Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) is an exquisite film, that’s both beautifully crafted and emotionally cunning. It's also one of the best films of the year.
This rich period piece of 18th century France is a moving portrait of the human connection. Director Céline Sciamma captures the very essence of love and heartbreak. Actors Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel are powerful from the first to the final frame. This thought-provoking drama is one of the very best to be released this fall season. In the end, it will steal your heart. France, 1760. Marianne (a powerful Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse (a fierce Adèle Haenel), a young woman who has just left the convent. Because Héloïse is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the disguise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night.
Later in the film, as the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow and Héloïse finally breaks free of her pain. Héloïse's portrait guided by Marianne's steady hand soon becomes a collaborative bond and a testament to their love for one another. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a richly rewarding masterpiece that avoids the stereotypical tropes of the 'male gaze'. This is all because of director Céline Sciamma's vivid vision for the film, as she gives it an underlying theme of gentleness and passion. Sciamma is also in a relationship with actress Adèle Haenel (Héloïse in the film). These two aspects allowed Sciamma to showcase the perspective of a woman's heart and mind through the eyes of a female director and an exclusively female cast. This slow-burning portrait of love and heartache seeps right into your bones.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire showcases its exquisite storytelling, vivid characters, and beautiful scenery — all to come full circle and to ignite the flame inside you. As we travel from scene to scene the sensation builds and the continuous fire crackles louder. A roaring period piece full of life, love, and heartbreak; Portrait of a Lady on Fire receives 5 stars from me. Portrait is an essay on the 'female gaze' and is one that should be studied for future films to follow. Sciamma guides her poetic hand throughout the picture, while Merlant and Haenel dig deep into their marvelous performances. They're intoxicating as is this movie. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a deeply stirring romance full of feminism and spiritual awakening. Portrait will be shown for exclusive one-week engagements in New York & Los Angeles beginning December 6 and in theaters everywhere Valentine's Day 2020. In Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, body language is crucial and love is forever.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is rated R (Restricted). For some nudity and sexuality.
Jojo Rabbit is an audacious film that grapples with antisemitism and bigotry through the eyes of a child.
This anti-hate satire succeeds with a high degree of difficulty and finds the right balance of humor, tragedy, and drama. A film you don’t want to miss, writer-director Taika Waititi’s (Hunt For The Wilderpeople and Thor: Ragnarok) Jojo Rabbit will stick with you. In this World War II mockery, we follow a lonely German boy (a terrific Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (the wonderful Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (a never better Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Jojo is apart of the Hitler Youth training camp, along with his best friend Yorki (a funny Archie Yates). Jojo is also aided by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (director Taika Waititi). Waititi is a wild and buffoonish spoof version of Hitler, as he keeps the audience laughing throughout the picture. Now, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism and choose a better path. Humanity or hatred?
Waititi dances on a fine line between fantasy and reality, as he manages to keep the audience focused and never straying. Waititi balances both humor and the real-life horrors of the Holocaust — it's a scary tight rope but, in the end, I believe Waititi pulled it off. Davis and McKenzie's chemistry together is charming, as we see them grow throughout the film enduring hard times as children. Johansson's performance might be small but it's extremely powerful, as we watch a single mother grapple with raising a son through war-stricken times. Johansson's performance is a marvel and the same goes for Sam Rockwell's performance as Captain Klenzendorf, an Army officer who runs a Hitler Youth camp. There's a deep sense of sweetness and innocence that perseveres through the movie and in the end, finds life in the gift of laughter. Jojo Rabbit has a bigger heart than it can share, but that doesn't stop the film from trying. I enjoyed this picture and I hope that you do as well. Jojo is one of the most important films of the year. This Nazi-mocking satire has a lot of significant things to say and is a film everyone should watch at least once.
Jojo Rabbit is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) For mature thematic content, some disturbing images, violence, and language.
Directed by Taika Waititi
Starring Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Archie Yates as Yorki.
Favorite line: "I am going home to my mother. I need a cuddle" — Yorki
The Lighthouse is a hypnotic film that dives deep into the depths of madness. I can easily say The Lighthouse is a Gothic masterpiece. One of the very best of 2019.
𝑊ℎ𝑦’𝑑 𝑦’𝑠𝑝𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑦𝑒𝑟 𝑏𝑒𝑎𝑛𝑠?
Actors Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson give us mesmerizing performances in one of the best films of 2019. This black-and-white gem was shot on 35mm film and presented in a 1.19:1 aspect ratio. Director Robert Eggers’ (The Witch) haunting movie will send chills down your spine. On top of the grand cinematography, we get an eerie score to add to the suspense. The Lighthouse is a psychological horror film directed and produced by Robert Eggers, who also co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Max Eggers. The film follows two lighthouse keepers (Dafoe and Pattinson) who start to lose their sanity when a storm strands them on the remote island on which they are stationed.
Dafoe and Pattinson both deserve to be nominated for an Oscar because their performances were sheer perfection. Pattinson was just nominated for Best Actor for the Film Independent Spirit Awards. While Dafoe was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Fingers crossed they can both steal these two awards. Overall, the film received 5 Spirit Awards including Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. You could feel the madness boiling up inside Dafoe and Pattinson as time went on. The movie, as a whole, was an eerie black-and-white thriller — from the aspect ratio to the captivating cinematography, to the haunting score, everything was masterfully crafted by Eggers. The Lighthouse gets under your skin and seeps into your bones. There's no shaking this film. Eggers' film was also shot entirely in black-and-white, which makes the movie all the more authentic. I would love to see The Lighthouse get some Oscar love, but sadly I feel like this movie is way too edgy for the Academy.
It would be a very weird film for the Academy to embrace. From the sex with mermaids to getting buried alive to the killing a seagull with their bare hands — this is a hard movie to fully grasp. "Say, why is it bad luck to kill a gull?" "In them’s the souls of sailors what met their maker." Nevertheless, this is the underlying magic from Eggers and his boldness to produce hard and scathing pictures. The Lighthouse was also incredibly witty. I laughed a lot during the scene where Dafoe got mad at Pattinson for not liking his cooking. "You’re fond of me lobster, aint’ ye?" Then, Dafoe stands up and curses Pattinson for not liking his Lobster. It's a hilarious scene and one that's also thought-provoking. The Lighthouse also had a lot of symbolism sprinkled in throughout. I feel like I need to re-watch it again to fully dissect it. Eggers integrated old folk tales and Greek mythology into his story; some have even suggested that the physical Lighthouse represents 'heaven', Dafoe represents 'god' and Pattinson represents a 'sinner'. Overall, this is a picture not for the faint of heart, but one I still highly recommend. It receives five-stars from me. This Gothic masterpiece will leave an impression on your very soul.
The Lighthouse is rated R (Restricted). For sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language.
Directed by Robert Eggers
Starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.
Downton Abbey (2019) was a joyful experience with old friends and familiar places.
The Downton Abbey series (2010 — 2015) will always hold a special place in my heart and their newest feature film is a safe addition to the British canon. It's a series that gave me much delight when watching it and I've experienced that same delight in their recent picture. Here, we got to see our old friends like Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), Charles Carson (Jim Carter), John Bates (Brendan Coyle), Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), Joseph Molesley (Kevin Doyle), Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt), Phyllis Baxter (Raquel Cassidy), Andy Parker (Michael C. Fox), Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier), Tom Branson (Allen Leech), Elsie Hughes (Phyllis Logan), Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern), Beryl Patmore (Lesley Nicol), Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith), Daisy Mason (Sophie McShera), Isobel, Lady Merton (Penelope Wilton), Bertie Pelham (Harry Hadden-Paton), and Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode).
The actors all excel in their character roles as we travel with them down pass memories and new beginnings. The film follows the continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century, and their royal visit from the King and Queen of England. Like an extended episode — nothing too drastic happens throughout. There are some small plot-lines of scandal, romance, and family drama all nicely resolved by the ending credits. Because this is Downton Abbey and everyone knows that all great things come out from Downton. It's a safe picture to warm our palate with vivid costumes, enchanting set designs, and a soothing score (bells ringing). Downton fans will rejoice that they finally got to see some of their favorite people up on the big screen. What more could you ask for? Cheers to this lavishing period drama of British authenticity and sweet ingredients.
Henry Talbot: "Leave Downton? We're stuck with it, aren't we?"
Lady Mary: "Yes. Yes, I believe we are."
Directed by Michael Engler
Created by Julian Fellowes (Original Series)
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Raquel Cassidy, Michael C. Fox, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Lesley Nicol, Maggie Smith, Sophie McShera, Penelope Wilton, Harry Hadden-Paton, Matthew Goode, Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, Kate Phillips, and Tuppence Middleton.
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