Sunday, December 30, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "If Beale Street Could Talk", "Aquaman", "The Mule", "Mortal Engines", "The House That Jack Built", "Mary Queen of Scots", "Arizona", "Vox Lux", "Shoplifters"

Julien Faddoul

If Beale Street Could Talk ****

After her fiance is falsely imprisoned, a pregnant African-American woman sets out to clear his name and prove his innocence.
Baldwin once wrote: “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go”. To many, movies are the food of their emotions – especially love – and although Baldwin was not referring to cinema specifically, cineastes understand that all contributions to the artform are connected in the “story of the cinema”, like waves are to the ocean. Jenkins’ adaptation is both a rose and its vaporizer; both a needle and its thread. In its depiction of swooning first love, its socio-political outrage, its illustration of the philosophies of solitude and solidarity, its extraordinary use of camera movement, sound design, editing and performance: it is superb work from all involved.

wd – Barry Jenkins   (Based on the Book by James Baldwin)
ph – James Laxton
pd – Mark Friedberg
m – Nicholas Britell
ed – Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
cos – Caroline Eselin

p – Megan Ellison, Jeremy Kleiner, Dede Gardner, Adele Romanski, Sara Murphy, Barry Jenkins

Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Ebony Obsidian, Dominique Thorne, Brian Tyree Henry, Diego Luna, Dave Franco, Finn Wittrock, Ed Skrein, Emily Rios, Pedro Pascal, Bobby Conte Thornton Marcia Jean Kurtz

Monday, December 17, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "The Favourite", "Blindspotting", "Colette", "Hearts Beat Loud", "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse"

Julien Faddoul

The Favourite **

In 18th century England, the close relationship between Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill is threatened by the arrival of Sarah’s cousin, Abigail Hill, resulting in a bitter rivalry between the two cousins to be the Queen’s favourite.
A cool and fairly ostentatious dissection of sexual dynamics and historical rumour, punctuated by Lanthimos’ typical deadpan drollery. It’s held together by an exceptional ensemble of players rather than its script, which regrettably mistakes acidity for wit.

d – Yorgos Lanthimos
w – Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
ph – Robbie Ryan
pd – Fiona Crombie
ed – Yorgos Mavropsaridis
cos – Sandy Powell

p – Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos, Lee Magiday

Cast: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss, Jenny Rainsford, James Smith

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Crisp Criticism: "Roma", "Leave No Trace", "Zama", "The Guilty", "The Wife", "Western"

Julien Faddoul

Roma **

A year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s, seen from the perspective of their mild-mannered domestic.
Quiet, vivid, episodic Fellini-esque reminiscence of a time gone-by and all the self-indulgence that goes with that. Fascinating on a moment-to-moment basis, its lack of an arresting narrative is trumpeted by imposing mise-en-scène. Due to knee-jerk reactions from critics, it is a film with much to answer for, but as a piece of filmmaking it’s spotless rather than flawless.

w/d/ph – Alfonso Cuarón
pd – Eugenio Caballero
ed – Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough
cos – Anna Terrazas

p – Nicolás Celis, Alfonso Cuarón, Gabriela Rodriguez

Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Nancy García García, Verónica García, Andy Cortés, Fernando Grediaga, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza, Latin Lover, Zarela Lizbeth Chinolla Arellano, José Luis López Gómez

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Robin Hood", "Cam", "Shirkers", "The Possession of Hannah Grace", "Madeline's Madeline", "Minding the Gap", "We the Animals"

Julien Faddoul

Robin Hood

A war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown.
Embarrassing, poorly lit, nonsensically outlined action-film that bears little resemblance to the English folklore and seems to be proud of it. At least it moves fast.

d – Otto Bathurst
w – Ben Chandler, David James Kelly
ph – George Steel
pd – Jean-Vincent Puzos
m – Joseph Trapanese
ed – Chris Barwell, Joe Hutshing
cos – Julian Day

p – Jennifer Davisson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward L. McDonnell

Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, Tim Minchin, Paul Anderson, Björn Bengtsson, Josh Herdman, Roderick Hill, F. Murray Abraham

Monday, November 26, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Green Book", "Ralph Breaks the Internet", "The Front Runner", "Creed II", "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

Julien Faddoul

Green Book *

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
Pleasant and old-fashioned road-movie, with the two leads providing most of the charm. Intellectually, it’s unsurprisingly dishonest about both the racial and sexual attitudes of the time, despite being “inspired” by a true story.

d – Peter Farrelly

w – Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly
ph – Sean Porter
pd – Tim Galvin
m – Kris Bowers
ed – Patrick J. Don Vito
cos – Betsy Heimann

p – Jim Burke, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Charles B. Wessler

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Don Stark, Sebastian Maniscalco, Tom Virtue, Brian Stepanek, Joe Cortese, David Kallaway, Paul Sloan, PJ Byrne

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Widows", "Outlaw King", "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs", "Life and Nothing More"

Julien Faddoul

Widows ***

Four Chicago women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.
Although he’s utilizing all the familiar pulpy elements, it is no surprise that McQueen’s interpretation of a twisty (however ludicrous) heist film would be this acidic. Both the sociopolitical commentary and the character-drama are consistently engrossing, despite the two often having trouble congealing. The concerns are grim but the outlook is hopeful and astute, and the cast is an absolute dream.

d – Steve McQueen
w – Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen   (Based on the TV Series Created by Lynda La Plante)
ph – Sean Bobbitt
pd – Adam Stockhausen
m – Hans Zimmer
ed – Joe Walker
cos – Jenny Eagan

p – Iain Canning, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Emile Sherman

Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Harney, Lukas Haas, Matt Walsh, Adepero Oduye, Ann Mitchell, Kevin J. O'Connor, Molly Kunz

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "The Grinch", "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald", "Overlord", "Boy Erased", "A Private War"

Julien Faddoul

The Grinch

Animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss tale.
Another dreadfully bland and ugly CG animated film from Illumination Entertainment, their second Dr. Seuss adaptation. Aimed at the lowest common denominator.

d – Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier
w – Michael LeSieur, Tommy Swerdlow   (Based on the Book by Dr. Seuss)
pd – Colin Stimpson
m – Danny Elfman
ed – Chris Cartagena

p – Christopher Meledandri, Jeant Healy

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Pharrell Williams, Rashida Jones, Angela Lansbury, Kenan Thompson, Scott Mosier, Tristan O'Hare, Sam Lavagnino

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Suspiria", "Beautiful Boy", "Hunter Killer", "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms", "The Girl in the Spider’s Web"

Julien Faddoul

Suspiria **

A young ballet dancer travels to a prestigious dance academy in Berlin, only to discover it is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of increasingly grisly murders.
It’s unfortunate that Guadagnino felt the need to draw connections between Argento’s beloved 1977 spookfest – about a German dance academy run by witches – with both the crimes committed by The Red Army Faction around the same time and the crimes committed by The Third Reich many years earlier, which renders a good 20 minutes of this two and a half hour remake rather perfunctory. But as a stylish exercise in cinematic circuitousness, it’s visually stimulating, creepy and frequently fascinating.

d – Luca Guadagnino
w – David Kajganich   (Based on the Screenplay by Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi)
ph – Sayombhu Mukdeeprom
pd – Inbal Weinberg
m – Thom Yorke
ed – Walter Fasano
cos – Giulia Piersanti

p – Brad Fischer, Luca Guadagnino, David Kajganich, Francesco Melzi d'Eril, Marco Morabito, Gabriele Moratti, William Sherak, Silvia Venturini Fendi

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler, Ingrid Caven, Sylvie Testud, Jessica Harper, Chloë Grace Moretz, Renée Soutendijk, Małgorzata Bela, Vanda Capriolo, Fabrizia Sacchi, Elena Fokina, Olivia Ancona, Toby Ashraf, Christine Leboutte, Paolo Vanoli, Alek Wek

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Bohemian Rhapsody", "The Old Man & the Gun", "Indivisible", "Free Solo", "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot"

Julien Faddoul

Bohemian Rhapsody

A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen's legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.
Endlessly fascinating in its abysmal awfulness: It falls upon every musical biopic cliche in the book, bungles easily recognisable historical inaccuracies, deals rather distastefully with Mercury’s homosexuality and contains some of the worst lines of spoon-feeding exposition ever committed to film.

d – Bryan Singer
w – Anthony McCarten, Peter Morgan
ph – Newton Thomas Sigel
pd – Aaron Haye
m – John Ottman
ed – John Ottman
cos – Julian Day

p – Jim Beach, Graham King, Bryan Singer, Brian May, Peter Oberth, Roger Taylor

Cast: Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Lucy Boynton, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, Allen Leech, Aaron McCusker, Dermot Murphy, Meneka Das

The Old Man & the Gun **

Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.
Slight but infectious, almost irresistible tribute to its real-life criminal and the star who plays him. Lowery recreates the aesthetic of the 70s era films that Redford dominated in his prime.

wd – David Lowery   (Based on the Article by David Grann)
ph – Joe Anderson
pd – Scott Kuzio
m – Daniel Hart
ed – Lisa Zeno Churgin
cos – Annell Brodeur

p – James D. Stern, Dawn Ostroff, Jeremy Steckler, Anthony Mastromauro, Bill Holderman, Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Robert Redford

Cast: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Robert Longstreet, Keith Carradine, John David Washington, Augustine Frizzell, Elisabeth Moss, Gene Jones


Upon returning from serving in the U.S. Army, a Chaplain faces a crisis that shatters his family and faith in God until his fellow soldiers help out with nonsensical platitudes that are supposed to sound like wisdom.
Christian evangelical nonsense; impassable to those who believe in anything even remotely contrary, and unsurprisingly incompetent on an artistic level.

d – David G. Evans
w – David G. Evans, Cheryl McKay, Peter White
ph – Bob Scott
pd – Darian Corley
ed – Jeff Canavan
cos – Anna Redmon

p – Darren Moorman

Cast: Justin Bruening, Sarah Drew, Jason George, Tia Mowry, Skye P. Marshall, Tanner Stine, Madeline Carroll, Michael O'Neill, Eric Close, Samara Lee

Free Solo **

Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000 foot high El Capitan wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history.
Those who find extreme rock climbing and other alarmingly dangerous physical endeavours to be glorious human feats that should be celebrated at every instance will be enthralled by what is a fairly conventional National Geographic documentary. To one who comprehends differently – finding, instead, such endeavours like “free soloing” to be rather unastute, the psychology behind them to be imbecilic and the film’s central figure here to be an inarticulate dolt – it is best to focus on the excellently filmed and edited climbing sequences and not the dreary goings-on of a guy in his 30s with intimacy problems.

d – Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
ph – Jimmy Chin, Matt Clegg, Clair Popkin, Mikey Schaefer
m – Marco Beltrami
ed – Bob Eisenhardt

p – Jimmy Chin, Shannon Dill, Evan Hayes, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Cast: Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin, Tommy Caldwell, Sanni McCandless

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot *

On the rocky path to sobriety after a accident, an alcoholic discovers he loves drawing cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life.
Essentially an impetus for actors to play around with material, for the conversational scenes are virtually interchangeable within the the film itself (regardless of Van Sant’s fittering with chronology) and the performers in question are mostly playing against type. Some scenes are inspired but the film has very little to say about Alcoholism or 12-Stepping.

d – Gus Van Sant
w –  Gus Van Sant, John Callahan, Jack Gibson, William Andrew Eatman   (Based on the Book by John Callahan)
ph – Christopher Blauvelt
pd – Jahmin Assa
m – Danny Elfman
ed – David Marks, Gus Van Sant
cos – Danny Glicker

p – Charles-Marie Anthonioz, Mourad Belkeddar, Nicolas Lhermitte, Steve Golin

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Tony Greenhand, Beth Ditto, Mark Webber, Ronnie Adrian, Kim Gordon, Udo Kier, Carrie Brownstein, Ethan Tindukasiri