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Marriage Story (2019)
"Marriage Story" is powerful and triumphant.
"Marriage Story" is one of those films that will leave a scar. A tough, draining and powerfully acted family drama, that ranks among the years best films.
In this drama, a married couple go through a coast-to-coast divorce while still trying to remain a family for their young son.
Writer/director Noah Baumbach has always payed close attention to detail and in "Marriage Story" you'll find him searching for everything. Whether it may be closure, love, loss or divorce, this drama will affect you in some way. It's a beautiful piece of cinema. Scarlett Johansson is utterly sublime in a career best performance, while Adam Driver keeps on delivering and becoming an incredible actor. Laura Dern, Ray Liotta and the great Alan Alda all give fantastic supporting performances. Over the period of two hours and fifteen minutes, you see the decline in the two main characters and it is simply heartbreaking to the point where your stomach will be in knots. The "living room" scene is some of the most powerful and raw acting I've seen in a long while. It's safe to say that Baumbach has delivered one of his best films. Stream it now and see for yourself.
Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)
A sweet and relatable film.
"Brittany Runs A Marathon" is a sweet, relatable and funny film with a towering lead performance from Jillian Bell.
In this comedy-drama based on a true story, a young woman decides to change her life for the better and participate in the NYC marathon.
An overall uplifting and crowd-pleasing film that will have make you laugh and touch your heart. Jillian Bell is superb in a career best performance. She is vulnerable, honest and sincere."Brittany Runs A Marathon" touches so many topics and addresses them so well, it's hard not to love this film. Anyone that deals with anxiety, think they aren't good enough should watch this film. You can stream it now.
The Report (2019)
"The Report" is not as good as you'd hope.
"The Report" is a controversial film that exposes the truth in a story not many people knew about, but I expected more.
In this political drama based on a true story, a man is ordered by his boss to investigate the CIA's post 9/11 interrogation program and uncovers shocking secrets.
With a solid performance from Adam Driver, "The Report" still stood short of my expectations. The film feels long, repetitive and kept me waiting for a huge "bang" that never came. I was intrigued the first half of the film but in the later half I just couldn't get into it. I see how it received praise but this isn't one of the years best; it's yet another hit or miss for me.
"Waves" will move you in unexpected ways.
"Waves" will knock the wind right out of you. A rich and riveting emotional experience that I was not expecting.
In this drama, a suburban family's life is turned upside down when they experience a tragedy.
Usually, I don't enjoy films from A24, but "Waves" really wowed me. Beautifully shot, tremendous performances from each cast member and a harrowing and gut-wrenching story that will take you by surprise. From the highest highs and lowest lows, writer/director Trey Edwards Shults goes deep in this film covering all aspects of the human condition. I especially loved his use of various frames for the different tones in "Waves". An incredible movie-going experience that you must see.
"Parasite" is a masterful film.
"Parasite" is a powerful and perfect film that will leave you in awe with its twisted, funny and tension-filled scenes. Writer/director Bong Joon-ho's approach to social classes creeps up on you like suspense in a Hitchcock film.
In this dramatic thriller with elements of dark comedy, an unemployed family schemes their way into working for a much wealthier family by posing as highly-qualified individuals.
Where to begin on how great of a film "Parasite" is? Never has there been a film of this genre to exceed so much and so perfectly. All the performances are incredible, the direction is Joon-ho's finest and most masterful and the story is beyond relevant to all of us. You never know where "Parasite" will lead you but when it gets there, it shocks you or it makes you laugh or even both. This film ranks among the best of the decade and definitely one of the best of the year. An absolute must-see.
Feast of the Seven Fishes (2019)
A hit or miss holiday film.
"Feast Of The Seven Fishes" is a sweet yet sometimes dull B-movie, but is sure to capture the heart of holiday movie lovers.
In this holiday comedy, an Italian American family prepare for their annual Christmas Eve feast while reminiscing about the past and seeking out what's to come in the future.
The thing with "Feast Of The Seven Fishes" is it gets good when Paul Ben-Victor is in the scenes but clichéd otherwise. The script is decent and the laughs are spread out, but it can still be an entertaining flick while putting up the Christmas decorations or enjoying some hot cocoa by a fire. Shoutout to Andrew Schulz who's character really made me laugh and who also does a pretty good Italian. Overall a hit or miss but unfortunately this won't become a holiday classic.
A real gem of a film that will move you.
"A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood" is the most beautiful film of the year featuring a performance from Tom Hanks like you've never seen before.
In this drama film based on a true story, journalist Tom Junod (using an alternate name in the film) befriends cultural icon and TV star Fred Rogers.
I can't even begin to explain the emotions you feel while watching "A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood". It's a whirlwind of joy and sadness, all together making you rethink your own life and how you go about it day to day. Tom Hanks' performance as Fred Rogers is so gentle, so spot on and so honest, you'll want to reach out for a hug. Matthew Rhys delivers an incredibly profound performance that everyone can connect to. An extraordinary film that deserves the praise it's receiving. Please note that this is not a Mr. Rogers biopic but rather a true story about how he helped one family. Be ready with your tissues. I loved this film.
Knives Out (2019)
"Knives Out" is so much fun.
"Knives Out" is sharp, witty, terrific and tons of fun. Writer/director Rian Johnson has reinvented the genre and assembled the greatest ensemble cast in years.
In this murder-mystery film, a family hires a detective to investigate the mysterious death of their father at a family gathering.
From the opening frame you know that you're going to have a great time seeing "Knives Out". Rian Johnson's attention to detail is so evident here and works out perfectly. You can tell this writer/director has been wanting to make a movie like this one forever. Daniel Craig's performance is probably my favorite of his career; he's incredibly versatile. Ana de Armas absolutely nails it and honestly I think her performance is award worthy. The entire ensemble cast is put to good use which you don't see often in these cases. The twists and turns are so epic you will leave the room floored. Definitely one of my favourites of the year.
Queen & Slim (2019)
"Queen & Slim" is a killer ride.
"Queen & Slim" is two-hours of tension rising cinema backed by superb performances from its cast, killer direction and an award worthy screenplay.
In this crime drama, a couple's first date takes an unexpected turn when they are pulled over by a police officer.
Although "Queen & Slim" has a modern "Bonnie & Clyde" vibe to it, this film speaks to our times. An electrifying, funny and honest film that will grab you along for one hell of a ride. Daniel Kaluuya continues to dazzle as one of the best actors right now and Jodie Turner-Smith is simply remarkable. A special mention to supporting actor Bokeem Woodbine who's performance is unmissable. Writer Lena Waithe has given us a story to talk about and a story viewers won't soon forget. This is one of the best and most powerful films of 2019.
Frozen II (2019)
"Frozen 2" is familiar and still fun.
Even though "Frozen 2" might be a little less inviting than its predecessor, this sequel still offers viewers, young and old, a universal message we can all relate to.
In this family film and sequel to the 2013 hit film, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Ardendelle and set out to find the origins of Elsa's powers.
Beautifully animated with terrific voice acting, "Frozen 2" will have little Elsa and Anna's glued to the screen for the entire journey. I did find this sequel to have too many musical moments but the songs will nonetheless stay stuck in your head for days. The magic of Disney. Overall a good sequel, but I did enjoy the first film much more.
The Good Liar (2019)
"The Good Liar" is clever and entertaining.
"The Good Liar" feels long but is still a clever caper fuelled by a pair of leads that ignite the screen.
In this crime thriller, a con-artist meets a wealthy widow online and plans to steal her fortune.
If you think this is some old folks home type film, think again. "The Good Liar" is quite entertaining even if it does have its flaws. Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren are the perfect duo and play off each other really well. McKellen is ruthless, while Mirren plays innocent. The script has a few loose ends and could've been tighter, but overall a good film and worth a watch.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
"Jojo Rabbit" is a funny and daring satire.
"Jojo Rabbit" is a smart, original and daring dark comedy. Actor Roman Griffin Davis is destined to become a bonafide star with a performance like this one.
In this comedic satire, a young boy in Hitler's army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.
To mention that "Jojo Rabbit" won't be for everyone is an understatement. This Nazi-mocking satire tests all boundaries of what is right and wrong but with its heart in the right place. Writer, director and actor Taika Waititi has made a genuine film that will divide its audience, but ultimately have them thinking of "Jojo Rabbit" after the credits have rolled. The all-star cast is superb and hilarious. An overall exciting movie-going experience.
Lady and the Tramp (2019)
"Lady And The Tramp" is a reboot we didn't need.
"Lady And The Tramp" has potential but ultimately lacks movie magic that made the original film a Disney classic.
In this family film based on the 1955 animated classic of the same name, a cocker spaniel and a streetwise mutt fall in love.
This latest Disney reboot is one we didn't really need. Yes, "Lady And The Tramp" is sweet, familiar and cute but this live-action version is too long and forgettable. Although the voice talents are surprisingly good and well matched, it can't save the movie altogether. I would stick to rewatching the original classic and keep those iconic scenes in your memory.
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The Irishman (2019)
"The Irishman" is a flat out masterpiece.
If you're looking for a masterclass in filmmaking, "The Irishman" proves Martin Scorsese and his cast of legends can do it better than anyone in the game. A profound, compelling and slow-burning masterpiece.
In this crime drama, a mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
The hype surrounding "The Irishman" is real and if you're a fan of cinema or Scorsese or crime films in general, this is one for the ages. Running at three and a half hours, the length of the film didn't even affect me or those I was with. The length is needed and every detail is necessary in "The Irishman". Robert De Niro is superb, Joe Pesci's performance is something you've never seen before; calm and collected, and Al Pacino is absolutely sensational. Upon leaving my seat I felt overwhelmed with emotion and overly satisfied with what I had just witnessed, which was much more than a mob film. Consider this Martin Scorsese's magnum opus and a riveting must-see.
Ford v Ferrari (2019)
"Ford v Ferrari" is a thrill ride with heart.
"Ford v Ferrari" juggles enough fast cars, heart and fine performances to entertain you all the way through.
In this sports drama based on a true story, a team of determined engineers make it a mission to build a Ford vehicle fast enough to beat Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Running a little over two and a half hours, "Ford v Ferrari" can be tighter, but the film overall is a fun ride and a solid underdog story. Matt Damon and Christian Bale are a dynamic duo and offer viewers two whole-hearted and grand performances. Director James Mangold ("Walk The Line") makes you feel like you're on that race track and also makes you want to stand up and cheer. An entertaining piece of automotive history that not many people know about and well worth the watch.
Brian Banks (2018)
"Brian Banks" is a tainted biopic.
"Brian Banks" is tainted with melodrama, a predictable script and no touchdowns.
In this drama based on a true story, a football player is wrongly convicted of a crime and sent to prison, but years later fights to clear his name.
Running nearly 100-minutes but feels way longer; "Brian Banks" is a dedicated true story about a man's fight for the truth, but this film fails to deliver any sense of redemption. I would like to understand why they would cast Aldis Hodge as a twenty-something Banks, when he looks 40. That bothered me the entire movie and I still try to wrap my head around it. A disappointing approach that had some potential.
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
"Terminator: Dark Fate" has its flaws but is still entertaining.
"Terminator Dark Fate" is explosive fun and a better film than the other Terminator reboots, but the writing is thin and the film is too long.
In this science-fiction action film and direct sequel to "Terminator 2: Judgement Day", Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg must protect a young girl from a newly modified Terminator from the future.
Although action packed and features some of those Terminator action sequences we love, "Terminator: Dark Fate" doesn't really come alive until Arnie shows up. The acting is a little blah and the storyline is slightly exaggerated, but it does show how James Cameron has creative control on this sequel because the quality of the film is way better than the others. I did expect more from this instalment but regardless of its flaws, I was still entertained and think it's a better film than the ones we've seen in recent years.
Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
"Motherless Brooklyn" is a gem.
"Motherless Brooklyn" is a solid gem of a film. Edward Norton delivers an incredibly passionate performance and shows off his chops for writing and directed as well.
In this crime drama, a private detective suffering from Tourette's Syndrome ventures off to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend.
Despite the mixed reviews, I really loved "Motherless Brooklyn". A passion project of Norton's, this is a powerful film filled with elements of film noir, an excellent cast and a moving story. Edward Norton doesn't make as many films as he used to but when does, he knocks it out of the park. He's such an immensely talented actor / filmmaker and "Motherless Brooklyn" is an example of what he can tackle. A great, great film.
The Lighthouse (2019)
"The Lighthouse" is not worth the hype.
"The Lighthouse" features two stand-out and possibly career best performances from Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, but the premise and mythology that surround this film left me frustrated.
In this psychological horror film, two lighthouse keepers begin to lose their mind when a storm hits the island on which they are stationed.
Walking into "The Lighthouse" I was on the fence of if I would actually enjoy the film and the truth is, I don't get all the hype. The performances are incredible but the film overall is one big, overly long art house horror film. You must really understand the mythology behind the themes in "The Lighthouse" and if you don't get it, I can guarantee you will walk out of the room. Aside from the performances and the way the film was shot in black and white, this is a huge disappointment and a miss for me.
Doctor Sleep (2019)
"Doctor Sleep" is incredible.
"Doctor Sleep" is a bone-chilling, resonant and nearly perfect sequel that puts aside cheap scares and tackles deep and familiar themes.
In this psychological horror film and sequel to "The Shining", an adult Danny Torrance meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.
I cannot express how much I loved "Doctor Sleep". A film that stays true to its source material and even pays homage to Kubrick's take on "The Shining". The scenes where you see a young Danny blew my mind. Ewan McGregor is terrific and newcomer Kyliegh Curran is sensational. The scene stealer has to be Rebecca Ferguson; she plays one of the most complex villains I've seen in a while. An incredible turn for the actress. Editor, writer and director Mike Flanagan continues his strive into the horror genre and doesn't disappoint. This is one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever, so be sure not to Overlook "Doctor Sleep".
The Addams Family (2019)
"The Addams Family" isn't great but it's enjoyable.
"The Addams Family" tests it's macabre boundaries as a "family film" and turns out to be quite enjoyable and funny.
In this family comedy, the ghoulish Addams Family prepare to receive their creepy relatives, but trouble arises when a TV personality tries to get rid of the Addams' home.
Overall an obscure and fun take on the classic family. The voice cast is great and the I really enjoyed the animation. Of course this adaptation isn't as good as the films from the 1990s but "The Addams Family" will now be presented to a younger and newer audience.
Western Stars (2019)
"Western Stars" is a gorgeous and poetic musical doc.
"Western Stars" is beautifully shot, incredibly poetic and grabs your attention from start to finish.
In this documentary, Bruce Springsteen performs songs from his latest album and dives deep into how these songs came to be.
Walking into "Western Stars" I didn't know what to expect, but as soon as the film began, my eyes could not leave the screen. In the moments of silence, you could hear a pin drop in the movie theatre but when the musical performances rocked the screen, you felt like you were in that barn with the Boss. I love that this doc was made to play loud and that aspect was a nice touch. Director Thom Zimny and Springsteen's approach to "Western Stars" feels dream-like to the point where once it's over, you sit in your seat and you need to soak it all in. A great, great film.
Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
"Dolemite Is My Name" is the return of Eddie Murphy.
"Dolemite Is My Name" is a tour-de-force return for Eddie Murphy that you've got to see to believe. Not only is Murphy sensational but the film is incredibly funny.
In this comedy based on a true story, legendary comedian and hip-hop pioneer Rudy Ray Moore finds success in the 1970s becoming his alter ego; Dolemite.
It's hard to imagine a career like Rudy Ray Moore's but it happened; and who better to portray the legend than Eddie Murphy. This is a triumphant return for Murphy as an actor and you can tell he gave this role his all. Wesley Snipes is also fantastic in a role you've never seen him play. Director Craig Brewer ("Hustle & Flow") really captures the essence of the 1970s with flair, dedication and a killer soundtrack throughout. "Dolemite Is My Name" is hands down the best comedy of the year.
Billion Dollar Bully (2019)
"Billion Dollar Bully" is frustrating and insightful.
"Billion Dollar Bully" is a frustrating inside look at everyday people trying to make a living and the consequences of online marketing.
In this documentary, online marketing giant Yelp! is accused of running a mob-like game against business owners who refuse to pay for their online services.
Once you see this film you begin to realize how crazy the world of online marketing is and how much these big companies have control. "Billion Dollar Bully" is interesting throughout but I did want more at the end. I felt like some of the interviews were cut short and I would've like to have learned more about certain business owners. Overall, still a gutsy topic to tackle against such a massive cooperation.
The Laundromat (2019)
"The Laundromat" is a hit or miss.
"The Laundromat" has a ton of potential but fails to deliver the goods all around.
In this comedy-drama based on the Mossack Fonseca scandal, a group of people investigate an insurance fraud, while a pair of Panama City law partners exploit the world's financial system.
Director Steven Soderbergh brings us second Netflix film of 2019 but doesn't seem motivated to bust out those classic films like he made in the 2000's. Don't get me wrong, "The Laundromat" is sometimes entertaining but it's also confusing and at times boring. However, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas are exceptional in this film and really bring "The Laundromat" to life. Overall a hit or miss, but I'm going with a miss. Sorry Steven.
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