385 posts categorized "Drama"

January 06, 2021

NOMADLAND

Nomadland_ver2Real real. In the face of Hollywood’s drought of humane Cinema comes an understated exposé of staggering editorial substance. Beijing born triple-threat screenwriter, director, and editor Chloé Zhao exerts majestic restraint with grounded resolve with this, her third feature film. Nomadland is 21st century neo-realism you can sink your teeth into. I promise you, after seeing “Nomadland” you’ll want to check out Zhao’s other movies, “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” (2015), and “The Rider” (2017).

Francis-mcdormand

Francis McDormand gives a virtuosic performance in her portrayal of Fern, a sixty-something widow suffering from emotional PTSD from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis inflicted by greedy bankers working in tandem with the real estate industry.

Based on Jessica Bruder’s 2017 non-fiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, the story centers on Fern’s nomadic lifestyle. Fern has lost everything save for her cherished van that enables her to travel around the country doing seasonal work that ranges from toiling in an Amazon fulfillment center worker to picking beets in the field. She lost her job and her town of Empire, Nevada when the gypsum plant there closed in 2011. Her husband’s recent death has put Fern on American roads that look nothing like Jack Kerouac’s blissful adventures.  

Nomadland

“Nomadland” recognizes a class of the population that have been shoved out of society. As Fern says, she’s not “homeless,” she’s “houseless.” A lot of good people are hurting in an America ravaged by fraudulent corporations working in concert with greedy politicians to systematically pillage the earth and its people. Where does it end? We’ll see. We’ll see.

Rated. R. 108 mins. 

Five Stars

October 23, 2017

WONDERSTRUCK — NYFF 55

WonderstruckAs I watched Todd Haynes’s latest film I kept asking myself, who is this movie for? It is not a children’s movie even though the story is split between the journeys of two preteens 50 years apart. The nostalgic tale doesn’t seem to tilted toward adult audiences unlikely to recognized themselves in the bi-polar storyline. Everything about this film is a disappointment. It is, by far, Todd Haynes’s weakest effort to date.

The movie is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by author and illustrator Brian Selznick, who also authored the film’s screenplay.

Rose (Millicent Simmonds) is a 12-year-old deaf runaway on the mean streets of New York City circa 1927. Still Rose’s expression never wavers from that of a satisfied Cheshire cat. She seems emotionally and intellectually vapid. Rose wants to meet her silver screen idol Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore), who she watches in a silent film entitled “Daughter of the Storm.” Haynes sets Rose’s half of the film as a black-and-white silent movie in contrast to that of Ben (Oakes Fegley), a boy in search of his missing father. As it turns out, even Ben’s mother Elaine (Michelle Williams) is gone from his life. All Ben has to show for his familial history is a bookmark from “Kincaid Books,” a New York City bookstore. On the back of the bookmark is written, “Elaine, I’ll wait for you. Love, Danny.”

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So, what seems to be a not-so romantic mystery dissolves into a puddle of unearned sentimentality. The film’s overwrought production design is fussy to distraction. There isn’t enough narrative substance to withstand the overwrought time periods on display. It’s easy to blame the bland source material for this film’s complete and utter failure, but a burning question remains about why the filmmaker behind such instant classic works as “Far From Heaven” and “I’m Not There” would go down such an obvious rabbit hole.

Colesmithey.com

Rated PG. 117 mins. (C-) (One star — out of five / no halves)     


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February 12, 2017

LION

Lion_ver9“Lion” is a one-note movie that works in spite of its simplistic treatment of a story that sounds better on paper that in it does in the hands of newbie feature director Garth Davis.

Dev Patel carries the picture once his character arrives in a lightweight film that nonetheless hits every tear-jerking mark of Saroo Brierley’s journey to find his home. If nothing else, the picture should help propel Patel’s career.

Based on Saroo Brierley’s book “A Long Way Home,” Patel plays Saroo, the young adult version of a five-year-old Indian boy lost in the mean streets of Calcutta while walking near railway tracks at night.

The concept of home, as a place of nurturing importance, resonates across the film even if the narrative leans toward shaky melodrama regarding subplots about Saroo and his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara), and Saroo’s problematic home life with his adoptive parents and his mentally disturbed (also adopted) brother.

Lion-2

Alexandre de Franceschi’s editing shares blame in creating a film that suffers from clunky construction. The flow of the story keeps skipping gears. “Lion” is a mediocre movie that should have been a good one. That still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it, especially if you need a good cry. Get out your handkerchiefs; you’ll need them.

Rated PG-13. 118 mins. (C+) (Three stars — out of five / no halves)


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