SLIFF Review: Petite Maman and Memoria
A Double Feature SLIFF Review!
Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman is a beautiful portrait of childhood. She crafts an exquisite movie full of love, loss, and hope. Petite Maman is a deep meditation on grief that is both richly rewarding and emotionally resonant. Clocking in at only 72-minutes: Sciamma’s film is a perfect picture. 5-stars. French director Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Girlhood, and Tomboy) has crafted together another beautiful work of art. With Petite Maman, Sciamma infuses delicacy and care into her newest picture. Back in November of 2019, I was able to see Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF). Now, two years later, I am back at SLIFF seeing another Sciamma movie. It was marvelous. Our story follows eight-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz), who has gone back to her mother's childhood home. Nelly's grandmother has just passed away, and her parents are there to go through and clean out the house.
While Nelly's parents are busy, she decides to explore the surrounding woods. Here, she encounters Marion (Gabrielle Sanz), a girl exactly Nelly's age and bears a striking resemblance (Joséphine and Gabrielle are twin sisters in real life). Nelly and Marion become fast friends, sharing lunches, constructing a forest hut together, and talking about life-changing events. Marion is only days away from going to the hospital for an operation. Petite Maman is an exquisite coming-of-age story full of love, discovery, and heartache. Sciamma's movie is a hidden gem that will slowly sneak up on you until it hits you like a shot to the heart. You will be overwhelmed with emotions while the screen overflows with intimacy and warmth. Petite Maman may be a short movie, but its power in storytelling is one of the strongest features to be released this year. Enchanting and deeply personal: Petite Maman is this year's top jewel. A masterclass.
Petite Maman is not rated (NR).
Directed by Céline Sciamma
Starring Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Stéphane Varupenne, Nina Meurisse, and Margo Abascal.
Petite Maman had its world premiere at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival on 3 March 2021.
Memoria challenges the common features of traditional storytelling: boundary-pushing and slow-burning. Memoria is a hypnotic experience that sinks its teeth into your brain. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film is wildly unique. See it if it comes to your city because you won’t get another chance. Memoria is an experimental picture, leaving your head in a daze. There is some lyrical and deeply cinematic about Weerasethakul's newest feature. One that you cannot shake, sticking with you long after the end of the credits. Weerasethakul's (Cemetery of Splendor and Syndromes and a Century) films have always been in their own category of high art, as the director constructs and deconstructs the way we watch and experience movies. With Memoria, Weerasethakul takes that experience to another level. Neon has chosen an interesting route of a never-ending release in the United States. Meaning, rather than a traditional platform release to multiple theaters simultaneously: the film will be rolled out with a “deliberate and methodical approach,” Neon says. “Moving from city to city, theater to theater, week by week, playing in front of only one solitary audience at any given time.”
This is a wild idea, one that I was not so sure of going into the movie at the 2021 St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF). But after the experience, I completely understand Neon's method. The sound quality and mixing in a theater for Memoria is what truly makes the film so captivating. One would completely lose out on that encounter if watched at home. It would not and could not be the same. Think Memoria as being a kind of never-ending, moving-image art exhibit. The film will only play in theaters, never becoming available on DVD, VOD, or streaming. Memoria begins with Jessica (a fantastic Tilda Swinton) waking up to a loud sonic boom. With this boom and noise, Jessica cannot get out of her head. Jessica travels all over Bogotá to get answers and then begins to travel deep into the Colombian jungle. Memoria is a film full of deep meditation and re-awaking. It is an experience like no other.
Memoria is not rated (NR).
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Starring Tilda Swinton, Elkin Díaz, Jeanne Balibar, Juan Pablo Urrego, and Daniel Giménez Cacho.
Memoria had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on 15 July 2021.
Review: Passing and Belfast
A Double Feature Review, B&W Edition!
Passing is a beautiful directorial debut from Rebecca Hall. The black-and-white images are striking, while the story and themes are delicately wrapped. There's an elegance to Hall's picture. Plus, actors Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga are both magnificent throughout. Actor, writer, and now director Rebecca Hall showcases a strong directorial debut with Passing. Hall's debut feature is based on author Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel of the same name. Hall moves the location of the story from Chicago to New York but keeps every other element of Larsen’s extraordinary story. Both Thompson and Negga's acting in this film are rich, drawing the viewer in slowly. The title, Passing, refers to Black or mixed-race people "passing" as white as a way to survive in this country. The United States is a country deeply rooted in racism and white supremacy and, sadly, still is to this day. Hall superbly tackles these thorny themes with delicacy and awareness.
By shooting her picture literally in black-and-white allowed the story to blossom through detailed imagery and poignant symbolism. Our story follows Irene (Thompson), a light-skinned Black woman living in Harlem, who meets a childhood friend, Clare (Negga), by chance at a New York City hotel. The Ethiopian-Irish actress (Negga) is just as radiant as she was in her 2016 performance of Loving. Here, Irene identifies as African-American and is married to a Black doctor (André Holland), but Clare "passes" as white and has married a wealthy white man (Alexander Skarsgård) from Chicago. This discovery turns Irene's world upside down. Negga and Thompson are both stellar scene after scene. I hope they get a lot of recognition this awards season and maybe even Oscar noms. Hall's engrossing film highlights how the United States is still a country deeply control by whiteness, even to this very day. It's a picture that is captures of horrors of real-life experiences and has a lot to say. In the end, Passing is a movie that cuts you deep.
Passing is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Thematic Material | Some Racial Slurs | Smoking.
Stream it now on Netflix
Directed by Rebecca Hall
Starring Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, and Alexander Skarsgård.
Belfast is simply marvelous. I was completely captivated from beginning to end. Director Kenneth Branagh's (Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Thor, and 2015's Cinderella) black-and-white crowd-pleaser will tug away at your heartstrings. A movie that screams Oscars, and if this wins Best Picture next year, I would be okay with that. What a wonder. Belfast is a superb movie about childhood, family, and community. Branagh's film is well-crafted and delicately wrapped with love and care. Branagh's picture works as a semi-autobiographical story of a working-class family trying to survive during The Troubles in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from August 1969 to early 1970. Mostly, we are shown the perspective of Buddy (newcomer Jude Hill), the family's youngest son. Belfast is a love letter to the city and the people of Belfast, Northern Ireland. This is a picture that will make you both laugh and cry multiple times throughout the movie. Branagh's feature tells a complex story deeply rooted in political and social turmoil. Belfast is also a feature that is rich in texture, layering the story's impact like a gut punch. Belfast is a beauty scene after scene. Actors Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan as Buddy's Ma and Pa are both terrific throughout.
Balfe gives a powerful performance; while Dornan continues to work his acting chops. Dornan's scene where he sings Everlasting Love by Love Affair will fill your heart with eternal joy. After last Spring's Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar and, now Belfast, Dornan has won me over. He is magnificent. Actors Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds warm the screen as Buddy's grandparents. There were a few scenes that left me in awe. These scenes were when Buddy attended a local stage play or saw a movie at the theater. Here, Branagh used color in only what was playing on the stage play or on the movie screen. Everything else, like Buddy and his family, was still in black-and-white. There was something spectacular about these sequences, as Branagh blended both color and black-and-white. You will be in awe; while humming to the tune of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) — the movie Buddy and his family are watching. Belfast will most likely be a favorite this awards season. Right now, I am okay with that because this is a wonderful little movie. You will laugh, cheer, and be inspired. Belfast is a reason why cinema is so captivating. In the end, the theater is where I go to escape.
Belfast is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Strong Language | Some Violence.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Starring, Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, and Jude Hill.
Review: Eternals and Finch
A Double Feature Review!
Eternals is an enormous film: ambitious, emotionally resonant, and visually stunning. Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao (The Rider and Nomadland) has put her stamp into the superhero realm. Full of mythos and a diverse cast, Zhao’s film reaches for the stars. It’s not without some flaws in the writing, pacing, and it’s too long. But damn those imperfections, Eternals is marvelous. Coming in at No. 26 for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Zhao's Eternals is one of the boldest visions of this long-running superhero franchise. After just winning Best Director and Best Picture for her film Nomadland last April, Zhao is one of the most requested directors in Hollywood right now. Zhao brings everything that she has done with her previous three pictures (Songs My Brothers Taught Me, The Rider, and Nomadland) — vividly beautiful scenes, on-location shooting, and a humane story at its core. Eternals heavily focuses on the characters, their love, pain, and hope. This is something Zhao loves to focus in on, asking the question of what does it mean to be human?
Though all of the characters in this picture are gods, Zhao still took the deconstructive approach to superheroes. Here, she forced them to question their own purpose in the world, through reflective and melancholy beats, narratively speaking. By doing it this way, Zhao subverted critics' and audiences' expectations of what they have come to expect in an MCU movie and superhero movies in general. I believe this was one of the reasons why Zhao's picture has been looked upon more harshly and divisively by critics. Yes, Eternals often tries so desperately to reach for the stars and, at times, stumbles, but at least it tries. Eternals also showcases the MCU's most diverse cast consisting of Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. Zhao's Eternals features an interesting new team of superheroes, an immortal race of superpowered beings who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind's most ancient enemy, the Deviants. Zhao's movie juggles multiple storylines and periods, jumping back and forth between present and past. Chan plays Sersi, who has a romance with Ikaris (played by Madden). But their love has fallen apart over the many years.
Sersi is incredibly empathic, while she can transform matter through physical contact. Ikaris is the Eternal who can fly and his character is heavily inspired by Zack Snyder's Superman portrayal in 2013's Man of Steel. Zhao also took the MCU to a more mature level by giving Sersi and Ikaris an actual sex scene. Nanjiani plays Kingo, who has become one of Bollywood's most famous actors, while McHugh plays Sprite, who is dissatisfied with humanity. Tyree Henry plays Phastos, who is the team's most powerful inventor. Phastos has started a family with his husband, and they have a son in Chicago. Eternals is also the first MCU movie to portray an LGBTQ+ family, continuing to show why representation matters. Ridloff plays Makkari, an Eternal with super speed. Makkari's character is also deaf, and Ridloff is a real deaf actress. Ridloff's acting chops are stellar throughout, showcasing one of the movie's best performances. Makkari has a bit of a fling with Druig (played by Keoghan). Lee plays Gilgamesh, the strongest Eternal, who has been watching over an unwell Thena (played by Jolie). Lastly, Hayek plays Ajak, the leader of the group. It's a ton of characters and ground to cover, which is why Eternals does become stretched throughout the movie. But I was always awed and inspired by Zhao's interpretation of these superpowered gods. She has left her mark on the superhero realm. In the end, this is her story to tell. It was marvelous.
Eternals is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Fantasy Violence and Action | Brief Sexuality | Some Language.
Directed by Chloé Zhao
Starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie.
Finch doesn't break new ground in the post-apocalyptic story, but it's a movie that is both emotionally resonant and strongly acted by Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks + doggy + 2 robots = a sci-fi road trip with a big heart. Finch is a wonderful little movie with a lot to say. Director Miguel Sapochnik's (director of several Game of Thrones and Masters of Sex episodes) robot road trip through the apocalyptic wasteland will tug away at your heartstrings. With Finch, Hanks gives the audience another powerful performance that we have come to know over the years. Our story follows a robotics engineer named Finch (Hanks), who lives alone with his dog Goodyear and a helper-robot Dewey (think WALL·E) in an underground St. Louis laboratory. Ten years have passed since a solar flare destroyed the ozone layer, turning the Earth into a largely uninhabitable wasteland ravaged by extreme weather. Finch has just created an advanced humanoid robot companion, who goes by the name of Jeff (voiced by Caleb Landry Jones). Because the weather is becoming too extreme, Finch decides to pack up and take his companions across the country to San Francisco in his heavily modified motorhome. During the journey into a desolate American West, we also learn about Finch's undisclosed terminal illness he is also dealing with. Hanks gives us another superb performance. One that is both raw and cunning, while Jones' voice acting for Jeff cuts deep. Finch is a movie I did not realize that I needed. Who knew that so much heart could go into a little picture about a man, his dog, and robots. Finch might not add anything new to this worn-out apocalyptic genre, but it's one that speaks directly to the soul.
Finch is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Stream it now on Apple TV+
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
Starring Tom Hanks, a dog, and two robots.
Review: Last Night in Soho
Last Night in Soho was not at all what I expected, and this was not a bad thing. Soho is thrilling, visually engaging, and strongly acted (Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy).
Writer-director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Baby Driver) flashes ambition and style scene after scene. Plus, the movie had a killer soundtrack. I did have issues with the film's third act, where the writing got topsy-turvy and, at times, started to fall apart. There were too many directions that the movie wanted to go, along with too many twists. Overall, Soho is still a bloody good time. When it dazzles, it dazzles. When it drags, it drags. McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy's stellar performances kept me engaged scene after scene. Along with the picture's outstanding 60's soundtrack and production-costume design, Soho is another worthy entry to Wright's filmography. Soho marks Wright's seventh film and his second feature released this year, in addition to his 2021 documentary on the Sparks brothers, titled The Sparks Brothers. Our movie follows Eloise (McKenzie), an aspiring fashion designer; who occasionally sees her mother's ghost in mirrors. Eloise (Ellie for short) has something like the "shine." She has also just moved to London to study fashion. After becoming unhappy in the residence's hall because of her terrible roommate, Ellie decides to move out. She moves into a bedsit owned by an elderly woman (the late Diana Rigg).
Here, Ellie is mysteriously able to enter the 1960's when she falls asleep in her bed. Cue the glittery streets and neon glowing signs of a 1960's London that's a feast before your eyes. Ellie encounters a dazzling wannabe singer named Sandie (Taylor-Joy) and a sly man named Jack (Matt Smith). The special effects during these dancing sequences as our focus shifts back and forth between Ellie and Sandie will wow you. It's pretty impressive, to say the least. Yet, this 60's glamour is more than a dream of the past. Soon, Ellie's reality begins to crack beneath her feet, unveiling something much darker. I'll stop there at the plot — otherwise — I will give too much away. Soho starts out as a drama, then switches gears to a psychological thriller, and then proceeds to jump into full-on horror. Wright's picture juggles a lot of genres, which does boggle down the movie's momentum at times. That's not to say that Soho is a bad movie by any means, it's not. My biggest criticism comes with parts of the movie's writing. But Wright's latest picture is a good and entertaining flick. One that I had a lot of fun watching from beginning to end. Soho's production and costume designs are to die for, on top of that, we get some hefty acting chops showcased by both McKenzie and Taylor-Joy. So, sit back and let the sweet sounds of the 60's take ahold of you, sending your mind into a trance-like state.
Last Night in Soho is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Brief Drug Material | Bloody Violence | Brief Graphic Nudity | Language | Sexual Content.
Sadly, Soho is not playing in many theaters right now because it did not do well at the Box Office. However, it is now available to rent on VOD!
Want to hear more of my thoughts about Soho? I spoke with my good friends, Matt and Ashley, on their podcast, Mashely at the Movies | Listen Here.
Directed by Edgar Wright
Starring Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Michael Ajao, Terence Stamp, and the late Diana Rigg.
Spencer plays like a Greek tragedy. Writer-director Pablo Larraín’s film is meticulously crafted from beginning to end. Actress Kristen Stewart is a marvel as Diana. She wows in every frame. With beautiful cinematography and a somber score, it’s a film full of symbolism. A masterclass. Five-stars.
A fable from a true tragedy.
Spencer is not your average movie-going experience, as Larraín (2012's No, 2016's Jackie, and 2021's Ema) throws the viewers into the mind of Diana, Princess of Wales (a phenomenal Stewart). Spencer is a fable based on real-life people, allowing Larraín the freedom to craft the picture the way he wanted to. During this biographical-psychological drama, we follow Diana's every move. She experiences three days of hell during the Christmas festivities at the Queen's Sandringham Estate. Larraín studies everything we know that the Princess went through and struggled with — loneliness, anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. Larraín showcases the humanistic side of Diana, evaluating the importance of mental health. While actress Kristen Stewart has never been better. She nailed Diana's mannerisms down to a T, even exquisitely capturing her voice. Stewart gives off one of the very best performances of the year. A performance so good that it has Oscars written all over it. I know that The Academy will nominate her. But I also hope she wins Best Actress next year. We will see.
Alongside Stewart's cunning performance; is a jazzy score (composer Jonny Greenwood), luscious cinematography (Claire Mathon, who did 2019's Portrait of a Lady on Fire), and breathtaking production and costume designs (Guy Hendrix Dyas and Jacqueline Durran). With all of these elements blending together, Larraín has crafted a beautiful work of art; that is also both raw and deep. The film starts with the marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in shambles. A divorce is around the corner through betrayal and rumors of affairs. Peace needs to be maintained during the Christmas festivities of eating, drinking, shooting, and hunting. Diana knows the drill, but will she abide by it this year? In Spencer, Larraín imagines what might have happened during those three fateful days (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day). Actor Jack Farthing plays Charles, Prince of Wales. He's cold and cruel, just like the Prince himself. We also have some incredible supporting actors like Timothy Spall, Sean Harris, and Sally Hawkins filling the screen. Spall plays Equerry Major Alistair Gregory, a former military officer overseeing the weekend’s activities. Gregory also watches out for Diana. Spall's fictitious character was based on David Walker. Harris plays Darren McGrady, the Royal Head Chef, while Hawkins plays Maggie, Diana's Royal Dresser.
You can feel everyone in the background rooting for Diana to succeed that it pulls at your heartstrings. There's a scene where Diana plays a game with her two boys, William and Harry (Jack Nielen and Freddie Spry), that beautifully captures their bond. It's sweet, funny, and warm. We can see Diana's joy of being a mother break through her brokenness. It was my favorite scene from the whole film. Through this nightmarish tale, Spencer offers a glimpse into what Diana might have gone through, while it's also chock-full of metaphors. Larraín's drama gives off The Shining-esque vibes scene after scene, clawing its way underneath your skin. Spencer is a masterful film, creating tension and drama all on the backbone of Stewart's marvelous acting chops. She's the moment right now, and she shines from beginning to end. I was gobsmacked by this psychological feature. A picture that is humanizing but also incredibly humble to its main protagonist. Spencer never loses sight of her, always keeping her focused to the story's core. Spencer is one of the best movies of the year and one that has also stuck with me long after the credits ended. Go see it in theaters. Simply, a masterclass.
Spencer is rated R (Restricted) Some Language.
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Starring Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, and Sally Hawkins.
Review: The Harder They Fall
The Harder They Fall is a total blast: bloody, stylistic, and energetic.
We ain’t no nincompoop. — Regina King
Writer-director Jeymes Samuel’s dazzling Western is also backed by a phenomenal cast (Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, and Edi Gathegi). Samuel's Revisionist Western is a shoot-them-up picture from start to finish. You will have a lot of fun! The Harder They Fall is a great directorial debut from Samuel, offering an exciting Western extravaganza with an all-Black cast. In this new Western adventure, we meet real-life cowboys (Nat Love, Rufus Buck, Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, Cherokee Bill, James Beckwourth, and Bill Pickett), but the story in this film is fictionalized. Without having to worry about historical inaccuracies, Samuel was able to craft the picture the way he wanted to. Our movie follows Nat Love (an excellent Majors), an outlaw who discovers his enemy, Rufus Buck (a strong Elba), has escaped from prison. Wanting to avenge the death of his parents, who died at the hands of Buck, Love decides to reunite his old gang.
Majors has been on my radar ever since I saw his captivating performance in The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019). Whether it's Atticus Freeman (Lovecraft Country, 2020) or He Who Remains (Loki, 2021), Majors always brings his A-game — showing off those acting chops. It was also great to see Majors as a leading actor for this movie. With Love's gang, we have Stagecoach Mary (a fantastic Beetz), Bass Reeves (a never better Lindo), James Beckwourth (a hot-handed Cyler), Bill Pickett (a smooth Gathegi), and Cuffee (a wonderful Deadwyler). On the flipside, with Buck's gang, we have Trudy Smith (a fierce King) and Cherokee Bill (a sly Stanfield). On top of there being strong acting, Samuel also layers this Western with stylized violence and an energetic score (original music by Jay-Z). The action set pieces are wild, exploding with fun and mayhem throughout. The Hard They Fall is one of this year's most exciting pictures and, in the end, will also go down as a great Western too. Go watch it.
The Harder They Fall is rated R (Restricted) Strong Violence | Language.
Stream it now on Netflix.
Directed by Jeymes Samuel
Starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Deon Cole, and Damon Wayans Jr.
Review: The French Dispatch
We finally saw The French Dispatch: a film we have been waiting to see for the last 15 months and it was a marvelous experience. The French Dispatch is Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson film to date, and we loved it.
Warning: Minor Plot Spoilers in this Review.
Glynis and I agreed that it doesn’t hit the same heights as 2014's The Grand Budapest Hotel or 2012's Moonrise Kingdom, but it’s still a wonderful film. There are three engrossing stories with marvelous production and costume designs. Plus, that zany and witty Anderson touch. An ode to journalism. Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox and Rushmore) takes his eccentric aesthetic and cranks it up to an eleven in The French Dispatch. In Anderson's latest adventure, we follow three unique anthology stories: The Concrete Masterpiece, Revisions to a Manifesto, and The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner. Each of these stories stand on their own, with only Arthur Howitzer Jr. (a fantastic Bill Murray), the editor of the newspaper The French Dispatch, who is connected to them all. The film starts with Howitzer Jr. dying suddenly of a heart attack. According to his will, publications of The French Dispatch are to be suspended following one final farewell issue, in which three articles from past editions of the newspaper are to be republished, along with an obituary. Anderson then immediately goes through these three stories and the journalists who wrote them.
Writer J.K.L. Berensen (a wonderful Tilda Swinton) tells the story of The Concrete Masterpiece. This was my favorite story from the movie. Moses Rosenthaler (a strong Benicio del Toro) is a mentally disturbed artist serving time-in prison for murder. While Rosenthaler is in prison, he paints an abstract nude portrait of Simone (a captivating Léa Seydoux), a prison officer, and Rosenthaler's muse. Julien Cadazio (a chaotic Adrien Brody) is an art dealer serving a sentence for tax evasion, who is completely wowed by the painting after seeing it in the prisoner art exhibition and immediately buys it. Upon Cadazio's release from prison, he displays Rosenthaler's painting through art exhibitors. Rosenthaler and his name soon become a sensation in the art world, making his paintings in high demand. But privately, Rosenthaler is struggling with inspiration and decides to only devote himself to one long-term project.
This bond between del Toro and Seydoux will capture your soul as Anderson jumps back and forth between color and black-and-white scenes (he also does this in story No. 2 and 3). The Concrete Masterpiece is a marvelous experience through beauty, pain, and desire. In Revisions to a Manifesto, we follow Lucinda Krementz (a strong Frances McDormand), who reports on a student protest in the streets of Ennui (a fictional town). This protest will soon boil over into what will be known as the "Chessboard Revolution." Zeffirelli (a witty Timothée Chalamet) is the self-styled leader of the student revolt and is currently writing his manifesto. Krementz tries to maintain "journalistic integrity" but begins to have a brief romance with Zeffirelli. There's also Juliette (newcomer Lyna Khoudri), a fellow revolutionary who is unimpressed with Zeffirelli's manifesto. Throughout the "Chessboard Revolution" and even long after it is over, Zeffirelli and his image become a symbol of that very movement.
Lastly, our third and final story is known as The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner. We follow a food journalist, Roebuck Wright (a magnificent Jeffrey Wright), who recounts the story of him attending a private dinner with The Commissaire (a stern Mathieu Amalric), prepared by the legendary police officer and chef Lt. Nescaffier (a splendid Stephen Park). However, during the dinner, the Commissaire's son Gigi (Winston Ait Hellal) is kidnapped and held for ransom by criminals. This leads to a cat-and-mouse game of trying to save Gigi and eliminate the kidnappers. Yet the criminals may have one weakness in that delicious food Lt. Nescaffier prepares. Anderson's zany humor runs wild in this last tale — fast tracking shots, a glowing production design, and even some animation. The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner was Glynis' favorite story from this picture. The French Dispatch is a wild charade of Anderson's wacky world that will fully consume you. It was an absolute delight to finally see this movie in the theaters. The French Dispatch is colorful, artistic, and layered with the craftsmanship of Anderson himself. This production allowed the director to let loose, spilling his bizarre aesthetic throughout the screen.
"It began as a holiday. Eager to escape a great future on the Great Plains, Arthur Howitzer Jr., transformed a series of travelogue columns into the French Dispatch. A factual report on the subjects of world politics, the arts, high and low, and diverse stories of human interest."
Here's my personal ranking of Wes Anderson's filmography: Click Here.
The French Dispatch is rated R (Restricted) Language | Graphic Nudity | Some Sexual References.
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman, Tony Revolori, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Liev Schreiber, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray.
Dune is a lot to take in. The sheer scope and size of this film are epic. Denis Villeneuve's cinematic sandcastle is a meticulous and astonishing work of art. From the acting to the visuals; to that roaring score by Hans Zimmer, Dune will sweep you off your feet. Bring on Part Two!
Dreams are messages from the deep.
If you watch Dune, I would advise you to try and see it on the biggest screen possible. I first watched Dune from the comfort of my home when it was released to HBO Max and theaters. After I finished watching it, I decided that this was a film that needed to be experienced in the theater. So, the next weekend I headed to the movie theater and watched Dune on the big screen. Writer-director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, and Sicario) showcases his cinematic physique through the lens of a camera. The ending result leaves us with a film so grand in scale it's, at times, hard to comprehend. Because Dune is so robust and ambitious, it does pitfall the movie in some but not all areas. These pitfalls are relatively small, as I was engrossed with an epic sand odyssey reaching for the stars. All of the actors are phenomenal in the picture: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chang Chen, David Dastmalchian, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, and Zendaya.
The actor that stood out the most and stole every scene was Ferguson. Her acting chops as Paul's (Chalamet) Bene Gesserit mother sent ripple waves through the picture. Like many Villeneuve films, Dune is a movie that takes its time in storytelling. Villeneuve builds his universe through patient storytelling, leaving us with strongly developed characters and a juicy plot of religion and politics. Dune: Part One is the first of a planned two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, essentially covering the first half of Herbert's work. Set in the far future (year 10191), Paul Atreides (a strong Chalamet) is a gifted young man who has been born into a great destiny. Assigned by the Empire, the House Atreides must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe, Arrakis, to be their fief rulers. The planet of Arrakis is known for its harsh deserts and is the only source of spice. Spice is a valuable substance that extends human vitality and is critical for interstellar travel. Watch out for those pesky and ginormous sandworms. Because Paul is gifted, he has dreams and visions of future events to come. One of these constant visions is of a young Fremen woman named Chani (Zendaya, who only has 7 minutes of screen time). It has been confirmed that Zendaya's role will be significantly greater in Dune: Part Two. For now, we get close-up shots of Zendaya roaming the desert, staring deep into your soul, like a perfume commercial.
The Fremen are a native population to the spice planet — known for their striking blue eyes and skillful fighting. Paul is the ducal heir of House Atreides, while his father (an attractive Oscar Isaac) is the current Duke of House Atreides. Isaac crafts a strong father figure throughout the picture, from his grayish beard to his solemn stance. The Duke is prepping Paul to be the next leader of the House Atreides, even if he doesn't want it. Brolin plays Gurney, the weapons master of House Atreides and one of Paul's mentors. Smile more Gurney! Momoa plays Duncan, the swordmaster of House Atreides and one of Paul's other mentors. Skarsgård plays Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, House Harkonnen, the enemy to House Atreides. Skarsgård Baron is an enormous slug-like creature who, apparently, doesn't know what clothes are. Bautista plays Glossu Rabban, Baron's hot-headed nephew. Henderson plays Thufir Hawat, the Mentat of House Atreides. I really enjoyed seeing Henderson in this role, parasols and all.
Dastmalchian plays Piter De Vries, the Mentat of House Harkonnen. Chen plays Dr. Wellington Yueh, a Suk doctor of House Atreides. Keep a close eye on this doctor. Duncan-Brewster plays Dr. Liet-Kynes, the Imperial ecologist on the planet Arrakis. Lastly, Bardem plays Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen tribe at Sietch Tabr. That's a lot of characters, but Villeneuve, along with co-writers Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth, know how to work the material. Slap a monstrous score by Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, Gladiator, Inception, and The Dark Knight), along with breathtaking visuals by Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher, and Lion), and you're in for a show. As of now, Dune has grossed $300 million worldwide and has been greenlit for a sequel. Villeneuve's Dune: Part Two will be coming exclusively to theaters in October 2023. For now, we have been given one of the best films and best science fiction epics of the year. Through Dune's visuals, scope, and sheer ambition, Villeneuve's creation can take a bow.
Dune is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Some Disturbing Images | Sequences of Strong Violence | Suggestive Material.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chang Chen, David Dastmalchian, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Charlotte Rampling, and Zendaya.
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