The last time Saoirse Ronan starred in a film based on an Ian McEwan novel was Atonement back in 2007. Atonement was her big break and she landed an Oscar nomination in Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Since then, she’s ascended to leading-lady status and has now transported back to the literary world of Ian McEwan by starring in a film adaptation of his novel On Chesil Beach. Saoirse Ronan delivers a luminous and quietly commanding performance as a newly conflicted bride. However, she manages to be the only reason to watch On Chesil Beach which has a thoughtful
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Saoirse Ronan easily saves what ends up being a jumbled depiction of marriage and sexuality.
"We were able to find the tricky balance between comedy and drama by keeping Teddy and the world of Nice grounded." - Naomi Ko
While the Tribeca Film Festival may primarily be focused on film, it has also become a hub for television recently. During this year’s festival, there were season premieres of television shows being screened along with pilots looking for distribution. One of them that I was fortunate enough to watch was a pilot for a series called Nice. Nice is a story of a 23-year-old woman named Teddy (Naomi Ko), who previously fought breast cancer. But when her cancer comes back, she tries to keep it a secret from her family and friends. At about 22 minutes, Nice is a powerful
Untogether is a solid directing debut from Emma Forrest that possesses hints of greatness.
Author-turned-director Emma Forrest attempts to explore the turbulent nature of relationships with Untogether. Admittedly, the film itself is rather turbulent in terms of how it depicts its thematic material. But it becomes evident that Forrest has a distinctive filmmaking voice. Her attempt to demonstrate the complicated nature of being in love is a solid acting showcase with some well-crafted sequences. Untogether stars the two Kirke sisters, Jemima and Lola, as two sisters named Andrea and Tara. Andrea is a former heroin addict who is also a writer and hasn’t published another book in a while. She is also having an
The star power of rising actress Laia Costa helps elevate two flawed showcases for her tremendous talent.
One great thing about film festivals is discovering breakthrough talent. One actress who I haven’t seen act before that certainly caught my eye during the Tribeca Film Festival was Spanish actress Laia Costa. She may have made her real breakthrough with the German crime thriller Victoria. But now, it looks like she’s about to catch the attention of American moviegoers with the films she has lined up. Two of them are films that premiered at Tribeca: Duck Butter and Maine. Even if neither film fully delivers, the best thing about each film is Costa’s tremendous acting. In the sensual romantic
Tessa Thompson and Lily James are the strong center of a modernized Western that is introspective and thought provoking.
One thing about the Western genre that is tiring is how it is traditionally masculine. Films set in modern day that depict Western films and films set in the Wild Wild West are often told from a male perspective. But thank goodness for writer/director Nia DaCosta who created Little Woods, a modernized Western that focuses on women navigating their way through lawless terrain. It’s also a portrait of working-class America that is harrowing yet unsentimental. Little Woods will surely be one of the best films of the year. The story follows Ollie (Tessa Thompson), an ex-con who is attempting to
Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a career-best performance as a struggling comedienne and deserves serious Oscar recognition.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is one of the most underrated actresses working today. Even though she has bounced from genre to genre and delivered a slew of quality performances, she still hasn’t been able to break through. One reason is probably because the films she’s done aren’t always as good as her talents. Well, thankfully, she has found a starring vehicle as amazing as she is. In the tragicomedy All About Nina, she not only gives the performance of her career but a performance that should put her in the awards conversation for Best Actress. The story follows Nina Geld (Mary
Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, and Alessandro Nivola give three of the year's best performances in this compelling romantic drama.
After helming the Oscar winning foreign language film A Fantastic Woman, director Sebastian Lelio brings us Disobedience, a portrait of forbidden love that is transfixing and anchored by three flawless leading performances. Also, like A Fantastic Woman, it is a great portrayal of queer women finding their inner strength and is a gem that slowly has you under its spell by the time it’s over. Based on the novel by Naomi Alderman, Disobedience tells the story of a New York photographer named Ronit (Rachel Weisz) who returns back home to London after hearing about the death of her father. Her
A harrowing depiction of conversion therapy that also manages to be hearty.
When it comes to films depicting the LGBTQ experience, we rarely get films that depict the topic of conversion therapy. Even if conversion therapy doesn’t involve physical discrimination, it still causes youths to discriminate against themselves and it is a topic that should be depicted on screen more. Thankfully, this year, we will be seeing the release of two films depicting this issue. One of them is Boy Erased starring Lucas Hedges. The other is the subject of this review and that is the earnest, well-acted gem called The Miseducation of Cameron Post. It follows the story of a lesbian
Despite the efforts of its cast, especially leading actress Antonella Costa, Dry Martina still succumbs to its complicated storytelling.
In the opening scene of Dry Martina, our main character is performing at a concert and about midway through her performance, she immediately takes off her wig and steps out of the stage. The minute she stops performing, we see her turn into a different, more troubled person. That small moment is an indication of what Dry Martina is about. It is a character study about a woman on the verge of self-destruction that is successfully anchored by its leading actress even though the film itself is rather, shall I say, slightly dry. Martina (Antonella Costa) is a former pop
Cargo puts a refreshing spin on the zombie genre and is anchored by a career-best Martin Freeman performance.
When it comes to films depicting the zombie apocalypse, we see the same repetitive formula: Survivors must fight for their lives against the undead and try not to get infected. The latest entry in the zombie film genre, Cargo, demonstrates that same formula but puts a whole new spin on it. Yolanda Ramke, who wrote and co-directed the film with Ben Howling, has crafted a story about fatherhood set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse and it is packed with both horror and heart. Cargo follows the story of Andy (Martin Freeman) and Kay (Susie Porter), an Australian couple
She talked about bringing the authentic relationship between the two main characters to life, the filmmaking aesthetics, and the backstory behind the screenplay as well.
Abortion is a topic that feels as if it is rarely discussed on film. We’ve seen films about failing marriages and pregnancies before. But it is rare to get a film that depicts certain complications of pregnancy that some couples face. However, 20 Weeks dares to touch on the hot-button topic of abortion and it does so in a nonjudgmental manner. Anna Margaret Hollyman and Amir Arisan play Maya and Ronan, a couple that is faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to abort their unborn child when they discover that he has a severe birth defect. The
A Quiet Place is a simplistic yet masterful gem that is destined to become a modern horror classic.
Even though just saying the title now gives me chills, I will not stay silent on how amazing A Quiet Place is. Actor-turned-director John Krasinski takes a film with an intriguing, minimalist premise and executes it with precision while directing a masterclass acting ensemble in the process. Unsettling at every single turn and gripping from the first frame to last, A Quiet Place seems destined to become a modern day horror classic. A Quiet Place is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been taken over by alien creatures who will hunt down anyone who makes sounds of any kind.
Ready Player One is entertaining popcorn fare drenched in nostalgia and not much else.
Coming off of the Best Picture-nominated film The Post, Steven Spielberg makes the jump back to blockbusters with Ready Player One, continuing his “one for me, one for them” model of balancing historical dramas and blockbusters and Ready Player One surely feels like it was made for audiences with its stunning visuals and crowd pleasing action sequences. Yet, Spielberg's flair for substance over style that was present in his earlier blockbusters like Jurassic Park and E.T. is lost here. While Ready Player One is an entertaining thrill ride, its storytelling still feels rather empty. Based on the novel by Ernest
Love, Simon is a tremendously acted crowd pleaser that also deserves applause for its cultural importance as well.
While Love, Simon is deserving of admiration because of its depiction of queer representation on a mainstream level, it should still be lauded for being a well-acted crowd pleaser that is bound to have people laughing, crying, and applauding by the time the credits roll. Despite there being some familiar beats in the storyline, they're still easy to overlook because Love, Simon is a winning film-going experience that tugs the heartstrings with absolute ease. Based on the novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon follows the story of a high schooler named Simon Spier (Nick
Allure is hard to watch at times and is rather troubled but its leading actresses, Evan Rachel Wood and Julia Sarah Stone, still give it their all.
Allure follows the story of Laura (Evan Rachel Wood), a troubled 30-year-old woman who works as a house cleaner for her father’s company. She’s someone who lives a life in solitude and has had trouble finding love. But that all changes once she meets a teenage girl named Eva (Julia Sarah Stone), a pianist who is dissatisfied with her privileged life with her overbearing mother. Once Laura persuades Eva to stay at her house and inadvertently kidnaps her, both women end up in a relationship fueled by manipulation and obsession. The best way to describe Allure is that despite its
While it reaches for the stars with its jaw-dropping visuals, it still is bogged down by its storytelling and short length.
After delivering the powerful Best Picture nominee Selma and helming the gripping, Oscar-nominated documentary 13th, director Ava DuVernay jumps into the big leagues with the $100 million blockbuster A Wrinkle in Time. However, while the film does reach for the stars with its jaw-dropping visuals mixed with emotional thematic material, it still is nearly bogged down by its predictable and hastily written story. Based on the children’s novel by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time follows the story of a girl named Meg Murry (Storm Reid) whose physicist father (Chris Pine) has gone missing for four years, leaving her withdrawn.
Annihilation is a brilliant mix of sci-fi and horror that is cringe-inducing yet inviting.
After making his directorial debut with Ex Machina, writer/director Alex Garland brings us his latest opus that is Annihilation, a sci-fi gem that is destined to become a modern-day classic. Because I won't go into full detail about the story to avoid potential spoilers, the best way to describe Annihilation is that it is a web of sci-fi, horror, and intrigue that is puzzling in the best possible ways. It’s one of those movies that has you asking a handful of questions by the time it’s over yet the fact that it is so visually entrancing and features strong performances
Black Panther brings the traditional offerings of a Marvel Cinematic Universe film with its action and humor while still being a story-driven masterpiece.
When Captain America: Civil War came out in 2016, one of its major highlights was scene stealer Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Now, Black Panther has not only gotten his own solo movie but it is the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to date. It offers everything that fans want with its crowd-pleasing humor and action. Yet, it also manages to demonstrate powerful, thought-provoking storytelling. After breathing new life into the Rocky franchise with Creed and wowing critics and audiences with his powerful debut Fruitvale Station, director Ryan Coogler has done it again and gone 3 for 3. The story
Despite its unique release strategy and its committed cast that is rich in diversity, The Cloverfield Paradox is unable to escape the story's tired machinations.
The Cloverfield Paradox built a lot of hype by announcing that it would be available to stream on Netflix right after the Super Bowl. But unfortunately, the hype surrounding the super secretive and constantly delayed film turned out to be more interesting than the actual film itself. If you’ve seen Alien, Life, or even Gravity, it’s likely that you’ve seen The Cloverfield Paradox which is frustrating since it had potential to be better and a worthy addition to the Cloverfield franchise. Despite the efforts of its terrific cast, The Cloverfield Paradox ends up being an episodic imitation that gets lost
Paul Thomas Anderson's most cerebral, genre-bending effort to date with a tremendous swan song performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.
One way to describe Phantom Thread is that it is very cerebral. There’s always a lot of focus on the faces of the characters, forcing you to analyze what is going on in their heads which will be frustrating for some viewers. Yet, in spite of its nearly aimless ambiguity, Phantom Thread is still a masterpiece thanks to its Gothic atmosphere along with the mysterious and alluring performances by its main acting trio. Phantom Thread is set 1950’s post-war London and follows the story of dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) along with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville). Reynolds has a
Taraji P. Henson does all she can to salvage greatness out of what is a complete snoozer of an action flick.
When watching the retro opening credits of Proud Mary where our main heroine is getting prepped up with the song “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” playing the background, it seems like we’re in for an action thrill ride in the vein of '70s blaxploitation films. But then, within the first thirty seconds, our expectations immediately become squandered. It seemed like it would be an exciting John Wick-style vehicle for Taraji P. Henson but it ended up being a complete misfire that does a disservice to her talents. Proud Mary follows the story of a hit woman named Mary (Taraji P.
The Shape Of Water is a poetic and transcendent film-watching experience that captures you from the first frame.
One word can be used to describe The Shape Of Water: Poetic. The Shape Of Water is a poetic demonstration of the magic of storytelling and after the ambitious yet divisive Crimson Peak, it is a return to form for director Guillermo Del Toro who has proven himself to be a master at crafting poetic genre fare like The Devil’s Backbone and one of the best movies ever made, Pan’s Labyrinth. While those two films are classifiable horror films, The Shape Of Water offers a little something for everyone: It’s romantic, adventurous, funny, musical, and horrific, and its eclectic experience
Desert Hearts is a groundbreaking yet underrated romantic gem for the history books.
I never wanted Desert Hearts to end. I didn’t want to leave behind the breathtaking scenery of the desert and I definitely wanted to see more of the chemistry between the two leads. Desert Hearts is an intimate yet flawless gem that captures forbidden love that is apolitical yet groundbreaking during its time of release because it was the first film about a same-sex relationship between two women that isn’t tragic. While LGBTQ+ films that have a political agenda are meant to be told, Desert Hearts is proof that those aren’t the only stories that should be told. Based on
Despite following a standard Pixar formula, Coco is still entertaining and profound regardless.
Even though Coco follows a standard Disney formula with its storyline about a young child trying to find their true calling, like with Mulan and Moana, it still manages to find ways to reinvent itself. Coco is not just about listening to your inner voice and taking control of your destiny. It’s also about family, forgiveness, and remembrance and it manages to be both entertaining and poignant. Coco follows the story of a boy named Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez), who dreams of becoming a musician and idolizes the late, famed singer Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). However, his family
A dark comedy that is also the film America needs right now.
Martin McDonagh may be a director from Ireland, but it is eerie how he has crafted a film about America that is so timely with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It deals with a woman starting a rampage against a patriarchal society which could easily mirror how women are standing up to the male-dominated Hollywood in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. There’s a line that the main character gives about how the police are “too busy torturing black folks to solve actual crimes” which is a demonstration of the ongoing nationwide issue of police brutality against minorities. Lastly,
Lady Bird takes the tired coming-of-age genre and makes it feel refreshing and naturalistic.
Actress Greta Gerwig has proven her naturalistic acting chops in films like 20th Century Women, No Strings Attached, and Jackie. But now, she has announced herself as an exciting new filmmaking voice with Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut. Lady Bird may tread into a familiar genre: The coming-of-age dramedy. Yet, it feels distinctive because of how it hits close to home. It may be about a teenager trying to navigate high school but it also speaks to those who long to escape their small-town life and the parents who work tirelessly to make sure their children have a better
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is unsure of its genre identity which makes it an exciting watch.
When The Killing Of A Sacred Deer first starts, we get a glimpse of a beating heart being operated on with an ominous choir singing in the background. Right then and there, it becomes evident that the film will be a particular kind of experience. While Sacred Deer is a film with a traditional linear narrative, for the most part, it is more of an experience. It is an experimental nightmare that dares you to enter and piece the puzzle together. While you’re watching, you’re trying to figure out what kind of film you’re even seeing which makes The Killing
Despite a slight mismatch in tone, Thor: Ragnarok still manages to be the best film in the Thor trilogy.
The previous Thor films have proven to be quite a mixed bag. The first film by Kenneth Branagh was interesting because of how it played into Branagh’s Shakespearean sensibilities. But its sequel Thor: The Dark World was a giant black hole of mediocrity with no creative vision and is the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Thank goodness for the idiosyncratic visions of director Taika Waititi who does a complete 180 on the first two films by making Thor: Ragnarok into a superhero comedy. While there are moments where Thor: Ragnarok attempts to go serious that don’t
It's like deja vu in terms of plot but the cast makes it immensely watchable.
When the film Bad Moms came out last year, it managed to become a massive summer hit towards the ends of the summer season. It made $183.9 million worldwide and became the highest-grossing film for newbie distributor STX Entertainment. But because the film did incredibly well, that meant it would get a sequel. As it turns out, A Bad Moms Christmas is a slight retread of the original but it is still a slight improvement in terms of laughs. A Bad Moms Christmas continues the story of Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) who are