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: