A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Did you see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It was a documentary about Mr. Rogers, came out last year, it is amazing and the best documentary of 2018. It wasn’t nominated for an Oscar though, because everything is stupid and life is meaningless.

Wait wait wait wait. I shouldn’t say that. Mr. Rogers would certainly disagree with that statement.

And in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood we have to look at Fred Rogers and get judged all the while, because it is hard to live up to perfection.

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How can he interact with kids all day, and keep his house clean at the same time?
It’s a beautiful day in the late 90’s, and Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a journalist. He writes for Esquire, and has a history of really going hard after people. He is an investigative reporter, he brings up dirt, he exposes people, and a lot of people don’t want to work with him now. He also recently had a baby with his wife (Susan Kelechi Watson), who has stopped work to stay with their baby boy.

And sure, things are tough. He actually recently got in a fist fight at his sister’s third wedding, dealing with his estranged father (Chris Cooper) who wanted to recently reconnect after a really rough childhood.

And now? And now Lloyd has to go to Pittsburgh to interview Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) for a fluff piece for his magazine. They are going to do a story on heroes. He only needs 400 words, barely anything. And well, Lloyd things that he can crack him. That there is someone different underneath the Mr. Rogers facade.

But while trying to get to the real Fred Rogers, it turns out that Lloyd is being cracked open as well.

Also starring Maryann Plunkett, Wendy Makkena, Enrico Colantoni, and Christine Lahti.

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How dare a journalist learn something about themselves in an interview. How shocking!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is going to suffer due to poor advertising on the reality of the film.

First of all, a movie about a journalist interviewing a celebrity and it changing their lives is not a new subject. Just recently we had The End of the Tour and My Dinner with Henre, it is certainly turning into some sort of trope. And with advertising it is not really super clear that this is the case for this film, unlike the previous two mentioned.

No, this looks like a movie about Mr. Rogers! Doing Mr. Rogers stuff! Being humble and awesome! And sure, that happens in this movie, but so, so, so much of the focus is on the journalist dealing with his issues, and Mr. Rogers being the magical other person fixing his life with positivity.

But the issue is, and no offense to the real journalist, no one cares about him. Those parts drag down the film. I went in wanting Rogers, and sure, he was in it. His style his way of talking, his voice, his show. They were all featured and a major aspect. And yet, who cares, no big deal, I wan’t more.

Watch the documentary if you want a better Rogers experience. And yes, Hanks does good at the acting.

2 out of 4.

The Current War Director’s Cut

Here it is, boys. The time has truly come. A film has decided to come out and also be the “Director’s Cut” of that same movie.

Technically that isn’t all too rare. A lot of movies that come out are Director’s Cuts, they just don’t always advertise it. Usually if there is a DC available, it is home release, and it implies the studio or a producer had a final cut that was different from the director’s vision.

So what is going on with The Current War Director’s Cut? Well, Harvey Weinstein happened.

One of the main things Weinstein was known for, besides the sexual assaults and rape, was getting final edit on many movies. He wanted movies to go a certain way, and advertise a certain way, and go for awards with his permissions. He could be great at it, but it also bugged a lot of director’s at the time.

This movie was planning on coming out around 2017, hitting the festivals, and getting lukewarm reaction. Then the scandal. Then the selling off of properties. And our director got his movie back, edited his movie his way, and got to release it wide for the first time!

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It’s basically the American dream, with a lot more sexual assault in the way.

Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch). An American celebrity if there ever was one in the late 1800’s. He was an inventor, an improver of older inventions, and someone who was business savvy. People loved him and he wanted to be loved. But when it came to the battle over how America would be hooked up to the grid for electricity, he was also quite dirty.

George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), known for being rich and helping develop breaks for trains for safety and efficiency, wanted to work with Edison, but he was shunned by the busy man. So he figured he could get into the game, help develop a new technology, and then Edison would want to merge ideas. Edison is not a merger, he is a take over kind of guy, a guy who doesn’t admit if he is wrong.

This began a big battle over the American landscape, accepting bids for their various forms of technology, with the goal to be providing power for the Chicago World’s Fair, and putting their product out there for millions. And of course we have a wildcard in Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), a foreigner, a genius, a man who saw the future, but couldn’t always get the funding or time to put all of his ideas to the paper.

Three men of influence, one goal, and a whole lot of shoddy tactics.

Also starring Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Holland, and Matthew Macfadyen as J.P. Morgan.

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You know that look in your eye when you see an electric candle for the first time last a few hours? That’s the look I want to give to my dinner every night.

I honestly went into this movie thinking the worst. The trailer was okay, the cast I enjoy, but the director’s cut notion prepared me for the worst. That’s weird. The buzz was not good.

But after watching it? I feel frickan’ amped. Westinghouse is so cool, and he is only a name I have seen mentioned and had no idea he was in this race. I figured this was a Tesla/Edison movie thanks to memes, but Tesla is way less important overall to this plot. Shannon does a good job of playing this quiet and seemingly noble entrepreneur.

After the film I was electrified to look up more information on these big three, to go beyond the quick facts I see on the internet. The movie felt accurate. It moved at a very quick pace, telling a historical pr battle with enough excitement to keep me on the edge of my seat. It flowed so well from scene to scene.

I have a love of historical films, especially ones that have good acting. Historical films that don’t get bogged down in being super serious, but still can tell not only a good story, but a story worth being told. A story with wattage. Alright, that’s a stretch.

Anyways, congratulations to Alfonso Gomez-Rejon for getting the movie he wanted to make. Oh, and by the way, he directed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which made my top of the year list when it came out.

3 out of 4.

Unplanned

Ted Cruz likes this movie, Unplanned. Ted Cruz hyped this movie as it came out in theaters. Ted Cruz talked about how wonderful it was to see this very powerful movie early. Ted Cruz encouraged people to see this movie to see the truth about abortion. Ted Cruz was happy to see its numbers. Ted Cruz hyped the movie again when it came out on DVD.

I think it is certain to say that any movie Ted Cruz decides to talk about is pretty damn bad. In at least the last 3-4 years, I haven’t seen Ted Cruz talk about any movie, at all, ever, as a regular person or a senator. And he obsessed over this one.

Clearly, Ted Cruz was given some financial incentive for this film.

It is also clear that any movie that Ted Cruz likes is likely a colossal waste of time.

operating table
Ted Cruz is just another part of the cog.

You want an abortion movie? Well you got it! This film decides the best thing for it to do is give us part of the ending first, so it can do something graphic, and then give us the long story of her life before then. And in this scene, Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher), director of a Planned Parenthood, has to help with an abortion by just holding an Ultrasound. And during the process, she believes the fetus is running away/trying to escape, so she realizes she is terrible and time to quit.

Before that moment though? Abby as a college student always believed in women rights. She actually had two abortions, once from an accident, and the other time from a marriage that ended up not being a good fit and she needed to escape. So she appreciated Planned Parenthood despite apparently everyone in her family being extremely religious and anti-abortion.

So she also decided to volunteer with the company. She walked women from their cars to the doors to not have to deal with the protesters. Eventually she worked her way up, got an official job, then became a counselor to help people decide what to do, and eventually also run the dang facility.

The whole time, her new husband (Brooks Ryan) is incredibly disappointed with her. There is almost never a scene of him just being happy. His religion means that she is wrong and he hates her and is kind of a dick. Not physically. But constantly judging? Definitely a dick.

Oh, and Abby’s boss, who is also climbing up the corporate ladder, Cheryl (Robia Scott) is apparently just driven by profits and loves loves love abortions. But Abby got in this job to help women who need it, but prevent them from getting to the abortion step if possible. You know, the mission of Planned Parenthood. to help women at all costs along the way.

And, spoilers, after the beginning scene, and after all this other mess and being judged, Abby quits her jobs and joins a protest group, deciding to also now shout at those women who leave their cars, but use her position of former director to give more credit to her words.

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A turncoat, if you will.

In this movie, Planned Parenthood is a big boogeyman of a corporation that is driven to make lots of money. They apparently thrive off of abortions, and the more women who get abortions, the more rich they get, and the more powerful they get. They don’t care about women, they care about getting those fetuses out for that paycheck.

They are compared to Big Oil and Pharmacy companies, and driven by huge donors to get this anti-Christian agenda off and running, because of dealing with all of these bad people! And of course the boss character is just a manifestation of all of this. Needs more abortions, needs only loyalty, needs money! And it is ridiculous.

This is all supposed to be a true story. And sure, maybe Abby had a bad boss and attributed things to the whole company? That’s fucked up. But the “disasters” shown in this film, the medical emergencies, and whatever, that seem to make it look terrible, also take place over 9 years I think. If that is the case, then it seems like for the most part a nice ship has been run. All companies have hiccups.

I don’t want to say Abby Johnson is a terrible person. She was driven to this eventually to societal peer pressure. Besides hearing protesters daily for years, her husband was always extremely disappointed with her, and her parents hated her as well. Of course she’d eventually stop and “see the light”. What is messed up is instead of just abandoning it, she tried to use her former authority to convince people it was bad, when really it was just her religious doctrine getting in the way, not her authority and knowledge.

This is an annoying religious film, because 97% of the people who watch it will be those who already are anti-abortion. The other 3% are going to be people who thought it was about something else, or people like me. It won’t change a mind, it is just one of the Christian films where Christians stroke their own egos about how right they are to be Christians. A lot more of them are popping up in big amounts lately, but they are not great films, and Ted Cruz is a goddamn idiot.

Wait. No. He is not an idiot. I don’t fathom he believes all this. He is just motivated to be on this side, politically and financially (most likely), and so he is running with it. He knows it sucks too. He knows.

0 out of 4.

The Best of Enemies

True stories are sometimes fun. Sometimes they are true…ish and give us a topic like Green Book, which is barely about the actual Green Book and pretty damn disappointing.

Other times we get true stories that are like The Favourite, which are probably extremely fictionalized but based on real events and well acted so we let it pass.

And then we get something like The Best of Enemies. Another true story that seems to actually be based on real people and events, without making things offensive or skirting the issues that are important to the subject. Wait, this shows a Klansman in a favorable light? Alright, maybe not completely inoffensive.

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And I got the tweets all ready to prove it.

Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) is a single mother and an activist living in Durham, NC. She runs Operation Breakthrough, which is to help poor black folks not get completely fucked over by the white man. And it is always a battle. Fighting for good homes to live in, fighting for decency, fighting for better schools. It is a full time job and one she will proudly take until it is fixed.

And then we have C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), a poor white man who also happens to be the leader of the Durham chapter of the KKK. I should probably mention that this takes place in 1971, after the Civil Rights Act was passed and desegregation occurred. It had not occurred everywhere. For example, Durham! They still had white schools and black schools. And shockingly to no one, the black schools were older, overcrowded, with old supplies and not enough money compared to the white schools.

Well, one of the main elementary schools gets damaged in a fire, with most of it being unusable except a few classes. Clearly now they need to segregate, it is only fair. Nope. Council says to use those 8 classes and make them go to schools in shifts instead of disrupt another school.

The cowards that be in charge above that, when a lawsuit from the NAACP appears, decide to organize a “charette”. A term made by Bill Riddick (Babou Ceesay), where he comes in to organize the community to discuss the issues for a few weeks and have a senate vote on resolutions. Anything they overall decide to do, Durham will do. Even if that means segregation. And Riddick wants to make sure this is real and worthwhile, so he decides that Ann and C.P. should be the co-chairs of this event, overhear everything and give each side equal ground. Surely, this will lead to peace and harmony.

Also starring Wes Bentley, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Anne Heche, Bruce McGill, John Gallagher Jr., and Nicholas Logan.

Convo
This could get nominated for costume given the body suit Henson had to put on for this look.

Ack. Where to begin.

Well, Rockwell is being typecasted as a racist turned racist we can not hate fully at this point. From Three Billboards, to this, to…Vice (Kanye West says so). That’s not something he should continue.

I was worried about this film because from the title and looks of it, it almost made it seem like it is going to imply that people of these people are important and should be heard. And uhh, one of them is a racist KKK leader. The other is fighting for survival. That is the sort of story that puts a bad taste in your mouth before it gets started, so it is a hard thing for people to just accept and want to see. But yes, by the end, [SPOILERS] the guy saw the light in real life and did the right thing and helped schools segregate, turning his back on the KKK. He should be celebrated for that, but most of the film is putting him in a slightly positive light before the moment, as the change occurs and again, it feel uncomfortable.

Technically, this movie has a white savior problem. And that is hard to avoid when given the real story, a white guy did save the situation. It is a hard thing to balance, when it has to fully embrace the white savior as part of the real narrative.

Honestly, trying to accept this film as a story is hard, and only works and can be acceptable because it is real. If this was fiction, it would be a complete shitshow of a plot. This makes it hard to talk about as a reviewer, from purely a movie standpoint.

So let’s just finish by comparing it to Green Book. The acting in Green Book is better. The camera work in Green Book is crisper. But the plot is so far from reality and insulting, it does not get a pass for its story and its actual true bits are not worthy of praise. While The Best of Enemies is rougher around the edges, it at least sticks to the facts and is pretty informative of a story on this topic. It is one that likely would have been better done as a documentary though, to really get the feel for these people and not put us in the middle of this awkward narrative.

2 out of 4.

Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family is a topic that combines a few things: real life story, wrestling, and British people doing silly things. We haven’t had a title like this in awhile.

Directed by Stephen Merchant, who I had the pleasure of interviewing after the movie and you can read the interview here, it is the story of wrestler Paige. How she grew up in bumfuck England and somehow made it to the WWE, despite not being their typical female wrestler.

I can’t imagine if we had any actual bio films actually based on wrestlers. Documentaries, sure, but like a young Hulk Hogan movie? A young Rock? A young Macho Man Randy Savage? It is relatively interesting that the first one to get one is a woman wrestler named Paige, who is probably only big in the wrestling circuits.

Dreams
This is what dreams are made of.

Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) did not have dreams of growing up to be a wrestling super star, she was indifferent to it. Sure she trained for it like every regular kid. Wait, what?

Oh, her parents are “professional” wrestlers. Her dad (Nick Frost) and mom (Lena Headey) run a very small wrestling company in their small community. Helps them stay clean off of drugs and violence. They train people, they put on shows, they have a good time. Saraya’s older brother, Zak (Jack Lowden), did have the dream his whole life. And thanks to a video, they both are going to have a chance to audition for the WWE!

And then they are going to have to deal with the fact that Saraya, who is going by Paige, made it to the next round of training, and Zak is still stuck at home. She took his dream. And the dream and training in America is going to be tough, lonely and destroy their whole dynamic.

But can she make it? (she can, we know that). And if she can make it, can she be a star? (also yes.) But what does she have to accomplish first? (okay good question).

Also starring Dwayne Johnson and Vince Vaughn.

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“First we kick each others ass, then we kick all of the other asses.”

Fighting With The Family is an enjoyable film but very much by the numbers. A long shot trains, gets betters, and does the unthinkable, and people love her. Along the way were hardships, that made her want to change, quit, and more, but she conquered them. Hooray!

So you aren’t getting anything new from the plot, just the setting. Wrestlers, British trailer trash, and Vince Vaughn playing himself as a talent coordinator.

However, it is clear the actors are really going all in for it. No one is trying to half ass this movie, there is high energy, especially from Headey/Frost. It is great to see The Rock be the Rock again and go all Rocky with it.

Pugh carries a lot of the film as well, and does a really good job for a young actress.

I think this film suffers a bit from trying to put too much story into a short amount of time. Things are rushed, and her struggles don’t seem super apparent. A lot of problems are more obvious communication issues so the audience just has to struggle until she gets her shit together.

But overall, not the worst movie about a WWE star that I have never heard about before.

2 out of 4.

Vice

Adam McKay shocked the world when in 2015 he moved away from his normal brand of movie directing, and instead gave us The Big Short. A true story, that is funny, terrifying, and well acted? What is this? The Big Short ended up being my favorite movie of the year when I made the list (but since then, I know for a fact that Steve Jobs is my real number one after a few years).

So the big question is, can he do it again?

This time his attempt is to go slightly further back in history and give us a movie about Dick Cheney. A hated, loved, and not fully understood politician who was Vice President under George W. Bush. Of course the title has a double meaning here, McKay is hoping to tell this story in a similar way. Narrator being a character, lot of various plot lines, and frankly, weird shit going on.

A funny movie, that is also maybe going to make you sad/angry/scared. Seems like a good idea for a slam dunk.

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This is the face republicans will make watching this movie.

Dick (Christian Bale) grew up as the type of person who was going to go nowhere. He had a basic job, and spent most of his money getting drunk at night. This lead to some DUIs, barroom fights, the normal stuff. But his wife, Lynne (Amy Adams) wasn’t putting up with his basic bitch problems. She was still in her prime and could have any man. It was time for him to put up, or shut up, and save this marriage before it was too late.

And apparently, he still had some fight in him.

He eventually got himself a job as an intern in DC, where he met Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), who was a big Republican at the time, and who knew how to play the game. Cheney quietly learned the same tricks and I do mean quietly. He wanted to have the power, without showing it off. He wanted to do without saying and just become great. He wanted to maybe become president one day, and every little bit was just a step along the way.

And Cheney also didn’t care what he had to do to get it. He learned of many legal loopholes about what the president can and cannot do, along with the vice president job. He became CEO of Halliburton, raised a lesbian daughter, and shot a guy in the face who later apologized for getting shot. He clearly is a man with a story, even if that story makes him out to be a total shit bag.

Also starring Alison Pill, Bill Camp, Don McManus, Eddie Marsan, Jesse Plemons, Justin Kirk, Lily Rabe, LisaGay Hamilton, and Sam Rockwell as George W., with Tyler Perry as Colin Powell.

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Somewhere in there is Christian Bale.

Vice is a polarizing film because it goes hard after Dick. This is not remotely a fluff piece. He is the bad guy of this story. Even if you think it is going to talk about how he is a go-getter, who works hard. No, he is bad. A mastermind. Explicitly working to gain power regardless of precedent. Now, whether all of this is factual is the question. What matters is that a lot of it IS factual, even if the motivations we have to more guess about.

It also is extremely unique in its story telling, so much that the message can get easily lost. After all, there is a lot going on, and if you don’t believe anything happening, you might just call it a silly movie.

The acting is what we really have to talk about here. Bale completely transformed himself. Outside of young Cheney, he looks completely like a different person and it is easy to forget he is even inside that body. His transformation is this year’s Darkest Hour. Adams and Perry are limited in their roles, but do outstanding jobs. Carell has done better in other roles, but still carries his own weight here. Rockwell is a natural fit for George W. and should play that character more often.

Vice, on its own, is basically an insane film. It definitely isn’t as good as The Big Short (I think…?), but it is a film I feel like I need to see 2 or 3 times overall before I fully can grasp its scope. I am annoyed at myself for having to write this while only seeing it once. It is definitely going to be deserved of acting praise from Bale, but I am not sure what else it might walk away with for rewards.

Either way, McKay, hats off to you for trying new and polarizing work.

3 out of 4.

Mary Queen of Scots

As a history major, I tend to love a good historical biopic film, that goes for realism, truth, and has amazing set pieces.

At the same time, my focus was on Ancient History, and I tried to avoid any of that medieval nonsense, mostly because I do not care about British history. I got enough of that growing up. I want old stuff or other cultures. I just don’t want to get bogged down in the King and Queen dramas. It is why I still haven’t seen The Crown.

But Mary Queen of Scots is a famous story, one that I know next to nothing about. It has to be famous, it rings true, but honestly, never looked into who or what it was. Did she behead a lot of people? Did she inspire Braveheart? I don’t know!

I do know that with the leads being several ladies, we still might get some dope gossip though.

Mary
On first glance, this does not answer the Braveheart question.

First of all, this film takes place like 250-300 years after William Wallace, so they are unrelated.

We are going to talk about Mary (Saoirse Ronan) who became Queen of France at 16! Nice. Two years later her husband died, and instead of remarrying and living back in France, she went back home and decided to rule there again. Now, due to some legal loopholes, she has more of a right to the throne of England than her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie).

But Mary cannot just go and waltz in, demand the crown, and everyone is cool with that. So instead, she goes to Scotland, to work with the people there to set up a rule, to be peaceful with their neighbors, and basically bide her time. If Elizabeth cannot get an heir, or dies, it will be Mary’s turn (or her own children), so let’s be civil and wait it out.

It is not civil. There is some warring, some backstabbing, some dead loved ones and imprisoned things. There is a lot of betrayal and a whole lot of politicking that will get you lost.

Hey. As long as you still look noble by the end, right?

Also starring David Tennant, Gemma Chan, Guy Pearce, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Adrian Lester, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and Simon Russell Beale.

Queen
Royalty is the epitome of being a strong independent woman who don’t need no man, unless you need an heir to keep it strong forever, in which case you are vastly dependent and sad.

When I say get lost in the politicking, I really mean it. This is a dense cast with a lot of characters who have lines and I guess are real people in history. And it is not like the movie pops up with subtitle cards to fully explain everyone’s role and their motives. You have to pay attention, try to gather what matters and what doesn’t and by the end, I still didn’t fully grasp who/why everyone was, why things happened, and the real ramifications.

This might just be a historical movie for those already down with the history. And there is nothing wrong with that, technically, but it does mean it will have issues finding a larger audience. Movies should be made for all sorts of people and a certain level of intelligence can be a requirement. It just means I am left talking about how pretty the movie was and well acted, without being able to comment a lot on the plot.

Needless to say, the movie was very pretty and well acted from our leads. I was especially surprised by the makeup department and their ability to make Robbie look a whole lot less attractive.

For my money though, I could never imagine wanting to watch this movie again. It is 2 hours that feel like 3, no matter how pretty it looks.

2 out of 4.

The Favourite

At this point in my career as a movie reviewer, I can no longer say I am unfamiliar with Yorgos Lanthimos‘ work. Now, his first few things? Sure. But I have reviews of The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and now, The Favourite, so that is a clear majority of his movies. I can still suck as a person for not seeing the things that got him famous that are apparently great in their own rights, but I am familiar with his work.

Lobster was absurd and social commentary. Deer was creepy and made me panic. And The Favourite would turn out to be just as different as the last two.

The one thing I was most curious about this movie going into it is that it was listed as a “Biography” on IMDB before hand, having never seen the trailers or anything. This…this is a real story? Or at least based on one? That is certainly nothing like Lanthimos’ previous work, so it is good to see him go in strange directions.

Wait
Waiting rooms with no magazines got me like

Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is in pain and sad. She lost her husband, she has aches and hurts and she doesn’t want to rule England. She wants people to fix things and for her land to be in peace and to hang out with bunnies. Thankfully she has Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) by her side. Sarah has ambitions and smarts and wealth and is married to the main general. She wants what is best for Anne and best for England. She helps the Queen in every thing, including decision making, and is brutally honest with her. They might even be in love. That would explain all the sex stuff at least.

Things are going well enough, the two political parties disagree about things, and it is all terribly confusing, but whatever.

On the other side, there is Abigail (Emma Stone), who used to be a lady, but had some big problems with her family kind of ruining everything. But she is cousins with Sarah, so she wants to go to their castle and find protection. She is given a job as a very low level maid, not what she is used to, but it is better than nothing. However, she quickly finds that her talents can be better used and makes herself extremely valuable, with the goal of rising up the ranks.

Maybe even winning over the love of the Queen, and screwing over her cousin, who is definitely a b word.

Also starring Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn.

Bow
But we are here for the ladies ya’ll, even if Hoult has magical hair.

Going into a Lanthimos film you will never really know what to expect. This film seemed to be an experiment in camera work, from wide angled to fish. Amazing camera work at that. Given a film that will have most people talking about the costumes and acting, it is very important to realize how sexy everything felt. It wasn’t like normal impressive cinematography, it had strange side effects, and there were a lot or risks with it. It helped explain the complex feelings going on in the kingdom at the time and the complexity of these characters.

Okay, now the acting. Stone. Weiss. Colman. All extravagant and showcasing some of the best acting of the year. Apparently Stone/Weiss are both going for supporting roles and will be nominated together in a lot of shows, while they are giving Colman the top acting role and you could argue for all three that they deserve some form of main actress. The men are secondary in this film, they are schemers, they are distractions, but it is about two women who both want power and will do a lot to make sure they maintain their power.

I laughed so much throughout this film, while cringing and hiding at other parts. It really goes to extremes in all levels, never super graphic, but a few intense scenes regardless.

What surprised me was how “accurate” it was to history. Now I am willing to bet none of these conversations are close, and I don’t even think Abigail was real. But we have the same queen, bad health a lot of her life, lady Sarah, changing political allegiances, war, and it had the number of miscarriages correct (which during the movie just seemed like an absurd/uncomfortable joke). Again, I put accurate in quotation marks. It is clearly not accurate, but it is also very much inspired and not drawn out of thin air.

Basically, everything that The Favourite tries, it accomplishes with gold and blue ribbons. Even the jarring and uncomfortable ending makes a lot of sense for this movie. The Favourite came out of nowhere for me, and I could never have guessed it to be so brutal and enjoyable. One of my must see films of the year, and certainly one of the top.

4 out of 4.

Green Book

There were quite a few Green Book screenings in the Houston area leading to this films release. The first one was still in October, I just didn’t feel like going to see it then because it would have been my third film in three nights, and I knew there were more. The second screening was at a location I disliked, so I passed on it. The third one ended up being during the day on a Monday, and that is silly. So screening number four? Well, I almost missed that one too.

You see, that was the same night for screening Creed II and Ralph Breaks The Internet. Both of those films are the kind that draw in clicks to your website, but I didn’t love Creed so it didn’t bother me, and I really didn’t think Ralph 2 looks swell.

And in my past, skipping a film four or more times usually comes up to bite me in the ass. Like I would have loved it, or award nominations and I am sitting around like an asshole who hasn’t seen an obvious award favorite. I don’t need to be an asshole, I just need to see this movie finally!

Eating1
I also need to learn how to look good in yellow.

Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is one of your typical Italian Americans living in NYC in the 1960’s. He has a loving family, a very big extended loving family, and he knows everyone around town. He also has a bit of an anger problem, and a fighting problem, so he uses his skills to make sure that people don’t ruin events. He works at a fancy club and makes sure that other customers don’t have a bad time. Thankfully, he is not involved in the mob.

But he has to find work for a few months as the club closes down for renovations. The mob wants him, but he doesn’t want to get involved in that stuff. He gets a job opportunity to be a driver for some doctor. It turns out this doctor is a musician, a black musician. Dr.Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) has multiple PhD’s, is a classically trained pianist, and has made several records. He lives in Carnegie Hall, that is how seeped in the musical world he is. But Shirley wants to branch out, he wants to go on a tour around America, for less money, but to help change the world. He wants to go down south, to the racist epicenters and showcase his own talents.

Dr. Shirley is not a dumbass, and that is why he needs a driver who can handle specific situations. A driver who can guarantee him access between venues, to deal with the racist whites, and to help out along the way. And I guess Tony Lip is that guy.

Also starring Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov, Iqbal Theba, and Mike Hatton.

Eating2
Are you sure they drove around? All I see is them eating.

Green Book is destined to be a favorite film amongst movie goers this season. Coming out in Thanksgiving is definitely a good call. It might not be a family favorite, given the R rating from language throughout it, but people will enjoy the story. It is a different sort of heartwarming tale.

You know. Racist white guy getting over himself to realize this black boss is a good person as well, and he can learn from him, and teach him, and they can grow old and happy together. Even if he is black!

And that is really where my issues from this movie come from. It almost treads into the white savior problem of these films. First of all, yes this is a true story, and yes, these people were friends for the rest of their lives until they both died. That is totally fine! What seems odd though is that despite all of the recent trends, they decided to make this movie from Tony’s point of view. Tony is white and an American people can relate to, in order to see the film. But this could have been a very different film about a musician, who has all of these skills and degrees, still having to deal with a very racist world in the 1960’s (versus our regular racist world now).

We could have saw him have the decision to do the tour, and then put out the ads for a driver, do the research and let the white guy be mysterious. Let the white guy be off putting and odd. There is no real reason why it couldn’t be like that, given that it is just about these two individuals. They just had to make the black man the mystery and the strange thing here, when both individuals could have been the case.

Telling a story about an individual getting over racism is fine, sure, but it is one we have seen over and over again. The filmmakers have still not gotten over their ability to tell stories in ways that actual resonate with people of color to tell their story, but instead, piggy backing off of the white narrative.

Overall it was just disappointing to see it like that. A film that could have taken some risks and chose not to take any. In terms of acting, Ali and Mortensen are both phenomenal. They are worth the price of admission. I just can’t help but imagine how much better it could have been if it worked to address the social concerns in a more proactive way.

2 out of 4.

Boy Erased

A lot of films about boys coming out this year. Most notably we have Boy Erased, which this review will be out, and Beautiful Boy, which I haven’t seen yet because I suck, apparently.

I think all of these films are a reaction to Lucas Hedges, who is the Hollywood “it” teenage/young adult male character these days. His first year of acting he was in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Manchester By The Sea, and Lady Bird. All award nominated films.

This year it is Mid90s, this film, and Ben Is Back. Films that just want to use Lucas Hedges up.

Ignoring some of his previous roles where he didn’t have as big of a pull, but apparently he only takes great projects now. Good on him. He doesn’t want to be a boy erased.

Family
“If you are going to be raised in this house, you are going to speak Australian! Crikey!”

Being gay in…well, most places is going to be hard. It is going to be harder if you are in a staunch anti-gay City environment, or ultra religious environment. For example, maybe your parents are preachers. That might not be the best place to come out.

And that is the reality of young Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges). He had to come out to his parents after an incident, despite his dad (Russell Crowe) being the Baptist preacher of the area. This is awkward, uncomfortable, and a bit sad. The mom (Nicole Kidman) wants to be supportive, while also listening to her husband.

Somehow, they all agree to send Jared to a gay conversion therapy camp. It is only for a little bit at first, to see how reluctant someone is to change. They can earn their straight card relatively quickly, with faith and good attitude. Others might have to have a more permanent, longer stay, with overnights and cabins.

And this is where Jared meets people like him. And the very intense and seemingly powerful man running the show, Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton), who knows that people can change. And if not, they can be forced to change.

Also starring Flea, Xavier Dolan, Troye Sivan, and Joe Alwyn.

Bed
Sleepovers help build trust.

I don’t know how many movies have been about gay conversion therapy before this one. It has been plot points of various TV shows, from South Park to Malcolm in the Middle, but they rarely talk about the extreme dangers to the mind that happened during these things, along with the brainwashing and extreme control of them all.

And this one gets real with it. It puts the viewer in there, it showcases the sadness, and it really makes you think.

At this point there is a lot less gay conversion therapy places in the US, but there are still some that exist. Which is a big problem. This is a film meant to bring more awareness to the issue, in a way that the dozens of articles may not have been able to fully address.

Hedges, Kidman, and Crowe were really great here. I loved the fuck out of Crowe, specifically, it is good to see that he still has it. Edgerton, our director, also really did a good job of making me hate and somewhat fear his character. A lot of great performances.

And yet, at the same time, I strangely didn’t cry. It seems like a perfect film to bring on the tears, and I still couldn’t ever reach that point.

It is a film that will certainly be talked about for some time.

3 out of 4.

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