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Realistic caregiver with some surprising twists
Diane is a very moving portrayal of a 70 year old woman who takes care of everyone, from her older parents and cousins to her 30 something son (Jake Lacy) strung out on drugs. It is interesting and all too rare to see such a giving portrayal of a human being who is far from perfect, but tries so hard to be. As the film jumps through time we see the results of her efforts but are also confronted with things she cannot change, as people in the end are always going to fall back to what their true nature is.
The movie is directed by Kent Jones, a film critic and long time supporter of character actors like Mary Kay Place, who plays Diane almost too knowingly. The movie is full of only character actors, and so becomes a study of what it means to be a person who is often forgotten and over looked in our lives. Some actors start off in small roles and grow to become movie stars, recent examples might be Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Taraji Henson to name a few....but so many actors become people that we look at and say: "hey I know that persons face, but what's their name again?" Diane is an example of what it's like to be a caregiver in life, and a caregiver in acting. It is a film that I wouldnt call "happy" but I would call life affirming, with a really nice ending. Movies that truly mean something and portray ordinary people well are all too rare.
A Star Is Born (2018)
good update on the classic story
I enjoyed the movie as well, its a nice update on the old story as i love the Judy Garland one. Story is depressing as ever, maybe more. I wish it would have been a more pointed attack on pop music as a whole, as it is hinted at but not really fully destroyed (i guess with Lady Gaga as lead the movie can only go so far.) I thought Cooper was amazing as an actor, and pretty much nailed the self-destructive alcoholic musician persona. Gaga held her own, though she was a little stiff in some scenes and im not quite as in love with her as some people are. Ending seemed sort of rushed, but i loved Sam Elliot. in all, worth a trip to the theater just prepare your self for some emotional trauma. 7 out of 10
One of the funniest shows ever made
Billy on the Street is such a great show, it makes me laugh HARDER than any other show i have ever seen. Billy's personality is great, he respects his smart guests and makes fun of his ignorant ones (albeit in ways they are comfortable with). His goal is to be funny but also to raise the intelligence of the viewer and educate people about good vs bad pop culture. If you are up on good tv shows, movies, music, celebs that actually matter, you will love this show. Also, he runs up on people and quizzes them in the face! I would of anything to be on this show
The Shape of Water (2017)
This is a movie that resonated with me as most of Del Toro's work does , and it is formally perfect. It takes aspects of horror, fantasy, romance, thriller, espionage, slavery, racism, period piece, and sci-fi and shakes them up to produce some kind of odd masterwork that will never be duplicated. The movie's cast works off each other perfectly, as everyone stands out together. The musical score and cinematography are just about perfect as well and take the best influences from the past and turn them into something new. The structure of the story is interesting, as most movies would stay with what happens in the first part of the movie for the majority of the film, but what normally be the climax (the big escape) scene actually happens in the middle of the film and the aftermath (the hunt for the creature) takes over and the movie becomes a mediation on the meaning of life. Shape of Water dares to explore every subject possible to explore in a move in 2 hours, and the fact that the dense nature of the movie does not implode under its own weight is.....a miracle. In that context, a woman falling in love with an Amazon fish-god makes perfect sense.
The Florida Project (2017)
the best crescendo of the year
Above all, this is a movie that captures a specific time and place with uncanny precision. It is a story that takes place over a couple weeks, but defines an entire way of life for certain poor people in the country, in this case in the hotels of Orlando, Florida. That the movie is told from the perspective of a child for the majority of the run-time is special as well (Brooklyn Prince is the leading actress performance of the year in my opinion), and this is no adorable story: it is a child doing what children do like spitting on cars, starting fires, and questioning everything. It is a good idea that other characters are followed as well to give the movie more depth, especially the landlord Willem Dafoe and the despicable mother plated by Bria Vinatie, but not all characters are likable, and everything is portrayed with the realism of a documentary. The ending of the movie has been much debated, but it is the best crescendo of the year in my opinion and the film carries you every step of the way.
Wind River (2017)
too real and powerful for the Oscars
There are some movies that are too real and powerful for the Oscars, containing subjects that are taboo. Last year it was Nocturnal Animals, and this year the honor goes to Wind River, which is a drama that never lets up. It is about the persecution of Native American people, in particular the abuse and rape of the women in their culture. Sure the men can't escape and often get imprisoned, but the women mainly end up dead. As Jeremy Renner and Elisabeth Olsen's character's try to navigate the landscape, they are constantly reminded that they will always be outsiders, no matter how much they try to help. Evening the scales and helping drive out the oppressors is a nice idea, but it is far too late as the Native American people are all but extinct. While a movie like Get Out finds a humor in the situation in being a minority, Wind River presents it as unflinching truth. It is a movie that will rip out your heart.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)
surrounded by incompetence
Vince Vaughn keeps growing as a dramatic actor and excels in the role as a man who is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He does everything right but is surrounded by incompetence and takes out his rage on peoples FACES. Seriously, there is more smashing of people's faces in this movie than any other film I have ever seen. Vaughn doesn't just punch people in the face, he gouges eyes, brakes off noses, and flattens countenances. That being said, if an old grindhouse prison action drama doesn't sound like your thing, your correct and you won't like this movie. But if you are up for a challenge to your expectations, this movie is perfectly made and may just surprise you as a great example of its genre.
Get Out (2017)
reveals much about America in 2017
I love that a movie released in February is still dominating the conversation when it comes to best movies of the year. The tightrope the movie walks between racism and liberal guilt is impressive, and it makes the more supernatural aspects more believable. Personally, I love the attack on smug attitude of the rich and powerful, as well as I jump for joy as more original stories like this one come to light. The special effects used in the "sunken place" are like nothing I have ever seen in a mainstream Hollywood movie. It may not be a perfect movie, but it is perfectly rabid and full of ideas that it is unafraid to throw at the audience, and in a way that is more respectable than being formally perfect. That so many people of all races find something to love about this movie reveals much about America in 2017.....i'm sure there are many essays that could/ will be written about it.
a worthy tear jerker
I walked in to the movie not knowing much about it, but the popular opinion that it is a "good film" more than a "fun cartoon" is the correct one. This is not a movie made for 5 year-olds, as Coco is one of the most brutal attacks on the audiences' emotions Pixar has ever perpetrated. In fact, I think this movie is too devastating for younger viewers, who don't wish their hopes and dreams destroyed. The harsh reality, murders, child abuse and death that this movie is obsessed with is great for those of us with a mccabe sense of humor, but I am surprised that this bizarre movie found an audience at all. Bring it on, I say! It's easily the best Pixar movie since 2006's Ratatouille.
The Big Sick (2017)
a twist on the audience expectations
This is a movie that presents itself as one kind of story but quickly becomes something else entirely. The film spends more times with the parents' bonding and acceptance of the main character than really with the main couples turmoil. It's also about working at a comedy club, a past time I am somewhat familiar with. The struggle to survive in the face of adversity, whether it be on stage or in the face of potential in-laws, is what the movie is actually about. And to face the biggest sick of all, intolerance, it takes a defense mechanism triggered by humor. Holly Hunter should have been nominated for best supporting actress, no question.
I, Tonya (2017)
update on the reality
Going to see a movie about Tonya Harding was not something I ever planned on doing, but I will watch anything Craig Gillespie directs, as his movies have a way of making impossible situations believable as plausible tales (see 2007's Lars and the Real Girl or the underrated The Finest Hour). Harding becomes a victim of her own gullibility, thinking it only takes talent and hard work to succeed in the world and that not playing politics will not matter. When other people around her act out on her behalf, well....we all know what happened in the 90's figure skating competitions! We lived it as a country, and finally this tale of a true underdog can be told. Margot Robbie is a force to be reckoned with for sure, if she wasn't before.
Una Mujer Fantástica (2017)
a joy to behold
I don't read a lot about movies before I go see them, as sometimes even the plot synopsis gives too much away. This played to my favor in watch this Oscar nominated foreign movie from Chile, about a transgender woman trying to reclaims her inheritance when her boyfriend passes away from the family that never accepted her. It is the blackest of black comedies, interrupted by surreal dream like footage until one is left wondering which events are real and which are just symbols of oppression hurled at our main character. A great story and somewhat of a mystery at its core, the film is a joy to behold. Transgender actress Daniela Vega makes you feel her harsh reality in every scene.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
what makes a movie "good"
Making a good movie about the making of a horrible movie has got to be harder than it seems, and Franco does a great job of playing the title of character as a man who is passionate about his horrible ideas. IT is as good as Tim Burton's 1994 film Ed Wood, in that respect. On one level it proves that if someone has enough money they can get anything done, but on a deeper level the movie is about achieving ones dreams no matter what anyone else thinks. Franco's performance as a misunderstood artist resonates with us now and into the future.....for reasons he probably did not predict it would.
back in the zone
A lot of people had written Shyamalan off as a director that would only do awful movies since he had been stuck in a rut for the majority of the 21st century, but these people forgot that only the good you do that matters (have you ever watched Alfred Hitchcock's bad movies? Dear god!). While 2015's The Visit returned him as a director that's a force to be reckoned with, with Split he got even better, giving us perhaps his greatest movie yet. James McAvoy may get overlooked by the Oscars for his multilayered performance, but those that pay attention know how hard it really is to pull a multiple personality disorder off and have it not be laughable.
the essence of Wolverine
Logan is a superhero movie on the surface, but a Western movie at heart. It brings the kinds of stories that are already present in comic books of the last 60 years to the screen in ways that are accessible to people who don't already know them, but even BETTER for those of us who have this kind of character memorized. In the actual comic-book story of Logan's fight with The Reavers, he gets crucified and left for dead; too much? Most importantly, this is the closest to the actual character of Wolverine the movies are ever likely to give us, so it deserves to be listed among the top movies of the year.
Logan Lucky (2017)
PG fun fest for the whole family
An old fashion heist movie, with enough plot twists and double meanings to keep everyone entertained. It should be rated PG, and that's not a negative thing. The whole cast is entertaining and it's a lot of fun while keeping the stakes on a human level. Dwight Yoakum's cameo as a prison warden is alone worth the price of admission. Steven Soderbergh welcome back to the movies (he was only retired for 5 years)!
Documentary vs reality
A four-hour documentary that was released theatrically in its full version, but it available on Netflix as a miniseries. The master of all documentaries, Errol Morris, gives us a splice of realism by having real actors (Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Blake Nelson, Molly Parker) play versions of the subject of a son's quest to uncover the origin of his father's death under experimental usage of LSD. It is at times riveting and at times as aimless and far out as a psychedelic experience can be. There has been nothing quite like this mix of documentary and film before.
Leave No Trace (2018)
Frustrating film with great acting
First off, the two leads are amazing in this movie. That is the best thing abiout it. Alot of the locations are also woodsy and effective. However i can't really love a movie that fails to move me emotionally, and this one left me cold. In a way this felt like Logan, but with no action and no real destination in sight. I don't mind not being given insight into characters backstories...as long as those characters are still interesting. The actors really try to give the story life, but the screen play to this movie fails. A shame, because it had some elements of a great movie. Worth a rental perhaps, but in the theater i got very bored about two thirds in.
The Chris Rock Show (1997)
I have no idea why this show has so few reviews, this is such a pioneering show! Before Chappelle, before Key and Peele, This show was on HBO in 1997. And it has 5 seasons! The musical guests are awesome and varied, the skits are really funny, the interviews on the street are very insightful, and everything is no holds barred - lots of race humor and sex talk. But its all smart and tasteful. One one episode he tries to get a petition signed to change the name of a street to Tupac Avenue or something, and he convinces people to sign it! Chris Rock just has that appeal to everyone, it is so fun to watch. This needs to be widely seen by everyone - let's make HBO bring it back into rotation.
Nurse Betty (2000)
I Just Know there is something out there special for me
Nurse Betty is one of the more unique movies that has ever existed, as it refuses to fit into any conventional genre or archetype. Part fantasy, black comedy, romance, the movie is about people who live in a fantasy world because the reality of life is too bleak and hard for them. In an early scene in the movie, Betty witnesses an intense traumatic experience in her small Kansas town, which causes her to go on the run to meet her fantasy man on her favorite television soap (Greg Kinnear) and the two hitmen follow her, one after the payload in her car and one after Betty herself. It sounds like a conventional movie plot, but it is suspended in disbelief just like the audience is suspending by watching a movie. Betty's best friend in the movie stats of her to the police that, "She just wanted something out of life.....anything".
This is Renne Zellweger's breakout role, before she went on to do the Bridget Jones movies and the Oscar winning Chicago (2002). Her character of Betty is perfectly casted, as she has to act an act of a person so naïve and delusional she is completely unaware of the reality around her. When she is on the set of the soap opera, she constantly asks her co-stars "what they are doing" when they read cue cards and try to dress her in nurse uniforms. The two hitman (Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock) are a great match, on one level because of a hidden connection between them and level two lot because Rock plays the character as a rock hard stone cold killer, and Freeman has more of an experience and no-how to him that leaves him open to new things. In a world full of violence and evil natures, Freeman see's Betty as an innocent that must be put up upon a pedestal and cherished, while Rock just wants his payday. This might be both Chris Rock and Greg Kinnear's best performances, as Rock embodies a true psychopath that only shows humor in his obsession with tv soap opera's towards the end of the movie (spoilers, sorry it's still funny though!). His speech upon interviewing Betty's parents about how "God kills people so it must be natural" is bone chilling, reminiscent of the character of Pluto from Carl Franklin's underrated masterwork One False Move (1992). Kinnear plays a hilarious, over the top version of his actual personality in TV star David, and enjoys every minute of it.
The movie is directed by Neil Lebute, master of movies that speak harsh truths about reality. The film has a lot of plot, so it never gets boring, along with a seamless pace that keeps throwing curveballs at the viewer. You think the movie is heading in a certain direction, and it quickly goes into another. People in the movie walk the fine line of feeling sorry for Betty's trauma, getting mad about her unwillingness to accept reality (her eventual roommate Rosa played by Tia Texada), and seeing a lost soul that they can shape to their selfish desires. Most people take advantage of Betty's confused state to make their own desires come true, the movie taking a pretty dark turn as David and the soap-opera producers invite Betty on the set and use her image and dedication of the show (deftly titled "A Reason to Love") as a breath of fresh air for their show (and we all know David has other things on his mind as well). The cinematography is by Jean Yves Escoffier, who brings a gritty quality to such a mainstream feature, the same on he used on Gummo (1997) and his music video for Johnny Cash's "Hurt". In a lot of ways, Nurse Betty has mainstream movie stars and production values with an Indie movie flair and idealism.
Labute walks a fine line in this movie of his usual contempt for human nature and his comedic charm, for the former see his directorial debut, the uncompromising 1997 film In the Company of Men and his Samuel Jackson corrupt cop thriller Lakeview Terrace (2008). He also has a light-hearted side though, epitomized by the great scene where the two hitman go to the grand canyon, and Rock watches in disbelief as Freeman dances with an apparition he thinks his real. These kind of comedic charms and whimsical dialogue are later seen in his classic black comedy remake, Death at a Funeral (2010). The screenplay was not written by LeBute this time around, but by two authors: John Richards and James Flamberg. Flamburg is mainly known for musical scores on films, while John C. Richards has only two other credits to his same, the light hearted big budget flop Sahara (2005) and the newer HBO series Paterno (2018) starring Al Pacino. John C. Richards has a knack for tackling controversial topics with a lighthearted attitude. Upon scalping Betty's husband (played by a rednecked-out Aaron Eckhart) and first chasing Betty from Kansas to Los Angeles, Freeman's charter remarks: "I think most women would have screamed when they saw that, don't you?", which is a good example of dialogue that is humorous and horrifying at the same time.
In all, Nurse Betty is movie about how we all have expectations of how other people should act. When betty got married, she imagined her husband would be a perfect man, but he constantly cheats on her and makes drug deals. She later holds up David as the perfect man he plays on tv, but he turns out to be a pretentious asshole. Freeman expects Betty to be the answer to all of his problems, but has to come to accept that she is just a confused witness to a crime she had nothing to do with. Just like in reality, it is human nature to expect the best out of other people, only as we get older do we discover that "best" is a relative term.
One of Betty's friends in the movie states: "I went to Rome once, and no one can ever take that away from me." Funny how people think experiences like traveling and divorces/relationships make life matter. What this movie wants to ask us is what actually does make life matter, is it how many countries you have travelled to? Is it how many relationships you have had, and how long they lasted? What is the difference between being ignorant of something and being stupid? I guess in the end, we create our own reality, and we are exactly how happy as we let ourselves be.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
recalls details and conversations we all had but most of us have forgotten
Richard Linklater's films are always a pleasure to watch because his dialogue is so true to life and his characters are so natural and easy to relate too. Coming of the labor of love that was Boyhood, Linklater now focuses on the college life of a freshman joining the baseball team much like his movie Dazed and Confused in the 90's focused on high school. Just like actual college, it is a bit of a mess and more fractured and random than you would hope it would be. In high school there were rules you could rebel against, but once you are on your own and considered a "grown up", the lack of rules or a clear path can be alienating and scary. It all adds up to an entertaining semester in a young man's life that recalls details and conversations we all had but most of us have forgotten. How is Linklater so good and presenting what needs to be focused on and said every single time he makes a movie?
life will constantly force you to lose your way
Silence plays like a religious version of Apocalypse Now, with Liam Neeson being the Marlon Brando type who is stranded in a foreign land and lost his way. Two Jesuit Priests are sent to find him, and the tests and trails of their missionary are a brutal sight to behold. It is a story of persecution, of foreign invaders, of stubbornness and strength of will, and these traits are present with the majority of Scorsese's movies. Scorsese has approached religion in his films before, most notably Jesus Christ in the Last Temptation and the Dali Lama in Kundun, but Silence is his best stab at it because it shows not a crisis of faith but how life will constantly force you to lose your way, going from an innocent and naïve state to a full on corrupt one. Sounds like classic Scorsese any way you cut it.
innocent questions asked by a child at a dinner table have bone-chilling answers
Moonlight tells a powerful dramatic story in a poor, hopeless setting but it has never been done quite like this. The structure is set in three acts, one when lead character Chiron is a child in the projects of Miami, one where he goes through awkward teenage years, and one as a confused adult trying to find himself. Oh, and did I mention that he is a young gay black male whose mother is a crack addict? It is a snapshot of life filtered through an art-house lens, brilliantly edited and directed. It has scenes that are so honest they will rip your heart out, like when innocent questions asked by a child at a dinner table have bone-chilling answers. The story is one that never gets told but opens the floodgates for many more movies of its kind.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
characters that feel real so they are "real"
A movie that tells a story in such a way that you feel you know the people inside and out by the movies end. Oh, its also one of the most realistic and depressing stories you have ever seen. Some say the film is slow, but in all honestly it runs at the pace of real life. Casey Affleck and his surrounding cast play characters that feel real so they are "real". There are twists and turns and by the time all is revealed, you learn that in real life things don't always work out for the best and there are no easy solutions. Sounds like a great time, right?
Doctor Strange (2016)
less a super hero movie than a psychedelic experience
Forget Doctor Strange as a superhero movie and just watch it as a series of images. The movie undoubtedly still works, and that is probably it's biggest strength. All of the training montages, the hero facing off against the big villain planning on world domination, and the mentor that is doomed to a tragic fate so that the hero can avenge them – we have seen a hundred times before. Throwing in time reversal, mystic dimensional shifts, magic vs. hard science – even all that has been done to death. But these visuals, not to mention the great acting by the entire cast, are what make Doctor Strange a story worth telling and it is less a super hero movie than a psychedelic experience.