Friday, June 21, 2019

1069. Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

I was not looking forward to watching this movie. Given the all white cast list and the New England setting, I was worried we were approaching Nicholas Sparks territory here. But I have to say, I was moved by this film and my snobbery, as usual, was completely uncalled for.

Lee is a taciturn janitor in Quincy, Massachusetts, who spends his days getting in bitch fights with his clients and nights getting in bar fights. After his brother passes, he is startled to discover that he has been named his teenage nephew's guardian. Given his past, he is convinced that this is not a suitable role for him. And given his past, it is difficult to disagree.

I am not going to lie to you, there are some tough scenes to get through here. And I am talking, of course, about having to endure Patrick's band practice. But if you can suffer through that, the rest of the movie is a beautiful meditation on grief, with surprisingly endearing characters (even though Patrick is an affront to womankind).  I like films that capture the awkwardness of grief, the moments where ordinary people don't know the right words to say, but try their best anyway.

I suppose an argument could be made that it is not quite good enough to be on this List, but they included Blade Runner 2049 so why not.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Idea for the film was originally pitched by Matt Damon and John Krasinski.

The filmmakers portrayed Manchester-by-the-Sea as blue collar when in reality, it's a very affluent town.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

1068. Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth
Directed by William Oldroyd

I rarely venture to the theater anymore except in case of emergencies, like if Jordan Peele has a new horror movie or Donald Glover will be featured shirtless. I did see The Beguiled fairly recently, a film that is very similar to this one in terms of themes and style. But Lady Macbeth is vastly superior, so why was I wasted my time with The Beguiled? Oh right, Nicole Kidman.

Trapped in a loveless marriage with a man twice her age, Katherine spends every morning being laced into a torture device (otherwise known as the corset) and every night being used for her husband's pleasure. Suffice to say, she doesn't have much of a chance of producing a heir. This angers her boorish father in law Boris. The only company Katherine has is Anna, her housemaid. Katherine becomes attracted to Sebastian, one of the men working for her husband, things escalate, and let's just say she earns the comparison to Lady Macbeth.

Period dramas often have some pacing issues. I think the director becomes so enamoured with the beauty of the costumes and sets that they forget they have to move the story along. Lady Macbeth is guilty of this, but overall, the actors are able to imbue even the quiet moments with great meaning.

It's always interesting to watch these female revenge tales, which can either horribly gruesome (I Spit On Your Grave) or mistaken for empowerment (Thelma and Louise). Much like the experience of watching Lady Macbeth, acts of revenge are satisfying in the moment, but the results end up making you feel slightly sick.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Based on a novel by Nikolai Leskov.

Only three musical passages in the movie's score.