Wow, Anthony Hopkins proves again to be one of the all-time greats in this film, where he plays a father struggling with dementia. The film is from his distorted perspective and nothing is what it seems throughout the urgent 90 minute runtime. People, place, time - these details cannot be trusted. Anthony's confusion becomes our own. While very little actually happens in The Father, it unfolds in such a chaotic and intelligent way that its simplicity is a mystery till the end. By the end we're not only sympathizing with his daughter (Olivia Coleman), who Anthony forgets on several occasions, but with Anthony's inability to even remember himself. It's emotionally significant and demands a conversation about this terrifying illness that perhaps we don't really understand as much as we'd like to believe.
I admittedly have a huge crush on Ana Taylor Joy, which is the main reason I turned this on. I was impressed right away with the production design and the immaculate costumes worn. But I wondered whether this was a story I could enjoy, until realizing I'd watched a version of this long ago with my mother. Homeschooling with her often led to days full of Jane Austen. 30 minutes in and I was surprised how much I was enjoying myself. Snickering at the silly rich people of olden times with their often ridiculous problems and sensibilities. While the main story arch is mostly old news, I really enjoyed all the little character traits that I hadn't remembered. The father and his damn drafts. The nosophobic sister... These little details made the movie truly enjoyable for me and of course, Anya Taylor-Joy is just remarkably adorable.
I've seen a lot of films about people getting drunk. Really funny movies like Superbad and really sad movies like Krisha revolve around the power of alcohol and both deal with celebration. Celebration is almost synonymous with alcohol in many different places. Another Round somehow manages to be both a gut wrenchingly funny film about teachers getting drunk at work and a devastatingly tragic look at a country that soaks its traditions in alcohol. I have so much more to say but I must simply insist you watch it. Part of the films fun is going in blind to it's experiments. It shook up my top ten 2020 list right after I made my video... I only wish I'd seen it sooner. There is great chemistry between the whole cast and any fan of Mads Mikkelsen will be extremely happy with his character. He does a fantastic job as the lead.
Pete Davidson is a funny guy. Actually, there's a lot of funny guys and girls in this film but unfortunately the film itself just isn't that funny. Maybe its the runtime that soured the experience for me? Nearing 2 and a half hours I felt like I had been dragged along for the last 45 minutes. Despite its length I had really hoped to enjoy a resolution with Davidson's character Scott. Yet, Scott's character is possibly the films weakest attribute. This film opens with Scott's suicide attempt. You'd think they explore this side of his character fully throughout the film but they don't. I don't think suicide is ever brought up in a real discussion. This story continuously teetered along the edge of really diving into deep psychological problems but it always remained surface level. We understand that Scotts dad died when he was young and his mom had to raise him by herself and so now he has issues. But there's so much more to explore than this shallow and overdone story arch. Lets talk about the real issues that keep 24 year old's at home in America...
The sci-fi genre is at it's best with imaginative directors who make the best out of what they have. The mystery of how this film came to be is almost as great as the mystery the film is all about. This is the directorial debut from Andrew Patterson and it cost less than a million dollars to make, which is unheard of considering how well received it has been. It's the type of film I dream to be apart of one day. And in honesty I think more money would have took away the charm. Patterson plays to the strengths of his story and his actors, which don't require any special effects or stunt scenes. The mystery is built through sound, expression, and sheer imagination. At moments in this film the screen is simply black as we listen to a man, Billy, tell his story of working on a secret military base that he believed housed a UFO. It's these types of intimate moments that make this film such a great experience. Do yourself a favor, make some popcorn, turn on your 50's radio, and tune in on this wonderful story of mystery in a small town, New Mexico.
To say His House is the best haunted house horror film of the last ten years would be undermining it's brilliance. I was told to watch this film because someone I trust said it was the best horror film of 2020, and I think they were seriously underselling it as well. Writer and director Remi Weekes uses the horror genre as a means to tell a very important story. Much like Ari Aster did back in 2018 with the masterpiece Hereditary. Except this story is about refugees from Sudan and the trauma they bring to Britain, as they try to ease into a new civilization, married couple Riol and Bol's relationship is tested by a dark spirit. Much like Hereditary, grief is used here as a means of storytelling. Both of our lead characters deal with their grief in different ways and their different mental states determine how the dark spirit manipulates them. It's a terrifying film premise and it's executed brilliantly. It's one that tested the will and strength of my fiancé as we watched. While it didn't scare me as much as Hereditary did, it's only because I was too much admiring the craftmanship of this movie. I must also point out that Sope Dirisu as Bol is a revelation. Wunmi Mosaku as Riol just barely being outshined.
Nomadland undoubtely features powerful performances from it's lead Francis McDormand and the rest of it's small but meaningful cast. I'm personally new to the work of director Chloe Zhao but I can tell she cares a great deal about the stories she tells. Nomadland is a small film with a big heart. Focusing on Fern (McDormand) as she moves from place to place in her once nice but now ratty van working seasonal jobs wherever she can find them. Fern is a part of the American nomads. A group of people, who are are sometimes called the homeless, who mostly choose to live a life on the road with whatever they have available. There's one scene where a group of nomads is sitting around a fire sharing life stories and we understand that this lifestyle is often a choice. It's one of my favorite moments. We understand from then on that this seemingly harsh lifestyle is often a choice and not their only option, which American's like to assume. This dynamic is explored deeper in Fern's character, who is unwilling to accept help. No one likes to be a charity case but this isn't the whole picture, which we soon learn. I think this film is timed exceptionally well. It deals heavily with loss, financial hardship, and the issue of American homelessness, which pretty much sum up 2020 for most people. There's inherit flaws in the American system and in our way of capitalism, which Zhoa successfully shouts to the world with this quiet, magnificent work of art. If anyone needs a testament to how low-budget filmmaking can be highly effective - look no further.
After watching pixar's Soul I was convinced it had the best soundtrack of 2020, but then I experienced Minari with it's heavenly score. This is perhaps the most spiritual film, as well as the most American film, of the year. Minari is about a Korean family struggling to build a new life in Arkansas, but it's ideas expand beyond this tale of immigration. As the son of a Pentecostal preacher and also as someone who's lived in the south, this movie hit me with waves of flashbacks. The memories of after church barbecues. Paul, the crazy guy who speaks in 'tounges,' is someone I've met several times. These realistic details became deeply personal for me. I think there's something for everyone to connect with. Whether it's playing cards with grandmom, going to the stream with dad, or praying with mom before bed - these little moments bursting with life serve a bigger purpose. I heard a reviewer say you could take any scene from this film and it would standalone as a short film. After watching it I couldn't agree more. This film is about American life seen through foreign eyes. It's often eye-opening and always powerful. Thanks to it's dedicated cast who elevate their characters past mere performances and into something living and breathing. In a year that felt so inhumane, this film is a joyous, tear-jerking opportunity to see humans fight back at the swaying powers of our world.
Pixar's latest existential trip is a fulfilling experience whether you're a child or a grown adult (or on acid). It's stylish, the music is beautiful, and most importantly the writers understand universality and cleverly crafted this story about life and death for all audiences. While it has its imperfection, it successfully hits enough marks to be considered a Pixar great. Personally, I appreciated what the movie is teaching kids (and adults). Life is not about accomplishing one great task and finding our 'purpose.' Life is about sparks. It's about finding what makes you happy and finding happiness in little things. It's a story we've heard before but this is one fantastic and endlessly imaginative reminder. Great job to all the voice actors, top of the line animators, and most definitely the musicians who put this all together.
Frat boys everywhere are calling their daddy's lawyers because of this little gem of 2020. Director Emerald Fennell and a fierce Carry Mulligan team up to tell this story about sexual abuse in a world that takes a man's word first. This film is particularly appetizing because of it's sense of dark humor amidst a very unfunny situation. It could have very easily been a completely serious film. But instead is displayed as a darkly funny revenge story, where Cassie seeks out the people who rapped her friend in college, and makes them remember and regret the tragic situation. Don't be fooled by it's presentation though. There's a lot of insight offered here about how to navigate our world safely. It teaches lessons that should be common sense but are often forgotten in the toxic modern dating world. While the first half may have some bumps, the second act is fantastic with a few unforgettable final scenes. This is one hell of a wild ride.