Category: Film Reviews

The Morning After: Feb. 11, 2019

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

First Man


A crisp, technically proficient telling of the American moon landing that ignited a generation’s imagination and propelled U.S. scientific advancements for the following decades. First Man is Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to La La Land, the multiple Oscar-winning musical that now famously lost to Moonlight in Best Picture.

La La Land star Ryan Gosling takes the role of American icon Neil Armstrong who plays the role as a stoic father whose history of loss leads to his emotional detachment, a brave interpretation that won’t come across nearly as sympathetic as some audiences would want, but which feels fitting for the situation. As his put-upon wife, Claire Foy gets little material to work with, but makes the most of it. She has a pair of potent scenes, but otherwise melts into the background giving the film the ability to focus not entirely on Armstrong’s home life, but on the mission itself.

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The Morning After: Feb. 4, 2019

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Vice


Director Adam McKay seems to have found a cinematic niche that needed filling. The political satire subgenre has been uninteresting or unabsent for years. With his follow up to The Big Short, McKay has proven adept at giving the world a fascinating, if somewhat bleak look at the various issues that face modern American politics.

Exploring the influence of former Vice President Dick Cheney from his days as a congressional intern to his hollowing out and eroding of the United States government, Vice walks a delicate line between honest portrayal of an odious man and convincing biopic that attempts to partially humanize someone whose vileness has created a dangerous precedent.

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The Morning After: Jan. 28, 2019

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Mary Queen of Scots


Mary, Queen of Scots, has been a popular figure in cinema for decades. This latest version of the story stars Saoirse Ronan as the eponymous queen as she returns to Scotland following the death of her French husband to rebuild her claim to the throne of Scotland and England.

Margot Robbie takes on the role of her rival, Queen Elizabeth, as the pair strike a tentative peace while the men around them plot, manipulate, and connive to thwart Mary’s claim to the throne of England. Told almost entirely from the perspective of Mary, giving Ronan a chance to shine as the headstrong queen, we’re given an in-depth look at the political and religious climate of the period as Catholic Mary finds enemies within the Protestant church, led by the firebrand John Knox (David Tenant) while her own half-brother, the Earl of Moray (James McArdle), works behind the scenes to undermine her legitimacy.

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The Morning After: Jan. 2, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald


With the promise of presenting a history of the wizarding world of Harry Potter by exploring the events that lead to the downfall of Voldemort’s villainous predecessor, J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. have done an incredible amount of world building with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald providing plenty of new background information, new characters, and new plotlines that are sure to fill the remaining three films in the pentalogy.

Not much was known about Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) before this new series of films except that he was well known for writing the definitive book on mystical creatures called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That title became that of the first film with the Fantastic Beasts name carrying forward to the remaining features. This second film moves the action out of New York City and into the magical streets of Paris where Newt and company are trying to find Credence Barebone before Grindelwald can get his clutches on him. As the film unfolds, Newt and his muggle companion Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) set off to Paris to find their respective paramours, sisters Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) Goldstein respectively, and potentially thwart Grindelwald’s schemes while on their quest.

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The Morning After: Dec. 26, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

BlacKkKlansman


Long a voice for black America at the cinema, Spike Lee delivers his finest film in several years in the form of BlacKkKlansman, a potent look at the Ku Klux Klan and the hate bubbling under the fabric of American civilization.

Based on the true story of a black police officer in Colorado Springs, Colorado who went undercover as a member of the Ku Klux Klan in order to keep tabs on the insidious organization from the inside. John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth as the black cop and Adam Driver plays the white cop who does the actual undercover work. Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Jasper Pääkkönen, Ryan Eggold, Paul Walter Hauser, and Ashlie Atkinson co-star.

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Review: A Star Is Born (2018)

A Star Is Born

Rating

Director

Bradley Cooper

Screenplay

Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

Length

2h 16m

Starring

Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle, Alec Baldwin, Ron Rifkin, Michael J. Harney, Greg Grunberg

MPAA Rating

R for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse.

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Review: The Favourite (2018)

The Favourite

Rating

Director

Yorgos Lanthimos

Screenplay

Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara

Length

1h 59m

Starring

Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, James Smith, Mark Gatiss, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn

MPAA Rating

R for strong sexual content, nudity and language.

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The Morning After: Dec. 17, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

If Beale Street Could Talk


Many filmmakers over the years have explored the human condition, but few have given the black community the same attention to passion and detail as Barry Jenkins has in his second feature directorial effort If Beale Street Could Talk.

Based on the James Baldwin novel, the street in question is in Memphis, Tennessee, but the story takes place in Harlem where two young lovers (Tish and Fonny) struggle against the racial injustice of the era as she (KiKi Layne) discovers she’s pregnant after he (Stephan James) has been falsely accused of rape and is awaiting trial.

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Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Bad Times at the El Royale

Rating

Director

Drew Goddard

Screenplay

Drew Goddard

Length

2h 21m

Starring

Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nick Offerman, Xavier Dolan

MPAA Rating

R for strong violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity

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The Morning After: Dec. 10, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

The Favourite


My first exposure to director Yorgos Lanthimos was his futuristic satire The Lobster starring Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell. That film was certainly bizarre, but showed a great flavor for the unusual, making him a director to look out for each time he releases a film.

The Favourite has a lot of Lanthimos’ trademark quirkiness, but it’s a more straight forward period drama than what he’s done previously. Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne, an 18th century English monarch whose short rein was filled with the kind of pablum that doesn’t often make great movies. Except this one, which centers around the relationship of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) and her cousin Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) as she seeks a job after her family financial collapse. As Abigail weeds her way into Anne’s life, Sarah plays her political hand too strongly, risking her royal friendship and allowing Abigail an opening.

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Review: Isle of Dogs (2018)

Isle of Dogs

Rating

Director

Wes Anderson

Screenplay

Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Kunichi Nomura

Length

1h 41m

Starring

Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Akira Ito, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Mari Natsuki, Fisher Stevens, Nijiro Murakami, Liev Schreiber, Courtney B. Vance, Roman Coppola, Anjelica Huston

MPAA Rating

PG-13 for thematic elements and some violent images

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The Morning After: Nov. 24, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Suspiria


In horror history, there are a handful of films that can lay claim to being massively influential and a handful that elevated the medium to the level of art. Dario Argento’s 1977 masterpiece Suspiria was one of the latter. Going into the 2018 version of the film of the same name is fraught with peril. Can it compare? Should it compare? Knowing the intention behind the director’s vision is as important to that assessment as is knowing the original.

Luca Guadagnino’s vision for the film was not to remake, but reimagine it for a different audience. While the sequel is still set in an all-girls dance studio with a mysterious faculty, the visual similarities between the two films are diametrically opposed. Whereas Argento’s film is awash in bright, vivid colors, especially reds, Guadagnino’s version avoids primary colors, instead focusing on the drear whites, grays, and blacks of a bleak German winter. While Argento’s film focused almost entirely on the young girl (Jessica Harper) at the center of the story, Gudagnino’s project expands beyond the girl’s (Dakota Johnson) adventures. Both films feature unique and compelling musical scores with hints of the original Goblin score infusing composer Thom Yorke’s rendition.

Suspiria is just as haunting in its new incarnation as it was in the original and both films can exist independently of one another. The new version wants to be a bit headier in its narrative development, tackling motherhood, self-recrimination, and a number of other minor themes. It also expands the exploration of character to other characters, giving meaty roles to a number of prominent actresses, all of whom are an international bevy of talents. Johnson’s character, Susie Bannion, doesn’t have a lot of emotional growth. She reacts to everything going on around her with a sort of emotional detachment. Her visceral reactions are instead foisted on the young women around her, including a superb Mia Goth as her best friend at the school. Tilda Swinton delivers another characteristically brilliant performance as both the imperious teacher at the center of Susie’s growth as well as the father figure Dr. Klemperer, the psychologist trying to get to the bottom of the activities within the school.

The Morning After: Nov. 19, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Hereditary


After a seven-year career as a short filmmaker, Ari Aster has made the transition to features with this chilling and unexpected horror gem. As a mother deals with grief over the death of her mother, her family must struggle with her increasing paranoia.

The film is broken into three incredibly distinct acts. The first act ends with an entirely unexpected twist that redefines the second third of the film, then swerves even further off course in the last third. Each of these course corrections is expertly handled, driving the audience crazy with anticipation for what bizarre thing will happen next and how to connect everything together once the credits role.

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Review: Night School (2018)

Night School

Rating

Director

Malcolm D. Lee

Screenplay

Kevin Hart, Harry Ratchford, Joey Wells, Matthew Kellard, Nicholas Stoller, John Hamburg

Length

1h 51m

Starring

Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Keith David, Taran Killam, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Anne Winters, Romany Malco, Ben Schwartz, Rob Riggle

MPAA Rating

PG – 13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some drug references and violence

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Review: Venom (2018)

Venom

Rating

Director

Ruben Fleischer

Screenplay

Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel

Length

1h 52m

Starring

Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters, Peggy Lu

MPAA Rating

PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language

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