Crazy Rich Asians

This wasn’t as good as it was cracked up to be (Best Picture, Comedy or Musical, at the Golden Globes?), but it made for fine airplane fare. It was fun, and mostly witty and nice to look at. Lots of attractive people, clothes and cars and baubles and all that… it passed the time.

The Favourite

The cheesy phrase “deliciously wicked” comes to mind. I do prefer my period pieces to have a bit of wink, wink, nudge, nudge (Peter Greenaway and Baz Luhrmann come to mind), and this film falls into that category. The three leads strike just the right balance, and then – slip, twist, pivot – imbalance. I’ve always liked Rachel Weisz, but Emma Stone has grown on me. As for the queen, Olivia Colman gives the perfect, nuanced performance. She deserved her Oscar.

Free Solo

This should be a really boring movie. The outcome is a foregone conclusion: we know what’s going to happen; we know he’s going to survive the climb. It happened in the past, and it made big headlines. And yet, I was sweating bullets the entire time I watched him go up El Capitain, with no ropes, and no margin for error. My palms were basically dripping with sweat… it is so incredibly tense to watch this kind of feat, in full knowledge that it is in no way fake, and that his life is on the (lack of) line the entire time. Much of this stress is brought about by watching what his friends and fellow climbers, who were there to document the achievement on camera, lived through as they watched the drama unfold real-time.

As is discussed in scenes where Alex undergoes studies in an MRI machine, he basically has a tiny amygdala, leading to low levels of anxiety/stress in these situations. And a huge pair of balls.

East Side Sushi

Equal parts charming and clumsy. It felt like a senior project, and the script had all the usual characters, as if cut from film school cardboard. But there is heart, and… Oakland.

The Handmaiden

Is it fair to say that this is┬áPark Chan-wook at his most restrained? And most elegant. Which is appropriate, given the tale at hand, and its source material. It’s great to look at, and very solidly structured. My only real complaint is how easy it is to see what is coming, during the second third of the film…

Isle of Dogs

I like Wes Anderson best when he doesn’t have doesn’t have actual actors being so quirky. It’s better, and less cloying, when puppets are put into these situations, and saying these lines.

Even if the lines are in Japanese. Would I have liked this film as much if there were no Japan connection? I’m not certain. And I’m also not sure about the racist charges that the film seems to be attracting. Again, maybe because I know that Japan is… like this?

At any rate, first-rate eye candy, as usual. Superb attention to detail. I liked it.

The Florida Project

An oddly engaging movie. There is nothing that a synopsis might tell you that would indicate the level of engagement that this story engenders. It may be in part the fact that we see most of the movie from the point of view of the children, who, however mischievous they may be, remind us always that what they represent is hope and possibility, for all of us. Disneyland may be an overt symbol of the fantasy life we all desire, but these kids show us that real life can be full of joy as well.

Biggie & Tupac

This director has to be one of the worst documentarians on the planet. And definitely the worst narrator. And yet I managed to learn a few things from this movie. And strangely, the people that he approached for interviews and filming seemed oddly to allow him a level of access that I wouldn’t have expected. Why? How?

This is probably only for real fans of the title characters. Otherwise, just check out Notorious – much more entertaining.

Definitely Maybe

Disappointing to the point where not even Ryan Reynolds’ charms could revive it. Not even Rachel Weisz as a love interest could save it. There is too much script here. You can just see the writers piling it on. One more wrinkle, another complication, the expected unexpected. And back around to the beginning. Cute by a little too much.