"The French Dispatch" is a Wes Anderson film.
While that sounds obvious and direct, it actually says a lot about whether or not you are going to enjoy it or not. Fans of the eccentric filmmaker will experience pure bliss, as this film - frame-for-frame - is everything you might hope for. But unlike his last few films ("Isle of Dogs," "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Moonrise Kingdom") "The French Dispatch" feels superficial, and is purposely a narrative mess as it tries to honor the spirit of journalism. Instead, it's more of a glossy and colorful magazine you might casually browse through in a doctor's waiting room, devoid of any real substance.
Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy will one day be Oscar-winning actresses...of this, I have no doubt. They are two of the most captivating and talented young actresses in Hollywood and of their generation, and to see them face-off in "Last Night in Soho" is truly a sight to behold.
Edgar Wright ("Baby Driver," "Shaun of the Dead") helms this luscious, intoxicating film with confidence, style and pizzazz. It nearly derails with an abrupt shift from psychological thriller to straight-up horror in its final act, but Wright sticks the landing thanks to his commanding leading ladies.
It has finally arrived. Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" is finally here, but it's a mixed bag of sand, splendor and style that never coagulates into anything of substance.
Simultaneously and ironically, it's everything we've hoped for and everything we feared it might be. "Dune" is a visual (and audible) masterpiece. It delivers in scale, taking its time to craft a world - to steal from the 1984 film's tagline - "beyond your imagination." It is every bit as epic, grand and mind-blowing as you dreamed it could be.
It's also somewhat of a disappointment, with uneven characters and a flatness that doesn't invite the viewer to invest any emotional currency. It's a touch too avant-garde for the casual movie-goer, a bit too convoluted for those willing to dive in head-first. It also suffers from dreaded "Marvel-itis," where in setting up future films, it forgets to be a complete one itself.
All of this sounds dreary, but "Dune" still gets a passing grade based on what DOES work...and the promise of what is to come, even though I would have preferred some of that spice be offered up NOW.
Mild spoilers are to follow.
Sometimes a film will come along like "Mass" that will remind you of the beauty of the medium. Boiled down, movies are just made up of people acting in front of a camera, but so often it becomes much more than that. Where incredibly difficult topics and complex human emotions are explored in ways that force us to confront and ponder them, and in doing so, help us cope and begin to understand them. Topics that most people just can't bare to face head-on in real life.
Many go to the movies solely for entertainment, but "Mass" is why movies are an integral part of a free society. This is a powerful, painful yet intensely therapeutic movie about two sets of parents who have so much in common, but whose lives have been irreversibly altered in ways that will forever separate them.
"Mass" is simple really, and it's simply one of the best films of the year too.
It's been 24 years since "Good Will Hunting" made Oscar-winning scribes out of real-life best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Curiously, it took that long for the two to reunite as writers once again, bringing in a third, the Oscar-nominated Nicole Holofcener ("Can You Ever Forgive Me?") to adapt Eric Jager's novel, "The Last Duel."
The dynamic behind the script - two men and one woman - is also at the heart of the brutal story itself, a true tale about a 14th century knight, Jean de Carrouges (Damon) who challenges his squire, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a duel, after Le Gris is accused of raping Carrouges's wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer).
Directed by Ridley Scott ("Alien," "The Martian," "Gladiator"), this is not a film categorized as "entertaining" in the same way that many of his other films might be. "The Last Duel" is a very tough watch, and may not be for all movie-goers who might enter in based on the star-power, or thinking they're going to get a riotous, sword-clashing adventure. It's rather a depiction of what life was like for women in medieval times, and how some of this treatment echoes through all the way to modern times.
It's powerful, with more than a few hiccups, but "The Last Duel" finds its stride as it gallops on, making it one of the most important films of the year, if falling short of being one of the best ones.
Talk about a sight for sore eyes. "No Time to Die" - the 25th overall James Bond film and the fifth (and final) one starring Daniel Craig as 007, was originally slated for theatrical release nearly two years ago, back in November of 2019. It was delayed into February of 2020 and then into April...and on and on, finally landing in theaters this weekend.
The film was delayed for so long, that some of the in-movie product placements had to be updated...you can't have Bond traipsing along using outdated tech, can you? But now that it's finally here, we're reminded of the charm and the allure of this character, that has persevered for nearly 60 years on the big-screen. He's a timeless hero, tweaked for the times.
"No Time to Die" has an epic feel to it, with some stellar action sequences, gadgets and thrills like we've come to expect from the franchise. It has its shortcomings for sure, but by and large, this is a Bond film that was worth the wait.
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