Forget what you know about the story of "Pinocchio," and then please, please, PLEASE forget about the recent Disney+ live-action remake from earlier this year.
I entered the theater thinking to myself: Is this what we need, another Pinocchio movie?
I left the theater, shocked and elated that I had just seen without a doubt one of my top overall (animated or otherwise) movies of 2022.
The master craftsman - the man, the myth, the legend - Steven Spielberg, gets personal with his latest coming-of-age drama, "The Fabelmans."
It's not necessarily a movie about movies, but it is a movie about how movies can affect us...how they can act as an escape, and how movies can heal and even save lives along the way.
In addition to having one of the best ensemble casts of 2022, "The Fabelmans" is a beautiful, deeply moving piece of cinema...in other words, it's just another day at the office for Steven Spielberg, as he serves up another gem in what has become an untouchable and unparalleled body of work for the 75-year-old filmmaker.
It is completely possible to hold two thoughts in your head at the same time...a less-than-positive review of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" - which is forthcoming - does not take away one iota from the fact that the late Chadwick Boseman was and is one of the most iconic, talented cinematic presences of his generation. Nor should it take away the impact or the historic importance of the first "Black Panther" movie, and what it means to millions of its fans across the world.
The loss of Boseman is felt deeply, and in "Wakanda Forever," it resonates through to the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), who are mourning the loss of Boseman's character, Black Panther himself, the King of Wakanda, T'Challa.
But while the movie draws strength and motivation from his lasting legacy, it throws the amazing fictional nation of Wakanda under the bus, in an attempt to build up a new emerging (submerged?) nation, Talukon. The result is an over-serious, over-stuffed MCU film that never is quite able to sustain the emotional weight of its first 15 minutes.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ethan Hawke is a national treasure. Up there too, is Ewan McGregor, who simply has an appeal unlike most other actors of his generation.
Hawke and McGregor are "Raymond & Ray." Well, actually McGregor plays Raymond, and Hawke plays Ray...two half-brothers who are brought together with the news that their estranged father has died. Despite the actors best efforts - and an occasional flash of clever insight - "Raymond & Ray" is all journey with no destination, making the movie a bit of a let-down given the talent and potential involved.
"The Good Nurse" is based on a true story, about a series of mysterious patient deaths that were all linked back to one particular person.
The story is actually a frightening and intriguing one. But as given to us in "The Good Nurse," this is a clumsy, poorly-written (and at times, poorly-acted) mess of a so-called "thriller."
Movies like "Tár" seem to come along once every awards season. It's a stylish, yet self-indulgent, overlong, character-driven epic. It features an award-worthy performance at its center. Some will call it a "masterpiece."
For me however, "Tár" falls way short of that top-tier status. That's not to take anything away from the performance of Cate Blanchett, who is truly fantastic as the influential (and fictional!) composer, Lydia Tár. Like a classic orchestral arrangement, the film builds slowly until it finally hits the crescendo, before soaring through its final act. Blanchett is there in the middle of it all, a great actress keeping the tempo of the film as steady as she can.
And while "Tár" ends up being worth the trek in the end, the first 90 minutes of this colossal 158-minute opus is such a dreary, artsy slog, that I could see casual movie-goers wanting to head out the doors early. For those that do stay however (mostly film critics), they will be rewarded - critics and regular folk alike - mostly, by seeing how Blanchett sticks the landing.
It's been a long-time coming that the story of Emmett Till is finally getting the mainstream spotlight. Audiences need to ready themselves for "Till," because it's not only important, it's timely.
Told from the perspective of Emmett's mother, Mamie Till, actress Danielle Deadwyler has rocketed up to the top of my list of Best Actress performances in 2022. She carries the entirety of the film, showcasing a range of emotions both outwards and inwards, and commands the screen with dignity and grace like perhaps no one has since the early days of Sydney Poitier. Some might say that playing a grieving mother is one-note, but Deadwyler fills in the blanks in creating one of the more memorable film characters of the year.
Perhaps you've heard of "Don't Worry Darling"? It's hard to have not heard about it, as it's been dominating headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past month. From "spit-gate" between Harry Styles and Chris Pine, to Florence Pugh not doing press for the film, to friction between director Olivia Wilde and allegedly "fired" actor Shia LaBeouf. It then debuted at the Venice Film Festival to mixed reviews, with many critics applauding the performance of Florence Pugh, but attacking the performance of Harry Styles, and the film as a whole.
Having now seen it, I can accept all sides of the argument. Yes, Florence Pugh is great. Yes, the film itself is a cluttered, unfocused mess at times. Yes, Olivia Wilde's direction seems a bit too artsy for her own good. I will push back though, on the performance of Styles, who I found to be better than just fine, heck, he was effective. Sure, he may not be on the same level as Pugh, but his role didn't demand that he needed to be.
At any rate, "Don't Worry Darling" is a movie that will polarize audiences. But that's also usually a good sign, that a movie was able to ignite some level of passion from its audience, for good or for bad.
But despite its many, many flaws, I found there to be a LOT going on under the hood. Themes of feminism, masculinity and control. Systemic issues that churn out desperate individuals, who will buy into almost anything that promises a better way. The idea of individualism, gender roles and boundaries. Even some deeply buried political messages.
"Don't Worry Darling" isn't a throw-away thriller. It has meaning and purpose, even if its execution is way off, sometimes jarringly so. And it's definitely a movie that should spark conversation on the car ride home, whether you loved it or loathed it.
Ana de Armas is a striking Marilyn Monroe. She nails the mannerisms, the facial expressions and the body language. With an impressive team of makeup, hair and costume artists, she becomes Marilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jeane.
This is the irony of "Blonde," a muddled, artsy and empty biopic about the iconic actress: For a woman whose talents were always overshadowed by her physical appearance, the movie looks just swell, but it is so caught up in its own glamour that it fails to glance inward.
Marilyn has always captivated the public, but we wish we knew more about her thoughts, her motivations, her mind. "Blonde" does none of this, even while pretending to pull back the curtain on her life. Instead, it perpetuates the same myths, stereotypes and negativity that has always been cast upon Monroe. This movie is not an answer to any questions we had about her. Instead, it represents part of the problem.
Generic in its design, the solid work from Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton isn't enough to make "Three Thousand Years of Longing" worth the trouble.
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