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If Beale Street Could Talk Review

11 Dec

There’s no doubt that this is a beautifully crafted film. Britell’s score is the best of the year, Jenkins and Laxton bring a loving tenderness to each shot composition, and the performances bleed compassion and ache with love. But it’s also all a bit too controlled, a bit too removed, a bit too artistically perfect. Jenkins wants to highlight the simplicity of the central romance, but he doesn’t let the rest of the film breathe in the same way. By alternating between grandiose monologues from underused supporting characters and wordless closeups of our main characters, he begins to lose the pure magic of the latter. As the film progresses, it becomes less of a palpable feeling of romance and more a repetitive attempt to capture that feeling. Britell’s score, unfortunately, becomes a crutch in a way. The ending is unsatisfying, but not in a good manner. It feels like the filmmaking and the story are incomplete.

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Roma Review

12 Nov

There are things in this life that we keep steady despite all adversity. Friends, family, relationships, even one’s own pride and determination. Chaos can define the world around us, threatening to destabilize everything we know and love. But still, we persist. Something keeps us going.

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The Favourite Review

5 Nov

This film consists of half brilliant setup and half treading water. The setup is some of the most lively filmmaking of the year, with lines that zing off the page and an energy that crackles underneath the mounting tension. The three women at the center are all excellent, with Weisz in particular delivering a ferociously entertaining performance throughout.

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Boy Erased Review

1 Nov

This is an overly dramatized package of forced sentiments that ultimately have nothing to say beyond “conversion therapy is bad.” Edgerton directs this like he’s making a thriller at times, framing his conflicts along the most rudimentary lines and relying on music cues more so than on character development. It’s quite unfortunate that none of the relationships between Hedges’ character and the boys his age are fleshed out at all. Everyone around him is a plot point, not a character, and that’s most evident in a late film turn that just feels lazily manipulative.

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Widows Review

29 Oct

It really gives me no joy to say that outside of the performances and directing, this film is a pretty significant letdown. It’s especially a shame considering this was my most anticipated of the year.

I appreciate the film’s intent when it comes to portraying a sprawling community and the racial and class politics that abound, but this is a two hour story and not a David Simon miniseries. McQueen and Flynn struggle to write a compelling story for any character amid the backdrop of their view on the city, and the development of the heist itself is hastily conceived, sidelined, and rushed at various points throughout. This shouldn’t be that big of a problem considering the film doesn’t purport to be a “heist film” in the conventional sense, but the motivations of the characters involved in the heist are very poorly written. Rodriguez doesn’t get much to do, Debicki’s storyline is trite and dull, and though Davis gets the most material to work with, it’s not good or substantial material. It’s just so evident how hard the script is trying to make you invested in her backstory with all its mini flashbacks, and the only reason the emotional climax has any semblance of payoff is because Davis tries her hardest to sell you on it.

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Wildlife Review

28 Oct

Beautifully shot and fairly compelling for a refreshingly simple story, but the entire thing is almost a bit too technical, a bit too controlled. The writing and directing keep you at a distance for far too long, and the entire arc of the story struggles to build emotional resonance. It’s almost as if Dano and Kazan, in the name of being understated, didn’t particularly develop any aspect of the story and instead relied on sad domestic drama bullet points. I’m also just not as impressed with Oxenbould as everyone else seems to be; the performance isn’t interesting enough to have him be the focal point, though I’m a fan of the idea.

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Bad Times at the El Royale Review

21 Oct

This discount Tarantino knockoff is not even half the film The Cabin in the Woodswas. Very few films this year have managed to spin their wheels more than this one does, overstaying its welcome by a good 45 minutes and thus losing any semblance of the necessary propulsive energy. It’s not even really that funny or fun. Goddard tries and fails to spin the complicated narrative together through pointless flashbacks (there’s an especially cringeworthy one late in the film) and emotional character backstory, stripping the entire thing of the charm behind its “strangers in a room” premise. Ultimately, the underwhelming climax hardly justifies the needless narrative complications that get us there. Performances are good, cinematography is great, and the style is slick, but this just spreads the fun out so thin that it all disappears by the end.


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