Thursday, December 22, 2016

Movie with Abe: Arrival

Arrival
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Released November 11, 2016

There have been so many alien arrivals and invasions shown in movies and on television that it’s hard to imagine what the actual event would be like in real life. This year’s big extraterrestrial-oriented film features a similar introduction to Earth with ships appearing all across the world with no explanation or communication, but it’s not the major blockbuster that movies with like premises in the past might make it seem to be. Instead, “Arrival” is a drama above all else, using the unexplained presence of alien life to explore what it really means to communicate, a fascinating perspective on what first contact can look like.

Louise (Amy Adams) is a professor of linguistics whose stable life and career are interrupted when the sudden arrival of alien ships paralyzes America – and the world – and causes all normal activities to cease. Because of her extensive familiarity with languages, Louise is called upon to travel to the ship that has landed in America and join forces with a physicist (Jeremy Renner) to figure out what the aliens are trying to tell them. Awed by the situation, Louise takes it upon herself to go one step further and attempt to open up a dialogue, learning how to interpret their language and teach them how to understand words rather than merely shapes and symbols.

“Arrival” is primarily a film about discovery, one that puts action and visual effects aside to focus in on the search for answers – not about the existence of extraterrestrial life but on what they can learn from this fascinating species shrouded in mystery, both figuratively and literally, as they interact with humans from behind a wall shrouded in mist and fog. As the entire world grapples with what to do, the lines of communication between countries that rarely speak open up in a collaborative effort to understand what is happening, presenting an optimistic if shaky view of what can happen when everyone on the planet is in the same position of uncertainty and actually tries to work together.

This film is mostly earning praise for its score by Johann Johannsen, which also includes Max Richter’s magnificent “On the Nature of Daylight” used to mesmerizing effect, and for Adams’ lead performance. The way that Susan jumps into her work and approaches it with such an intellectual curiosity is wonderful to watch, and this is easily one of Adams’ best cinematic turns recently. After exploring different themes in “Incendies,” “Prisoners,” “Enemy,” and “Sicario,” director Denis Villeneuve has found a mainstream platform and done a marvelous job of making a sci-fi movie that’s truly accessible and widely endearing. When it finally achieves its unexpected resolution, this film proves to be a wondrous, satisfying exploration of how humanity should respond to the news that there is something else out there, as expressed through the singular energy and commitment of its strong female protagonist.

B+

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Movie with Abe: Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals
Directed by Tom Ford
Released November 16, 2016

In 2010, fashion designer Tom Ford made the film “A Single Man,” starring Colin Firth as a closeted professor in the 1960s turning to suicidal thoughts after the death of his partner. In his transition to film director, Ford brought over an extraordinary eye for color, framing, and beauty, constructing every scene with a delicate deliberateness, emphasizing every moment for its maximum impact. In his second time behind the camera, Ford doesn’t succeed anywhere near as well, telling an unsettling and off-putting story enveloped in darkness but devoid of all of the masterful craft that made his first film such a resounding and powerful experience.

Susan (Amy Adams) runs an art gallery in Los Angeles. Her latest exhibit, which features obese women dancing, is given a showcase throughout the opening credits of the film. That strange start leads into an equally bizarre but far grimmer film-within-a-film, as Susan receives a copy of her ex-husband’s book and, as she reads it, its events unfold on screen as well. Susan is trapped in a lonely world of success with a philandering husband (Armie Hammer), but her ex-husband’s protagonist, Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal), suffers a much more horrific fate after he and his daughters are run off the road in the middle of the night by a pack of criminals led by Ray (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). As Susan continues reading, she cannot get the book – and its effect on her – out of her head.

Neither of the dual narratives in this film are particularly positive or uplifting, both defined by a sense of lingering dread. Susan’s life is beyond comfortable, and the clothes she wears and the attitude she presents to those around suggest a level of superiority. Flashbacks to her time with Edward (also Gyllenhaal) show a very time kind of woman, one who has been changed greatly by the success she has achieved. Tony, on the other hand, seems relatively quiet and unemotive before his devastating night, and his demeanor is not much changed as he hunts for justice with the help of a dogged detective (Michael Shannon). Neither Susan nor Tony is particularly sympathetic, and getting invested in their journeys is a difficult task.

Adams is having a great year, but all praise for her acting should be directed towards “Arrival,” in which she plays a much better character and therefore delivers a substantially better performance. Shannon is strong as usual, though the same is true of the person he is playing. For some reason, Taylor-Johnson has earned awards attention for his portrayal of a wild-eyed sociopath, but the enthusiasm is misplaced. So much of this film is intriguing but doesn’t ultimately lead anywhere, begging the question why this story needed to be told in the first place. While Ford previously managed to translate a tale of loss and loneliness into something stunning and immensely watchable, here he has created a miserable film with no apparent point that ends up with an infuriating whimper, making this film feel like a total and brutal waste of time.

C

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Movie with Abe: Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic
Directed by Matt Ross
Released July 29, 2016

There is something about the wilderness that feels anti-establishment, and that’s probably because, far from society and civilization, rules and laws can’t be enforced the way they can in an urban or suburban environment. Making an escape from the world is usually propelled not by an isolated event but by a disillusionment with the way things are and a desire to live a purer and richer life free from negative influences. “Captain Fantastic” presents a wondrous portrait of six children raised by their parents in the Pacific Northwest, determined to give them an authentic education about how the world can work.


Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Leslie brought their family to rural Washington State in protest of capitalism. They use nature around them to teach their children essential life skills and important facts from history. Unfortunately, Leslie’s mental health deteriorates, and when it leads to her suicide, Ben brings his children into the real world that they barely know and must navigate the difficulty of fulfilling what he knows to be Leslie’s last wishes when the other members of her family do their best to stop him from doing so and threaten to take his children away, citing questionable parenting decisions and a similar instability to his late wife.


I had the privilege of attending a reception in New York City in celebration of the film back in November with writer/director Matt Ross and star Mortensen. It was a particular pleasure to speak with Ross, who I recognized immediately from his fantastic role as maniacal tech mogul Gavin Belsen on “Silicon Valley.” His character on that show couldn’t be any more different from Ben, and he said that it was a very fulfilling and wonderful experience to make this film with Mortensen, who had equally positive things to say about the process.


“Captain Fantastic” is a film that might be described as a comedy with dramatic leanings, ultimately producing more endearing smiles than heartfelt tears. The film has enjoyed an unexpectedly strong awards season reception, earning Mortensen a Golden Globe bid – in drama – and SAG nominations for both Mortensen and the cast. They’re well-deserved, since the usually serious Mortensen does a remarkable job of letting loose in a controlled way. The standout of a great supporting cast is George MacKay, who appeared in “11.22.63” and “Pride,” as Bo, the most opinionated and rebellious child. This fun and involving film is a sweet, fresh, and creative exploration of what it’s like to have a completely different perspective on the world.

B+

Monday, December 19, 2016

Movie with Abe: Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Released November 18, 2016

There’s nothing quite like loss to change a person. The circumstances of that loss can compound it considerably, and someone may be completely unrecognizable after going through a devastating experience. “Manchester by the Sea,” from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan, introduces its protagonist as he goes through the loss of his brother and flashes back to even more traumatic times that show his transformation from someone social, surrounded by family and friends, into a person far less willing to engage with the world around him for fear of ruining it all.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) lives in a small basement apartment in Boston, working as the janitor for his complex. Despite quality work, he frequently butts heads with residents due to little patience for them expressing their opinions. The sudden death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) forces Lee to confront a new reality in his life and flash back to happier moments from his past with his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) as he is thrust into a role he is not sure he can fulfill as guardian of Joe’s son Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

“Manchester by the Sea” is a profoundly affecting film that masterfully melds devastating drama with heartwarming humor. The antisocial attitude Lee projects to the world lends to short sentences and unintentionally funny interactions, and that’s only amplified by the heavy Boston accent and unfiltered language used by both Lee and the surprisingly mature Patrick. Neither of them grieves in a typical way, and when pushed to respond as others might expect, they both push back just as hard, often going straight to insults rather than more polite tactics. An excellent script by Kenneth Lonergan, who also skillfully directs the film, is populated with stirring dialogue that says much with few words.

Affleck, who demonstrated his abilities to quietly carry characters in “The Assassination of Jesse James” and “Gone Baby Gone,” turns in a delicate and sincere portrayal of a broken man that is all but guaranteed to win him an extremely deserved Oscar. He is matched by Williams, in what may well be her best role yet, and young Hedges, who also deliver superb and stirring performances. The style of storytelling in Lonergan’s film, only his third in seventeen years, is exceptional, achieving a deep understanding of its characters and divulging important information about them in a very effective way. All elements of this film work together to create a rich and moving human experience.

A-

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Movie with Abe: Lion

Lion
Directed by Garth Davis
Released November 25, 2016

Most movies rely heavily on their plots to play out and tell a story filled with surprising and unexpected developments and twists. It’s rare that how a movie ends is well-known at the start and is prominent is its marketing, but that just creates a different experience where its effectiveness depends on all that builds towards that finish. This true story is built on the amazing reunion of a son with his mother thirty years after being lost far from his home, and, fortunately, everything that leads to it is just as fantastic.

Five-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) sets out for what seems like an easy night of petty thievery with his brother, but falling asleep aboard a train takes him hundreds of miles from home. After a number of harrowing experiences, Saroo’s resilience leads to his being adopted by a kindly Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Decades later, after leading a comfortable and fulfilling life, Saroo (Dev Patel) sets out to find the home he’s all but forgotten, determined to locate the mother and brother he still believes have been looking for him every day.

The actual extent of Saroo’s search, which begins more than halfway through the film, is far from its most crucial part. Saroo’s journey from his rural home to the crowded, treacherous streets of Calcutta is simply incredible, conveyed as a young boy with great instincts taking in the vast world around him with little concept of the trip that he has made. Seeing him as a young adult in a completely different environment only makes the connection he feels to a distant homeland all the more poignant.

Patel, who shot to fame with his role in “Slumdog Millionaire,” delivers a mature and affecting performance as the older Saroo, and he’s matched magnificently by the very talented young Pawar. Kidman turns in a heartfelt portrayal of an adoptive mother so attached to her children, and Rooney Mara contributes greatly as Saroo’s girlfriend, who encourages him to search for his family. This film features beautiful cinematography that captures the vastness of its world and, thanks to a strong script and direction, serves as a deeply involving, powerful, and heartwarming story of an astonishing triumph over impossible odds.

B+

Friday, December 16, 2016

Movie with Abe: Neruda


Neruda
Directed by Pablo Larrain
Released December 16, 2016

Artists can be larger-than-life. They paint pictures or write words that conjure up images and ideas that can come to represent much more than just one physical person can be. When an artist is rarely seen, that reputation is augmented, since only tales and legends, impossible to confirm, begin to define them. When someone venerated and celebrated with prizes and awards becomes an outlaw and an enemy of the government, it’s nearly impossible to curb public opinion away from idolizing that person as a hero of the people and someone not soon to be suppressed or forgotten.

Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) is introduced at the point when he is already at odds with the leadership of Chile thanks to his affiliation with the Communist party. Elected as a senator, Neruda was most famous for being a poet. When he goes on the run, he makes occasional appearances to recite beautiful words that charm everyone around him, making him a popular figure who can easily evade pursuit. On his tail is police inspector Oscar Peluchoneau (Gael Garcia Bernal), who takes his charge from the president to locate the country’s most wanted man extremely seriously and will stop at nothing to bring him in.

“Neruda” is about a man who, like another Pablo hunted by the government of his South American country who is the central character of a terrific Netflix series, has created a personality that makes the idea of his eventual death seem almost inconsequential since nothing could ever really kill the myth. Unlike Escobar, this Pablo doesn’t pose nearly as much of a threat, and as a result, he does little to antagonize his pursuers other than to try to take in a bit of culture and get some fresh air every once in a while. Peluchoneau fashions himself a true policeman, and the way in which he finds his life tied into and dependent on Neruda’s is truly fascinating.

Gnecco is not really the star of this film, portraying Neruda as someone who often melds into the background, emerging at the end of a conversation to offer up a piece of prose to wow his audience. The performance is adequate but hardly as memorable as international star Bernal, who makes Peluchoneau a compelling protagonist who is really telling his own story as affected by Neruda. Chile’s official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Film portrays a creative man in a creative way, even if it’s not the most invigorating or exciting film of the year.

B

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Movie with Abe: La La Land

La La Land
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Released December 9, 2016

The musical is far from the most common film genre these days, with fewer than a dozen such films being released each year. Every few years, a live action musical breaks through and receives critical acclaim, but it’s the exception. Even more rare is when a film musical is entirely original and not based on a successful Broadway show. This year, one of the top films is just that, and all the praise heaped upon it is deserved. “La La Land” is a wonderful instance of creativity, peppering a fun story with vibrant, catchy songs and two superb performers to sing and dance their way through it.

This film makes its mark in its very first scene, which finds a handful of Los Angeles drivers getting out of their cars in completely stopped traffic on the freeway to burst into song. Actress Mia (Emma Stone) meets pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) when he honks at her once traffic finally begins moving, and repeat encounters lead them to a more civil and friendly place. Mia has written a one-woman show but spends her time working as a barista at a coffee shop on a studio lot, and Sebastian is relegated to playing Christmas songs at a restaurant while he dreams of opening a jazz bar. As they try not to let repeated setbacks get them down, a romance begins to blossom that seems like it could play out in Los Angeles.

Director Damien Chazelle broke out in 2014 when he adapted his own short film into the critically-acclaimed “Whiplash.” His love for music is obvious, and after focusing on the power of drums, he’s all about the melodies in this follow-up. The film contains a number of wonderful songs, including “City of Stars” and “Audition,” and it also boasts a beautiful score by composer Justin Hurwitz. Two days after seeing the film, the music is still playing in my head. The film also employs vibrant colors and costumes to create a modern-day musical that feels like a dated classic which just happens to play out in the world of Priuses and cell phones.

And then there’s the film’s stars. The movie missed out on a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Best Ensemble, but, aside from the contributions of all those who appear in the film’s opening number, this really is a two-actor film. This marks the third onscreen collaboration between Stone and Gosling following the entertaining “Crazy Stupid Love” and the less successful “Gangster Squad,” and it’s easily the best. Both are extremely endearing and embrace the roles they’re playing with energy and excitement. They play off each other perfectly, and bring a wonderful sense of humor to this highly enjoyable film. A poignant, touching closing scene demonstrates that this film isn’t actually in la la land, marvelously grounding a story that feels delightfully detached from reality in all the right ways.

B+

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble Cast

My predictions: 2/5, picking only “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight”
Who’s missing: Florence Foster Jenkins, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, Loving, Nocturnal Animals, Silence

So I didn’t do too well here, with only awards season frontrunners Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight showing up as I predicted. After seeing “La La Land” last night (review coming tomorrow), I could have told you that it wouldn’t get in here since, wonderful as it is, it’s really just a two-person show. I’m surprised that “Florence Foster Jenkins” didn’t make the cut even though its two stars, who I didn’t predict did. Instead we got Fences, with two performers nominated, and two more surprising inclusions: Captain Fantastic and Hidden Figures. I still have to see two of these films, so I’ll reserve judgment for now even though I’m disappointed that “Hell or High Water” didn’t get in.

Who could win? I think it will be Moonlight though I’m not sure.

SAG Nominees: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

My predictions: 4/5, picking Gerwig over Spencer
Who’s missing: Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women), Janella Monae (Hidden Figures)

In a rare show of congruence, this list is exactly the same as the corresponding category at the Golden Globes. Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) made the cut, and her show also earned an ensemble bid, though she’s clearly the standout. Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) all seem like reliable Oscar contenders with no real competition emerging in this race

Who could win? It seems like Davis is ahead of the pack here.

SAG Nominees: Best Actor in a Supporting Role

My predictions: 4/5, picking Foster over Grant
Who’s missing: Ben Foster (Hell or High Water), Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins), Liam Neeson (Silence), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

I’m very happy to see that the Golden Globes’ two unfortunate surprises are nowhere to be found here, with Helberg’s preposterous inclusion replaced with Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), a lead contender at the Globes, who is a decent choice for a solid performance. I’m very happy to see the deserving Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) here, and he joins three other very deserving actors. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) seems to be the frontrunner, with Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) and Dev Patel (Lion) along for the ride. Just remember that only two of the nominees in this category last year ended up going on to earn Oscar nominations. This list is pretty great, so I really hope that doesn’t happen this year.

Who could win? I think it’s going to be Ali.

SAG Nominees: Best Actress in a Leading Role

My predictions: 2/5, picking only Portman and Stone
Who’s missing: Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Ruth Negga (Loving), Isabelle Huppert (Elle)

This was a really shocking category, boosting Amy Adams (Arrival) for the right movie and inviting in Emily BluntMeryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) made the cut, showing the power of her performance if not the film, which missed out on a Best Ensemble nod. I’m very surprise by Bening’s snub, and a little less so by Negga’s, and I wouldn’t count either of them out of the now much more competitive Oscar competition. Natalie Portman (Jackie) is here as expected, as is Emma Stone (La La Land). I’m curious to see how closely this matches Oscar’s list.

Who could win? With Bening out of the way, Stone and Streep probably won’t be able to beat Portman.

SAG Nominees: Best Actor in a Leading Role

My predictions: 3/5, picking Edgerton and Hanks over Garfield and Mortensen
Who’s missing: Joel Edgerton (Loving), Tom Hanks (Sully)

Well, it’s interesting to see who is shaping up to be a top contender this year. I’m very sad that Hanks is being continually ignored, though less so about Edgerton (his costar’s snub is much more of a shock). It turns out that Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) is in this race in a big way, and his film even netted a fun and deserved mention for Best Ensemble. And we have Globe-nominated Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge) ported over here as well, with his other film, “Silence,” also shut out today. Ryan Gosling (La La Land) successfully made it as the lone comedy representative here, joining expected nominees Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and Denzel Washington, both of whom saw their films do well in other categories.

Who could win? I think it’s going to be Affleck all awards season long.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SAG Predictions: Best Ensemble Cast

Last year’s nominees: Beasts of No Nation, The Big Short, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton, Trumbo

The rundown: This category was cool last year, including just two eventual Oscar nominees for Best Picture. The only lock in this race is Moonlight, though I think La La Land and Manchester by the Sea are solid bets too. I feel like Florence Foster Jenkins is a possibility, though I’d prefer to see 20th Century Women or The Lobster if we’re going that route. Fences, Hell or High Water (how great would that be?), Lion, Loving, Nocturnal Animals , and Silence are all strong contenders too, plus the surprise that we won’t see coming.

Current predictions: Florence Foster Jenkins, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

SAG Predictions: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Last year’s nominees: Rooney Mara (Carol), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

The rundown: Last year, this category introduced us to a new eventual Oscar nominee, McAdams, before swapping out Mirren for Globe nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh for the Oscar list. Of the Globes’ picks, I think that Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) is the most vulnerable, though it’s not clear who would take her place. I think that Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea), are all very likely to get in without a problem. Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women) probably poses the biggest threat, and I’m honestly not sure who else would show up.

Current predictions: Davis, Gerwig, Harris, Kidman, Williams

SAG Predictions: Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Last year’s nominees: Christian Bale (The Big Short), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Michael Shannon (99 Homes), and Jacob Tremblay (Room)

The rundown: This category was quite a surprise last year (I got only one nominee right), and only two of these nominees went on to be included in Oscar’s list. The Globes already gave us two shocking inclusions yesterday – Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals) – and I don’t expect either to repeat here. It’s very likely that the other three, Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), and Dev Patel (Lion), will make the cut. Most probable to join them is Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), and then there are a number of others who could round out the list. It might be Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) or Liam Neeson (Silence), but I’ll give the edge to Ben Foster (Hell or High Water) instead. I would be ecstatic about this list – maybe I’m being too hopeful.

Current predictions: Ali, Bridges, Foster, Hedges, Patel

SAG Predictions: Best Actress in a Leading Role

Last year’s nominees: Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Helen Mirren (The Woman in Gold), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), and Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back)

The rundown: Last year, this category gave us two shockers that weren’t Globe-nominated and didn’t go on to be Oscar contenders either, and I’m curious if that will happen again this year. The frontrunners are Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), and Annette Bening (20th Century Women), with Ruth Negga (Loving) very likely. Who could earn the fifth slot? It might be Amy Adams (Arrival), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) or Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), but I think it will be the other Globe nominee I didn’t predict, Isabelle Huppert (Elle).

Current predictions: Bening, Huppert, Negga, Portman, Stone

SAG Predictions: Best Actor in a Leading Role

Last year’s nominees: Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

The rundown: Last year, SAG was earlier than the Globes with its nominations announcement and therefore dropped the bombshell of Matt Damon being snubbed and Bryan Cranston being confirmed as strong, instead choosing Johnny Depp, who would go on to miss out on an Oscar nomination. So the question this year is whether SAG voters will reinforce enthusiasm for Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) or Joel Edgerton (Loving), and whether they will choose to honor Tom Hanks (Sully), the biggest snub from the Globes’ list. Count on Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and Ryan Gosling (La La Land), though I wouldn’t be as sure of Denzel Washington (Fences) even though I do think he’ll get in. An inclusion like Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins) would be shocking but not so crazy given Globe voters’ enthusiasm for the film. I’m torn on whether Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge) will make the cut and whether he’ll show up here instead for “Silence,” which was shut out by the Globes.

Current predictions: Affleck, Gosling, Hanks, Edgerton, Washington

Monday, December 12, 2016

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 3/5, picking “Hail, Caesar” and “The Lobster” over “Deadpool” and “Sing Street”
Who’s missing? Hail Caesar, The Lobster, Rules Don’t Apply

This category is always interesting, and I need to see both Sing Street and the objectively odd choice of Deadpool before passing too much judgment. The other three nominees, 20th Century Women, Florence Foster Jenkins, and La La Land, all did expectedly well in other races and are the ones that could go on to be serious Oscar contenders (the latter definitely will, of course).

Who will win? I’m sure it will be La La Land.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Motion Picture – Drama

My predictions: 2/5, picking only “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight”
Who’s missing? Fences, Loving, Nocturnal Animals, Silence

I’m surprised to have done so poorly here, but I’m actually pretty pleased with the results. I haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge, which scored a surprise Best Director bid also, and I’m intrigued to watch it now. I haven’t posted my reviews yet (next week), but I really liked Lion and Manchester by the Sea. No one is surprised about Moonlight, which was very good, and I couldn’t be more excited for what I think is definitely one of the best films of the year if not the best, Hell or High Water. What’s most interesting is that all these films are out already, with later releases like “Fences” and “Silence” omitted.

Who will win? I’m torn between Moonlight and “Manchester by the Sea,” but would give the edge to the former right now.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Director – Motion Picture

My predictions: 3/5, picking Washington and Scorsese over Ford and Gibson
Who’s missing? Denzel Washington (Fences), Martin Scorsese (Silence), Jeff Nichols (Loving)

When this category was announced, I called Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge) being included, and I really am intrigued to see the film now since it hadn’t been at the top of my list. It’s rare that a film not nominated for either Best Motion Picture prize makes the cut, and I’d be happy if it was anyone other than Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals), since I loved his first film, “A Single Man,” and really didn’t like this movie, which I’ll review next week. Scorsese couldn’t make the cut for a film that got snubbed, and Washington only got in for acting. The other three films are the undisputed frontrunners, Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Barry Jenkins (Moonlight).

Who will win? I think it might actually be Gibson, but Chazelle is probably a safer choice.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

My predictions: 2/5, picking only “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight”
Who’s missing? Fences, Lion, Loving, Silence

I’m not sure why I thought La La Land wasn’t going to get in here, since it cleaned up here and in other races along with Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight. I’m not happy about the inclusion of Nocturnal Animals, which fortunately didn’t make the cut in the top race, but I couldn’t be more thrilled about Hell or High Water, which did.

Who will win? I’m really concerned that it’s going to be Nocturnal Animals.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Original Song

My predictions: 2/5
Who’s missing? Plenty

I really don’t know much about this category yet, so I have a lot of catching up to do. The five songs I’ll be listening to on repeat for the next few days are:

Gold (Gold)
City of Stars (La La Land)
How Far I’ll Go (Moana)
Faith (Sing)
Can’t Stop the Feeling (Trolls)


Who will win? My bet is Moana.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Original Score

My predictions: 4/5, picking “Silence” over “Hidden Figures”
Who’s missing? Silence, others

I didn’t do much research into this category but managed to do well, and I look forward to much more detailed commentary soon once I’ve listened to everything. Hidden Figures was the fifth nominee, a film that has been positioned as an Oscar contender and ended up with two minor nominations today. Arrival is the tech movie that did well and also earned a Best Actress bid, and the other three nominees are Lion and top category contenders La La Land and Moonlight.

Who will win? I think it’s going to Arrival.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Foreign Film

My predictions: 3/5, picking “Aquarius” and “Julieta” over “Divines” and “The Salesman”
Who’s missing? Many films

I've seen just one of these films - Elle (France), which also got nominated for Best Actress. I'm going to watch Neruda (Chile) soon ahead of its opening this Friday, and I've heard only excellent things about The Salesman (Iran) and Tony Erdmann (Germany). Only one of these films isn't Oscar-eligible, and that's Divines (France).

Who will win? I’d bet on Elle.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Animated Film

My predictions: 2/5, picking only “Moana” and “Zootopia”
Who’s missing? Finding Dory, The Little Prince, The Red Turtle

I correctly predicted just two of these nominees, and the one film I have seen - "Finding Dory" - didn't end up making the cut. I'm eager to catch up in this category, a race I'm rarely up to date on. This does seem to be a more ecletic list than usual, with Kubo and the Two Strings and My Life as a Zucchini included. Sing looks like fun, Moana is really popular, and Zootopia made the AFI's top ten films of the year list.

Who will win? I’ll go with Zootopia.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

My predictions: 4/5, picking Gerwig over Spencer
Who’s missing? Greta Gerwig

This category makes a lot of sense. I chose a fifth nominee somewhat at random, and therefore Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) makes some sense since her film seems to be popular and she’s well-regarded. I have to see that and Viola Davis (Fences) in her film. Naomie Harris (Moonlight) is a good choice, and I’m especially excited about Nicole Kidman (Lion) and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea), great parts of very, very good films.

Who will win? I’d pick Davis at this point.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

My predictions: 3/5, picking Hedges and Neeson over Helberg and Taylor-Johnson
Who’s missing? Lucas Hedges, Michael Shannon, Liam Neeson

I groaned when I heard one of the nominees in this category announced, and that was Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins), who I found to be a terrible part of an entertaining film, and I can’t understand how he showed up here. I’m also not thrilled about the inclusion of Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals), a creepy and not too satisfying part of a movie I really didn’t like (review coming next week). Shannon would have been a better choice from the same film. The rest of the category is great, with Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), and Dev Patel (Lion) all superb choices. I expect that Neeson may prove an Oscar threat even if his film got shut out today, and I really hope Hedges will be too since he was so great and his film did well in all other categories.

Who will win? I really don’t know. Maybe Ali?

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 3/5, picking Beckinsale and Zellweger over Collins and Steinfeld
Who’s missing? Kate Beckinsale, Sally Field, Renee Zellweger

I wasn’t really sure what to do with this category. I guess I should probably watch Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply) and Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen) in their roles to be able to judge, and I also don’t expect either will go on to be Oscar nominees. The other three, on the other hand, have a better shot. Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), who was snubbed in this race last year, made the cut and her film did well, and the same is true of Annette Bening (20th Century Women). And then there’s Emma Stone (La La Land), whose film cleaned pu very nicely as expected.

Who will win? I’d guess Stone but Bening or Streep could certainly win too.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 3/5, picking Cheadle and Mortensen over Hill and Reynolds
Who’s missing? Don Cheadle, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton

He got up at 5:15am to announce the nominees, but Cheadle didn’t make the cut here. Instead, we got two bizarre nominees, one predicted by others - Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) – and the other a bit more shocking, Jonah Hill (War Dogs). I’ll have to see both films to judge those performances. Viggo Mortensen ended up in the drama race, and we got three nominees that most expected. Colin Farrell (The Lobster) made it in even though his film didn’t, while Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins) was one of the four mentions for his movie, and Ryan Gosling (La La Land) saw his film clean up very nicely.

Who will win? I think Gosling is the frontrunner in a big way.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

My predictions: 4/5, picking Blunt over Huppert
Who’s missing? Emily Blunt

This category didn’t offer any surprises. I bet against Isabelle Huppert (Elle), whose film also got nominated for Best Foreign Film, thinking she would stage an Oscar comeback later, but I’m glad to see she made it in now. Amy Adams (Arrival) made the cut for the much better film and performance despite her other movie earning three nominations. Natalie Portman (Jackie) is still the frontrunner even though the movie isn’t nominated elsewhere, and Ruth Negga (Loving), whose film didn’t do that well with the nominations, and Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), representing her film’s only nomination, round out the list.

Who will win? It will be Portman.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

My predictions: 4/5, picking Hanks over Mortensen
Who’s missing? Tom Hanks, Jake Gyllenhaal

I’m sad to report that Tom Hanks, who has a hard enough time getting nominated even when his Oscar chances are great, was snubbed for a truly worthy performance in a film that was wholly ignored this morning. I was shocked to hear Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) announced as a nominee because I thought he was supposed to be in the comedy category, but he was great and it’s good to see him here. Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) is here, expectedly, as is Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), whose film scored surprise bids for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Actor. Joel Edgerton (Loving) and Denzel Washington (Fences) made the cut, but they’re nominated only with their costars, with both films shut out in all other categories. I’m still missing a couple on this list – will have reviews shortly for as many of the ones I’ve seen as possible.

Who will win? This list doesn’t change the fact that Affleck is the frontrunner.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Final Golden Globe Predictions


I’m especially excited about this year’s Golden Globes because I feel like, more than ever before, so many of the movies have already been released, with fewer than five major movies slated for a Christmastime release. I know that won’t end up being true since we’ll still get some surprises and some foreign nominees that won’t be released until 2021, but I also feel that most of the films that are doing well with precursor organizations are ones I really like. What this will ultimately test is how well the later releases will do – namely “Fences” and “Silence” – and if other films from earlier in the year, like “Sully” and “Florence Foster Jenkins,” will have big showings. I'm not predicting much for "Hell or High Water" but I really hope it does well since it was superb. More thoughts once we have the nominees! Check back all day tomorrow for reactions by category, and leave your thoughts in the comments! Read TV predictions over at TV with Abe.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Joel Edgerton (Loving)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Tom Hanks (Sully)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical
Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead)
Colin Farrell (The Lobster)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical
Kate Beckinsale (Love and Friendship)
Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Baby)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Liam Neeson (Silence)
Dev Patel (Lion)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Viola Davis (Fences)
Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Animated Feature Film
Finding Dory
The Little Prince
Moana
The Red Turtle
Zootopia


Best Foreign Language Film
Aquarius (Brazil)
Elle (France)
Julieta (Spain)
Neruda (Chile)
Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Best Original Score
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence


Best Original Song
I See Victory (Hidden Figures)
Audition (La La Land)
City of Stars (La La Land)
How Far I’ll Go (Moana)
Drive It Like You Stole It (Sing Street)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Fences
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight


Best Director – Motion Picture
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Martin Scorsese (Silence)

Best Motion Picture – Drama
Fences
Loving
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Silence


Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical
Florence Foster Jenkins
Hail, Caesar
La La Land
The Lobster
20th Century Women

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Golden Globe Musings: Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
The Big Short
Joy
The Martian
Spy
Trainwreck


Last year, this category offered three expected nominees and two popular hits. There’s one film we know for sure will be here this year, and that’s La La Land. It’s hard to know what else will join it for sure, but it’s likely that The Lobster, 20th Century Women, and Florence Foster Jenkins will be top vote-getters. I don’t know how well Love and Friendship, Rules Don’t Apply, and Sing Street will go over with voters, and something tells me that Hail, Caesar will be exactly what the Globes like. Captain Fantastic may be up their alley, and I wonder if Deadpool will do well.

Current predictions:
Florence Foster Jenkins
Hail, Caesar
La La Land
The Lobster
20th Century Women

Golden Globe Musings: Best Motion Picture – Drama

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight


There are some films that are clearly popular this year, and the Globe list is always the first test of what’s really going to hold up with only five films able to be picked. Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight are the surest things. Fences and Loving very likely, and then it’s going to be a major battle for the fifth slot. Possibilities include Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Jackie, Lion, Nocturnal Animals, Silence, and Sully. I’m very curious to see what will make the cut.

Current predictions:
Fences
Loving
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Silence


Friday, December 9, 2016

Golden Globe Musings: Best Director – Motion Picture

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Todd Haynes (Carol)
Ridley Scott (The Martian)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
Thomas McCarthy (Spotlight)

This category often mixes films nominated in the top drama and comedy categories and occasionally throws in a director whose film isn’t recognized in one of those races. Count on Martin Scorsese (Silence), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Damien Chazelle (La La Land) to make the cut, and if any of them doesn’t, aside from Scorsese, whose film may have peaked too late, consider that a major blow to their awards chances. I can’t imagine that Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge) will be the one to join them, but who will it be instead? Maybe Denzel Washington (Fences), Pablo Larrain (Jackie), Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals), Jeff Nichols (Loving), or someone else entirely?

Current predictions:
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Martin Scorsese (Silence)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
The Big Short
The Hateful Eight
Room
Spotlight
Steve Jobs


The Golden Globes consolidate screenwriting to just one race, grouping together both original and adapted screenplays. It’s usually made up of Best Motion Picture – Drama nominees and sometimes a truly odd choice like “The Ides of March,” “It’s Complicated,” or “Love Actually.” I think the surest things here are Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, and La La Land. Beyond that, Lion, Loving, Nocturnal Animals, and Fences have the best shot, and Silence may show itself to be a major awards season player with a mention here.

Current predictions:
Fences
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Golden Globe Musings: Best Foreign Language Film

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
The Brand New Testament (Belgium)
The Club (Chile)
The Fencer (Finland)
Mustang (France)
Son of Saul (Hungary)

Last year, I predicted just one of the nominees, the eventual Globe and Oscar winner, “Son of Saul.” I’ve seen a few of the films submitted here, from a list that differs slightly from the Oscar list of possibilities. From what I’ve read, I think the frontrunners are Elle (France), Toni Erdmann (Germany), and Neruda (Chile). Other likely vote-getters include Afterimage (Poland), Aquarius (Brazil), The Handmaiden (Korea), Julieta (Spain), The Salesman (Iran), Sand Storm (Israel), Things to Come (France), and Tonio (The Netherlands). And I’m sure there will be one or two I’m not even considering that show up here too.

Current predictions:
Aquarius (Brazil)
Elle (France)
Julieta (Spain)
Neruda (Chile)
Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Animated Feature Film

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie


Just like last year, I’ve seen just one of these contenders, one with a good shot at getting in here even if it might not make it to Oscar - Finding Dory. While Oscar voters are usually up for honoring more diverse, foreign fare, the Globe list usually isn’t quite as varied. Therefore, expect the likes of Zootopia and Moana. It seems like The Red Turtle is pretty buzzy, and I feel like The Little Prince is probably a good bet to round out the list. Other possibilities include Sausage Party, Kubo and the Two Strings, My Life as a Zucchini, April and the Extraordinary World, Your Name, and Sing. I have a lot of catching up to do here.

Current predictions:
Finding Dory
The Little Prince
Moana
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Jane Fonda (Youth)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Helen Mirren (Trumbo)
Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

There are a few clear frontrunners this year, though it’s unclear if some, like Viola Davis (Fences), will end up in the lead race instead. It looks like most say here, so I may change my predictions in that other category. Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) are at the head of the pack. Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) and Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures) have been cited by different precursors, so one or both of them could make it in here. Other possibilities include Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women), Felicity Jones (A Monster Calls), and Helen Mirren (Eye in the Sky).

Current predictions:
Viola Davis (Fences)
Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Paul Dano (Love and Mercy)
Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Michael Shannon (99 Homes)
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Last year, I was pretty floored when I got only 2/5 right in this category, and then two of these nominees didn’t make it to Oscar, with an additional inclusion from SAG not making the cut with two brand-new names on the list instead. At this point, it seems like there are some serious frontrunners this year. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) and Dev Patel (Lion) seem like the surest things. Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) and Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) are doing well with precursors (and both really deserve to be here), but they’re hardly guaranteed, and Ben Foster (Hell or High Water) must show up too. Duking it out for the last spot are Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) and Liam Neeson (Silence), though it’s hard to know if the latter’s film will land well since it hasn’t been widely seen yet.

Current predictions:
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Liam Neeson (Silence)
Dev Patel (Lion)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Movie with Abe: Me, Myself, and Her


Me, Myself, and Her
Directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi
Released on DVD December 6, 2016

The romantic comedy is a relatively universal genre. To many, it brings to mind Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan and a story of mismatched people getting together despite numerous obstacles that get in their way. It may also check in with couples years or even decades into their relationships, when new problems, however serious or humorous, begin to emerge. Since those two actresses regularly headlined such films, the genre has evolved - in some cases - to include more unconventional relationships. Billed as Italy’s first feature lesbian romantic comedy, “Me, Myself, and Her” is an entertaining and harmless look at two women in Italy who, after five years together, encounter new issues that threaten to rock their solid foundation.

Federica (Margherita Buy) is a respected architect who enjoys the day-to-day functions of her work and Marina (Sabrina Ferilli), a well-known actress when she was younger, runs a restaurant. They live together and balance quiet moments of intimacy at home with social outings with friends. A magazine interview with Marina shines an unexpected light on their relationship that gives Federica pause, and the allure of a new film role for Marina and a lost-opportunity romance with a man for Federica cause considerable friction between the two.

This film presents two successful women portrayed by actresses in their early fifties whose relationship is relatively normative. They encounter no instances of discrimination based on sexual orientation, and everyone who is aware that they are together finds it completely acceptable. Yet society hasn’t reached a point where deviation from standard ideas of sexuality is widespread, and therefore Federica feels no desire to broadcast her relationship to a wide public. Naturally, Marina’s interview deals extensively with her being an out actress, something she discusses freely and unabashedly. Aside from two women dating and Federica’s temptation being a man, there is little about this lesbian romantic comedy that distinguishes it from any other romantic comedy.

Both actresses who anchor “Me, Myself, and Her” are talented Italian stars with lengthy and successful careers. Buy, who appeared in “Mia Madre,” which was released this past August in the United States, is a screen legend with 15 David di Donatello nominations and seven awards to her name. She has a quietly assured presence that makes her a terrific fit to play Federica, especially opposite Ferilli, who recently appeared in “The Great Beauty” and earned her own Donatello nomination for this confident, commanding, and humorous performance. Together, they carry a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy that’s perfectly enjoyable and fun if not as groundbreaking as its genre announcement suggests.

B+

Monday, December 5, 2016

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)
Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van)
Lily Tomlin (Grandma)

The Oscar race for Best Actress is very crowded this year, and a few of those contenders should have an easy time making it in here. Emma Stone (La La Land) and Annette Bening (20th Century Women) are locks, and, even if she may not be a serious Oscar threat, Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) is a solid bet here. Kate Beckinsale (Love and Friendship) seems to have a lot of buzz and probably has the best shot to join this list.Sally Field (My Name is Doris) might show up, or Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Baby). Other possibilities include Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters), Melissa McCarthy (Ghostbusters), Greta Gerwig (Maggie’s Plan), and Tina Fey (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot).

Current predictions:
Kate Beckinsale (Love and Friendship)
Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Baby)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced very soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Steve Carell (The Big Short)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Al Pacino (Danny Collins)
Mark Ruffalo (Infinitely Polar Bear)

One of the most positively-reviewed films of awards season has a top contender and past nominee here, in the form of Ryan Gosling (La La Land). He’ll likely be joined by Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic). For his first notable performance in years, Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins) is a probable inclusion, unless he ends up in the supporting race. After that, it’s really anyone’s guess, but there are a few people at the head of the pack. Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead) fits the latter bill of this category, which may give him an advantage. Robert De Niro (The Comedian) is always popular, but I predicted him to get in last year and then he didn’t. Colin Farrell (The Lobster) is a past winner in this category and would be a fun choice. I’ve seen predictions for Warren Beatty (Rules Don’t Apply), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), and Michael Keaton (The Founder), all of which are possible. If people actually saw the film, both Kevin Spacey (Elvis and Nixon) and the omnipresent Michael Shannon (Elvis and Nixon) could easily make it in.

Current predictions:
Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead)
Colin Farrell (The Lobster)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced in just a few weeks, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Brie Larson (Room)
Rooney Mara (Carol)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

The Best Actress race is very competitive this year, and this category should be a little less intense because a few contenders are in the comedy/musical field instead. The surest thing is Natalie Portman (Jackie), with Ruth Negga (Loving) and Viola Davis (Fences) as the other locks. Amy Adams (Arrival) might end up being here instead for “Nocturnal Animals,” and she could get mentioned for both also. Fighting for the other slots are Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train), Rachel Weisz (Denial), and Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures). She may end up having a better shot come Oscar time, but Isabelle Huppert (Elle) is a strong dark horse here.

Current predictions:
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Viola Davis (Fences)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced in just a few weeks, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Will Smith (Concussion)

There are some major heavy-hitters in this race, and I think that they should do especially well here even if they don’t make it all the way to the Oscar derby. At the head of the pack are Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and Denzel Washington (Fences). I think that beloved actor Tom Hanks (Sully) should have no trouble finding a place here, and Joel Edgerton (Loving) also has a pretty good shot. Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge) is a decent bet, and he may even net two nominations, contending for “Silence” as well. Other possibilities include Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Snowden), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals), Michael Keaton (The Founder), and Will Smith (Collateral Beauty). I’d love to see Chris Pine (Hell or High Water) recognized, but I’m not sure he’ll be able to make it happen. It would also be interesting to see Nate Parker (Birth of a Nation) make it in despite the negative press he’s received recently.

Current predictions:
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Joel Edgerton (Loving)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Tom Hanks (Sully)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Movie with Abe: Jackie


Jackie
Directed by Pablo Larrain
Released December 2, 2016

There’s a saying that art imitates life. In the case of film, that can be very true since films are made to look like the times and people that they portray. Some films cast actors who can embody the energy of a historical figure or celebrity even if he or she doesn’t look the same, and others focus on recreating events in the most evocative and recognizable way possible. “Jackie,” which casts Natalie Portman as the polished, presentable, and popular first lady, takes the latter approach, recreating a memorable time with extraordinary attention to detail and especially to looking the part.

Portman plays the world-famous Jackie Kennedy, a presidential wife defined by her poise and her beauty. Jackie’s most formative moments are framed by an interview with a journalist (Billy Crudup) a few short weeks after the assassination of her husband. Footage of Jackie filming a tour of the White House, which she decorated, and the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination offer an insightful look into who Jackie was and how she wanted to be perceived, especially following the untimely death of her partner in popularity at the height of his presidency.

This film’s title is purposeful in its singular use of Jackie’s first name, featuring Jackie as a woman on her own rather than chronicling her courtship with JFK or the second marriage for which an “O” is commonly added to her name. Like “Lincoln,” this film chooses not to explore Jackie’s life as a whole but instead to latch on to a crucial, transformative time for her. She puts on an act for the cameras and reveals her true self in her darkest and deepest moments, shedding light on the person she was as related specifically to her final days as first lady. It’s an intriguing portrait but does leave something to be desired regarding all that came after in her later years.

Portman is a skilled actress who made her directorial debut this year with the Hebrew-language “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” She won an Oscar for “Black Swan” and here presents a complete mimicry of Jackie’s voice and mannerisms, so carefully calculated and staged to evoke memories of the real Jackie. She is a magnetic centerpiece for this colorful and contemplative film, one which is ominously and distractingly scored as it presents Jackie’s glamorous life fated for tragedy.

B

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Movies with Abe: Israel Film Festival


I had the privilege while I was in Los Angeles before Thanksgiving to attend two back-to-back screenings at the 30th Israel Film Festival. Check out my take on the Ophir-nominated films "Beyond the Mountains and Hills" and "One Week and a Day" over at Jewcy.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Jewcy Interviews: Supergirl


No, it shouldn't be confused with the CW superhero show I review over at TV with Abe (though that is surprisingly relevant) - this interview, conducted and written for Jewcy a few days ago, is with the director of an uncontroversial, affirming documentary about a young Orthodox girl who has become a powerlifting champion.

Check out the interview over at Jewcy!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Jewcy Interviews: Disturbing the Peace


This seems like an especially fitting time for a documentary about people on opposite sides of a very bitter conflict coming together in the name of peace. I had the privilege to chat with Stephen Apkon, founder of the Jacob Burns Film Center in Westchester, about his new film, "Disturbing the Peace," about Israelis and Palestinians finding a nonviolent way to coexist.

Check out the interview over at Jewcy and catch the film at Lincoln Plaza or Landmark Sunshine tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Movie with Abe: Loving


Loving
Directed by Jeff Nichols
Released November 4, 2016

The civil rights movement holds a very recent place in United States history, and for all the racial inequality that still exists today, such discrimination and hatred were also legal as little as fifty years ago. Segregation was a common practice enforced by many states, and those who refused to be confined to where the society of the day told them they needed to be were dealt with harshly. “Loving” tells the story of a black woman and a white man whose love for each other was simple, and not even the ways of the times were going to stop them from being together.

Mildred (Ruth Negga) and Richard (Joel Edgerton) are introduced already deep into their relationship in 1950s Virginia. Their families are well aware of their romance, and Richard in particular spends plenty of time with people of color, treating them no differently than he would anyone else. When they decide to go to Washington, D.C. to get married, they proudly hang their marriage license on the wall in the home that Richard builds for his wife and the baby they have on the way. Determined to oppress them and prevent any divergence from backwards social norms, the local police arrest the couple and do their very best to keep them apart, ultimately prompting a legal battle involving high authorities to force the state of Virginia to accept the validity of their union.

Jeff Nichols is a director known for his distinctly creative storytelling, with just four feature films to his name, including the chilling “Take Shelter” and the hypnotic “Mud.” This film, based on real events, marks his most normative film yet, still a devotional character piece but one that chooses a magnetic story as its focal point rather than a framing style or worldview. Colorful art direction and purposeful cinematography, as well as a poetic score by Nichols’ regular composer David Wingo augment a compelling tale of love over all. Aussie Edgerton and Negga, best known for her role on action TV series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” are hardly conventional choices for these roles, and Negga’s performance speaks considerably louder than Edgerton’s as she conveys the passion for living the life she wants to that Mildred had. In the supporting cast, comedian Nick Kroll proves a peculiar choice to play lawyer Bernie Cohen, and the film’s lighthearted moments are plentiful. This is a beautiful story about the triumph of love, perseverance, and acceptance, one that’s sweetly told in a good if not great film.

B

Monday, October 24, 2016

Movie with Abe: Men and Chicken


Men and Chicken
Directed by Anders Thomas Jensen
Released October 25, 2016 (DVD)

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words, which, as it happens, is about twice the length of a typical review I write. I only saw the poster for this film after I finished watching it, but I think it summarizes it far better than I possibly could, though I’ll try my best in the ensuing several paragraphs. On the left, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen appears with curly hair and a mustache, wearing a tie and caressing a chicken. On the right, another person is clad in a tie but his head has been replaced with an egg. It’s a fitting representation of this thoroughly odd, definitely original story of five misfit half-brothers who begin to question why it is they have so much trouble operating in normal society.

Gabriel (David Dencik) and Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) are brothers whose father dies at the opening of the film and leaves them a video will which alerts them to the life-changing news that he and his late wife were not their parents, but that they were the children of a mysterious scientist who is still alive and residing on a small Danish island called home by fewer than fifty people. Upon arriving to the home of their three half-brothers, Gabriel and Elias are greeted by animalistic, insular behavior and a very peculiar way of functioning and living. As they discover more about their past and the childbirth deaths of all of their mothers, the far more civilized Gabriel attempts to see if he can teach these adult boys how to truly act like people.

There is almost no part of this film that is not absurd, and it’s not as if those creative people behind the film are unaware of that fact. Writer-director Anders Thomas Jensen has written a number of fantastic Danish films, including “In a Better World” and “After the Wedding,” and a few American screenplays such as “The Duchess.” His latest project is most similar to his 2002 collaboration with “An Education” director Lone Scherfig, “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself,” which presents a different way of looking at the world through the eyes of someone who has never found a place for himself in the world. That’s a fitting inspiration for this film, which finds five people of varying viability for human interaction all cooped up (pun intended) together in one large house.

Mikkelsen is a celebrated actor in Denmark who should also be known to American audiences for “Casino Royale” and for playing the title character in the TV series “Hannibal.” Here, he’s looser and sillier than ever before, leading a cast of actors playing a range of people, some despicable and all misunderstood. It’s a bizarre film more than anything, and the answers it probes for are relatively obvious from the start, which doesn’t detract from the experience and just makes it all the more individualistic. This film isn’t for everyone but it’s certainly something.

B-

Friday, October 21, 2016

Movie with Abe: Moonlight


Moonlight
Directed by Barry Jenkins
Released October 21, 2016

We live in changing times, when societal norms are being transformed and so much of what was standard even just a few years ago is no longer seen as definitive. While progress has been made in many circles, there is still much to be done, and even though things have changed for some, distinct communities and culture are not as willing to adapt. That applies more than anything to sexual orientation and gender identity, for which deviation from heteronormativity can be extremely alienating. Barry Jenkins’ powerful new film explores that phenomenon for one lonely male throughout the course of his life.

At age ten, Chiron, better known as Little (Alex Hibbert), is a wide-eyed boy who knows that he is different from those around him in some way and expresses it most by saying little. His drug-addicted mother Paula (Naomie Harris) is hardly a fitting role model, and he instead spends plenty of time with Juan (Mahershala Ali) and Teresa (Janelle Monae), who provide more stable preparation for the future and fully accept Little as he is. At age sixteen, Chiron (Ashton Sanders) is tall, lanky, and the butt of all of his classmates’ jokes. Nearly two decades later, a hardened Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) looks totally different, and details on his transformation should be discovered when viewing the film.

There is a mesmerizing solitary feeling that runs through “Moonlight” in all of its time periods, tracking Chiron as a character who is never truly able to connect with those around him and find the place where he can fit in. thanks to Juan’s mentorship, Chiron is able to avoid, or at least prolong, a fate that befalls many of those in his community, staying off drugs and keeping himself out of serious trouble, instead opting not to defend himself from those who insult and taunt him. He’s a magnetic lead character whose story as portrayed in this film is truly engaging.

The three actors who portray Chiron were carefully selected and all have minimal acting credits, but they work together – separately – to create a tremendous illustration of a person fated to certain circumstances who diverges from the expected path without much of a loud voice. Harris, Ali, and Monae provide strong adult support, and André Holland is particularly excellent as a colleague of the adult Chiron. This poignant, stirring film is purposefully arranged and beautifully shot to create a captivating experience that’s more than likely to earn deserved attention come Oscar time.

B+

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Movie with Abe: A Stray


A Stray
Directed by Musa Syeed
Released October 21, 2016

The word “stray” can have many meanings. Used as a noun, it indicates someone, person or animal, who is no longer part of wherever it is they came from, often also called homeless or friendless. As a verb, it means to wander or to go astray, sometimes from a religious course. The new film “A Stray” tackles every possible meaning, following a Muslim refugee from Somalia in Minneapolis who hits a stray dog and then finds himself with a new pet and nowhere to go, unsure of how to get back to where he and his new friend belong.

Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman) shouldn’t necessarily be described as a troublemaker, but he doesn’t always do the right thing in a given situation. After his mom kicks him out of the house, he is quickly thrown out of his new living space after offending his friends. Moving into the mosque seems like a smart idea for this devout Muslim, but it doesn’t take long for him to become saddled with a dog that isn’t deemed pure enough for the mosque, sending him again on an unknown path. There are plenty of places for Adan to go from moment to moment and day to day, but it’s hard for him to know where he’ll eventually be able to end up and know that he can truly stay.

Throughout Adan’s journey, there are many things that come into question. One thing that does not, however, is his faith. Adan might be a stray in so many senses of the word, but even though he is not permitted to stay in the mosque, he remains tethered to a strict observance and a connection to God that keeps him going. He half-jokingly asks if the dog is Muslim when he has food to feed it, and takes the legal aspects of his religion seriously even when his actions don’t reflect the same forethought and purpose.

Abdirahman, not to be confused with his fellow real-life Minneapolis Somali immigrant and Oscar-nominated “Captain Phillips” costar Barkhad Abdi, brings a sincere authenticity to Adan that makes him especially human. He’s far from the most formidable protagonist, but he represents a new generation of immigrant who fits in much better than his parents and ancestors would have, not assimilating but still becoming part of the culture. This film doesn’t move too fast but slows down just enough to present a compelling portrait of a lost young man with multiple avenues towards redemption.

B

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Movie with Abe: In a Valley of Violence


In a Valley of Violence
Directed by Ti West
Released October 21, 2016

The western is a genre defined by violence. The climactic scene of any great western involves a fateful shootout in which the hero must defend his town or way of life from an enemy who threatens that. Even if the hero espouses nonviolence and attempts to resolve the situation diplomatically, inevitably guns come into play. A valley of violence is just the kind of place that should be found in a western, and Ti West’s involving, creative take on the classic story of a good man riding into town and being forced to clean up the mess that disguises itself as law and order has a most fitting title.

Paul (Ethan Hawke) is first introduced with his loyal dog as he stops to help a destitute preacher eager for aid in the middle of the desert, and, seeing his attempts at deception, robs him of his weapon and his supplies, warning him that they should not cross paths again. The drifter and his dog wander into the town of Denton, and it takes man of few words Paul little time to clash with Gilly (James Ransone), who gets away with just about anything on account of his father being the sheriff (John Travolta). After one of the town’s innkeepers, Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga), whose sister and fellow innkeeper Ellen (Karen Gillan) finds herself romantically tethered to Gilly, takes a liking to Paul, he realizes that this brief stopover in Denton will be far more permanent and impactful than he had originally planned.

This film is in many ways a conventional western, but West’s take on it is also highly satirical and funny. Violence comes to Paul without him trying to attract it, and the bad guys are almost asking to be taken out as they walk all over their town and the people in it. Mary-Anne personifies goodness even more than Paul, and Ellen represents an in-between based mainly on her poor outlook on the world. Travolta’s sheriff knows how he likes to keep his town, and an unruly son who won’t listen to anyone is, in his mind, far better than a reckless random citizen or visitor who doesn’t play by the rules.

Hawke, who scored an Oscar nomination for “Boyhood” and was at serious risk of just playing the same part over and over again, finds a fabulous role in Paul, painting him as a carefree cowboy, just seeking to pass through with his own signature style. Farmiga and Gillan are both terrific, and Ransone has a superb frenetic energy that makes him just the right level of absurd. Travolta offers a detached take on the sheriff, just trying to get by without any ruckus. This entertaining, enthralling western spins a standard tale into something far more enticing with witty dialogue, strong cinematography and framing, and excellent use of a talented and capable cast.

B+

Sunday, October 16, 2016

NYFF Spotlight: The Lost City of Z

I’m thrilled to be covering a number of selections from the 54th Annual New York Film Festival, which takes place September 30th-October 16th.


The Lost City of Z
Directed by James Gray
NYFF Closing Night Selection

No matter when it takes place, there is a certain excitement and sense of wonder that comes with exploration. In the present day, technology has advanced to the point where lands are no longer uncharted and travel from continent to continent takes almost no time. A century ago, however, there was still much to be learned about different regions of the world. In 1906, one British explorer mapping the Amazon came across what he thought might be the remnants of a civilization far older than his own and began a lifelong quest for answers that could greatly alter the findings of recorded human history.

Tasked with following the path of a river in Brazil to help quell international tensions in the region, eager young soldier Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is astounded by what he finds at the farthest reach of his journey: pottery in the middle of the jungle that indicates a people once lived there. Returning to his family in Europe, Fawcett spends minimal time with his wife Nina (Sienna Miller) and the children he barely gets to know, focused instead on going back to the Amazon in search of what he calls the “Lost City of Z” with equally curious fellow explorer Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) at his side, charging ahead despite dubious support back home and a lack of belief that what they are looking for – a primitive civilization potentially more advanced than their own – could even exist.

Gray’s film runs a staggering two hours and twenty minutes, covering Fawcett’s twenty-year obsession with his fabled lost city, interrupted by the advent of World War I and eventually passed on to his eldest son Jack (Tom Holland). Much of the film’s runtime is spent on the river or in the jungle itself, as a white European does his best to seem nonimperialist and pay the societies they encounter a respect rarely afforded to them by people with his color of skin. Fawcett is a man far ahead of his time, undeterred by the limited thinking of his peers or the real dangers that lie ahead. It’s a compelling story that doesn’t often match its excitement in its presentation, finding solid moments on which to coast but not recreating that same enticement for the rest of the time. The cast, led by a determined Hunnam, do their job well, but the extraordinary charisma and sense of humor displayed by Gray in a press conference following the film are sadly seldom seen in this sometimes underwhelming epic.

B

Saturday, October 15, 2016

NYFF Spotlight: Elle

I’m thrilled to be covering a number of selections from the 54th Annual New York Film Festival, which takes place September 30th-October 16th.


Elle
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
NYFF Screenings

Paul Verhoeven is a Dutch director who has been making movies for over forty years. Sci-fi hits “Robocop” and “Total Recall” were relatively well-received in the United States, and the quality of his films went severely downhill from there with mixed reviews for “Basic Instinct,” “Starship Troopers,” and “Hollow Man,” and the truly terrible “Showgirls” in between. He made a critical comeback in 2008 by returning to his home country to make the campy Holocaust thriller “Black Book,” which most except this critic liked, and, fortunately, Verhoeven has now directed his finest film to date, an exceptional character study in French.

In the first scene of “Elle,” Michèle (Isabelle Huppert) is brutally attacked and sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant. Wary of the police because of negative treatment she received when, years earlier, her father was arrested for perpetrating horrific crimes, Michèle keeps the assault to herself and immediately returns to work as the head of a video game company. As she navigates relationships with all the men in her life, including her son Vincent (Jonas Bloquet), her ex-husband Richard (Charles Bering), her best friend’s husband Robert (Christian Berkel), and her attractive married neighbor Patrick (Laurent Lafitte), she takes her own steps to find the man who attacked her and take control of her life.

At a NYFF press conference after the film, Verhoeven noted that this film couldn’t be made in America. Though adapted from a French novel by American screenwriter David Birke, this is a distinctly European film that pushes boundaries in a number of ways. It’s far from a typical revenge story, and its extensive use of sexuality amplifies and makes it extremely layered and complex. There are a staggering number of plotlines all in focus at the same time, and it’s a magnificently functional film that gives devoted attention to all of its characters, no matter how minimal.

Huppert, who is anchoring this film and another NYFF selection, “Things to Come,” is exceptionally suited for this role, self-assured and confident in some moments and completely vulnerable and susceptible to those around her at others. Most of all, she seizes on the film’s unexpected opportunities for humor in her perception of those with whom she interacts. She is surrounded by a tremendous ensemble, including all four men previously mentioned, Anne Consigny as Michèle’s best friend and business partner Anna, and Alice Isaaz as Vincent’s monstrous pregnant girlfriend Josie. This is far from a conventional film, but the tremendous combination of a highly skilled and entertaining cast, a sharp script, and attentive direction make this a very creative, memorable, and engaging film.

B+