This is being written today, a Tuesday, but I have a good excuse, and that was I hadn’t seen a movie to write about until last night on a flight. Now flights are not the best places to see films and mostly because most airlines are editing the films for content. Heaven knows if you will sit next to a 6yo and they don’t need to see breasts on the screen! So I give credit to American Airlines yesterday who make it plain that they do NOT edit the films, they are shown as shown in the theatres. Good on them. With that note, I was able to catch one and a half films.
Alison had sent to me the following blog list of Best Films as listed by Toronto critics.
I noted on this list both The Favourite, reviewed here just recently but also First Reformed and Burning (also reviewed – https://wordpress.com/post/mondayswithrobbie.com/567). So with that background I decided to watch First Reformed.
A reverand (played by Ethan Hawke) is the head of a small church in upper New York State which has been in existence since 1700s. They are coming up to their 250th anniversary and there is a celebration being planned. His parish is small and dwindling. There is a corporate sponsored larger modern church nearby which watches over this smaller church. The father has had some challenges in his life. He is asked to counsel the husband of one of his more consistent parishioners. Questions are asked which don’t have simple answers like: “Can God forgive us to what we have done to his creation?” ‘Can we be forgiven?” There is further discussion about despair and hope. Ultimately this is what I consider to be the main theme of the film. Things unfold, and a degree of tension steadily grows. The performance by Hawke drives this film ever forward. He is very good. You can see the anguish on the face of Hawke, who steadily keeps his tumultuous emotions to himself. There are moments I will not spoil. I will say that when the credits rolled, I paused and thought back to what I viewed and then felt it was appropriate. I had (after seeing the trailer/preview) texted to Alison that I felt I knew what the good reverand was going to do. I think it is fair to say that I wasn’t entirely wrong. But then again, I wasn’t right either. I am glad to have seen this.
I started to watch Adift with Shailene Woodley, and Sam Claflin, but this is Woodley’s picture. I am glad to see her once again since it seemed she hasn’t worked in quite some time. Ever since the whole Divergent debacle, where someone sold her a bill of goods on it being The Hunger Games, she has laid low. But I like her, and think she is good here. I have not completed the film (I got halfway through) but I have it on rent and will complete in the next day or so. I look forward to finishing it and completing this review.
In a recent conversation I had, I was told that women’s relationships are far more complex than those of men. Having seen the new film The Favourite about UK’s Queen Anne in the early 18th century, and her entourage I can believe this. The movie explores principally three female characters and their interactions. All three performances have been nominated for Golden Globes. Two supporting roles for Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, and one for Actress for the excellent Olivia Colman. Colman is the new Queen Elizabeth in The Crown for Season 3, she has also done plenty of TV and some smaller parts (The Lobster and Iron Lady). Here she plays Queen Anne who was as pictured an unpredictable and unstable leader. Her most trusted consort (Weisz) is the wife of a general, but manipulates and directs the sails of the Queen through her physical and emotional connection to her. Weisz enjoys a place of privilege and is the real power behind the Queen. Along comes Weisz’s cousin (Stone) who was disgraced when her husband was caught doing bad things and her station has been relegated to commoner. She has other ambitions for herself as she reconnects with her cousin and sees the position of power that she wields. The rest unfolds beautifully as the drama and the intrigue builds between the two ladies of court and they struggle and battle to keep their positions of power. All the while the Queen relishes all this newfound attention while she physically deteriorates. Colman is excellent in this regard. The film really shows and explores the dangers of having a rogue element at the top of a country directing where things will go. The real power lies unsteadily in the hands of various people with their own agendas. It further shows how corrupt and poor behaviour of the trusted servants can be rewarded as the leader can be swayed on a regular basis. The parallels to today’s political climate are not lost on the audience. This film was really good, and it has been nominated for Best Film as well. It has funny moments, it has disturbing moments and there are three fine performances.
One further comment about the moviegoing experience. I will state that I prefer the theatre experience to that of seeing films on my own at home. Despite having a really good quality TV and sound system, the audience can add to the enjoyment as there can be collective laughs and shared enjoyment. Here the film was disrupted by a buffoon who sat in the row beside me, and managed to bring in a 6-pack of beer all the while laughing outrageously loud at times when things just weren’t that funny. It detracted from the film and robbed me of the quiet at times that was welcome. I do not understand those who somehow believe they are still in their living rooms and feel as though the theatre is an extension of it. Do what you want, and act as you will in the comfort of your own home, but when you are in a crowded theatre, then tone it down and be more appropriate and sympathetic to those around you. This was similar to the Crazy Rich Asians experience I had. Ugh!! “It’s really snowing outside!”
A comment too about the Golden Globes, for the nominations were made this past week. I was pleased by some nominations, surprised by others and disturbed by the snubs. My biggest issue was the snub of Widows and more importantly the lack of a nomination for Viola Davis. My post earlier this month explained my love for this performance and I am genuinely surprised how she was not nominated. This is a fine film, and I don’t understand the snub across the board. The other snub was for A Quiet Place, which also was a really good film and was a box office success story. No performances acknowledged. The only nomination for (blink) Best Original Score. Weird. On the other side I am not sure of the love for Bohemian Rhapsody. Rami Malek was the reason to see this film, but it doesn’t go beyond that for me. Others have disagreed with my interpretation, and that is what movie and art is for. So I am surprised. Clearly Vice with Christian Bale in his Musical or Comedic performance should be seen, and apparently so too should be Mary Poppins Returns. We will see about that, even though I am a big Emily Blunt fan. She should have been nominated for A Quiet Place, so maybe two nominations, but can two different Mary Poppins win awards? Julie Andrews won the Oscar for Mary Poppins. Green Book is on my list of films to see as it won People’s Choice Award at TIFF already. For me the classifications of films are surprising, as in A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody could easily be called Musicals, and The Favourite and The Vice should be considered Dramas. I am genuinely pleased for Lady Gaga, I am not impacted by Bradley Cooper and surprised at snub for Sam Elliott. So let the debating begin!!