This is another Alfonso Cuarón cinematic triumph. An exciting, and most exhilarating, adrenaline ride for almost 90 minutes. This is what "Life of Pi" was to Ang Lee; a directorial superclass in long shots and 3D but tied to a script/movie that was good but not as superlatively great. Just the first scene itself is an amazing wonder to watch and marvel as the narrative unfolds and the action kicks in, all within one very long shot. Try not to be too distracted by the science of it all and the plot is straight forward enough. Cuarón's direction is the real star of this show, with impressively long takes, alternating point of views (first to third to first) and even extreme closeups to heighten the sense of claustrophobia and, ironically, the vastness of space. Other than the technical aspects of the show, Sandra Bullock is the other star, and Clooney is nothing more than just a glorified cameo (Ed Harris is the real cameo as the voice of "Houston, Mission Control", flashback to "Apollo 13" the last great space/disaster movie). Unfortunately for Bullock, this is not a star-making, oscar-baiting vehicle for her. She is great but her character was written in broad strokes and almost every typical cliche was thrown at her. A pity she kind of lacked that litheness and fluidity of a dancer to add to the abstract beauty as seen with Cuarón's directorial eye (and captured by Emmanuel Lubezski's photography's). The script by Alfonso and Jonas Cuarón was quite clunky with many points whereby logic takes a backseat and I am not sure if the ending was done on purpose or manipulated by David Heyman and Hollywood, but the visual imageries and metaphors are clearly very Cuarón. Music was by Steven Price and in space, where there is no sound, music is of the utmost importance, however, the score provided by Price was adequate and not outstanding enough to help drive the the mood and ratchet up the tension. IMAX and 3D is definitely a plus to totally experience this movie. I can see this movie getting a number of technical Oscar nominations, but the big ones going for it would definitely be for Best Picture and Best Director (Best Original Screenplay will be a tough fight). And like Guillermo del Toro in "Pacific Rim", Cuarón has also thanked similar folks like del Toro, González Iñárritu, James Cameron and David Fincher amongst others.
Director/Writer Barry Jenkins' moving examination about one boy's tumultuous upbringing shaping his teenage years and moulding him into the man he becomes is both a deeply personal story about self-identity and also an heartachingly poetic narrative of love and romance.
Where "Fences" and Denzel Washington failed in their translation from stage to screen, Jenkins effectively transposed Tarbell Alvin McCraney's "In Midnight Black Boys Look Blue" to the silver screen and embraced all that cinema has to offer to give the story the necessary added depth, scope and cinematic magic.
However, all would have been for nought if not for the cast.
Jenkins struck jackpot with his casting of Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert as the film's protagonist in all three ages. Not only for their uncanny resemblance to each other, but also in the way their eyes and body talk. Similarly, the roles of his best friend were also exceptional. Perhaps only Rich…
A feel good, underdog triumphs, girl-power film, highlighting both a significant and unlooked scientific history during a period of known darkness and discrimination. Led by the superbly entertaining and funny trio of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, this story deserved to be told. However, despite all the hype, its execution was rather lightweight and the storytelling frou frou in nature. Director Theodore Melfi could not find the true heart of the story and although all three women are extraordinary in nature, without a true focus, all three stories felt under served.
Henson was great. Funny and heartfelt, showing us the great range that she has that made her a previous Oscar nominee and now a perennial Cookie/Emmy nominee. However, she was failed by the lack of characterisation and the simplicity in which her character was handled.
Spencer was also strong in her role. Although like Henson, her character was way too simplified.
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…