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Monday, 29 March 2021 16:04

To Paris with love – ‘French Exit’

Most of the time, movies are relatively straightforward. Sure, you have your odd arthouse auteurs and the like, but usually, films work in the way you expect. You go to a drama, you expect emotional impact. You see a comedy, you’re ready to laugh. You walk into a superhero movie, you get superheroes. Horror, scares. Thriller … thrills.

But every once in a while, you find a movie that gleefully upends your understanding of the world in which it operates. It doesn’t actually change anything, yet you’re left with fundamental questions about both what you’ve seen so far and what is yet to come.

That’s the kind of movie that you get with “French Exit,” a smart, engaging film directed by Azazel Jacobs from a screenplay that Patrick deWitt adapted from his own 2018 novel of the same name. It is a dry and witty comedy that takes a surreal turn, introducing strange and unexpected elements that nevertheless only serve to enhance the overall experience of the film.

With an absolutely exceptional cast led by Michelle Pfeiffer, this movie is not necessarily what you might expect it to be, but by subverting your expectations, it gives you an experience that is arguably far better than the one you thought you were getting.

Published in Movies

Few filmmakers are as habitually freewheeling as Steven Soderbergh, constantly willing to move in different directions and try new things. He’s unafraid to shift creative gears, trusting in his abilities and the abilities of those around him to make it work – and it usually does.

Take “Let Them All Talk,” his newest offering now available via HBO Max. Shot in a quasi-indie manner, it’s an amiable and chatty dramady that takes place on a trans-Atlantic cruise. The kicker, of course, is that it was filmed during an actual crossing, with all that that entailed. Soderbergh assembled an incredible cast, led by Meryl Streep, and kept it simple, using mostly natural light and minimal equipment to film.

The end result – ostensibly written by noted short story writer Deborah Eisenberg, though much of the dialogue was improvised by the cast – is an extremely watchable, albeit light, story of renewed and new connections. It’s not a film where a lot actually happens, but the people to whom stuff isn’t happening are engaging enough to get you to stick around. A good hang.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 31 October 2018 12:08

Skate or die – ‘Mid90s’

There are a lot of pitfalls that come when an actor makes the transition to behind the camera. While there’s an undeniable understanding of film mechanics that comes from being on sets, there are no guarantees when making the leap from one role to the other.

And while you might not think it upon first glance, someone like Jonah Hill is actually well-suited for making that transition. Sure, a lot of people will never not see the foul-mouthed fat kid from “Superbad,” but the truth is that Hill has worked across genres in some great movies with some great filmmakers. He’s been in the room with a LOT of talents.

And he’s got a story he wants to tell.

Published in Movies

Stories of loss are difficult to tell. Finding ways to convey the notion of grief without succumbing to sentimentality or devolving into the maudlin – particularly on-screen – can prove trying to even the most accomplished filmmaker.

Published in Movies
Friday, 01 December 2017 11:33

Learning to fly – ‘Lady Bird’

We’re going to go ahead and dispense with the formalities on this one. No need to bury the lede – “Lady Bird” is an absolutely exceptional film, one of the funniest, most honest, most genuine coming of age stories we’ve seen on the big screen in years.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 11:27

The magnificent ‘Manchester by the Sea’

There are plenty of ways in which a movie can be great. It can feature a great aesthetic or offer great performances or tell a great story. It can be funny or sad or emotionally charged or simply beautiful. It can transport you while you’re watching and leave you thinking while it follows you home. Any one of these qualities can make for a great movie, but it’s a rare film that can do most or all of these things.

Published in Movies

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