“Honey Boy” stars Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, and FKA Twigs. Released on November 8, 2019, the film chronicles the life of a movie star and his relationship with his father.
The film is directed by Alma Har’el, who is known for directing the 2011 documentary “Bombay Beach”. It’s always interesting to see someone turn their feelings and their past experiences into works of art, whether it’s a painting or a film. Most of us don’t see things the way others do, but we can all admit that their creativities are worth appreciating. This film seems to have the right idea as it was written by none other than Shia LaBeouf, who spent his time in rehab creating the script. This is another film that was able to catch my interest because of LaBeouf’s involvement as an actor and as a writer. Unfortunately, I had to wait a while until it plays at my closest cinema for me to see how it all unfolds, and by a while, I mean a month after its release. Fortunately, the wait was worth it.
The film tells the tale of Otis (Hedges), a movie star who gets sent to a rehab facility after getting into a violent, drunken altercation with the police. During his time there, he recounts his past in which the young Otis (Jupe) is accompanied by his aggressive father (LaBeouf), a former rodeo clown, during his career as a child actor. “Honey Boy” is best described as an act of cinematic therapy mostly due to the fact that it is based on LaBeouf’s childhood and his complicated relationship with his own father. To me, this is his way of expressing his own personal feelings to the world, and the way he expressed it was downright beautiful. The best part about that was that it was brilliantly told in a span of under two hours. Alma Har’el has the type of vision that’s not only gorgeous and poetic, but it’s also filled with the right amount of emotion to make me relate to the characters and their relationships. Lucas Hedges and Noah Jupe were both stunning as the old and young versions of Otis, and Shia LaBeouf’s performance as his father was obviously incredible. This is the second film he’s been in that managed to impress me this year, with the first being “The Peanut Butter Falcon”. In addition to his performance, he has actually proven himself to be a respectable screenwriter. He told a story that came from his heart and Alma Har’el was responsible for bringing that story to life. The end result is a script that honors the emotional path to forgiveness. As for its flaws…well, actually, there wasn’t anything I would change to make it better. It’s fine the way it is.
Overall, “Honey Boy” is a well-crafted and passionate tale that fully represents Shia LaBeouf as an actor and as a storyteller. The cast is great, the screenplay is full of honesty and emotion, and Har’el’s vision is immensely attractive. If it’s playing at a theater near you, it is definitely worth checking out.
“Dark Waters” stars Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, and Bill Pullman. Released on November 22, 2019, the film is about an attorney who discovers the shocking truth about DuPont.
The film is directed by Todd Haynes, who also directed films such as “Poison”, “Far from Heaven”, “Carol”, and “Wonderstruck”. It is based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine article, “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare”, by Nathaniel Rich. We all do what is best to protect our business companies from falling apart. Hiding something that could threaten the population, both human and animal, is probably not the best way to do it. This next film I’ll be looking at this weekend showcases this scenario and how one man will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. Like Chadwick Boseman, Mark Ruffalo is taking a break from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in favor of a more realistic and dramatic role, which is good for me since I only know him in those movies as the Hulk. The legal thriller genre is another type of genre that I have less experience with because like most people, I wasn’t fond of seeing lawyers talking about the legal system and stuff for around two hours. After finally watching it for myself, I’m starting to realize that it’s something that I should get into more often.
-The film's story chronicles the events that happened during the first two decades of the Tennant case, which has Robert Bilott (Ruffalo) fighting to expose DuPont's secret to the world. While it did follow some familar beats from time to time, the film was able to provide a compelling plot that's worthy enough to honor its necessary concept.
-Mark Ruffalo delivered a marvelous performance as Robert and Anne Hathaway was really talented as Sarah Bilott, Robert's wife.
-Todd Haynes' direction was pretty solid as he was able to make every single conversation riveting and daring.
-The film's screenplay also did wonders in honoring the characters and the events.
-There were a few pacing issues throughout the film, so if you're not a fan of this type of genre, they're going to become a big problem for you.
-As I mentioned before, the film had some familiar beats from the other legal dramas.
Final Thoughts: “Dark Waters” is an engaging slow burn that thoughtfully depicts the fight for the truth. The talented cast and the film’s honorable and compelling script are enough to hide its slow pacing and some familiar genre elements from the public. You know, it’s pretty despicable that a company like DuPont kept this from us for a long time and not give a single darn about our health. Hopefully, this film will let them know that what they were doing was wrong and they should never do something like that again in the future. I would recommend this one to those who are into legal thrillers and are familiar with the events surrounding DuPont.
“Marriage Story” stars Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, and Merritt Wever. Released in theaters on November 6, 2019, followed by a Netflix release on December 6, 2019, the film is about a married couple who is going through a divorce.
The film is written and directed by Noah Baumbach, who also did other films like “Kicking and Screaming”, “The Squid and the Whale”, “Greenberg”, “While We’re Young”, and “The Meyerowitz Stories”. We’re already getting close to the nomination announcements for this year’s Golden Globes, so let’s not waste any more time and get to some of the other pieces of award-worthy goodness. Today, I will be shifting my focus on to Netflix once again to look at a film that deals with the process of getting a divorce. Oh yeah, we are definitely heading towards some deep stuff this weekend. I haven’t seen any trailers for this film, but I did hear some extremely good things about it since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival back in August. As of this writing, it has already appeared in the top ten lists from the American Film Institute, the National Board of Review, and Time magazine, so I have reason to believe that it must be a good movie despite its sour concept. But is it something that I would recommend to the Netflix subscribers? Yes, I would, because it’s that flipping good.
This is the type of film that highlights the emotions of a difficult situation, which is, of course, a divorce. It’s a story about a marriage crumbling apart because of the characters’ actions and how they’re attempting to work things out for the sake of their child. It’s mature, it’s frustrating, it’s thoughtful, it’s all of those things in a single package. From what I read about the film, Noah Baumbach had a real connection to the subject after his divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh and his parents’ divorce. Based on what I saw, I can fully understand why. It’s an uncomfortable subject to talk about, but it’s also important, and Baumbach knows it. His screenplay was one of the best parts of the film because of the subject’s complexity and the emotion behind it. It didn’t force its audience to pick a side. Instead, it allowed them to experience the frustration and the pain that these characters are going through. It wanted them to hope that they fix this problem soon before it’s too late. While there were one or two scenes that dragged a bit and some of the film’s comedic moments were a bit…odd, I thought Baumbach did a great job at balancing the comedy with the hard-hitting drama without going over-the-top with one or the other. Another thing that I loved was the performances, most notably from Johansson and Driver. These two were absolutely incredible together, especially Driver who, in my opinion, delivered his best performance of his promising career. They really act like an actual couple, whether they’re talking or arguing with one another, which to me, helped made the emotional depth feel well-earned. Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda were also great in their roles as the couples’ lawyers. I also appreciated the film’s musical score, which was composed by none other than Randy Newman. Yes, the same Randy Newman who wrote and sang “You Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story”. It’s sweet, it’s subtle, and it’s quite deep.
Overall, “Marriage Story” successfully examines the struggling relationship with great detail and stunning emotion. Yes, it can be a bit frustrating to watch for those who don’t like the subject, but it can also be relatable because it shows that not every relationship is perfect, especially theirs. Aside from a couple of small issues, the film is an emotional roller coaster thanks to its incredible cast, Baumbach’s screenplay, and Randy Newman’s score. If you like some of Baumbach’s other works, you will definitely love this one.
“The Irishman” stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, and Harvey Keitel. Released on November 1, 2019, the film is about a hitman who recounts his jobs for a notorious crime family.
The film is directed by Martin Scorsese, who also directed films such as “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull”, “Goodfellas”, “Gangs of New York”, and “The Wolf of Wall Street”. It is based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. Another week, another piece of cinematic art for me to review, and I don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to see it. Thanks to the power of Netflix (again), I was finally able to witness the latest gangster drama from one of the finest filmmakers of all time, Martin Scorsese. While I am familiar with Scorsese as a director and as an actor, I haven’t seen a lot of his works, aside from “Hugo” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”, nor have I seen any film from the crime genre. So consider this review as my first experience with this type of genre. There have been a lot of talks about this film, ranging from its word-of-mouth to the release strategy. More importantly, the word-of-mouth. Since its theatrical release, it’s been getting some extremely positive reactions from critics and audiences, which is quite impressive given the fact that it had a three-hour-plus runtime and a larger budget. However, not a lot of people seem to think that it is a masterpiece, with most of them calling it overlong or boring (mostly boring), which would make sense since it’s more dramatic and grounded than action-packed like “Avengers: Endgame”. So, after watching it for myself, which side do I stand?
The film’s plot involves the many historical events that were experienced by Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a truck driver who takes a job as a hitman for mobster Russell Bufalino (Pesci), including the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy and the disappearance of Teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Before I express my brief feelings towards this film, I want to talk about its most common criticism that almost everyone has been talking about: the runtime. Clocking in at almost three and a half hours, “The Irishman” easily joins the group of epic dramas like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Malcolm X” in terms of the length. This is something that serves as both a strength and a weakness. While it’s suitable to showcase every detail from Sheeran’s journey, it can also be a handful when it has a plot that’s more dialogue-driven than action-packed. The first and third acts of the film were nicely-paced and interesting, but it’s the middle section that can put up quite a challenge for some people, especially those who aren’t fans of the crime genre. It’s the type of film that requires patience and strong willpower to make it all the way through without calling it quits. I was patient enough to watch the entire film, but I’m not that patient enough to watch it without taking some small breaks. Thank God for Netflix. My personal advice to you is that if you’re planning on watching it for yourself, make sure you plan out your break times before you hit play. That way, your patience level will remain consistent throughout the whole experience. As for those who managed to watch it without taking breaks and survived, all I can really say to you is “good job”. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go over my thoughts on the film itself. The story explores Sheeran’s career as a hitman for the Bufalino crime family and as a chief bodyguard for Hoffa, which is to be expected from a crime drama from Martin Scorsese. As I mentioned before, it had plenty of moments that were interesting, well-paced, and full of life. However, when it comes to its runtime and its dragged-out second act, they weren’t enough for me to call it a straight-up masterpiece. I enjoyed the story, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t think it’s as fantastic as a lot of critics are saying it was. On the bright side, I wasn’t part of the group of people that hated it. The main cast was one of the reasons for the film’s lively moments, most particularly De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci, who came out of his unofficial retirement to star in the film. These three actors had the right charisma and the right talent to portray their respective characters, and I wasn’t disappointed with the results. I was also impressed with the film’s smooth cinematography as well as the de-aging effects and the hair and makeup design. I wouldn’t be surprised if this film gets nominated for the latter because they’re really accurate with the film’s settings and the characters themselves. The film used de-aging CGI technology to make the main actors look like their young counterparts during specific scenes and, to be honest, the final result was pretty effective. I barely noticed the CGI effects on their faces throughout the entire film. Some people may not like it as much as I do, but I think it’s the right step forward for CGI technology in filmmaking.
Overall, “The Irishman” can be a chore for people who aren’t into dialogue-driven epics that lasts for more than three hours. However, from my own perspective, it’s the kind of chore that offers plenty of worthy rewards for those who stick around. While it didn’t pack enough strong punches in its storytelling to overcome its runtime, the film was able to provide some interest and enjoyability in its cast. For fans of the genre and Martin Scorsese himself, this is another well-deserved addition to his cinematic art collection. I didn’t think it was perfect, but it had enough good moments for me to give this one a solid pass.
“21 Bridges” stars Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, Stephan James, Keith David, Taylor Kitsch, and J. K. Simmons. Released on November 22, 2019, the film has a NYPD detective hunting down a group of cop killers.
The film is directed by Brian Kirk, who is known for directing several episodes from television shows like “Game of Thrones” and “The Tudors”. If ice queens and heartwarming biopics aren’t your thing, then maybe you’re into something that’s a bit more gritty and thrilling. Luckily, this latest action thriller has got you covered. Chadwick Boseman is ditching his Black Panther suit for some police attire as he attempts to lure in audiences with his latest role outside of his Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances and his roles in specific biopics like “42” and “Marshall”. I’ve been keeping an eye on this film since it was announced for two reasons: Boseman and the Russo Brothers. While the Russos aren’t directing this film, they are involved as the producers, and based on the word of mouth so far, it helped attract audiences who loved their directorial efforts on some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, especially this year’s “Avengers: Endgame”. As for Boseman, he’s a talented actor, so of course I want to see him in action again. With that said, let’s see if they are able to make this action thriller highly enjoyable.
The film’s story involves a detective named Andre Davis (Boseman), who has a reputation for hunting down cop killers. He is assigned to track down two former war veterans turned criminals, Michael Trujillo (James) and Ray Jackson (Kitsch), both of which are responsible for killing the police officers during their heist. In order to track them down easily, Davis decided to have the entire island of Manhattan on lockdown by closing off every possible exit known to man. With the help of his partner, narcotics detective Frankie Burns (Miller), Davis is racing against the clock to bring the killers to justice. As expected, it’s a standard cop thriller that consists of several gunfights and a mystery involving the criminals themselves. There’s nothing too special about this film, although I wouldn’t say it’s as good as I thought it would be. While it delivers on the thrills, it somehow failed to make the plot and the characters as engaging as the action. Despite the cast delivering some decent performances, including Boseman, I just didn’t find some of the characters that interesting. The only two characters that interested me the most were Andre Davis and Michael Trujillo, one of the two killers that Davis is chasing. Davis is the type of character that I want the film to explore a bit more because of his internal struggles of living up to his father’s legacy while being labeled by the authorities as someone who kills people who murder cops. I also appreciated the fact that the film attempted to humanize Ray and Michael rather than portraying them as cliched antagonists. They’re basically criminals who got more than what they bargained for and try to fight their way out of the city, which added to the film’s intensity. As for the plot itself, this is a film that has specific details that you got to pay attention to even though it is pretty simple and to the point. It had some ideas that could work in its favor, including the twist at the third act, but again, there’s just not enough interest and energy in its characters to make me care about its story. To its credit, however, I wasn’t disappointed in how they handled the action scenes. These were the only parts in the film that had the right amount of intensity to make my heart race. They were nicely shot without the use of the shaky-cam maneuver, and the sound editing was suitable enough to make the audiences feel that they’re part of the action themselves.
Overall, “21 Bridges” has the right amount of action to entertain some thrill-seekers, but in terms of its plot, it lacked the dynamics needed to complete its task. The performances from the cast were decent and the action sequences were enjoyable, but its average story and some uninteresting characters prevented it from reaching “must-see” status. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible, either. It was fine the way it was. It’s not something that I would watch over and over again, and it’s definitely not something that is destined to win some big awards. It’s something that is just there to provide some entertainment for its audience, whether the plot is good or not, and based on what I saw, I’m okay with that.