365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

19Jan/170

Elle (2016)

Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Total Recall) Elle opens with a scene that even the most jaded person would find difficult to watch. Whenever we see a rape scene on the big screen, we are mortified. Rape is a crime we abhor and, next to murder, the one we find most unacceptable in society. To start a movie with a brutal rape sets the immediate somber tone of the movie and, ironically, a tone that we often get away from. There are so many genres in this French subtitled film. It can be classified as a drama, romance, suspense, thriller, revenge, mystery, and even comedy. I'd be lying if I said I understood every component of this movie without having to do some research for it afterward. Apparently, the older gentleman didn't have that problem as he began clapping as we rolled to credits. The reason I saw this film was because Isabelle Huppert (Things to Come, Amour) is a lock for a Best Actress Academy Award nomination after winning a Golden Globe. I think she has a solid chance to win. I think her only real competition are Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Emma Stone (La La Land) I'm uncertain, at the time of this writing, which way I would lean. I wasn't the biggest fan of Jackie, but Natalie Portman did nail the role perfectly. It was dark and dreary and I wasn't sure the movie was needed. Elle was fresh and original and while the content was dark, Huppert gives a career-defining performance as Michele, a woman who refuses to show any reactionary human emotion for the events she is put through. If someone forced me to make a pick today, I would say that my heart says Huppert, but my mind says Portman. It would not be unprecedented for an actress to win cinema's top prize. In fact, there have been two winners in the past decade (Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose and Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as well as a slew of other nominations, including two in the past four years. And Portman already has her Oscar for Lead Actress (2010's Black Swan). While Huppert might be an unknown commodity in the western hemisphere, she has been one of the most revered actresses in Europe for the past 40 years. With no Oscar nominations to her name yet, the one she receives this year may come with the trophy itself.

25Nov/160

Allied (2016)

While a 65% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that a movie should be checked out (2 out of every three critics liking the film), sometimes you wonder why the score isn't higher. Allied, the Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, The Walk) World War II love story set in both Casablanca and London about two intelligence officers from opposite sides of the world says a lot. The movie, set in both Casablanca and London, has been loosely referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Smith (because of Brad Pitt) meets Casablanca (because of the period and location). While I understand the reference, this is far from the truth. I did not like either of these other two movies (I know. I know. Casablanca is one of the greatest movies of all-time...yawn), but I really enjoyed Allied.

20Nov/163

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Almost perfect. While it may not even end up in my top five movies of the year, Tom Ford's (A Single Man) Nocturnal Animals was almost perfect. There was so much I liked in this movie and Ford almost created a masterpiece, but the movie just felt short. An A- for sure. Maybe even an A. But it won't be the 49th movie that I've seen that I would classify as an A+. Jake Gyllenhaal (Love and Other Drugs, Everest) is better than ever and he COULD end up with an Oscar nomination for this film. In a perfect world, he would, especially since he very well may have been the odd man out both in 2015 (Nightcrawler) and 2016 (Southpaw) for a Best Actor Academy Award. But with four of the five slots pretty much locked up (Tom Hanks - Sully, Denzel Washington - Fences, Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea, Joel Edgerton (Loving), that leaves only one more nomination between Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Warren Beatty (Rules Don't Apply), and Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge). And, to be honest, while his performance was great, it wasn't nearly the performance he gave in either Nightcrawler or Southpaw. Ford's chances for a Best Directing nod look even dimmer, and an impressive performance by Amy Adams (The Fighter, American Hustle) may be completely overlooked because she will likely receive a nomination (and may even be the frontrunner) for Arrival, a movie that was released just a week before Nocturnal Animals.

13Nov/160

Arrival (2016)

Alien, Fire in the Sky,  Independence Day, Men in Black, Starship Troopers, Cloverfield, Signs, Prometheus. These are some of the many movies that have successfully explored contact in some form with extra-terrestrial beings in some form. And then you have movies like E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Cocoon, Contact, Solaris, District 9, Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian that are also movies about either extra-terrestrial encounters or innovative space exploration that deal more with the human component or relationship building than they do action, adventure, and/or a post-apocalyptic future. Add Denis Villeneuve's (Sicario, Prisoners) Arrival as the latest movie to try to get itself on this impressive list. The critics (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (82%) have both enjoyed this movie. I wouldn't say that I disliked this movie, but I don't have the same praise as many of these others. If you haven't seen Villeneuve's Sicario, please see this movie. It was one of the five best movies of 2015. I haven't met many people who have seen this movie and didn't like it. It's an incredible movie. I hoped Villeneuve could recapture that same success with this follow-up, but, ultimately, it was a movie that I found interest in, but one that was a little all over the place and not one that I could ultimately relate to or, to an extent, even understand its purpose.

25Oct/160

The Girl on the Train (2016)

The Girl on the Train will often be confused with, as well as often compared to Gone Girl, 2014's box office success that also registered well with the critics. Both were highly anticipated adaptations of successful novels by two of the more popular present day writers. Both movies revolve around complex lead female characters who clearly are not completely mentally stable. It's easy to see how some people might say that The Girl on the Train could be a be considered a rip-off of Gone Girl, but it's not. The book had already been written and, I believe, the movie had already been in the works. The movies actually are quite different from one another. And, with that said, it's easy for me to see how The Girl on the Train might achieve the same financial success, but how its 43% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes is slightly less than half that of Gone Girl's 88%. The movie was far less captivating and much less memorable. Nonetheless, The Girl on the Train is a fine movie. In my opinion, it is much better than the book. And while it doesn't offer the same intriguing storyline as Gone Girl, it's worth checking out.