An excellent addition to the coming-of-age highschool movies, with a spiky star turn by Hailee Steinfeld which proves that her memorable performance in True Grit was no fluke. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s funny, bittersweet and biting enough to make it stand out. If you found highschool and teenage years in general a trying experience at times, the movie will resonate with you in some moments and probably make you cringe with self-recognition in others.
I very much enjoyed this warm, hilarious, affectionate film about the worst opera singer of all time, an eccentric 1940s New York socialite whose amazingly godawful singing emerged on the other side of terrible to become its own kind of remarkable. At one point, Jenkins’ vocal coach stares into her eyes and tells her in a honeyed voice that there’s no one else like her, and in a weird way it felt like he actually meant it, though probably not in the way the lady herself thought.
A solid, low-key Cold War drama thriller from Steven Spielberg. “Solid” might not sound like much of a compliment, but sometimes it’s just satisfying to watch a well-made film that might not be edgy or exceptional and just about avoids the worthy and dull basket, but which also brims with confidence and expertise in cinematic craft. It achieves a difficult balance of dramatising a true story where, on one hand, too much of real life would probably make it boring and on the other, it still has to retain some realism in order to not lapse completely into fake movie-land.
On the day I saw the movie, I booked my ticket in the morning, and as I got progressively dog-tired at work I was thinking to myself, I could do with some fun fluffy movie right now, not yet another Oscar-season glumfest. In the end though, I’m glad I saw it because, while sombre and sad Moonlight is also a lyrical, immersive, compassionate and tender look at an experience that usually doesn’t get much attention in the media. My only problem was that, in my tired state, I found some of the street slang hard to follow, but in the end, this is a movie that mostly tells its story through the visuals, music, the actors’ expressions and the stretches of silence that convey so much.
Not your conventional biopic, Jackie mostly focuses on one specific period in its subject’s life, the days following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy when Jacqueline Kennedy became the world’s most famous widow. As a framework for the film, it uses a fictionalised encounter between Jackie and a journalist (Billy Crudup) who comes to interview her soon after she packs her bags and leaves the White House. The interview is somewhat tense; the journalist’s attitude is not necessarily reverential and Jackie displays candour and calculation in equal measure.
Based on a true story of an Indian boy who gets separated from his family, adopted by an Australian couple, then finds his birthplace 25 years later using Google Earth, Lion is an unashamedly emotional tear-jerker which mostly works. It’s heartfelt, beautifully shot and features uniformly strong performances (and on a totally shallow note, my my Dev Patel is all grown up and crushworthy).
An earlier Martin Scorsese film that’s something of a departure from the other films of his I’ve watched, which might as well have been rated “M” for “Manly”. Not that his movies lack memorable female characters, but they’re usually side characters in very masculine stories and are rarely the focus. Other than having a female protagonist, this movie is also an interesting exception in how low-key it is. There are no gangsters, famous boxers or extraordinary stakes or highs and lows in sight – it’s basically a slice-of-life comedy-drama about a recently widowed woman and her twelve-year-old son, shot in a restrained and unshowy manner which suits it perfectly.