Friday, February 17, 2017

ELLE (2016)



Rated: R

STARS: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Charles Berling, Jonas Bloquet, Anne Cosigny, Virginie Efira
DIRECTOR: Paul Verhoeven
GENRE: Arthouse/Thriller/Black Comedy


What does the daughter of a notorious mass murderer do when she grows up? She becomes an entrepreneur--developing bizarre, violent, sexually aberrant video games...what else??? And from the opening scene of Elle--which smacks you right in the kisser...POW!--her life is set on a course to become its own live version of those games.

Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher, Heaven's Gate, Amour) KILLS in her role as Michelle--a woman who defies labels. She has an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in her back pocket for this one; a gutty, gritty performance that's as physically demanding--she bounces off the walls a lot--as it is emotionally wrenching. She doesn't wear her emotions on her sleeve, however. No...she is the Ice Queen. But it's all in there building up like Mount St. Helens getting ready to blow.  Michelle is bent on finding the identity of  a man who brutally raped her, but she won't go to the police. She'll do it her way, in her own time, as she goes about her daily life. 


"Elle is soooo FRENCH," my cohort Jill observed. Indeed. In French cinema you can address just about anything--murder, mayhem, perversion--and it's all done in such a breezy style that it's bound to elicit a smile.There's a line in there where someone says (to the effect of) that guilt should never stop anyone from doing just what they want to do. It's clear that director Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Robocop, Showgirls) took that to heart in making Elle. He got out of Hollywood, where this film could never and would never be made, as it pushes the envelope beyond Tinseltown standards in terms of its frank and brutal portrayal of psychopathic sexual behavior. It blurs the boundaries of film genre. It's a taut and suspenseful thriller, and just when you think that's exactly what it is, in come elements of the darkest kind of black humor. It's a romance too--in the kinkiest sort of way (without giving too much away)--that makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like a Disney movie by comparison!  Elle is tapping into a world of fantasy taboo that some will find uncomfortable to watch, while others may grasp that sometimes we can develop a perverse fascination for that which we find initially most repulsive.  


Elle is not for those with weak bladders, because if you trot down the hall for even a couple of minutes, you'll be left in the dust. The film moves at breakneck speed, and never takes a breather. But keeping up with its twists and turns is half the fun. The other half is watching a transcendent talent at the top of her game--63 years old (in real life) with this and that popping and flopping out here and there, still as sexy and alluring a presence as any I've seen heat up the screen in recent memory. 


Delightful, decadent fun. 


Brilliant!!! 


Grade:  A



JILL'S TAKE

I always suspected Tim was a pervert. Now I know for sure! If I had to create a subtitle for Elle, it would read: "a plethora of possibilities." As a black-and-white thinker, I'm not big on movies that leave me wondering what they're about. But then, that's the raison d'etre of French filmmaking.

I'm also not big on mixing film genres. A thriller should be just that, a thriller. Much of Elle made me feel both terrified and personally violated. But when the story exhibited moments of dark humor, I wasn't laughing. (Like I said before, I'm a b&w thinker.) Still, Ms. Huppert deserves an Oscar for playing 'the most physically demanding role of the year.' Those peppy dance routines in La La Land don't hold a candle to her gyrations!

Along with everything else, I wondered about, the significance of the title.  Elle? The literal translation is "she." But according to The Urban Dictionary, elle can also mean 'feminine, super pretty and sexy.' So I guess the title works. Sort of. But that's the thing about this noirish movie. It can mean a lot of things....sort of.


Grade: C

Thursday, February 2, 2017

ARRIVAL (2016)



Rated: PG-13

STARS: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve
GENRE: Sci-Fi / Drama

Here's the deal. If you don't catch onto the "twist" in Arrival (and we're not talking Chubby Checker), you'll likely be confused throughout most of the movie. I caught onto it late, near the end, realizing that if I saw the film again, I'd get a lot more out of it. (Is it just a ploy to get you to buy another ticket?)  A film is always more enjoyable when you know what's going on. Arrival (with an Oscar nomination for Best Picture) is like life, in that sense. You feel your way through it, and at the end you look back and see just where it was you went wrong. But unlike the movies, there are no do-overs. So son, you're going to have to feel your way through it on your own, the way we all did. For if I revealed the twist, it would be a SPOILER!

But hey, it's Amy Adams. I'd like to be able to say I've never seen an Amy Adams movie I didn't like, but a more accurate statement would be I've never seen Amy Adams in a film where I didn't like watching her. 

Amy plays Louise, a noted linguistics professor whose services are recruited by the army when a dozen big UFOs--that look like gigantic cucumbers standing on end--land at various sites around the globe. Louise has the best chance to communicate with the aliens inside, who look kinda like big octopi (octopuses?) wearing burkas. When she and her team make contact with the "heptapods," as they are being called, Louise begins to slowly decipher their language, which consists visually of something looking like circular shaped Rorschach blots. Throughout the film, Louise is seeing dream images of her with her daughter, who succumbs to disease and dies in her teens. 

What's it all mean? Why are the aliens here, and what are they trying to tell us? It has something to do with the nature of time. In the end, there's a message about cooperation among nations, and how we are often too quick to reject what we don't understand, rather than going the extra mile to learn to really communicate.

But Arrival is so sloooow throughout the first half. On the other hand, it's a lot more cerebral than your average earth-versus-aliens movie. There is much food for thought. And the question that looms large--like a huge spaceship sitting in a field--is if you had your life to live over again...knowing how it would turn out...all the shit and all the sorrow, along with all the joy and all the love...would you go along for that same ride again? Arrival is telling us: don't be so hasty as to automatically say no.

Grade: B  


JILL'S TAKE

At the end of Arrival, I leaned towards Tim and whispered, "Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do!" I admit it. I was totally lost. Bored. And completely confused by this "sensitive" sci-fi saga. Maybe, if there'd been a subtitle on the poster that read: "Time isn't what you think it is...", I would've been able to grasp what the hell this movie was about. However, I did learn one important lesson; I now know why I don't enjoy futuristic films. They make me feel extremely stoopid!

That being said, I was also annoyed at how under-used Forest Whittaker (The Last King Of Scotland) was. He's such a great actor and his role here, as some bigwig general, is miniscule at best. The same could be said for Michael Stuhlbarg who plays a nervous Agent Halpern. (Stuhlbarg was absolutely brilliant as gangster Arnold Rothstein in the TV series "Boardwalk Empire.")

If I had to say something positive about Arrival, I'd give high marks to the graphics. (Wonder how these aliens would have said "Good job!"in their ink blotty language?) The visual and special effects guys must have a had field day. I was also relieved that the aliens didn't resemble E.T. or any of those other bug-eyed knock-offs. Still, if my two cents is worth anything, I'd avoid this befuddling film!


Grade: D



Sunday, January 29, 2017

HIDDEN FIGURES (2017)




Rated: PG

STARS: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali
DIRECTOR: Ted Melfi
GENRE: Biopic/Drama

Hidden Figures, the "based upon a true story" tale of three young black women who worked for NASA in the Jim Crow era of segregation in Virginia in the early sixties, is the feelgood film of the year--so far (though the year's still young!)

Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) was a math genius who spit out blackboards full of equations that would prove instrumental in getting John Glenn into space as the first man to orbit the earth in 1962. Her two friends and cohorts, Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), had their own stories: Vaughn in her struggle to rise to a supervisory position within an organization that was male dominated and overtly racist; and Mary Jackson, who had to petition the court to allow her to attend classes at the all white University of Virginia so that she could fulfill requirements to get into NASA's engineering program.     


Just as it takes many hands and many minds to put a manned rocket into space, there are many hands and many minds that go into the making of a film. In the beginning, there was the word. Or rather, the book by Margot Lee Shetterly. The movie, reportedly, is not a faithful rendering of the book--some creative license was taken with timelines, and some events were invented--all for dramatic effect--but that's typical of nearly all such film adaptations. So no demerits there.


A gold star goes to Pharrel Williams, Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch for a musical score that adds punch to the most dramatic and uplifting scenes. And yes, they are manipulative scenes that will make your eyes water. After all, Hidden Figures is about some brave and spunky women who dealt with and overcame the astounding ignorance--the total disregard for human dignity--that was our American apartheid system which existed prior to the enactment of the groundbreaking Civil Rights legislation of 1964. 

BUT...all the white folks portrayed here are one dimensional. To the man (and woman), they are all condescending racist creeps, to one degree or another. Even the most sympathetic of the lot--project supervisor Al Harrison (Kevin Costner)--is so wrapped up in his work that he has to be shown by the women themselves the inherent unfairness of some of the workplace conditions they had to put up with. Like walking half a mile to the "colored" restrooms. But by stereotyping ALL of the Caucasians in this manner, Hidden Figures paints a skewed portrait of the way it really was in the early sixties, when a growing consciousness and the movement for civil rights was beginning to form. I was around then (as a young'un) and can attest that while not all of us were Bernie Sanders, not all of us were George Wallace either. So a few demerits for some blatant stereotyping.

As for the acting, Taraji P. Henson deserves an Oscar nomination for "Running In High Heels," as she dashes back and forth to the restroom on her breaks!

Grade:  B


JILL'S TAKE

Having seen the trailer for Hidden Figures at least a dozen times before actually viewing the film, I had some preconceived notions about what I'd be going to see. Ho hum, just another women's rights flick with black chicks. Boy, was I wrong! Not about the content but about how I would be drawn in emotionally. Racism is always 'box office gold' in film-making parlance. And Hidden Figures is no exception. What makes it unique is the woman's angle. And being about NASA doesn't hurt, either.

The performances were all top notch. But as I am a devoted Oscar follower, I must say that Octavia Spencer's "Best Supporting Actress" nomination is a bit puzzling. Yes, she was good as the never-getting-promoted victim of racial prejudice. But compared to the other two African American ladies who are nominated? Gimme a break. (I'm referring to Viola Davis in Fences and Naomie Harris in Moonlight.) I guess last year's all white brouhaha is to blame... Still, Hidden Figures is a must-see movie and definitely deserves its Best Film nomination.

I find very little to criticize. And at the end of two hours and seven minutes, I still wanted more. I especially loved how they showed the real women at the end of the film -- at different ages and stages of their lives. Very uplifting, indeed.


Grade: B+


Sunday, January 15, 2017

MOONLIGHT (2016)



Rated: R

STARS: Trevante Rhodes, Naomi Harris, Mahershala Ali, Andre Holland
DIRECTOR: Barry Jenkins
GENRE: Drama

Chiron is a skinny kid. A real quiet kid. He gets bullied at school. His mom is a crack whore, so no father figure. On top of that, Chiron has questions about his sexual identity. One day a man in his Miami neighborhood finds Chiron hiding out from some kids who are taunting him. The man is a good man. He has fatherly instincts. He becomes something of a surrogate dad to the boy. Oh yeah, the man is a dope dealer. Nobody's perfect, and ya gotta do what ya gotta do to get along in this world, eh? But it's the same shit he dispenses on the corner without a prescription that feed's Chiron's mother's habit. Life can be so ironic. And there you have Moonlight.

It's a coming of age story. It's a coming out story. Two for the price of one. Though it moves along sort of aimlessly. Like Chiron. Like his mom. Like the man who has taken Chiron under his wing. But there are 
plenty of hard hitting dramatic moments to keep you focused on what eventually develops into a poignant tale about a lost soul making his way through this world. And a love story of sorts. But the full brunt of that won't grab you until the heart-wrenching ending.  

Moonlight is told in three parts--following  the protagonist, Chiron, from young boy, to teenager, to young man. Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes do the honors respectively. As one might expect, it is Rhodes' portrayal of the physically beefed up, yet emotionally vulnerable man Chiron has become that provides the most depth of character in what is a highly character driven film. Rhodes should receive an Oscar nod for supporting actor...if there's any justice in this world that is...but then the film reminds us that, of course, there isn't.  Naomi Harris also shines as Chiron's ever-desperate-for-her-next-fix mother.   


The creative camera work--there are more intimate close-ups than you'll find in a spaghetti western--will tell you you're in for something different with Moonlight from the get-go. You know that spinning 360 merry-go-round shot that is normally reserved for two lovers getting all goo goo eyed with one another? Director Barry Jenkins gives us that with two crack dealers just hanging out on the corner--for what reason I'm not sure, but I liked it. And the soundtrack. From languid hip-hop beat...to lush orchestral arrangement...to golden oldie love ballad. It surprises and delights at every turn.  


Grade:  B + 

JILL'S TAKE

After every movie Tim and I see, I ask him when I can start nagging him about sending me his review. It usually takes him a couple of days to put his thoughts in order. Most of the time, my opinions are instantaneous. "It's great!" "It sucks!" "I liked this part but I hated the ending." In the case of Moonlight, I'm actually glad Tim took his time. It gave me a chance to change my mind. (Sort of like when you first meet someone you think is terrific but, in retrospect, turns you off.)

Moonlight is definitely a "politically correct" film and will, in my opinion, receive kudos (and probably Oscar votes) from both the African American and LGBT communities. But for me, it was too fragmented. And when you have a main character who is painfully mute—justifiably so—it's difficult to wait...and wait...and wait for him to speak. I also found the transition from young black boy, to gawky teenager, to muscle-bound adult hard to follow. And to make it even more confusing, the main character used different names during these transitions.

Be that as it may, there were parts of this movie that had me totally involved. Emotional moments with his junkie mom begging him to love her; scary moments when the school bully taunted and tormented Chiron; touching moments when, as a vulnerable teenager, he questioned his sexuality. But overall, it had too many plotlines and too little focus.


Grade: C

Saturday, January 7, 2017

LION (2016)



Rated: PG-13

STARS: Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Abhi Shek Bharate
DIRECTOR: Garth Davis
GENRE: Drama

The longing for "home"--wherever and whatever that might be--is universal, as we learned in E.T. the Extraterrestrial. Adapted from the memoir The Longing For Home by Saroo Brierley, Lion chronicles the amazing story of a young boy separated from his family at the age of five, who follows a harrowing, circuitous route to find the place of his origin once again.

The young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his mother and older brother, Guddu (Abhi Shek Bharate), who eke out a hardscrabble existence in rural India. One day, while hopping trains with Guddu, Saroo becomes separated from his brother and mistakenly ends up on a train that carries him a thousand miles in the wrong direction. He disembarks in Calcutta, where he joins other children who sleep on the streets. He ends up in an orphanage, and is later adopted by a white Australian couple. Now he's a very long way from home. But his new mom, Sue (Nicole Kidman), and her husband love him dearly, and he grows to care for his adoptive parents as well.


Lion is a film in two distinctive parts. The first section is the tense and action filled story of the young Saroo. The second is a more cerebral tale of Saroo as a young man (Dev Patel) who is haunted by the memory of his family of origin--sensing that they have been searching for him all these years.


Saroo begins a laborious internet search, exacerbated by the fact he doesn't remember the proper spelling of his village, or have any idea where it is located. At first, he doesn't want to reveal to his adoptive parents what he's up to, not wishing to hurt them. But it eventually comes out. It has to.


Dev Patel, who has matured greatly as a serious actor, gives a first-rate performance. And Oscar winner Nicole Kidman--in my opinion there is no finer actress on the silver screen today--delivers a multi-layered, emotionally searing turn (in limited screen time) as a mother who only wants her son to be happy. The lovely Rooney Mara--also with a host of nominations and awards to her credit--has a similarly small part as Saroo's Australian girlfriend, Lucy, who rides that emotional roller coaster along with Sue when she learns of Saroo's intentions to make the trans-continental journey to connect with his roots. I always admire big stars who sign on for relatively small roles in certain films because it tells me their egos are firmly under control!


With gorgeous cinematography from Grieg Fraser, Lion is part adventure tale and travelogue (capturing the teeming beauty of India), and part love story in the many manifestations of the word that exist. A film that is surprising in its depth. And the ending will knock you out.


Suffice it to say that if you don't carry a box of tissues into the theater with you, you'll be sorry.


Grade:   A


JILL'S TAKE

Make that two boxes of tissues! (I was bawling at the end, unable to be objective about anything.) Despite its misleading title, Lion is a cinematic gem. There's nary a lion on-screen unless you count the courageous five-year-old Saroo, who survives in a city where he doesn't even speak the language. The child actor who plays him (Sunny Pawar) is unabashedly beautiful. Hell, I'd adopt him and I don't even like kids!

It's always difficult when a film has two definite storylines but, in this case, director Garth Davis did a masterful job holding my interest in both. He has very few movie credits, as he is better known as an internationally successful commercials director. But after Lion, I'll bet a lot of rupees his directorial skills will be in serious demand. The screenplay was created by the original author Saroo Brierly and Luke Davies. After seeing the film, I'd like to read the book. I'm sure his love story was explored in  more detail. For me, in the film version, it felt tacked on. I resented Lucy's neediness (i.e. love for Saroo), as I was way too caught up in his homeward journey to care about it. I also got impatient with his Google-searching. Yes, it was necessary. But how visually interesting is seeing fingers typing on a keyboard?

Still, this film is absolutely worth seeing. Aside from the emotional impact Lion has on its audiences, the scenery (from aerial shots of a desolate countryside, to the stampeding masses of human bodies in Calcutta) will take you out of your own story and into his.


Grade:  A



Friday, December 30, 2016

LA LA LAND (2016)



Rated: PG-13

STARS: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend
DIRECTOR:Damien Chazelle
GENRE: Musical/Romantic Drama

Not since Fred and Ginger have I seen a couple trip the light fantastic as if they are dancing on air--in fact Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone literally do rise into the air and dance among the stars in one of their numbers in the feelgood movie of the year, La La Land.


Who knew what they were capable of?

The tone is set in the opening scene. A line of cars stuck in a traffic jam on an L.A. freeway. Then, one by one, the peeps get out and begin frolicking about--on top of their cars, everywhere--in an energetic and acrobatic number requiring part accomplished dancer and part stunt person to pull it off--to the tune of Justin Hurwitz's  bright and bouncy "Another Day Of Sun." 

Take the infectious energy and the sheer kinetic joy of the final scene in Slumdog Millionaire and ladle it liberally throughout an entire film and you have La La Land; set in present day Los Angeles and Las Vegas, yet unabashedly paying homage to the big screen musicals of the past. 

In many of those musicals that we recall, the plot could seem like little more than a vehicle to get you from one song and dance number to the next, but here we have a developed romantic set up that would stand on its own minus all the great music--with echoes of Streisand and Redford in The Way We Were.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is an accomplished jazz pianist (and he is really playing--no body double) who dreams of one day opening his own club. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress who drags herself from audition to audition, frustrated by her lack of landing a significant part. From their initial "meeting" (she flips him off from her car window after enduring his incessant honking) they appear to be an unlikely couple, but the traditional rom-com formula--opposites attract--is in play here, as they keep running into each other, and eventually discover they are each pursuing a dream, and maybe they'd be better off chasing rainbows together than separately.  

And while La La Land soars into the stratosphere musically, kudos go to writer-director Damien Chazelle for keeping the plot grounded in down-to-earth reality. Couples meet...they fall for each other...all looks rosy at the start...time passes...they have their differences... the relationship is tested. Sometimes it all hinges on careless words uttered during an argument. 

After the screening, I ducked into the restroom and encountered a guy who was standing at the urinal, whistling and humming the haunting refrain from the main theme in the film, which goes: da da DA da da de da...da da DA da da da de...and doing it in a very accomplished manner! (Don't know if anyone has ever been discovered and put on America's Got Talent under such circumstances.) Obviously, he was taken with the movie. As was I. 

La La Land is likely up for a slew of Oscar nominations. It's a milestone of a film, coming along at the time it did, in the respect that we may not see anything quite as breezy or gleefully life-affirming in tone from Hollywood any time again soon (considering where the world could possibly be headed), for like, the next four years. 

Grade:  A

JILL'S TAKE

I give Tim's review a lot higher grade than La La Land. But readers of our jointly-written opinions tell me they much prefer when we don't see eye to eye. (Or, in this case, toe to toe-tapping!) My lack of enthusiasm may be due to a serious lack of sleep the night before I saw it.  Still, I felt La La Land was trying too hard to be original. (A poor man's version of the 2012 Oscar winning The Artist – which I thought was brilliant.)  Like The ArtistLa La Land takes us back in time to the glory days of Busby Berkeley. Huge production numbers, each one more lush and dazzling than the one that came before it. 

For me, the real star of La La Land is Mandy Moore. (No, not the actress in NBC's new hit series This Is Us. I'm talking about the choreographer who has honed her skills creating the production numbers on Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.) To quote Miss Moore, she admits that choreographing the numbers inLa La Land has been "the Super Bowl of my career." And she definitely deserves Super Bowl applause!

The fact that movie actors are now required to sing in roles that require it (i.e. Les MizRay, Walk The Line, etc. ) is proof that today's crop of superstars deserve their mega salaries. Gone are the days of lip-synching and cringing while watching Clint Eastwood as Pardner in Paint Your Wagon.... (Amen!)

For all the hoopla surrounding this film's seven Golden Globe nominations, I still say it doesn't hold a candle to The Artist. I also felt some of the musical numbers were way too long. It will be interesting to see if La La Landwins the same amount of awards at Oscar time. (If it does, I've promised Tim I'll kill him!)



Grade: C





Wednesday, December 14, 2016

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2016)



Rated : R

STARS: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
DIRECTOR: Kenneth Lonergan
GENRE: Drama


The reasons why people behave as they do aren't going to be obvious to most of us unless we know their back story. But initially all we know about Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) in Manchester By The Sea is that he's a blue collar guy--employed as a janitor and handyman in the Boston area--who has two speeds: sullen and uncommunicative, or volatile and on the verge of exploding at the slightest provocation.  He gets into disputes with the tenants in the building where he works. He gets into bar fights. He's not the sympathetic character most are going to identify with. 

But then, through a series of flashbacks, we begin to learn what makes Lee, the time bomb, tick. It's rooted in personal tragedy and loss. His heart is broken. And so we begin to comprehend, and we soften to him. The story question is: will the man himself ever soften? Will we see the traditional arc of personal growth and conquering one's demons in the end?

Being haunted by the past is one thing, but then Lee's brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), passes away, and in his will he has assigned custody of his teenage son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), to Lee, who is ill-prepared for and resistant to the idea of taking on that level of responsibility.  But as it turns out, there is no one else remotely suitable.

The relationship that develops between Lee and his nephew--who is something of a ladies man at age sixteen--and just as hard-headed in his own way as his uncle, is stormy at times, darkly humorous at others. Patrick wants his uncle to move to Manchester, where he has his school hockey team and his girlfriends. Lee is stubbornly resistant and wants to move Patrick to Quincy with him, not wishing to return to the scene of painful memories.

The acting in Manchester By The Sea is superb, and Affleck is likely in line for an Oscar nomination. And I've been an ongoing fan of Michelle Williams, who plays Lee's ex-wife as a"tough broad" in the flashbacks to her life together with him, and then as the broken woman she has become in an aching scene where the two of them meet again after all that sea water has passed under the bridge. Some hurts you live with forever. 

It's not a film for everyone. It's two and a half hours long and slow paced. And the ending will take you unawares and likely expecting more--and make you gasp, perhaps, as the audience did audibly in the showing I attended.  But Manchester By The Sea is a film of subtlety. Subtle movement. Subtle changes, not marked ones. Much more like real life than the way life is normally portrayed in the movies. For some, that might be hard to live with. 

Grade: B


JILL'S TAKE

For those who know me, subtle I'm not! And Manchester By The Sea is, by anyone's standards, beyond subtle. The subject matter is not easy to make simple. Grief never is. And without giving away too much, the event that turns our once-loving character into an emotional stone would be difficult for anyone to get over. Casey Affleck—in my view a far better actor than his brother—turns in another stellar performance. For me, he has the same vulnerable qualities as a James Dean or Montgomery Clift. (Oophs, I'm dating myself.)

Being originally from New England and quite familiar with Boston and its environs, I give high marks to director-writer Kenneth Lonergan for his visuals of that area. The bay's bleakness, the unending snowfall, the row houses, cluttered interiors. They add to the film's claustrophobic darkness.

Okay. I've praised this Oscar-contender enough. Now let me tell you what I really think. The musical score was overdone and intrusive. The suddenness of the ending left me feeling both confused and resentful. The length of the film tested my patience.  Worst of all, the character arc—if there even was one—was way...too...subtle.



Grade: C-