A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reviews

Mister Tee
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Dec 22, 2019 7:49 pm

I had a better reaction than Sabin did. I give a lot of points to the surreal elements: they made it clear the movie was going after something different from a profile of Mr. Rogers, or even a naturalistic story about a psychically-damaged journalist he helps. This movie was trying to capture some essence of what Mr. Rogers means to some people, and the toll that takes on the man himself. I wouldn't say the movie is fully successful, but I admired its ambition.

The film's biggest failure is probably the Matthew Rhys part of it -- not all the details, but definitely the resolution, which borders on banal. I went back and read the Esquire piece on which this was based, and found that many of the anecdotes in the film are documented -- including, it stunned me to learn, the subway encounter -- but that all the stuff regarding Rhys' character was fictional. Maybe this is why it rings less true than the rest.

But I thought the film made up for it by taking a fascinating approach to Mr. Rogers. I noted, when I talked about Won't You Be My Neighbor?, that I'd never watched the man on TV. People who loved the documentary kept telling me how impressed they were by just now nice Rogers was. The urban skeptic in me, though, couldn't respond to that -- I kept wondering, what's the catch? This movie, I think, is made for people like me. It sees what Rogers is doing, and doesn't deny that he seems to accomplish a great deal of good. But it wonders about him: why is he doing this? He seems to have something close to a priesthood, but one wonders, why, and what toll does it take on him?

The fascination of Hanks' performance is, it keeps the man pretty opaque. His Rogers is ever-amiable, but not exactly warm. He's evasive whenever asked about himself. He directs everything outward -- his ubiquitous picture-taking never includes one with him in the frame (though you'd think the people involved would love the celebrity shot). And his final moment in the film suggests all his good works do, in fact, drain him quite drastically. I found myself thinking of another Hanks movie, The Green Mile, and how the Michael Clarke Duncan character sucked all the poison out of others and drew it into himself. This behavior, in a non-fictional character, does border on saintly -- but it also contains a hint of pathology. I thought the movie let us see both, and that made for a far more interesting portrait than the documentary delivered.

It's not a top-film-of-the-year contender, but Hanks' performance would deserve a slot, and I'd go for the screenplay, as well, despite its shortcomings in the Rhys segments.

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reviews

Postby Sabin » Sun Nov 24, 2019 5:57 pm

Desperately tidy in conception, which I found extremely jarring against its lapses into the surreal. Perhaps if Matthew Rhys was give more to do as this depressed journalist than sulk in one-note melancholy for two hours it might dig up some thornier truths but I couldn't bring myself to care about him, his family, or their problems. Tom Hanks is less Fred Rogers than a stand-in for Fred Rogers, who we watch and try to understand more and more as the film goes on. In that sense, this performance has something in common with his work in two Oscar winning performances. He's certainly the most interesting thing about the film but his energy is so different from Rogers. One of the most charming things about Fred Rogers how much he isn't a performer. Every word and line of Rogers' nasal delivery arrives flat on arrival. His show might be a force of good for the children but it's hardly an inspired work of creation like Jim Henson. For drama or comedy, the film is shockingly uninterested in Mr. Rogers. It's more interested in flattering the audience with the Mr. Rogers effect.

I was quite bored.

An Oscar nomination (and possible win) for Best Supporting Actor is in the cards. If it's a big enough hit, Picture and Screenplay are possible but I hope not. The score by Nate Heller is my least favorite of the year.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reviews

Postby Sabin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 5:32 pm

I think Tom Hanks might be very well-positioned to win for a few reasons. He's playing a beloved figure. There's been some reason enthusiasm for him to take on this role. It's been twenty-five years since his last Oscar. He's going through a mild resurgence with well-received unrecognized roles in Captain Phillips and Sully (to say nothing of his SNL appearances).

But another reasons that occurs to me... Marielle Heller. Last year, she directed Can You Ever Forgive Me? which did very well and probably was within mild striking distance of a Best Picture nomination. Less than a year later, she's going to have this film (with released in Thanksgiving will likely be a big hit). There's pressure to nominate a woman and she's carved out a very strong resume in a short period of time. Regardless of whether or not it's a great film, these factors could push A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood closer into the Best Picture circle, which certainly help Hanks' chances.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Sep 08, 2019 5:18 pm

I see Hanks, Pitt, Hopkins and Dafoe (The Lighthouse) plus Pacino (The Irishman), a supposedly legitimate supporting turn but slumming nonetheless.

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:44 pm

Yeah, by all accounts, the story is structured around Matthew Rhys' reporter character, with Hanks the subject of his magazine story but not the protagonist of the film.

Of course, we can cite instances where lead Oscar nominations went to the more colorful non-protagonist character over the blander nominal lead -- Denzel vis a vis Hawke in Training Day, Whitaker vis a vis McAvoy in Last King of Scotland -- but the studio seems to have settled on supporting as Hanks' slot.

Which means we have the potential for an all-slumming slate of huge stars gunning for a supporting Oscar: Hanks, Pitt, Hopkins, and one of Bale/Damon (probably the latter) in Ford v. Ferrari. The character actor community lets out a collective groan.

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reviews

Postby Sabin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:15 pm

My critic buddy just saw it and said Tom Hanks is supporting all the way. He's in no way a lead.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:40 am

I was hoping these reviews would give some indication of whether they are going to push Hanks for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor, but the question remains up in the air.

Variety's glowing review focuses on Hanks' Mr. Rogers while Screen Daily clearly states that Matthew Rhys' character dominates the film while the Hollywood Reporter's meh review focuses more on director Marielle Heller.



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