TLDNW: Get Out

We’re all aware of the phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) for posts on the Internet. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2018 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.

However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.

So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review.  2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.

BONUS: This year, I’ve added bonus content baby! This year I will be reading each review in a podcast format if you don’t even time to READ. There will be a podcast of me reading each review and THEN a bonus podcast where I discuss the film with a fellow film friend.

TLDNW: 1 Word

3½/4

Biting

TLDNW: 20 Words

★★★½/★★★★

For white audiences it was a real mind twister!! For non-white audiences it was a biting political satire that holds a mirror up to racial prejudice in America.

TLDNW: 500 Words

Three and a half out of Four Stars

Get Out marks a momentous shift in the academy. It joins the ranks as one of very few horror movies to be nominated for best picture and certainly becomes, as far as I can tell, the first horror-comedy to be anywhere near Oscars (unless you count 1999’s Sleepy Hollow which I sure don’t). It is also the most award film of the year raking in 50 wins across the major critic circles and awards shows. It is perhaps one of the most important movies to be nominated for best picture in a long time.

I believe that we are the beginning of a new Hollywood renaissance – the death of the “Oscar Bait” movie as we know it, and Get Out is the whip smart first look at what the Oscars are hopefully to be in the coming years.

In 1969 the Hayes code broke in America and suddenly there was no censorship in film. Films like Rosemary’s Baby, Easy Rider, The Godfather, and Bonnie and Clyde could be made. From 69-75 there was a huge surge of films that were challenging and difficult and DIRECTLY working against the grain of Hollywood. For years films challenged the norm and were filled with sex, drugs, and Al Pacino. When Jaws was released in 1975 the film industry realized they could market films. It was the first time a film had broken even on merchandise alone and there was another major shift in the industry. Obviously that tradition still continues today with Marvel movies and now we have a Star Wars movie every damn year but my point is – I believe that Get Out marks a major tectonic shift in the way we look at what makes a movie SUCCESSFUL. It changes the way we answer what is considered a “critically acclaimed” film. It is a HORROR COMEDY directed by a former MADTV SKETCH ACTOR. Nothing about that sentence should scream Oscar Bait but instead it was the most awarded movie of the year. I hope Get Out is the first of many dark horse passion projects to be seen as Oscar worthy. Because there have been plenty in the past that didn’t come close.

Okay, the movie itself. I mean – it came out a year ago people. My review isn’t going to change any minds. It’s smart and dark and Jordan Peele will, hopefully, be a successful and intelligent horror director for years to come. The cast is incredible and there isn’t a single detail missed. Daniel Kaluuya is incredible and I think deserved his Oscar nomination. The entire Armitage family (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams, and Caleb Landry Jones) gives perfectly balanced, perfectly creepy performances. Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson give the underrated performances of the year as Walter and Georgina the staff working for the Armitage family.

The twist is well hinted at, and the clues Peele leaves are JUST enough without being too obvious. It’s why I’ve got it down for best original screenplay this year.

My only grievance and the only reason this is a 3 and half star review and not a four star one is that Jordan Peele changed the ending. Now I’m afraid, I suppose, to spoil too much but you really should have seen it by now. The ending Peele kept in is a slightly weaker choice than the truly biting end that would have really punched the audience in the gut. I have heard Peele’s reasoning for changing the ending and I agree with him but it does weaken the movie slightly.

Get Out was the little movie that could. Usually a FEBRUARY RELEASE doesn’t stand a chance at the Oscars but it could and did and I’m so glad we all got the chance to see it.

 

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TLDNW: Call Me By Your Name

The phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) is for posts on the Internet that you want to know about but can’t be bothered to read. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2018 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.

However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.

So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review.  2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.

 BONUS: This year, I’ve added bonus content baby! This year I will be reading each review in a podcast format if you don’t even time to READ. There will be a podcast of me reading each review and THEN a bonus podcast where I discuss the film with a fellow film friend.

TLDNW: 1 Word

3/4

Sculpted

TLDNW: 20 Words

★★★/★★★★

All that people want to talk about is the peach scene but there is a whole lot more going on here.

TLDNW: 500 Words

Three out of Four Stars

I have decided that Call me By Your Name is the most artistic of the best picture nominees this year. This is not to say that it is the beautiful or the most intricate, but simply to say that it is the film that feels the most like art. Luca Guadagnino has sculpted a piece of art. Every shot and frame is so carefully established. Each pose and action is sculpted. It’s as if Guadagnino crafted this film out of marble.

Art, and especially sculpture, however can be rigid. And this too is the case for Call Me By Your Name. Yes, it’s artistic and beautiful and very carefully made – but it also in many places feels a little too rigid.

The rigidity, I think, stems from the script and although the adapted screenplay by James Ivory (of Howard’s End fame) is slated to win the Oscar on Sunday night I can’t help but feel that the dialogue itself is nothing more than just fine. The first forty minutes of the movie drag on a little longer than they should and none of the characters are very well established in this time. Elio, played picture perfectly by Timothee Chalamet, seems convinced that the world hates him, but no one in the film gives any indication that this is true. I’m sure part of this comes from regular teenage angst but Elio is otherwise such a funny confident kid that this aspect seems out of place.

Oliver, played JUST FINE by the perfectly named Armie Hammer, is not particularly well written at all. He is initially painted as a sort of over confident playboy but this veil is fairly thin and I was left feeling confused about any of his character’s intentions.

It is Michael Stuhlbarg who shines in this cast, as he does in every cast, and his final monologue alone is why he should have been nominated for supporting actor and why the screenplay will win.

And to be fair, after the forty-minute mark- once Elio and Oliver begin their romance the art really takes hold. The acting after this point is tremendous and the shots are beautiful. Sufjan Stevens’ soundtrack adds such a beautiful feel to the love sequences. This is where the artistry shines through. It’s almost like Guadagnino said, “yeah I know the first bit is a bit rough, but wait until you see the second half!” Like showing someone a masterpiece while you’re halfway through painting it.

I will say as well the use of Roman statue and exploring the Roman tradition of an older scholar taking a male lover is really clever. There are a ton of really incredible shots of roman statues or slideshows of bits of roman statue that seem to mirror the young bodies of Chalamet and Hammer (Chalamet and Hammer sounds like a terrible Law Firm by the way). The story actually sort of reads like a Roman tragedy – “what if we watched the love story between Hadrian and his young lover?” These are the themes explored in the film and Guadagnino does a fantastic job overlaying that.

This is perhaps that is the biggest problem I had with Call Me By Your Name – it’s 2/3s of a masterpiece. It’s actually frustrating seeing how good the whole thing could have been. I almost enjoyed it less because I could see the potential for a perfect film. Instead what I got was the first draft of Michelangelo’s David. All I saw was the rough cut of a perfect piece of art.

TLDNW: The Shape of Water

The phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) is for posts on the Internet that you want to know about but can’t be bothered to read. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2018 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.

However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.

So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review.  2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.

 BONUS: This year, I’ve added bonus content baby! This year I will be reading each review in a podcast format if you don’t even time to READ. There will be a podcast of me reading each review and THEN a bonus podcast where I discuss the film with a fellow film friend.

TLDNW: 1 Word

4/4

Thoughtful

TLDNW: 20 Words

★★★★/★★★★

I never knew the story of one woman’s dream to just go to town on a fish could be so dang beautiful.

TLDNW: 500 Words

Four out of Four Stars

I had a conversation with a friend today where we talked about how a couple of the movies we saw this year were disappointing because they focused too much on characters we didn’t care about. Mudbound for instance would have been a much more interesting film if it focused solely on the tank driver. Coco, he argued, would have been really interesting if told from the grandfather’s perspective. We came to the conclusion that sometimes trying to tell everyone’s story waters down the story you actually want to tell.

This is NOT the case for Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece The Shape of Water. This was, without a doubt, my favourite movie of the year.

The Shape of Water is the story of Eliza, a janitorial staff, who works at a cold war-era American asset bunker. One day they bring in an amphibious man and hope to study it and use it to defeat Russia. Eliza, a mute, feels an instant connection to the creature and the two of them begin a romance.

At one point in the film Michael Stuhlbarg, who is my favourite underrated actor of the year, says about the Amphibian Man “I do not want a beautiful, intricate thing destroyed!” And that is exactly what The Shape of Water is – beautiful and intricate. It’s like an incredibly made suit or a symphony. Every piece works so hard to find harmony and dissonance – not a single note is out of place.

The acting alone holds the film up (though it doesn’t have to). Sally Hawkins gives her most moving performance yet as the mute Eliza. Her opening sequence is edited as tightly as an Edgar Wright sequence and the scene in which she convinced Richard Jenkins’ character to help her is one of the finest pieces of acting of the year. Richard Jenkins, who earned his long awaited second nomination for this role, plays the part beautifully. His closeted gay Giles is the emotional anchor in this otherwise fanciful universe. The fascination and excitement Jenkins brings to Giles is a subtle masterpiece. Michael Shannon, my SECOND favourite underrated actor of the year, gives a classic Michael Shannon performance and brings a violence and energy that drives the entire plot in such a compelling way. Even Octavia Spencer, who has started to feel a little bit like a Meryl Streep in the supporting actress category, brings a solid a reliable performance. None of these characters could exist without the others. They all balance each other in a way that is so utterly thoughtful. Like the stiches in a dress, none is more important than the others.

The score is marvellous. As I write this I’m listening to Alexandre Desplat’s fantastic and subtle score. The use of whistles and accordion to provide another layer of fairy-tale pastiche is beautiful. I am hoping for a Johnny Greenwood spoiler, but the best original score trophy is Desplat’s to lose.

The final piece of the puzzle, however, comes in the shape of Guillermo Del Toro. The finesse with which Del Toro directed The Shape of Water is in itself a master class in production. Each shot, and costume and prop and hint is so subtly are carefully implanted that it feels seamless. I heard recently that in order to create the feel of Eliza and Giles’ apartments Del Toro painted the walls, and then wall papered them, and then chipped away that wallpaper to reveal the paint. This is the sort of thoughtful detail that will win Del Toro the best director statue on Sunday.

I don’t like when I hear people talk about how “weird” this movie is. I don’t like when people dismiss the thoughtful work that went into this lush masterpiece because they can’t get over the love between Eliza and the Amphibian Man. Their love is important yes, and this is a love story, but there is so much at play here and I encourage anyone who is doubtful to watch this movie again, and then again, and again and again – I certainly plan on it.

Here are the podcasts:

TLDNW: Phantom Thread

 

The phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) is for posts on the Internet that you want to know about but can’t be bothered to read. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2018 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.

However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.

So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review.  2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.

BONUS: This year, I’ve added bonus content baby! This year I will be reading each review in a podcast format if you don’t even time to READ. There will be a podcast of me reading each review and THEN a bonus podcast where I discuss the film with a fellow film friend.

TLDNW: 1 Word

3/4

Meticulous

TLDNW: 20 Words

★★★/★★★★

A movie that creeps into your brain and sits there for longer than you’d like. It grows on you like a fungus.

TLDNW: 500 Words

Three out of Four Stars

When I left the theatre after seeing Phantom Thread I couldn’t quite figure out how I felt. I was struck so strongly by the crushing sense of boredom that had pervaded for the first hour and a half of the film. At the same time, however, I couldn’t shake the last thirty minutes.

I will say right here that this review HAS to be filled with spoilers to make sense so if you haven’t seen Phantom Thread yet- just abandon ship right now. The film offers so many surprises that I don’t want to give anything away. The joy that I found in those last thirty minutes came from knowing nothing ahead of time. I’ll wait- I don’t mind…

Alright – now that we’ve ditched those losers – welcome to the cool crew. Let’s talk about this movie.

In Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film (which has been reported to be Daniel Day Lewis’ last ever) we meet Reynolds Woodcock. Woodcock is a fashion designer who is meant, I’ve read, to represent all of the very specific and particular fashion designers who made their fame in post war Europe. He meets a young woman, Alma, while on vacation in the countryside and they fall in love. Woodcock spends most of the rest of the movie being either wildly in love with this new woman or hating her with every fibre of his being. His sister, played deliciously by Lesley Manville, does not help the situation and a rather incestuous relationship is established between her and Woodcock.

Now, if that paragraph ALONE was the synopsis of the film this would be a one star review. However, Paul Thomas Anderson, master of suspense, doesn’t let us get away that easy. The final act of the film finds his young wife deliberately POISONING HIM with mushrooms. If this wasn’t a twist enough when Woodcock discovers he is being poisoned he INVITES IT and allows it to happen.

There is some interesting commentary on relationships here. What will we put up with in a (here, literally) toxic relationship? How much do we tolerate just for the passion of love? But I think there is something a little subtler at play in this film. PTA said in an interview that he starting conceiving of this movie when his wife (the incredible and incomparable Maya Rudolph) was looking after him while he was sick and realized she hadn’t looked at him with such love in a long time and he hadn’t seen her as a nurturer in the same amount of time. So he thought it would be interesting if someone was deliberately keeping him sick. The film explores more than a toxic relationship but also looks at the idea of need and perfection. How far will both of these characters go to feel something? Woodcock finds himself a more invested and compassionate lover during these times and his work improves. Alma feels necessary in the relationship and gets the love she desires. It’s a really clever device and PTA of course pulls it off beautifully.

It’s honestly as if Anderson knew we would be bored after an hour and a half. He connects us to the character of Alma who is feeling useless in her relationship to Woodcock. He makes us question what we are watching and then, just when we feel redundant he slips in one of the most interesting and subtle plot twists I’ve seen in a long time. It’s what bumps that one star rating to a three.

The final note (pun intended) that I will make on this film is that the score is absolutely incredible. Do yourself a favour and download the song “House of Woodcock” from the soundtrack. The subtle piano music coupled with hauntingly beautiful strings is outstanding. Johnny Greenwood won’t win the Oscar for score (because have you seen how stacked this category is?) but his name shouldn’t be forgotten.

It’s interesting that a movie about fashion design couldn’t be less about fashion design but that’s just what Paul Thomas Anderson likes to do to you. He’ll convince you it’s about one thing for an hour and a half – and then poison you in the last half an hour.

 

Here are the podcast:

 

 

 

TLDNW: Darkest Hour

The phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) is for posts on the Internet that you want to know about but can’t be bothered to read. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2018 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.

However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.

So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review.  2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.

BONUS: This year, I’ve added bonus content baby! This year I will be reading each review in a podcast format if you don’t even time to READ. There will be a podcast of me reading each review and THEN a bonus podcast where I discuss the film with a fellow film friend.

TLDNW: 1 Word

3/4

Pressurized

TLDNW: 20 Words

★★★/★★★★

A powder keg. Like Churchill the man, this film is brash and bold and loud. A pressure cooker of a movie.

TLDNW: 500 Words

Three out of Four Stars

I have been asking myself lately why we’ve seen so many Churchills this year. John Lithgow plays him beautifully on The Crown. Brian Cox plays him less beautifully in the biopic Churchill (don’t worry, no one saw it.) Michael Gambon played him last year in the TV movie Churchill’s Secret. And here we have screen legend Gary Oldman giving his finest performance yet as the British bulldog. One might assume that it is just a case of simultaneous thought or a case of Twin Movies (a phenomenon you should look up because it’s bonkers) but I think there’s something more going on here.

In today’s political climate a Churchill biopic seems oddly fitting. Audiences are shown a brash, know-it-all, political black sheep who says whatever he feels. Does this not feel a little of the times? It honestly makes me wonder how the carrot that reigns beneath us will be portrayed in a hundred years. Churchill certainly was no saint and straight up LIED to the press about Britain’s standings in the war effort. Many still see Churchill as a less-than-perfect political figure. So the question that has been bothering me is “why?” Why now? Why Churchill?

I think the answer rests in Joe Wright’s film Darkest Hour. The film chronicles Churchill’s rise to power after being appointed prime minister in the wake of Neville Chamberlin’s resignation to Churchill’s infamous speech after the fall of Dunkirk. It’s a short period of time and is filmed in a compressed way. In fact, the whole film feels pressurized. The film, like Churchill himself, is a powder keg of intensity. Whole sequences are shot in the war bunker at parliament and cast with a red hue. Churchill is portrayed by, the certain to win the Oscar, Gary Oldman as a tightly wound, crass, pressurized man. Here, however, is where we find out answer to “why now? Why Churchill?” The answer rests entirely on the way Joe Wright shoots Oldman. Occasionally he shows Churchill from very close. He points the camera directly into the jowls of the infamous prime minister and has Oldman scream as loudly as he can. This is the classic portrayal of Churchill and certainly the closest to our current day leader south of the border. However, Wright carefully inserts beautifully tender shots of Churchill looking small. There are shots where Churchill is alone in a room, or far in the background, surrounded by objects larger than him and he looks positively tiny. He sits with a signature-stooped stature and appears to have the whole weight of Britain on his shoulders. This portrayal, this Churchill is the answer to why we’ve become obsessed with him in recent years. He is complex. He’s not perfect and he’s certainly not well liked – but he is at least complex. He understands the gravity of his work, of his actions. He, at least as depicted by Wright, is conflicted. This is what we are missing from the current administration. We’ve got loud and verbose covered, what we need is complexity.

And this is the brilliance of Darkest Hour. Despite its flaws as a film (standard editing, score, and script) it shines a light on one of histories most conflicted leaders in a way that makes him human. This is why we’re obsessed. This is why there have been four Churchills in the past two years- because despite his flaws, you cannot argue that he wasn’t complex. I just think it wasn’t until Joe Wright took the helm for us to truly see this side of the man.

TLDNW: Dunkirk

The phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) is for posts on the Internet that you want to know about but can’t be bothered to read. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2018 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.

However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.

So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review.  2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.

BONUS: This year, I’ve added bonus content baby! This year I will be reading each review in a podcast format if you don’t even time to READ. There will be a podcast of me reading each review and THEN a bonus podcast where I discuss the film with a fellow film friend.

TLDNW: 1 Word

4/4

Taught

TLDNW: 20 Words

★★★★/★★★★

Christopher Nolan’s best work since The Prestige. Mark Rylance yelling “Don’t you think I can’t hear you Peter?! Why can’t we, just once, see Tom Hardy’s face?

TLDNW: 500 Words

Four out of Four Stars

In every way that Lady Bird is a tightly wound machine of subtlety Dunkirk is a tightly wound machine of spectacle. In Christopher Nolan’s finest work yet, Dunkirk proves that Nolan is not just a blockbuster director with a gift for twists.

Now I have voiced my discontent with the Nolan Cult in the past but I’d like to reiterate my feelings here. Christopher Nolan has been praised for being the decade’s best director because of his work on the Dark Knight Trilogy and films like Interstellar and Inception. I have always felt that Nolan sacrifices story for spectacle and twists. He forgets to write real, human characters because he doesn’t have time to explore emotion. He spends 90% of his movie OVER explaining his premise so that by the end he’s forgotten to add any human elements. There is an unfortunate following of people who lose their ever-loving shit for his movies because they are very showy, but I’ve never really bought into the hype – all of this changes with Dunkirk.

Watching Dunkirk is like seeing a watch get made. It’s incredibly intricate and you can see all the pieces – in fact Nolan works pretty hard to show you all the pieces. There are plenty of times where you think, “this can’t be working, there’s no way this will come together at the end” but then, in true Nolan fashion, it all clicks into place.

Each piece of Nolan’s machine is so tightly edited and timed that I have no doubt it will sweep the technical categories at this year’s awards. Hans Zimmer’s score is outstanding and ties the emotional elements of the film into the war spectacle effortlessly. And LEST WE FORGET the literal ticking clock present throughout the entire film. This movie is Nolan screaming to his audiences “you want technical- I’ll give you fucking technical!”

Nolan also managed to round up some of the finest actors in Britain to play minor roles to the larger character of war. Kenneth Branaugh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and… Harry STYLES?! are all fantastic. Here Nolan really earns his directing nomination by carefully slotting each one of these incredible actors into a seamless plot. None of the acting feels wasted and none of the, very minimal, dialogue goes unused.

The most incredible thing about Dunkirk however is something that might go unnoticed because it is, by definition, the very opposite of the spectacle that the rest of the movie is so rightfully flaunting. There is no gore in Dunkirk. When Steven Spielberg released Saving Private Ryan in 1998 he changed the look of war movies forever. No World War Two movie has been released since that does not contain at least one scene of gratuitous violence. The opening sequence on the beach defined the gore that is allowed in war movies. One need only look to the gore-porn monstrosity that is Hacksaw Ridge to understand what I’m talking about. Nolan seems to deliberately challenge this norm. 90% of Dunkirk takes place on a beach and there is not one spot of blood on the whole battleground. He builds tension not by showing the gore but by NOT showing it. The crack of one bullet in Dunkirk holds more tension and power than the whole third act of Hacksaw Ridge. In fact, the only spot of blood you see in the film isn’t even related to the action at Dunkirk. Nolan has made a choice here and it has paid off. His choice to remove gore means that the audience is absorbed by the tension built by human characters, by an incredible score, and by focusing on the story of war- not the gore. Some might argue that this is not Nolan’s best work because it doesn’t feature a big twist or a blow your mind concept – but I think that Nolan proves himself here to be a true artist, and Dunkirk is his masterpiece.

And here are the podcasts:

TLDNW: The Post

The phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) is for posts on the Internet that you want to know about but can’t be bothered to read. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2018 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.

However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.

So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review.  2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.

BONUS: This year, I’ve added bonus content baby! This year I will be reading each review in a podcast format if you don’t even time to READ. There will be a podcast of me reading each review and THEN a bonus podcast where I discuss the film with a fellow film friend.

TLDNW: 1 Word

2.5/4

Polished

TLDNW: 20 Words

★★½/★★★★

Spielberg proves yet again that he sure can make a movie that everyone goes to see and yet isn’t really all that good.

TLDNW: 500 Words

Two and a half out of Four Stars

What if Spotlight had been boring? That’s the question asked by Steven Spielberg’s latest phone-in The Post. The film tells the true story about The Washington Post and their decision to publish classified documents about the Vietnam War even after The New York times had been served a subpoena to cease and desists from the Nixon administration. How can this incredible story be boring you ask? Well Spielberg certainly tries.

Over the past decade Spielberg has made three types of films:

  • An interesting true story told in a very boring way PACKED with stars:
    1. Bridge of Spies
    2. Lincoln
    3. Munich
    4. Catch me if you can
    5. The Terminal
  • A children’s story reimagined in a way you never thought you needed (and probably didn’t)
    1. Tintin
    2. War Horse
    3. The BFG
    4. And coming soon! Ready Player One
  • A remake or a sequel that begs the question- why?
    1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    2. War of the Worlds

Unfortunately The Post falls into the first category. There is technically nothing wrong with it. I can’t sit here and tell you that it has a bad script or bad acting or even bad directing, but it is so painfully cookie cutter that I lost interest right away. This is the trap I feel most of Spielberg’s films fall into and likely the reason I gave this movie 2 and half out of four stars anyway. It isn’t BAD it just isn’t GOOD.

I mean let’s dissect it a little. The main cast – Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are, of course, incredible. They haven’t been bad in anything in a long time (I’m going to overlook you for just a second A Hologram for the King). Yes, they’ve been in bad movies, but they are always undoubtedly the best part.

So good acting: Check.

The supporting cast consisting of Bradley Whitford, Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemens, Zach Woods, Allison Brie, Bruce Greenwood, Sarah Paulson (who should be in everything forever), Michael Stuhlbarg, Matthew Rhys, and … PULITZER PRIZE WINNING PLAYWRIGHT TRACY LETTS?! Are all good. I mean listen to that cast. If I had a TV show I would want that to be the cast forever and always. I mean wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity to be in a Spielberg movie?

So good supporting cast: Check.

The score is by John Williams: Check.

The one genuinely outstanding aspect of this film comes Liz Hannah and Josh Singer who manage to turn a lackluster film into something close to good with a really smart script. There are moments where characters are talking over one another. This gives a really interesting frenetic energy to otherwise boring scenes. It is perhaps the only aspect of this film that feels fresh.

And this, I think, is the fatal flaw of The Post. It’s so polished. It’s polished to death. There’s nothing fresh or gritty or interesting about it. It’s good film making, it’s just not interesting film making.

This is not to say that the message of the film isn’t incredibly timely. With the current American administration banning news sources from the White House and panning journalists left and right this film fits right into the counter narrative currently being written in the US. It’s just too bad that the film is boring – otherwise this message might actually have some impact.

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