2017 Screener Reviews
Once a year I indulge in a sharing and writing exercise by binging screeners and immediately jotting down some quick thoughts.
I, TONYA: This film had several things working against it before it even began. I’m not fan of Tonya Harding, I am always confused by when commas should go before names, and Margot Robbie is way too hot to be playing Tonya. But all of that went out the window in the first few minutes. It’s a comedy, tada!! Well a dark comedy I guess and it’s a pretty good one. The film was probably 20 minutes too long but Margot, Sebastian Stan, and Allison Janney are so sadly funny and everyone supporting is spot on in their types. Kudos to the director for nailing the tone and the casting director for assembling this motley crew of misfits. This movie was not only a good time but it’s also a good reminder to never trust a skinny guy that hangs out with a short fat guy. Especially if they have mustaches 😁
LADY BIRD: Hard to believe I’m going to negatively review Rotten Tomatoes highest ranked film ever. But to confirm its overratedness, I watched the movie a second time. Predictably, I fell asleep almost immediately. I really liked Greta Gerwig’s Frances Ha but the writing here was so on the nose and it was overacted by what appeared to be a 27yr old in high school. There was zero subtext and everyone was stating how they were feeling exactly in that moment. Works in Shakespeare, not in a slice of life film where either the writing or the acting has to carry the film. I really wanted to like this movie but it turns out it was my most disappointing of the lot. Not sure why it’s so coveted. My only guess is with Scott Rudin and A24 behind it, it’s important that It succeeds. OR perhaps an Asian man in his forties is the exact opposite demographic for this film 🙂
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME: I hadn’t heard much about this film or this director and I didn’t really know what to expect going in. What I got was a gift. What a beautifully shot, paced, and acted film. I love when the writing is never what they are actually saying. There is so much subtext in this film and Timothee Chalamet was a joy to watch navigate through being a young man coming into his own as a sexual being. Not gonna lie some scenes were tough for me to keep my eyes full open but it all added to the experience. It’s a long film but there is a reward at the end in a speech that the father gives his son. And it doesn’t hurt that it takes place in the Italian countryside! Loved this film. Warning: Don't watch if you ever want to eat a peach again 😂😂🍑
THE DISASTER ARTIST: There’s bad bad and then there’s so bad it’s good. Well this film was about the film that was so bad it’s good. I laughed quite a bit in unexpected places, or was it more like gagging? I gagged a lot of laughter because Tommy Wiseau lives in the untuned minor keys of life and he defies logic. The Room reminds us to chase your dreams and to never ever count someone out because they’re different. All that matters is the conviction of one’s belief. Or just watch it for James Franco and the accent. Kudos to A24, once again showing why they are the film distributor du jour.
DOWNSIZING. Had to walk away before it claimed another minute of my life. From what I saw it appeared to be Honey I Shrank the Kids x The Truman Show without any of the humor or intelligence. The film meandered around stopping only for us to see Matt Damon’s naked butt, twice. Not gonna lie, kind of shocked he didn’t use those moments to mainsplain some more about sexual assault. Worse film I’ve seen in some time.
THREE BILLBOARDS: Everyone that said this would be my type of movie was spot on! Patient but not slow, clever but not contrived, and humorous without any jokes. Throw in great cinematography, a killer soundtrack, and a cast that is on their game. Frances McDormand can never do wrong but Sam Rockwell really surprises here. My favorite male performance so far. And while Woody is crushing it in mid life, newcomer Caleb Landry Jones not only has a dope name but a long career ahead of him. Beware though Peter Dinklage loses his GOT accent and it’s unbecoming of a Lannister. Cheers to the director Martin McDonagh, I put this right up there with my most impactful film of the year, Get Out, and the most beautiful film of the year, Blade Runner 2049. 4.5/5 🍸
THE SHAPE OF WATER. I did not walk away but I definitely struggled to stay awake. I eventually dozed off trying to find something more interesting than the tepid love story between the mute and her monster. However the production design and acting were noteworthy. Sally Hawkins had me convinced she couldn’t speak in real life and Michael Shannon continues to weird well on screen.
Update: Trish just told me the monster slept with Sally Hawkins twice. Might have been worth staying awake for but we also watched with Chayse. This movie was def not kid friendly. Unless you enjoy super awkward moments with your kid. The bathtub masturbation scene was all time hilarious for that 🙂
THE BIG SICK: Man, the days of just being neurotic as a hurdle in a romcom are definitely over. Now we drag our lovers through terrorist threats, arranged marriages, and having Ray Romano as a dad. I must say though, this film was quietly dope. There was only about five minutes of the entire film where it didn’t drag Kumial Nanjiani and us through the Pakistani mud but his sincerity had us laughing with him throughout. You’ll enjoy this film because of its honesty but you might relate and chuckle just that much more if you also grew up with immigrant parents, especially Muslim ones. At least he wasn’t forced to play piano 🙂
GET OUT: If Three billboards is my favorite film then Get Out is my most impactful film! In full disclosure, I saw this film in the theater and boy was it a thrilling experiences. I didn't know who was around me and I didn't want to look. The tension was insanely palpable. My enjoyment may or may not have been because I'm neutrally Asian just saying :) Not only was the premise of this movie a genius concoction by Jordan Peele but he nailed the tone and walked a line that one step to either side could have caused the entire film to fall apart. The cast is solid but Daniel Kuluuya definitely gives a stand out performance. And what a timely film, see this film it's an important one. But, don't let your children watch by themselves in your bedroom and then forget about them, it's actually a horror thriller :)
THE FLORIDA PROJECT: Sean Baker has somehow turned a purple motel in Florida into my next possible family vacation, but I’m not sure he made a good film. He’s great at world building and character development, I loved his first film Tangerine, but what does it say when you can get up 5-7 times during the film and feel like you missed nothing. If not for the lame way it ended, I might have praised him for making the fringe feel effortlessly dramatic. Actually I will praise him, for that he is truly gifted, but he ruins it all by closing with a stolen shot inside Disneyworld that teases nothing and answers nothing. So invite some friends over, have this film play in the background and once in a while stop to watch a scene. You’ll love it. Dafoe is great, the kid is great, prostitution is great.
DARKEST HOUR: Started this one later in the evening. I was primed to enjoy some WW II gravitas being the Anglophile that I am, but the film never took off and Gary Oldman wasn’t making Churchill interesting enough. Instead it felt like it was relying on a haze machine to bring drama to each scene. Unevenly dispersed too I might add. So I retired to bed early with hopes of squeezing in another movie in the morning before tennis. Good night and God save the Queen!
ROMAN J ISREAL ESQ: I put this film on while I was doing the bills because I didn’t like the poster hence breaking rule no. 5 of screener watching. Never underestimate a film Denzel Washington is in! A legal drama but with surprising behavior and a major twist toward the end that takes the film to an unorthodox ending. Not to mention I think Colin Farrel has begun taking his talents seriously. Some good work from the Irish carouser and supporting cast. Lots of cool cinematography offered up by Dan Gilroy of the Gilroy clan. Oddly inspired by this one as a filmmaker. The fro knows 🙂
BLADERUNNER 2049: I didn't receive a screener for this one mostly because no actor really deserved to be nominated for anything but damn was this an amazing movie experience. My most beautiful film of the year for certain. I basically sat in the theater with my eyes as wide open as I could keep them to take in all the beauty Roger Deakin was framing. The colors, the sounds, the special effects, basically the film was being told from every department and that's why Denis Villaneuve is my favorite director working in film today. 4.0/5 🍸
All opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own and absolutely spot on 🍸