Thursday, 18 January 2018

Crisp Criticism - "The Shape of Water", "Paddington 2", "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women"

Julien Faddoul

The Shape of Water *

At a top-secret research facility in Baltimore in the early 1960s, a lonely, mute janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.
Yet another imaginative fable from Del Toro that I found utterly hollow. A sentimental tale on the lack of love for the marginalized – a mute, a closeted gay man, a black woman, a communist, a fish monster – but uses them only as signifiers, with none of these ideas really coming together outside of the director’s sketchbook, as well as his own cinephilia (in particular Creature from the Black Lagoon). Injecting the film with blood and sex doesn’t provide any gravitas either, with each story point culminating in either thematic lip-service or a lack of commitment.

d – Guillermo Del Toro
w – Guillermo Del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
ph – Dan Laustsen
pd – Paul D. Austerberry
m – Alexandre Desplat
ed –Sidney Wolinsky
cos – Luis Sequeira

p – Guillermo Del Toro, J. Miles Dale

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Lauren Lee Smith, Nick Searcy, David Hewlett

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Crisp Criticism - "The Post", "Darkest Hour", "Breathe", "Kedi"

Julien Faddoul

The Post ***

The Pentagon Papers: A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government.
Obvious allegory to the modern malpractice by the US government on the First Amendment and their relationship with the free press. It’s that kind of flagrance that shows its director at his least dauntless. However, everything else – compositions, pacing, dramaturgy, performance – is superb.

d – Steven Spielberg
w – Liz Hannah, Josh SInger
ph – Janusz Kaminski
pd – Rick Carter
m – John Williams
ed – Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar
cos – Ann Roth

p – Steven Spielberg, Amy Pascal, Kristie Macosko Krieger

Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, Zach Woods

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Crisp Criticism - "All the Money in the World", "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle", "Pitch Perfect 3", "Thelma", "The Greatest Showman"

Julien Faddoul

All the Money in the World *

The kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.
Supposedly a film about greed, but one that confuses the issues it attempts to explain. The whole thing is peculiarly old-fashioned and is of interest chiefly for some fun performances and for production turmoil that unfortunately materializes on screen.

d – Ridley Scott
w – David Scarpa   (Based on the Book by John Pearson)
ph – Dariusz Wolski
pd – Arthur Max
m – Daniel Pemberton
ed – Claire Simpson
cos – Janty Yates

p – Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis, Dan Friedkin, Mark Huffam, Ridley Scott, Bradley Thomas, Kevin J. Walsh

Cast: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Plummer, Andrew Buchan

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Crisp Criticism - "The Florida Project", "Call Me by Your Name", "Downsizing"

Julien Faddoul

The Florida Project ***

Set over one summer, a precocious six-year-old girl courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her inept but caring mother, all while living in a cheap motel across the street from Disney World.
Exquisite, intuitive depiction of the hidden homeless, living week-to-week, as seen through the eyes of children. Comparisons to the European neo-realist films of the late 50s are undeniable, and Baker orchestrates his meandering episodes – shot on 35mm – with an unshakable mix of joy and distress.

d – Sean Baker
w – Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
ph – Alexis Zabe
pd – Stephonik Youth
m – Lorne Balfe
ed – Sean Baker
cos – Fernando Rodriguez

p – Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch, Kevin Chinoy, Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks

Cast: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Kimberly Prince, Bria Vinaite, Caleb Landry Jones, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera, Macon Blair, Karren Karagulian, Sandy Kane

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", "First They Killed My Father", "Ferdinand"

Julien Faddoul

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri **

A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder when they fail to catch the culprit.
Socio-politically, a restless excursion: Many will find McDonagh’s capricious emotional inquests and tonal shifts to be either baffling, lame or objectionable. The sincerity of his themes – eternal anger, vigilante justice, communal sympathy and forgiveness – certainly come through, but only half of the character types here, and the situations they’re placed in, are plausible; the other half is posturing. The cast, however, is superb.

wd – Martin McDonagh
ph – Ben Davis
pd – Inbal Weinberg
m – Carter Burwell
ed – Jon Gregory
cos – Melissa Toth

p – Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Abbie Cornish, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Hedges, Kathryn Newton, Clarke Peters, Zeljko Ivanek, Kerry Condon, Samara Weaving, Nick Searcy, Sandy Martin

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", "Wonder Wheel", "Just Getting Started"

Julien Faddoul

Star Wars: The Last Jedi **

The Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order, while Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker.
One of the most incontrovertible examples of the influence and necessity of a dynamic auteur: Johnson crystalizes all the adolescent mumbo jumbo of the Star Wars franchise, designed to coddle a malnourished movie-going public that is bred on nostalgia, into a rather gratifying piece of interplanetary theatrics. The religious mysticism is harmonized, the humour is acute and the battle sequences, both on the military and hand-to-hand scales, are expertly filmed. He also accomplishes the task of conveying a sense that momentous consequences are involved in the decisions taken. Surely the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy, the aesthetic is deeply rooted not only in those films, but in the Kurosawa masterpieces that inspired them. It’s too long, too sentimental and too preoccupied with setting up plotlines for future instalments, but this is probably about as personal as these films are going to get.

wd – Rian Johnson   (Based on the Characters Created by George Lucas)
ph – Steve Yedlin
pd – Rick Heinrichs
m – John Williams
ed – Bob Ducsay
cos – Michael Kaplan

p – Kathleen Kennedy, Ram Bergman

Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Benicio del Toro, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Justin Theroux

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Crisp Criticism - "The Disaster Artist", "Coco", "Wonder", "Only the Brave"

Julien Faddoul

The Disaster Artist **

In a San Francisco acting class in the late 1990’s, actor Greg Sestero met the enigmatic and suspiciously wealthy Tommy Wiseau. They moved to Los Angeles and made a film that would become a cult hit for being one of the worst of all time.
A difficult film to survey through, for its purpose is unclear, despite its flighty presentation. The notion of accidental artistic success being achieved through incompetence and personal secrecy is anything but flighty, and in the case of Wiseau and The Room (2003), it is at best, pathetic, and at worst, dangerous. Franco’s uncanny interpretation of Wiseau is brilliant, as are the meticulous recreations of his nonsensical film.

d – James Franco
w – Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber   (Based on the Book by Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell)
ph – Brandon Trost
pd – Chris L. Spellman
m – Dave Porter
ed – Stacey Schroeder
cos – Brenda Abbandandolo

p – James Franco, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Vince Jolivette, James Weaver

Cast: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, Zac Efron, June Diane Raphael, Andrew Santino, Nathan Fielder, Hannibal Buress, Megen Mullally, Bryan Crantston, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, Sugar Lyn Beard, Eliza Coupe, Zoey Deutch

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Stronger", "Goodbye Christopher Robbin", "The Man Who Invented Christmas", "Daddy's Home 2"

Julien Faddoul

Stronger **

A victim of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 helps the police track down the killers while struggling to recover from PTSD.
Crisp, well-acted true story that focuses on the emotional trivialities of its central romance. It works best when dissecting the emptiness in hero worship and less so when striving for grandiose significance.

d – David Gordon Green
w – John Pollono   (Based on the Book by Jeff Bauman and Bret Witter)
ph – Sean Bobbitt
pd – Stephen H. Carter
m – Michael Brook
ed – Dylan Tichenor
cos – Leah Katznelson, Kim Wilcox

p – Jake Gyllenhaal, Michel Litvak, Scott Silver, Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Clancy Brown, Frankie Shaw, Danny McCarthy, Carlos Sanz, Karen Scalia, Jimmy LeBlanc

Monday, 20 November 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Mudbound", "The Killing of a Sacred Deer", "Detroit"

Julien Faddoul

Mudbound **

Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life.
Sprawling, confident racial drama, graciously acted and directed. It suffers from some oversimplification and thus the intense emotions on display aren’t always cohesive.

d – Dee Rees
w – Dee Rees, Virgil Williams   (Based on the Novel by Hillary Jordan)
ph – Rachel Morrison
pd – David J. Bomba
m – Tamar-Kali
ed – Mako Kamitsuna
cos – Michael T. Boyd

p – Sally Jo Effenson, Cassian Elwes, Kim Roth, Carl Effenson, Tim Zajaros, Christopher Lemole, Charles D. King

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Jonathan Banks, Kerry Cahill, Dylan Arnold, Lucy Faust, Kelvin Harrison

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Justice League", "Murder on the Orient Express", "Brigsby Bear", "Brad's Status", "Good Time"

Julien Faddoul

Justice League

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.
A terrible film; suffers from the usual suspects tenfold; so damn hard to muster anything more to say about any of these garbage superhero movies.

d – Zack Snyder
w – Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder   (Based on the Characters Created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, William Moulton Marston, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel)
ph – Fabian Wagner
pd – Patrick Tatopoulos
m – Danny Elfman
ed – David Brenner, Richard Pearson, Martin Walsh
cos – Michael Wilkinson

p – Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, CiarĂ¡n Hinds, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Amber Heard, JK Simmons, Jeremy Irons, Willem Dafoe, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, Kiersey Clemons