Making waves at TIFF, Jallikattu became an important story and even in 2021 it is still making waves. It's now India's official 2021 Oscar entry and a damn good one at that. This film is all about man's struggle against a raging beast though it's anything but that simple. There's plenty to digest in this films 90 minute run time as each scene builds onto the growing story that ultimately transforms into a metaphorical tale about the dark state of humanity. The structure of the film is one of it's major strengths. The madness and chaos of a rampaging bull only heightens the back story, which the film slowly builds with flashbacks, until it's epic climax. The sound design, cinematography, and performances are all top-notch and really bring this story to a fantastic level.
Strong performances and a half-baked script result in a watchable yet problematic experience. I loved Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman. Personally, I don't feel like Margot Robbie is ever given time to shine but the academy seems to disagree. If this story wasn't as naturally juicy as it is, the dirty behind the scenes of Fox News coming into the light, this wouldn't have been any good. It tries copying "The Big Short" with its witty breaking of the 4th wall but those moments didn't add any value to the story here. Overall, it's an important film because it's an important story. Though I wish it would have been given to more capable hands.
When the horror renaissance of the 2010's is discussed years from now, "The Lodge" may be recognized and I wouldn't have any arguments. It's not as great Ari Aster's Hereditary (or Midsommar) but I'd take this over several notably terrible horror releases. While a new revolutionary horror crowd is surfacing, there is still a ton of crap released that sours the genre's name. The Lodge is apart of the crowd I enjoy. I really enjoyed Riley Keough and her performance captivated me during the slower moments. The atmosphere is well constructed, dark and mysterious, posing many questions. Though I found some of the answers underwhelming, it's overall a solid experience worth it especially for any dark horror fanatics.
This WWE biopic delivers its fair share of kicks to the nuts and the jokes land just as well. Florence Pugh (Little Women, Midsommar) is one ingredient that kept me glued to the screen. Her work in 2019 was impressive even earning herself an Oscar nomination. For me, watching her play the shy, goth professional wrestler Britani Knight, solidified her as one of the best up and coming actresses with an ability to play multitudes of different characters. As someone who's not really interested in WWE I can admit that they did a great job catering to a wide audience. I feel like I learned more about the whole shebang and gained more respect for it. Also, watching Cersei actress Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) get thrown around in a wrestling match was pretty enjoyable.
As the great film 'The Place Beyond the Pines' had three main characters, the emotionally catastrophic experience 'Waves' has two. Split between the perspectives of a High School wrestler and his younger sister. To say anymore about the plot would spoil it's bombshell crisis, which functions as the catalyst for most of the experience. I was unprepared for this film and I think thats the best way to view it. It's not a happy movie. The beautiful cinematography is the only emotional relief found here. Otherwise, its a movie about fear, pain, and evil. Waves is a family drama at it's pinnacle. A harsh biting reality not meant to be enjoyed but witnessed.
Shia LaBeouf's harrowing performance as 'James Lort' (his father) is one of last years best. Its the reason this movie is so great and so hard to watch. His character is like someone we've all met and someone we all wish we hadn't. You know who I mean? I can only express my condolences to LaBeouf for living this bad dream and my gratitude to him for making this movie. I think we all need this peak inside his creative, recovering mind. Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges do a great job as well bringing to life the different stages of LaBeouf's adolescents. Watch this movie.
"Not everything is fleeting. Some feelings are deep."
This film's breathtakingly beautiful visual language is the most captivating and emotional presence of 2019's filmography. Film lovers were overly spoiled last year (I'm writing this in 2020). Heloise is arranged to be wed but refuses to have her wedding portrait done. She's a free spirit in a time when family duty held significantly more weight then personal choice. Making this a time-piece of sorts. The real importance starts as Heloise develops an affection for her painter Marianne, who is living the free life Heloise desires. Their desire is overwhelmingly raw and intoxicating. Director Celine Sciamma captures this relationship without any filter allowing the audience to be encapsulated in this bittersweet forbidden love. Beautiful love in a time before love was invented. An experience fueled by powerful performances and a keen eye for the poetic.
One gimmick I'll always be a sucker for are one shot films. Pretending the film is shot in one continuous take with very little passing of time. 1917 only vividly cuts once. Otherwise, you'd have to pay really close attention or slightly understand cameras to notice the others. This idea is a big decision requiring both the cinematographer and director to pair their visions creating an effortless viewing experience. '1917' is as much Roger Deakins movie as it is Sam Mendes. It won't feel like it's a two hour experience because you spend the whole time with one character, who barely ever leaves the focus of the camera. An intimate relationship is forged between the audience and Lance Corporal Schofield without much dialogue thanks to this effect. With the backdrop of WWI, it proves to be an intense and emotional experience. Celebrated by a wonderful soundtrack from Thomas Newman. Overall, a riveting war film that stands out amongst 2019's great movie line-up.
"Sure, you’re a little bit scrawny, and a bit unpopular, and you can’t tie your shoelaces, even though you’re ten years-old. But you’re still, the bestest, most loyal little Nazi I’ve ever met."
2019's best funny movie that'll still make you cry. 'Jojo Rabbit' manages to walk a fine line between it's humorous commentary and heartfelt coming-of-age story creating a perfect experience for ages 10 and up. I've already seen it twice and both times I laughed and I cried becoming one of my absolute favorites of that year. Twelve year old Roman Griffin Davis is fantastic hitting all the highs and lows of the film and watching him work with the talented Scarlett Johannson was an absolute pleasure. Though, Archie Yates and Sam Rockwell manage to deliver my favorite performances. It's a must watch! Then watch it again! Expect lighthearted fun and you won't be disappointed.
There's only a little amount of films this year that emotionally impacted me as much as 'Little Women.' With one look at it's cast and the faintest idea of it's plot, you can reasonably expect to leave this experience with swollen eyes. Greta Gerwig took a risk adapting this classic story and it's paid off. Her work is really impressive, emotional, and rich with detail. This is my favorite ensemble cast of 2019, which is saying a lot considering 'The Irishman' released this year. Surprisingly, Eliza Scanlen as Beth was my favorite of this film. I found myself fighting back tears every time she was on screen. I'd love to see it again incase I was too busy crying to notice any mistakes. For now though, it's one of the few perfect films I've experienced this year. Gerwig knows how to touch the heart and this film made me feel that. I cried, I laughed, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.