Loving: A Gentle Masterpiece
"Tell the judge I love my wife." Astonishing from beginning until end, Loving is a well-crafted historical drama that pays homage to Richard and Mildred Loving. The film's sensible approach in storytelling blossoms its relevance in today's world.
Being in an interracial marriage myself, I had a close calling towards Loving. My wife Glynis, who is of Peruvian decent, and I were fully engulfed with Richard and Mildred’s captivating story of love and equality. Before our show began, we had the rare experience of sitting next to a couple who were longtime friends of lawyer Bernie S. Cohen (played by Nick Kroll in the film), who helped the Loving’s overturn the anti-miscegenation laws nationwide. It was a treat talking with them and how they were incredibly excited to see Kroll’s performance of a historical friend.
Once the film began. I was astonished with its vivid scenery director Jeff Nichols (Mud and Midnight Special) precisely played throughout the film, along with the strong performances by both Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as Richard and Mildred Loving. Nichols avoids the sappiness and focuses on the importance of context rooted within this story. Richard being a white man and Mildred being a black woman could not legally marry in 1958 due to Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws. Upon Mildred discovering that she is pregnant the two decided to travel to D.C. to legally tie the knot. Soon afterwards, the Loving’s are arrested and forced by the judge not to return to Virginia for a suspension of 25 years.
The Loving’s decided to move to D.C. trying to continue a normal life. In 1963, after Mildred witnesses the March on Washington on TV she is inclined to write to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for help. That leads the Loving’s to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where they meet lawyer Bernie Cohen (played by a humble Kroll). Cohen decides to confer with constitutional law expert Phil Hirschkop (played by Jon Bass) and the two take on the Supreme Court. While the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia is a main focal point planted within the story, Nichols’ heart and soul is really grounded in the Loving's relationship with each other. Richard and Mildred's tenderness and affection for each other will melt you away.
Nichols takes an understated direction in telling a real-life tale and fully blossoms it too life. Nichols was able to accurately tell the story by relying heavily on Nancy Buirski's documentary The Loving Story, which captured many details of the Loving's private lives: "We had this beautiful documentary footage unearthed from the mid-'60s where we got to go into their home and see them and watch them," Nichols said. Because of the Loving’s and the Supreme Court’s decision in 1967 to overturn anti-miscegenation laws nationwide, many interracial couples can embrace the full notion of all love is created equal. My wife and I have, ever since we've been together and this past June we got married. "We may lose the small battles but win the big war."
After the film was over, my wife nicely whispered “Tell Bernie thank you for us” to the couple sitting next to us. Loving is one of best and still most relevant films of 2016. Due to the importance of my marriage and the film’s arousing message it deserves all 5 stars. Nominated for two Golden Globes, hopefully Loving doesn’t get over looked this Oscars season. Loving paints of radiant portrait of how far we’ve come in America and yet - how far we have left to go. The Loving’s painful and heartfelt journey will truly capture your heart. Love inspires everyone.
Loving is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For thematic elements.
Shot twice as fast as the previous record (Peter Jackson’s 2012 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 48 fps), Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk will go down in the books as another failed attempt for the higher frame rate obsession.
Director Ang Lee’s (Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi) heart might be in the right place, but sadly these experiments and innovations are merely a distraction. The film used an unprecedented shooting and projection frame rate of 120 frames per second in 3D at 4K HD resolution. This is five times the normal frame rate, which is usually shot in 24 fps. Lee’s ambition is high, but the overall project comes up a bit scattershot.
The film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (played by Joe Alwyn). Billy and his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad have been hailed as a hero and bringing brought home for a victory tour after a painful Iraq battle. Through a series of flashbacks seen through Billy’s eyes, the film reveals what really happened to the squad during battle. During a halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, Lee grapples with contrasting the realities of the Iraq conflict with America's celebration back home.
Nevertheless, the film has heart and honors our fellow soldiers throughout our country. Unfortunately for me, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk never comes full circle and is engulfed by its visual paintings flashing before your eyes. Actors Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel and Steve Martin do their best to save the film, but never succeed. If anything, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk will go down as 2016’s glorious technical misfire.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is rated R (Restricted). For language throughout, some war violence, sexual content, and brief drug use.
Moonlight: An Arthouse Masterwork
Seen through the eyes of one man’s story, Moonlight welds together a beautifully crafted character study of lives too rarely seen in the spotlight.
Director Barry Jenkins’ (Medicine for Melancholy) eight years in the making masterpiece finally has come alive and it’s a story worth telling. The film is based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unproduced play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue; luckily Jenkins was able to get this story told to the world. Moonlight travels to new cinematic highs as we view the heartbreaking story of a young man's struggle to find himself. Moonlight is told through three different chapters of Chiron’s life played by actors Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes.
Jenkins breaks up each act with a being title (i. Little, ii. Chiron and iii. Black) showing the audience what stages of life Chiron is in during that time. Each chapter is a work of art handily crafted by Jenkins himself. Throughout the film we see Chiron grappling with pain, love and his own sexuality. Moonlight is a timeless story our own human connection and finding your self-discovery in this world. Through this chronicle life of a young African-American man from adolescent to adulthood, we see Chiron trying to find his place in the world while also growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Hibbert is an extraordinary actor for such a young age. With very little lines in the film, Hibbert’s body language will truly move you. Chiron aka “Little” for his meek personality and size, befriends an adult named Juan (the powerful Mahershala Ali). Juan tries to be a brighter influence in “Little’s” life as his mother (the magnificent Naomie Harris) continues to consume herself with drugs and alcohol. Though, only shooting her role in a matter of just three days, Harris’ heartbreaking performance will leave you stunned.
One of the most moving scenes in Moonlight is when “Little” asks Juan if he is gay and how will you know? Juan simply tells him “you’ll know.” From there, we travel with Chiron throughout his teenage years and young adult life as he’s trying to discover himself. Actors Sanders and Rhodes all excel the role of Chiron and both bring out the human inside of him. Moonlight is a revolution to the film industry as it helps shine a light in both the African-American and LGBT community. Nominated for six Golden Globes, Moonlight is an active contender this Oscars season. Barry Jenkins’ newest masterpiece truly is “the story of a lifetime.”
Moonlight is rated R (Restricted). For some sexuality, drug use, brief violence, and language throughout.
Arrival is just has awe-inspiring as past science fiction films, such as Metropolis, Star Wars or even Alien. It's sophistication in writing and drama took me by complete surprise.
Hands down, Arrival is the must-see science fiction experience of 2016. Director Denis Villeneuve’s (Prisoners and Sicario) engaging sci-fi flick will get your brain thinking and your blood boiling. Based on Ted Chiang’s short story, Story of Your Life, Arrival digs deep into its thought-provoking themes until the final frame. Actors Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner give terrific performances throughout the film, while supporting actors Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg help provide solidarity to the film. The score, alone, is a moving work of art as we hear composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s (Sicario and The Theory of Everything) embellishing score grab the audience in and never let go.
The plot begins when a mysterious spacecraft touches down across the globe, leading the entire human race into mass panic. Now, elite teams, lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Adams), are brought together to investigate the mysterious spacecraft. As mankind threatens on the verge of global war, Banks and military theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner) must race against time for answers and communication. Spoiler free, Arrival grapples with so much more that in the end it will catch you by complete surprise. Beautifully shot and excavated, Arrival was worth every cent of my ticket price.
Of a thinking person’s world, Arrival is the holiday movie waiting for you unwrap and enjoy. The film has already made its mark in the Oscar race and definitely has a ticket for Best Picture worthy. Nominated for 10 Critics Choice Awards, Arrival has kicked off its holiday season in a very grand way. This sci-fi masterpiece receives a five-star review from me. After watching Villeneuve’s newest tour de force, I am happy to report that Blade Runner 2049 is in good hands (going to be directed by Villeneuve). So “Why are they here?” I’ll let you find out and decided.
Arrival is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For brief strong language.
Into The Inferno boasts its beautifully shot scenery, filled with rich culture of some of the world's most mythical volcanoes.
Netflix’s newest documentary about the legends and myths of volcanoes around the globe heats things up a bit. Directed and narrated by Werner Herzog (Into The Abyss and Cave of Forgotten Dreams) takes viewers from the comfort of their homes and into the great mystery of the volcanic. Herzog and volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer embark on a journey to Indonesia, Ethiopia, Iceland and North Korea, capturing the beauty and wonder of volcanoes.
Herzog and Oppenheimer speak with scientists and indigenous peoples alike, as they try to comprehend the complexity and deeply rooted relationship between mankind and the great fire below. Herzog, as usual, artfully blends history and philosophy throughout the documentary giving audience of all ages a rare cinematic experience. Into The Inferno is a journey worth seeking.
Into The Inferno is Not Rated (NR).
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