This weekend was a movie weekend for me. I saw two movies at the theatre and watched two other movies on my Roku. I kind of like that thing, even though it sounds stupid, it’s a nice little contraption. All four movies had at one time or another been talked about being contenders come award season, only one of them still is. And, I must agree that it’s the only one that deserves to be. In fact, the odds on that one are much lower than they should be.
So, let’s start with the bottom of the barrel and work our way to outstanding. Speaking of barrels, do they keep Lobsters in barrels? Because if so the movie The Lobster would certainly sink to the bottom of that barrel. I wish I could begin to describe this movie, but if I did you wouldn’t believe me. So here’s IMDB synopsis:
In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.
I’d love to tell you that the movie is so much better than that synopsis, but it’s not. The whole time I was watching it I just kept thinking is it possible that this movie is a practical joke played on us by Wes Anderson. It kinda has that whole Anderson surrealism to it, but it just fails. In fact, the one thing it does do well is it fails on a grand scale. Colin Farrell did receive a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a comedy or musical. And while his performance isn’t as horrible as the story itself, it’s nothing fantastic, it just goes to prove that the Hollywood Foreign Press likes to nominate big names. Although is Colin Farrell still a big name?
If you are wanting to subject yourself to torture, you can watch this on Amazon Prime, but don’t.
The other movie I watched on Amazon Prime was Woody Allen’s Café Society. Now to be honest the only reason this was ever considered for any awards is because it is a Woody Allen film. But the reality is that it’s more a Woody Allen film made for television but given a theatrical release because it’s a Woody Allen film. I’d love to tell you the story, but it might be best to just go watch a dozen other Woody Allen films. On a side note, why do we always have to call them “Woody Allen Films” and not “Allen Films”? Scorsese, Spielberg, and Nolan all get single name films but Woody Allen doesn’t. I mean that’s not fair! But hey that’ll teach a guy to marry his step-daughter.
Okay, back to the film. It’s an okay film, it’s just nothing special. It’s a beautiful shot film. In fact, maybe one of his better ones of late. The performances are all good. Jesse Eisenberg is solid. Kristen Stewart keeps trying to come in from the Twilight. (See what I did there?) Steve Carell is good, Blake Lively is lovely (Wow I’m on a roll). But nobody shines. So, my recommendation on this one is if you are a fan on Woody Allen Films, you should watch this one. If not, I’d recommend choosing one of his movies from the 70’s or 80’s when he was making movies of relevance.
Now for the two movies I went out in this frigid cold to go see.
First was Ben Affleck’s Live by Night. I wanted to really like this movie. I did. I have liked all the other films he has directed. I’ve enjoyed at some level most of the movies he has starred in. I say most, because ain’t nobody that liked Gigli. I actually like Ben Affleck. I mean dude is on my very short switching sides list. But this movie has issues. Lots of issues.
The script, written by Affleck, is based on a Dennis Lehane novel and is very epic in scope. It follows the son of a Boston cop who finds himself caught up in the world of prohibition. He transports himself to Florida to take over the alcohol trade in Tampa and seek revenge on the guy who did him and his love wrong. Things happen, people die, people fall in love. People make bad choices as they tend to do in gangster films. One of the few odd things about this movie is the inclusion of the KKK. The KKK doesn’t usually get thrown into Boston gangster films, bit hey they do in this one. But not even long enough for us to care. The good news is that the movie was made prior to Trump’s inauguration so the KKK are still even worse guys than gangsters.
The largest issue is Ben Affleck. He’s not right for the part of Joe Coughlin. His accent is to Boston Modern. His look is to Hollywood handsome. And his charm is just too charmy to be a 1920’s prohi8bition gangster. He’s just not believable and when he is in almost every scene, that’s a problem. There are a few good performances. Elle Fanning does a wonderful job playing a born again Christian heroin addict, and Chris cooper is wonderful as her sheriff father.
I should also probably mention that one of the larger distractions in the movie are the costumes. They want to be all 1920’s, and instead they all look a little to Hollywood’s idea of 1920’s. Not to mention that Ben Affleck’s post Batman body doesn’t work in that style. It’s just a tad bit distracting.
Last summer, before anyone had seen it there was talk about Affleck getting another shot at an Academy Award for directing. That isn’t going to happen.
So now on to the last film I saw, Lion. I wish I could find all the words to say how much I loved this film. It might be my favorite film of last year. This movie is amazing. It’s sad, uplifting, moving, and heart-warming all in one.
If you haven’t heard of the movie, that’s not surprising it has had very little press and was limited in release, but it’s based on a true story of a 5-year-old Indian boy who gets separated from his family in Calcutta and is adopted by a family in Australia. The first 1/3 of the film follows the little boy as he struggles to survive and leading up to his adoption. All of this is done with subtitles and while that seems daunting, the performance given by the little boy is astounding, and moving. Your heart will break for this little boy. I know this for a fact, because mine did, and I don’t even like little things.
Once the boy is adopted by a family in Australia, there are some quick moments with his adopted family. And damn if that kid isn’t the luckiest kid, because he gets adopted by Nicole Kidman, Okay I mean, not Nicole Kidman, but the mother is played by her and she is as wonderful as ever. Now full disclosure, Nicole Kidman is on my short list of people that I would actually be willing to marry, so I might be biased, but her performance already earned her a Golden Globe nomination and I suspect it could land her an Oscar Nomination as well.
The final portion of the movie picks up when the little boy has grown into a successful young man, who is struggling with his desire to find his family back in India. Dev Patel, he of Newsroom and Millionaire Slumdog fame, plays the young man and earned himself a Golden Globe nomination and in my opinion an Oscar nomination as well. His struggle to come to terms with his happiness in his adopted home while knowing that his family in India must be missing him and worried about him while at the same time being afraid to share with his adopted family his desire to find his biological family, is so well conveyed. I promise as the movie heads towards its ending, you may find yourself needing Kleenex. I mean I’m not saying I needed Kleenex, but there were definitely some grown men in the theatre that were tearing up.
When I first heard of this story it was on a 6o Minutes news piece, and then I heard they were making it into a movie, and I couldn’t quite figure out how they were going to pull it off. I mean the guy uses Google Earth to track down his home in India. How do you make a guy staring at a computer screen film worthy? But believe me the director, Garth Davis finds a way to make this movie tense and moving. There is one moment in the film that I must admit, is a bit typical Hollywoodish, but I doubt you’ll notice it at the time because by that time you are so invested in the moment.
Folks this is the movie you need to see. Find where it is showing near you and don’t miss it. I’m sure you’ll thank me once you do.