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Honey Boy (2019)
Facing your own demons. Brave and Personal. Touching
Shia Labeouf confronts his Dad and his past with patterns of abuse and manipulation. It was a complicated relationship that has defined his adult life and this film is him coming to terms with it after being locked up in a mental hospital undergoing therapy to unclutter and detox from the history of trauma associated with his Dad.
Unsettling depiction of a black middle class family in suburban Florida
There is an uneasy foreboding in the first half of this film as we follow the male teenage member of this family as he lives a pretty typical teenage life. His father whips him up into shape for the wrestling team, instilling in him a strong work ethic. We get an intimate look at him and his girlfriends relationship but we also get the sense that something tragic is going to happen and when it does we are swept up in the whirlwind of the dizzying camera movements and the teal/pink color palette. Trey Shults first film 'Krisha' had the same 'uncomfortable-but-cant stop-watching' feeling. The second half becomes more mellow and it deals with the aftermath of an inadvertent tragedy mainly through the daughter of the family who is coming to terms with it as she is becoming mature. She meets a young man (Lucas Hedges) who offers a sense of calm amidst the emotional storm and when he finds out his cancer-stricken Dad is about to die on his deathbed, she convinces him to visit him and it becomes a healing journey for everyone. Tragic and beautiful. Why was this movie overlooked by the Oscars is beyond me. The acting was great across the board but Taylor Russell is a standout.
funny, well-rounded, road trip comedy about two young indecisive NY'ers chasing their dreams
'Vanilla' is the debut film by Will Dennis who also plays Elliot, who recently quit his day job to focus on designing and building an app and is still pining over his -exgirlfriend. He needs to sell his old van to raise money and in the process he meets Kimmie, a quirky fledgling comedian with inadequacies of her own. A lucrative offer from a production company for the van convinces them that a road trip would be worth the payoff, but the boundaries of all 3 relationships are tested and it takes you to places that are unexpected. This film is funny and moving at times. I fell in love with Kimmie and her candid observations. This is a charming independent debut film.
A gritty NYC tale of two contrasting lives who offer each other hope
This is real, tough, gritty New York just after 9/11 and before the pedestrian plazas in Times Square. A haplessly drunk writer who meets a transgender woman on the train and they hit it off after he visits her at her workplace at one of those old Times Square booths and I don't mean TKTS. Terry's wife just left him and Flora's involved with a shifty guy she was previously devoted to, that keeps coming in and out of her life . The two contrasting lives are played off one another in great fashion in this solid script by the writer and star Kevin Baggott. Although it treats dark subject matter there are many moments of lightness in this film that made me smile. The scene where they walk the mother is so beautiful in its spontaneity. At first you feel that they might be using each other as an escape but over the course of the film you can sense the love and fondness that they grew for each other during tumultuous times. The artistic collaboration between them became a wonderful fuse for their disparate worlds. Worlds that were violently hopeless and unsalvageable may have meaning again.
Plonger plunges you into the depths of a love between a restless soul and the man who will not give up on understanding
Melanie Laurent makes films that breathe and have a lot of heart. I saw Respire and loved it and this one is no different. The ending is anti-Hollywood. I love Melanie's instincts. There is a lot of deep emotion, you can feel it in your gut. The sensitivity and subtle instincts Melanie shows in her acting, have also been poured into her filmmaking. I cant wait to see what she does next.
Estiu 1993 (2017)
sharply observed memories of a child dealing with the absence of her mother
It felt like the director meticulously constructed this film around memories but the script is very good and keeps you engaged throughout the small moments. It is an excellent depiction of childhood and the story of an overzealous, somewhat spoiled little girl who is trying to blend in with her new family. I think it got better towards the end when in subtle moments , you start to see how she is starting to see the magnitude of her loss. As much as it is about memory, its also about lost memory. You cant grieve if you don't remember but a loss is painful either way..
Uccellacci e uccellini (1966)
A surreal philosophical fable with a talking crow
This film is really interesting because it mixes religion, politics, philosophy, society with a blend of humor and seriousness. Pasolini was an enigmatic filmmaker and this film is hard to follow much of the time. I don't think it matters that I couldn't understand it because I was astounded by the cinematography, location, characters and especially the setting. I noticed a lot of Italian directors from this period made great use of these desolate locations. In this film I felt like I was transported to Biblical times. The contrast between the stern businessman and his happy-go-lucky son was very entertaining. The film seems to be dealing with the erosion of religious values. I believe, there's symbolism that Pasolini wants us to analyze. If you liked his earlier films, I don't doubt you will enjoy this one.
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
Masterpiece. One of the best films of the 90's!
Excellently paced, disjointed editing for maximal effect. How greed can hinder our sense of community and morality. Excellent Ensemble cast. Sarah Polley is excellent as a survivor whose family hires a lawyer to represent her and other families wounded emotionally from an accident. The lawyer is tired of giving into his daughter's whims and fueling her addiction and wants to help her but thinks its futile while he is taking advantage of peoples emotions for gain. This movie makes you think about morality, community, integrity, loss and suffering. For serious filmgoers it is one not to miss. Theirugeiurgheirugheiurghieurhgieurhgieurhgieurghieruhgeiruhgeiru gheiurghieurhgieurhgiuehrgiuehriguehriguheriugheiruhguierhgieurhg uiehrgiuheriguheriugheirugheirugheiruhgeirughieurhgieurhgieurhgiu ehrguiehr
Enough Said (2013)
Mature and Adult in Outlook, Charming, Realistic
Holofcener writes incredible dialogue between groups of people hanging out having food. She gets to the heart of relationships in an honest way. I love the way the daughters were very honest with their mothers much in the same way as the daughter and father in romantic classic, "Say Anything". This is a perfect film for people who are divorced and in their mid-40's. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini were born to act and this is a great testament to their tremendous subtle skills as actors. Catherine Keener plays her usual stuck-up artist, Toni Collette plays Julia Dreyfuss' friend and in scenes in which they are hanging out, it is very relaxed and friendly and open with one another. It's a breath of fresh air. Toni Collette is always brilliant. There was not a wasted shot in this film. HIghly recommended.
Dead Ringers (1988)
A film that is unnerving in dealing with identity and separation.
When you combine Cronenberg and Jeremy Irons and a great screenplay, you get a fantastic, superbly made film. I was going to say a genre but I don't think you can quite pinpoint a specific genre. It is drama mixed with horror and thriller. I've noticed Cronenberg likes to gradually suck you into the story with a delicate pace so when absurd, shocking, and unconventional scenes come you are left disabled, mouth open from the shock and awe of it. This is one of the best double performances I've ever seen. Very early on you can detect their different personalities despite that identical twinship. Claire, the love interest that is in danger of separating them, asks Beverly (Jeremy Irons)in one particular intimate scene, "Are you guys the same psychologically?" and Beverly says "no, of course not" if I'm not mistaken. It is fascinating to watch how each brother deals with their other half while simultaneously becoming each other throughout the film. Sometimes it's not easy to distinguish the difference. This can be considered a study on identity and maybe consciousness, the fact that we think of ourselves as individuals but maybe history has shaped us in a way that we cant control? Beverly ends up depending on drugs to feel sane after an emotional breakdown that is perfectly captured and commits a sinful act as a gynecologist. it is up to his twin to take care of his ailing brother but at what cost? Nevertheless it's a film that makes you think a lot
Le beau Serge (1958)
Impressive Debut from a very talented director, even though it may not exactly be 'New Wave'
This film is considered to be the first film of the French New Wave film movement, preceding 400 Blows, Hiroshima Mon Amour and Breathless. I don't think you can put this film in the same category as those films. This film is a straight up conventional narrative about Francois who travels back to his hometown after 12 years, looking for a peaceful, restful place and recuperating from a lung infection, he finds that the people he once knew are all in dire straits. They are poor, provincial and cant seem to get out of their rut in this small town, the town Chabrol grew up in. Watching this film I didn't quite know in which way it was headed. The acting is superb and I really felt like I was in that small town with these people. Francois former friend turned alcoholic Serge turns in a convincing performance of drowning ambitions. This film was meticulously put together and the moving shots were intelligently fluid and effective. Unlike what other reviewers have said, this does not feel like a film from a first-timer. I have only seen Chabrol's last two films, Inspector Bellamy and A Girl Cut in Two and they were masterful in execution and i expected this one to be weaker but i was delightfully surprised. It holds up really well and I even think modern American audiences would enjoy this film about sacrifice and reformation.