Never has a movie experience shook me more than David Lowery’s ‘A Ghost Story’. After this existentialist tragedy of a film, I walked out speechless, even disturbed on an emotional level. I still have questions. “What has this road led up to?” “What is the point of its existence?” “Why did I witness Rooney Mara eat a pie for 10 minutes?”. What Lowery does with ‘A Ghost Story’ is an example of great, yet thought-provoking film-making. The film is supposed to be a journey on the meaning of life through the point of view of a ghost. It is a tedious experience that could turn some audiences away, while leaving others experiencing something unconventional.
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‘The Big Sick’ – written by (and based on) the husband-and-wife team of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – is not your usual romantic comedy, let alone a pretty special one. Sure, it’s sweet, emotional, very funny, and sentimental; its problem comes from the fact that the first 15-20 minutes of this semi-biopic feel like a condensed version of the romantic comedies that have come before it. Add in a sort-of ‘While You Were Sleeping’ story-line, social commentary on race and our health system, and the likes of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano trying to get back to the acting game, and you have ‘The Big Sick’!
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The year was 1941, and two films came out that year that changed film forever; ‘Citizen Kane’, and ‘Sergeant York’. Both films are considered to be not only “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films” by the American Film Institute (AFI, for short), but were also Oscar nominees running in nearly every one of the same category (Except ‘Supporting Actor and Actress’, which the latter was nominated for). Sadly, both films lost the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar to a lesser-known film called ‘How Green Was My Valley’. (I am still interested in viewing the film for that reason alone.) Despite both films being important to the film industry, only one received more box-office attention than the other. That film was ‘Sergeant York’. While ‘Citizen Kane’ went on to be shown in film schools (and high school classes) in later years as a tool for how to make a great film, ‘Sergeant York’ became the BIGGER deal. Not only was it a major Oscar nominee (winning only two for Gary Cooper’s performance as the real-life Alvin C. York, but for William Holmes’ editing as well.), it also became the highest-grossing film of that year. (Which, if adjusted for inflation, is still one of the highest grossing movies of all time)
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Colin Trevorrow’s ‘The Book of Henry’ is a movie that is not quite sure of what path it wants to take. Gregg Hurwitz’s screenplay is a map so poorly structured that, from the 10-minute mark, the film feels lost. ‘The Book of Henry’s destination comes in the form of a thriller in the style of the great Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’, with a little bit of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’, and Danny DeVito’s ‘Throw Momma From the Train’ to be a welcoming and inventive experience. Yet 15 minutes along the road, it takes what Bugs Bunny calls “A wrong turn at Albuquerque” to the realms of family drama. I blame the fact that this screenplay is – according to Trevorrow – 20 years old, so the script must have worn off with time. Why did Trevorrow decide to take on this mission to direct ‘The Book of Henry’ instead of give up when he saw the script? I’m not sure, but I guess he wanted to do something while waiting for ‘Star Wars Episode IX’ to come in 2019.
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‘Gifted’ stars Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace as uncle and niece who give us, the audience, sweet moments of chemistry as Evans’ boat mechanic, Frank Adler, does everything to keep Grace’s stubborn, yet extremely intelligent Mary, happy. Whenever we see those moments (that only Fox Searchlight Pictures could show), we feel the heart and emotion shine through. Especially when we have to sit through scenes of courtroom drama that feel real.
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