Sometimes a film comes out that defies mainstream conventions so much that we describe them as “arthouse”. This term is given new meaning with Final Portrait – an arthouse film that focuses on the process of creating art, through the lens of Swiss surrealist Alberto Giacometti.
This is a film with many positives and things to recommend. But, as can often be the way with the arthouse, some useful conventions that may have been needed have been neglected, putting a dent in the end product.
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Upon directing the award winning war film Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson commented that some aspects of the true story it was based on were so outrageous that they’d never be believed by a general audience. I bring up that story mostly because I find it interesting, and I can never resist sharing a piece of useless trivia that may or may not one day win me a prize at a fundraising quiz night, but also because the new film American Made, based on the true story of Barry Seal, is one of the most unbelievable stories I’ve ever seen. And I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Granted, the film appears to take liberties with the facts, as Hollywood can often do, but the general craziness did occur and it makes for one wild ride at the cinema.
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When you look at the marketing for the movie Lion, with its emphasis on Nicole Kidman crying in a chair, and Rooney Mara whispering to Dev Patel with deep and thoughtful philosophizing, and even that poster that you can see above (seriously, that thing is woeful), you may be forgiven for thinking that this true-life story is going to be the average Oscar bait.
In reality, however, this film does stand above the pack in that regard, at least for the most part. This is a beautifully shot, very well acted film with a strong emotional center. And not a dry eye left the nearly full theater I saw it in, either.
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The 22nd of November, 1963. It’s one of the most recognizable dates in the history of Western civilization, and not because it was the last day in history before Doctor Who began (as significant as that may be). We’ve all heard the story – Lee Harvey Oswald, from the Book Despository in Dallas, Texas, shot the President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy. Or maybe someone on a grassy knoll did it?
It was a shocking event, and one that is etched into the collective soul of everyone who lived during that period. Jackie tells this story from a new perspective, one that focuses not on the political ramifications or the conspiracy theories, but on the more personal story of the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, who went from a powerful woman on the world stage to a grieving mother in the space of one motorcade trip.
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Humanity sucks. There, I said it. It’s out there. As a species, we are the worst thing that could possibly happen to a planet outside of the selfie stick. And we’re the worst thing that can happen to each other as well, as we’ve seen countless times.
A United Kingdom is just one of the movies that explores how much of an ass we are to one another, by exploring the love story between an African heir and a British typist, and the hordes of rich, important people doing everything they could to destroy that relationship. So, definitely the feel good story of the summer then.
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Every now and again, a movie comes along, usually based on a company, that has people scratching their heads. “Really,” they say, “Hollywood expects us to see a movie about Facebook? They’ve lost it.” Well, they say that, until The Social Network comes out and the Oscar buzz circulates and people complain that Jesse Eisenberg was robbed of the Oscar by Colin Firth. “He was just in that dumb movie about the stuttering King anyway! I could have done that.”
So, is that what’s happened here? Was the gnashing of teeth as we say “Why on Earth are they making the McDonald’s movie?” really unfounded, or did the general public have a point this time?
Well….. it’s no Social Network, let’s put it that way. On the scale of Hollywood biopics, it’s more of a Beyond the Sea. Remember Beyond the Sea? Me neither.
Continue reading “REVIEW – The Founder”
Note to readers: I’m aware that this particular review is a little bit late. Unfortunately, the state I live in chose to revert back to the Dark Ages and turned off all the lights this week, which rather threw out my weekly schedule (and deleted my draft for this review). Please accept this late review, and keep an eye out for the next one very soon.
Oliver Stone is one of Hollywood’s most unabashedly left-wing filmmakers, with many of his films being basically narrative versions of a Michael Moore documentary. And he’s not been shy about sharing his political views in this biopic of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. This is a movie that is far from subtle with its message, but it has its fair share of positives too. What this leads to is a flawed movie that is still worth checking out if it interests you. Continue reading “REVIEW – Snowden”