“If Beale Street Could Talk” stars KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Brian Tyree Henry, and Regina King. Released on December 14, 2018, the film is about a woman who seeks to clear her husband’s name when he is charged for a crime he didn’t commit.
The film is written and directed by Barry Jenkins, who also wrote and directed “Medicine for Melancholy” and “Moonlight”. It is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by James Baldwin. Remember when I said that “Vice” will be my last award contender before the Golden Globes air? Well, it’s exactly what I figured until I found out that this film was playing at one of my closest cinemas. So, this will be the last award contender I’ll be talking about before the Golden Globes. I’m being honest right now. This is really it. After earning a Best Picture Oscar win for his last film, Jenkins returns to the director’s chair to make another piece of cinematic art. If you’re wondering why I didn’t get to this film sooner, let me remind you once again that I have my limits when it comes to going to a specific cinema to see a specific movie. Despite not knowing much about Baldwin’s novel, I was looking forward to seeing it because of Barry Jenkins’ involvement. His last film, “Moonlight”, made a really strong first impression for me in terms of his passionate storytelling and direction, so I was hoping that his latest drama will give me that same reaction. After finally watching it for myself, it’s safe for me to say that Jenkins may have a confident future on his hands both as a director and as a writer.
While the film is easily classified as a romance drama, it didn’t follow the classic formula that we’ve seen multiple times. It started off with a couple already in love with one another and the husband (James) already behind bars. One thing you should know about this film is that it’s not like the other Hollywood romance films that have happy endings. It’s a film about life and how its obstacles can bring people down, and fortunately, Jenkins understood this topic. From what I can gather from the film, the story is more than just a woman and her family trying to prove her husband’s innocence. It’s about love overpowering racial injustice. Even if things don’t go the way we wanted or if someone is being racist to others, love is strong enough to connect us all. If that’s the case, then this is a pretty bold way of expressing it. In this day and age, I can clearly tell that Barry Jenkins really wanted to tell this type of story to his audience in a visual and emotional way, and while it didn’t reach the same levels as “Moonlight”, it’s still a well-deserved passion project from the talented writer/director. Both Layne and James delivered some great performances together as Tish and Fonny, respectively. They’re basically the peanut butter and jelly that hold the two breads together, crafting a satisfying sandwich for their starving lovebirds. Even though they didn’t top Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga from “A Star Is Born” for “Best Onscreen Couple of 2018”, Layne and James offered enough heart and chemistry in their roles to make me hope for a better future for them. Regina King also did a really good job in her role as Tish’s mother. I won’t be surprised if she wins some major awards for her performance. The cinematography was also quite impressive in emphasizing the emotion and style, and the musical score by Nicholas Britell was nothing but relaxing and graceful. As for its flaws, the film did suffer a little bit from a couple of drawn-out sequences. I can understand that they’re necessary to emphasize the filmmaking style, but in terms of the pacing, they don’t need to be that long for the sake of the audience that may be on the verge of falling asleep or crying.
Overall, “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a divine and inspiring love story that showcases Barry Jenkins’ splendid talent in filmmaking. Despite a couple of scenes that overstayed their welcome, the film has enough passion and heart to express its fascinating cast and well-written story. This is another film that people should know about, especially during a time when we are still dealing with racism. If it’s playing at a theater near you, it’s worth checking out.
“Mary Poppins Returns” stars Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep. Released on December 19, 2018, the film has Mary Poppins re-visiting the Banks siblings after a family tragedy.
The film is directed by Rob Marshall, who also directed films such as “Chicago”, “Nine”, and “Into the Woods”. It is based on the book series of the same name by P. L. Travers, and it serves as a sequel to the 1964 film, “Mary Poppins”. Once upon a time, a man named Walt Disney adapted a series of novels about a magical nanny into a live-action film. Despite a series of issues involving the author, P. L. Travers, the film went on to become his crowning achievement in live-action. Not only that, but it also won the hearts of people young and old and earned a total of 13 Academy Award nominations. Fast-foward to the year 2018, and the film still never lost its heartwarming touch. So why not keep it going with a sequel? Once again, Disney is digging into its nostalgic treasure chest and pulling out which film to reintroduce to a new generation of kids via a live-action remake, sequel, or prequel. Its latest victim this year is none other than the nanny who’s practically perfect in every way, Mary Poppins. “Mary Poppins” is one of the films that I enjoyed watching when I was little. The presence of Julie Andrews and its whimsical sense of imagination and heart are the main reasons why it’s still stuck in my childhood brain during my adult years. After seeing that they’re developing a follow-up to the 54-year-old classic, I immediately recalled the sense of nostalgia that made me feel like a kid again. You know, like I usually do when I see Disney’s other retellings of their classic films. From the trailers alone, it looks like Disney is doing pretty well in recapturing the heart and soul of the original, but does that make it a worthy continuation?
Much like the first film, the story involves a magical nanny named Mary Poppins (Blunt) who arrives at the house of the Banks family and then magical stuff happens. Seeing that this is a family-friendly motion picture made by the biggest studio on the planet, it makes a whole lot of sense. The only difference is that we see Jane and Michael Banks (played by Mortimer and Whishaw, respectively) as adults, with Michael taking care of his children and the house that he and Jane grew up in after his wife passed away. Even if you haven’t seen the original or read the books, you can clearly tell by the poster and the trailer that you’ll be transported into a whimsical world filled with magic and singing. It’s really nice to see that those elements still live on in this light-hearted follow-up, but like most sequels, it’s far from practically perfect. The film’s plot had plenty of charm and imagination that the original was known for and its messages were smartly portrayed for people of all ages. However, it also had plenty of elements that may remind you of either the original or the other live-action reimaginings from Disney, such as “Christopher Robin”. Even though the story was highly unoriginal, the film worked wonders in continuing the story of its predecessor and maintaining its sense of fun and delight in the process. One of my personal highlights of the film was Emily Blunt as the title character. She was absolutely brilliant in terms of her performance and her singing. She was able to fully capture the cleverness of Mary Poppins as well as her lady-like behavior, similar to how Julie Andrews portrayed her in the first film. Lin-Manuel Miranda also did very well in his role as Jack, a lamplighter who joins Poppins and the Banks children on their series of misadventures. Much like Blunt, Miranda proved that his acting is just as entertaining and heartwarming as his singing. Like the original, “Mary Poppins Returns” is a musical filled with colorful settings, toe-tapping songs, and some impressive choreography. Rob Marshall was able to make the Broadway-inspired musical numbers feel so alive and vibrant and the songs were pretty enjoyable to listen to despite them not being able to surpass the ones from the original. The film also had a sequence that combines live-action with traditional 2D animation, and it was definitely a sight to behold, especially the Music Hall scene. As for its flaws, aside from its familiar elements, the film did run a bit longer than it should, clocking in at around two hours and 10 minutes. Its pacing and energetic songs helped prevent the kids from nodding off, but there were a couple of scenes that I believe may have overstayed their welcome.
Overall, “Mary Poppins Returns” is a magical experience that offers a spoonful of happiness and fun for the whole family. With its endearing cast, entertaining musical numbers, and a story that’s full of charm and wonder, this latest follow-up from Disney is a fantastical trip down memory lane despite falling short of matching the flawless quality from the original. After experiencing a couple of disappointing live-action reimaginings from Disney earlier this year, it’s nice to see the studio bouncing back into shape with this one. If you’re familiar with the first film or if you’re in a mood for some pure Disney magic, this film will definitely lift your spirits, much like how Mary Poppins’ umbrella lifts her up into the air.
“Vice” stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, and Sam Rockwell. Released on December 25, 2018, the film depicts Dick Cheney and his quest to become the most powerful Vice President in history.
The film is directed by Adam McKay, who also directed films such as “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, “Step Brothers”, “The Other Guys”, and “The Big Short”. All right, just what we need. Another film that deals with politics. Three years ago, Adam McKay shifted away from directing straight-up comedies to direct a biographical drama that chronicles the financial crisis of 2007-2008 known as “The Big Short”. As a result, he earned himself and his co-writer Charles Randolph an Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay, along with a few award nominations including Best Director and Best Picture. This year, McKay is attempting to put himself on the Oscars list again with a film that showcases Dick Cheney’s political career. A little bit of history never hurt anybody, especially during awards season. So far, it’s been receiving some mixed reviews from critics, but it also earned itself some award nominations, including six Golden Globe nominations. This is probably the last film I’ll see before the 76th Golden Globe Awards airs next weekend, so let’s see if it really deserved those nominations.
Narrated by a fictitious character named Kurt (played by Jesse Plemons), the film chronicles the events that involve Dick Cheney (Bale) and his journey towards Vice Presidency. Adam McKay has a way of making his biographical vision somewhat unique in terms of its visual sources and gags. However, he never lost sight at showcasing the dramatic side of the concept, which is how one man’s decisions as Vice President affected America. While its structure had a couple of misfires, such as the running time, the film was able to provide a smartly investing political depiction of the man who changed history. Christian Bale delivered a magnetic and award-worthy performance as Cheney and Amy Adams was once again riveting and insightful in her role as Cheney’s wife. This is the third film that stared these two actors, following “The Fighter” and “American Hustle”, which would explain why their chemistry between one another was simply irresistible. Steve Carell continues to shine in his dramatic roles as he portrays Donald Rumsfeld, a White House Chief of Staff who assists Cheney. Again, I’m used to seeing Carell in comedies, but his performance in “Vice” made me appreciate his effort in working outside of his comfort zone even more. Sam Rockwell also turned in a suitable performance as George W. Bush. Adam McKay’s screenplay is an intriguing blend of realism and satire that’s not afraid to showcase the pros and cons of someone’s role in politics. It didn’t quite reach its emotional standards, but it did well enough to satisfy those who are into politics. Another aspect that I enjoyed was the filmmakers’ effort in transforming the actors into their respective characters via make-up and hair design. Much like Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour”, Christian Bale is hardly recognizable in his role as Dick Cheney because you don’t see Bale portraying Cheney, you only see Cheney himself as if he was standing right in front of you. The same can be said for the rest of the actors. It’s like looking back at history and see real-life people making real-life decisions. That’s how I know that the filmmakers have a suitable way to make history come alive onscreen.
Overall, with its talented cast, an effective screenplay, and its impressive use of make-up and hair design, “Vice” marks another win for writer/director Adam McKay. It’s not a perfect representation of Dick Cheney, but it shows that McKay is confident in handling his dramatic side without losing sight of his humorous side in the process. If you like McKay’s other works, such as “The Big Short”, you might like this one as well.
“Holmes & Watson” stars Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rebecca Hall, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, and Ralph Fiennes. Released on December 25, 2018, the film has Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson attempting to protect Queen Victoria from their rival, Professor Moriarty.
The film is directed by Etan Cohen, who also directed “Get Hard” and wrote films like “Tropic Thunder” and “Men in Black 3”. Another Christmas has come and gone, so it’s time for me to look at some more movies before 2018 ends as well. Today, we’re starting things off with the one and only Sherlock Holmes. No, I’m not talking about the one who’s played by Robert Downey Jr. nor the gnome version of the character. I’m talking about the Sherlock Holmes who’s portrayed by the comedian, Will Ferrell. Believe me, I wish I was joking, too, but hey, if I can handle Johnny Depp’s version of Holmes, I can surely handle Will Ferrell’s take on the character in this film. This latest project from writer/director Etan Cohen is a comedic take on the famous British detective duo created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that may or may not provide a fresh perspective on the mythology. It is also the latest collaboration between Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, the actors who delivered the laughs in “Talladega Nights” and “Step Brothers”, so seeing them together for the first time in 10 years should be satisfying for those who are familiar with those films. Even though I enjoyed some of the films that Ferrell and Reilly starred in, this one left me with some concerns based on what I saw in the trailer. It looked like it could provide some really stupid laughs, but at the same time, it resembled a huge bulls-eye for the detractors to throw some rotten tomatoes at. Still goes to show that people are being really strict on comedy these days. Despite those concerns, I was able to see it just out of pure curiosity, and truth be told, it was exactly what I was expecting it to be: a dumb comedy with a surprising amount of amusement thrown in there.
As I mentioned before, the film is a comedic and light-hearted portrayal of the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes (Ferrell), and his faithful sidekick, Watson (Reilly). So, if you’re not into Guy Ritchie’s take on the mystery-solving duo (which is highly unlikely), this one might be able to suit your needs (or not). Let me be the one to say that this film is obviously idiotic compared to the other adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. Remember the films that were based on the popular sketches from “Saturday Night Live”, like “Wayne’s World”? Well, this one is basically a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that’s not based on a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. This is one of the films that will heavily depend on what type of humor a person likes in terms of the concept. There could be people who like to laugh at dumb comedy and there could be people who like to laugh at smartly written comedies. Personally, I happen to fall into the category of the former. Yes, I did find it to be really stupid, but it was able to make me laugh, so consider myself satisfied. There were a bunch of times where the film’s sheer amount of idiocy overshadows its attempt to provide a suitable story and message that everyone will enjoy, but unlike the other comedies that disappointed me this year like “Action Point” and “Super Troopers 2”, “Holmes & Watson” was amusing enough to actually tickle my funny bone despite its ridiculous spoof-like shenanigans. I did manage to shake my head in disbelief at some of the stupid things the characters had done while I was laughing on the outside, but it was because I was making fun of myself for watching it in a good way. It’s too bad that the naysayers aren’t like that. Another thing that made it somewhat enjoyable for me was none other than Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as the title characters. While not their best work, their chemistry between one another had the right amount of likability to steer past the film's narrative flaws and debatable humor. Oh, and there’s also an original song by Alan Menken and his lyric-writer Glenn Slater that was created for one of the film’s sequence. Just like the humor, it’s silly, but amusing.
Overall, it’s no mystery that “Holmes & Watson” is downright kooky and weak-minded, but for some reason, I was fine with it. Ferrell and Reilly were good together in their roles, but the film’s plot and humor will strongly depend on how a person likes these types of movies. This is another film that I happened to enjoy a bit more than the critics. I can understand why they didn’t like it, but they should also understand that everyone has a different sense of humor, and if they happen to enjoy this one just as much as I did, then they shouldn’t be judged so harshly by other people who didn’t think it was funny. If you’re still planning on seeing it, make sure you keep your expectations low before you walk into the movie. If not, then don’t worry about it, you’re not missing much.
“The Favourite” stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, and Joe Alwyn. Released on November 23, 2018, the film has two cousins competing to be court favourites.
The film is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who also directed films such as “The Lobster” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”. This one took me a while to get to because obviously, the cinema that’s closest to me usually gets these types of films a few weeks after they're released. The film I’ll be looking at today is quite odd based on what I experienced from its marketing. It had everything that it needed to resemble a political period drama, but it looked like it added in some weird and comedic moments to make itself stand out. Well, I always learned that we need those types of moments in order to make our lives more interesting. The film has so far received praise for its concept and earned numerous award nominations, including five Golden Globe nominations, and knowing me, I always try my hardest to see certain films that are nominated for some major awards. So, I took the chance to experience it for myself, and truth be told, it’s what I expected from the trailers, but it’s also something that may or may not win over people outside of its target audience.
One of the things that made it worth a watch was the three main leads, who did their part in carrying the story forward as well as displaying their complexities onscreen. Olivia Colman, for instance, was really talented in her role as Queen Anne. I would tell you more about her, but it’s the type of performance that you have to witness for yourself. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz both delivered some very suitable performances as Abigail Hill and Sarah Churchill, respectively, with the former showcasing the fact that she’s one of the most hard-working actresses of the decade, in my opinion. The film’s screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara not only offered some clever dialogue from the cast, but it also offered a unique perspective of the events that happened during Queen Anne’s rule in the 18th Century. The film also explored certain elements like jealousy and royalty and how they affect the relationship between Abigail and Sarah, and the way it handles them was just as interesting as a historic painting. The story does drag from time to time due to its running time and a couple of over-drawn shots, but its weirdness somehow managed to prevent it from being a total borefest. Even the musical score had its sense of oddity. This was my first time seeing a film by Yorgos Lanthimos, and I have to say, he knows how to make a movie experience feel different and peculiar. The comedy could’ve used a bit more laughs, though, but other than that, Lanthimos was able to make me rethink how I watch period dramas. The cinematography was also top-notch in terms of the angles and the fluid panning, although the fisheye-like shots looked out of place compared to the rest of the shots, but that’s just me. The set designs and the costumes were simply gorgeous, and they greatly resemble how I imagined Britain from the 1700s.
Overall, “The Favourite” is not only a well-crafted comedy-drama, but it’s also one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever witnessed in terms of how the story is represented. While it won’t lure in people who aren’t interested in historic period dramas due to its sluggish pacing, the film might be able to please those who are into the genre. Thanks to its talented cast, Lanthimos’ direction, costume designs, and its production values, this is another film that offers a unique movie experience for film lovers and adults who just love going to the movies.