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Thread: End of Year MOVIE JOURNAL

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    End of Year MOVIE JOURNAL

    End of Year MOVIE JOURNAL



    Not in NYC this season but still hope to get caught up on the year's most admired movies though I had to send off my IndieWire questionnaire before seeing some films I'm likely to rate high. I will need to see: 1917, THE FAREWELL, JOJO RABBIT, LITTLE WOMEN, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE UNCUT GEMS. Also being mentioned: DOLOMITE IS MY NAME, AMERICAN FACTORY, ONE CHILD NATION (which I also have not seen). And some current ones including A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, DARK WATERS, QUEEN AND SLIM, BOMBSHELL. Plus I'm keeping an eye on Mike D'Angelo's best list including IT MUST BE HEAVEN, FIRST LOVE (Miike) and HIGH FLYING BIRD.

    I am surprised that the grim pseud-doc THE CHAMBERMAID (Lila AvilÚs) and the actual doc HONEYLAND (Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov) are making multiple ten-best lists, though I myself like HONEYLAND. Ken Loach's PETERLOO is being mentioned but I found it underwhelming. Meanwhile:




    FORD v FERRARI (James Mangold 2019). Interesting that this is about Ford's successful campaign to beat Ferrari at Formula One racing at Le Mans yet the bad guys are the Ford execs. But it's mainly about the colorful personalities of tough ole' boy automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and fearless and colorful British race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), with Bale giving one of his most engaging performances. Tracy Letts' Henry Ford II isn't one of his more interesting bad guys, but the talented Noah Jupe charms again (after his star turn with SHia Laboeuf in HONEY BOY) using his own English accent as Ken's son Peter. A fun picture whose in-the-cockpit moments are particularly intense and real, but there is nothing new. Watched at Hilltop Dec. 7, 2019. Metascore 81%.



    DARK WATERS (Todd Haynes 2019). A Cincinnati corporate lawyer (Mark Ruffalo, gaining pounds to channel an ordinary guy) winds up fighting for the public against a giant corporation, Dupont, over environmental poisoning with hydrocarbons (and "Teflon") in this film adaptation of the New York Times Magazine article, "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare." This invites comparison with Michael Mann's 1999 THE INSIDER, about pursuing the legal case against cigarette companies. This is just as dreary and exhausting and less satisfying. Chemical companies seem even more resilient, numbingly determined and indifferent to human life than big tobacco. Worthwhile, but very unfun, doubtless a passion project for Ruffalo, who produced. A change to see the director of VELVET GOLDMINE, FAR FROM HEAVEN, I'M NOT THERE, and CAROL doing something so earnest and fact-based. With Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill PUllman. Watched at Hilltop Dec. 8, 2019. Metascore 73%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-04-2020 at 02:50 AM.

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    A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD (Marielle Heller 2019)



    A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD ( Marielle Heller 2019). About the 1998 encounter between Mr. Rogers and a grumpy, messed up Esquire reporter with serious daddy issues sent to Pittsburgh to do a 400-word "hero" piece on the saintly children's TV figure and then found him too complex for short treatment and eventually, after numerous meetings that wound up having a decisive effect on him, turned in 9,000 words that became a cover story. Tom Hanks is fine as Fred Rogers (because he's a good person too?) so it doesn't feel fake, but he's literally and figuratively bigger and heavier; his turn lacks the real Mr. Rogers' ethereal, light touch. The movie is more about the journalist (Matthew Rhys) and the painfully sincere story of his reconciliation with his irresponsible dad (Chris Cooper), helped by Fred Rogers' caring intervention. The movie has good things and can deliver a healing message. But Morgan Neville's 2018 documentary WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? told more about the show's lessons on tough issues, and I was left wondering what the Esquire piece was like. Luckily you can read it online here. Watched at Hilltop Dec. 11, 2019. Metascore 80%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-11-2019 at 08:04 PM.

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    QUEEN & SLIM ( Melina Matsoukas 2019)



    QUEEN & SLIM (Melina MMatsoukos 2019). In this intermittently exciting actioner with political overtones, a black man and woman in Cleveland on an unpromising Tinder date go on the run after killing a white cop who belligerently pulls them over for a minor violation, the sort of thing that more often ends with the black driver's death. As they head south with the aim of escaping to Cuba, a dashboard video from the police car goes viral. Thus they become accidental celebrity outlaws especially admired by some elements of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise genre acquires a whole new angle. The most entertaining interlude comes when the pair visit the woman's colorful uncle, a pimp with Iraq war PTSD living in a polyamorous relationship with two sex workers. Matsouikos is a maker of music videos so there is a lot of swirling, explanatory music, and not such good momentum or plotting. It goes on too long. Two English actors, Daniel Kaluuya (Oscar-nominated for Get Out) and Jodie Turner-Smith play the couple. Bokeem Woodbine is amusing as Uncle Earle. Chloe Sevigny and Flea appear briefly as a couple providing a momentary hideaway. Watched at Hilltop Dec. 13, 2019. Metascore 75%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-14-2019 at 08:29 PM.

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    RICHARD NEWELL (Clint Eastwood 2019)



    RICHARD JEWELL (Clint Eastwood 2019). About the shlubby security guard at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics who calls attention to a terrorist bomb and becomes a hero, then is terrorized by the press and FBI when he's made a prime suspect for the crime. May distort various facts, but all the actors shine, particularly Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell. Kathy Bates is touching as his mom with whom he lives. Jon Hamm is sexily menacing as the local FBI boss leading the futile investigation. Sam Rockwell is particularly sympathetic as the angry lawyer who defends Jewell against the media and gov't onslaughts. Olivia Wilde doesn't come out too well as the overzealous Atlanta Constitution reporter who exposes Jewell to menacing media scrutiny after sleeping with Hamm to get the info, a detail strongly challenged by the paper about the late reporter. Guess Clint doesn't care for the gov't or the press much. Some see this as a pro-Trump message. If it was that simple it wouldn't be worth watching or worthy of Clint. Watched at Hilltop Dec. 14, 2019. Metascore 69%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-21-2019 at 08:39 PM.

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    End of Year MOVIE JOURNAL, cont'd



    THE TWO POPES ( Fernando Meirelles 2019). This is billed as entertainment but a lot of it seems like punishment, especially the heavy-handed flashbacks to the dubious past of Cardinal Bergoglio, future Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce), not to mention all the laborious Vatican rituals and buddy gestures. And hey, Prtyce ain't Argentinian, nor is Anthony Hopkins, who plays the then-current Pope Benedict XVI (former Joseph Ratzinger), a German - and this secret meeting never happened. I guess it's meant to be a smoothing over of the presumed blots on the otherwise admirable (to liberals) Pope Francis's past by the Brazilian Meirelles, also a looking over of the two popes' contrasting styles and politics. I'm one who liked the 2002 City of God, which Meirelles co-directed; no special fan of anything he's done since. Of course this is an acting fest, anyway, and it shows the 81-year-old Hopkins still has skills. Logical physical casting: both actors look a lot like the guys they're playing. Maybe most valuable for Argentinians, or papists. Like Little Women, The Irishman, and Marriage Story, a Netflix film, this one the most okay to watch on your small screen. Did not admire the editing or the camerawork. Limited release Nov. 27, wide, Dec. 20. Watched at Landmark Shattuck Cinemas Dec. 15, 2019. Metascore 75%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-15-2019 at 11:19 PM.

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    JOJO RABBIT (Taika Waititi 2019)



    JOJO RABBIT (Taika Waititi 2019). A surprising comedy, in English, about the last days of Hitler in Germany from the POV of a 9-year-old boy who's an ardent Nazi, which doesn't work out very well for him. The director, Taika Waikiti, aka Taika Cohen, a New Zealander who's half Maori and half Jewish, plays a goofy fantasy--friend Hitler imagined by the protagonist, played by an appealing Roman Griffin Davis. Scarlett Johansson plays his single mother, Sam Rockwell a failure of a German officer who's friendly to the boy. The boy is a softie. His inability to kill a rabbit during a Hitler Youth camp exercise gets him the titular nickname, and also explains why (also because he's lonely and she's cute), when he discovers a Jewish girl hiding in the house (Thomasin McKenzie), he befriends and protects her. The designers of sets and costumes went to town. For a modest production this looks distinctive and great, and it was largely from that point of view that I admired it. A chastening dark realism creeps in more toward the end, but there's not a huge amount of emotional resonance, considering. Watched at Shattuck Cinemas Dec. 15, 2019. Metascore 58%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-16-2019 at 11:38 PM.

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