Ralph Breaks the Internet

Ralph and Vanellope are friendship goals. The film portrays their friendship in an such a unique light, and its’ almost destroyed by the internet. Surprise. John C. Reilley delivers an emotional, albeit dense performance. Alongside Sarah Silverman, their admiration for each other is palpable.

Like most Disney, the films’ message is not at face value. The tale of two friends on a whirlwind adventure to save one life, but might (read: definitely will) fracture their friendship is a Disney classic, (Shrek, Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 1-3, Bolt, etc, etc, etc.). But Ralph Breaks the Internet gives us internet danger vibes, and cling reversing techniques. The internet is an awful place. For anyone. And the bit about the comment section breaking Ralph’s heart is so close to home. For nearly anyone who has a WiFi connection.

The film is sincere in its delivery and isn’t stifled by a moral agenda. We believe the morale because we live it. We buy into the friendship because we want it. We realize the nature of the internet and relate to the characters, not by force. This film is nice. It’s just nice.

5/5, I probably won’t watch it again.

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VIOLA DAVID! DANIEL KALUUYA! CYNTHIA ERIVO! COLIN FARRELL! Steve McQueen made a masterpiece here. This film has grit, long-form feminism, and alluring political prowess. The heist is flipped on its’ head and wildly overshadowed by a smart screenplay, and impeccably shot feature.

Cynthia Erivo was perfectly utilized in this, as a heist-er, as political glue, and as a fierce mother and female advocate. Viola Davis shines in every scene. She is a force to be reckoned with, as both an actor and as the character she portrays. And Daniel Kaluuya as a Spanish-language student and wicked thug breathes entire scenes into life with just a look from his dripping in drama almost-black eyes.

This is more about relationships and political power than a heist. The film talks about poverty and neighborhoods in a way that the rich and the poor can relate to. When Collin Farrell leaves his aldership district and heads back to his neck of the woods, there is a clean delineation between his stress level and his proximity to wealth. Viola Davis’ riches are kept lock and key, and while she claims to be without, her life is portrayed quite differently than those of her counterparts. The casting of a black woman with the upper-hand was intentional to show poverty is without color, and anyone can fall victim to a man (Collin Farrell) with a political agenda that involves a paycheck and a point to prove to his father (Robert Duvall).

Alice, played by newcomer Elizabeth Debicki, brought a female perspective here. Women will do whatever it take to survive. Alice proves that point by becoming involved in a number of affairs outside of the heist, and quickly realizing her worth as a woman and as a partner. She is empowered by literal power and it’s a beautiful transformation to see. 

I liked the styling of this film, it was to the point. We see Kaluuya in either black or white. We always see Farrell in a suit. Erivo is portrayed perfectly in 2018 working class. I appreciated the brevity of the personal aesthetics that were established early on.

The film is a touch too long, and I’m not convinced that we got the full twist when the twist was revealed, and (spoiler) Davis was in on more than we were led to believe. For this reason, I see a sequel in our future.

5/5, I will watch this again and again. All of the women were smartly cast and wonderfully utilized. I predict this will do exceptionally well come award season.

Equals

This premise is unique. Emotions are a disease in dystopia. “Coupling” is illegal. Self-expression is suppressed. The powers that be aren’t explicitly explained, and we are asked to piece together a backstory. A24 always promises idiosyncratic plot lines and complex characterizations, and this film was no exception.

The frigidity of the aesthetic combined with the warmth of new love makes for a sexy run, albeit decorated with incredibly dense, boring, wasteland of white. Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult are so beautiful, too beautiful. The film needed something rough, something exotic and strange. I would have preferred to see some spice breakthrough the monochromatic backdrop.

I appreciate the film as it presents. It was well directed, smartly conceived, and heartfelt. It bestows a humanity that is unfathomably different from the world we live in, and it succeeds in giving us a believable story of love.

4/5.

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

This film doesn’t answer a lot of questions. It doesn’t answer: what? Why? Who? How? None of the important things an audience begs to gain. Seems the budget was blown on the cinematography and post production alienisms and missed the mark in creating any sort of plot. I understand in 1977, this film was a great feat and positioned Spielberg nicely as a strong director, but it just simply didn’t age well.

Spielberg and a handful of other men wrote the book on what our films look like today. We are conditioned to enjoy a film with three acts with clearly defined character relationships, and a distinguished conflict resolution. Where Spielberg dropped the ball is the former. What is our plot here? Is it a ploy to gain ground in globalization? Is it a commentary on our investigations into immigration? Is it a story of the male obsession? There is no answer, and the answer isn’t all of the above because it is never distinguished.

The characters don’t tie together until too late, and their relationships become muddled because of what seems to be divine intergalactic fate. The writing is lazy. The framing is antiquated. The story is under-worked. This film didn’t do it for me. But I understand why it’s important in the history of film, and moreover, Spielberg’s directorial styling.

3/5, for Barry. What a darling child.  And for the history of film. Had this not been made, we might not ever have the dazzling and robust Arrival.

Papillon (2018)

This film is grim. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a true commitment to the human condition in a spiritual setting that should break any human. The whole film was an attempt to glimpse into a psyche of a heartbroken, and eventually a physically broken man. Some of it worked, and some of it didn’t.

The prison conditions, the silence, and the reflective martyrdom in the second act were reminiscent of Silence, but I would argue that newcomer Michael Noer handled the material with a better tempo than veteran Martin Scorsese. The breakdown of the three acts into states of mind for the prisoners were eventually played well, albeit perhaps a little dry during the 2h 13m runtime.

Charlie Hunnam was totally committed to his Papillon and the physical transformation over the course of the film was jaw-dropping. The audience could see he starved for this role, and it payed off. He delivered a sharp performance. His back and forth with Rami Malek was stellar. Malek, on the other hand, delivered to us a retelling of Dustin Hoffman’s Dega from the 1973 Papillon. It was really disappointed to see him fall flat in a role he could have excelled in, given the weight of the story.

I would have liked to know more about Dega, more about Papillon’s life before prison, and more about Devil’s Island. The film doesn’t lend itself well to backstory, with long and often uncut scenes that are drenched in silence and poor framing. Also, why didn’t anyone have French accents? Even Andrew Garfield gave us his best Portuguese accent in Silence. 

The film bolstered itself as an action-packed drama, but gave us a flatter version of an endurance fueled melodrama. At the end of the film, we can understand what these characters were subjected to, but we cannot get a full grasp on what it meant for them.

3/5, for Rami Malek keeping his glasses for 8+ years in prison, and for the butterfly tattoo that ran as a symbol for freedom and prosperity. I probably won’t watch this again, it won’t serve me to try and guess again what these men are thinking.

 

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

What a feat it is to make a largely unlikable character likable and at times, lovable. Melissa McCarthy’s acting chops really shined in this film, and the writing, directing, and cinematography played into that. Her character was in the spotlight, and even though she desperately didn’t want to be, McCarthy played her subtleties well.

When we meet Lee Israel, McCarthy delivers a drunken slur like I’ve never seen on screen before. Totally composed, and yet totally drunk. I found that theme throughout. Her mishaps were well thought out, and yet completely sour. Her friendship with Jack was normal on the outside, and completely bonkers within.

I enjoy so much seeing a well dressed period set. God, the typewriters were like porn, and the clunky cars that lined the streets made me absolutely giddy. Cut to a scene in a phone booth? Fuck out of here! Prank calls on a house phone? I can’t deal. And don’t even get me started about the compilation of fax machines receiving faxes. This film plays the period well, and it has everything else to do with than just what they’re wearing.

The film is about loneliness, isolation, and failure, and it portrays itself with dark comedy that simply misses a mark. Sure, Lee and Jack, a couple of miscreants, aren’t supposed to be stealing hearts here, but at the very least we could have seen a little more humanity in them both. Jack’s charm stole a large part of this film and should have been explored more.

4/5, Melissa McCarthy was a star. I would watch this again, sure. It’s missing something, though. Let me know what you thought it was missing.

Eighth Grade

What a raw ass movie! Eighth grade (the time between seventh and ninth grade) sucks a terrible amount for a large majority. It’s awkward, scary, weird, long and short, and perfectly depicted in Bo Burnham’s directorial debut.

Kayla’s venture through a tough time was so genuinely written and acted. The idea that social media has already been involved in an entire generation is eyeopening on so many levels. Kayla taught the audience how to navigate through influence and priority at such a young age.

This film is cringeworthy and funny and nuanced and perfectly executed with its soundtrack. Just like Kayla, we are taken in and out of situations with song and it played a role in grounding both her and the audience.

Bravo. 5/5, I can’t wait to watch it again. Nominate this bitch!