The latest film version loosely adapting the Wells story exploits it both ways, subtly and crassly. It works, thanks largely to a riveting and fearsomely committed Elisabeth Moss mining writer-director Leigh Whannell’s stalker scenario for all sorts of psychological nuance.
The latest “Emma,” marking the feature directorial debut of Autumn de Wilde, is a little edgier, driven by a more ambiguous and emotionally guarded portrayal of the blithe young matchmaker played by Anya Taylor-Joy.
Not much music finds its way on the soundtrack, but what’s there is crucial. Vivaldi’s “Violin Concerto in G Minor," heard twice and strategically, ends up crystallizing the love story in ways we don’t see coming.
The Photograph treats all its characters with some decency and understanding, in a genre where straw villains and cardboard adversaries typically run rampant. The plaintive, jazz-inflected musical score by Robert Glasper establishes the right vibe and level of drama, which is to say: more like life and less like the movies.
Besides being the best American film of our new year, writer-director Kitty Green’s drama The Assistant confounds expectations and has the strange effect (on me, anyway) of simultaneously chilling and boiling the viewer’s blood.
It’s not straight-up realism; nor is it the usual moralizing, candy-coated melodrama. It’s just very, very good, and the scenes between Tenille and Perrier are very, very easily among the plaintive screen highlights of this new year.
The problems begin and end with the script, credited to three writers. “Dolittle” turns its title character into an eccentric and wearying blur of tics, tacked onto a character who comports himself like a bullying, egocentric A-lister rather than someone who, you know, actually enjoys the company of animals.
Bad Boys for Life may be a frantic visual blur but it’s razor-sharp thematically. Its mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a jaded 2020 audience glad to see these guys again. The movie’s not the point. The boys are the point.
What’s missing, I think, is a sense of human complication within an inhuman judicial sphere. While Foxx works wonders, especially in his scenes with Jordan, Just Mercy rarely gets under the skin or behind the eyes of McMillian.
The latest nerve-shredder from Josh and Benny Safdie is worth seeing, even if it’s not their finest two hours, and even if half of any given audience will resent the hell out of it. Adam Sandler’s excellent.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker does the job. It wraps up the trio of trilogies begun in 1977 in a confident, soothingly predictable way, doing all that cinematically possible to avoid poking the bear otherwise known as tradition-minded quadrants of the “Star Wars” fan base.
Is it the worst film of 2019, or simply the most recent misfire of 2019? Reader, I swear on a stack of pancakes: “Cats” cannot be beat for sheer folly and misjudgment and audience-reaction-to-“Springtime for Hitler”-in-“The Producers” stupefaction.
However freely fictionalized, I like my docudramas with as much moral complication and human shading as filmmakers can provide. Years from now, it’d be wonderful to look back at something more than good actors, with or without wizardly prosthetics, taking our mind off what’s not quite right with the stories at hand.
The second half’s a letdown — the audience knows where the movie’s going, and gets there before the movie does. Nonetheless it bodes nicely for longtime horror producer Travis Stevens, here making his feature debut behind the camera.
It’s reassuring to see Hopkins return to form, after several years of authoritative coasting. As for Pryce, his affinity for morally comprised men of high achievement (“The Wife,” etc. ) keeps his portrayal of the film’s clear moral paragon from hardening into sainthood.
There’s not much justice and very little peace for the characters portrayed by Kaluuya (terrific) and Turner-Smith (more of a novice, but often affecting, and a singular camera subject). Does it overreach? Here and there.