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes seem likely the tiniest fart in the back of the room. I can't imagine Frances McDormand playing Mildred Hayes, harnessing this much strength and rage for a performance, and not saying something terribly memorable. Nominations for McDonagh, Carter Burwell's score, film editing. When one looks at cinematographer Ben Davis' career, a nomination seems in the cards as he usually works on huge profile projects like Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange, two of the most visually distinguished Marvel movies. But it might be a stretch. Either way, that would put it at three wins which seems to be par for the course these days.

And then Best Supporting Actor... Sam Rockwell is in. His character has such an arc. Despite his horrific actions, you may not like him by the end of the film but he is clearly a better person. And yet, I never felt like I was watching a performance that was going to win. But I never felt that for Mahershala Ali either, so what do I know?
I love Mister Tee's idea that Woody Harrelson is the soul of the film (McDonagh writes good suicidal souls), but I also don't think this performance is anything new for him. He doesn't even seem warmer than usual. And I think I know why...it's his forgotten performance in The Edge of Seventeen. That lovely little performance in a mess of a film that began his redirection from Woody Boyd roles to Sam Malone roles. I wouldn't be opposed to a nomination, mainly because Harrelson has been excellent in just about everything this decade, no matter how forgettable, from his terrifying hick in Out of the Furnace to his GBF in Friends with Benefits.
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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews

Postby flipp525 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:14 am

BJ and Tee - you guys have covered a lot of ground about this film in a very illuminating way. I read through this whole thread after I got back from Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri last night and really enjoyed reading your thoughts. It's definitely the best movie I've seen this year and I think it has very strong Oscar potential in multiple categories. I'm looking forward to seeing it again to re-experience its many, many pleasures.

I think this and Get Out are perhaps the two most relevant and timely films of the year (and you just know The Post would love to take that title) in different, yet equally compelling ways. And that's why I think they'll be on their own at the top, vying for Best Picture against more traditional Oscar fare this year. Three Billboards, to borrow a line from Network, "articulates the popular rage" of the moment. I think that's one of the reasons that (as BJ mentioned) as many awful things as Mildred does, the audience is still behind her right up through that fabulous open ending. Who wouldn't want to just burn shit down right now, tell people to fuck off, and (excuse my French) cunt-punch someone? She has a zero-fucks-given attitude that feels very appealing at the current moment. I love the idea (I think it was Tee) that this felt like an entire novel in one film. Mildred Hayes is such a complete character on the screen in almost every way. Everything about her performance felt very "lived-in."

Right off the bat, on the subject of unexpected surprises, I really loved Mildred's reaction to Chief Willoughby after he spit the blood in her face. It was such a look of instant concern and warmth that it completely took me by surprise. I also was fully expecting Dixon to commit suicide at the end and was so glad that he didn't (was I the only one who thought they might be going for a closeted gay thing with him? I'm almost glad they didn't; it would have seemed out-of-place and kind of tired).

All the actors do an excellent job of capturing the complicated milieu of these Missouri people. A little provincial, a bit down-in-the-holler, but multi-faceted and intelligent about the ways of people and the overall unfairness of life. Tee, I liked your idea that Woody Harrelson is the soul of the picture. You also get the feeling that he had been composing those letters in his mind for a long time and the emotional resonance of them - meted out in wonderful beats - was a powerful way to keep him in the film after he had exited it corporeally. I think his performance should also be considered for an Oscar. Sam Rockwell is just wonderful and fully deserving of all the buzz he's received about his work in this film. He was constantly surprising me throughout the film and I really loved him in the scene at the bar when he hatches his plan to catch Angela's killer.

But this movie really belongs to Frances McDormand who gives one of the truly great performances of this decade I think. She's been leading up to this performance for awhile now (one can't help but compare Mildred Hayes to Olive Kitteridge). Yet, from her opening moments, the character feels fresh, original, commanding, and instantly interesting in a unique way. One of the many strengths of her performance is how she telegraphs Mildred's thoughts and emotions. That opening shot where she kind of zeroes in on the tattered billboards and comes up with her grand idea is beautifully rendered. Then there is the later reveal that her daughter was actually raped, murdered, and burned at the foot of one of them. This is such an appealing manner of withholding information until it can be more potent. The reveal of what's on the first sign is hugely effective and adds a shocking, dark pall over the proceedings. And, my god, that scene she has with the deer is just a stunning piece of acting. She has a ton of "Oscar clip" moments, but I think that is her best in the film. I have to also agree that this is at least equal to McDormand's iconic Fargo performance. I love the fact that both roles (Marge and Mildred) see her in the (literal) driver's seat. They both also have those awkward dinner scenes with a "date" they'd rather not be on.

A college friend of mine named Malaya Rivera Drew played the local news reporter who interviews Mildred and is covering the billboard story. Malaya has done a bunch of things in the past (including a great season-long arc on Showtime's The L Word), but this is probably the most viewed performance she's ever given and I'm so, so proud of her (and jealous that she gets to be in this amazing film!). I love that the town is so small that billboards - perhaps the most antiquated form of advertising in this day in age - make such a huge splash. It's so old school how Mildred has harnessed this forgotten technique to make her powerful statement. Families of missing people often use those same billboards to broadcast their loved ones' faces to as many people as possible. Mildred's message is simple: The people who can do the most have let down those who need help the most. A powerful, timely precept indeed.
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