The Lego Batman movie acts as a double sequel/franchise film of sorts since it falls under both the Lego Movie universe as it references the real world portal laying underneath Gotham city aka the table the world is built on, as well as the master build formula, along with the obvious Batman universe that it reference ad infinitum whether it be the movie universe all the way back to the Adam West '66 film. Its pretty cleaver with being able to reinvent the Bat franchise and making it fun again especially in light of the all too serious Zack Snyderverse, incorporating the ridiculous back cannon such as the Condiment King, Calender Man and some of the other E list villains from its campy days, to bringing light to the brooding nature of the character etc, and also Jerry Maguireing the relationship with the Joker how they need each other, delightfully playing on the you complete me line from the Dark Knight. The piece de resistance was when the Joker makes it to the Phantom Zone was being able to incorporate other famous WB and Universal villains to the proceedings from the Wicked Witch, Bruce the Shark, Sauron and the Gremlins to act as his henchmen to help take over Gotham. It really helps to capture the sense of play and fun from the first entry. Between this and the ever expansive nooks and cranies of the Batcave that realty has fun showing off every single Bat transpo from plane to kayak, The Lego Batman is going to be fun for every Batman fan and kid at heart. Aces
An indie and underseen gem of a film, Christine focuses on the reporter on the same name who is highly capable and razor sharp, but due to the doors she keeps on encountering being shut on her in terms of career advancement and in her personal life, starts experiencing from serious emotional and physical symptoms of depression which eventually causes her to take her own life on the air in an act of desperation. Rebecca Hall showcases a powerhouse performance here in a role which will no doubt draw some comparisons to Network, focusing on a on air personality at the end of their rope looking for some kind of recognition for their work, Michael Hall is also really good her as her on air competition in a sense that she also sees as a potential love interest that totally misreads her intentions as he takes her on the worst possible first date at a self help group session. Defintely worth the ride for anyone who wants to see a clinic on acting and extremely unfortunate it couldn't find a wider audience. A must see.
An interesting little indie that came out of TIFF/Telluride that quickly took the place on the awards circuit rise when Birth of a Nation's chances imploded. Moolight focuses on Chiron going through 3 stages of his life, as an ackward boy who already is hacing his sexuality and sensitvity bullied at school while his mother his dealing with her full blown addiction often leaving him to wander the streets sometimes until Mahershala's character takes him in, then signing in with Kevin in high school when he starts to fight back and express himself as well, having his first sexual experience with Kevin, and then as an adult having settled away in Atlanta but still haunted by his past and returning home to deal with his mother and Kevin as well. Very intimate for sure, and deals with some interesting themes, the primary one obviously being LGBT rights within the African American community since it is still considered to be a taboo, along with the standard ones from bullying, coping with isolation and personal demons. Defintely worth a watch and for some solid performances from Naomie Harris is the strongest performance I have seen from her since her debut in 28 Days Later and Mahersha Ali in a Oscar nominated supporting role who is on one kind of a breakout year between this film and Luke Cage. Great to see him getting some attention. Not sure how many wins it will received but good to see some more diversity on the Oscar radar,
Manchester by the Sea is an embarassment of riches when it comes to naturalistic and humanistic acting, led by Casey Affleck who is the front runner for Best Actor, Michelle Williams in a much smaller role but no less impactful and Kyle Chandler doing some great character work here as the deceased brother that launches the journey the family goes through in the story here. Set in the small town of the title, Casey Affleck is in self imposed exile essentially after the accidental deaths of two of his daughters in a house fire he had accidently set that you don't find out about until halfway through the film, whose called home to settle his brothers estate after he succumbs to congestive heart failure after a lengthy battle. Little does he know that he has been left as his brother's son's guardian until he turns 18 and comes into his inheritance, forcing him back to deal with the pain and ackwardness he had left behind. The typical Massechutces humour is throughout and it is brilliant but also there are lots of the catholic guilt being flung around given all the baggage the respective members have built up over the years, and the most notable is in the confrontation scene for both Michelle and Casey in the back half of the film. The Oscar wins might be on the lower side depending how much you carry the allegations from Affleck from back in 2010 while he was working on Im Still Not There, but that hopefully wont stop you from seeing the powerhouse performances on display here. Really strong :)
Another of the non traditional music driven/quasi musicals coming from John Carney who did the monster indie breakout Once and the American version in Begin Again, returning to England circling around a 14 year old kid and his strained family who are on the verge of breaking up due to economic circumstance and the breakdown of his parents marriage, and finding an outlet in music with starting his own band and also to impress a girl. Driven by that Irish sense of yearning and the breakout British wave of new music whether it be Duran Duran, A-Ha or the Phil Collins led Genisis, Sing Street if predicting a pattern of strength for Carney is a great slice of life film that celebrates music and life that acts as great counter programming to the blockbuster programming at the local cineplex and the prestige pics that come out at the end of the year and strictly comes out to exist, entertain and inspire. Rock Solid and defintely worth being tracked down on any method available to you. A nice little gem to watch.