My snarky reviews of Movies, TV series, Food and other happenings...
A distinctively American, and totally Spielbergianly indulgent, historical drama that may not play as well to the international audience despite a tour de force, immensely astounding and amazingly immersive performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. He is going home with the Oscars no doubt about it. I can see why Spielberg may not be winning the awards as this is surely not his strongest film. But why Affleck is beyond me, when Bigelow and Haneke are way more deserving! Spielberg's signatures are over this film with glares, flares, backlights and shadows play. He composes images beautifully and these are lensed gorgeously by by Janusz Kamiński, in particular one very memorable moment with Lincoln's eldests son. Kaminski and Deakins ("Skyfall", any my first choice) are the top contenders for Best Cinematography. There is a steady hand directing throughout but the pacing is inconsistent and the narrative occasionally falters. Kushner may be blamed for the latter as his script although sprinkled with moments of wit and dry humour, is also peppered with clunky exposition that unless uttered by Day-Lewis is rather aversive. However, the lines spoken by Lincoln were lyrically beautiful and impactful. Tommy Lee Jones and his curmudgeonly old man is the second best thing of this movie. He gets the best one liners and delivers most of the chuckles in this otherwise serious film. A strong contender for Best Supporting Actor (and in my opinion, Philip Seymour Hoffman is really more of a Lead Actor than a Supporting Actor for "The Master", but may be Jones' strongest rival). Sally Field gives a solid performance as Mary Lincoln although she does look decidedly older than Day-Lewis' Lincoln. Her one scene opposite him as she goes through a gamut of emotions is as strong as Anne Hathaway's "I Dream a Dream" but perhaps less showy, so she may be in the running but is a distant second for Best Supporting Actress. The other supporting casts were less memorable but at least not distracting. Both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lee Pace were barely recognisable. John William's score was boring and insipid, and sincerely, his nomination (and Newman's for "Skyfall") is a bit of a head scratcher compared to Desplat's other two non-nominated works for "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Guardians". The epilogue was too long and could have ended 10 minutes earlier if the final scene was tagged on right after the surrender. There was no need to show *Spoiler Alert* Lincoln's death *End Spoiler* ... don't we all know it? That is a classic example of Spielberg being overly heavy-handed and indulgent. The Best Director race may actually be very interesting this year!
*note: kept having flashbacks to "House of Cards" throughout! Who's the whip I wonder :)
An absolute crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Pixar has done it again with a four-quadrant winner that resonated across generations and culture. It may not be as (pseudo)-intellectual as Inside Out but it definitely pack a great emotional punch especially in its third act, with a strong story line on the evergreen theme of family vs self and obligation vs passions that never turned schmaltzy. Great voice work all around in particular Anthony Gonzalez and Gael Garcia Bernal, with great music and score from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the duo that gave us the hits from Frozen, and Michael Giacchino who is back - at last - with a mariachi-tinged score that delivered on the emotional journey.
Directed by Lee Unkrich, who also gave us the last real Pixar tearjerker, Toy Story 3, Coco continued Pixar's animation technological supremacy. The film was gorgeous to behold and tiny nuances like the translucency of the skin, the glow of candle light and the luminosity of the …
If nothing else, this was a singularly stunning, breathtakingly gorgeous, absolutely beautiful piece of film. Just give Roger Deakins his Oscar now! As for Dennis Villeneuve, the man is now five for five since his 2010 breakout film Prisoners, and he will surely be in the running for Best Director again this year. His film in itself - prior viewing of the 1982 original not necessary, but does inform the experience - was a surprisingly simple, yet layered noir/science fiction story that was effectively told despite its length (163 minutes) and also, ironically, satisfyingly unresolved. Ryan Gosling stood out and may get a nod but he is in danger of not breaking out of his comfort zone.
The IMAX experience was really worth it here. Not only as a canvas for Deakin's sumptuous cinematography, but also for the excellent sound design and mixing. So far, only this film, Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road pioneer Avatar has really, properly utilised the capabilities of IMAX.
A competent film from the directors of "Little Miss Sunshine" that tried to juggle too much including gender politics, LGBTQ rights, themes of love vs ambition and of freedom to love with a love story and a love triangle, and unfortunately, in the end, underserved all of them to the point that the actual titular tennis match was the most exciting moment of the whole 121 minutes. In a similar vein, the supporting actors, including the scene-stealing Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming, and surprisingly nuanced Austin Stowell and Elisabeth Shue, were more interesting to watch than the leads: a miscast, albeit competent, Emma Stone (who had no chemistry with Andrea Riseborough) and a funny, but lightweight Steve Carrell. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris delivered a by-the-numbers story but may have bitten more than they could chew such that although the narrative moved forward, it moved erratically and without focus. Furthermore, with such a well known historical momen…