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Simon Boccanegra

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  1. I'm the other way around. Loved Waves; thought Harriet was not worthy of its subject. That is not a judgment I'm happy about reaching, because Kasi Lemmons's first film (Eve's Bayou) is a minor classic. I remember seeing it when it was new in 1997 and being excited about this actress I knew from Silence of the Lambs and other films making such an assured writing/directing debut. Harriet, more than 20 years later...not so assured. I think it was a good idea in Waves to elide the legal business, taking us directly from the arrest to the family going to hear the sentencing. But damn. He entered a guilty plea and he still got life without possibility of parole until he had served 30 years? Teenagers who have actually planned and committed murders that followed torturing the victim for hours have done better than that (all four of Shanda Sharer's killers are free now). So I think the (possible) racial element was effectively unstated there. They don't dwell on it, but it was in my mind.
  2. Another factor not getting talked about as much as the reaction to the smell: Mr. Park bristles at Mr. Kim's attempts to relate to him as a person, on a topic they have in common, the love of family. Twice, once in the car and another time in the backyard, Mr. Kim has asked or mused that Mr. Park loves his wife and/or children very much. Mr. Park clearly did not like the comment/question the first time. The second time, he is firmer in response: he reminds Mr. Kim that he's working. In the couch scene for the Parks, Mr. Park remarks that Mr. Kim has come close to crossing a line but has not yet. The question about Mr. Park's love for Mrs. Park (and maybe other things like it) is what he means. He considers this presumptuous. Mr. Kim is not his friend, and not really even his fellow man. He's the help. The other.
  3. What I believe kept it from breaking into the acting categories: The actors were unfamiliar names/faces and it was an ensemble film in which everyone was good, no one was bad, and no one really stood out and had "that scene." In such cases, it's often the cast's fate to fall together. People will talk about the uniformly excellent acting rather than looking up the name of the woman who played Mrs. Park or the young man who played Ki-woo and giving her or him a moment. If Bong Joon-ho had made an English-language film on a similar theme, and the same "everyone was good; no obvious standout" reading applied, it still might have been so. Maybe some veteran actress would have got into Supporting via one of the mother roles or the housekeeper. especially if she was someone well liked who had not won already. Unfortunately, the phrase "It's who you know" does apply in these industry awards. While listening to everyone's case against, and acknowledging that there are other good movies from 2019 (I'll take the opportunity to plug Waves, which I posted about down below), I'm still of the opinion that the Academy got it resoundingly right this time. It was both the best in the category and the best I saw from this year. And I don't think it's going to fade with the passage of time. It's entertaining, it's precise, and it's substantive.
  4. He is, yes, but I think the way the scene is shot and acted, it's clear enough that he isn't going to be able to go through with it. That's also the way it reads in BJH's script.
  5. I'd be more against them if they had done that, but while there is a violent frenzy, it's more desperate and confused than murderous. The mother doesn't intentionally kill the housekeeper with that kick; she's just trying to prevent her from getting out of the basement. In a later scene, it's clear they think both members of the couple are still alive. The references in the Kim mother/daughter conversation at the party are in the plural. KI-JUNG: Shouldn’t we try to talk to them? Try to reach an agreement? CHUNG-SOOK: I think so too. We all got too emotional yesterday. KI-JUNG I’ll go down there and see how they’re doing. That isn't to say I think your read is all wrong. The Kims do a lot of things that are not "good." They are not straightforward heroes. I don't think Bong Joon-Ho wants us to feel the Parks deserve everything they're getting. It's in part a satire or black comedy, but it has some texture and moral ambiguity as well. I do think the unpleasant smell is a real thing. The little boy comments on it too. Once they're made aware of it, the Kims consider using different detergents so they won't all have the same smell, but then rule out that plan ("It won’t work. It’s the basement smell. The smell won’t go away unless we leave this place").
  6. This is one I hope finds more of an audience over time. It was very well reviewed but had a microscopic box-office take. I think it's a better film than some other intimate dramas of 2019 that had a similar critic/audience trajectory. It is an ambitious movie and an unusual one in style and structure. The song that plays over the closing credits is called "Sound & Color," and that could be an alternate title for the film, which is aesthetically beautiful apart from everything else. Shults's camera is very restless, often revolving 360 degrees to take in a scene, like the beam of a lighthouse. The use of music is nearly symphonic in its continuity, between the electronic score by Reznor and Ross (of The Social Network) and a boatload of popular songs, from Dinah Washington to Animal Collective, many of them used diegetically on car radios or at parties. The carefully plotted moments of stillness and silence thus stand out starkly. The script throws a lot of heavy issues at the viewer: domestic violence, grave sports injuries, toxic masculinity, prescription drug abuse, teenage drinking, unplanned pregnancy and reproductive rights, harsh sentencing for African-Americans, online bullying, marital discord, terminal illness, grief. Even for a 135-minute film, it's a very full plate. The interesting thing about it is that it doesn't push for emotional catharsis. It's a well-worked-out script that is directed with a certain observant distance. I could imagine someone else finding it too cool or detached, but I actually appreciated that it was just showing me, in a plausible way, a string of misfortunes and bad decisions that culminate in a tragedy, and then a recovery that is equally plausible, not all better but life going on. There is grist for two or three melodramas here, but the director and actors aren't exhorting us to cry. There is wonderful work from the whole ensemble, with special praise for Russell, luminous as the family's quiet daughter, who takes over the film halfway through and brings it and herself back to life, and Brown as the loving but overwhelming father. In his early scenes as the daughter's new love interest, Hedges nails a particular kind of naturally sweet person who, attempting to make the best possible impression on someone new, almost overshoots the mark.
  7. Oh, a lot of people found Nolan's Dunkirk incomprehensible or at least uninvolving because of the way he chose to tell the story, and said so. That was a widely expressed minority view. I couldn't get into it at all myself, and I still think Nolan's best movie is Insomnia, which was a remake. Also, she did a great job of mimicking Garland's style, specifically the style of late-career Garland. The timbre of her voice wasn't the same, because that's biology, but she got the mannerisms down, even the imperfections. I'm not saying hers is my favorite performance of the five nominees, but I won't think it's an unworthy win. Judy is very much a "star movie," about a deceased one and showcasing a living one, and Zellweger fills it. I'm sorry to say I've seen it three times. I didn't like it in the theater when it was making its awards laps, I didn't like it when it first made it to HBO, and I still didn't like it a few years ago on Netflix. It has that literary patina about it, it's beautifully mounted, and a lot of talented people are involved, but it's a slog. It passes like a sentence. With The King's Speech, I never had the slightest desire to see it a second time. I was sure I had the measure of that one on a single viewing. I could see both why it hit the sweet spot for the Academy and why it did nothing for me.
  8. The prevailing sentiment is that "The Actress" in the EW piece -- the past nominee who always supports her friends, is close with Diane Ladd and has known Laura Dern since she was a baby, wants to be in a Tarantino film, etc. -- is Sally Kirkland. They say she had a "memorable" previous nomination, implying it was just one and that she didn't win. Kirkland's nomination for 1987's little-seen Anna, up against heavy hitters Cher, Close, Hunter, and Streep, was definitely memorable. It could be someone else, of course, but the rest of the personal details match up too. Not to be confused with the actress in the Hollywood Reporter piece, who doesn't want foreign films up for Best Picture and doesn't want non-Americans playing Americans (except for Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, which somehow was fine).
  9. One more anonymous-ballot piece from IndieWire, from an executive. See if you can guess to which Best Picture nominees these descriptions correspond: (1) "I had an intense spiritual experience watching the movie, it’s such a large point that it makes so eloquently. It was such a flat-out brilliant idea. And to pull that off in the midst of all the other stories [...] They got it so right. It was a knockout punch. I walked out of the theater and said, 'I don’t know what could possibly beat this movie for me this year.'" (2) "I was never going to see the movie. When I finally saw it, I thought it was one of the best movies of the year! It’s so misconstrued, the whole conversation on what it was about. It reminded me that you can’t pay attention to what anyone says. You have to see it for yourself. The movie is a sad, tough, meaningful, devastating indictment, and it’s sophisticated in the way it’s told, not manipulative." (3) "It was cold in a way that set me back. The characters were all so creepy, they all deserved shit, you know? I didn’t think any one of them deserved anything good to happen to them. I admire the craft, the filmmaking, but I was turned away by the fact that you aren’t supposed to root for anybody." https://www.indiewire.com/2020/02/anonymous-oscar-ballot-2020-executive-tarantino-1202209671/
  10. That's definitely the most f-bomb-filled Honest Oscar piece I've ever read. Do we still say "Whoosh!" or is that too '90s? It's reasonable to criticize The Irishman for several things. It's only my sixth-favorite Best Picture choice this year, and it's not Scorsese's best on mobsters and hoods. But this producer zeroes in on one of its strengths and describes it as a weakness. It's intended to be a sad, mournful movie about corruption, as if a trap is slowly closing on the main character from the first. Nothing Sheeran does ultimately means anything or gets him anywhere. He ends up just another lonely, enfeebled old man, boring a young nurse with stories about a once-famous person who's no more than a name to her. It's just about the least glamorized portrayal of the mob I've ever seen. Yes, in some of his other movies, Scorsese dwelt more on the fun of getting away with things and living it up before the bills came due, but it doesn't mean he has to make that choice every time.
  11. "'It’s too soon this year. Too close to the Super Bowl. I’m voting tomorrow, but all the PC nonsense is ridiculous,' this older, white male voter revealed"... https://www.goldderby.com/article/2020/anonymous-oscar-voter-jojo-rabbit-1917/
  12. The one from EW is about midway between the Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times models. Just addressing a few of the points in it... Nah. Time has treated The Departed well, in my opinion. And even in 2006, it was a damn sight better than Boxcar Bertha, New York, New York, The Color of Money, Bringing out the Dead and other clearly lesser Scorseses. I also like it more than The Irishman. He bears some of the responsibility if so, because not many of them have been good recently. And by "recently" I mean the last 20 years, when there were four exercises in retreading and wheel-spinning for every one that was sort-of-good. But yeah, '70s/'80s/'90s Woody had more hits than misses. There was excitement surrounding his annual film when he was at his peak, and it's easy to spot his influence in relationship comedy-dramas by the younger generations. That is a good insight. I hadn't really thought of it before, but of the nine nominees, only Parasite and Marriage Story are directly about life in 2019. You might say that Joker and Little Women are indirectly so (contemporary concerns in past-era Trojan horses), but in a literal sense, the other seven nominees are an '80s period piece, two '60s period pieces, a crime epic mostly set in the '70s and '80s, one movie for each World War, and a 19th-century costume picture. And of Parasite and Marriage Story, Parasite is certainly the one that owes less to existing models. With Marriage Story, love it or hate it, you can compare it to other movies about marital conflicts and breakups: Scenes from a Marriage, Kramer vs. Kramer, The War of the Roses, Husbands and Wives, Blue Valentine, etc.
  13. She's not even consistent. It bothers her that the fictional sisters of Little Women and Harriet Tubman are not played by Americans, but then she gushes over Australian Margot Robbie's un-nominated Sharon Tate.
  14. Just for my own amusement, after the first "Marty," I was mentally reading it in the voice of Ellen Burstyn, but it could be so many people. I liked more of her choices than you did, and I thought she described Pain and Glory (one of my 2019 favorites) really well, but some other things did bug. I'm over that business of "I won't vote for [X] because I don't like the real person s/he played," which she does twice. I'd expect someone who's an actor herself to be beyond that. Keeping up the pattern of the best Honest Oscar pieces being anywhere except The Hollywood Reporter, this three-for-one (a writer, a director, and producer) for the Los Angeles Times is a delight to read. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2020-02-04/secret-oscar-ballots-how-three-academy-members-voted ETA: "Jinx," @Dejana.
  15. Anonymous actress sounds off. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/brutally-honest-oscar-ballot-irishman-was-boring-tarantino-amazing-1275576/item/best-live-action-short-1276313
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