The Official Review Thread of 2019

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criddic3
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby criddic3 » Sat Mar 27, 2021 6:23 am

Big Magilla wrote:
Clemency is a fine film featuring a great performance from Alfre Woodard as a prison warden whose most difficult job is overseeing lethal injection executions, and an even better one by Aldis Hodge as the death row prisoner whose execution breaks her heart and ours. Woodard replaces Charlize Theron in my Oscar Shouldabeens. Hodge unfortunately doesn't replace anyone because the supporting actor category for 2019 was a lot stronger than the best actress category.


Woodard was on the bubble for me in terms of nominations. She's better than the movie itself really, so it is nice that she managed to get a BAFTA nod a whole year after her ISA nod.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Mar 10, 2021 8:30 pm

Thanks to a recommendation from Rolotomasi in another thread, I found Clemency on Hulu, and then to my surprise I found another 2019 film I had given up hope of ever seeing in the same place.

Clemency is a fine film featuring a great performance from Alfre Woodard as a prison warden whose most difficult job is overseeing lethal injection executions, .and an even better one by Aldis Hodge as the death row prisoner whose execution breaks her heart and ours. Woodard replaces Charlize Theron in my Oscar Shouldabeens. Hodge unfortunately doesn't replace anyone because the supporting actor category for 2019 was a lot stronger than the best actress category.

An even better find was Diane featuring Mary Kay Place's L.A. Film Critics and National Board of Review winning performance. She commands the screen in a way she hasn't since she all but stole The Big Chill from her fellow cast members way back in 1983 when Glenn Close got the Oscar nomination for the film many, including Streep, felt she should have gotten. Alfre Woodard was luckier that year, having gotten a nomination for Cross Creek.

Place plays an elderly womanwho takes care of everyone around her including her last aunt and various cousins as well as her drug addict son (Jake Lacy). In the end, though, there's no one left to take care of her. The film features fine supporting performances from Estelle Parsons, Andrea Martin, Joyce Van Paten and Phyllis Somerville, all of whom vanish too quickly.

Place takes the place of Saoirse Ronan in my Oscar Shouldabeens and comes damn close to winning over Renée Zellweger in retrospect.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Sun Nov 29, 2020 11:49 pm

dws1982 wrote
For what it's worth, it's dealt with pretty awkwardly and unnaturally, especially in the latter two films. They don't at all give the impression that sexuality is something he's comfortable with, or at least that it's something that he's comfortable dealing with in his films.

That's the sense I get.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby dws1982 » Sun Nov 29, 2020 6:37 pm

For what it's worth, it's dealt with pretty awkwardly and unnaturally, especially in the latter two films. They don't at all give the impression that sexuality is something he's comfortable with, or at least that it's something that he's comfortable dealing with in his films.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Sun Nov 29, 2020 5:39 pm

dws1982 wrote
His three narrative features between The Tree of Life and this actually all carry R ratings for sexuality and nudity. I don't know if it's a coincidence that they're pretty widely considered his weakest films (they're also his only films that aren't period in any way, although Badlands was only set 10-15 years in the past), although I really really like To the Wonder. Knight of Cups and Song to Song are by far his weakest films, in my opinion.

Well... never mind.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby dws1982 » Sun Nov 29, 2020 5:13 pm

Sabin wrote:(does anyone in a Malick film ever had sex; does Malick, for that matter?)

His three narrative features between The Tree of Life and this actually all carry R ratings for sexuality and nudity. I don't know if it's a coincidence that they're pretty widely considered his weakest films (they're also his only films that aren't period in any way, although Badlands was only set 10-15 years in the past), although I really really like To the Wonder. Knight of Cups and Song to Song are by far his weakest films, in my opinion.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:34 pm

A very damning double feature and a very damning set of opinions, but at least I'm honest. Now where's the door...


A Hidden Life

I've done a lot of thinking about this movie and I don't know if I'm the right person to judge it. Let me first say that for almost an hour, I was convinced I had seen Malick's best film since The Thin Red Line and an unappreciated masterpiece. Very powerfully, we begin the eden of Franz' married life in this German mountain-town and slowly the hints of nativism creeps in, disrupting his spiritual life. Although it's not an uncommon depiction of bliss in a Terrence Malick to show a couple happily falling into grass, embracing (does anyone in a Malick film ever had sex; does Malick, for that matter?), it's a good fit for this story. We see hints of war, and then Franz, somewhere off-screen, makes the decision to become a conscientious objector. I've only seen the film once but it seems as though his reason is something along the lines of swearing oaths to Hitler flies in the face of his faith, both due to its false god connotation but also how Nazism is corrupting and transforming those around him. If it occurs because of his military service, we don't know why because we only see brief windows into said service so it could be taken as what he sees on the battlefield or simply the act of war. To be honest, I don't know exactly why and that's sort of my problem with the film. For a film about a conscientious objector, I feel very removed from the objection. A Hidden Life becomes a long, montage-y series of moments where characters try to convince Franz to stop his conscientious objection for his own life, moments of quiet anguish and torture, and literal torture by the prison-keepers around him, leading up to his demise. A Hidden Life likely operates from a spiritualism that I feel removed from and would like to understand. As a dramatic work, Malick's intention would be to beatify the man, rather than to dramatize him. I could've used a little more of the former.


Under the Silver Lake

Now, I AM in the right position to judge this film because I quite well know every location in this film as well as most of the people (their types). This is a movie about a fuck up Millennial, with no job (a fun running joke), who becomes embroiled in a mystery seeking out a girl he barely knows and drawing together loose, barely-related conspiracies in his efforts to find her all while acting like a total piece of shit. I enjoyed the film's commitment

Let's get a one thing out of the way right now: this film is not misogynistic. Depiction is not endorsement but this movie goes out of its way to make clear its opinion about Sam. He succks. His puppy dog enthusiasm masks a litany of reprehensible qualities. The only way this movie can be considered misogynist is that it purposefully takes place through the cis male gaze, but more specifically its a depiction of a fucked-up, self-absorbed generation's (at least in Los Angeles) regressive lack of purpose so we see deaths that mimic content he's absorbed, which possibly is all happening in his head anyway. It's gross, for sure, which is the point. Now, whether or not one wants to stay in the film's company is another story...

David Robert Mitchell makes it entirely clear that nothing in this movie might be as we're seeing it, as he also suggests that with a lifetime of absorbed entertainment experiences amidst a nostalgia zeitgeist, ANYTHING could be a murder-mystery with clues to untangle. Oh, also, he might be a pet murderer. What's slightly problematic about the film is how Sam meets actual people outside his sphere who give him information (like the songwriter, a conversation which feels like a cheat and/or thuddingly heavy-handed). What's less so is how it dunks on the protagonist the entire time. I can't stress this enough: I know this guy. The scruff, puppy dog attitude, unserious thoughts, zero body fat, teenager clothing. This film is a comedy about a guy with so little going on he is constructing nonsense to live out what he's allowed himself to be programmed to think. Andrew Garfield is hilarious in what is the best performance I've seen him give. I enjoyed this as a supremely confident lark as well as how absurdly loose the conspiracy connections were and how it just kept going to new, weird places. Full disclosure: over the past five years, I've lost four friends to cults and one to QAnon. A lack of purpose in society can be a terrible thing. This film knows it and wants to explore it and I was here for it. Not great but I was here for it.

Sorry, I responded more to the film about the Millennial slackerpath more than the spiritual conscientious objector.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby dws1982 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 6:03 pm

Blinded by the Light
A handful of scenes make you think the filmmakers may have really figured out how to do a jukebox musical here, but it never really buys into the concept. It's a two-hour movie and at least an hour-forty of it is pedestrian culture clash and intergenerational conflict. It's still better than Yesterday, partially because Viveik Kalra makes for a much better, more appealing lead than Himesh Patel did, but on the whole it still feels way too much like a missed opportunity.

Diane
Mary Kay Place's performance is indeed very, very good in this film, which seems like it could take place in the Manchester By the Sea universe. Whereas Manchester was about people dealing with past and present traumas, this is more about observing everyday life in small-town New England. The characters deal with traumas here--drug addiction and illness--but the plot doesn't hinge on them in the same way as they did in Manchester. It's a good movie. It has a very strong ensemble of mostly middle-aged and older actors (many of whom are longtime Broadway performers), especially Deirdre O'Connell and Andrea Martin, as well as Estelle Parsons in a small role. Unfortunately it's kind of hurt by some of Jones' visual tricks; it's a well-done and well-shot movie for the most part, but at times he seems to trying way too hard for an effect that the film doesn't really warrant. Jones has written film criticism for decades, and has written extensively on Truffaut and Assayas, and he uses some techniques that might feel natural in Truffaut's and Assayas' films, but don't at all feel natural or in sync with the tone of the piece. Very much worth a watch, thought.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby dws1982 » Tue Mar 24, 2020 12:57 pm

Doing some 2019 catch-up with my free time:
American Woman:
Has a better feel for small-town working class life than you would expect from Ridley Scott's son, and Sienna Miller's performance is very good: definitely better than a few of the actual Best Actress nominees this year. But it's poorly paced (the two hours felt like four) and it's also a miserable sit, far too close to what Mister Tee calls a film about "losers losing". It piles way too many traumatic events on Miller's character: one of the plot turns near the end truly turned me against the film because it seemed to have no purpose than to throw more shit at Miller. It's too bad because with a few changes I could see myself liking this.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
I feel like I was in a better position on this than some: I never read the book, and a lot of people who did felt like the movie betrayed the book in pretty major ways. It's a mess but I liked this more than I expected, especially as a longtime Linklater-skeptic. And this is acknowledging that I'm not really sure who it's for: It's very much about depression through lens of a quirky comedy, even played as a farce at times. Blanchett's actorly tics are given a useful outlet here. Bernadette may be a giant mess of a character (a lot of it by design, but some of it because the film is a mess), but Blanchett understands her and is actually quite moving. Billy Crudup is actually really good too, doing a lot more with his character than you would expect because the movie does not serve his character well at all.

Synonyms
Nadav Lapid is clearly doing something very specific and is very focused on his themes of identity, but the movie as a whole is as abrasive as its lead character, much of it doesn't make sense, and it was pretty miserable to sit through. Well-shot, and I guess Mercier deserves some credit for committing to what Lapid asked of him but it ultimately felt much more like an intellectual exercise than anything else. Stunned it won the Golden Bear at Berlin...

By the Grace of God
...Especially over Ozon's best-ever film, in my opinion. I gave up on Ozon 10+ years ago when it seemed like every other movie was an erotic thriller; this very subdued visually and narratively, much closer in tone to something like Spotlight than anything Ozon has ever made. It's a fictionalized account of the true story of a predatory priest whose now-grown victim discovers he's still actively working in the church and with children. He eventually organizes with other victims to bring attention to the story, and it becomes clear that the higher-ups in the church knew all along about the abuse and covered it up. Much of the film is procedural, but its decision to center victims lifts it above Spotlight, in my opinion. It's made with a real understanding of the way adults function and deal with trauma from the past, the way it can still inform what you do and the decision you make, and I think the ending in particular is very strong in the way the core group ends up in very different places mentally and emotionally, but no one is right or wrong, no one is vilified, but they're all still acting in reacting in the shadow of old wounds.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 8:03 pm

BOMBSHELL
Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Malcolm McDowell, Connie Britton, Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon.
Dir: Jay Roach.

My catching up on Oscar contenders continues with this film which dramatizes the plight of Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson and their "bombshell" of sexual harassment complaints against Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News. The film is pretty much a standard "true story" docudrama that HBO does a lot (which is understandable since Jay Roach has directed a number of them). But the cast is what makes this film though. Charlize Theron does a great job of making me care about someone whose politics I find mostly abhorrent (still didn't deserve to get sexually harassed). I have to say I know Theron and Margot Robbie got all the accolades for this film but I'm surprised John Lithgow didn't get the same. He makes Roger Aisles so believably human when it could have easily devolved into caricature. The Makeup Oscar win was deserved.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 22, 2020 7:41 am

LITTLE WOMEN
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlan, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Timothee Chalamet, Chris Cooper, Louis Garrell, James Norton, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Jayne Houdyshell.
Dir: Greta Gerwig.

This is the nth adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel about the plight of four sisters during the 1860's Civil Era America. I haven't read the book but I have seen the oft-celebrated 1994 version so I'm familiar with the story. While I liked the story and that film quite a bit, I have to admit I didn't quite get why some people are so like all-capitals passionate about it (maybe because I'm too much of a dude, eh, I don't know) But after watching Greta Gerwig's adaptation: I GET IT NOW. I completely get it now. It makes me wanna actually sit down and read the book. Gerwig infuses the film with such warmth and such humanity. It's all practically radiating from the screen. It feels so fresh, so vibrant, so alive. It's brought to life by an outstanding ensemble cast. Gerwig's 2-for-2 for me. I love it.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:41 pm

WILD ROSE
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters, Sophie Okenedo, Jamie Sives, Craig Parkinson, Daisy Littlefield, Adam Mitchell.
Dir: Tom Harper.

A young woman is released from prison. She tries to get her life back together, be a better mother to her two children and of course pursue her dream of being country and western singer. This film is surprising to me: I had no idea there are country & western fans in the UK. LOL. Anyway, this feels like one of those classic kitchen sink dramas the UK put out during the 1960's updated for today's sensibilities and blended with the usual drama of an underdog wanting to fulfill their dream type movie. The film more or less goes the way to expected it to but the performances here are outstanding that it makes the familiar ride worthwhile. Jessie Buckley and Julie Walters are both fantastic. The soundtrack is great too and this is coming from someone who's not that big of a country music fan.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:04 am

1917
Cast: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, Claire Duburcq.
Dir: Sam Mendes.

It's the First World War. Two young British soldiers are tasked to cross enemy lines to get to another battalion who are walking into a trap. The entire gimmick of sorts of this film is that it is crafted to look like one continuous shot. I must say that it absolutely works. It immerses you into the action and makes the film feel urgent, brisk and more suspenseful. I was also surprised by how emotional I got at some points. Suffice to say, that it really, really works. It is an impressive, technical feat of filmmaking. Roger Deakins' cinematography is simply outstanding. At one point in one sequence, I actually said under whispered breath, "Roger Deakins, you beautiful motherfucker, you!" Seriously. This is truly one of his best works, as well as one of Sam Mendes' best works. Overall, an excellent picture.

Grade: A-
Last edited by anonymous1980 on Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:17 am

This is a pretty neat double-feature, I must say.

HONEY BOY
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, Laura San Giacomo, FKA Twigs.
Dir: Alma Har'el.

Shia LaBeouf wrote the script and portrays his own father in this thinly veiled autobiographical film about the troubled relationship between a successful child actor and his abusive alcoholic rodeo clown father. At first I thought this is a crazy gimmick. But as the film went on, you actually get over the meta and the self-reflexive aspect of the film and you become invested in this compelling examination of a very complicated (to say the least) relationship between a father and a son. Both Shia LaBeouf and Noah Jupe (one of the finest young actors working today) give superb performances. So great are their scenes together, you can't take your eyes off of them, even when things get rough. The film loses steam a bit during Lucas Hedges' scenes but overall, this is an extremely well-crafted drama.

Grade: B+

JUDY
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon.
Dir: Rupert Goold.

Based on a stage play, this film chronicles the final year in Judy Garland's life from her engagement/marriage to her last husband and her series of performances in England. I was very skeptical of this film. I mean, I actually really liked the Judy Davis miniseries from years back and I felt that was the definitive Judy Garland biopic and you don't need another one. Certainly, not one starring Renee Zellweger. Well, you still kind of don't. It's not a bad movie. It doesn't really rise above the standard biopic trappings. I wasn't even sure of Zellweger's performance at first but as the film went along, she won me over. I can at least understand why she's an Oscar front-runner. I wouldn't go so far as to call this a must-see but it has some really genuinely nice moments in it.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 01, 2020 12:15 pm

SPIES IN DISGUISE
Cast: Will Smith, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire, Rachel Brosnahan, DJ Khaled, Karen Gillan, Masi Oka (voices).
Dirs: Troy Quane, Nick Bruno.

After being framed for treason, a super spy teams up with a nerdy young, recently fired scientist and gets accidentally turned into a pigeon. This is essentially an animated mismatch buddy action-comedy that pretty much follows the familiar narrative beats of that particular subgenre. There are also quite a few genuinely funny gags and jokes here as well. But what surprised me is the fact that this film has an anti-violence message which kind of subverts this genre quite a bit and it largely works. It's one of the reasons that makes this film quite watchable. Tom Holland and Will Smith make a good team too even in cartoon voice form.

Grade: B.


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